Monthly Archives: February 2014

Owen Jones: Socialism’s critics look at Venezuela and say, ‘We told you so’. But they are wrong The democratic credentials of the post-Chavez government are being maligned

By Owen Jones

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “The Independent” –  I once wrote about the“hierarchy of death” – the macabre process by which the newsworthiness of death is ranked. The fame or influence of the deceased; whether they are a Westerner or not; the colour of their skin; whether they are affluent or poor: all are crucial factors. But the perceived political significance of death is important too, as the latest wave of political turbulence in Venezuela illustrates.

Here’s the right-wing narrative. The Venezuelan people have taken to the streets in huge numbers against a human rights-abusing regime. The response has been murderous repression, with each death damning evidence of a monstrous autocracy. The government’s economic policies have caused nothing but ruination for the population, demonstrating once again that “socialism” is an abject failure. Those who challenge this narrative, like myself, are nothing but dupes, useful idiots, the modern-day equivalents of the Fabians who went to Stalin’s Soviet Union and lauded it as a new civilisation.

So let’s have some context. Before Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998, Venezuela was ruled by various neo-liberal administrations. In 1975, 15 per cent of Venezuelans lived in poverty; two decades later, it had surged to 45 per cent. When Venezuelans protested against the then President Pérez – who U-turned on election pledges to abandon neo-liberalism in 1989 – the full might of the state was unleashed on them in the so-called “Caracazo”, a Tiananmen Square-style massacre in which hundreds of protesters were slaughtered.

Repulsed by the traditional political elite, Venezuelans delivered Chavez a landslide victory in 1998. At the time, he advocated the Third Way approach championed by Tony Blair, but his key strategy was to use oil riches to fund social programmes. Poverty rates collapsed from 50 per cent to around 25 per cent; extreme poverty was reduced by two-thirds. According to the UN, this represents the second-biggest percentage-point drop in poverty in Latin America. The traditional bastion of neo-liberal dogma, the World Bank, reveals that, while Venezuela’s gross national per capita income languished below the continent’s average before Chavez came to power, it is now $13,120, higher than Brazil or Argentina, and against an average of $8,981. Despite recent economic troubles, the UN revealed that Venezuela enjoyed the region’s biggest drop in poverty in 2012.

Does this mean that Venezuela is some sort of paradise? No. Inflation runs at over 50 per cent: but it is a disease the country is long familiar with. Under Chavez’s neo-liberal predecessor Rafael Caldera in the 1990s, it topped 100 per cent. And yet this was not presented as a failure of free-market capitalism. The law-and-order situation is simply unacceptable, exacerbated by various factors: neighbouring Colombia’s civil war; a society that’s awash with guns; and an ineffective police force riddled with corruption. Neither should the government’s support for tyrannies in Syria and Libya be overlooked, though given Western support for vile dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia – and Tony Blair’s lucrative employment by Kazakhstan’s dictatorship – let’s not overdose on the hypocrisy.

But take a look at the behaviour of the opposition. In 2002, Chavez was overthrown by a Western-backed Pinochet-style coup, vigorously incited and backed by a private media that made Fox News look like pinko liberals. And yet – almost uniquely – a popular uprising returned the elected government to power. Imagine if our elected government was overthrown by a junta, which killed numerous innocent people in the process, and the whole thing was cheered on by ITN and Sky News. What would be the aftermath?

One of the leaders of the current protests is Leopoldo Lopez, who was involved in the 2002 coup and helped arrest Chavez’s Interior Minister. The unrest demands the government’s “exit” only a few months after the opposition lost municipal elections. Molotov cocktails, rocks and fireworks have been thrown. Steel wire has been fitted to Opposition barricades, and at least two people have been garotted. Among those shot dead are pro-Government activists, including an MP’s brother. That does not in any sense excuse the deaths of opposition supporters: in all cases, the circumstances must be investigated, and those responsible apprehended, whoever they are. Military police officers have been arrested for killing one Government supporter and one opposition activist. But here is what is perverse: those loudest in cheering on often violent anti-government protests in Venezuela are those who would tolerate them least if they happened in this country.

As for the government’s much-maligned democratic credentials, when Chavez was elected in 1998, he received 3.7 million votes against the opposition’s 2.6 million. In 2013, his successor Nicolás Maduro received 7.6 million votes, against the opposition’s 7.4 million. The leap in the number of votes is not down to a population explosion: many were not even registered to vote until the government’s registration drives. International observers have repeatedly declared every election to be free; in 2012, former US President Jimmy Carter hailed Venezuela’s election process as “the best in the world”. When Chavez lost a constitutional referendum in 2007, he accepted it.

State media is clearly biased in favour of the government. But it has a derisory audience share, and the dominant private media remains biased in favour of the opposition, even if it is less strident than it was once. In 2007, the government refused to renew the radio broadcast licence of RCTV because of its support for the coup: it was wrong to do so, as some Chavistas accept, but it continues to broadcast via satellite and cable.

Venezuela is one of the world’s most polarised nations. Talks must happen; the dead need justice; the government must guarantee freedoms; violent disorder must end. But one thing is clear. Those who relish using Venezuela’s troubles for political point-scoring have no interest in the truth.

© independent.co.uk

The Coup in Ukraine: Obama’s Dumbest Plan Yet

By Mike Whitney

“Washington and Brussels … used a Nazi coup, carried out by insurgents, terrorists and politicians of Euromaidan to serve the geopolitical interests of the West.” — Natalia Vitrenko, The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Counterpunch” –  The United States helped defeat Nazism in World War 2. Obama helped bring it back.

As you probably know by now, Obama and Co. have ousted Ukraine’s democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, with the help of ultra-right, paramilitary, neo-Nazi gangs who seized and burned government offices, killed riot police, and spread mayhem and terror across the country. These are America’s new allies in the Great Game, the grand plan to “pivot to Asia” by pushing further eastward, toppling peaceful governments, securing vital pipeline corridors, accessing scarce oil and natural gas reserves and dismantling the Russian Federation consistent with the strategy proposed by geopolitical mastermind, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski’s magnum opus–”The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and it’s Geostrategic Imperatives” has become the Mein Kampf for aspiring western imperialists. It provides the basic blueprint for establishing US military-political-economic hegemony in the century’s most promising and prosperous region, Asia. In an article in Foreign Affairs Brzezinski laid out his ideas about neutralizing Russia by splitting the country into smaller parts, thus, allowing the US to maintain its dominant role in the region without threat of challenge or interference. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Given (Russia’s) size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski,“A Geostrategy for Eurasia”)

Moscow is keenly aware of Washington’s divide and conquer strategy, but has downplayed the issue in order to avoid a confrontation. The US-backed coup in Ukraine means that that option is no longer feasible. Russia will have to respond to a provocation that threatens both its security and vital interests. Early reports suggest that Putin has already mobilized troops to the East and –according to Reuters “put fighter jets along its western borders on combat alert.” Here’s more from Reuters:

“The United States says any Russian military action would be a grave mistake. But Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Moscow would defend the rights of its compatriots and react without compromise to any violation of those rights.” (Reuters)

There’s going to be a confrontation, it’s just a matter of whether the fighting will escalate or not.

In order to topple Yanukovych, the US had to tacitly support fanatical groups of neo-Nazi thugs and anti-Semites. And, even though “Interim Ukrainian President Oleksander Tuchynov has pledged to do everything in his power to protect the country’s Jewish community”; reports on the ground are not so encouraging. Here’s an excerpt from a statement by Natalia Vitrenko, of The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine that suggests the situation is much worse than what is being reported in the news:

“Across the country… People are being beaten and stoned, while undesirable members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are subject to mass intimidation and local officials see their families and children targeted by death threats if they do not support the installation of this new political power. The new Ukrainian authorities are massively burning the offices of political parties they do not like, and have publicly announced the threat of criminal prosecution and prohibition of political parties and public organizations that do not share the ideology and goals of the new regime.” (“USA and EU Are Erecting a Nazi Regime on Ukrainian Territory”, Natalia Vitrenko)

Earlier in the week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a Ukranian synagogue had been firebombed although the “Molotov cocktails struck the synagogue’s exterior stone walls and caused little damage”.

Another article in Haaretz referred to recent developments as “the new dilemma for Jews in Ukraine”. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The greatest worry now is not the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents but the major presence of ultra-nationalist movements, especially the prominence of the Svoboda party and Pravy Sektor (right sector) members among the demonstrators. Many of them are calling their political opponents “Zhids” and flying flags with neo-Nazi symbols. There have also been reports, from reliable sources, of these movements distributing freshly translated editions of Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Independence Square.” (“Anti-Semitism, though a real threat, is being used by the Kremlin as a political football”,Haaretz)

Then there’s this, from Dr. Inna Rogatchi in Arutz Sheva:

“There is no secret concerning the real political agenda and programs of ultra-nationalist parties in Ukraine – there is nothing close to European values and goals there. One just should open existing documents and hear what the representatives of those parties proclaim daily. They are sharply anti-European, and highly racist. They have nothing to do with the values and practices of the civilized world…

Ukrainian Jewry is facing a real and serious threat….To empower the openly neo-Nazi movements in Europe by ignoring the threat they pose is an utterly risky business. People should not have to pay a terrible price – again – for the meekness and indifference of their leaders. As Ukraine today has become the tragic show-case for all of Europe with regards to breeding and allowing race-hatred to become a violent and uncontrollable force, it is impertive to handle the situation there in accordance with existing international law and norms of civilization.” (“Tea With Neo-Nazis: The Violent Nationalism in Ukraine“, Arutz Sheva)

Here’s a little more background on the topic by progressive analyst Stephen Lendmen from a February 25 post titled “New York Times: Supporting US Imperial Lawlessness”:

“Washington openly backs fascist Svoboda party leader Oleh Tyahnybok…In 2004, Tyahnybok was expelled from former President Viktor Yushchenko’s parliamentary faction. He was condemned for urging Ukrainians to fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.”

In 2005, he denounced “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry.” He outrageously claimed they plan “genocide” against Ukrainians.”…

Tyahnybok extremism didn’t deter Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. On February 6, she met openly with him and other anti-government leaders.

In early January, 15,000 ultranationalists held a torchlight march through Kiev. They did so to honor Nazi-era collaborator/mass murderer Stepan Bandera. Some wore uniforms a Wehrmacht Ukrainian division used in WW II. Others chanted “Ukraine above all” and “Bandera, come and bring order.” (Steve Lendman blog)

Of course, the US media has downplayed the fascistic-neo-Nazi “ethnic purity” element of the Ukrainian coup in order to focus on– what they think — are more “positive themes”, like the knocking down of statues of Lenin or banning Communist party members from participating in Parliament. As far as the media is concerned, these are all signs of progress.

Ukraine is gradually succumbing to the loving embrace of the New World Order where it will serve as another profit-generating cog in Wall Street’s wheel. That’s the theory, at least. It hasn’t occurred to the boneheads at the New York Times or Washington Post that Ukraine is rapidly descending into Mad Max-type anarchy which could spill over its borders into neighboring countries triggering violent conflagrations, social upheaval, regional instability or–god-help-us– WW3. The MSM sees nothing but silver linings as if everything was going according to plan. All of Eurasia, the Middle East and beyond are being pacified and integrated into one world government overseen by the unitary executive who defers to no one but the corporations and financial institutions who control the levers of power behind imperial shoji-screen. What could go wrong?

Naturally, Russia is worried about developments in Ukraine, but is unsure how to react. Here’s how Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev summed it up the other day:

“We do not understand what is going on there. A real threat to our interests (exists) and to the lives and health of our citizens. Strictly speaking, today there is no one there to communicate with … If you think that people in black masks waving Kalashnikovs (represent) a government, then it will be difficult for us to work with such a government.”

Clearly, Moscow is confused and worried. No one expects the world’s only superpower to behave this irrationally, to hop-scotch across the planet creating one failed state after another, fomenting revolt, breeding hatred, and spreading misery wherever it goes. At present, the Obama team is operating at full-throttle trying to topple regimes in Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, and god-knows where else. At the same time, failed operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have left all three countries in dire straights, ruled by regional warlords and armed militias. Medvedev has every right to be concerned.

Who wouldn’t be? The US has gone off the rails, stark raving mad. The architecture for global security has collapsed while the basic principals of international law have been jettisoned. The rampaging US juggernaut lurches from one violent confrontation to the next without rhyme or reason, destroying everything in its path, forcing millions to flee their own countries, and pushing the world closer to the abyss. Isn’t that reason enough to be concerned?

Now Obama has thrown-in with the Nazis. It’s just the icing on the cake.

Check out this blurb from Max Blumenthal’s latest titled “Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?”:

“Right Sector is a shadowy syndicate of self-described ‘autonomous nationalists’ identified by their skinhead style of dress, ascetic lifestyle, and fascination with street violence. Armed with riot shields and clubs, the group’s cadres have manned the front lines of the Euromaidan battles this month, filling the air with their signature chant: ‘Ukraine above all!’ In a recent Right Sector propaganda video the group promised to fight ‘against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.’

With Svoboda linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist parties through the Alliance of European National Movements, Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.” (“Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?—Exposing troubling ties in the U.S. to overt Nazi and fascist protesters in Ukraine“, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet)

“Family values”? Where have we heard that before?

It’s clear, that Obama and his brainiac advisors think they have a handle on this thing and can train this den of vipers to click their heels and follow Washington’s directives, but it sounds like a bad bet to me. These are hard-core, died-in-the-wool, Nazi-extremists. They won’t be bought-off, co-opted or intimidated. They have an agenda and they aim to pursue that agenda to their last, dying breath.

Of all the dumb plans Washington has come up with in the couple years, this is the dumbest.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37790.htm

Venezuela: Socialism Is Still a Real and Inspiring Possibility

By Chris Gilbert

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – In one of his last important public discourses, popularly known as the Golpe de Timón speech, the late President Hugo Chávez told a joke about an indigenous tribe and a priest.  The priest baptized the indigenous people giving them Christian names, held communion, and told them not to eat meat on Friday but rather fish or the large rodent chigüire.  The priest left for a while and then came back only to find the tribe grilling a pig on that very day.  “What’s going on here?” the priest asked.  The people responded: “No problem, we put water on the pig’s head and said: You who were once pig are now called chigüire.”

Chávez warned that this was what was being done with capitalism in Venezuela.  What was once known as capitalism was simply being rebaptized as “socialism.”  This story about indigenous people and priests not only illustrates his point; it also, with a bit of interrogation, raises a number of interesting questions about the fate of socialism in the Bolivarian process.  Is socialism in Venezuela seen as something imposed from without?  Do habits that are part of a culture of resistance, of anti-colonialism, actually work against the transition to socialism in the Bolivarian Republic?

Latin American societies are dominated, according to the theorist Bolívar Echeverría, by the baroque.  More than simply a period of European art history, the baroque can be extended to describe a basic cultural ethos that is typical of syncretic societies, such as those of Mediterranean Europe and Latin America.  When a foreign element is introduced — such as Christianity and its symbols — instead of being rejected, it is scenified, theatricalized.  The foreign element is accepted but also mediated and even subverted by its theatricalization.  (One can think of the rich floral decoration and setting for the Virgin of Guadalupe, the sensuality and excess of which speak for a sophisticated recoding of the figure.)

According to this logic, socialism becomes “socialism.”  The repetition and multiplication of the term in such combinations as socialist motorcycles, socialist bakeries, socialist avenues, etc. — common in today’s Venezuela — while superficially welcoming the project, at the same time principally reaffirms the rich Creole popular culture.  This culture is a product in part of capitalism but also of specifically local and popular values such as solidarity, gregariousness, and generosity.  It has many virtues — and is indeed a culture of resistance — but after the injection and encounter with the socialism input (as was later to happen with the “buen vivir” input), it has not materially advanced toward or retreated from socialism; that is, it has not changed its real position with relation to capitalism.

It is against this possibility that Chávez warned.  Of course, this is not a reason to give up socialism as a project in Venezuela.  Quite the contrary.  The problem is in part that “socialism,” “capitalism,” and “social class” have all been converted into abstract entelechies.  (Though this has been done often by Marxists, it is thoroughly uncharacteristic of the practice of Marx.)  Creole capitalism, like the Creole working class, are historical products.  As Ellen Meiksins Wood argues, a class does not fall out mechanically from the productive apparatus but instead is a historical product: it is constructed, and in part self-constructed, in a historical process.  E.P. Thompson, who famously pursued this line of thought, tellingly entitled his landmark book The Making of the English Working Class.

The task, then, for those committed to socialism, is to see in what exactly these struggling classes consist — what is their culture, their way of life and lived experience.  Only with a sense of what the Venezuelan working class actually consists in can one begin to think about the steps that could be taken toward a socialism that is not downloaded as simply another abstract entelechy but rather is itself a historical product with its own cultural and experiential specificities, however much it may be conditioned by a productive apparatus under the regime of social property (conditioned ordetermined in the sense of providing the limits, or the field, within which an array of contingent possibilities could take place).

Perhaps the Cuban case provides an interesting parallel.  From the early 1960s to about 1969, the Cuban revolutionaries experimented with an endogenous socialist project in which José Martí, radical patriotism, anti-imperialism, and the Third-World spirit were important elements.  Around 1969, for a number of reasons, including the death of Che Guevara and the failure to achieve the hoped-for sugar harvest of ten million tons, this project entered into crisis.  Instead of abandoning the socialist project — or “accepting-and-abandoning it” as Venezuelans may be in danger of doing — the Cubans opted to download the Soviet model.  Hence began the “Grey Years,” though dogmatism, homophobia, and other serious errors, as terrible as they were, did not prevent the Cubans from advancing in many areas including education, health, and continuing with their heroic internationalism.

Evaluating this period is not a matter of mere speculation, something to be done from academics’ offices.  History itself passed judgment when the USSR tragically began to crumble.  Fidel and the Cuban people returned to their endogenous project: Fidel cited Antonio Maceo and said, Cuba’s future will be an eternal Baraguá!  The people bore down and found incredible resources in Martí-inspired self-sacrifice while carrying out one of the most heroic if little recognized struggles in recent times: the Special Period.  At the same time the Cuban thinker who is perhaps closest to E.P. Thompson, because of his belief in a socialism that would be a profoundly popular construction,Fernando Martínez Heredia, was brought out of retirement.  He was celebrated in the Havana Book Fair of 2012.  Quietly, in a few sectors (unfortunately still not hegemonic), the question of how to create a socialism out of the historical stuff one has on hand, including the people- and classes-in-motion, was put on the table.

I think this is the only possibility for Venezuela.  The only way to respond to the idea — implicitly interiorized even among militants of the Process — that “Socialism has failed” (and for that reason a pact with the bourgeoisie is necessary).  Socialism cannot “fail” or not work as if it were an electric razor or other gadget bought on the Internet.  Nor can it be made by fiat, as Chávez’s joke reminds us.  The project of constructing the future society out of the stuff-on-hand could be passing through a good or a bad moment.  But the challenge of making socialism out of the very elements and forces of a society in motion — including the Bolivarian fighting spirit and its Chavista renaissance, the forward-looking nature of Latin American culture, the resilience of Venezuela’s urban settlers — is still the same.  For that reason the possibility of a socialism with the flesh and blood of this society continues to be a real and inspiring project.

Chris Gilbert is professor of Political Science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Via MRZine

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37793.htm

When Protests and Violence Are Important to the U.S. Media

By Nate Singham

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “CEPR” –   In light of the recent political demonstrations that have swept the country, Venezuela has received considerable attention from both the US State Department and mainstream media. In recent days, President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and several others have issued numerous statements regarding the protests. In the US major media, The New York Times has published articles nearly every day since the protests began. Extensive reporting can also be found in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today andThe Washington Post.

It is worth comparing the extent of this coverage to protests of similar importance next door to Venezuela. In August of last year, Colombian farmers launched large-scale demonstrations in opposition to Colombian trade policies that are strongly supported by the U.S. government.

Unlike the protests in Venezuela, the Colombian protests received very little coverage from mainstream media, as CEPR pointed out at the time. The graph below compares the amount of coverage, in total number of articles published, that four of the United States’ most influential newspapers to the protests and violence in Colombia and Venezuela. The difference ranges from more than two times to 14 times as many articles devoted to the Venezuelan protests as compared with Colombia, despite the fact that the period covered for Colombia is twice as long.

Ven Col media comp 2

This is especially remarkable if we consider the high levels of repression carried out by the Colombian police and military in response to these protests. The International Office for Human Rights Action in Colombia described the violence as “unprovoked” and “indiscriminate” andattributes all of the violence to state forces.

The incidence of deaths in both Colombia and Venezuela[i], so far, is only slightly higher in Venezuela, with 13 deaths versus 12 deaths in Colombia.[ii] Yet there was not only very little coverage, and almost no criticism of the Colombian government as compared to the harsh attacks on the Venezuelan government in the U.S. media.

As mentioned earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama made public statements regarding the protests in Venezuela. Both demanded that students arrested in Venezuela be released, without regard as to whether any had been arrested for allegedly committing crimes such as arson and assault. There were no such statements from U.S. officials regarding the hundreds arrested in Colombia.

It is possible that both the huge differences in the amount of media coverage, and the responses to these two sets of protests by both the media and U.S. government officials has to do with the protesters and their aims, and the respective governments. The Colombian farmers were protesting against policies strongly supported by the U.S. government; they were also protesting against a government that the U.S. sees as a strategic ally, home to U.S. military bases and receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid. The Venezuelan protesters are demanding the ouster of a government that the U.S. government has spent millions of dollars trying to get rid of, including U.S. support for the 2002 military coup against the government.

The total amount of deaths reflects data from the most recent figures from Venezuela Transparencia, as of Monday, February 24 2014.

It is important to note that so far only six of the 13 deaths in Venezuela are confirmed to be opposition protesters.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37796.htm

The Greatest Propaganda Coup of Our Time?

By Mike Whitney

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Counterpunch” – – There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false.

The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category. The transcripts (1,865 pages) reveal the details of 14 emergency meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2008, when the financial crisis was at its peak and the Fed braintrust was deliberating on how best to prevent a full-blown meltdown. But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.

What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time. They take advantage of the fact that people simply forget a lot of what happened during the crisis and, as a result, absolve the Fed of any accountability for what is likely the crime of the century. It’s an accomplishment that PR-pioneer Edward Bernays would have applauded. After all, it was Bernays who argued that the sheeple need to be constantly bamboozled to keep them in line. Here’s a clip from his magnum opus “Propaganda”:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Sound familiar? My guess is that Bernays’ maxim probably features prominently in editors offices across the country where “manufacturing consent” is Job 1 and where no story so trivial that it can’t be spun in a way that serves the financial interests of the MSM’s constituents. (Should I say “clients”?) The Fed’s transcripts are just a particularly egregious example. Just look at the coverage in the New York Times and judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”:

“The hundreds of pages of transcripts, based on recordings made at the time, reveal the ignorance of Fed officials about economic conditions during the climactic months of the financial crisis. Officials repeatedly fretted about overstimulating the economy, only to realize time and again that they needed to redouble efforts to contain the crisis.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This quote is so misleading on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

First of all, the New York Times is the ideological wellspring of elite propaganda in the US. They set the tone and the others follow. That’s the way the system works. So it always pays to go to the source and try to figure out what really lies behind the words, that is, the motive behind the smokescreen of half-truths, distortions, and lies. How is the Times trying to bend perceptions and steer the public in their corporate-friendly direction, that’s the question. In this case, the Times wants its readers to believe that the Fed members “misread the crisis”; that they were ‘behind the curve’ and stressed-out, but–dad-gum-it–they were trying their level-best to make things work out for everybody.

How believable is that? Not very believable at all.

Keep in mind, the crisis had been going on for a full year before the discussions in these transcripts took place, so it’s not like the members were plopped in a room the day before Lehman blew up and had to decide what to do. No. They had plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, get their bearings and do what was in the best interests of the country. Here’s more from the Times:

 ”My initial takeaway from these voluminous transcripts is that they paint a disturbing picture of a central bank that was in the dark about each looming disaster throughout 2008. That meant that the nation’s top bank regulators were unprepared to deal with the consequences of each new event.”

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Of course, the Fed knew what was going on. How could they NOT know? Their buddies on Wall Street were taking it in the stern sheets every time their dingy asset pile was downgraded which was every damn day. It was costing them a bundle which means they were probably on the phone 24-7 to (Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson whining for help. “You gotta give us a hand here, Hank. The whole Street is going toes-up. Please.”

Here’s more from the NYT:

“Some Fed officials have argued that the Fed was blind in 2008 because it relied, like everyone else, on a standard set of economic indicators. As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically,” Mr. Bullard said in a November presentation in Arkansas that the St. Louis Fed recirculated on Friday. “There was a reasonable case that the U.S. could continue to ‘muddle through.’ (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

There’s that same refrain again, “Blind”, “In the dark”, “Behind the curve”, “Misread the crisis”.

Notice how the Times only invokes terminology that implies the Fed is blameless. But it’s all baloney. Everyone knew what was going on. Check out this excerpt from a post by Nouriel Roubini that was written nearly a full year before Lehman failed:

“The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession. The debate is not anymore on whether the economy will experience a soft landing or a hard landing; it is rather on how hard the hard landing recession will be. The factors that make the recession inevitable include the nation’s worst-ever housing recession, which is still getting worse; a severe liquidity and credit crunch in financial markets that is getting worse than when it started last summer; high oil and gasoline prices; falling capital spending by the corporate sector; a slackening labor market where few jobs are being created and the unemployment rate is sharply up; and shopped-out, savings-less and debt-burdened American consumers who — thanks to falling home prices — can no longer use their homes as ATM machines to allow them to spend more than their income. As private consumption in the US is over 70% of GDP the US consumer now retrenching and cutting spending ensures that a recession is now underway.

On top of this recession there are now serious risks of a systemic financial crisis in the US as the financial losses are spreading from subprime to near prime and prime mortgages, consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans), commercial real estate loans, leveraged loans and postponed/restructured/canceled LBO and, soon enough, sharply rising default rates on corporate bonds that will lead to a second round of large losses in credit default swaps. The total of all of these financial losses could be above $1 trillion thus triggering a massive credit crunch and a systemic financial sector crisis.” ( Nouriel Roubini Global EconoMonitor)

Roubini didn’t have some secret source for data that wasn’t available to the Fed. The financial system was collapsing and it had been collapsing for a full year. Everyone who followed the markets knew it. Hell, the Fed had already opened its Discount Window and the Term Auction Facility (TAF) in 2007 to prop up the ailing banks–something they’d never done before– so they certainly knew the system was cratering. So, why’s the Times prattling this silly fairytale that “the Fed was in the dark” in 2008?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because this whole transcript business is a big, freaking whitewash to absolve the shysters at the Fed of any legal accountability, that’s why. That’s why they’re stitching together this comical fable that the Fed was simply an innocent victim of circumstances beyond its control. And that’s why they want to focus attention on the members of the FOMC quibbling over meaningless technicalities –like non-existent inflation or interest rates–so people think they’re just kind-hearted buffoons who bumbled-along as best as they could. It’s all designed to deflect blame.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these conversations didn’t happen. They did, at least I think they did. I just think that the revisionist media is being employed to spin the facts in a way that minimizes the culpability of the central bank in its dodgy, collaborationist engineering of the bailouts. (You don’t hear the Times talking about Hank Paulson’s 50 or 60 phone calls to G-Sax headquarters in the week before Lehman kicked the bucket, do you? But, that’s where a real reporter would look for the truth.)

