Monthly Archives: September 2014

Nearly $1 Billion Already Spent on US Military Campaign Against ISIS

Global Research, September 30, 2014

estimate-cost-isis-war.si_-400x224A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014. (Reuters/U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew)

The US-led military operation against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants has likely so far cost between $780 and $930 million, according to an estimate by Washington-based think tank specializing in defense issues.

The estimate is part of a report attempting to forecast how much the operation might cost in the future. It was published on Monday by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), that’s influential with the US Department of Defense.

The think tank’s defense experts, many of whom are military veterans, have used a figure given by the Pentagon itself, which said that the military operations against the Islamic State cost $530 million through August 26.

The group’s own estimate covers the period from August 27 through September 24 and is based on “what is publicly known about the number of targets struck, the types of aircraft and munitions used, the basing options available to US forces in the region, and the number US ground forces in the region.”

The various costs associated with the military actions against the IS have been reflected in a graphic, issued by the CSBA.

View image on Twitter

How much will operations against cost? CSBA’s estimate: 

The total cost to date from mid-June through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million,” the report says.

It further comes up with possible estimates of three scenarios of the way the military operation will develop in the region.

Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month,” the study says.

If the airstrikes moderately intensify and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the cost would be driven to $350 and $570 million per month.

Finally, if the military campaign “expands significantly” and 25,000 US troops are deployed, the monthly cost of the operation might grow to $1.1 to $1.8 billion.

Annually the first scenario would cost the American budget $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, while the third, highest-intensity, one would require the US to spend $22 billion.

The US started the military operation against the Islamic State in June 2014 by increasing support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the extremist group.

The US airstrikes against the Islamic State targets in Iraq were launched August 8 and in Syria September 23. President Obama made a decision on the airstrikes without the authorization of the US Congress. Lawmakers might not vote on the move until next year, congressional aides told Reuters on Monday.

Members of Congress left Washington in mid-September to campaign for upcoming elections. They will return in mid-November and will likely be reluctant to vote on authorization for the use of military force in Iraq and Syria in the last weeks of the current Congress.

President Obama announced crackdown on the Islamic State group in a landmark September 10 speech. He specified that American ground troops would not be involved in the fight against the militants.

Senior US military officials have, however, not excluded the ‘boots on the ground’ option. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in mid-September that should Obama’s current strategy not yield the desired results, he would recommend deploying American troops on the ground.

Estimates on the possible cost of the military campaign have varied. Last week, a defense spending expert, Gordon Adams, a professor of US foreign policy at American University, told Huffington Post he estimated the United States’ war on the militant group could be costing taxpayers up to $1.5 billion a month.

UK pilots union agrees mass layoffs/pay cuts at Monarch

By Robert Stevens

30 September 2014

Trade unions at Monarch Airlines, Britain’s oldest surviving carrier, have agreed to cut 900 jobs, slash pay by up to 30 percent, and reduce the terms and conditions of the remaining workforce, including changing working patterns.

Details have yet to emerge as to the concessions the unions agreed regarding changing working patterns.

Monarch began discussions with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, earlier this year after it threatened that without huge cutbacks it would not survive.

Speaking after the rotten deal was concluded, Jim McAuslan, general secretary of BALPA, said, “Pilots and their colleagues at Monarch have stood up and made major sacrifices to secure the future of this important British company, accepting lower pay and reduced terms and conditions within a restructured airline. It is now time for the Government to engage with all of the parties concerned and do everything it can to make this deal happen and help Monarch survive and thrive.”

Faced with no alternative, workers in both unions voted to accept the cuts.

Monarch is going through a major restructuring with the stated aim of becoming a “low-cost” airline. In August, Chief Executive Andrew Swaffield said, “We began to see the market deteriorating at the end of last summer… Capacity is up, but demand is flat. We have more aircraft than we would like in this market.”

The firm plans to end its long-haul operation, with Swaffield telling Travel Weekly, “The old model of flying out on a Saturday and staying a week or two is finished. Increasingly, customers book shorter, multiple trips, going out on Thursday and back on Monday. There will be more flights to fewer places.”

On September 23, Monarch announced that it was in talks with London-based investors Greybull Capital to sell a majority stake. The two parties said they were working towards Greybull’s purchase of the business from the Swiss-Italian Mantegazza family towards the end of October. Speaking about Greybull’s planned acquisition, Marc Meyohas, its co-founder, said, “It’s a very competitive market. We need to do three things [at Monarch]—run a business, have a low-cost base and have the right fleet.”

Monarch was founded in 1968 and continues today as part of group including Cosmos Tours and an aircraft maintenance business. It reported a £33.4 million loss in 2012 and a £5.9 million pre-tax profit in 2013. Swaffield said 2014 had been “a difficult year.” Monarch is to reduce its fleet of ageing 42 narrow-body aircraft with 30 new Boeing jets in a £1.75 billion deal. The new planes are set to enter service in November 2018, and will provide fuel and maintenance savings of £2 million to £3 million annually per plane.

The company has a pension deficit of around £160 million.

Greybull is known as a “vulture fund,” described by the Financial Times as “A fund that invests in companies in difficulty, hoping to gain control of them and improve their performance.”

It was named preferred bidder to purchase the airline ahead of other parties including Elliott Advisers, which is, as the Sunday Times noted, “the aggressive American hedge fund that recently helped force Argentina into a partial default on its sovereign debt.”

The 900 job losses represent about 30 percent of the company’s workforce. If the Greybull deal is finalised, the remaining workers face an uncertain future and even more belt tightening.

In 2012 Greybull partly funded a takeover of electrical goods chain Comet, following its collapse and the loss of nearly 7,000 jobs in 2012 and began asset stripping. Along with Elliot Advisors, Greybull purchased the collapsed firm for just £2 under the aegis of private investment firm OpCapita. Under that deal a newly created vehicle, Hailey Acquisitions Limited (HAL), became the main secured creditor to Comet.

According to documents published by the Daily Telegraph, by August 13 HAL had already paid £54 million from the sale of Comet’s stock and equipment. In contrast, Comet’s unsecured creditors, who were owed £232 million, were to receive less than 1p on the pound.

Over the past decade airline workers in the UK have suffered one defeat after another, as the union has collaborated with management to impose swinging cuts and job losses. In an industry that is global by its very nature, all disputes were restricted to the individual airlines involved, on an explicitly national basis. The sell-out at Monarch anticipated that by the unions of the Air France pilots’ strike.

In 2009 BALPA, representing 95 percent of British Airways’ (BA) 3,200 pilots, agreed a 2.61 percent pay cut and 20 percent in cutbacks to allowances and perks, amounting to an annual saving of £26 million.

The following year, as the High Court ruled illegal a planned strike by BA cabin crew, who were members of Unite, BALPA appealed for intervention by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government against “what are tired 1970s-style industrial relations”.