The purpose of the NYT article is to create plausible deniability for the perpetrators of the biggest ripoff in world history, a ripoff which continues to this very day since the same policies are in place, the same thieving fraudsters are being protected from prosecution, and the same boundless chasm of private debt is being concealed through accounting flim-flam to prevent losses to the insatiable bondholders who have the country by the balls and who set policy on everything from capital requirements on complex derivatives to toppling democratically-elected governments in Ukraine. These are the big money guys behind the vacillating-hologram poseurs like Obama and Bernanke, who are nothing more than kowtowing sock puppets who jump whenever they’re told. Here’s more bunkum from the Gray Lady:

 ”By early March, the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.

Financial firms, particularly in the mortgage business, were beginning to fail because they could not borrow money. Investors had lost confidence in their ability to predict which loans would be repaid. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, sold itself for a relative pittance to Bank of America. Bear Stearns, one of the largest packagers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, was teetering toward collapse.

On March 7, the Fed offered companies up to $200 billion in funding. Three days later, Mr. Bernanke secured the Fed policy-making committee’s approval to double that amount to $400 billion, telling his colleagues, “We live in a very special time.”

Finally, on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This part deserves a little more explanation. The author says “the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.” Uh, yeah; because the whole flimsy house of cards came crashing down when investors figured out Wall Street was peddling toxic assets. So the money dried up. No one buys crap assets after they find out they’re crap; it’s a simple fact of life. The Times makes this sound like this was some kind of unavoidable natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado. It wasn’t. It was a crime, a crime for which no one has been indicted or sent to prison. That might have been worth mentioning, don’t you think?

More from the NYT: “…on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.”

Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. The Fed assumed blatantly-illegal powers it was never provided under its charter and used them to reward the people who were responsible for the crash, namely, the Fed’s moneybags constituents on Wall Street. It was a straightforward transfer of wealth to the Bank Mafia. Don’t you think the author should have mentioned something about that, just for the sake of context, maybe?

Again, the Times wants us to believe that the men who made these extraordinary decisions were just ordinary guys like you and me trying to muddle through a rough patch doing the best they could.

Right. I mean, c’mon, this is some pretty impressive propaganda, don’t you think? It takes a real talent to come up with this stuff, which is why most of these NYT guys probably got their sheepskin at Harvard or Yale, the establishment’s petri-dish for serial liars.

By September 2008, Bernanke and Paulson knew the game was over. The crisis had been raging for more than a year and the nation’s biggest banks were broke. (Bernanke even admitted as much in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 when he said “only one ….out of maybe the 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States…was not at serious risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” He knew the banks were busted, and so did Paulson.) Their only chance to save their buddies was a Hail Mary pass in the form of Lehman Brothers. In other words, they had to create a “Financial 9-11″, a big enough crisis to blackmail congress into $700 no-strings-attached bailout called the TARP. And it worked too. They pushed Lehman to its death, scared the bejesus out of congress, and walked away with 700 billion smackers for their shifty gangster friends on Wall Street. Chalk up one for Hank and Bennie.

The only good thing to emerge from the Fed’s transcripts is that it proves that the people who’ve been saying all along that Lehman was deliberately snuffed-out in order to swindle money out of congress were right. Here’s how economist Dean Baker summed it up the other day on his blog:

“Gretchen Morgensen (NYT financial reporter) picks up an important point in the Fed transcripts from 2008. The discussion around the decision to allow Lehman to go bankrupt makes it very clear that it was a decision. In other words the Fed did not rescue Lehman because it chose not to.

This is important because the key regulators involved in this decision, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Timothy Geithner, have been allowed to rewrite history and claim that they didn’t rescue Lehman because they lacked the legal authority to rescue it. This is transparent tripe, which should be evident to any knowledgeable observer.” (“The Decision to Let Lehman Fail”, Dean Baker, CEPR)

Here’s the quote from Morgenson’s piece to which Baker is alluding:

“In public statements since that time, the Fed has maintained that the government didn’t have the tools to save Lehman. These documents appear to tell a different story. Some comments made at the Sept. 16 meeting, directly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, indicate that letting Lehman fail was more of a policy decision than a passive one.” (“A New Light on Regulators in the Dark”, Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times)

Ah ha! So it was a planned demolition after all. At least that’s settled.

Here’s something else you’ll want to know: It was always within Bernanke’s power to stop the bank run and end to the panic, but if he relieved the pressure in the markets too soon (he figured), then Congress wouldn’t cave in to his demands and approve the TARP. Because, at the time, a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats in congress were adamantly opposed to the TARP and even voted it down on the first ballot. Here’s a clip from a speech by, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in September 2008 which sums up the grassroots opposition to the bailouts:

“The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people, while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings…Why aren’t we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren’t we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn’t time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”

But despite overwhelming public resistance, the TARP was pushed through and Wall Street prevailed. mainly by sabotaging the democratic process the way they always do when it doesn’t suit their objectives.)

Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:

“Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)

So, there you have it. The American people were fleeced in broad daylight by the same dissembling cutthroats the NYT is now trying to characterize as well-meaning bunglers who were just trying to save the country from another Great Depression.

I could be wrong, but I think we’ve reached Peak Propaganda on this one.

(Note: By “good” propaganda, I mean “effective” propaganda. From an ethical point of view, propaganda can never be good because its objective is to intentionally mislead people…..which is bad.)

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37787.htm

Israeli Cabinet Voted to Assassinate Arafat Year Before He “Died”

By Richard Silverstein

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Tikun Olam-” –   The Gatekeepers, originally a documentary film and now a book, continues to offer a wealth of inside information about the Israeli national security apparatus.  The latest tidbit an Israeli friend gleaned is this September 2003 Yediot article recounting the decisions made during an Israeli security cabinet meeting chaired by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:

assassinate arafat

He Will Be Gotten Rid Of

The cabinet decision of last night to get rid of Yasser Arafat has no immediate impact since the timing has not been determined.  Sharon, who formulated the decision [during the meeting], preferred to leave the matter vague and indeterminate between expulsion or assassination.  The decision was supported by every member of the [security] cabinet except for Interior Minister Poraz, who opposed.

Within 14 months of this meeting, Arafat was dead.  It is about as clear as anything can be that the cabinet voted to give Sharon carte blanche to determine where, how and when to remove Arafat as a threat to Israel.  Sharon could choose life (in exile) or death.  We know the result.  It almost doesn’t matter whether Swiss forensic scientists can prove he was poisoned and by whom.  We know who did it.  We just don’t know precisely how he achieved the result.

There is a wealth of circumstantial evidence offered by an Israeli confidant of Sharon and others arguing that Sharon intended to kill Arafat.  This news report adds another piece to the puzzle.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37785.htm

New Report Details ‘Brutal’ Israeli Policies

By Jonathan Cook

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  The first bullet struck 16-year-old Samir Awad in his left leg. He staggered away as fast as he could, but was too slow. A second round slammed into his left shoulder, exiting from the right side of his chest. Then, moments later, a third bullet penetrated the back of his skull and exited from his forehead.

The live rounds were fired by a group of Israeli soldiers guarding a section of Israel’s separation barrier built on the lands of Samir’s village in the occupied West Bank. The wall has been used by Israel to make large areas of the town of Budrus’ farmland inaccessible to the villagers.

On the day he died in January 2013, Samir and his friends had celebrated the end of the school term by walking into the hills along a path close to the steel barrier, said Ayed Murrar, head of Budrus’ popular struggle committee. An army patrol, laying in wait, ambushed them. Samir was grabbed as his friends fled. When moments later he managed to break free, the soldiers opened fire.

Samir’s friend, Malik Murrar, who witnessed the shooting, said: “How far can an injured child run? They could easily have arrested him. Instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition.”

Samir’s story is one of several harrowing accounts of killings of Palestinian civilians told in a report “Trigger-happy“, published Thursday by Amnesty International.

The international human rights organisation said the evidence suggests Samir’s death was an extra-judicial execution, which constitutes a war crime under international law.

“It’s hard to believe that an unarmed child could be perceived as posing imminent danger to a well-equipped soldier,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Dozens killed, hundreds wounded

The report identifies a pattern of behaviour by Israeli soldiers of shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians, sometimes as they are fleeing. Over the past three years of Amnesty’s study, dozens of Palestinians have been shot dead in the West Bank and hundreds seriously wounded. Thousands more have sustained injuries from rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.

The number of casualties rose dramatically last year, with 25 Palestinians in the West Bank, four of them children, killed by live rounds – more than the total in the previous two years of the study combined.

Many were targeted during largely non-violent weekly demonstrations in more than a dozen Palestinian villages in the West Bank against the separation barrier Israel has built on their land. The wall has entailed the confiscation of hundreds of hectares of farmland on which the inhabitants depend.

Ayed Murrar attributed the rise in killings to a fear in the army that unrest is growing in the occupied territories and may lead to a new intifada, or popular uprising, against the occupation.

“They want to make an example of us to stop others from adopting our way of mass protest against the occupation. They want to keep us submissive and passive.”

Last summer Nitzan Alon, the Israeli commander in charge of the West Bank, warned that Israel was facing a wave of unrest unless peace talks were revived.

‘All kinds of resistance’

But as the recent US-brokered negotiations have faltered, senior Palestinian officials in the West Bank have called for a return to “all kinds of resistance” against Israel, including popular protests. Last Friday dozens of Palestinians were reported to have been injured by Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters against demonstrators opposed to Israel’s wall.

Other kinds of popular protest have also emerged over the past year, including Palestinian groups setting up encampments to reclaim land Jewish settlers have grabbed in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank.

In the latest example this month, soldiers beat and arrested protesters as they removed a camp named Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley, which had been established to highlight Israeli efforts to annex the valley as part of the peace talks.

And 13 Palestinians in Hebron were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers last week when 2,000 demonstrators marched down Shuhada Street, the city’s main street, which Israel has closed to Palestinians for the past 20 years.

The Amnesty study did not include Gaza, where Israel usually claims Palestinian civilians killed by its forces were “collateral damage” during military operations. The report notes that this context of armed conflict does not apply to the casualties in the West Bank.

In many West Bank locations, said Amnesty, Palestinian residents face “collective punishment”, with Israeli forces declaring areas to be “closed military zones”, blocking access roads, launching night raids where sweeping arrests are made, using excessive force against protesters and bystanders, and damaging residents’ property.

Amnesty says Israeli soldiers’ decision to fire live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians who pose little or no immediate threat to them raises troubling questions about the army’s undeclared rules of engagement.

Stone-throwing

The report dismisses claims by the Israeli military justifying its harsh actions on the grounds that Palestinians have thrown stones at soldiers. It said “stone-throwing poses little or no serious risk to Israeli soldiers”, and chiefly serves as an “irritant”. The stones are thrown from too far away to harm the soldiers, who in any case are usually too well-protected to suffer injury.

Israeli human rights groups have long criticised the army’s repressive methods towards Palestinian protests against the occupation. In the late 1980s, during the first popular uprising, Israel’s defence minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, publicly urged soldiers to “break the bones” of any Palestinians they caught.

During the early stages of the second intifada, beginning in late 2000, the Israeli army again resorted to massive use of force. In three weeks during October 2000, before Palestinian factions started taking up arms, Israeli military records show soldiers fired one million live rounds.

Amnesty describes the Israeli army’s use of force against Palestinians in its three-year study as “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”. It adds that in all the cases it examined, including Samir’s death, there was no evidence the Israeli soldiers’ lives were under threat.

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” Luther said.

Shot in the back

In addition to 45 unarmed Palestinians shot dead with live ammunition over the past three years, many of them at protests, another 261 have been seriously injured, including 67 children. Several were shot in the back, indicating they had been targeted as they were fleeing.

Many more civilians have been injured by means other than live rounds. Amnesty cites as “astonishing” the fact that in three years Israeli soldiers have wounded 8,500 Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Among that number were 1,500 children.

Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, an Israeli group monitoring abuses in the occupied territories, said her organisation had been distributing video cameras to Palestinians as a way to help document the use of violence by soldiers and settlers. In December, B’Tselem released video footage shot by Muhammad Awad, a Palestinian in the village of Beit Ummar, showing a soldier firing a tear gas canister into his chest. He had to be treated in hospital.

Amnesty criticises the lack of proper investigations by the army of the many incidents it records, calling the response “woefully inadequate” and lacking in “independence and impartiality”. The human rights group says it cannot identify a single case of a member of the Israeli security forces being convicted of “wilfully killing” a Palestinian in the occupied territories for the past 25 years.

According to figures compiled by Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group, only four soldiers have been convicted of negligent manslaughter and another of negligence in the past 13 years. None was discharged from the army or received a prison sentence of more than a few months.

Michaeli was herself injured last July when a police officer fired a rubber-coated bullet at her from close range while she was filming a demonstration in Nabi Saleh.

“It’s clear there is a policy from the commanders of turning a blind eye when open-fire regulations are violated. When I recently spoke to the officer investigating my case, he said that there had been no developments – that was six months after the events happened. When the security services know the policy is to do nothing, there is no deterrence.”

Requests by Amnesty to meet army officials to discuss the cases in its report were rejected. The Israeli defence ministry was unavailable for comment when approached by Al Jazeera.

An Israeli army statement said: “The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] holds itself to the highest of professional standards and trains and equips itself as such. When there is any suspicion of wrong doing, or breach of discipline, the IDF reviews, investigates and takes action where appropriate.”

Numbed to aggression?

A recent academic study of Israeli soldiers’ testimonies suggested their operational routines quickly numbed them into treating harassment and aggression towards Palestinians as normal. The young soldiers came to enjoy a sense of power and their ability to impose “corrective punishment”.

Avner Gvarayahu of Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers who compile testimonies of soldiers’ abuses, agreed. He said the real rules of engagement issued by commanders were “flexible” and allowed soldiers to open fire on civilians.

“Soldiers are educated by the army to see the conflict as a zero-sum game: It’s either us or them. Then every Palestinian comes to be seen as a threat, as a potential terrorist, whether they are young or old, man or woman, able-bodied or disabled. They are all the enemy.”

Gvarayahu, who once commanded a special operations unit, said the army command also approved of what he called “revenge attacks”, raids on random Palestinian communities in retaliation for the deaths of Israelis. “There is no way these kinds of attacks can be carried out by ordinary soldiers without authorisation from the very top. I think the decision even comes from the political level.”

He said political and military leaders established the norms of behaviour within the army.

“Remember that the current defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, when he was the chief of staff [in 2002], said the army’s job was to ‘burn into the consciousness’ of the Palestinians their defeat. The only aim one can infer from that is that the army’s role is to use force to make the Palestinians weak and compliant.”

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.http://www.jonathan-cook.net

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37778.htm

First World War Bravery Was Not Confined To The Soldiers

As we mark the conflict, we must not forget those who were ridiculed, jailed and worse for daring to fight for peace

By Priyamvada Gopal

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” –   The commemorations of the first world war now under way in the media and museums are, we are given to understand, intended to be inclusive. They will cover the roles of women, soldiers from Africa and Asia, even animals, and examine the impact of the war on everything from the economy and technology to medicine and cinema. This is all to the good if it furthers our understanding of how that terrible conflagration still shapes our difficult present. But in an atmosphere thick with invocations of “courage” and “sacrifice”, there seems to be a curious exclusion. The bravery of those who rallied behind the powerful banner of nationalism will be honoured, but what about the courage of those who took the path of most resistance and dissented from the status quo by challenging the war itself?

Unlike those historians who can, with the benefit of hindsight and peer approval, lament the pity of that war, the motley coalitions that organised resistance to the unfolding of the first world war did so in the face of enormous social disapproval and institutional pressures. As the War Propaganda Bureau‘s massive efforts, along with press acquiescence, kept public opinion on side, it took a special kind of bravery to query the wisdom of bloodshed before shots were fired, or call for a negotiated peace mid-carnage. Fighting for peace earned you anything from vitriolic accusations of cowardice and treachery to job loss, state-abetted mob attacks, arrest, imprisonment, hard labour, courts-martial, show trials and even execution orders. As a consequence, many campaigners suffered nervous breakdowns and ill health. Their sacrifices must not go unsung.

Well before the first trenches were dug, questions were being asked about the motives for and conduct of the war by an expanding anti-war coalition, fronted by some of Britain’s most distinguished people. Denounced furiously by Rudyard Kipling as “human rubbish”, Britain’s dissenters included Liberals, Labour supporters and socialists; a striking number were women. They ranged from the aristocratic philosopher Bertrand Russell, who lost his Cambridge lectureship over his activism, to the socialist James Keir Hardie, raised in a Glasgow slum; the lion tamer John Smith Clarke; and the train driver’s daughter Alice Wheeldon. There were aristocratic pacifists like the conscientious objectors – or “conchies” – Clifford Allen and Stephen Hobhouse; feminists like Catherine Marshall and Sylvia Pankhurst (whose stance estranged her from her pro-war mother Emmeline; and the famous exposer of Belgian atrocities in the Congo ED Morel, imprisoned on obscure charges for criticising secret diplomacy. Adam Hochschild’s excellent To End All Wars tells some of their stories.

While anti-war organisations such as the Women’s International League, the Society of Friends, theUnion of Democratic Control, and the No-Conscription Fellowship differed on many matters, including whether it was all right to work in non-combat roles, what brought them together was a sense that behind the rhetoric of a “glorious, delicious war” for civilisation and freedom lay rather more grubby interests, not necessarily those of ordinary Britons. Some, admitting they too felt drawn to nationalism and war fever, believed this was not so much a war against militarism as a war between militarisms. In claiming to fight militarism in Europe, asked Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, was Britain actually giving it “hospitality, harbourage and welcome” at home?

As the commemorative drums of national unity start to beat again to rally us behind dominant narratives, it is time to remember that more than 20,000 men, remembered by the Peace Pledge Union, refused conscription after it was introduced in 1916, seeing it as a violation of freedom. Then, as now, dissidents – which included thousands of Clydeside workers who staged walkouts – understood that the belligerent question “do you love your country?” is not answered by blindly following politicians’ commands, particularly where there is lack of consultation. The distinguished economist JA Hobson, neither socialist nor pacifist, saw the war as rational only for the capitalist ruling classes, who stood to benefit from the “ever-worsening burden of armaments”. Wasn’t massive state expenditure better directed towards a “beautiful school … a grander sight than a battleship”? To be anti-war was to actively fight poverty, mediate for peace, build schools and workshops, undertake relief work, and provide food and refuge for troops and civilians alike.

Many critics of the war also understood that it was being waged for stakes outside Europe in great tracts of colonised land in Asia and Africa. While it is necessary to acknowledge the sacrifices made by soldiers from these regions, it is dishonest to assimilate them to Kipling’s narrative of “everybody’s war” for freedom. These were colonised subjects whose war this was certainly not, and in whose countries Britain was doing anything but defending freedom – its own occupying troops as unwelcome as German ones in Belgium. It is no surprise, then, that many prominent anti-war leaders, including the feminist Sylvia Pankhurst and Labour politician Fenner Brockway, became trenchant critics of British imperialism, which believed itself better than the German brand. At a 1917 Leeds anti-war conference, resolutions were also passed calling for the independence of Ireland, India and Egypt.

Commemorating Britain’s anti-war campaigners – invoked by the National Archives in a small online exhibit – is not about fetishising the past. Many of the issues they faced remain pressing today. They were on the front lines of the criminalisation of dissent, the erosion of civil liberties and press freedom in the name of national security, and crackdowns on industrial action and popular unrest at a time of economic privation. Then, as now, the poor were requisitioned to fight the wars which enrich the few, dying and suffering disproportionately.

The fighting spirit we need to invoke today is that which was willing to face down a small but powerful ruling class with control of state and media apparatuses complete with embedded war correspondents and close advisory relationships between politicians and press barons. Remembering that the Great War also unleashed revolution and anti-colonial rebellion, it is this spirit of principled dissent that we must seek to channel and honour.

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37782.htm

Washington’s Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin

By Kenneth Rapoza

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Forbes” – Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk, may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation

“Recall the phone exchange between the Ukraine ambassador and Victoria Nuland (Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs) that got leaked out, where she basically said ‘we want Yats in there.’ They like him because he’s pro Western,” says Vladimir Signorelli, president of boutique investment research firm Bretton Woods Research LLC in New Jersey. “Yatsenyuk is the the kind of technocrat you want if you want austerity, with the veneer of professionalism,” Signorelli said. “He’s the type of guy who can hobnob with the European elite. A Mario Monti type: unelected and willing to do the IMFs bidding,” he said.

Mario Monti was a centrist Italian technocrat who passed an austerity package that called for increased taxes, pension reform and measures to fight tax evasion.

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine has been battling political infighting between pro-Russian Ukrainians and pro-Europeans. The fight stepped into high gear in the fall when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided to tilt towards Moscow instead of Brussels in a trade deal.  Last week, Yanukovych left Kiev and headed to an undisclosed location, believed to be holed up in a Russian Naval base.

After Yanukovych and the political opposition agreed to an orderly transition toward new elections, the opposition shattered the agreement quickly and took strategic positions around Kiev. Many voices in the Western press say the country could break apart.

Despite these ominous signs, Ukraine Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt hailed the current crisis as “a day for the history books.” Most of the mainstream media have leaned decisively in the anti-Yanukovych camp.

Ukraine’s new 450-seat parliament approved the appointment of the former Central Banker Yatsenyuk on Thursday by a vote of 371 to 1. Oddly enough, earlier this month, the pro-Western Yats trailed behind popular opposition leaders such as former heavyweight boxer Viltali Klitschko and the leader of the nationalist, Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok. But Yats had friends in high places and while he does not have strong support of the electorate, and would have no chance of winning an election, he is pro-IMF austerity and apparently the bulk of parliament is as well.

“Yatsenyuk was saying that what the Greeks did to themselves we are going to do ourselves,” said Signorelli. “He wants to follow the Greek economic model. Who the hell wants to follow that?”

Also today, Yatsenyuk promised to implement “very unpopular measures” to stabilize the country’s finances. The government said it needs $35 billion to support the country over the next two years. His language in a news report broadcast by Bloomberg today indicates he is heading toward a potentially destabilizing austerity campaign:

“The treasury is empty. We will do everything not to default. If we get the financial support from the IMF, the U.S., we will do it. I’m going to be the most unpopular prime minister in the history of my country,” he said. “But this is the only solution. I would never promise any kind of huge achievements. First and the most important issue is to stabilize the situation.”

He also said that, “We want Russia to have transparent and fair relations with Ukraine. We want to be partners with Russia…we strongly believe it will never intervene with a military force in Ukraine.”

Under the brewing divide-and-conquer political crisis lies Ukraine’s economic problems. The Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, is down over 16% year-to-date, a record decline against the dollar.

It is unclear the kind of measures Yatsenyuk will tolerate, but it appears austerity is the path forward. That includes a regimen of tax increases, interest rate hikes and further currency devaluation.

Yanukovych resisted the International Monetary Fund’s demand to raise taxes and devalue the currency. Yatsenyuk doesn’t mind. For economists who think austerity is a disaster, Ukraine is on a path to ruin.

“We saw this in the 90s and what the IMF did to Russia with Yeltsin. They’ll do that to Ukraine,” said Signorelli. Remember Slobodan Milošević in Yugoslavia? After the IMF finished with Yugoslavia it was only a matter of time before the separatist movements gained traction,” he said. “I think things in Ukraine can get really really bad.”

2014 Forbes.com LLC™

See also –

The not-so-revolutionary new Ukraine government: The Cabinet of Ministers brought to the helm by the EuroMaidan revolution, is a motley crew indeed: A combination of old faces tainted by allegations of corruption, newly emerged revolutionary heroes and appointees who are able to make a difference.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37789.htm

Manufacturing Consent For Military Intervention? Crimean Coup Is Payback By Putin For Ukraine’s Revolution

After what Moscow regards as the western-backed takeover of Kiev, the Kremlin’s choreography has been impressive

By Luke Harding

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” –  Days after the end of Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympics, the borders of Europe are shifting. Or, more accurately, military forces suspected of acting on Moscow’s orders are creating a new cartographic reality on the ground.

Overnight, alleged undercover Russian special forces seized control of Simferopol airport, in the administrative capital of Crimea. The move comes less than 24 hours after a similar squad of shadowy, well-armed, Russian-speaking gunmen seized Simferopol’s parliament building and administrative complex. If anyone was in doubt what this meant, the gunmen left a clue. They raised a Russian flag above the parliament building.

Ukraine‘s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described the operations in Crimea in apocalyptic terms. What was unfolding in the south was “an armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international agreements and norms”, he posted on Facebook. That’s certainly how it seems.

Moscow’s military moves so far resemble a classically executed coup: seize control of strategic infrastructure, seal the borders between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine, invoke the need to protect the peninsula’s ethnic Russian majority. The Kremlin’s favourite news website, Lifenews.ru, was on hand to record the historic moment. Its journalists were allowed to video Russian forces patrolling ostentatiously outside Simferopol airport.

Wearing khaki uniforms – they had removed their insignia – and carrying Kalashnikovs, the soldiers seemed relaxed and in control. Other journalists filming from the road captured Russian helicopters flying into Crimea from the east. They passed truckloads of Russian reinforcements arriving from Sevastopol, home to Russia‘s Black Sea fleet.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in this very Crimean coup. But Putin’s playbook in the coming days and months is easy to predict. On Thursday, the Crimean parliament announced it would hold a referendum on the peninsula’s future status on 25 May. That is the same day Ukraine goes to the polls in fresh presidential elections.

The referendum can have only one outcome: a vote to secede from Ukraine. After that, Crimea can go one of two ways. It could formally join the Russian Federation. Or, more probably, it might become a sort of giant version of South Ossetia or Abkhazia, Georgia’s two Russian-occupied breakaway republics – a Kremlin-controlled puppet exclave, with its own local administration, “protected” by Russian troops and naval frigates. Either way, this amounts to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, de facto or de jure.

From Putin’s perspective, a coup would be payback for what he regards as the western-backed takeover of Kiev by opposition forces – or fascists, as the Kremlin media calls them. The Kremlin argument runs something like this: if armed gangs can seize power in the Ukrainian capital, storming government buildings, why can’t pro-Russian forces do the same thing in Crimea? (It is another high-stakes manifestation of the Kremlin’s favourite doctrine, “whataboutism”. If Kosovo, then Crimea etc.)

There are, of course, signal differences. Despite the presence of radical Ukrainian nationalists, the vast majority of opposition demonstrators in Kiev were ordinary citizens. They were fed up with the corruption and misrule of President Viktor Yanukovych and his clique. It was a bottom-up revolution. The protesters were armed with little more than homemade shields, rubbish helmets and molotov cocktails.

In Crimea, by contrast, the shadowy Russian troops are equipped with the latest gear – they are professionals, not amateur homegrown revolutionaries. Ukrainian officials point to the GRU, Russian military intelligence. And the warp-speed tempo of events in Crimea is being dictated from the top, not the bottom – from Moscow, rather than the street.