In 2011, Unite reneged on strike mandates and ended a series of long-running strikes by cabin crew, accepting many cost-cutting measures. Unite also agreed BA’s right to organise scabbing on any future dispute, agreed to strikers being penalised and promised not to defend union members from victimisation.

The sell-out of workers’ jobs and livelihoods at Monarch again demonstrates there is no line which the union bureaucracy will not cross to defend their privileged position as an arm of management. BALPA’s McAuslan added, “We welcome the announcement that Greybull are moving towards securing their position as majority shareholders in Monarch.”

BALPA’s assurance to help Monarch to “survive and thrive” means that the brutal cuts in wages and conditions just imposed are only an initial down payment and a portent for the future in an industry that becomes ever more competitive and cut-throat. The trade unions today are not defensive organisations against the employers, but aim to demobilise all opposition in alliance with corporate management and governments. Employees at Monarch and other airlines must organise themselves independently through the formation of rank-and-file committees and do all in their power to link their struggles with airline workers around the world.

Australian para-military police kill man in Brisbane siege

By Mike Head

30 September 2014

Amid an ongoing campaign of terrorism scare-mongering and large-scale police raids and operations, heavily-armed officers from a police para-military unit shot a 42-year-old man in a hail of automatic gunfire in the Brisbane working-class suburb of Inala yesterday.

TV news footage showed police commandos firing multiple shots at pointblank range at the man after he emerged from a car allegedly holding what police said appeared to be a handgun. The man, whose name has not been released, was then dragged out of the vehicle by officers who handcuffed him at about 4 p.m. before declaring he was in a critical condition. He died at the scene a short time later, unable to be revived by an ambulance crew.

It was the second fatal police shooting in Australia in a matter of days, following last Thursday’s police killing of 17-year-old Abdul Numan Haider in the Melbourne suburb of Endeavour Hills.

Unlike Haider, who was immediately branded a “terror suspect” by the police, the media and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, before any investigation into his death even began, no such allegations were made against the man shot in Inala. A police spokesman said there was nothing to suggest the incident was terrorism-related.

Nevertheless, the police turned a confrontation with the man into a four-hour siege, during which they declared an “emergency situation” and locked down residential areas extending hundreds of metres. Traffic was blocked from the “exclusion zone” and residents told to remain indoors, creating an atmosphere of alarm.

Despite police commanders indicating that the man made no threats to anyone, the 60-man Queensland police Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was mobilised. It used two armoured “Bearcat” vehicles and squads of police marksmen to besiege the man in a car parked at the front of a block of apartments.

The man, who appeared to be agitated but was regarded as unlikely to present a danger, was initially given a mobile phone in order to negotiate with police. Then he was suddenly surrounded by police in full armour, pointing heavy weapons at him from all sides.

Earlier in the day, Inspector Richard Kroon said police were conducting an investigation at the apartments when they began speaking to the man. “There’s no real threat,” Kroon told reporters, saying that police were speaking to the man by phone.

After the shooting, Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers quickly declared that the police officers acted lawfully in self-defence “to protect their lives.” He said officers did not know whether the man’s gun was real and they had to make a split second decision. “As we now know, a firearm was pointed at police,” he said.

No handgun has yet been produced by the police, however. Leavers’ comments, which were featured uncritically throughout the media, make a mockery of the promised internal investigation by the Police Ethical Standards Command, which will form the basis of a report for the state coroner.

Police were called to the scene about 11.45 a.m. and declared an emergency situation 20 minutes later. The declaration, made under Queensland’s 1986 Public Safety Preservation Act, was eventually revoked just after 5 p.m.

It was the second emergency declared in Brisbane yesterday. At about 7.20 a.m., police invoked emergency powers in Ipswich, another large working-class community, after an abandoned suitcase was reported at a bus stop. Surrounding streets near the Ipswich City Mall were cordoned off and several buildings evacuated. The supposed bomb scare proved to be false. Police said the suitcase contained only “personal items” and the emergency was revoked at 9.15 a.m.

This was also the third bomb scare in Brisbane since September 12, giving another indication of the atmosphere of fear and police mobilisation that has been whipped up since the federal government raised the official “terrorism alert” level on that date. The alert was followed by Australia’s largest-ever police and intelligence agency “counter-terrorism” raids on September 18, conducted on homes and premises in Sydney and Brisbane. Further such raids, involving about 100 state and federal police, were underway this morning across five Melbourne suburbs.

The deployment of the SERT squad in Inala underscores the expansion and increasing use of para-military police, which regularly train with the military. SERT took delivery of its first Lenco BearCat armoured vehicle in 2011, under the previous Labor state government, and a second was provided by the federal Labor government in 2012.

Similar commando units have been created in every state and within the Australian Federal Police since the late 1960s. They have featured in the “terrorism” raids and are often dispatched to provide an intimidating presence at political protests.

Yesterday’s Public Safety Preservation Act declarations highlight the far-reaching authority in the hands of the police and governments, both state and federal, to declare emergencies that give the police draconian powers that tear up basic legal and democratic rights.

Queensland’s legislation permits a police commander to declare an emergency simply if he is “satisfied on reasonable grounds” that “an emergency situation has arisen or is likely to arise.” An “emergency situation” can be an explosion, fire, natural disaster or “any other accident” that “causes or may cause” any one of the following: death, injury, “distress to any person,” property damage or pollution.

A police emergency commander then has wide-ranging powers, such as to shut down entire areas, issue directives, enter and search premises, seize property and forcibly remove people. Anyone who fails to comply with a directive faces imprisonment for up to a year.

Police shootings and fatal taser attacks have occurred with increasingfrequency in Australia in recent years, always followed by official justifications by governments and police chiefs that the police involved feared for their own safety. This recurring pattern points to an institutionalised “shoot to kill” policy, which is now being pursued within the framework of the Abbott government’s renewal of the “war on terror.”

The show of force in Inala also occurred in the lead-up to mid-November’s G20 summit in Brisbane, which will see a massive police-military operation to block any protests against the gathering of government leaders, many of whom are now participating in the new US-led war in Iraq and Syria, and the threats to Russia over Ukraine.

Just last Friday, the Queensland police announced an extension of the dates and locations of the heavily-fortified security zones that will be established in and around the city for about 10 days, manned by more than 5,000 police. Special police powers will be in place, clearly directed against anticipated political demonstrations.

These preparations underline the real purpose of the police-state conditions on display in Inala and in the “terrorism” raids. The security agencies are establishing precedents to deal with the mounting opposition to the agenda of war and austerity being imposed by the ruling corporate elite and its political representatives.