The choreography has been impressive. Within hours of the airport seizure, Russian MPs proposed a bill in the state Duma simplifying procedures for getting Russian passports to Ukrainians. The goal, the MPs said, was to protect a “brotherly nation”. Russia’s most important opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, meanwhile, has been placed under house arrest for two months and denied access to the internet. The Kremlin, that most risk-averse of entities, has everything covered.

It only remains to be seen what role Yanukovych will play in this fast-moving drama. Despite having fled the country, he insists that he is still Ukraine’s legitimate president. He is giving a press conference on Friday in the southern Russian town of Rostov-on-Don, close to the Ukrainian border.

This may seem like a bizarre provincial venue. But there is method here too: Russia refuses to recognise Kiev’s new pro-western interim government as a legitimate partner. It is likely to continue to treat Yanukovych – whose regime is accused of plundering $70bn (£42bn) from Ukraine’s treasury – as the head of a government-in-exile. It may even seek to return him to Crimea to continue his “executive” functions. Given Yanukovych’s love of bling, Crimea’s sumptuous Livadia Palace – where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met to discuss Europe’s 1945 postwar carve-up – might serve as his new HQ.

Spare a thought, meanwhile, for Crimea’s Tartars. They are the peninsula’s original Turkic-speaking Muslim inhabitants. Well-educated and politically organised, they now number 300,000, 15% of Crimea’s population. They want to remain part of Ukraine. They support Kiev’s new pro-EU leadership.

They also have their own awful folk memories of Russian colonisation and exile: in 1944, Stalin deported the Tartars and other smaller groups to central Asia. They mostly came home after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Understandably, they may now fear being cast once again in the role of fifth columnists. So far the Kremlin has said nothing about their rights.

All of this presents the west with one of its biggest crises since the cold war. Russia has mounted a major land grab of a neighbouring sovereign state. How will the west react?

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited

See also –

Yanukovych Condemns Interim Ukraine Govt as Violent Usurpers: Looking nervous while addressing reporters in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych rejected suggestions that he had been overthrown and insisted that he had been forced to leave the country because of threats made to him and his family.

The not-so-revolutionary new Ukraine government: The Cabinet of Ministers brought to the helm by the EuroMaidan revolution, is a motley crew indeed: A combination of old faces tainted by allegations of corruption, newly emerged revolutionary heroes and appointees who are able to make a difference.

Movement of Russian armored vehicles in Crimea fully complies with agreements – Foreign Ministry: Russia has passed a note regarding the maneuvers to a minister-counselor at Ukraine’s embassy in Moscow, Ruslan Nimchinsky, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

Pro-Russia separatists flex muscles in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula: Several hundred armed men in green camouflage, without insignia and carrying military-style automatic rifles, entered and secured areas of the civilian airport in Crimea’s regional capital of Simferopol early Friday.

Ukraine: armed men patrol Simferopol airport in Crimea – video -Armed men patrol Simferopol airport in southern Ukraine on Friday.

Russians accused of occupying Crimea airports in ‘military invasion’: Russian military forces have occupied an airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea near the Russian naval base in an “armed invasion”, Ukraine’s interior minister has said.

‘No takeover’ at Crimean capital’s airport, ‘self-defense squads’ on nearby patrol: The self-defense squads that raided Simferopol International Airport during the night have left the airport terminal, but are still patrolling the grounds outside.

Yatseniuk intends to heal Ukraine’s economy with Euro-integration, austerity and monetary stimulus The government’s rescue plan made official on Feb. 27 clearly pushes for a pro-European policy. The Cabinet of Minister’s program mentions European integration immediately after the first point of strengthening the nation’s territorial integrity.

Putin: Russia to consider aid to Ukraine: In his first reaction to the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to consider humanitarian assistance to the Russian-speaking region of Crimea and talk to the West about bailing out Ukraine.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37797.htm

Manufacturing Consent For Military Intervention Ukraine Pleads For Help After Russian ‘Invasion’

By Mark MacKinnon

February 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Globe and Mail” – The new Ukrainian government says it has been invaded by Russia and has appealed for the United States and United Kingdom to protect it, as guaranteed under a 1994 agreement.

The move came after a series of armed takeovers and provocations in the Crimea region that began on Thursday with the seizure of the the regional parliament building and continued on Friday:

  • Armed groups took over access to both main airports on the Crimean Peninsula.
  • The Ukrainian border guard service claimed that more than 10 Russian military helicopters flew from Russia into Ukrainian airspace over the Crimea region.
  • Russia confirmed that armoured vehicles attached to its naval base were moving around Crimea for “security” reasons.
  • Uniformed Russian servicemen were blocking off a unit of Ukrainian border guards in the port city of Sevastopol, where part of the Russian Black Sea fleet is based, according to Ukraine’s border service.
  • and Ukrainian International, Ukraine’s biggest airline, said the airspace over the Crimea region had been closed.

The U.N. Security Council will hold private consultations to discuss the crisis in Ukraine on Friday afternoon, a U.N spokesman said. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in separate phone calls with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the face of “worrying” developments in the former Soviet state, even as Foreign Minister John Baird met with the new leadership in Kiev.

Crimea, a Russian-speaking region that has rejected the overthrow of the Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych and the rise to power of pro-Western forces in Kiev.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament adopted a resolution on Friday demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The parliament also called for guarantees of the memorandum signed by Ukraine, Britain, Russia and the United States in Budapest in 1994. That agreement guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty and current borders in exchange for surrendering the nuclear weapons that were left after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It wasn’t clear whether the gunmen who seized the airports were Russian soldiers or pro-Russian militiamen. They wore no insignia, but carried automatic weapons and Russian flags into the airport.

On the road north of Sevastopol, which hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, The Globe and Mail saw 12 military trucks with soldiers in the back. None had licence plates.

The road to Sevastopol’s Belbek airport was blocked by another military truck and at least seven armed men. A local member of “Russkiy Bloc” a pro-Russian political party that has organized “self-defence” units, said he didn’t know who the men blocking the airport road were.

“I was in the army for 10 years, and I can’t say whether these are professional soldiers,” said 42-year-old Andrei Sitnikov. “All I can say is they are people with guns.”

In a posting on his Facebook page, Ukraine’s new Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, called the airport takeovers an “ARMED INVASION and OCCUPATION” by the “armed forces of the Russian Federation.”

“It is a direct provocation of armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign State,” Mr. Avakov wrote. “It is not the competence of the Ministry of internal affairs. This is the competence of the NATIONAL SECURITY and DEFENSE COUNCIL.”

Russia’s Interfax news agency had reported earlier that “Russian servicemen” had gone to Belbek military airport to prevent “fighters” from flying in.

With gunmen in the building and the Russian flag flying from the roof, deputies in Crimea’s regional legislature appointed a new government and passed a motion Thursday calling for a referendum on the future as part of Ukraine.

Raising the possibility of a Taiwan-and-China-style duelling governments in Ukraine, the newly appointed head of the Crimean administration has pledged allegiance to Mr. Yanukovych.

Crimea’s move toward autonomy – or some kind of association with Russia – was accompanied by fresh sabre-rattling from Kremlin, which put fighter jets on alert a day after announcing snap military drills along its border with Ukraine. And, in his first statement in almost a week, the deposed Mr. Yanukovych said he had taken refuge in Russia from “extremists” in Ukraine who had threatened him with bodily harm.

Moscow has denounced the fall of Mr. Yanukovych and the rise of pro-Western forces in Kiev as an armed coup, and has refused to recognize the new government. Crimea was part of Russia for two centuries before Nikita Khrushechev transferred it to Soviet Ukraine in 1954.

“I am addressing the Russian Black Sea Fleet command with a demand: all military servicemen should stay within the boundaries of the territories stipulated by the agreement,” Ukraine’s Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said Thursday. “Any movement of military servicemen with weapons outside this territory will be viewed as military aggression.”

The gunmen who seized control of Crimea’s regional parliament were widely believed to be members of Berkut, a riot police force that was disbanded this week by the new government in Kiev, which blamed the force for much of the bloodshed in Kiev. Serhiy Kunitsyn, a former Crimean premier who is now an opposition MP in Kiev, told the national parliament that 120 people who were involved in the takeover of the Crimean government buildings.

“These professionally trained people are armed. They brought weapons – automatic weapons, grenade launchers, and machine guns,” Mr. Kunitsyn said.

Follow me on Twitter @markmackinnon

With reports from Adrian Morrow, Associated Press and Reuters

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37795.htm

New Report Details ‘Brutal’ Israeli Policies

By Jonathan Cook

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  The first bullet struck 16-year-old Samir Awad in his left leg. He staggered away as fast as he could, but was too slow. A second round slammed into his left shoulder, exiting from the right side of his chest. Then, moments later, a third bullet penetrated the back of his skull and exited from his forehead.

The live rounds were fired by a group of Israeli soldiers guarding a section of Israel’s separation barrier built on the lands of Samir’s village in the occupied West Bank. The wall has been used by Israel to make large areas of the town of Budrus’ farmland inaccessible to the villagers.

On the day he died in January 2013, Samir and his friends had celebrated the end of the school term by walking into the hills along a path close to the steel barrier, said Ayed Murrar, head of Budrus’ popular struggle committee. An army patrol, laying in wait, ambushed them. Samir was grabbed as his friends fled. When moments later he managed to break free, the soldiers opened fire.

Samir’s friend, Malik Murrar, who witnessed the shooting, said: “How far can an injured child run? They could easily have arrested him. Instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition.”

Samir’s story is one of several harrowing accounts of killings of Palestinian civilians told in a report “Trigger-happy“, published Thursday by Amnesty International.

The international human rights organisation said the evidence suggests Samir’s death was an extra-judicial execution, which constitutes a war crime under international law.

“It’s hard to believe that an unarmed child could be perceived as posing imminent danger to a well-equipped soldier,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Dozens killed, hundreds wounded

The report identifies a pattern of behaviour by Israeli soldiers of shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians, sometimes as they are fleeing. Over the past three years of Amnesty’s study, dozens of Palestinians have been shot dead in the West Bank and hundreds seriously wounded. Thousands more have sustained injuries from rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.

The number of casualties rose dramatically last year, with 25 Palestinians in the West Bank, four of them children, killed by live rounds – more than the total in the previous two years of the study combined.

Many were targeted during largely non-violent weekly demonstrations in more than a dozen Palestinian villages in the West Bank against the separation barrier Israel has built on their land. The wall has entailed the confiscation of hundreds of hectares of farmland on which the inhabitants depend.

Ayed Murrar attributed the rise in killings to a fear in the army that unrest is growing in the occupied territories and may lead to a new intifada, or popular uprising, against the occupation.

“They want to make an example of us to stop others from adopting our way of mass protest against the occupation. They want to keep us submissive and passive.”

Last summer Nitzan Alon, the Israeli commander in charge of the West Bank, warned that Israel was facing a wave of unrest unless peace talks were revived.

‘All kinds of resistance’

But as the recent US-brokered negotiations have faltered, senior Palestinian officials in the West Bank have called for a return to “all kinds of resistance” against Israel, including popular protests. Last Friday dozens of Palestinians werereported to have been injured by Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters against demonstrators opposed to Israel’s wall.

Other kinds of popular protest have also emerged over the past year, including Palestinian groups setting up encampments to reclaim land Jewish settlers have grabbed in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank.

In the latest example this month, soldiers beat and arrested protesters as they removed a camp named Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley, which had been established to highlight Israeli efforts to annex the valley as part of the peace talks.

And 13 Palestinians in Hebron were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers last week when 2,000 demonstrators marched down Shuhada Street, the city’s main street, which Israel has closed to Palestinians for the past 20 years.

The Amnesty study did not include Gaza, where Israel usually claims Palestinian civilians killed by its forces were “collateral damage” during military operations. The report notes that this context of armed conflict does not apply to the casualties in the West Bank.

In many West Bank locations, said Amnesty, Palestinian residents face “collective punishment”, with Israeli forces declaring areas to be “closed military zones”, blocking access roads, launching night raids where sweeping arrests are made, using excessive force against protesters and bystanders, and damaging residents’ property.

Amnesty says Israeli soldiers’ decision to fire live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians who pose little or no immediate threat to them raises troubling questions about the army’s undeclared rules of engagement.

Stone-throwing

The report dismisses claims by the Israeli military justifying its harsh actions on the grounds that Palestinians have thrown stones at soldiers. It said “stone-throwing poses little or no serious risk to Israeli soldiers”, and chiefly serves as an “irritant”. The stones are thrown from too far away to harm the soldiers, who in any case are usually too well-protected to suffer injury.

Israeli human rights groups have long criticised the army’s repressive methods towards Palestinian protests against the occupation. In the late 1980s, during the first popular uprising, Israel’s defence minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin,publicly urged soldiers to “break the bones” of any Palestinians they caught.

During the early stages of the second intifada, beginning in late 2000, the Israeli army again resorted to massive use of force. In three weeks during October 2000, before Palestinian factions started taking up arms, Israeli military recordsshow soldiers fired one million live rounds.

Amnesty describes the Israeli army’s use of force against Palestinians in its three-year study as “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”. It adds that in all the cases it examined, including Samir’s death, there was no evidence the Israeli soldiers’ lives were under threat.

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” Luther said.

Shot in the back

In addition to 45 unarmed Palestinians shot dead with live ammunition over the past three years, many of them at protests, another 261 have been seriously injured, including 67 children. Several were shot in the back, indicating they had been targeted as they were fleeing.

Many more civilians have been injured by means other than live rounds. Amnesty cites as “astonishing” the fact that in three years Israeli soldiers have wounded 8,500 Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Among that number were 1,500 children.

Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, an Israeli group monitoring abuses in the occupied territories, said her organisation had been distributing video cameras to Palestinians as a way to help document the use of violence by soldiers and settlers. In December, B’Tselem released video footage shot by Muhammad Awad, a Palestinian in the village of Beit Ummar,showing a soldier firing a tear gas canister into his chest. He had to be treated in hospital.

Amnesty criticises the lack of proper investigations by the army of the many incidents it records, calling the response “woefully inadequate” and lacking in “independence and impartiality”. The human rights group says it cannot identify a single case of a member of the Israeli security forces being convicted of “wilfully killing” a Palestinian in the occupied territories for the past 25 years.

According to figures compiled by Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group, only four soldiers have been convicted of negligent manslaughter and another of negligence in the past 13 years. None was discharged from the army or received a prison sentence of more than a few months.

Michaeli was herself injured last July when a police officer fired a rubber-coated bullet at her from close range while she was filming a demonstration in Nabi Saleh.

“It’s clear there is a policy from the commanders of turning a blind eye when open-fire regulations are violated. When I recently spoke to the officer investigating my case, he said that there had been no developments – that was six months after the events happened. When the security services know the policy is to do nothing, there is no deterrence.”

Requests by Amnesty to meet army officials to discuss the cases in its report were rejected. The Israeli defence ministry was unavailable for comment when approached by Al Jazeera.

An Israeli army statement said: “The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] holds itself to the highest of professional standards and trains and equips itself as such. When there is any suspicion of wrong doing, or breach of discipline, the IDF reviews, investigates and takes action where appropriate.”

Numbed to aggression?

A recent academic study of Israeli soldiers’ testimonies suggested their operational routines quickly numbed them into treating harassment and aggression towards Palestinians as normal. The young soldiers came to enjoy a sense of power and their ability to impose “corrective punishment”.

Avner Gvarayahu of Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers who compile testimonies of soldiers’ abuses, agreed. He said the real rules of engagement issued by commanders were “flexible” and allowed soldiers to open fire on civilians.

“Soldiers are educated by the army to see the conflict as a zero-sum game: It’s either us or them. Then every Palestinian comes to be seen as a threat, as a potential terrorist, whether they are young or old, man or woman, able-bodied or disabled. They are all the enemy.”

Gvarayahu, who once commanded a special operations unit, said the army command also approved of what he called “revenge attacks”, raids on random Palestinian communities in retaliation for the deaths of Israelis. “There is no way these kinds of attacks can be carried out by ordinary soldiers without authorisation from the very top. I think the decision even comes from the political level.”

He said political and military leaders established the norms of behaviour within the army.

“Remember that the current defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, when he was the chief of staff [in 2002], said the army’s job was to ‘burn into the consciousness’ of the Palestinians their defeat. The only aim one can infer from that is that the army’s role is to use force to make the Palestinians weak and compliant.”

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. http://www.jonathan-cook.net

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37778.htm

FBI Had Human Source in Contact With Bin Laden as Far Back as 1993

U.S. learned of plans to finance terror attacks

By Guy Taylor and John Solomon

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Washington Times” – In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.

Mr. Curran gave the testimony in 2010 to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.

“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 through 2007 when lawmakers dealt with the fallout from the 9/11 Commission’s official report.

“This is just one more of these examples that will go into the conspiracy theorists’ notebooks, who say the authorities are not telling us everything,” Mr. Hoekstra told The Times in an interview last week. “That’s bad for the intelligence community. It’s bad for law enforcement and it’s bad for government.”

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission with former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, said that as far as he can remember, the FBI never told the commission that it had been working a source so close to bin Laden that many years before 9/11.

“I do not recall the FBI advising us of a direct contact with Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Hamilton told The Times in a recent interview.

Exactly how the information was omitted from the various congressional reviews and the 9/11 Commission report is a mystery. FBI officials and staff involved in the review said they couldn’t determine definitely so many years later whether the information was kept from the various investigations or whether it was simply overlooked by staff in the thousands of pages of documents and electronic records made available during the exhaustive reviews of al Qaeda’s history.

“Both the commission and the U.S. government compiled a fair amount of evidence about the activities of the set of groups later best known as al Qaeda during [the early-1990s], when the group was settling into Sudan. We did not delve as deeply in this period because it was so distant from the plotting that led directly to the 9/11 attack,” said Philip Zelikow, who served as the 9/11 Commission’s executive director and now teaches history at the University of Virginia.

Like Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Zelikow said he does not recall ever being told by the FBI about the 1993 source and that Mr. Curran’s disclosure appeared to involve “valuable intelligence gathered in 1993 and 1994.”

But Mr. Zelikow cautioned against reading too deeply into the revelation, asserting that bin Laden’s activities that long ago would be viewed as “pretty attenuated in relation to 9/11.”

FBI officials told The Times that the bureau could not say for certain that its agents specifically briefed the 9/11 Commission about the 1993 asset or plot but was proud that it gave unfettered access to its records to the various investigators.

“The FBI made all relevant information available to the 9/11 Commission and the joint intelligence community inquiry. Throughout both of these reviews, the FBI shared pertinent documents and knowledgeable personnel in order to present all known information to commission and inquiry personnel,” Assistant Director Michael P. Kortan said.

The lawyer who represented Mr. Youssef and called Mr. Curran to testify in the 2010 court case, however, said the FBI kept the information from his litigation for years.

Attorney Stephen Kohn said that even his own client declined to tell him about the sensational revelation until it surfaced during the court hearing because the information had been kept classified.

“I was shocked when it came out, and I was frustrated because the FBI had censored that information clearly to hide it from the public,” said Mr. Kohn, who has represented some of the FBI’s most famous whistleblowers over the years.

“There was absolutely no reason for that to be kept secret,” he told The Times in an interview. “In some respects, it was kind of demeaning for the FBI because they had kept secret one of the most significant triumphs in the war on terror all so they wouldn’t have to give credit to Bassem for the work he had done. As a result, none of the bureau got the credit it was due for what was a spectacular counterterrorism triumph.”

Mr. Youssef remains with the bureau, overseeing its telephone intercept analysis unit, and he won an appeals court ruling a few years ago to pursue a discrimination lawsuit against the bureau. That ruling was handed down after FBI supervisors were forced to admit he was blocked from his job as one of the bureau’s top terrorism fighters because he was mistaken for an Arab Muslim whose loyalties should be questioned after Sept. 11. In fact, Mr. Youssef was a highly decorated agent and a Coptic Christian.

As the case played out in federal court in 2010, Mr. Curran testified in Mr. Youssef’s favor, methodically telling the court about the agent’s many successes during the early 1990s when the U.S. government’s unofficial war on terrorism was just beginning. Those successes included thwarting specific terrorist attacks, including one on a British cruise liner and another that targeted the Los Angeles area, Mr. Curran testified.

The former supervisor testified that Mr. Youssef developed a confidential source connected to the infamous “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and that he managed to get that source to go overseas and meet personally with bin Laden.

The source was “very in tight, close,” to the leadership of al Qaeda, which was then known as the Islamic Group, Mr. Curran testified.

“The one source came back, had direct contact with bin Laden,” Mr. Curran testified, adding that upon returning to the U.S., the source indicated to the Blind Sheik that bin Laden “had a target picked out for an explosion in the Los Angeles area. I believe it was a Masonic lodge.”

Mr. Curran said the source also provided information about terrorist cells operating in California. During the testimony, he related in detail how Mr. Youssef flipped the asset so “he was working with us,” describing how the FBI collaborated with the source’s wife from an arranged marriage to get him deported from the United States to put pressure on him.

“He wanted to come back, and that was the carrot we used to get his cooperation,” Mr. Curran said.

Eventually, the plot to blow up the Los Angeles target was diffused based on information the source provided the FBI, according to the court testimony and other FBI documents.

Mr. Curran’s testimony is further supported by two documents, his own FBI personnel performance review report as an assistant special agent in charge in Los Angeles at the time, and a 1995 inspection report of the Los Angeles FBI office, both of which reference the asset and the thwarting of the plot.

“During the past six months, through ASAC CU’s personal efforts, the FBI identified and supported an investigative effort which uncovered a large terrorist group operating out of the Los Angeles and San Diego areas,” stated Mr. Curran’s 1994 performance evaluation, a copy of which was obtained by The Times.

The evaluation stated that Mr. Curran “personally participated in the overseas interview of a potential asset who is in a position to provide valuable intelligence information to the nation’s entire intelligence community.”

While the document made no specific reference to the asset’s proximity to bin Laden, it stated outright that “the development of this asset, as well as the initiation of other investigative techniques, has resulted in the Los Angeles office obtaining significant intelligence information which is not being provided by any other sources and agencies.”

The 1995 inspection report of the Los Angeles office, meanwhile, praised agents for conducting “analysis of asset information received immediately preceding the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which indicated the presence of an active terrorist infrastructure.”

Similarly, Mr. Youssef provided a written set of answers in his own court case that played out years later, during which he confirmed that he had personally groomed an asset who led to the uncovering of two active terrorist cells in California.

Mr. Youssef wrote that he began investigating information in January 1993 — about a month before the first World Trade Center bombing — that an Egyptian man was involved in terrorism activities in the California area and “this effort led me to a source that was initially contacted by another government agency.”

“I quickly developed a scenario to gain the source’s trust, and in a short period of time, I gained the source’s trust,” Mr. Youssef wrote. “During the relatively short recruitment period, it became evident this source was in a unique position to know and provide highly valuable information not just about the main subject but regarding two very active, thriving IG terror cells.”

Missing from the testimony and the record is any mention of what eventually happened to the human asset and whether he was still available to the United States in later years. U.S. officials declined to discuss the source’s whereabouts after 1994.

The more than 500-page official 9/11 Commission report, as well as equally exhaustive reports produced by the House and Senate intelligence committees, and the CIA’s office of inspector general, made no mention of the source or his contributions to thwarting a Los Angeles area terrorist plot.

The 9/11 Commission report broadly outlines how, during the early 1990s, bin Laden was seeking to expand al Qaeda globally — an effort that included “building alliances extended into the United States,” and that “the Blind Sheikh, whom Bin Laden admired, was also in the network.”

But the report downplays the notion that bin Laden was actively plotting or seeking to finance any specific attacks inside the United States as far back as 1993 — two pieces of information that, according to Mr. Curran’s testimony and contemporaneous documents, the FBI’s Los Angeles field office corroborated at the time.

Alternatively, the report outlines how all of the attacks pursued by bin Laden during that period were against U.S. assets outside the United States.

With regard to the one attack inside the U.S. — the first World Trade Center bombing — the report says “bin Laden involvement is at best cloudy.”

Mr. Zelikow said he regards Mr. Youssef as a “valuable FBI agent” and does not doubt the credibility of Mr. Youssef or Mr. Curran.

But he concluded that if the source referred to by Mr. Curran “had remained close to al Qaeda leadership into the Afghan period, I am pretty sure we would have known about that.”

Mr. Hoekstra, however, is not so sure.

“I believe that if one of the agencies wants to hide something from you, it’s pretty hard for someone else to find it,” he said. “My bias would be that if the FBI knew about this and wanted to hide it, they could, absolutely.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC.

Special Congressional Panel to Investigate FBI Contact With Bin Laden

By Guy Taylor

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Washington Times” – A special panel recently authorized by Congress to review the FBI’s efforts to reform itself in the aftermath of the 9/11 Commission report will examine the case of a mole the agency had in direct contact with Osama bin Laden during the early 1990s, a key congressman said Wednesday.

The existence of the FBI mole and his dealings with bin Laden were omitted from the official investigations into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but were disclosed in an exclusive report Wednesday morning in The Washington Times.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FBI, said the panel would take a close look at what came of the human source that the FBI’s Los Angeles field office cultivated in 1993. The source’s contributions, which included helping thwart a terrorist plot in Los Angeles, were never mentioned in the more than 500-page official report published in 2004 by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

In an interview with The Times on Wednesday evening, Mr. Wolf said the details surrounding the source represent “exactly the type of activity” that the newly established panel will examine.

The panel, which is also being dubbed a “commission,” was created in late January under language Mr. Wolf crafted for Congress‘ 2013 omnibus appropriations bill that President Obama ultimately signed into law.

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former Ambassador Tim Roemer, who also served in Congress, and longtime national security analyst and Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman have been appointed to serve on the commission, which also is tasked with probing the success and failure with which the FBI “is addressing the evolving threat of terrorism today.”

“I cannot think of three more qualified individuals to serve on the commission,” Mr. Wolf said in a Jan. 27 statement announcing the panel. “They are all men of integrity and have significant credibility and expertise on counterterrorism policy.”

At the time, Mr. Meese said it “is imperative that as we move further away from the 9/11 attacks, we make sure the bureau is evolving to address the ever-changing threat from al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.”

It’s a point that seems all the more pertinent in light of the revelations in The Times report, which homed in on testimony that Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, gave in a little-noticed employment dispute case involving a counterterrorism agent at the bureau.

As the case played out in federal court in 2010, Mr. Curran testified that the FBI had placed a human source in direct contact with bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance a terrorist attack in the United States.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Mr. Curran told the court in support of the discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent, Bassem Youssef.

Mr. Curran gave the testimony in an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists. The Times was recently alerted to the existence of the testimony while working on a broader report about al Qaeda’s origins.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, congressional intelligence committees and terrorism analysts told The Times they are floored that the information is just now emerging publicly and that it raises questions about what else Americans might not have been told about the origins of al Qaeda and its early interest in attacking the United States.

The 9/11 Commission report broadly outlines how, during the early 1990s, bin Laden was seeking to expand al Qaeda globally — an effort that included “building alliances extended into the United States,” and that “the Blind Sheikh, whom bin Laden admired, was also in the network.”