US elite rolls out red carpet for Indian PM Modi

By Keith Jones

30 September 2014

US President Barack Obama kicked off a two-day summit meeting with Narendra Modi yesterday by hosting a private White House dinner for India’s prime minister.

Today, Modi is to have further meetings with Obama and the top officials in his administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as part of what the New York Times has called a “Champagne and roses” attempt to flatter and woo India’s new prime minister.

The Obama administration and the US military-security establishment have made no secret of the fact that they see Modi’s visit as a golden opportunity to “reset” Indo-US ties, so as to advance their core objective of building up India as a military-strategic and economic counterweight to China and otherwise harnessing New Delhi to US imperialism’s global strategic agenda.

Speaking to reporters last Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described the summit as a means of deepening the “US-India strategy partnership … a partnership that is highly valued by this country and by this White House.” In not for attribution remarks, another administration official told the Times, “We think this will be a pivotal moment and an opportunity for us to define how we can work together.”

Writing in the Council on Foreign Relations’ premier publication, Foreign Affairs, former US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns was somewhat more frank about the aggressive agenda that lies behind the US’s courting of India. “In the century ahead,” asserts Burns, “US strategic interests will align more closely with India’s than they will with those of any other continental power in Asia.… The Obama administration should therefore use its remaining two years to make India a greater priority, especially since the country has not yet figured prominently in the rebalancing of US attention and resources” to Asia “as part of the so-called pivot.”

Under George W. Bush, the US and India forged a “global strategic” partnership. On coming to office, Obama was quick to reiterate the US’s eagerness to assist India’s elite in realizing its great power ambitions. But recent years have seen increasing frictions between Washington and New Delhi.

India has repeatedly bowed to US demands, especially as regards Washington’s efforts to bully and economically cripple Iran, and India’s military has become increasingly integrated with that of the US. America is now India’s largest foreign supplier of weapons and weapons systems, and in recent years no country’s military has staged more joint exercises with the Pentagon than India’s.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration became increasingly miffed with India’s previous Congress Party-led government over both strategic and economic issues. To Washington’s chagrin, the Congress-led coalition government balked at expanding trilateral and quadrilateral military-security cooperation with Japan and Australia, Washington’s other key strategic allies in the “pivot to Asia”—i.e., the drive to isolate and encircle China.

Washington and US big business have also complained that India is not moving quickly enough in eliminating its remaining barriers to foreign investment, nor subscribed to US patents legislation. They have also denounced the civilian nuclear liability law India adopted after Washington arranged for the removal of the international sanctions on India’s civilian nuclear program, because it could result in a US company facing sizable penalties were it proven at fault for a catastrophic nuclear accident.

The head of India’s traditional pro-US, right-wing party, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Modi has already signaled he is anxious to pursue enhanced relations with the US and its key partners in the Indo-Pacific region

Modi has announced that his government, unlike its predecessor, is ready to take up the Obama administration’s offer for India to join with the Pentagon and US arms manufactures in the co-development and co-production of new weapon systems.

Several days prior to Modi’s visit, an advance team of the Indian Defence Ministry arrived in Washington, reportedly with the aim of finalizing details for Indo-US joint production of the third generation Javelin anti-tank missile.

US officials have stressed such co-production agreements—and there are several others currently under consideration—are open only to the US’s closest and most trusted strategic partners.

Modi is seeking to cast his enthusiasm for New Delhi joining such co-production deals in Indian nationalist terms, arguing they will further his government’s goal of making India autonomous in weapons manufacture and ultimately a major arms-exporter.

The reality is weapons co-production would be a major step toward integrating India with the US military-security apparatus, furthering Washington’s goal of Indo-US military “interoperability” and, just as importantly, making New Delhi ever more militarily dependent on the US.

Modi has also indicated he has few if any scruples about India participating in regular trilateral and quadrilateral initiatives with the US, Japan and Australia. Increased Indo-US-Japanese cooperation is an important part of the “special strategic partnership” Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Abe announced last month when India’s prime minster made Japan the site of his first bilateral foreign visit beyond South Asia.

The US is also pressing India to become more active in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, where Washington has been encouraging Vietnam, the Philippines and other states to aggressively pursue their territorial claims against China. Earlier this month, India and Vietnam signed agreements to increase their military cooperation and Hanoi offered stated-owned Indian oil firms further rights to explore in offshore areas also claimed by China.

According to the White House, Modi will discuss with Obama and his top aides India’s continuing support for Afghanistan’s US-installed government and developments in the Middle East, where the US has launched a new war under the guise of fighting Islamic extremism. On Sunday, Modi met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the first meeting between an Indian prime minister and his Israeli counterpart in 11 years.

For Modi, a key objective of his US visit is to drum up investment to buoy India’s flagging economy. India’s growth rate fell sharply after 2011, expanding by less than 5 percent in the last two fiscal years. Just before leaving for the US, Modi launched a “Made in India” campaign aimed at promoting India as an alternative low-wage manufacturing hub to China.

Modi is holding a raft of meetings with business leaders during his US trip. On Monday, he had an hour-long breakfast meeting with 11 CEOs, including those of Pepsi, Citicorp, and Google. Later he had one-on-one meetings with six other CEOs, among them the heads of Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, major-arms manufacture Boeing, and General Electric (GE). According to the Kolkata-based Telegraph, Modi was intending to signal to GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt that India is now ready to discuss modifications to its nuclear liability law. GE is a major player in the nuclear industry.

The Indian and US corporate media are touting the Modi-Obama summit with noxious blather about their respectively heading the world’s two most populous “democracies.”

Modi, a Hindu supremacist infamous for his role in the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom and in defending summary executions (so-called encounter killings), is a fitting representative of the democratic bonafides of India’s ruling elite.

Indeed, for almost a decade ending only earlier this year, the US government refused to give Modi a visa to visit the US, so conspicuous was his role in instigating the 2002 pogrom and protecting those who directly carried it out.

As for Obama, he has overseen a vast expansion of state surveillance, arrogated the power to order the summary execution of US citizens, and trashed international law, asserting the US’s untrammeled right to subvert and invade any country it pleases.


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Mass graves reveal torture and executions in eastern Ukraine

By Christoph Dreier

30 September 2014

Following the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from areas of eastern Ukraine, there have been a number of reports of mass graves in which right-wing Ukrainian militias buried the bodies of their opponents.

The evidence of torture and executions show the extent of the brutality employed by the Kiev regime in its campaign against pro-Russian separatists and workers across the country.

Early last week, reports emerged of three mass graves reportedly containing the corpses of dozens of executed separatists and civilians in the eastern Ukrainian village of Nizhnaya Krynka. The village, located to the northeast of Donetsk, was for a long period under the control of the Ukrainian National Guard and the notorious Ajdar Battalion, before troops withdrew two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, OSCE observers monitoring the ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and the separatist forces in the region confirmed the existence of two of the graves. Two graves were allegedly found on the grounds of the Komunar coal mine and another in the village itself.

Two corpses already in the process of decay were exhumed from the tombs at the mine in the presence of observers. In addition, OSCE observers found eight 9 mm shell casings about five meters from the graves. In the village itself, the inspectors found a burial mound on which a plaque was placed, naming five people and their date of death—27/08/2014. The text “Died for Putin’s lies” was written on the back of the plaque.

The spokesman of the Ukraine mission of the OSCE, Michael Bociurkiw, told the WSWS that the condition of the bodies did not allow immediate identification of the sex or other characteristics of the victims. He also declared that the precarious security situation meant that the inspectors had little time for their investigation. In addition, no forensic specialists were on site.

There are conflicting reports about the dead bodies found at the mine. The state radio station Voice of Russia reported on Wednesday that four bodies had been found—a man and three women, one of whom was probably pregnant. All of the corpses were wearing civilian clothes. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and gunshot wounds to the backs of their heads were visible. In addition there was evidence of torture.

On Monday, Russia’s state-owned Russian Television quoted the senior physician of the investigation group of the rebels, Konstantin Gerasimenko, who spoke of four male corpses with multiple gunshot wounds. Some had been wearing only underwear. He also spoke of their hands being tied.

The station also interviewed a local resident of the village, who testified that she had identified one of the dead bodies as her son Nikita. He had been arrested by members of the Ukrainian National Guard. The militiamen had told the mother that her son was being held for a prisoner exchange.

This information has so far not been independently confirmed. It is also unclear how many bodies are still in the graves. The rebel leader Aleksander Zakharchenko reported that at least 40 bodies had been previously exhumed. In addition, the separatists claimed on Sunday to have found a fourth grave near the others.

The OSCE and the Russian Foreign Ministry have called for an international investigation from the EU and others. There has been no response so far to this demand. Instead, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Anne Brasseur, announced she planned to make her own assessment of the situation due to the “great deal of shocking information”.

Although some questions remain open, the information so far confirmed points to the brutality employed by Ukrainian organizations against suspected separatists and the population in eastern Ukraine. There are many indications that the Ukrainian militias carried out mass executions of unarmed separatists and possibly civilians. Such activities fit into a broader framework. There is a wealth of documentation regarding the torture and murders carried out by Ukrainian organizations.

In July there were reports of mass graves in the city of Sloviansk after people had been captured by government forces. On September 10, the human rights organization Amnesty International published a report charging that the Ajdar battalion, which was also deployed in Nizhnaya Krynka, had committed serious abuses and war crimes in the region of Luhansk. Workers suspected of links to the separatists were abducted, robbed and tortured. Shortly afterwards, the rebels in Luhansk reported finding dozens of corpses with signs of torture and execution.

In its offensive against the separatists in the east of the country the Ukrainian government relied heavily on such battalions after large numbers of regular soldiers refused to fight against their compatriots in the east. These battalions are funded by pro-Western oligarchs and often cooperate openly with the fascist and extreme right-wing forces that played a key role in the coup against President Viktor Yanukovych in February this year.

The fascist methods employed by the Ukrainian government and the reign of terror it has established throughout the country make clear its rule never had anything to with democracy or human rights. Brought to power in a coup orchestrated by the West, the Kiev regime represents the interests of ruthless oligarchs, who, in alliance with the US and the EU, hope to establish even more favorable conditions for the exploitation of the Ukrainian working class.

The brutal crackdown against the separatists in the east of the country is therefore closely connected with the imposition of authoritarian forms of rule throughout Ukraine. In the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, a peace demonstration called by the Moscow-oriented Communist Party was banned at short notice on the weekend. When people gathered to protest against the war, 23 people were arrested.

One day later, fascist gangs and pro-Western protesters pulled down and destroyed the massive Lenin statue in the center of Kharkiv, in the northeast of the country. The response by the head of the regional administration, Igor Baluta, was to enact a law that legalized vandalism. For his part, the Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Awakov welcomed the toppling of the “bloody communist idol”.

According to reports, the Ukrainian government announced last week plans to introduce a national labor service. As a result, workers, self-employed, unemployed, students, trainees, and farmers can be deployed against their will to perform “socially useful work” such as repairs at state boundaries, airfields, and fortifications.

President Petro Poroshenko is using dictatorial measures and fascist terror to smash the social rights of the population and thereby prepare the country for membership in the European Union. On Thursday, Poroshenko announced in Kiev that his country would submit “an application for membership of the European Union in six years time”. Already the Association Agreement signed by the Kiev regime with the EU involves massive attacks on Ukrainian workers

Turkey lines up for military role in Syria–Part 1

By Jean Shaoul

30 September 2014

Turkey may be willing to take a military role in the US war in Iraq and Syria, following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech at the United Nations Friday. The country has long borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran and is the only NATO member in the Middle East.

Erdogan called for “no-fly” and “buffer” zones in Northern Syria. According to the daily Hurriyet, he told journalists on the plane home, “It’s wrong to say that Turkey will not take any kind of military position. Turkey will do whatever is its duty to do.”

“You are not going to be able to finish off a terrorist group just with air strikes,” he added. “At some point ground forces will be fundamental.”

Following the approval of a government resolution in parliament Thursday, “all the necessary steps” would be taken for Turkey’s involvement in the coalition, he said, although Parliament’s approval is by no means assured, as indicated by its refusal to back the 2003 war against Iraq.

Erdogan has come under enormous pressure from Washington to give his full support to President Barack Obama’s coalition for a new war of aggression in the Middle East, one in which the Turkish leader has thus far refused to participate in a frontline role. It is a shift that could extract a heavy political price.

Washington is using the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading of Western hostages and its barbaric treatment of its opponents as a cover for its military plans to unseat the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. While last year’s proposed US attack on Assad would have assisted ISIS and similar jihadist groups, this year the war is ostensibly being conducted in opposition to them. The US is to send in $500 million worth of weapons and equipment to build up what are in reality non-existent “moderate” forces as a counterweight to ISIS in Syria.

On Wednesday, Erdogan had said that Turkey’s support for the coalition would take a humanitarian and logistical form, but Ankara would not be sending troops to fight against ISIS or hitting its targets. As in the US-led war against Iraq in 2003, it would not allow either its airspace or the US air base at Incirlik in southeast Turkey to be used for US-led air strikes against ISIS insurgents in Syria. It earlier refused to sign the joint communiqué issued by 10 Arab states in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia stating their “shared commitment to stand united against the threat posed by all terrorism.”