But the report downplays the notion that bin Laden was actively plotting or seeking to finance any specific attacks inside the United States as far back as 1993 — two pieces of information that, according to Mr. Curran’s testimony and contemporaneous documents, the FBI’s Los Angeles field office corroborated at the time.

Alternatively, the report outlines how all of the attacks pursued by bin Laden during that period were against U.S. assets outside the United States.

With regard to the one attack inside the U.S. — the first World Trade Center bombing — the report says “bin Laden involvement is at best cloudy.”

It remains to be seen whether the newly created commission might uncover information that will change that assessment.

Mr. Wolf told The Times on Wednesday evening that the commission’s members will present findings to the Appropriations Committee in late March.

It is not the first time that Mr. Wolf has pushed for deeper insight into the evolution of al Qaeda and its relationship with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

In 1998, he authored language that resulted in the creation of the National Commission on Terrorism, also known as the Bremer Commission. That panel’s final report, released in 2000 just months before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, highlighted the threat from bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Mr. Wolf reflected Wednesday on the chilling irony surrounding that report, the cover of which had a picture of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York.

He said the goal for the new “commission is to look at everything, so we don’t make a mistake and let something happen that could be prevented.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37776.htm

America vs. the World

By Margaret Kimberley

“A superpower can foment conflict anywhere it wants to at anytime it chooses.”

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “BAR” – President Obama has placed whole nations on his Kill List. Syria and Venezuela are to join Libya and Iraq as states that have been made to fail, while Ukraine is snatched into the NATO-EU orbit. “The neo-conservative project for a new American century has reached full fruition under a Democratic president, who now has many notches on his gun.”
The word imperialism fell into disuse in recent decades. If it seems slightly retro, that is only because there aren’t enough Americans committed to telling the ugly truth about their government.

During the cold war era we were told that communism increased in influence via a domino effect, knocking down nations one by one and forcing them into Moscow’s or Beijing’s orbit. In the 21st century there is a new domino theory which puts every part of the world into America’s cross hairs.

Barack Obama has succeeded in expanding America’s influence in ways that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could only dream about. The neo-conservative project for a new American century has reached full fruition under a Democratic president, who now has many notches on his gun. He and the rest of the NATO leaders began the trail of destruction with Libya, tearing that country asunder under the guise of saving it.

Using lies and their servants in the corporate media, they constructed a tale of a tyrant and a people yearning for protection. That evil success emboldened them and their gulf monarchy allies further and they decided that Syria would be the next domino.

That plan didn’t work quite as well as Obama and the rest of murder incorporated team thought it would. When the British parliament said no to new military adventures Obama was left sputtering on national television. He was forced to back down from an adamant position he had taken just days earlier.

The semi-comedic setback was only temporary because the monster must be fed at all cost. The system can no longer sustain itself and brute force is the only out. There is nothing old fashioned about imperialism. This malevolent force is still alive and well.

George W. Bush made efforts to overthrow the democratically elected Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela when he plotted with the opposition against the late Hugo Chavez. Obama is clearly more committed to violence than his predecessor and has helped to stir up right wing Venezuelans who want to rid themselves of Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has been weakened by the ginned up protests and is now forced into talks with an opposition that won’t be satisfied until he is dead and gone too.

The Venezuelan people have voted for their revolution numerous times. The U.S., a country that never ceases to call itself a democracy, has thwarted their clearly expressed will time and time again. But that is the essence of empire after all.

While armed force against Syria was temporarily blocked, the West, the Persian gulf monarchies, Israel, and jihadists have not given up their effort to topple the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. The savage war has made thousands of Syrians homeless and starving refugees, all because the empire needs its next domino.

Not only does United States meddles in its own backyard, it also relentlessly interferes on the other side of the world in far away Ukraine. Popular discontent against that country’s president became a successful effort to bring that country into the western sphere of economic influence but with the awful strings of austerity attached. Ukraine has the choice of going bankrupt or being bailed out and dying a slow death a la Greece.

While the machinations were afoot, president Obama warned Vladimir Putin away with threats of sanctions. The scenes of sometimes violent street protests in Ukraine made a fortuitous tableau for the United States which claimed the infamous “responsibility to protect” which never protects anyone who actually needs help and which has brought so much suffering to people around the world. Every invasion, occupation and disruption in recent years can be laid at the feet of the United States and its allies. Iraq has been destroyed quite literally, Iran has been destroyed economically. Libya was taken out and Syria is on the brink.

The United States quite openly makes it clear that it wants to have its way in the world. If Russia attempts to use its influence then it is vilified and caricatured as a cruel dictatorship controlled by a tyrant. No matter how many elections Chavez and now Maduro won, they are called dictators by American talking heads.

A superpower can foment conflict anywhere it wants to at anytime it chooses. Venezuelans must knuckle under or face the prospect of more turmoil and violence. Ukraine must sign onto economic policies which have already proven disastrous. The United States leaves its fingerprints in these and many other places and that is the essence of imperialism. It is all about control with the rawest brute force available.

The United States hasn’t officially made Venezuela or any other a colony but it doesn’t have to do that. It just has to show that it is boss and the dominos will fall wherever it chooses.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37779.htm

Cheering a ‘Democratic’ Coup in Ukraine

By Robert Parry

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Consortiumnews” – There was always a measure of hypocrisy but Official Washington used to at least pretend to stand for “democracy,” rather than taking such obvious pleasure in destabilizing elected governments, encouraging riots, overturning constitutional systems and then praising violent putsches.

But events in Ukraine and Venezuela suggest that the idea of respecting the results of elections and working within legal, albeit flawed, political systems is no longer in vogue, unless the “U.S. side” happens to win, of course. If the “U.S. side” loses, then it’s time for some “shock doctrine.” And, of course, the usual demonizing of the “enemy” leader.

Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was surely no one’s idea of a pristine politician, though it looks like there are few to none of those in Ukraine, a country essentially controlled by a collection of billionaire oligarchs who jockey for power and shift their allegiances among corrupt politicians.

But Yanukovych was elected in what was regarded as a reasonably fair election in 2010. Indeed, some international observers called the election an important step toward establishing an orderly political process in Ukraine.

But Yanukovych sought to maintain cordial relations with neighboring Russia, which apparently rubbed American neocons the wrong way. Official Washington’s still-influential neocons have been livid with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin because he cooperated with U.S. President Barack Obama in averting U.S. wars against Iran and Syria.

In both cases, the neocons thought they had maneuvered Obama into confrontations that could have advanced their long-term strategy of “regime change” across the Middle East, a process that started in 2003 with the U.S. invasion of Iraq but stalled with that disastrous war.

However, last year, prospects for more U.S. military interventions in two other target countries – Iran and Syria – were looking up, as Israel joined with Saudi Arabia in stoking regional crises that would give Obama no choice but to launch American air strikes, against Iran’s nuclear facilities and against Syrian government targets.

Putin’s Interference

That strategy was going swimmingly until Putin helped bring Iran to the negotiating table over guarantees that its nuclear program would not lead to a nuclear weapon. Putin also brokered a deal to avert threatened U.S. air strikes on Syria over disputed evidence regarding who launched a chemical attack on civilians outside Damascus. Putin got the Syrian government to agree to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal.

So, Putin found himself in the center of the neocons’ bulls-eye and – given some of his own unforced errors such as defending Russia’s intolerance toward gays and spending excessively on the Sochi Olympics – he became the latest “designated villain,” denounced and ridiculed across the neocon-dominated op-ed pages of the Washington Post and other major news outlets.

Even NBC, from its treasured spot as the network of the Olympic Games, felt it had no choice but to denounce Putin in an extraordinary commentary delivered by anchor Bob Costas. Once the demonizing ball gets rolling everyone has to join in or risk getting run over, too.

All of which set the stage for Ukraine. The issue at hand was whether Yanukovych should accept a closer relationship with the European Union, which was demanding substantial economic “reforms,” including an austerity plan dictated by the International Monetary Fund. Yanukovych balked at the harsh terms and turned to Ukraine’s neighbor Russia, which was offering a $15 billion loan and was keeping Ukraine’s economy afloat with discounted natural gas.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether the EU was driving too hard a bargain or whether Ukraine should undertake such painful economic “reforms” – or how Yanukovych should have balanced the interests of his divided country, with the east dominated by ethnic Russians and the west leaning toward Europe.

But protesters from western Ukraine, including far-right nationalists, sought to turn this policy dispute into a means for overthrowing the elected government. Police efforts to quell the disturbances turned violent, with the police not the only culprits. Police faced armed neo-Nazi storm troopers who attacked with firebombs and other weapons.

Though the U.S. news media did show scenes of these violent melees, the U.S. press almost universally blamed Yanukovych – and took almost gleeful pleasure as his elected government collapsed and was replaced by thuggish right-wing militias “guarding” government buildings.

With Yanukovych and many of his supporters fleeing for their lives, the opposition parties seized control of parliament and began passing draconian new laws often unanimously, as neo-Nazi thugs patrolled the scene. Amazingly, the U.S. news media treated all this as uplifting, a popular uprising against a tyrant, not a case of a coup government operating in collusion with violent extremists.

In the upside-down world that has become the U.S. news media, the democratically elected president was a dictator and the coup makers who overthrew the popularly chosen leader were “pro-democracy” activists.

A Curious History

There’s also a curious history behind U.S. attitudes toward ethnically divided Ukraine. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency – as he escalated Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union – one of his propaganda services, Radio Liberty, began broadcasting commentaries into Ukraine from right-wing exiles.

Some of the commentaries praised Ukrainian nationalists who had sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS waged its “final solution” against European Jews. The propaganda broadcasts provoked outrage from Jewish organizations, such as B’nai B’rith, and individuals including conservative academic Richard Pipes.

According to an internal memo dated May 4, 1984, and written by James Critchlow, a research officer at the Board of International Broadcasting, which managed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, one RL broadcast in particular was viewed as “defending Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the SS.”

Critchlow wrote, “An RL Ukrainian broadcast of Feb. 12, 1984 contains references to the Nazi-oriented Ukrainian-manned SS ‘Galicia’ Division of World War II which may have damaged RL’s reputation with Soviet listeners. The memoirs of a German diplomat are quoted in a way that seems to constitute endorsement by RL of praise for Ukrainian volunteers in the SS division, which during its existence fought side by side with the Germans against the Red Army.”

Harvard Professor Pipes, who was an informal adviser to the Reagan administration, also inveighed against the RL broadcasts, writing – on Dec. 3, 1984 – “the Russian and Ukrainian services of RL have been transmitting this year blatantly anti-Semitic material to the Soviet Union which may cause the whole enterprise irreparable harm.”

Though the Reagan administration publicly defended RL against some of the public criticism, privately some senior officials agreed with the critics, according to documents in the archives of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. For instance, in a Jan. 4, 1985, memo, Walter Raymond Jr., a top official on the National Security Council, told his boss, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, that “I would believe much of what Dick [Pipes] says is right.”

This three-decade-old dispute over U.S.-sponsored radio broadcasts underscores the troubling political reality of Ukraine, which straddles a dividing line between people with cultural ties oriented toward the West and those with a cultural heritage more attuned to Russia. Though the capital Kiev sits in a region dominated by the western Ukrainians, the Russian-allied Ukrainians represent most of the population, explaining Yanukovych’s electoral victory.

Loving a Putsch

Now, right-wing militias, representing those historical resentments toward the Russians and hostility toward the Jews, have seized control of many government buildings in Kiev. Faced with this intimidation, the often-unanimous decisions by the remaining legislators would normally be viewed with extreme skepticism, including their demands for the capture and likely execution of Yanukovych.

But the U.S. press corps can’t get beyond its demonization of Putin and Yanukovych. The neocon Washington Post has been almost euphoric over the coup, as expressed in a Feb. 24 editorial:

“Ukraine has shaken off its corrupt president and the immediate prospect of domination by Russia — but at the risk of further conflict. The decision by Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kiev over the weekend triggered the disintegration of his administration and prompted parliament to replace him and schedule elections for May.

“The moves were democratic — members of Mr. Yanukovych’s party joined in the parliamentary votes — but they had the effect of nullifying an accord between the former government and opposition that had been brokered by the European Union and tacitly supported by Russia.

“Kiev is now controlled by pro-Western parties that say they will implement the association agreement with the European Union that Mr. Yanukovych turned away from three months ago, triggering the political crisis.

“There remain two big threats to this positive outcome. One is that Ukraine’s finances will collapse in the absence of a bailout from Russia or the West. The other is that the country will split along geographic lines as Russian speakers in the east of the country, perhaps supported by Moscow, reject the new political order.”

The Post continued, “What’s not clear is whether Mr. Putin would accept a Ukraine that is not under the Kremlin’s thumb. The first indications are not good: Though Mr. Putin has been publicly silent about Ukraine since Friday, the rhetoric emanating from his government has been angry and belligerent. A foreign ministry statement Monday alleged that ‘a course has been set to use dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods to suppress dissenters in various regions.’”

So, the Washington Post’s editors consider the violent overthrow of a democratically elected president to be “democratic” and take comfort in “democratic” actions by a legislature, despite the curious lack of any no votes and the fact that this balloting has occurred under the watchful eye of neo-Nazi storm troopers patrolling government offices. And, according to the Post, the Russian government is unhinged to detect “dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods.”

The New York Times editorial page was only slightly less celebratory, proclaiming: “The venal president of Ukraine is on the run and the bloodshed has stopped, but it is far too early to celebrate or to claim that the West has ‘won’ or that Russia has ‘lost.’ One incontrovertible lesson from the events in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, is that the deeply divided country will have to contend with dangerous problems that could reverberate beyond its borders.”

There has been, of course, a long and inglorious history of the U.S. government supporting the overthrow of elected governments: Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Allende in Chile in 1973, Aristide in Haiti twice, Chavez in Venezuela briefly in 2002, Zelaya in Honduras in 2009, Morsi in Egypt in 2013, and others. After Yanukovych, the next target of these U.S.-embraced “democratic” coups looks to be Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

In these cases, it is typical for the mainstream U.S. news media to obsess over perceived flaws in the ousted leaders. On Wednesday, for instance, the New York Times made much of an unfinished presidential palace in Ukraine, calling it “a fugitive leader’s folly.” The idea seems to be to cement in the minds of impressionable Americans that it is okay for the U.S. government to support the overthrow of democratically elected presidents if they have flaws.

The outcomes for the people of these countries that are “saved” from their imperfect leaders, however, often tend to be quite ugly. Usually, they experience long periods of brutal repression at the hands of dictators, but that typically happens outside the frame of the U.S. news media’s focus or interest. Those unhappy countries fade from view almost as quickly as they were thrust to center stage, next to the demonization of their elected leaders.

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 Amazonand barnesandnoble.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.

© 2014 Consortium News

Russia Grants Protection to Yanukovych: “I’m Still The President”

By Reuters

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Reuters” – – Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovich said on Thursday he was still the legitimate president of his country and that people in its southeastern and southern regions would never accept the “lawlessness” brought by leaders chosen by a mob.

Russian news agencies quoted a statement by Yanukovich as saying he had asked Moscow to guarantee his personal safety. The statement could not be independently verified and it was not clear where Yanukovich was, although some media groups have suggested he is in Moscow after fleeing Ukraine, where he was toppled by opposition forces at the weekend.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said he had no information and could not comment on the statement.

“I, Viktor Fedorovich Yanukovich appeal to the people of Ukraine. As before I still consider myself to be the lawful head of the Ukrainian state, chosen freely by the will of the Ukrainian people,” he was quoted as saying. “Now it is becoming clear that the people in southeastern Ukraine and in Crimea do not accept the power vacuum and complete lawlessness in the country, when the heads of ministries are appointed by the mob.”

“On the streets of many cities of our country there is an orgy of extremism,” he said, adding that he and his closest aides had been threatened physically. “I have to ask the Russian authorities to provide me with personal safety from the actions of extremists.”

Russian television showed what it said was a copy of the statement. Interfax news agency quoted a source in the authorities as saying Moscow would ensure Yanukovich’s safety on the Russian territory. “In connection with the appeal by president Yanukovich for his personal security to be guaranteed, I report that the request has been granted on the territory of the Russian Federation,” the source was quoted as saying.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37772.htm

Crimean Parliament Seized by Unknown Pro-Russian Gunmen

Gunmen storm Crimea’s regional administrative complex in Simferopol and hoist Russian flag above parliament building

By Harriet Salem in Simferopol, Shaun Walker in Kiev, and Luke Harding

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” –  Fears of a major regional conflict in Crimea pitting Russia against the west have intensified after unknown pro-Russian gunmen seized the government and parliament building in a well co-ordinated military operation.

According to witnesses, the men dressed in fatigues stormed Crimea’s regional administrative complex in Simferopol at 5am on Thursday. They hoisted a Russian flag above the parliament building. About 120 men were holed up inside, armed with heavy weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles, witnesses said.

They threw a flash grenade in response to a journalist’s questions. Phonecalls to region’s legislature rang unanswered, and its website was down.

It was unclear if the men were members of a pro-Russian self-defence militia formed in the aftermath of Ukraine’s revolution or undercover Russian soldiers.

Speaking in Kiev, the former head of the Crimean parliament, Serhiy Kunitsyn, described the men as “professionally trained”. He said he had been on the phone to Crimea “all night”. The gunmen were heavily armed, he said, with enough weaponry to defend the complex “for a month”.

Either way, the seizure dramatically escalates tensions on the already volatile Crimean peninsula. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, who has been in the job since the removal of Viktor Yanukovych last week, explicitly warned Russia not to intervene in the crisis by moving troops. The Kremlin’s Black Sea fleet is based near Simferopol in the port of Sevastopol.

Turchynov said: “I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory [the base] will be seen by us as military aggression.” Ukraine’s foreign ministry also summoned Russia’s acting envoy in Kiev for immediate consultations.

EU leaders expressed alarm at the latest developments. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has ordered fighter jets to a state of high alert, as well as large-scale military exercises on Ukraine’s border. In a tweet, the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, urged Russia not to do anything that would “escalate tension or create misunderstanding”. Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, called the seizure of government buildings in the Crimea a “very dangerous game”.

He told a news conference: “This is a drastic step, and I’m warning those who did this and those who allowed them to do this, because this is how regional conflicts begin.”

Hours after the parliament building was seized, Yanukovych revealed that he was now in Moscow and had “sought protection” from Putin. Yanukovych, who fled Kiev after government troops shot dead more than 80 people, excoriated Ukraine’s new leadership unveiled on Wednesday and said he was still the country’s legitimate president. He appeared to give approval to secessionist pro-Russian forces in Crimea who have rejected Kiev’s authority, and said an “orgy of extremism” had swept the country. “Now it is becoming clear that the people in south-eastern Ukraine and in Crimea do not accept the power vacuum and complete lawlessness in the country,” he said.

The gunmen barricaded doors into the parliament building with wooden crates. Police sealed off the area on Wednesday, as a crowd supportive of the seizure gathered outside. Two people died and 35 were injured during clashes outside the building on Wednesday between pro-Russian demonstrators and Muslim Tartars. About half of Crimea’s 2 million population are ethnic Russians. The Tartars – the peninsula’s original Turkic-speaking Muslim inhabitants – are 300,000 strong and support the authorities in Kiev.

Eyewitnesses described the moment when the armed men turned up. “We were building barricades in the night to protect parliament. Then this young Russian guy came up with a pistol … we all lay down, some more ran up, there was some shooting and around 50 went in through the window,” Leonid Khazanov, an ethnic Russian, told Reuters.

Khazanov added: “They’re still there … Then the police came, they seemed scared. I asked them [the armed men] what they wanted, and they said: ‘To make our own decisions, not to have Kiev telling us what to do’.”

The former head of the central executive body of Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Jemilev, said the situation was extremely worrying. He suggested the gunmen had arrived from Sevastopol, where the Russian fleet is based. “The people in camouflage and without any distinctive signs came by buses from the Sevastopol side. There are reports of movement of armed vehicles of the Russian fleet in different directions. We also got signs that in many hotels there are Russian soldiers wearing civilian clothes. The Russian general consul office says they have nothing to do with these events. But they would hardly tell the truth.”

Jemilev speculated that the gunmen could be Russian soldiers or members of Berkut, the now-disbanded riot police unit deployed against opposition protesters in Kiev. Lifenews.ru, a pro-Kremlin Russian website with links to Russia’s spy agencies, however, said they were veterans from the army and police. According to US diplomatic cables leaked in 2010 by Wikileaks, Russia’s military intelligence wing – the GRU – is highly active in Crimea.

The secretary to the head of parliament, Oksana Korniychuk, said on Wednesday a referendum would be held on the peninsula to determine its future status. This would almost certainly fuel demands among Crimea’s ethnic Russian majority for a union with Russia.

About 100 police had gathered in front of the parliament building on Thursday. A similar number of people carrying Russian flags later marched up to the building chanting “Russia, Russia” and holding a sign calling for a Crimean referendum.

Many wore orange and black striped ribbons that symbolise support for Russia. One of them, Alexei, 30, said: “We have our own constitution, Crimea is autonomous. The government in Kiev are fascists, and what they’re doing is illegal … We need to show our support for the guys inside [parliament]. Power should be ours.”

“Yesterday Russian people were attacked and murdered by Tatar extremists. We will not allow this fascism from Kiev to happen here,” said 43 year-old construction worker, Spartak. “Crimea wants independence and we want parliament to hold a referendum on this. We have been hijacked.”

Policemen informed passersby that Karl Marx Street was closed due to the presence of snipers in the areas. Nearby shops and businesses have closed and pulled down their shutters.

“The actions in Kiev are a provocation to Crimea. People here didn’t chose this fascist government. Here we will not have not have memorials to Bandera [a western Ukrainian hero viewed as a fascist by many of those in the east and south of Ukraine],” said Valentina Fedorova, aged 60.

It is unclear how Ukraine’s new government in Kiev will respond. The acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, who said the attackers had automatic weapons and machine guns, urged calm. He said on Facebook: “Provocateurs are on the march. It is the time for cool heads.”

Turchynov, speaking to the parliament in Kiev,, described the attackers as “criminals in military fatigues with automatic weapons”.

He also called on Moscow not to violate the terms of an agreement that gives the Russian Black Sea fleet basing rights at Sevastopol until 2042.

The regional prime minister said he had spoken to the people inside the building by telephone but they had not made any demands or said why they were inside. They had promised to call him back but had not done so, he said.

Putin has ignored calls by some ethnic Russians in Crimea to reclaim the territory handed to then Soviet Ukraine by Soviet Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.

The United States says any Russian military action would be a grave mistake. But Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Moscow would defend the rights of its compatriots and react without compromise to any violation of those rights. It expressed concern about “large-scale human rights violations”, attacks and vandalism in the former Soviet republic.

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited

See also –

Russia grants protection to Yanukovych: “I’m still the president”: Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovich said on Thursday he was still the legitimate president of his country and that people in its southeastern and southern regions would never accept the “lawlessness” brought by leaders chosen by a mob.

Russia to ‘uncompromisingly’ defend rights of compatriots – Foreign Ministry: Russia will defend the rights of its compatriots in a “strong and uncompromising” manner, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, as tensions rose in Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority.

International Warrant issued for Ukraine’s Yanukovych: The ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been placed on the international wanted list, together with ex-Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko.

Yanukovych’s Fall: The Power of Ukraine’s Billionaires: The protesters in Kiev were largely responsible for the fall of the Ukrainian president. But his way out of office was paved by two of the country’s most powerful oligarchs. Made rich by Viktor Yanukovych, the pair made early preparations for his departure.

Crimea parliament announces referendum on Ukrainian region’s future: The region’s parliament said the all-Crimean referendum is about “improving the status of autonomy and expanding its powers.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37777.htm

First World War Bravery Was Not Confined To The Soldiers

As we mark the conflict, we must not forget those who were ridiculed, jailed and worse for daring to fight for peace

By Priyamvada Gopal

February 27, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” –   The commemorations of the first world war now under way in the media and museums are, we are given to understand, intended to be inclusive. They will cover the roles of women, soldiers from Africa and Asia, even animals, and examine the impact of the war on everything from the economy and technology to medicine and cinema. This is all to the good if it furthers our understanding of how that terrible conflagration still shapes our difficult present. But in an atmosphere thick with invocations of “courage” and “sacrifice”, there seems to be a curious exclusion. The bravery of those who rallied behind the powerful banner of nationalism will be honoured, but what about the courage of those who took the path of most resistance and dissented from the status quo by challenging the war itself?

Unlike those historians who can, with the benefit of hindsight and peer approval, lament the pity of that war, the motley coalitions that organised resistance to the unfolding of the first world war did so in the face of enormous social disapproval and institutional pressures. As the War Propaganda Bureau‘s massive efforts, along with press acquiescence, kept public opinion on side, it took a special kind of bravery to query the wisdom of bloodshed before shots were fired, or call for a negotiated peace mid-carnage. Fighting for peace earned you anything from vitriolic accusations of cowardice and treachery to job loss, state-abetted mob attacks, arrest, imprisonment, hard labour, courts-martial, show trials and even execution orders. As a consequence, many campaigners suffered nervous breakdowns and ill health. Their sacrifices must not go unsung.

Well before the first trenches were dug, questions were being asked about the motives for and conduct of the war by an expanding anti-war coalition, fronted by some of Britain’s most distinguished people. Denounced furiously by Rudyard Kipling as “human rubbish”, Britain’s dissenters included Liberals, Labour supporters and socialists; a striking number were women. They ranged from the aristocratic philosopher Bertrand Russell, who lost his Cambridge lectureship over his activism, to the socialist James Keir Hardie, raised in a Glasgow slum; the lion tamer John Smith Clarke; and the train driver’s daughter Alice Wheeldon. There were aristocratic pacifists like the conscientious objectors – or “conchies” – Clifford Allen and Stephen Hobhouse; feminists like Catherine Marshall and Sylvia Pankhurst (whose stance estranged her from her pro-war mother Emmeline; and the famous exposer of Belgian atrocities in the Congo ED Morel, imprisoned on obscure charges for criticising secret diplomacy. Adam Hochschild’s excellent To End All Wars tells some of their stories.

While anti-war organisations such as the Women’s International League, the Society of Friends, the Union of Democratic Control, and the No-Conscription Fellowship differed on many matters, including whether it was all right to work in non-combat roles, what brought them together was a sense that behind the rhetoric of a “glorious, delicious war” for civilisation and freedom lay rather more grubby interests, not necessarily those of ordinary Britons. Some, admitting they too felt drawn to nationalism and war fever, believed this was not so much a war against militarism as a war between militarisms. In claiming to fight militarism in Europe, asked Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, was Britain actually giving it “hospitality, harbourage and welcome” at home?

As the commemorative drums of national unity start to beat again to rally us behind dominant narratives, it is time to remember that more than 20,000 men, remembered by the Peace Pledge Union, refused conscription after it was introduced in 1916, seeing it as a violation of freedom. Then, as now, dissidents – which included thousands of Clydeside workers who staged walkouts – understood that the belligerent question “do you love your country?” is not answered by blindly following politicians’ commands, particularly where there is lack of consultation. The distinguished economist JA Hobson, neither socialist nor pacifist, saw the war as rational only for the capitalist ruling classes, who stood to benefit from the “ever-worsening burden of armaments”. Wasn’t massive state expenditure better directed towards a “beautiful school … a grander sight than a battleship”? To be anti-war was to actively fight poverty, mediate for peace, build schools and workshops, undertake relief work, and provide food and refuge for troops and civilians alike.