On one level, Erdogan might have been expected to be a more willing member of such a coalition. After all, Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf petro-states, with additional support from Jordan and Israel, has been a fervent supporter of Washington’s bid to unseat Assad and thereby weaken Iran, Russia and China. Erdogan had long called for Washington to mount air strikes against Syria in support of “rebel” groups in Syria and was furious last September when the Obama administration called off its planned attack.

But now ISIS, having seized much of eastern Syria and with its sights set on Iraq’s vast energy resources, threatens Washington’s commercial and strategic interests in Iraq, the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the wider region. The ISIS offensive coincided with the rebellion of Iraq’s Sunni population, leading to the disintegration of the US-trained Iraqi security forces and loss of control over much of the country.

The Obama administration has therefore been forced to turn on its former clients, while at the same time using this shift to reactivate its plans to target Assad for regime change. As well as sending in arms, the US has deployed military “advisers,” along with France, Germany and Italy, to train the Iraqi Army and some of the KRG’s Peshmerga fighters, which it hopes to use as its proxy force on the ground in Iraq.

It is also using the KRG as a pawn in its dealing with Baghdad. Peshmerga forces are being joined by Kurds from both Syria and Turkey, including from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been branded as a terrorist group by the US and Turkey, and against which Turkey fought a bitter civil war between 1984 and 2008.

The PKK units based in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains have fought ISIS and other Islamist “rebels” in Syria. They were decisive in supporting the Peshmerga and pushing back ISIS in northern Iraq.

By joining the war coalition for regime change in Syria, Erdogan is positioning Turkey against its former protégé and ally, ISIS, and alongside the banned PKK. But any perceived support, let alone arming, of the PKK, which the military and nationalists view as their main enemy, is a bitterly divisive issue. According to the daily Cumhur i y et, it was initially agreed that Ankara’s support for the coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria “should be behind the scenes” because of the dilemma in which it finds itself.

Turning against ISIS is far easier for Obama and Washington than it is for the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Erdogan and his prime minister and former foreign secretary, Ahmet Davutoglu. The decision draws Turkey into the war in Iraq and Syria and may destabilise the political, economic and security situation within Turkey.

Three years ago Turkey abandoned its longstanding policy of “zero problems with its neighbours” in the Middle East, and pursued an aggressive two-pronged and inherently contradictory foreign policy. First, Ankara backed the “rebels” in Syria, including the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist groups such as the al-Qaeda offshoots al-Nusra Front and ISIS, against Assad, with whom it had previously developed close political and economic relations. Second, it established closer relations with the semi-autonomous KRG in Iraq, antagonising Baghdad but securing vital energy resources and building pipelines that would make Turkey an energy hub for Europe.

The AKP government hosted the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and sponsored the Syrian National Council (SNC), later the Syrian National Coalition, made up of exiled regime dissidents, Muslim Brotherhood members and assorted CIA assets. But the SNC is now in disarray, having announced that it is dissolving the FSA’s military leadership after key coalition members resigned.

The FSA refused to join the US-led coalition against ISIS unless the US guaranteed that Assad’s overthrow is the main objective, given that it has been in a de facto though troubled alliance with ISIS and other Islamists for years. The most effective fighting forces in the Syrian opposition are the Sunni jihadist groups.

Turkey, while maintaining the fiction that the FSA was in charge, served as the conduit for weapons for the Islamist forces, providing bases, training, intelligence, free medical facilities and unfettered passage across the border. Much of the border with Syria is now under ISIS control, leading to a sizeable Islamist presence in border towns and villages. The AKP government also provided artillery and air cover for the insurgents.

This support prompted Turkish citizens to enlist in ISIS and other jihadist groups and fight in Syria. It is believed that up to 10 percent of these forces are Turks. AKP supporters were “encouraged” to contribute to Turkey’s Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), an Islamic charity that has provided ISIS and others with funds.

Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT played a key role in supporting the Sunni armed movement and IHH operations. The government even discussed launching a false flag operation in Syria to provide the pretext for a full-blown invasion in support of the insurgents.

As well as using the Islamists to seek Assad’s ouster, Ankara also sought to use them to fight the Syrian Kurdish militant groups in the northeast of Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have established a semi-autonomous enclave with the tacit support of the Syrian regime as a means of securing Kurdish support against the insurgents. This was an anathema to the AKP government, which feared that it would fuel a similar autonomy movement among Turkey’s Kurds.

There have been numerous clashes between the Turkish-backed jihadists and the Kurds in northeastern Syria, most recently around the town of Kobani, resulting in the flight last week of 140,000 civilians into Turkey. The UN refugee agency UNHCR expects up to 400,000 Syrian Kurds, many deeply hostile to Turkey, to cross the border. Turkey is home to about 1.5 million Syrians who have taken refuge from the vicious sectarian civil war. This has pushed up rents and lowered wages, leading to riots and attacks on refugees in the southeastern province of Gaziantep last month.

The present offensive is the second attempt by ISIS to take Kobani and the surrounding villages. The previous attack in July was fought off with the help of Kurds who crossed the border from Turkey. Angry demonstrations have now broken out in support of the Syrian Kurds, with protesters accusing the AKP government of aiding ISIS.

The PKK has called on its supporters to fight ISIS. Hundreds have crossed from Turkey, and security forces responded by firing tear gas and water cannon and closing some of the border crossings. These developments may in turn jeopardise the moves Erdogan has made since 2008 to resolve the long-running conflict with the Kurds and isolate the PKK.

To be continued

US ramps up war in Syria

By Peter Symonds

30 September 2014

As US and allied warplanes continued to strike targets inside Syria, the Obama administration is marshalling support for a war that is more and more explicitly aimed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

At least eight air strikes targeted towns and villages yesterday in northern and eastern Syria, including a grain silo in the northern town of Manbij. While US Central Command claimed ISIS was using the silo “as a logistics hub and vehicle staging facility,” the pro-Western Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least two civilians were killed.

Syrian Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters that the air strikes appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters. “These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” he said. Based on contacts inside Syria, the organisation estimates the civilian death toll from US-led strikes over the past week at 19.

On Sunday, the US-based Human Rights Watch confirmed the death of at least seven civilians—two women and five children—in the village of Kafr during the first barrage of cruise missiles and air strikes launched by the US and allied Gulf States on September 23.

The battle for the Syrian Kurdish city of Korbani near the northern border with Turkey has become the pretext for the Turkish mobilisation of tanks and troops in preparation for a possible incursion into Syria. An estimated 160,000 Syrian Kurds fled across the border after ISIS laid siege to Korbani over the past week.

The Kurdish militias defending the city, known as People’s Protection Units (YPG), are affiliated with the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey has branded as a “terrorist” group and has fought a protracted war to suppress. While Turkey has allowed Syrian Kurds to re-cross into Syria to fight ISIS, it has blocked Turkish Kurds from doing the same.