Many critics of the war also understood that it was being waged for stakes outside Europe in great tracts of colonised land in Asia and Africa. While it is necessary to acknowledge the sacrifices made by soldiers from these regions, it is dishonest to assimilate them to Kipling’s narrative of “everybody’s war” for freedom. These were colonised subjects whose war this was certainly not, and in whose countries Britain was doing anything but defending freedom – its own occupying troops as unwelcome as German ones in Belgium. It is no surprise, then, that many prominent anti-war leaders, including the feminist Sylvia Pankhurst and Labour politician Fenner Brockway, became trenchant critics of British imperialism, which believed itself better than the German brand. At a 1917 Leeds anti-war conference, resolutions were also passed calling for the independence of Ireland, India and Egypt.

Commemorating Britain’s anti-war campaigners – invoked by the National Archives in a small online exhibit – is not about fetishising the past. Many of the issues they faced remain pressing today. They were on the front lines of the criminalisation of dissent, the erosion of civil liberties and press freedom in the name of national security, and crackdowns on industrial action and popular unrest at a time of economic privation. Then, as now, the poor were requisitioned to fight the wars which enrich the few, dying and suffering disproportionately.

The fighting spirit we need to invoke today is that which was willing to face down a small but powerful ruling class with control of state and media apparatuses complete with embedded war correspondents and close advisory relationships between politicians and press barons. Remembering that the Great War also unleashed revolution and anti-colonial rebellion, it is this spirit of principled dissent that we must seek to channel and honour.

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37782.htm

By Paul Craig Roberts

In 2004 Hungary joined the EU, expecting streets of gold. Instead, four years later in 2008 Hungary became indebted to the IMF. The rock video by the Hungarian group, Mouksa Underground sums up the result in Hungary today of falling into the hands of the EU and IMF.

The song is about the disappointing results of leaving socialism for capitalism, and in Hungary the results are certainly not encouraging. The title is “Disappointment with the System Change.” Here are the lyrics:

Over twenty some years now
We’ve been waiting for the good life
For the average citizen
Instead of wealth we have poverty
Unrestrained exploitation

So this is the big system change
So this is what you waited for

No housing No food No work
But that’s what was assured wouldn’t happen

Those on top
Prey upon us
The poor suffer everyday

So this is the big system change
So this is what you waited for

(Repeat)

When will real change occur?
When will there be a livable world
The ultimate solution will arise
When this economic system is forever abandoned

So this is the big system change
So this is what you waited for

(Repeat)

There is no solution but revolution

Perhaps if the Kiev students had listened to the Hungarian rock group instead of to Washington’s NGOs, they would understand what it means to be looted by the West, and Ukraine would not be in turmoil and headed toward destruction.

As Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland made clear in her speech last December and in the leaked recording of her telephone conversation with the US ambassador in Kiev, Washington spent $5 billion of US taxpayer dollars engineering a coup in Ukraine that overthrew the elected democratic government.

That it was a coup is also underlined by the obvious public lies that Obama has told about the situation, blaming, of course, the overthrown government, and by the total misrepresentation of Ukrainian developments by the US and European presstitute media. The only reason to misrepresent the events is to support the coup and to cover up Washington’s hand.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the coup is a strategic move by Washington to weaken Russia. Washington tried to capture Ukraine in 2004 with the Washington-funded “Orange Revolution,” but failed. Ukraine was part of Russia for 200 years prior to being granted independence in the 1990s. The eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine are Russian areas that were added to Ukraine in the 1950s by the Soviet leadership in order to water down the influence of the nazi elements in the western Ukraine that had fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union during World War 2.

The loss of Ukraine to the EU and NATO would mean the loss of Russia’s naval base on the Black Sea and the loss of many military industries. If Russia were to accept such strategic defeat, it would mean that Russia had submitted to Washington’s hegemony.

Whatever course the Russian government takes, the Russian population of eastern and southern Ukraine will not accept oppression by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and neo-nazis.

The hostility already shown toward the Russian population can be seen in the destruction by Ukrainians of the monument to the Russian troops that drove Hitler’s divisions out of Ukraine during World War 2 and the destruction of the monument to Russian General Kutuzov, whose tactics destroyed Napoleon’s Grand Army and resulted in the fall of Napoleon.

The question at the moment is whether Washington miscalculated and lost control of the coup to the neo-nazi elements who seem to have taken control from the Washington-paid moderates in Kiev, or whether the Washington neocons have been working with the neo-nazis for years. Max Blumenthal says the latter: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37752.htm 

The moderates have certainly lost control. They cannot protect public monuments, and they are forced to try to pre-empt the neo-nazis by legislating the neo-nazi program. The captive Ukrainian parliament has introduced measures to ban any official use of the Russian language. This, of course, is unacceptable to the Russian provinces.

As I noted in a previous column, the Ukrainian parliament itself is responsible for the destruction of democracy in Ukraine. Its unconstitutional and undemocratic actions have paved the way for the neo-nazis who now have the precedent to treat the moderates the same way that the moderates treated the elected government and to cover up their illegality with accusations of crimes and arrest warrants. Today the illegally deposed President Yanukovych is on the run. Tomorrow will the current president, Oleksander Turchinov, put in office by the moderates, not by the people, be on the run? If a democratic election did not convey legitimacy to President Yanukovych, how does selection by a rump parliament convey legitimacy to Turchinov? What can Turchinov answer if the neo-nazis put to him Lenin’s question to Kerensky: “Who chose you?”

If Washington has lost control of the coup and is unable to restore control to the moderates whom it has aligned with the EU and NATO, war would seem to be unavoidable. There is no doubt that the Russian provinces would seek and be granted Russia’s protection. Whether Russia would go further and overthrow the neo-nazis in western Ukraine is unknown. Whether Washington, which seems to have positioned military forces in the region, would provide the military might for the moderates to defeat the neo-nazis is also an open question, as is Russia’s response.

In a previous column I described the situation as “Sleepwalking Again,” an analogy to how miscalculations resulted in World War 1.

The entire world should be alarmed at the reckless and irresponsible interference by Washington in Ukraine. By bringing a direct strategic threat to Russia, the crazed Washington hegemon has engineered a Great Power confrontation and created the risk of world destruction.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37762.htm

Obama Pins Fate of Nuclear Pact on Documents From an Iranian “Curveball”

By Gareth Porter

February 26, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  Truthout – Obama administration officials insist “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program must be resolved to the satisfaction of the IAEA to complete a nuclear agreement. But the term refers to discredited intelligence from suspect sources.

One of the issues Obama administration officials are insisting must be resolved to the satisfaction of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before any nuclear agreement may be concluded involves “possible military dimensions.” That term refers to documents long discredited by German intelligence but which the United States and the IAEA have maintained came from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.

A former senior German official has now revealed that the biggest collection of documents cited as evidence of such a covert Iran program actually came from a member of the Iranian terrorist organization Mujihedin-E-Khalq (MEK) and that German intelligence sought to warn the George W. Bush administration that the source of the documents was not trustworthy.

The use of those documents to make a case for action against Iran closely parallels the Bush administration’s use of the testimony of the now-discredited Iraqi exile called “Curveball” to convince the US public to support war against Iraq. The parallel between the two episodes was recognized explicitly by the German intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), according to Karsten Voigt, who was the German Foreign Office’s coordinator of North American-German relations.

Voigt provided details of the story behind the appearance of the mysterious Iran nuclear documents in an interview with this writer last March for a book on the false narrative surrounding Iran’s nuclear program that is newly published, Manufactured Crisis. 

Voigt recalled that the purported Iranian documents were acquired by BND in 2004 from a member of the Iranian anti-regime terrorist organization MEK and that the BND was concerned that the Bush administration was about to use intelligence from that dubious source to make a case for war only two years after it had relied on testimony of the notorious “Curveball” to make the case for war in Iraq.

Voigt told me he learned about the Iranian nuclear documents after remarks to reporters by Secretary of State Colin Powell in mid-November 2004 had caused consternation among senior officials of the BND. Powell had referred to “information” that Iran was “working hard” at combining a missile with a “weapon,” clearly implying that it was a nuclear weapon. Voigt said senior BND officials contacted him immediately after the story of Powell’s remarks had been reported by news media.

The BND officials told Voigt that they were familiar with the “information” to which Powell had referred, which they described as a set of drawings of different ways to redesign the reentry vehicle of the Iranian Shahab-3 missile. They told Voigt that the drawings were part of a large collection of papers that had been turned over to the BND by an Iranian who had been an occasional intelligence source for the agency, though not an actual BND intelligence agent. But the BND officials explained to Voigt that the source was not someone inside the Iranian defense establishment, as Bush administration officials would leak to selected journalists, but a member of the MEK. The officials made it clear to Voight that they did not have confidence in the source. “They believed the source was doubtful,” Voigt recalled.

The BND officials were concerned that Bush administration appeared to be making the case that Iran was working on nuclear weapons on the basis of the information that was now in question, according to Voigt. “They didn’t like the way it was being used by the United States,” he told this writer.

The BND officials were alarmed by Powell’s comment on the information from the documents, because they still had vivid memories of the “Curveball” episode  involving a German intelligence informant two years earlier. “We had such a situation in the Iraq war,” recalled Voigt.

In a series of interviews with BND officers beginning in 2000, “Curveball” had provided a series of vivid accounts of mobile biological weapons laboratories developed by Saddam Hussein’s government. The BND had passed on reports of those accounts to the CIA, apparently without assessment of the source, as the usual practice by intelligence services sharing information with counterparts in other nations’ services.

As BND officials continued to interrogate Curveball, however, they had begun to find inconsistencies in his account and to doubt the story. By the time CIA Director George Tenet asked the BND directly, in December 2002, whether the White House could use Curveball’s information for public statements, the BND officials had lost confidence in the source and were convinced that the Bush administration was planning to cite the Iraqi defector’s claims to justify war in Iraq, according to the account in investigative journalist Bob Drogin’s book Curveball.

August Hanning, the head of BND then wrote a two-page letter to Tenet that warned, “Please be cautious about using this source,” Hanning recalled, in an interview for a BBC documentary. Nevertheless, only a few weeks later, Colin Powell had gone ahead to cite Curveball’s testimony as the centerpiece of his February 2003 UN Security Council speech making the case for war against Iraq.

The same senior BND officials who had been involved in the Curveball issue – including Hanning himself – were still at the agency in November 2004. Now they were afraid of the same drama being replayed, with the Bush administration using information from an Iranian “Curveball” to make a case for a military confrontation with Iran. And Powell was again playing the role of presenting the case to the public.

Voigt said that the senior BND officials did not tell him explicitly that they wanted him to warn the United States against relying on the documents from their source. Nevertheless, he was convinced that they expected him to do so. “They tell you, ‘this is confidential,’ ” said Voigt, “but you get the story.”

Voigt was no ordinary German civil servant. He had been a Social Democratic Party (SPD) member of parliament for more than two decades and was the party spokesman on foreign policy in the Bundestag before assuming his job as the coordinator for relations with the United States at the Foreign Office in 1998. He was named to the position by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of the SPD, who opposed the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and was worried about a potential war against Iran. And he was known to maintain many contacts with American officials, think tanks and news media.

He did not wait long to get the message of warning about the purported Iranian nuclear documents to the United States. On November 22, 2004, a few days after his conversation with the BND officials, the Wall Street Journal reported Voigt as saying that the information mentioned by Powell on Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon had been provided by “an Iranian dissident group” and said the United States and Europe “shouldn’t let their Iran policy be influenced by single-source headlines.”

Senior CIA officials who knew about the documents could hardly have missed the message. And if they had not already learned about the BND’s conclusions about the doubtful MEK source in November 2004 directly from Hanning himself, they could have easily gotten an explanation of the Voigt warning simply by having the CIA station chief in Berlin ask his BND contacts about the issue.

But the new director, Porter Goss, and other senior CIA officials were evidently not interested in sharing the information about the MEK member as the source of the documents or BND’s doubts about his reliability with Powell. Powell told his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson that he had been told nothing about that, Wilkerson said, in response to a query from this writer. Powell had been similarly fed information from “Curveball” in 2003 to be used in his United Nations speech on WMD in Iraq that Tenet knew from BND director Hanning had been discredited by German intelligence.

Keeping Powell in the dark was necessary to the Iran strategy the neoconservatives were quietly pursuing in 2004. The MEK had been on the US list of terrorist organizations since 1997, because it had killed six US military advisers and civilians in Iran in the 1970s and carried out terror bombings of Iranian government civilian gatherings in the early 1980s. It had been based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s patronage since the early 1980s. In 2004, Powell and his State Department team still regarded the MEK as a disreputable terrorist organization, but the neoconservatives in the administration viewed it as useful as an anti-regime tool.

The MEK was known to have served the interests of Israel’s Mossad by providing a way to “launder” intelligence claims that Israel wanted to get out to the public but didn’t want identified as having come from Israel. In the best-known case, the group’s political front organization, the National Council of Resistance in Iran, had revealed the location of the Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in an August 2002 press conference, but it had been given the coordinates of the construction site by Israeli intelligence, according to both a senior IAEA official and an Iranian opposition group source, cited by Seymour Hersh and New Yorker writer Connie Bruck, respectively.

The purported Iranian documents conveyed by the MEK to Western intelligence also displayed multiple indications of having been fabricated by an outside actor. The clearest and most significant anomaly was that the drawings of efforts to redesign the Shahab-3 missile to accommodate a nuclear weapons showed a missile that had already been abandoned by Iran’s Defense Ministry by the time the drawings were said to have been made, as was confirmed by former IAEA deputy director general for safeguards, Olli Heinonen, in an interview with this writer.

The Iranian abandonment of the earlier missile design became known to foreign analysts, however, only after Iran flight-tested a completely new missile design in August 2004 – after the “laptop documents” had already been conveyed to the BND by its MEK source. Whoever ordered those drawings was unaware of the switch to the new missile design, which would rule out a genuine Iranian Defense Ministry or military program.

A former IAEA official familiar with those documents recalled in interview with Truthout that senior officials at the IAEA were immediately suspicious of the entire collection of documents given to the agency in 2005. “The documents were never really convincing,” said the former official. The creators of the documents had taken publicly available information about people, organizations and location and had “woven their own narrative” around them, he said. Furthermore, he recalled finding anomalies in the stamps and signature blocs of documents.

The fabricated documents, depicting Iran as redesigning their missile reentry vehicle to accommodate a nuclear weapon, among other things, fit into a Bush administration strategy – coordinated with Israel – that was aimed at justifying a military confrontation with Iran. The working assumption, as was revealed by David Wurmser, special assistant to Bolton and then to Cheney, in October 2007, was that the United States would probably need to use force to bring about that change once Iraq was brought under control. Bolton recalls in his memoirs that his aim was to move the Iran nuclear issue out of the IAEA to the United Nations Security Council, where the Bush administration would call for international action against Iran, and failing that, take unilateral action.

The threat of force was set aside in favor of an economic sanctions strategy after Condoleezza Rice become secretary of state in 2005, but the documents continued to be at the center of the strategy. In 2005, the Bush administration turned the entire collection of documents over to the IAEA and pressed the agency to demand explanations from Iran – but without sharing any of the documents with Iranian officials. Iran denounced the documents as fabrications from the beginning, but in 2008, the IAEA Safeguards Department abandoned any pretense of a neutral role on the issue and began to refer to them as “credible.” US diplomatic cables from early 2008 made public by WikiLeaks reveal that the head of the Safeguards Department, Olli Heinonen, was working closely with US officials to develop a common political strategy to isolate Iran over the purported Iranian documents.

The IAEA got more documents and intelligence directly from Israel in 2008 and 2009 claiming Iranian work on nuclear weapons, according to then-IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. The intelligence passed on by Israel included the claim that Iran had installed a large metal cylinder for high explosives tests at its Parchin military facility in 2000, which it intended to use for hydrodynamic tests of nuclear weapons designs. But the IAEA never revealed the information had come from Israel, covering up the primary fact relevant to its reliability and authenticity.

The Safeguards Department had been prepared as early as 2009 to publish a dossier on what it called the “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program that would accept all the intelligence reports and documents provided by Israel as genuine and accurate. But ElBaradei’s successor, Yukiya Amano, waited to do so until November 2011, when the Obama administration was ready to organize an international coalition for harsh sanctions against Iran’s oil export sector.

The Obama administration returned to the “possible military dimensions” last November, insisting on a provision in the interim Iran nuclear agreement that required Iran to “resolve” all the “concerns” about that issue. A “senior administration official” briefing the press on the agreement November 24 said there would be no final agreement unless Iran showed that it had “come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA.”

It is unclear how Obama expects Iran to do that. In another background briefing February 17, an unnamed senior official suggested that Iran would have to satisfy the IAEA, but Amano has no incentive to admit that the claims about Iran that it has published are false.

In response to a request from Truthout for a confirmation or denial of the revelation by Karsten Voigt of the MEK role in transmitting the purported Iranian documents to the BND in 2004, NSC officials declined to comment on the matter, according to NSC spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.

Some observers believe US negotiators hope to get Iran to admit to having had a nuclear weapons program. However, Iran is certainly not going to admit that the documents and intelligence reports it knows to be fabrications are true. But the Obama administration may well believe so strongly in the Iran nuclear narrative it inherited from the Bush administration and in the idea that the sanctions against Iran confer ultimate negotiating leverage on the United States that it sees an Iranian confession as a realistic goal. In any case, the decision to introduce the falsified evidence of the past into the final negotiations is bound to bring them to an impasse unless the United States is prepared to back down.

Gareth Porter (@GarethPorter), an independent investigative journalist and historian covering US national security policy, was awarded the Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 by the UK-based Martha Gellhorn Trust. His new book Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, will be published in February.

Copyright, Truthout.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37770.htm

Why Israelis are Content to Live in a Bubble of Denial

By Jonathan Cook

February 26, 2014 “Information Clearing House –   The 24-hour visit by German chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel this week came as relations between the two countries hit rock bottom. According to a report in Der Spiegel magazine last week, Ms Merkel and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netan­yahu have been drawn into shouting matches when discussing by phone the faltering peace process.

Despite their smiles to the cameras during the visit, tension behind the scenes has been heightened by a diplomatic bust-up earlier this month when Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament and himself German, gave a speech to the Israeli parliament.

In unprecedented scenes, a group of Israeli legislators heckled Mr Schulz, calling him a “liar”, and then staged a walkout, led by the economics minister Naftali Bennett. Rather than apologising, Mr Netanyahu intervened to lambast Mr Schulz for being misinformed.

Mr Schulz, who, like Ms Merkel, is considered a close friend of Israel, used his speech vehemently to oppose growing calls in Europe for a boycott of Israel. So how did he trigger such opprobrium?

Mr Schulz’s main offence was posing a question: was it true, as he had heard in meetings in the West Bank, that Israelis have access to four times more water than Palestinians? He further upset legislators by gently suggesting that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was preventing economic growth there.

Neither statement should have been in the least controversial. Figures from independent bodies such as the World Bank show Israel, which dominates the local water supplies, allocates per capita about 4.4 times more water to its population than to Palestinians.

Equally, it would be hard to imagine that years of denying goods and materials to Gaza, and blocking exports, have not ravaged its economy. The unemployment rate, for example, has increased 6 per cent, to 38.5 per cent, following Israel’s recent decision to prevent the transfer of construction materials to Gaza’s private sector.

But Israelis rarely hear such facts from their politicians or the media. And few are willing to listen when a rare voice like Mr Schulz’s intervenes. Israelis have grown content to live in a large bubble of denial.

Mr Netantahu and his ministers are making every effort to reinforce that bubble, just as they have tried to shield Israelis from the fact that they live in the Middle East, not Europe, by building walls on every side – both physical and bureaucratic – to exclude Palestinians, Arab neighbours, foreign workers and asylum seekers.

Inside Israel, the government is seeking to silence the few critical voices left. The intimidation was starkly on display last week as the supreme court considered the constitutionality of the recent “boycott law”, which threatens to bankrupt anyone calling for a boycott of either Israel or the settlements.

Tellingly, a lawyer for the government defended its position by arguing that Israel could not afford freedom of expression of the kind enjoyed by countries like the US.

Illustrating the point, uproar greeted the news last month that a civics teacher had responded negatively when asked by pupils whether he thought Israel’s army the most moral in the world. A campaign to sack him has been led by government ministers and his principal, who stated: “There are sacred cows I won’t allow to be slaughtered.”

Similarly, last week it emerged that a Palestinian from East Jerusalem had been interrogated by police for incitement after noting on Facebook that his city was “under occupation”.

Outside Israel, Mr Netanyahu is indulging in more familiar tactics to browbeat critics. Tapping European sensitivities, he accused those who support a boycott of being “classical anti-semites in modern garb”. He justified the allegation, as he has before, on the grounds that Israel is being singled out.

It looks that way to Israelis only because they have singularly insulated themselves from reality.

Western critics focus on Israel because, unlike countries such as North Korea or Iran, Israel has managed to avoid any penalties despite riding roughshod over international norms for decades.

Iran, which is only suspected of secretly developing nuclear weapons, has been enduring years of savage sanctions. Israel, which has hidden its large stockpile of nuclear warheads from international scrutiny since the late 1960s, has enjoyed endless diplomatic cover.

Contrary to Mr Netanyahu’s claim, lots of countries have been singled out by the United States and Europe for sanctions – whether diplomatic, financial or, in the case of Iraq, Libya and Syria, military.

But the antipathy towards Israel has deeper roots still. Israel has not only evaded accountability, it has been handsomely rewarded by the US and Europe for flouting international conventions in its treatment of the Palestinians.

The self-styled global policemen have inadvertently encouraged Israel’s lawbreaking by consistently ignoring its transgressions and continuing with massive aid handouts and preferential trade deals.

Far from judging Israel unfairly, Mr Schulz, Ms Merkel and most other western leaders regularly indulge in special pleading on its behalf. They know about Israel’s ugly occupation but shy away from exercising their powers to help end it.

The reason why popular criticism of Israel is currently galvanising around the boycott movement – what Mr Netanyahu grandly calls “delegitimisation” – is that it offers a way for ordinary Americans and Europeans to distance themselves from their governments’ own complicity in Israel’s crimes.

If Mr Netanyahu has refused to listen to his external critics, western governments have been no less at fault in growing impervious to the groundswell of sentiment at home that expects Israel to be forced to take account of international law.

Both Ms Merkel’s diplomatic niceties and her shouting matches have proven themselves utterly ineffective. It is time for her and her western colleagues to stop talking and to start taking action against Israel.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37768.htm

Dr. Ashrawi Strongly Condemns Israel’s Racist Laws and Policies

By PLO Executive Committee

February 26, 2014 “Information Clearing House – PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, strongly condemned the passing of a new Israeli Knesset bill that was sponsored by MK Yariv Levin of the Likud Party and that explicitly distinguishes between Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel. Furthermore, she denounced Knesset’s discussion of a proposal initiated by right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin regarding the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque:

“These moves demonstrate that Israel is transforming its military occupation into an outright religious confrontation and an ideological component of official policy as demonstrated in its insistence on the recognition of the ‘Jewishness of the state.’”

“Such developments, along with its systematic campaign to annex and distort the character and demography of Jerusalem, constitute institutionalized racism, which is illegal by all measures of international law and defies all the basic principles of democracy and human rights.”

“They are also fundamentally offensive to all other religions and constitute an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide. Using religion as a pretext to impose sovereignty on historical places of worship threatens to plunge the entire region into great conflict and instability. It is reminiscent of the same regressive ideology that brought the Crusades to Palestine in the Middle Ages,” stressed Dr. Ashrawi.

She added, “History has revealed the dangers of extremism and religious bigotry being used to instigate and promote sectarianism and strife. This strategy is not only imposed on the Palestinians in Occupied Palestine, but it is also forced on Palestinian citizens of Israel (Christians, Muslims and Druze) who are subjected to an apartheid system of laws that neither respects nor implements human rights.”

“We call on all members of the international community to hold Israel accountable and to curb Israel’s legislated racial discrimination and deliberate aggression and assaults on Palestinian holy sites.”

“While Palestine is committed to the principles of tolerance, pluralism, diversity, and inclusiveness in a genuinely democratic system of governance consistent with the global values of the 21st century, Israel is adopting a policy of the classification of its citizens based on religion or ethnicity which is an obsolete and outdated practice,” concluded Dr. Ashrawi.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37767.htm

Moazzam Begg a Political Prisoner Again

By Craig Murray

February 26, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  I first met Moazzam Begg in 2005 when he came to support my campaign in Blackburn against Jack Straw. I was immediately struck by how gentle he is. For somebody who has been through Guantanamo Bay and suffered torture and injustice, he is free of bitterness and rancour to a degree I find quite astonishing. It is an extraordinary spiritual quality, comparable to that of Nelson Mandela. He does not hate. That impression has only been reinforced every time I see him, and comes over well in his book.

What the British state did to me for opposing their torture programme was bad enough, but nothing to what Moazzam suffered. Yet he is much less embittered than I am.

The fall of Libya further revealed the terrible truth about the extraordinary rendition programme and undeniable evidence of British complicity in torture. This included of course the appalling case of the Belhadj family, orchestrated by criminal torturers Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen. As Assad’s Syria was even more involved than Libya in the extraordinary rendition programme as a supplier of torture for the UK and US intelligence services, Moazzam sensibly concluded that evidence may now be available there to be recovered from the chaos. He has been to Syria to that end.

Last week my friend Ray McGovern called on Moazzam and discussed Syria. Ray briefed me on the conversation, and Moazzam’s take was one of great regret at the bloodshed and despair at the ferocity of inter-Muslim rifts. It was the opposite of violent partisanship to support one side.

Moazzam Begg has not been arrested for terrorism in Syria. He has been arrested to stop him digging for further evidence of complicity in torture by senior politicians and civil servants in the UK.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37766.htm

Mr President…Regulate Now or We Face Extinction

The State’s War Against Truth

By Butler Shaffer

February 25, 2014 “Information Clearing House – February 22nd was the 71st anniversary of the murder of Sophie and Hans Scholl and their friend Christopher Probst. They were young people, in their early twenties, who lived in Munich, Germany. They, along with other members of a peaceful, anti-war group known as White Rose, published leaflets informing fellow-Germans of the wrongs being engaged in by the Nazi regime. The three were caught with such leaflets, quickly tried for the crime of “high-treason” and immediately executed by guillotine.

At her trial, Sophie testified: “Somebody, after all, had to make a start.” Her final words were: “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.” When, in 2003, a nation-wide poll asked Germans to select the most important people in the history of Germany, Sophie and Hans Scholl finished in fourth place. They came out ahead of such men as Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg, Bismarck, Brandt, and Einstein!

Every political system is firmly grounded in lies, deceit, fraud, distortions, corruption, and other falsehoods and acts of dishonesty. Accordingly, it is the nature of such agencies to  propagandize lies as truth, and to control the revelation of demonstrable truths by classifying otherwise embarrassing documents as “secret;” as well as using censorship and the threat of trials for treason. Like insects that prefer to live in the protective darkness beneath rocks, sunlight is most disruptive.