The Turkish government is preparing its own military intervention as part of the escalating US-led war. Two motions are expected to be presented to the Turkish parliament today and voted on later this week to authorise the military to cross the border into Syria and Iraq. Agence France Presse reported that Turkey’s top general was due to speak to cabinet today. The Turkish military has deployed at least 15 tanks along the border near Kobani.

The Turkish government has mooted the establishment of a buffer zone inside Syria and also called for a no-fly zone over areas of Syria—an appeal that the Obama administration now declares it is considering. The creation of a no-fly zone is transparently directed against the Assad regime and the Syrian military, the only force inside the country that has war planes.

Over the past three years, Turkey has been a source of support for anti-Assad militias, including ISIS, as well as a transit country for fighters, finance and arms flowing into Syria from other countries. While the Obama administration has called on the Turkish government to close its borders with Syria, it has used its NATO ally for the same supply purposes. The CIA jointly operates a centre inside Turkey, known as the Military Operations Command, through which it has helped arm and support the Western-aligned opposition inside Syria.

Just a week after the first US-led air strikes on Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron hinted on Sunday that British war planes might have their operations extended from Iraq into Syria. He declared that he had “a lot of sympathy” with the view expressed by former British defence staff chief David Richards who told the Sunday Times: “You cannot possibly defeat IS [ISIS] by only tackling them in Iraq.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also indicated on Sunday that the Australian government, which is poised this week to give the green light for air strikes in Iraq, was considering involvement in the US air war inside Syria. “Should there be a request in relation to Syria,” she said, “we would consider it.” Bishop flatly ruled out any collaboration with the Syrian government, declaring: “We don’t consider that as a legitimate regime.”

The comments by Cameron and Bishop underscore just how quickly the war against ISIS is morphing into a renewal of the regime-change operation against Assad that President Obama shelved just 12 months ago.

In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Obama maintained that by bombing ISIS, Washington had no intention of aiding Assad. He declared: “I recognise the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance.” However, while dealing with “immediate threats” like ISIS, he insisted: “We are not going to stabilise Syria under the rule of Assad.”

In fact, Assad has been the main target all along. Washington has launched an illegal war of aggression inside Syrian territory and is boosting its training, financing and arming of militias whose sole aim for the past three years has been to overthrow the Syrian government. The US is more than capable of seizing on, or manufacturing, a pretext for turning its air war against the Syrian military and transforming the conflict into the means for installing a puppet regime in Damascus.

The utter cynicism of the US foreign policy was expressed in Obama’s attempt to justify military action by blaming the American intelligence community for having “underestimated” the rise of ISIS. The CIA was not only aware of the strength of ISIS and other reactionary Islamist militias inside the armed Syrian opposition, but directly, or indirectly through its Gulf State allies, helped to finance and arm them as the means for ousting Assad.

The US only turned on ISIS when it crossed the border into Iraq and threatened to unseat Washington’s client regime in Baghdad. Now ISIS serves as a convenient justification for ramping up a war inside Syria that is aimed not only against Assad but also his main backers, Iran and Russia, threatening to trigger a wider conflagration.

The midterm elections and the political crisis in the US

30 September 2014

Early voting began last Thursday in Iowa, and mail-in voting has begun in several states for the US general election set for November 4. The contests on the ballot include a third of the US Senate, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and the governorships of 36 out of 50 states, as well as thousands of seats in state legislatures.

Yet from the standpoint of everyday life in America, one would hardly know an election was taking place. There is little discussion of electoral politics in factories, offices and other workplaces, and little interest in the candidates of either of the two corporate-controlled parties.

The elections are taking place in the aftermath of the decision by the Obama administration, with the bipartisan backing of congressional Republicans and Democrats, to plunge into a new imperialist war in the Middle East, with the bombing of Syria and the dispatch of thousands of American troops to Iraq. Yet there is not a way for the working class to make its opinion heard on this or any significant element of policy.

On the specific question of the bombing of Iraq and Syria, Congress adjourned without attempting to vote on the Obama administration’s new war, while approving, with large bipartisan majorities in both House and Senate, the financing of “moderate” rebels seeking to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Voter turnout in the primaries in which the Democrats and Republicans chose their candidates fell to record lows this year. In many cases, fewer than five percent of eligible voters went to the polls. All indications are that voter turnout in the November 4 balloting will be even lower than the dismal 37 percent recorded in the last non-presidential election in 2010.

The indifference to the electoral process and its outcome testifies to the deepening alienation of the population from both the political system and the corporate-dominated socioeconomic order that the two parties defend. Tens of millions of working people see the Democrats and Republicans as providing government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich, and they are not wrong.

According to a CBS-New York Times poll conducted September 12-15, only five percent of voters thought their own congressional representative deserved reelection, while 87 percent favored replacing the incumbent with someone new. Poll after poll shows majority opposition to both the Democrats and Republicans. But despite these sentiments, the two-party political monopoly ensures that the election to be held in five weeks will change nothing.

Projections and forecasts by campaign consultants and election analysts agree that the Republicans will retain their majority in the House of Representatives, gaining or losing at most a handful of seats; the Republicans will add at least three seats in the US Senate to their present total of 45, and may well achieve the 51-vote majority that would give them control of the upper house. The Democrats are expected to take back some of the state governorships that Republicans won in their 2010 electoral sweep.

The likelihood of Republican gains, despite the deep unpopularity of both the Republican Party and its ultra-right policies, is an indictment of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which represent merely another brand of right-wing, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist policies.

Obama’s approval rating has plunged, not merely in the states won by Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, but in so-called “blue states” like New York, where the most recent Marist poll found only 39 percent approval in a state where Obama captured 63.3 percent of the vote two years ago.

A Pew poll over the summer found that the revelations of massive NSA surveillance of Americans, as well as the threat of greater US involvement in Mideast wars, have alienated millions, particularly young people, who had voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Add to that the constant provocation of the president proclaiming the “success” of his economic policies, which have boosted the stock market and the wealth of the super-rich to record levels, while unemployment remains high and real wages decline.

Whatever the outcome of elections in the United States, the political apparatus as a whole moves steadily to the right. Since coming to power nearly six years ago, Obama has embraced and extended the major policies of the Bush administration, particularly in the area of foreign policy and attacks on democratic rights. The doctrines of the Bush administration to justify torture have been resurrected under Obama to argue for presidential power to carry out the assassination of US citizens without any due process.

In domestic social policy as well, Obama carried forward the most important initiatives of his predecessor, above all the bailout of the big banks and financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street crash. Obama intensified the attacks on public education, reached several deals with congressional Republicans for austerity measures to cut public spending on other social programs, launched an assault on health care programs under the guise of reform, and arrested and deported more immigrants in six years than Bush did in eight years.

Money predominates over the entire process. In campaign fundraising for 2014, for example, the Democrats have actually raked in more money in large donations from the super-rich than the Republicans, with the 15 top Democrat-aligned political action committees outraising the 15 top Republican PACs by $453 million to $289 million. In key Senate races like North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alaska, endangered Democratic incumbents have raised far more and spent far more than their Republican challengers.

All of this is a measure of the crisis of bourgeois rule in the United States. The state is run by a combination of a corporate and financial aristocracy and a military-intelligence apparatus that makes all decisions behind closed doors. Policy is marketed to the public on the basis of lies and propaganda parroted by the mass media.

The institutions of the ruling class, among which one must include the trade unions and the network of organizations around the Democratic Party, seek desperately to prop up a hollowed out apparatus in which democratic forms are an increasingly threadbare cover for the dictatorship of the banks. This is the political form that corresponds to the extraordinary level of social inequality that is the dominant feature of American life and has soared to new records in the six years since the 2008 financial collapse.

American working people should draw the necessary political conclusions. To carry forward a struggle against war and militarism, and to defend jobs, living standards, social conditions and democratic rights, the working class must break with the two parties of big business and build an independent political movement based on a socialist program.

Patrick Martin

What if ‘Islamic State’ didn’t exist?

By Ramzy Baroud

What if the so-called Islamic State (IS) didn’t exist? In order to answer this question, one has to liberate the argument from its geopolitical and ideological confines.

Many in the Western and Arab media use the reference “Islamist” to brand any movement, whether it be political, militant or even charity-focused. If it is dominated by men with beards or women with headscarves that make references to the Holy Koran and Islam as the motivator behind their ideas, violent tactics or even good deeds, then the word “Islamist” is the language of choice.

According to this overbearing logic, a Malaysia-based charity can be as “Islamist” as the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria. When the term “Islamist” was first introduced to the debate on Islam and politics, it carried mostly intellectual connotations. Even some “Islamists” used it in reference to their political thought. Now, it can be molded to mean many things.

This is not the only convenient term that is being tossed around so deliberately in the discourse pertaining to Islam and politics. Many are already familiar with how the term “terrorism” manifested itself in the myriad of ways that fit any country’s national or foreign policy agenda – from the former US president George W Bush to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In fact, some of these leaders accused one another of practicing, encouraging or engendering terrorism while positioning themselves as the crusaders against terror. The American version of the “war on terror” gained much attention and bad repute because it was highly destructive. But many other governments launched their own wars to various degrees of violent outcomes.

The flexibility of the usage of language very much stands at the heart of this story, including that of IS. We are told the group is mostly made of foreign jihadists. This could have much truth to it, but this notion cannot be accepted without much contention.

Why does the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insist on the “foreign jihadists” claim and did so even when the civil war plaguing his country was still at the stage of infancy, teetering between a popular uprising and an armed insurgency? It is for the same reason that Israel insists on infusing the Iranian threat, and its supposedly “genocidal” intents towards Israel in every discussion about the Hamas-led resistance in Palestine, and Hezbollah’s in Lebanon.

There are ample examples of governments of the Middle East ingraining the “foreign menace” factor when dealing with solely internal phenomena, violence or otherwise. The logic behind it is simple: if the Syrian civil war is fuelled by foreign fanatics, then Assad can exact his violence against rebelling Syrians in the name of fighting the foreigners/jihadists/terrorists.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains the master of political diversion. He vacillates between peace talks and Iran-backed Palestinian “terror” groups in whatever way he finds suitable. The desired outcome is placing Israel as a victim of and a crusader against foreign-inspired terrorism. Just days after Israel carried out what was described by many as a genocide in Gaza – killing over 2,200 and wounded over 11,000 – he once more tried to shift global attention by claiming that the so-called Islamic State was at the Israeli border.

For the US and their Western allies, the logic behind the war is hardly removed from the war discourse engendered by previous US administrations, most notably that of Bush and his father. It is another chapter of the unfinished wars that the US had unleashed in Iraq over the last 25 years. In some way, IS, with its brutal tactics, is the worst possible manifestation of American interventionism.

In the first Iraq war (1990-91), the US-led coalition seemed determined to achieve the clear goal of driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, and to use that as a starting point to achieve complete US dominance over the Middle East. Back then, George HW Bush had feared that pushing beyond that goal could lead to the kind of consequences that would alter the entire region and empower Iran at the expense of America’s Arab allies.

Instead of carrying out regime change in Iraq itself, the US opted to subject Iraq to a decade of economic torment – a suffocating blockade that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. That was the golden age of America’s “containment” policy in the region.

However, US policy in the Middle East under Bush junior was reinvigorated by new elements that somewhat altered the political landscape leading to the second Iraq war in 2003. Firstly, the attacks of September 11, 2001, were dubiously used to mislead the public into another war by linking Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda; and secondly, there was the rise of the neoconservative political ideology that dominated Washington at the time. The neo-cons strongly believed in the regime-change doctrine that has since then proven to be a complete failure.

It was not just a failure, but rather, a calamity. Today’s rise of IS is in fact a mere bullet point in a tragic Iraq timeline which started the moment Bush began his “shock and awe campaign” in 2003. This was followed by the fall of Baghdad, the dismantling of the country’s institutions (the de-Baathification of Iraq) and the “missions accomplished” speech. Since then, it has been one adversity after another. The US strategy in Iraq was predicated on destroying Iraqi nationalism and replacing it with a dangerous form of sectarianism that used the proverbial “divide and conquer” stratagem.

The US has indeed succeeded in dividing Iraq, maybe not territorially, but certainly in every other way. Moreover, the war brought al-Qaeda to Iraq. The group used the atrocities inflicted by the US war and invasion to recruit fighters from Iraq and throughout the Middle East. And like a bull in a china shop, the US wrecked more havoc on Iraq, playing around with sectarian and tribal cards to lower the intensity of the resistance and to busy Iraqis with fighting each other.

When the US combat troops allegedly departed Iraq, al-Qaeda was supposedly weakened. In actuality, at the eve of the US withdrawal, al-Qaeda had branched off into other militant manifestations. They were able to move with greater agility in the region, and when the Syrian uprising was intentionally-armed by regional and international powers, al-Qaeda resurfaced with incredible power, fighting with prowess and unparalleled influence. Despite the misinformation about the roots of IS, IS and al-Qaeda in Iraq are the same. Their differences are an internal matter, but their objectives are ultimately identical.

US-Western and Arab motives in the war against IS might differ. But both sides have keen interest in partaking in the war and an even keener interest in refusing to accept that such violence is not created in a vacuum. The US and its Western allies refuse to see the obvious link between IS, al-Qaeda and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Arab leaders insist that their countries are also victims of some “Islamist” terror, produced, not of their own anti-democratic and oppressive policies, but by Chechnyan and other foreign fighters who are bringing dark-age violence to otherwise perfectly peaceable and stable political landscapes.