The American nation-state is firmly entrenched in this interconnected war against truth and insistence upon propagandized perversions of reality. Through mechanisms beyond the imagination of George Orwell, the NSA is now able to gather the most micro-detailed information about each of us. In order to maintain and extend its control over us, the state presumes itself entitled to know everything it wants to know about each person. At the same time, we are allowed to know only that which serves the state’s interests to have us know, employing its media sycophants to impart the party line.

The statists are well aware of just how liberating the free flow of ideas and information is to people. Gutenberg’s invention of movable type made possible decentralized expansion of the search for understanding. The Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the Age of Reason, the Scientific Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution trace their ancestries to the enhanced capacities for creative people to synthesize knowledge with one another. Modern technologies – of which the Internet is the best known expression – are now extending such means to exponential dimensions.

While the wielders of state power insist on babbling their divisive, redistributionist bromides about egalitarianism, there is one form of “equality” that terrifies them: a world in which knowledge, and the intellectual skills of analysis, are shared equally by all. The specter of intelligent, informed minds, centrifuged across all mankind, would deprive the statists of their most valued quality: the arrogance interwoven into the fabric of their roles of philosopher-kings, armed with the coercive power of the state to enforce their self-serving visions upon the submissive collective of humanity.

One finds this fear of informed, self-directed, rational men and women expressed by such corporate-state enthusiasts as Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein. Clinton has long championed the idea of a “gatekeeper” for the Internet, to confine access to this medium only to writers approved by the ruling establishment! Feinstein has offered the proposition that the First Amendment protects only “legitimate journalists” (i.e., those persons who work on behalf of an existing member of the media). Knowing that established broadcasters and newspapers are already a part of the corporate-state order, she is eager to confine “truth”-telling to those under institutional control.

Those outside the stockade are to be subject to censorship; only licensed writers will be permitted. Expressing the arrogance of her elitist class, Feinstein asks does “this privilege [First Amendment protection is but a ‘privilege’ in her mind] apply to anyone? To a 17-year-old who drops out of high school, buys a website for $5, and starts a blog?” Her desire to restrict thought was reflected in a statement she made in China a number of years ago, in which she commented that she was more comfortable with Chinese reporters because “They just write down what we say.” Such compliant, dependent scribblers are less inclined to ask the kinds of questions that might be upsetting to corporate-state interests. More aggressive writers might want to inquire into how Feinstein and her husband have been able to use the powers of the nation-state to help amass their tens of millions of dollars of wealth!

Feinstein’s query raises another concern for the statists. School drop-outs are troublesome for the elitists, who insist upon compulsory school attendance as the primary tool with which to condition young minds in the conflict-driven, institutionally-directed, vertically-structured model of social organization. How can institutions become ends in themselves, their purposes to preempt our own, unless children grow up believing in both the necessity and propriety of living their lives in obedience to the philosopher-kings? To condition people in such a mindset is the raison d’etre of the government school system. Members of the power-elite are among the most vocal advocates for government schools, yet most enroll their children in private schools wherein they can better develop their minds for the day they assume their positions near the apex of the pyramid. Yourchildren are expected to become drones – or drone operators – and for the teaching of such mechanistic skills the government schools are adequate.

The state’s war against truth and clear thinking continues apace. Diane Feinstein’s efforts to confine truth-telling to the establishment-certified and institutionally-employed are reinforced by unnamed persons within the Pentagon and the NSA who, perhaps idolizing Nazi chief-executioner Johann Reichart’s role in beheading Probst and the Scholls, have made such statements as “I would love to put a bullet in his [Ed Snowden’s] head.” “Treason,” to such people, has become any words or acts that discomfort the ruling classes or the hallowed institutions behind which they hide.

This is what statism inevitably produces: the thoroughly institutionalized mind. When the purposes of abstractions (e.g., the corporate-state) are accorded an importance that transcends the interests of real persons; when individuals are demeaned by such systems as “assets” or “citizens” or “collateral damage” or collectivized as “the masses,” it becomes easy for soulless institutional functionaries to treat men, women, and children in the most dehumanizing ways.

Whether it is noteworthy or only a matter of coincidence, each of the aforementioned instances of statist behavior is directed against the minds of those that the state will either control – if possible – or destroy – should less destructive measures fail. What greater symbolism of this ongoing war against the thinking of people than these: school systems that twist young minds to revere and obey institutional authorities; while the guillotine or a “bullet in the head” may await those who fail to maintain the assigned lockstep. With the human head as the target upon which the established order directs its destructive energies, the nature of the threat to all of mankind should be quite evident.

Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival, and Boundaries of Order. His latest book is The Wizards of Ozymandias.

This article was originally published at LewRockwell

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37760.htm

Western Spy Agencies Build ‘Cyber Magicians’ to Manipulate Online Discourse

By RT

February 25, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “RT” –   Secret units within the ‘Five Eyes” global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.

Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet” and “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor EdwardSnowden.

The new information comes via a document from the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), entitled ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations,’ which is top secret and only for dissemination within the Five Eyes intelligence partnership that includes Britain, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The document outlines what tactics are used to achieve JTRIG’s main objectives. Among those tactics that seek to “discredit a target” include “false flag operations” (posting material online that is falsely attributed to a target), fake victim blog posts (writing as a victim of a target to disseminate false information), and posting “negative information” wherever pertinent online.

Other discrediting tactics used against individuals include setting a “honey-trap” (using sex to lure targets into compromising situations), changing a target’s photo on a social media site, and emailing or texting “colleagues, neighbours, friends etc.”

To “discredit a company,” GCHQ may “leak confidential information to companies/the press via blog…post negative information on appropriate forums [or] stop deals/ruin business relationships.”

JTRIG’s ultimate purpose, as defined by GCHQ in the document, is to use “online techniques to make something happen in the real world or cyber world.” These online covert actions follow the “4 D’s:” deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.

Image from firstlook.org

Image from firstlook.org

As Greenwald pointed out, the tactics employed by JTRIG are not used for spying on other nations, militaries, or intelligence services, but for “traditional law enforcement” against those merely suspected of crimes. These targets can include members of Anonymous, “hacktivists,” or really any person or entity GCHQ deems worthy of antagonizing.

“[I]t is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition, the targets do not need to have ties to terror activity or pose any national security threat. More likely, targets seem to fall closer to political activists that may have, for instance, used “denial of service” tactics, popular with Anonymous and hacktivists, which usually do only a limited amount of damage to a target.

Image from firstlook.org

Image from firstlook.org

  “These surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition to the personal attacks on targets, JTRIG also involves the use of psychological and social-science tactics to steer online activism and discourse. The document details GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” which focuses on “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption” that are used to dissect how targets can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience,” and “compliance.”

Using tested manipulation tactics, JTRIG attempts to influence discourse and ultimately sow discord through deception.

When reached for comment by The Intercept, GCHQ avoided answering pointed questions on JTRIG while insisting its methods were legal.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position,” GCHQ stated.

 

A New Neocon Push for Syrian War

By Coleen Rowley

February 25, 2014 “Information Clearing House – The propaganda that continues to flourish for war on Syria shows many Americans fail to understand the problems posed by “U.S. Empire-building” believing it to be an altruistic force, toppling other governments and starting wars for the good of all mankind.

Two recent articles in the New York Times: “Use Force To Save Starving Syrians” and “U.S. Scolds Russia as It Weighs Options on Syrian War“ are typical of the concerted efforts underway to ramp up U.S. military intervention despite overwhelming opposition voiced by Congress and the American public thwarting Obama’s plan to bomb Syria announced in late August last year.

The “U.S. Weighs Options” news piece is easier to expose since it employs an obviously twisted and one-sided reporting lens that puts the primary blame on Russia for the violent conflict in Syria. It was apparently fed to Michael R. Gordon and his NYT colleagues by anonymous Administration officials as well as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the neocon think tank nefariously founded by the Israeli American Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to deceptively appear to be independent of its parent. (AIPAC has been revealed by scholars as the most powerful force in recent decades on U.S. foreign policy, repeatedly pushing the U.S. into wars for Israel.)

It should be recalled that Gordon himself is the same NYT reporter who gave a big assist back in 2002 to Judith Miller, notoriously collaborating with Vice President Dick Cheney’s aide Scooter Libby and other neoconservatives to gin up war on Iraq by writing false front page stories about Saddam’s WMD.

Unfortunately Gordon never was held accountable (in contrast to Miller who was eventually forced out of the NYT and even did some jail time for refusing to testify about one of Libby’s other illegal leaks). It’s therefore not surprising that Gordon and others continue to carry water and blatantly skew the facts for AIPAC and the neocons.

The other push for increased military intervention in Syria, however, could be categorized as “neo-lib.” The “Use Force…” op-ed by long-time advocates of “Right to Protect (R2P)” who want Syrian regime change, Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi, current heads of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, is even more insidious. As Professor Rob Prince explains in his insightful counterpoint, “Military Humanitarian Intervention: the Shock Doctrine Applied to Syria:”

“In calling for military intervention in Syria — something not even the U.S. military itself is particularly enthusiastic about — Hashemi and Postel cozy up, as they have before on Iran in 2009 and Libya in 2011, with the likes of AIPAC, along with this country’s band of intrepid and misdirected neoconservatives. These are the same elements that pushed this country into invading Iraq and continue to push the Obama Administration to intervene militarily in Syria.”

Close examination of the facts – rather than shock doctrine emotion – is indeed required because R2P is based on a form of ends-justify-the means, concocted utilitarianism, i.e. Orwellian-type propositions that killing can save lives, that war can bring human rights, democracy and peace. It’s not different from the prevalent argument that torture can be justified as saving lives or “we must destroy the village to save it,” designed to prey on people’s emotions instead of facilitating critical thinking based on actual facts or research.

These two writers urging U.S. military force admit “political interests” typically lie behind R2P interventions.  But they fail to recognize how their own long-standing political interest in toppling the current Syrian government undercuts their own claimed morality mantel. It also casts doubt on their suggestion that such force and aerial bombardment would be used evenhandedly against both Syrian regime forces and/or rebel militias, upon whichever side blocks the delivery of food and humanitarian supplies.

Any “humanitarian” proposal emanating from Obama and Kerry who similarly announced “Assad must go” from early on would naturally face equal skepticism.  Russia and China certainly remember how they were deliberately misled in UN Security Council discussions to not veto what then U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice sold as a limited “no fly zone” humanitarian mission to protect Libyans in Benghazi but which morphed within days of that vote into thousands of NATO bombing sorties over six months to take out Qaddafi and force regime change upon Libya.

In the case of Libya, a right to “protect” turned out to mean the right to destroy. That probably explains why Postel-Hashemi do not point to Libya as their precedent for R2P success but, rather bizarrely, to Somalia and “Black Hawk Down.”

It’s long been observed that “truth is the first casualty of war.” So fact-checking is needed when these R2P-regime change proponents point to the “humanitarian nightmare in Syria — replete with refugee flows, sarin gas, barrel bombs, and ‘industrial-scale’ killings and torture, (which have) horrified the world.”

Facts are inherently scarce in the fog of war enveloping Syrian atrocities. Eventually truth may emerge. But for starters, very little solid evidence exists as to who was responsible for the sarin attack on Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013. Despite John Kerry’s initially bold claims that the U.S. possessed “undeniable” evidence that Assad’s forces were responsible “beyond any reasonable doubt,” Seymour Hersh and other investigative journalists have reported that U.S. intelligence was never conclusive. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Deceiving the US Public on Syria.”

Evidence does exist of a few hundred Syrians dying in the August chemical attack but the (overly precise) figure the U.S. cited of 1,429 victims is now widely viewed as exaggerated since it stemmed from a sloppy, rushed counting of shrouded images in various videos by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The U.N. too has already backtracked on several of its original key findings about this sarin attack. Whatever bits of intelligence the U.S. does possess remain classified and secret to this day so it’s hard to assess but, at very least, the trajectory “vector  analysis” – referred to by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and relied upon by the NYT and Human Rights Watch (HRW) – has been significantly discredited.

The NYT had to print a retraction of its initial map showing trajectories of sarin-loaded missiles traveling 9 kilometers after it was determined the range of the actual missiles used was no more than 2.5 kilometers. The NYT’s and HRW’s concocted maps were further undercut by the fact that no sarin was found at the site of the supposed missile landing in Moadamiya, south of Damascus. The only rocket tested and found to be carrying sarin was the one that landed in Zalmalka/Ein Tarma, east of Damascus.

HRW’s errors and, even worse, their failure to admit these errors when they knew their map was being relied upon to justify U.S. bombing of Syria, also calls their agenda into question.  HRW’s hypocrisy using human rights as a pretext for military intervention and its directors’ conflicts of interests is documented elsewhere.

In late January 2014, two weapons experts challenged the ballistic data, concluding ”that under no circumstances can Syria be held accountable for the massacre” (see Flawed US intelligence on Ghouta massacre based on MIT report: “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013″)

War crimes should, of course, always be brought to light and prosecuted. But the recent “smoking gun” report accusing Assad and conveniently made public just when the Geneva II peace negotiations were getting underway is suspicious on many levels. Reportedly commissioned and funded by Qatar, a country arming and funding Syria’s rebels, the report lacks independent, unbiased sources and omits evidence of war crimes being committed by rebel factions in Syria. (Also see “Is Syrian peace conference laying the foundation for war?“)

It’s no secret that the U.S. has a long history of toppling governments that it doesn’t like, even democratically elected ones. And Syria is not the only place right now where the official goal is regime change! The coup orchestration department is working overtime these days with reports of U.S. attempts to topple governments in Venezuela and Ukraine.

(U.S. meddling in the latter, despite the complexity of the situation — see here and here, was recently confirmed through interceptions of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, formerly Dick Cheney’s principal deputy foreign policy advisor and married to neocon Robert Kagan, co-founder of the Project for the New American Century.)

The use (abuse) of human rights law as justification for orchestrating such “regime changes” in Syria and around the world exemplifies a dangerous form of hypocrisy as it serves to deprive these international principles of legitimacy.

As retired CIA analyst Paul Pillar recently wrote, it is a mistake to see “the United States as an omnipotent global savior or policeman. We ought to bear this principle in mind in contemplating policy about problems anywhere on the globe. It certainly should be borne in mind with the Middle East, where there is a still fairly recent history of forceful U.S. action doing more harm than good…”

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI agent and former chief division counsel in Minneapolis. She’s now a dedicated peace and justice activist and board member of the Women Against Military Madness and works with the Veterans for Peace chapter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [This story previously appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus and the Veterans for Peace newsletter.]

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37757.htm

Israel Murdering Palestinian Grandmothers Under Cover Of The Holocaust

Video By RT

Gerald Kaufman MP says his grandmother didn’t die in the holocaust to provide a cover for Israelis killing Palestinian grandmothers today — speaking in the British parlaiment on 5 February 2014

Posted February 23, 2014

Gerald Kaufman MP, speaking in the British parliament on 5 February 2014.

I once led a delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European Parliaments to Gaza. I could no longer do that today because Gaza is practically inaccessible.

The Israelis try to lay the responsibility on the Egyptians, but although the Egyptians’ closing of the tunnels has caused great hardship, it is the Israelis who have imposed the blockade and are the occupying power.

The culpability of the Israelis was demonstrated in the report to the UN by Richard Goldstone following Operation Cast Lead. After his report, he was harassed by Jewish organisations. At the end of a meeting I had with him in New York, his wife said to me, “It is good to meet another self-hating Jew.”

Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification. That is unacceptable.

The statistics are appalling. There is fresh water for a few hours every five days. Fishing boats are not allowed to go out—in any case, what is the point, because the waters are so filthy that no fish they catch can be eaten?

The Israelis are victimising the children above all. Half the population of this country is under the voting age. What is being done to those children—the lack of nutrition—is damaging not only their bodies and brains; it will go on for generation after generation.

It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.

The Prime Minister says that Gaza is a prison camp. It is all very well for him to say that, as he did, in Turkey—he was visiting a Muslim country—but what is he doing about it? Nothing, nothing, nothing!

The time when we could condemn and think that that was enough has long passed. The Israelis do not care about condemnation. They are self-righteous and complacent. We must now take action against them.

We must impose sanctions. If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it—even unilaterally. We must press the European community for it to be done. These people cannot be persuaded. We cannot appeal to their better nature when they do not have one.

It is all very well saying, “Wicked, wicked Hamas.” Hamas is dreadful. I have met people from Hamas, but nothing it has done justifies punishing children, women and the sick as the Israelis are doing now. They must be stopped.

As has been pointed out, there is a time limit for what we are talking about. The idea that things can go on, while we wait for a two-state solution, is gone. Sooner or later, the Palestinians will say, “We are dying anyhow, so let us die for something.”

Let us stop that: I do not want a war. I do not want violent action, but the action that the international community takes must be imposed, otherwise hell will break loose.

Via Stop The War

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37739.htm

Iraq’s Prime Minister Offers Financial Bounty to Extrajudicial Killers

By Felicity Arbuthnot

February 24, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  On September 7th 2012, the US Department of State (“Diplomacy in Action”) assured on their website:

The U.S. Mission in Iraq remains dedicated to building a strategic partnership with Iraq and the Iraqi people … Iraq continues to develop as a sovereign, stable … country … a voice of moderation and democracy in the Middle East.

Iraq has functioning government institutions including an active legislature, is playing an increasingly constructive role in the region … US assistance … includes the modernization of Iraqi law.

U.S. security assistance supports the development of a modern, accountable, and professional Iraqi military capable of defending Iraq and its borders.

U.S. security assistance programs also promote civilian oversight of the military, adherence to the rule of law, and the respect for human rights …

The US Embassy Baghdad maintains the Office of Security Cooperation to further these goals and to facilitate Iraq’s role as a responsible security partner, contributing to the peace and security of the region.

What baloney!

The all is delusional, especially U.S. furtherance of “adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights” mantra – long gone seriously missing, but then perhaps their chosen Prime Minister, Nouri al- Maliki, has learned well from his Washington masters.

On February 21st, al- Maliki, in Wild West (or rather Wild East) mode, announced bounties of up to $25,000 (30 million Iraqi Dinars) to any one who kills or captures a “foreign terrorist.”   So much for “… the development of a modern, accountable, and professional Iraqi military capable of defending Iraq and its borders.” Extrajudicial punishment, of course, is a feature of politically repressive regimes, resorted to without the permission of a Court or legal authority.

When the U.S. insanely offered bounties for “bad guys” in Afghanistan and Iraq, those who were turned in were largely a result of old enmities and score settling, resulting in transfer to Guantanamo, long jail sentences locally, or rendition to some US black site across the globe. Many simply vanished without trace.

Further, quite how the dead summarily executed in Iraq are to be identified as “foreign terrorists” is a mystery. But who in authority will care in a country whose government is unashamed of having the third highest execution rate on earth and described by Human Rights Watch in their 2013 Report, “Iraq: A Broken Justice System”, as having a leadership which uses: “draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators and journalists, effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms … the Iraqi people today face a government that is slipping further in to authoritarianism and doing little to make them safer.”

Can the US rein in al-Maliki’s latest demented excess — added to his murderous militias, manipulation, mendacity and all round mayhem? Hardly, since they arrived in Iraq with their imbecilic concept of a pack of cards for the “most wanted”; i.e., the politicians of the legitimate Iraqi government in an illegal invasion, each with a multi-million dollar price on his or her head.

When U.S. troops slaughtered Saddam Hussein’s two sons and fifteen year old grandson just eighteen days after a 30 million dollar reward had been offered for knowledge of their whereabouts, the gruesome murders were declared by the U.S. as a great success, the perpetrators’ heroes. The US State Department’s Reward for Justice programme website heralded this appalling, illegal event as “the fastest turnaround in history” and boasts of paying the promised reward.  Uday and Qusay Hussein’s photographs are proudly displayed on the bottom of the page, their family named misspelled, with others summarily assassinated, “deceased” trumpeted under the pictures.

Then, of course, there was the bounty for Osama bin Laden, and his alleged eventual assassination (though there is much evidence he died years earlier); however, someone was clearly summarily executed in another much publicized illegal incursion into a sovereign country.

But lives of others are cheap it seems, to the “shining city on the hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere”, as expressed by Ronald Reagan.

Moreover: “Rewards for Justice is always interested in receiving proposals to add key terrorist leaders to its Most Wanted List and Web site …”

Nouri al-Maliki has a novel view on his bounty hunter initiative. In a recent article on the website of the publication Foreign Policy, he writes: “Iraq has defeated Al Qaeda before and we have a holistic strategy to defeat Al Qaeda again.” He is surely including in his “holistic strategy” all those across Iraq, not alone in Western Anbar Province, who are demonstrating, rising up and have had heartily enough of his brutal, divisive, sectarian regime.

Coincidentally surely, he has stated, as voting cards are handed out for the April elections, that due to the situation in Anbar, distributing cards there will be problematical if not impossible. What a fix — voters unlikely to cast their tick in al-Maliki’s direction denied voting access at all.

March 19th will be the tenth anniversary of the US-UK blitzkrieg and invasion, which has brought Iraq’s people a misery of which their worst nightmares could not have created, descending ever in to further horrors.

The US government has not sufficiently pressed the Maliki government to rein in corruption and serial human rights abuses, the Human Rights Watch Report commented, further:  “Justice for abuses committed by coalition forces in Iraq remains almost non-existent.”

In a shaming, salutary final paragraph they charge that:

The failure of the US and UK to hold their troops accountable for abuses in detention and extra judicial killings during their presence in the country seems to have paved the way for the current government to make excuses for abuses, failure of law and order, and lack of accountability.

Were the lies about the “liberators” and “liberation, freedom and democracy” ever laid more bare?

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)

Via Dissident Voice

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37743.htm

Fact Or Fiction? Bandar Bin Sultan, UAE Crown Prince Fail to Carry Out Coup in Libya

By Fars News

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “FNA” – TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahayan failed to carry out a joint coup in Libya.

The Libyan coup, masterminded by Prince Bandar and funded by Sheikh Mohamed, was planned to be carried out concurrent with the 3rd anniversary of the Libyan Revolution on February 17 and to replicate the Egyptian Coup of July 3 to portray it as a “correction of the revolution’s path”, the same pretext used to justify the coup in Egypt, sources who asked to remain anonymous said.

Preliminary investigations indicate that Libyan coup d’état leader Major General Khalifah Haftar has received huge amounts of money from the Sheikh Mohamed to carry out the coup.

Major General Haftar has, in turn, paid equally huge amounts to Libyan officers and soldiers to help him carry out the coup, though unsuccessfully, sources said.

Sheikh Mohamed is reportedly dismayed by the failed coup d’état in Libya which he funded with large sums of UAE money, and for which he had planned for a long time, sources in the Libyan government told Asrar Arabeya news website.

Moreover, Asrar Arabeya obtained information indicating that renowned Libyan politician Mahmoud Gebril is currently seeking political asylum outside Libya after his involvement in the coup d’état has been exposed.

Preliminary information showed that the UAE planned the coup d’état in Libya with the help of Mohamed Dahlan, the security advisor of Al-Nahayan, and a former Palestinian official, said the sources.

See also

Former army chief calls on Libyans to support his military campaign: A former Libyan army commander, Maj. Gen. Khalifa Haftar, has urged Libyans to support his military campaign aiming to end what he described as the political crisis in Libya.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37737.htm

Why The Eruption in Kiev Could Set Off A Tsunami That Will Engulf Us All:

As Ukraine burns, a stark warning from our most authoritative historian of Eastern Europe

By Mark Almond

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Daily Mail” – Television pictures of revolutions can make them seem like a spectator sport.

Having Vitali Klitschko, the world heavyweight boxing champion, playing a starring role in the events in Kiev reinforces that impression.

But the implosion of the Ukrainian state in the last 48 hours is a political earthquake.

Chaos in Kiev could set off a tsunami that will toss Western Europe from its moorings too.

It is a mistake to think we are watching from a safe distance.

Maybe Ukraine is as foreign to the British people today as it was when an obscure crisis on its southern coast in Queen Victoria’s reign became the Crimean War.

But not since the 1850s has this country come so close to colliding with Russia.

Ukraine sits on the fault line dividing Eastern Europe between pro-Western and pro-Russian views. Her people are split over attitudes to the old imperial capital, Moscow.

That divide is now opening up as pro-Russian districts in the East such as Kharkov and Crimea refuse to accept the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych celebrated in Kiev.

Civil war would be a tragedy for Ukraine’s people. But what makes the crisis so dangerous is the international dimension.

Since the collapse of Communism in 1991, the US and its European allies have seen keeping Ukraine independent of Russia as a key result of victory in the Cold War.

For Russians, losing Ukraine was a huge blow.

Ironically, Russian culture and its Orthodox Church were born in Kiev 1,000 years ago.

Moscow is a new capital. The Kremlin has always regarded bases in Ukraine, like its naval hub at Sevastopol, as key to security.

Now Russia’s military presence could be questioned by the revolutionaries swarming through the abandoned government buildings in Kiev.

Nato has never wanted Russia’s forces in the Crimea, but nor does Washington want to see any violent effort to force them out.

Bill Clinton famously declared that keeping Crimea in Ukraine and away from Russia was in America’s national interest.

But he hoped that over time Russia would accept an independent Ukraine and withdraw its fleet.

Today, when ethnic Russians are rallying in Crimea and other parts of Eastern Ukraine, the risk of a clash between radicals on both sides is rising.

IF Ukrainian nationalists, for instance, shoot at Russian soldiers in the south, local civil disorder could drag the Kremlin in as it did five years ago across the Black Sea in Georgia.

Already the West has been sparring with Putin’s Russia over everything from energy prices to gay rights, but a good old-fashioned tug of war over territory is now under way.

This crisis began when Yanukovych backed out of a deal to associate his country with the EU last November.

Putin saw this as a back door to getting Ukraine into Nato and turning a neutral neighbour into a US ally.

Pro-Western Ukrainians hoped that would be the case, confirming the Kremlin’s worst fears.

Given Ukraine’s desperate economic mess, meeting the EU’s requirements was not really an option.

Worse still, Kiev needed billions of dollars to service its huge debt to Western banks. But the West wasn’t willing, or able, to lend any more.

Putin’s huge oil and gas revenues seemed to give Russia the trump card. The Kremlin offered Ukraine a soft loan but on condition it stopped associating with the EU.

This was a red rag to the pro-Western Ukrainians.

But what complicates matters and makes them so dangerous now is that the most militant pro-Western protesters are violently anti-Russian.

Many Ukrainians want to join the EU and Nato – not for reconciliation but to recruit allies against their old enemy.

This combination of a looming Ukrainian default threatening West European banks and a potential conflict with the EU’s major energy supplier, Russia, means that Ukraine’s troubles are not only on our doorstep but threatening to flow across it.

The violence in Kiev and inflammatory rhetoric of the hard core of the Ukrainian demonstrators now met by pro-Russian groups in the East shows that no one has things under control.

Putin had hoped to manipulate events through backing the ousted president, but the West has a problem with its vocal supporters too.

The paramilitaries who toppled Yanukovych pay lip-service to the new European values of integration but they mask loyalty to the older European demons of nationalism and anti-Semitism.

Sadly, Ukraine’s peaceful protesters are being marginalised by the reality that in a revolution, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

When Klitschko tried to persuade them to accept the EU-brokered compromise deal, he was booed off the stage in Kiev.

The West might have hopes that the release of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko will restore her status as the people’s darling that she enjoyed during the Orange Revolution a decade ago.

Her dramatic re-appearance in a wheelchair in front of the crowds fresh from prison recalled her firebrand role back then.

She lashed Yanukovich’s record but also tried to reach out to Ukrainians who feel that the heroes of 2004 wasted their opportunity then.

Timoshenko’s apology for the political class’s poor performance since then might gain her support.

But it was painfully obvious that none of her potential rivals for the presidency from the opposition were on the platform with her.

Worse still her former ally, Viktor Yushchenko who defeated Yanukovich in 2005, is now a bitter enemy.

After all, he was the star witness against her at her trial in 2011. Uniting the opposition will be a tricky task.

The capacity of Ukrainians to flout their Western well-wishers was shown when the protesters ignored that EU-sponsored deal to seize control of Kiev.

The radicals might ignore the West, but the West cannot ignore the consequences of letting them run riot into a conflict with local Russians or the Kremlin itself.

If political and economic chaos leads to civil war in the country lying between Nato and Russia, Yugoslavia’s break-up would seem like a vicarage tea party.

But as disaster looms, there is a glimmer of hope. Russia and the West have a common interest in avoiding a geo-political fight.

Both Moscow and Washington should make it clear they will not tolerate either side causing more violence. Nor will they stand by their self-proclaimed friends if they do.

Otherwise, East and West could find themselves dragged on to the slippery slope of confrontation for causes that are not their own.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37741.htm

Arsonists As Firefighters EU Writes Ukraine’s Eulogy

By Peter Lavelle

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “RT” –  The EU’s so-called “crisis plan” for Ukraine is itself a recipe for catastrophe. It is a brokered plan by the wrong people, under extreme (Western) outside pressure, and on behalf of a small group of backward looking and dangerous ideologues.

The plan essentially leaves Ukraine ungovernable and inadvertently promotes a secessionist agenda.

The EU’s really bad plan

The idea to return to the constitutional order of 2004 is pointless and truly bizarre. One of the key issues during the Orange Revolution was which institution should predominate – the presidency or parliament. Well, the Ukrainians have now tried both with the same result – failure. Why a parliamentary-centered system will work now is not explained. What is worrisome is the fact that Viktor Yanukovich has agreed to give away to parliament control over the police and security forces. Don’t expect any investigation into extreme violence committed by the rioters. But do expect a witch-hunt against the police and security forces!

The brokered deal calls for a “national unity government” within days. Will this include the Right Sector? How about those who used violence against the legally established constitutional regime? If this is the case, then it is akin to allowing arsonists to become firefighters. While Dmitro Yarosh’s Right Sector controls the streets of Kiev, national unity is an illusion.

Another point is constitutional reform. This is laughable on its face. The opposition (and their riotous thug friends), as well as the EU, have trampled upon the constitution for months. Ukraine has conducted two elections recently (presidential and parliamentary) and been given a clean bill of health from Brussels and Washington. With such blatant abuse of the rule of law in Ukraine, it is hard to believe that ultranationalist bigoted rioters have any use for any constitution.

The deal also includes a presidential election no later than December 2014 (only a few months before the current president’s term expires). However, there must be a new constitution in place before this happens. Again, this does not pass the laugh test. We should expect Ukraine’s eastern and southern region to demand considerable autonomy from Kiev under a new constitution. Western Ukraine will surely object to this. Thus, don’t expect a new constitution soon or a presidential election this year.

Then there is the issue of investigating recent acts of violence. This is to be conducted by authorities, the opposition, and the Council of Europe. Who is the opposition in this case? Dmitro Yarosh’s Right Sector? Are we to believe just because a racist thug will wear an expensive (EU paid for) suit, he will be respectable and legitimate?

There is even more naivety: The authorities will not impose a state of emergency and both the authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence. This element of the deal is hardly worth commenting on. The government should have declared a state of emergency weeks ago and cleared Maidan. Indeed, violence has been used on all sides. However, when any so-called political opposition resorts to arms, it is called insurrection (and is illegal and illegitimate).

Dmytro Yarosh (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky) Dmytro Yarosh (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

 Beyond the bad plan and Yanukovich’s incompetence

While the EU and the US (i.e. the leaked Victoria Nuland tape) have been shown to be relentlessly attempting to destabilize Ukraine, Yanukovich is no less to blame for Ukraine’s dire state. He has been indecisive and irresponsible. All of this could have been avoided had he been more presidential. Instead, it appears he only was concerned with his re-election ambitions. Needless to say, today he is practically irrelevant. This is quite extraordinary considering virtually all state institutions across the country remained loyal to Yanukovich during this artificially created crisis (coming from the West). Yanukovich betrayed them. And he betrayed Ukraine and its partners.

Bleak future: The break-up of Ukraine?

It is hard to think of a scenario in which Ukraine can remain the sovereign state it is today. During the failed Orange Revolution, there was a united opposition. Viktor Yushchenko was recognized and seen as a legitimate leader by a wide range of opposition groups. Sadly for all Ukrainians, Yushchenko’s time in office was an unbelievable failure. Today the situation is acutely worse. Ukraine has a shockingly weak and indecisive president and oppositions that are hardly reading from the same page. Who is running whom: Dmitro Yarosh or Vitaly Klitschko? Klitschko is certainly “politics-lite” and happy to be run by the likes of Victoria Nuland, but Yarosh is a different and very extreme figure – only a small minority in the country will ever follow him.

In a country like Ukraine, where the central leadership is weak and the opposition is also weak and fragmented, the logic of secession starts to enter the imagination. Before the events of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine was divided; the current crisis begins to force the question of why the status quo should be maintained. There are ample reasons why Ukraine’s east and south will now consider ending any meaningful relationship with those who now control Maidan and all of Kiev.

Beyond what was called the “civilizational choice” is who actually contributes to the country’s budget. The east and the south pay Ukraine’s bills today. Is the EU interested in adopting a poor and backward western Ukraine? If so, where will the money come from? Will western Ukrainians be allowed to freely work within the EU? Many other questions come to mind.

RIA Novosti / Andreі Mosienko

 It is the economy, stupid!

While the EU and the US State Department have been ceaselessly recruiting proxies on the ground and media spinning Ukraine, this former Soviet republic faces economic collapse and financial default. The economic situation in Ukraine is grave. Russia has decided to step away from its gesture of economic aid in the amount of $15 billion. When it was promised, there was a legitimately elected government in Kiev. Now the EU plan up-ends the political playing field. Will Victoria Nuland and Brussels bail out the rioters on the streets of Kiev? The good folks of eastern and southern Ukraine would like to know.

Some final thoughts…

Washington and Brussels have long wanted and planned regime change in Ukraine. This just might happen. But both should be wary of wishes coming true. The end result may be a failed western Ukraine state on its border – populated with people with less than “euro values” to say the least. Then there is Russia and its interests. Western mainstream media again are at their best when it comes to mediocre, lazy, and biased reporting. The fact is, Russia doesn’t trust the political class in Ukraine – irrespective of its political tastes and preference. Whether it is Viktor Yanukovich, Viktor Yushchenko, or Yulia Tymoshenko, from the Kremlin’s perspective they are all political losers and unreliable partners.

Ukraine is being torn apart. It is my guess that Washington and the EU will get the least desirable piece of the action. Regime change is a bad habit that historically leads to even worse outcomes. Sadly for Ukrainians, Western bad habits do nothing to make their lives better.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program “CrossTalk” and monthly business program “On the Money.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37738.htm

Ukraine: Another Piece in US-NATO-EU Neo-Con Puzzle

By John Robles

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© Photo: Golos Stolitsy

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “VOR” –  A monstrous crime is being committed in Ukraine right before the eyes of the world and the western media is helping to cover it up and distract the attention of the entire world from the core fact that the events in Ukraine are not a popular uprising but a carefully orchestrated synthetic coup d’état brought about by long entrenched western color revolution infrastructure that was installed by US/NATO/EU to bring about the illegal act of regime change on the sovereign country of Ukraine.

The unprecedented violent actions by the armed insurgents, who openly use deadly force on law enforcement and have set Kiev in flames, attempting to overthrow the government by force, are in fact treasonous crimes against the Ukraine and the people of Ukraine as they are being controlled from the outside and violate all internationally accepted democratic principles as well as all of the internal laws and constitutionally dictated standards of conduct enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine.

It is illegal under international law for any country to carry out measures to bring about the illegal change of the government in any other sovereign state, this includes support of any kind for insurgent forces, the implementation of economic and other measures to pressure the government to step down or dissolve and all other instruments and measures both covert and overt that may be used to bring about what is now popularly called “regime change” by the West and the US Government.

International Law

Overthrowing governments and removing presidents by force is illegal and covered in laws and ruling by bodies such as the World Court and even the International Criminal Court, which has become a mere instrument of the West, however the United Nations Charter is the most important document and widely respected of all of these instruments and one which all countries that attempt to abide by international law attempt to follow.

Under the UN Charter all attempts by the US/NATO/EU to influence the events in Ukraine so as to bring about a resolution that conforms to their own interests are illegal.

The debate over US/NATO/EU meddling in Ukraine and the use of US/NATO/EU military force, economic measures, political pressure and all of the other “tools” they use, including aggressive military attack and occupation, to effect regime changes in countries such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Serbia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Sudan and the other targeted countries, has conveniently been absent of one key fact: coercive, forced and outside regime change violates basic all of the accepted tenets of international law.

UN Charter

According to Article 1 (2) of the UN Charterdeveloping peaceful international relations based on the “principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” is one of the founding principles of the United Nations, and by default the UN Security Council. Therefore any attempt by any country to subjugate or pressure another into implementing measures or carrying out an agenda not instigated from within and not in keeping with the will of the people is illegal. The “will of the people” can only be known through referendums and democratic political processes and debates, not through fabricated pogroms in the streets, which the US is expert at organizing. As for pressure on the government, even the implementation of sanctions is therefore illegal as this is done to pressure a government from the outside.

It is prohibited under international law to threaten to use force and Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter states this clearly and requires all UN member states to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of other states. US/NATO/EU have not threatened military force against Ukraine, as they already have their ground force installed as they did in Syria, Libya, etc. but this applies to other countries they have invaded recently.

Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter states clearly that the United Nations and its members have no authority to intervene in matters which are within the domestic jurisdiction of any state (sovereign country). However the US/NATO/EU have gotten around this by implementing and using what they call the Responsibility to Protect. Uprisings and violent demonstrations such as what is happening in Ukraine fall within the definition of domestic jurisdiction, therefore any outside attempt to interfere is illegal.

Armed Insurgents

What is alarming in Ukraine is the violent and militarized nature of what the West is endlessly painting as a legitimate opposition. This portrayal runs contrary to what the most of the world is seeing right in front of their eyes on their TV screens. Even multiple statements by US officials themselves and a recently released telephone conversation between US official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, show that these are not members of a legitimate internal opposition, but rather radicalized, militarized, trained, planted, funded and supported members of western “color revolution” infrastructure.

The US/NATO/EU continue to egregiously blame the government and are criminally silent when the opposition they support, and in fact planted, murder members of the security forces and policemen. The outright murder, kidnapping and extreme violence against police and security forces should be something that would cause an outcry among police officers worldwide, especially in the US, where their police are given almost god-like reverence, yet the so called “international community” and members of the world’s law enforcement bodies are silent.

Nothing that the insurgents have done would be supported in any US/NATO/EU country or city, yet they continue to call on, threaten and pressure the authorities in Ukraine to not interfere or take required measures. The violent insurgents have made a mockery of law and order and have literally set the capital of a civilized, democratic European country on fire.

Storming, seizing and burning down the buildings which house the instruments and bodies of the state; openly shooting, murdering, kidnapping and falsely detaining members of law enforcement; destroying and setting alight the property of the state and the people; organizing the pogrom we are seeing in Ukraine; violating the law and acting against their own constitution; blackmailing and threatening officials to step down or be complaint and finally promoting policies that are not in keeping with the desires of the Ukrainian people, are all factual aspects of the Ukrainian “opposition”. So why is US/NATO/EU openly supporting them?

Business As Usual for US/NATO/EU

In my journalistic work I have attempted to robustly detail for years what US/NATO have been doing in their redesigning of world’s geopolitical landscape and I cannot repeat this enough, what we are seeing in Ukraine is just another regime change for the West. The tactics they use are always the same, we have seen them and documented them time and again and they continue to be illegal and egregious. Yet they continue with impunity.

All of the regime change actions and provocations that US/NATO/EU have used in Ukraine have been documented and exposed before the fact, yet the US president, EU leaders and their compliant media continue to egregiously stick to their own artificial pre-planned narrative.

The goal was regime change because US/NATO/EU understood that the Ukrainian Government and more importantly the Ukrainian people would not allow their country to be subverted and become yet another US/NATO/EU client state. More importantly this turn to Russia seriously interferes with US/NATO/EU military plans to base US/NATO missiles in Ukraine, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet and achieve their prime military objective of neutralizing Russia and eliminating Russia’s response to a first strike nuclear attack, which at the end of the day is the goal. The people of Ukraine and the organs of government are just inconveniences for US/NATO/EU and even if the country is completely destroyed and divided, their goal will be carried out. The destruction of the state of Ukraine will in fact benefit the US/NATO/EU and this fact we have seen repeatedly in the last 15 years.

Obama Connects Syria and Ukraine

In comments related to a soon to be released Voice of Russia interview Professor Francis Boyle a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law told me the following: “Obama said that the people of the Ukraine should be able to determine their own future just like the people of Syria should be able to determine their own future. So Obama himself linked the two. The strategy is the same: regime change, civil war, destruction of the State. So this elevates the call by the State Department for a transition to a government of technocrats to the presidential level. The cat is out of the bag. Regime Change of the democratically elected government of Ukraine is openly admitted to be USG policy. Even worse than Syria, whose government was arguably not really democratic. Nevertheless as I point out in my book, the demand for regime change by one government against another government is illegal and violates the World Court’s ruling against the United States in the Nicaragua decision (1996).”

Media Failure

The western mass media continues to promote and spread a phony slanted narrative of the events in Ukraine and their attempts have been formidable and almost impossible to counter. This concerns mostly the nature and portrayal of the police murdering opposition which, like the cop killers in the Caucuses, the West portrays as heroes and some sort of freedom fighters.

Again the hypocrisy of the West in Ukraine is resounding and completely obvious, yet they continue with impunity. US illegality and their complete and total disregard for international law continue to stare the world in the face in Guantanamo and worldwide, yet the compliant media has failed as US illegality has now spread like a cancer to include all NATO/EU countries.

It is another black day for the world as we see that the mass media has completely failed and been corrupted in the West. All of the facts surrounding the murderous insurgents in Ukraine and their bloody uprising and the collusion of the Central Intelligence Agency, US/NATO/EU and the West are being conveniently ignored as the subservient media chooses to attempt to go so far as to blame Russia which has from day one made it a point not to interfere.

Nowhere do we see debates going on regarding: the over $50 billion the US has spent buying out Ukraine; the admission by Victoria Nuland of US meddling in her telephone conversation, during which she implicated the head of the UN in US/NATO/EU plans; the training and equipping of the insurgents by US/NATO/EU; the fact that all outside pressure and meddling is illegal nor the fact that if anything similar happened in the West it would in no way be allowed.

Wake Up Call

They have won and Ukraine has fallen. The President of Ukraine has stated he will step down, which was the first call by the US/NATO/EU, when the first encampments appeared on Maidan Square. This was their clear goal and even though we documented it they have won. However what they have in fact done is committed another crime on an international scale.

Will anyone answer for the crime of subversion and for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine? Not likely. Therefore this should be a serious wake up call to all countries of the world, but will it? Also not likely.

What is striking in Ukraine was that it was a democratically elected government, that all of the US/NATO/EU plans were know from the start and that it was still allowed to proceed.

Once again, as we saw in Iraq, Libya and all other countries where the governments have been recently overthrown and the leader executed or otherwise removed (with North Korea being the perfect example) the only protection that any country has from the imposition of US/NATO/EU regime change is quite simply nuclear weapons.

US/NATO Obama/Neo-Con Plans and Impunity

After 9-11 Neo-Con Paul Wolfowitz, the then US Deputy Secretary of Defense stated that the US Government is now in the business of destroying countries, executing presidents and changing governments at will.

General Wesley Clark who was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, took issue with the Neo-Con architects from the Project for a New American Century (LINK 5) and gave testimony that the US planned to overthrow seven countries after 9/11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

Mr. Clark called the post 9-11 overtaking of the US Government a coup and said it was plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”. In a report Glen Greenwald cites a US Secretary of Defense Memo which gave even more detail and put a timeframe on the plan: “I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”

Greenwald reported that General Clark was shocked and wrote about the following exchange: “And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran [sic], Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: “the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?”.” Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: “the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?”

A New Regime Would Be Illegal

Any regime installed in any way other than trough democratic elections in Ukraine and under the current crisis will be illegal. President Yanukovich despite being weak and some might argue incompetent in maintaining stability in his country, was democratically elected in elections that were recognized by the entire world. This is important to underline.

Even though he was placed in a Catch 22 situation by the West where if he cracked down he would be demonized and if he did not he would be overthrown, his handling of the internal crisis leaves a lot of questions to be answered.

Timing of Ukrainian Coup

It is also important to note the similarities between the timing of the events in Ukraine and the invasion by Georgia of South OssetiaBoth taking place during Olympics and again the words of Neo-Con Paul Wolfowitz: “… we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

Ukraine is the crowning jewel and it looks like they will obtain it.

The views and opinions expressed here are my own. I can be reached at robles@ruvr.ru.

© 2005—2014 The Voice of Russia

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37740.htm

Destroying Planet Earth: Geoengineering is the Ultimate Hubris, without Democratic Control

Interview with Vandana Shiva

By Dr. Vandana Shiva

Global Research, February 23, 2014

Supporters of geoengineering have proposed radical ways to alter the planet. But opposition is growing to geoengineering. We interviewed the indian environmentalist, scientist,
philosopher Vandana Shiva.

Vandana Shiva, originally a theoretical physicist, she now campaigns the world for heirloom seeds, organic farming and local food systems instead of the chemical- and oil-intensive large scale industrial farms that destroy the environment and wreck local economies. She also supports Hands off Mother Earth, a citizen-based organization that resists geoengineering .

 Vandana Shiva was interviewed by Maria Heibel from NoGeoingegneria

TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW

NoGeoingegneria: So, first, thank you very much for your time because you’re an incredible woman and you always have so much time for everybody. and it’s great. We wanted to speak a little bit about geoengineering with you. It’s something that embraces everything: food and water and what is happening now in the world in a situation of climate change, and great change, and risk of collapse at every level. I saw the interview you had with Amy Goodman. So, first, what is, for you, at this moment, the role of geoengineering?

00:55 Vandana: the role of geo-engineering should, in a world of responsibility, in a world of scientifically enlightened decision making and ecological understanding, it should be zero.

There is no role for geo-engeneering. Because what is geoengineering but extending the engineering paradigm? There have been engineered parts of the earth, and aspects of ecosystems and organisms through genetical engineering: the massive dam building, the re-routing of rivers. These were all elements of geoengineering at the level of particular places and we have recognized two things: one, that when you don’t take into account the way ecological systems work, then you do damage. Everyone knows that in effect climate change is a result of that engineering paradigm. We could replace people with fossil fuels, have higher and higher levels of industrialization, of agriculture, of production, without thinking of the green-house gases we were admitting, and climate change is really the pollution of the engineering paradigm, when fossil fuels drove industrialism. To now offer that same mindset as a solution is to not take seriously what Einstein said: that you can’t solve the problems by using the same mindset that caused them. So, the idea of engineering is an idea of mastery. And today the role that we are being asked to play is a role based on informed humanity.

2:45 NoGeoingegneria: In my eyes geoengineering started in the 50s with atomic tests, because in this period they started to make geoengineering of the atmosphere of earth in a global sense, in a bigger sense, and a lot of projects in the 50s started to organize the earth, the planet, in a new way, with a new idea of engineering really the whole planet. With the power of atomic bomb scientists made a shifting in their mind, in my eyes. So in this period, in the 50′s weather modification also started very energically. It is part of geo engineering, and you have here the map of the ETC group, in the whole world, they are doing it, and you cannot do local modifications without changing the whole system. I know in India, in Thailand, and Australia weather modification maybe is more discussed, more open than in Europe. For example in Italy they made weather modification in the 80′s and people don’t know it. What do you think about the role of weather modification in a sense of geoengineering for food, for water, for the whole system?

4:21 Vandana

Weather modification is a very small part of geo engineering. Geoengineering right now is the hubris of saying: “all this climate change, and we’re living in the anthropocene age and now human beings will be the shapers of our future, that totally control the overall functions of not just our planet, but our relationship with other planets, so many of the solutions offered have been putting reflectors in the sky to send the sun back as if the sun was a problem rather than the very basis of life, or to put pollutants into the atmosphere in order to create a layer of pollution that would stop the sun from shining. But the instability of the climate that is the result of the greenhouse effect will just be aggravated by these interventions. Now weather modifications done in a narrow-minded way, to say “we are not getting rain so let us precipitate rain artificially so that agriculture doesn’t fail” is something that for example the Chinese did for the olympics. They made sure there would be no rain during the Olympics. It is a lower level of hubris than the larger project of geoengineering.

5:47 you know this map…..?

5:49 Vandana  yes of course i know Etcetera.

5:52 N: and you see that the ETC Group also published only a part, it’s only a part because everyday something else is coming out, in the whole world they are doing it, so if you make in a lot of points.

6:07 V: it’s not too much the points

6:08 N: what does it mean for weather extremes for example?

6:11 V: the first thing is it creates more instability, and we are dealing with instability, therefore we must deal more with actions that create insurance against instability, rather than aggravating the instability. It’s like I’m driving a car and I know there’s a precipice there, I should put the car in reverse and then turn into another direction. What geo engineering is doing is saying “let’s put our foot on the accelerator”. And the precipice is climate instability, climate unpredictability. And at the root of it is the false idea that these silly little actions will be able to control and regulate the weather and climate. But the second most important part of why geo engineering is so so wrong is that is ultimate expression of patriarchal irresponsibility. Patriarchy is based on appropriating rights and leaving responsibility to others. In this case the scientists who are playing these games, the who are investors financing it, are all doing it without having any consent for these experiments, any approval for these experiments, locally or globally, and worse, without thinking of the consequences or what it can lead to, and without ever ever being bound to responsibility. Therefore it is the ultimate expression of all the destructive tendencies of patriarchy.

7:50 N: Yeah, and you see you can take one name Edward Teller. He comes from the atomic bomb. He had the idea of controlling the weather by atomic bomb. He proposed the shield for sun radiation management, so the same persons, the same power structure is organizing this type of management of the planet and of space. So, you know about the intention of control ….?

8:22 V: Well for some people the intention is really one of making others suffer. And therefore aspects of geo- engineering are about links with military warfare. How do you alter the climate so that you can just make rain fall or fail in a particular area and let agriculture suffer. But in other cases, even if there isn’t that military intention of harm to the other there is an ignorance…..

8:56 N: There is also economic interest ……

8:58 V: Not all, the reason that there is such a battalion of scientists behind it…..

9:00 N: You know oil and not soil, the food and water …….

9:05 V: The people are pushing it have a money interest. The people who are pushing it have a military interest. , people are pushing to have a military interest. The players merely have the arrogance that ” I have the solution”. And it’s the combination of stupidity combined with the arrogance of the little players, and the evil projects of the ones who control it, that combination is what makes it toxic. Because if the scientific community could only recognize its responsibility to society and the planet and say “I will not be part of your games”, which is how Scientists for Social Responsibility was created, which is how the group that started to monitor the whole nuclear issue, those were all scientists. This is a marriage of stupid scientists with evil minds, and we need scientists with responsibility to be the counterforce to say this is not science, just as we need in genetic engineering. And it is as the community of scientists who really know the science start to speak more and organize better, that the stupid scientists of the biotech industry will quieten down. And biotech and geo engineering have the same mindset, of engineering, of power, of control, of mastery of nature

10:30 N: you spoke also of the dams. It’s big geoengineering also in India and in the whole world and there are now the big interests of water and here, the last time we had an interview with Pat Mooney he said that big dams, energy production, water control, and weather control, it’s one thing. So it’s not only a small intervention to have crops. It’s something more.

11:06 V: No as I said it’s the ultimate hubris, that’s what it is! Hubris on a planetary scale!

11:19 N: Uh….. what do you think about the fact they will spray nano particles? That’s the program!

11:29 V: Each of these issues has a particular aspect thats different but i think those particular aspects are very small compared to the overall damage and the overall irresponsibility. For me the first issue is, how dare you do this. How dare you. That has to be humanity’s response. Then the rest of the little thing of how nano particles can harm or have too much sulphur in the atmosphere can harm, those are specific details but this is a civilizational issue. And in civilizational issues you don’t look at the tiny details as the debate. You have to look at the big picture!

 Transcript by lukinski&trishy

 Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned environmental thinker, activist, physicist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer and science policy advocate, is the Director of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. She serves as an ecology advisor to several organizations including the Third World Network and the Asia Pacific People’s Environment Network.

In 1993 she was the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, commonly known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. A contributing editor to People-Centered Development Forum, she has also written several works include, “Staying Alive,” “The Violence of the Green Revolution,” “Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge,” “Monoculutures of the Mind” and “Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit,” as well as over 300 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. Shiva participated in the nonviolent Chipko movement during the 1970s, whose main participants were women. She is one of the leaders of the International Forum on Globalization, and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the anti-globalization movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices, as is evident from her book “Vedic Ecology” that draws upon India’s Vedic heritage. Shiva has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, genetic engineering are among the fields where Shiva has contributed intellectually and through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering. In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. Her book, “Staying Alive” helped redefine perceptions of third world women. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as non governmental organisations, including the International Forum on Globalisation, the Women’s Environment & Development Organization and the Third World Network.

 http://www.globalresearch.ca/destroying-planet-earth-geoengineering-is-the-ultimate-hubris-without-democratic-control/5370179

Sleepwalking Again

By Paul Craig Roberts

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  On the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, the Western powers are again sleepwalking into destructive conflict. Hegemonic ambition has Washington interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but developments seem to be moving beyond Washington’s control.

Regime change in Ukraine for a mere $5 billion dollars would be a bargain compared to the massive sums squandered in Iraq ($3,000 billion), Afghanistan ($3,000 billion), Somalia, and Libya, or the money Washington is wasting murdering people with drones in Pakistan and Yemen, or the money Washington has spent supporting al Qaeda in Syria, or the massive sums Washington has wasted surrounding Iran with 40 military bases and several fleets in the Persian Gulf in an effort to terrorize Iran into submission.

So far, in Washington’s attempt at regime change in Ukraine large numbers of Americans are not being killed and maimed. Only Ukrainians are dying, all the better for Washington as the deaths are blamed on the Ukrainian government that the US has targeted for overthrow.

The problem with Washington’s plot to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and install its minions is twofold: The chosen US puppets have lost control of the protests to armed radical elements with historical links to nazism, and Russia regards an EU/NATO takeover of Ukraine as a strategic threat to Russian independence.

Washington overlooked that the financially viable part of today’s Ukraine consists of historical Russian provinces in the east and south that the Soviet leadership merged into Ukraine in order to dilute the fascist elements in western Ukraine that fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union. It is these ultra-nationalist elements with nazi roots, not Washington’s chosen puppets, who are now in charge of the armed rebellion in Western Ukraine.

If the democratically elected Ukraine government is overthrown, the eastern and southern parts would rejoin Russia. The western part would be looted by Western bankers and corporations, and the NATO Ukraine bases would be targeted by Russian Iskander missiles.

It would be a defeat for Washington and their gullible Ukrainian dupes to see half of the country return to Russia. To save face, Washington might provoke a great power confrontation, which could be the end of all of us.

My series of articles on the situation in Ukraine resulted in a number of interviews from Canada to Russia, with more scheduled. It also produced emotional rants from people of Ukrainian descent whose delusions are impenetrable by facts. Deranged Russophobes dismissed as propaganda the easily verifiable report of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland’s public address last December, in which she boasted that Washington had spent $5 billion preparing Ukraine to be aligned with Washington’s interests. Protest sympathizers claim that the intercepted telephone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine, in which the two US officials chose the government that would be installed following the coup, is a fake.

One person actually suggested that my position should be aligned with the “sincerity of the Kiev students,” not with the facts.

Some Trekkers and Trekkies were more concerned that I used an improper title for Spock than they were with the prospect of great power confrontation. The point of my article flew off into space and missed planet Earth.

Spock’s mental powers were the best weapon that Starship Enterprise had. Among my graduate school friends, Spock was known as Dr. Spock, because he was the cool, calm, and unemotional member of the crew who could diagnose the problem and save the situation.

There are no Spocks in the US or any Western government and certainly not among the Ukrainian protesters.

I have often wondered if Spock’s Vulcan ancestry was Gene Roddenberry’s way of underlining by contrast the fragility of human reason. In the context of modern military technology, is it possible for life to survive humanity’s penchant for emotion to trump reason and for self-delusion to prevail over factual reality?

 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

The Cruel and Shameless Ideology of Corporatism

By Ralph Nader

February 22, 2014 “Information Clearing House – Like ravenous beasts of prey attacking a weakened antelope, the forces of subsidized capital and their mercenaries sunk their fangs into the United Auto Workers (UAW) and its organizing drive at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The UAW narrowly lost – 712 to 626 – and the baying pack of plutocrats exalted, as if they had just saved western civilization in the anti-union, lower-wage South.

The days preceding the vote were a corporatist frenzy with corporatist predators bellowing ‘the sky is falling.’ VW, which sensibly stayed neutral, but privately supported the UAW’s efforts and its collateral “works councils” (an arrangement that had stabilized and made their unionized, higher-paid workers in Germany more productive), must have wondered on what planet they had landed.

First out of the growling caves were the supine politicians, who always offer those proposing a factory big taxpayer subsidized bucks to bring crony capitalism to their region. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) who, without citing his source, warned “I’ve had conversations today and based on those am assured that, should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.” VW immediately denied that cause and effect claim.

No matter, Senator Corker then assailed the UAW and its negotiated wages and work rules for bringing down Detroit, along with the Big Three Auto Companies – GM, Ford and Chrysler. That’s strange because for decades the UAW lifted up industrial labor while the auto companies made record profits. Apart from the mistake the UAW made years ago when they sided with the auto bosses in lobbying in Congress against fuel efficiency standards, which would have made domestically produced vehicles more competitive with foreign imports, the responsibility for the auto industry’s collapse lies with management. It was all about “product, product, product,” as the auto writers say, and Detroit’s products fell behind the Japanese and German vehicles. The J.D. Power ratings, year after year, had U.S. cars bringing up the rear. The foreign car companies rated higher on fit and finish, other quality controls and fuel efficiency, while, as one former Chrysler executive told me about his industry, “We were producing junk.”

Add these losses of sales to the speculative binge of the auto companies’ finance subsidiaries, like Ally Financial Inc., previously known as General Motors Acceptance Corporation, which got itself caught in the huge Wall Street downdraft in 2008-2009. The result was that the auto giants rushed to demand a huge taxpayer bailout from Washington, which they were given.

Business associations warned of a UAW invasion of other southern states if the union organized the VW plant.

Nevertheless, the big lie the corporatists tell is that it was all the UAW’s fault for getting decent wages for its workers, who face more than a few occupational hazards.

Then something strange happened. In jumped anti-tax leader, Grover Norquist, with a new group, having the Orwellian name of Center for Worker Freedom (CWF), to put up 13 billboards in Chattanooga accusing the UAW of supporting Obama and “liberal politicians.” Perhaps Mr. Norquist thought this would influence a majority of the factory’s workers who are Republicans.

The CWF’s website also put up ludicrous postings such as “UAW wants your guns.” Was all this anti-unionist Grover Norquist’s bizarre way of promoting the idea of cutting tax revenues by keeping wages down?

It gets stranger. Powerful Republican state legislators joined with the local State Senator Bo Watson who said that if workers vote to join the UAW, “I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.” He was referring to a continuation of the $577 million already granted (in state and local subsidies) to the existing VW plant to locate there, with an additional bonanza of 700 million more taxpayer dollars should VW open up a new line of SUVs.

This is big time corporate welfare which Grover Norquist repeatedly has said he is adamantly against. How to reconcile? Who knows? He dominates Congressional Republicans with his no-tax pledge, but Grover Norquist may be spreading himself too thin when he takes on the livelihoods of American industrial and commercial workers.

There is another anomaly operating here. As Jay Bookman, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution politics writer observes, these legislators and Governor Bill Haslam “are clearly threatening to use tax subsidies to punish VW for what it believes to be a good business decision.”

What were the factors among the 89% of the workers who voted in the union election?

The no voters felt that VW was paying them wages and benefits equivalent to what workers get at other UAW or organized factories, following the union’s major concessions in recent years. So why should they pay monthly union dues? They also took in the warnings of the politicians that a possible extension of the plant may not be given “tax incentives.”

The “yes” voters, on the other hand, wanted a collective voice through the “works councils,” which, under U.S. law, require a union. Such a combination has worked in all other European VW plants. Plant worker Chris Brown said it helps efficiency. He explained that “on the assembly line, the process changes each year because [of] new models. A voice in the company would help smooth the process from year to year.”

The non-union foreign transplants, as they are called, have to date opposed the UAW’s unionizing efforts, including Nissan, Toyota and Honda. But the UAW will keep trying.

It’s not the end of the world for the union that Walter and Victor Reuther built, which in the nineteen thirties lifted up exploited, voiceless auto workers to a decent living standard with benefits, at the same time of the auto industry’s enormous expansion.

As the two-tier auto industry wage system moves more workers to the lower tier, the appeal of a unified labor voice will become clearer.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

How the U.S. Toppled One of the Most Popular Governments in Latin America

Peter Hallward Untangles the Truth about Haiti from a Web of Lies

By Joe Emersberger

February 22, 2014 “Information Clearing House – In Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of ContainmentPeter Hallward meticulously explains how, on February 29 of 2004, the U.S. managed to “topple one of the most popular governments in Latin America but it managed to topple it in a manner that wasn’t widely criticized or even recognized as a coup at all.”  Imperial powers do not reinvent the wheel when it comes to undermining democracy in poor countries.  Hallward identifies valuable lessons for people who wish to limit the damage that powerful countries inflict on the weak.

The narrative he presents is not complicated, but to present it he must expose countless lies and half truths and brilliantly explore many simple questions that corporate journalists invariably failed to ask.

The story the corporate press and even some alternative media presented to the world, when it was coherent at all, is roughly what follows.

Aristide was elected Haiti’s president in 1990 in the country’s first free and fair election.  He was overthrown in 1991 by the Haiti’s army at the behest of Haiti’s elite who feared that he may lift the poor out of poverty and powerlessness.  The US, despite some misgivings, restored him to power in 1994 after economic sanctions failed to budge the military junta that replaced him.  He stood aside while his close ally, Rene Preval, occupied the presidency for several years.  In 2000 Aristide was brought to power through rigged elections.  By the end of 2003 Aristide had lost popular support and important allies due to corruption and violence.  He could only keep power because he had armed gangs in the slums.  In February of 2004, faced not only with a broad-based political opposition, but by armed rebels and gangs who had turned against him, Aristide resigned and asked the US to fly him to safety as the rebels were about to overrun the capital.

Hallward shows that hardly anything about the widely accepted narrative above is true.

The US was behind the first coup that ousted Aristide in 1991 and supplied the junta through a selectively porous embargo.  It restored Aristide in 1994 because the political price of playing along with the junta had become exorbitant.  After he was restored, the US made sure that Haiti’s security forces were infiltrated by henchmen of the military regime and leaned on Aristide to implement unpopular economic policies — far beyond what he had agreed to as a condition for being restored.  He resisted US pressure for further concessions on economic policy and disbanded the Haitian army over strong US objections.  In response, the US spent 70 million dollars between 1994 and 2002 directly on strengthening Aristide’s political opponents.  Over these years many of Aristide’s allies among the “cosmopolitan elite,” as Hallwards calls them, became bitter enemies.

Often their resentment stemmed from being passed over by Aristide for jobs or political endorsement in favor of grassroots activists from the Lavalas movement.  Some defectors from Aristide’s camp, like Evans Paul, had impressive track records in the fight against pre-1990 dictatorships and against the 1991 coup, but by 2000 most had joined a coalition with the far Right (known as Democratic Convergence) which was cobbled together with US money.  Invariably, these former Aristide allies lost almost all popular support after defecting to the US camp.  However they were well connected with foreign NGOs and the international press.  The elections of 2000 were not only free and fair, but the results were completely in line with what secret US commissioned polls had predicted.  Aristide’s opponents were trounced but successfully sold the lie that the 2000 elections were fraudulent.

The US (joined by the EU and Canada) blocked hundreds of millions of aid from Aristide’s government.  An unsuccessful coup attempt by far-right paramilitaries took place in 2001.  Other deadly attacks on Lavalas partisans took place during Aristide’s second term but went largely unnoticed by the international press and NGOs.  In contrast, reprisals on Aristide’s opponents were widely reported.

By late February of 2004, both the political and armed oppositions were in danger of being exposed as frauds.  US destabilization efforts, though successful in many ways, had failed to produce an electable opposition to Aristide and his Famni Lavalas party.  The rebels, whose collusion with the political opposition was becoming difficult for the corporate press to ignore, were in no position to take Port-au-Prince.  Hence, the US moved in to complete the coup themselves (with crucial assistance from France and Canada) and not through Haitian proxies as they had in 1991.

The kind of detailed internal record that exists for U.S.-backed coups in Chile and Argentina during the 1970s is not yet available in the case of Haiti.  Though important fragments have been uncovered by researchers like Anthony Fenton,Yves EnglerIsabel Macdonald, and Jeb Sprague, Peter Hallward makes his case by carefully gathering uncontroversial facts (like the presidential election results of 2006 in which the pro-coup politicians were crushed) and then applying logic and common sense.

Hallward might have gone into more detail about how Aristide kept most Haitians on his side in the face of such a relentless onslaught from such powerful enemies.  The social programs Aristide’s government implemented and the inclusive and participatory nature of the Famni Lavalas Party were certainly mentioned in the book, but they should have been elaborated on.  There are crucial lessons to be learned there for people’s movements around the world.

Hallward is accurate in describing his book as “an exercise in anti-demonization, not deification.”  He wrote that if Aristide “shares some of the responsibility for the debacle of 2004 it is because it occasionally failed to act with the sort of vigor and determination its most vulnerable supporters were entitled to expect.”  Hallward says a certain amount of complacency took hold in Fanmni Lavalas due to its popularity, and that it was sometimes slow to recognize enemies and opportunists within its ranks, but Hallward should have placed more emphasis on his concluding point that the renewal of Haitian democracy “will require the renewal of emancipatory politics within the imperial nations themselves.”  It is mainly we, within the imperial nations, who need to do the soul searching and analysis of what we should have done better.  Aristide hinted at this crucial point in his interview with Hallward:

“The real problem isn’t really a Haitian one, it isn’t located within Haiti.  It is a problem for Haiti that is located outside Haiti! “

This article was originally published at MR Zine –

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

Venezuelan Government Sends Army to Combat “Grave” Opposition Disorder near Colombian Border

By Ewan Robertson

February 22, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  Mérida, 22nd February 2014 ( Venezuelanalysis ) – The Venezuelan government is to send two army battalions to Táchira state, which borders Colombia, to combat a “grave” case of opposition-promoted disorder in the area.

According to press reports and an eyewitness testimony provided to Venezuelanalysis.com, the capital city of Táchira state, San Cristóbal, has been almost brought to a standstill in recent days by street barricades set up by hard-line opposition activists.

According to such reports, in recent days almost no transport has been able to circulate, while the great majority of shops and businesses have been closed. Authorities warn that the street blockades are impeding the delivery of food and gasoline, and claim that transport workers have been threatened.

The government also suspects that “paramilitaries and criminal gangs” are involved in the actions, with the complicity of the local opposition mayor, Daniel Ceballos.

Jack Johnston, a science teacher from England, experienced the situation in Sán Cristobal first hand, spending nine days there. He told VA.com that the terminal had been closed and he was lucky to find a bus out on Thursday.

“From Monday morning there were no taxis operating, no public transport, and the city’s bus terminal was closed…on Monday one of the main squares in the city was completely deserted by nightfall, and the only thing open was a Wendy’s restaurant,” he said.

Johnston commented that the people on the street barricades in central San Cristobal appeared to be students. “They complained about insecurity, but their main demand was for the fall of the government,” he said.

When asked about the response he had observed from the authorities to the situation, he replied, “Inexplicably non-existent. It’s far from a repressive crackdown, the exact opposite. They’ve allowed a small number of students to occupy a main crossroads and dozens of blocs without any opposition…I explained to them [opposition activists] that there’s no way this would be allowed to continue for more than one day in my country”.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua mentioned events in Tachira to ambassadors of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). He described the situation there as “extremely delicate” and explained, “We’ve acted with the restraint and calm that allows us to understand what’s being played out in Venezuela”.

The foreign minister also referred to opposition protests and street barricades that have affected the country in recent weeks. The government claims a strategy is being employed by the right-wing opposition to destabilise the country and create the conditions for a state coup or foreign intervention.

“[This is] a repeated and well known scheme with disastrous consequences, where a situation of violence is generated so that the state is obliged to act in safeguard of the country’s lives and assets, to then become an object of criminalisation, demonisation, sanctions, blockades, and military intervention,” Jaua argued.

The opposition’s leadership says violent street actions are carried out by “infiltrators”, and that the government and its supporters are responsible for recent violence, claiming they have repressed peaceful student demonstrations.

Army units

On Thursday the minister of interior affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, announced that two army battalions would enter Táchira state to help re-establish order there.

The first unit, a parachute battalion, will be placed on the main highways into the city, but will not enter the city itself. “It’s to reinforce the [existing] units…because we’ve detected Colombians that come to undertake missions as armed paramilitaries in the street riots,” the minister said to press.

Meanwhile the National Bolivarian Guard (GNB) will be used to re-establish order in the city, and thereafter in neighbouring municipalities. The second battalion, of army engineers, will then enter the city to clean it of the burned rubbish, tires, and other damages left by the street barricades. Carrying arms in the state is temporarily banned.

Rodriguez Torres accused San Cristobal’s mayor, Daniel Ceballos, of conspiring in the unrest. The minister said there was evidence that Ceballos had paid for paramilitaries and criminal gangs to get involved in the disorder. President Maduro said on Thursday that police forces must investigate the case, “and if he [Ceballos] should be jailed, he will be jailed”.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles criticised the measures to restore order in San Cristobal, arguing that they will not solve the city’s problems. “They don’t want tanks in Táchira, Nicolas, in Tachira they want food, and for the problem with the border [ie contraband activity] to be solved,” he said yesterday.

Authorities have also claimed that paramilitaries have been present in Mérida state, which borders Táchira. The Mérida state government reported yesterday to have captured three armed individuals suspected of being paramilitaries on their way to Mérida city.

Further, on Wednesday a machine gun of Israeli origin was found in a safe house in Mérida. United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) governor of Mérida, Alexis Ramirez, said investigations suggested the weapon was to be used against security forces and opposition protestors to provoke an escalation of violence.

The state governor also reported that hard-line opposition members at barricades on one of the city’s main avenues had begun to charge local residents a toll in order to be able to pass.

“This is a situation that we’re not going to allow, we’re going to take [the avenue] with the constitution, and the Bolivarian National Guard. We’re going to peacefully remove the debris and identify all these people to put them before a court,” he declared.

In recent days transport in up to half the city has been affected by the barricades.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37731.htm

Sleepwalking Again

By Paul Craig Roberts

February 23, 2014 “Information Clearing House –  On the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, the Western powers are again sleepwalking into destructive conflict. Hegemonic ambition has Washington interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but developments seem to be moving beyond Washington’s control.

Regime change in Ukraine for a mere $5 billion dollars would be a bargain compared to the massive sums squandered in Iraq ($3,000 billion), Afghanistan ($3,000 billion), Somalia, and Libya, or the money Washington is wasting murdering people with drones in Pakistan and Yemen, or the money Washington has spent supporting al Qaeda in Syria, or the massive sums Washington has wasted surrounding Iran with 40 military bases and several fleets in the Persian Gulf in an effort to terrorize Iran into submission.

So far, in Washington’s attempt at regime change in Ukraine large numbers of Americans are not being killed and maimed. Only Ukrainians are dying, all the better for Washington as the deaths are blamed on the Ukrainian government that the US has targeted for overthrow.

The problem with Washington’s plot to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and install its minions is twofold: The chosen US puppets have lost control of the protests to armed radical elements with historical links to nazism, and Russia regards an EU/NATO takeover of Ukraine as a strategic threat to Russian independence.

Washington overlooked that the financially viable part of today’s Ukraine consists of historical Russian provinces in the east and south that the Soviet leadership merged into Ukraine in order to dilute the fascist elements in western Ukraine that fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union. It is these ultra-nationalist elements with nazi roots, not Washington’s chosen puppets, who are now in charge of the armed rebellion in Western Ukraine.

If the democratically elected Ukraine government is overthrown, the eastern and southern parts would rejoin Russia. The western part would be looted by Western bankers and corporations, and the NATO Ukraine bases would be targeted by Russian Iskander missiles.

It would be a defeat for Washington and their gullible Ukrainian dupes to see half of the country return to Russia. To save face, Washington might provoke a great power confrontation, which could be the end of all of us.

My series of articles on the situation in Ukraine resulted in a number of interviews from Canada to Russia, with more scheduled. It also produced emotional rants from people of Ukrainian descent whose delusions are impenetrable by facts. Deranged Russophobes dismissed as propaganda the easily verifiable report of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland’s public address last December, in which she boasted that Washington had spent $5 billion preparing Ukraine to be aligned with Washington’s interests. Protest sympathizers claim that the intercepted telephone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine, in which the two US officials chose the government that would be installed following the coup, is a fake.

One person actually suggested that my position should be aligned with the “sincerity of the Kiev students,” not with the facts.

Some Trekkers and Trekkies were more concerned that I used an improper title for Spock than they were with the prospect of great power confrontation. The point of my article flew off into space and missed planet Earth.

Spock’s mental powers were the best weapon that Starship Enterprise had. Among my graduate school friends, Spock was known as Dr. Spock, because he was the cool, calm, and unemotional member of the crew who could diagnose the problem and save the situation.

There are no Spocks in the US or any Western government and certainly not among the Ukrainian protesters.

I have often wondered if Spock’s Vulcan ancestry was Gene Roddenberry’s way of underlining by contrast the fragility of human reason. In the context of modern military technology, is it possible for life to survive humanity’s penchant for emotion to trump reason and for self-delusion to prevail over factual reality?

 

 

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

Ukraine Protesters Take Kiev; President Says Coup

KIEV, Ukraine February 22, 2014 (AP)

By MARIA DANILOVA and YURAS KARMANAU Associated Press

February 22, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “AP” – Protesters took control of Ukraine’s capital Saturday, seizing the president’s office as parliament voted to remove him and hold new elections. President Viktor Yanukovych described the events as a coup and insisted he would not step down.

After a tumultuous week that left scores dead and Ukraine’s political destiny in flux, fears mounted that the country could split in two. Parliament called early elections for May 25, but the president said he would not recognize any of the lawmakers’ decisions as valid.

Yanukovych left Kiev for his support base in the country’s Russian-speaking east, where lawmakers questioned the legitimacy of the newly empowered parliament and called for volunteer militias to uphold order.

“They are trying to scare me. I have no intention to leave the country. I am not going to resign, I’m the legitimately elected president,” Yanukovych said in a televised statement, clearly shaken and with long pauses in his speaking.

“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’etat,” he said. “I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed.”

The country’s western regions, angered by corruption in Yanukovych’s government, want to be closer to the European Union and have rejected Yanukovych’s authority in many cities. Eastern Ukraine, which accounts for the bulk of the nation’s economic output, favors closer ties with Russia and has largely supported the president. The three-month protest movement was prompted by the president’s decision to abort an agreement with the EU in favor of a deal with Moscow.

“A dictator has been overthrown,” said protester Anatoly Sumchinsky, among thousands gathered on Kiev’s Independence Square cheering a huge screen broadcasting a parliamentary debate. “We stood for our right to live in a different Ukraine. It’s a victory.”

Saturday’s developments were the result of a European-brokered peace deal between the president and opposition.

But Yanukovych said Saturday that he would not sign any of the measures passed by parliament over the past two days as a result of that deal. They include motions:

-saying that the president removed himself from power.

-setting new elections for May 25 instead of next year.

-trimming the president’s powers.

-releasing his jailed arch-rival, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The decisions won with large majorities, including yes votes from some members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, which dominated Ukraine’s political scene until this week but is now swiftly losing support.

Russia came out Saturday firmly against the peace deal, saying the opposition isn’t holding up its end of the agreement, which calls for protesters to surrender arms and abandon their tent camps.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday called his German, French and Polish counterparts and urged them to use their influence with the Ukrainian opposition to stop what he described as rampages by its supporters. European officials urged calm.

Ukraine’s defense and military officials also called for Ukrainians to stay peaceful. In statements Saturday, both the Defense Ministry and the chief of the armed forces said they will not be drawn into any conflict and will side with the people. But they did not specify whether they still support the president or are siding with the opposition.

The president was in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where governors, provincial officials and legislators gathered alongside top Russian lawmakers and issued a statement saying that the events in Kiev have led to the “paralysis of the central government and destabilization of the situation in the country.”

Some called for the formation of volunteer militias to defend against protesters from western regions, even as they urged army units to maintain neutrality and protect ammunition depots.

Protesters claimed full control of Kiev and took up positions around the president’s office and a grandiose residential compound believed to be his, though he never acknowledged it.

At the sprawling suburban Kiev compound, protesters stood guard and blocked more radical elements among them from entering the building, fearing unrest. Moderate protesters have sought to prevent their comrades from looting or taking up the weapons that have filled Kiev in recent weeks.

The compound became an emblem of the secrecy and arrogance that defines Yanukovych’s presidency, painting him as a leader who basks in splendor while his country’s economy suffers and his opponents are jailed. An Associated Press journalist visiting the grounds Saturday saw manicured lawns, a pond, several luxurious houses and the big mansion itself, an elaborate confection of five stories with marble columns.

Protesters attached a Ukrainian flag to a lamppost at the compound, shouting: “Glory to Ukraine!”

At the president’s office in central Kiev, a group of protesters in helmets and shields stood guard. No police were in sight.

Dalton Bennett in Kharkiv, Angela Charlton and Jim Heintz in Kiev and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37728.htm

Is Washington Considering a Full-Scale Drone War over Syria?

By Timothy Alexander Guzman

Global Research, February 21, 2014

Will the Obama administration launch a full scale drone war over Syria in the coming months ahead? Public support for Washington to order a direct military intervention against the Syrian government because it is accused of using chemical weapons against civilians is at the lowest level in 20 years according to a Gallop Poll conducted on September 2013.

More than 51% of Americans oppose military action and 13% are unsure if military action is practical.

In February 2013, US Press Secretary Jay Carney stated to the public, the ethical and “wise” use of drones that can pinpoint targets without of course killing innocent civilians is legal:

We have acknowledged, the United States, that sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives. We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise. The U.S. government takes great care in deciding to pursue an al Qaeda terrorist, to ensure precision and to avoid loss of innocent life

Washington did consider launching drone strikes in the same year as reported by the Los Angeles Times ‘CIA begins sizing up Islamic extremists in Syria for drone strikes’:

The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials.

President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration

Obama’s speech on his drone policy had concerns on the public’s attitude towards another war in the Middle East. Obama said the following on the use of drones in foreign land:

Any U.S. military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies and impacts public opinion overseas. Moreover, our laws constrain the power of the President even during wartime, and I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. The very precision of drone strikes and the necessary secrecy often involved in such actions can end up shielding our government from the public scrutiny that a troop deployment invites. It can also lead a President and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism

In a recent meeting between French President Francois Hollande and President Obama to discuss issues in the Middle East and Africa, Obama was asked about the situation in Syria:

 I’ve said throughout my presidency that I always reserve the right to exercise military action on behalf of America’s national security interests. But that has to be deployed wisely. And I think that what we saw with respect to the chemical weapons situation was an example of the judicious, wise use of possible military action

The Obama administration refers to the use of military action and how it is deployed as a “wise” option.  Is he talking about the use of drone warfare? He later continued his statement saying that the Syrian situation is “Fluid”:

Whether we can duplicate that kind of process when it comes to the larger resolution of the problem, right now we don’t think that there is a military solution, per se, to the problem. But the situation is fluid, and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue to solve this problem, because it’s not just heartbreaking to see what’s happening to the Syrian people, it’s very dangerous for the region as a whole, including friends and allies and partners like Lebanon or Jordan that are being adversely impacted by it

The Obama administration can possibly launch a full scale drone war on Syria without involving ground troops since the public is opposed to another direct military intervention in the Middle East. Washington still has its hands tied with troops remaining in Afghanistan. Relations with President Hamid Karzai are strained. President Karzai refused to sign a security pact allowing 10,000 US troops to stay in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism purposes and training Afghan forces beyond 2014. Karzai also wants limited NATO troops in Afghanistan. With US and Israeli troops in preparation for a possible confrontation with Iran if nuclear talks fail, the use of drones would be a viable option for Washington since it would strike a delicate balance with the international community and the American public concerning their attitudes towards a new war using ground troops. A full-scale drone war launched by Washington would seem like a low-intensity war to the public, meaning that a drone war is not really a “major war” involving US troops on the ground, as President Obama said in his 2013 drone policy speech “such actions can end up shielding our government from the public scrutiny “.

Washington would hope that the American public and the international community would not organize anti-war protests regarding America’s 21st century drone war against President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian people involving so-called “precision” strikes. War is war, regardless of what some people in power may think. The public wants no war against Syria, but will Washington and its allies listen? That is a good question.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/is-washington-considering-a-full-scale-drone-war-over-syria/5370020

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