For the US-led coalition, IS must exist, although every member of the coalition has their own self-serving reasoning to explain their involvement. And since IS mostly made of “foreign jihadists” from faraway lands, speaking languages that few Arabs and Westerners understand, then, somehow, no one is guilty, and the current upheaval in the Middle East is someone else’s fault. Thus, there is no need to speak of Syrian massacres or of Iraq wars and its massacres, for the problem is obviously foreign.

If the so-called Islamic State didn’t exist, many in the region would be keen on creating one.

Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People’s History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

(Copyright 2014 Ramzy Baroud)

Is Xi losing control of the ‘peripheries’?

By J Michael Cole

As tens of thousands of activists continue to defy the authorities in Hong Kong by occupying entire city blocs in the heart of the city, and with weekly reports of escalating violence in restive Xinjiang, the central government in Beijing seems to be losing its grip on what the Chinese regard as the “peripheries.”

Recent comments by President Xi Jinping about yet another piece in China’s puzzle of instability – Taiwan – suggest that the leadership may be panicking.

Before we proceed, it’s important to point out that the two territories and Taiwan are different issues altogether: The first two are politically part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) while Taiwan is a self-ruled entity operating under its own set of rules and constitution, that of the Republic of China (ROC).

Furthermore, Taiwan is democratic and was never part of the PRC, whereas Hong Kong was “returned” to the PRC in 1997 and can only aspire to a democratic system, a situation that is at the heart of the current impasse in the former British colony, while Xinjiang is ruled with a mix of intermarriage, displacement, and repressive policies under a veneer of economic development and “ethnic harmony.”

Still, fundamental differences notwithstanding, Beijing has proposed – imposed, rather – a one-size-fits-all solution for Hong Kong and Taiwan, known as the “one country, two systems,” or 1C2S, model. More …

From “Is Xi Losing Control of China’s ‘Peripheries’?”, The Diplomat, September 30, 2014.

Why Syrians support Bashar al Assad


Why Syrians support Bashar al Assad. 53659.jpeg

The sudden reversion of Washington to a ‘war on terror’ pretext for intervention in Syria has confused western audiences. For three years they watched ‘humanitarian intervention’ stories, which poured contempt on the Syrian President’s assertion that he was fighting foreign backed terrorists. Now the US claims to be leading the fight against those same terrorists.

Why Syrians support Bashar al Assad

By Tim Anderson

But what do Syrians think, and why do they continue to support a man the western powers have claimed is constantly attacking and terrorising ‘his own people’? To understand this we must consider the huge gap between the western caricature of Bashar al Assad the ‘brutal dictator’ and the popular and urbane figure within Syria.

If we believed most western media reports we would think President Assad has launched repeated and indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, including the gassing of children. We might also think he heads an ‘Alawi regime’, where a 12% minority represses a Sunni Muslim majority, crushing a popular ‘revolution’ which, only recently, has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists.

The central problem with these portrayals is Bashar’s great popularity at home. The fact that there is popular dissatisfaction with corruption and cronyism, and that an authoritarian state maintains a type of personality cult, does not negate the man’s genuine popularity. His strong win in Syria’s first multi-candidate elections in June dismayed his regional enemies, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey; but it did not stop their aggression.

Syrians saw things differently.  Bashar was thought to maintain his father’s pluralist and nationalist tradition, while modernising and holding out the promise of political reform. Opinion polls in Syria had shown major dissatisfaction with corruption and political cronyism, mixed views on the economy but strong satisfaction with stability, women’s rights and the country’s independent foreign policy. The political reform rallies of 2011 – countered by pro-government rallies and quickly overshadowed by violent insurrection – were not necessarily anti Bashar.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and other sectarian Islamist groups did hate him, along with the secular state. Yet even these enemies, in their better moments, recognised the man’s popularity. In late 2011 a Doha Debates poll (created by the Qatari monarchy, a major backer of the Muslim Brotherhood) showed 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay.

Armed Islamists went further. In 2012 Reuters, the UK Guardian and Time magazine reported three ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) leaders in Aleppo saying the Syrian President had about ’70 percent’ support; or that the local people, ‘all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us’; or that they are ‘all informers … they hate us. They blame us for the destruction’.  Unpopularity, of course, is fatal to a revolution; to a religious fanatic it is merely inconvenient. All three FSA groups were Islamists on good terms with al Qaeda.

None of these revelations changed the western media reliance on Muslim Brotherhood-aligned sources, ‘activists’ or ‘moderate rebels’. They relied, in particular, on the UK-based Rami Abdul Rahman, who calls himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’. Such sources kept ‘Bashar the Monster’ alive, outside Syria.

Central to the Bashar myth are two closely related stories: that of the ‘moderate rebel’ and the story that conjures ‘Assad loyalists’ or ‘regime forces’ in place of a large, dedicated national army, with broad popular support.  To understand the Bashar myth we have to consider the Syrian Arab Army.

At over half a million, the Army is so large that most Syrian communities have strong family links, including with those fallen in the war. There are regular ceremonies for families of these ‘martyrs’, with thousands proudly displaying photos of their loved ones. Further, most of the several million Syrians, displaced by the conflict, have not left the country but rather have moved to other parts under Army protection. This is not really explicable if the Army were indeed engaged in ‘indiscriminate’ attacks on civilians. A repressive army invokes fear and loathing in a population, yet in Damascus one can see that people do not cower as they pass through the many army road blocks, set up to protect against ‘rebel’ car bombs.

Syrians know there were abuses against demonstrators in early 2011; they also know that the President dismissed the Governor of Dara for this. They know that the armed insurrection was not a consequence of the protests but rather a sectarian insurrection that took cover under those rallies. Saudi official Anwar el-Eshki admitted to the BBC that his country had provided weapons to Islamists in Dara, and their rooftop sniping closely resembled the Muslim Brotherhood’s failed insurrection in Hama, back in 1982. Hafez al Assad crushed that revolt in a few weeks. Of the incident US intelligence said total casualties were probably ‘about 2,000’ including ‘300 to 400’ members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite militia. The Brotherhood and many western sources have since inflated those numbers, calling it a ‘massacre’. Armed Islamists posing as civilian victims have a long history in Syria.

Quite a number of Syrians have criticised President Assad to me, but not in the manner of the western media. They say they wanted him to be as firm as his father. Many in Syria regard him as too soft, leading to the name ‘Mr Soft Heart’. Soldiers in Damascus told me there is an Army order to make special efforts to capture alive any Syrian combatant. This is controversial, as many regard them as traitors, no less guilty than foreign terrorists.

What of the ‘moderate rebels’? Before the rise of ISIS, back in late 2011, the largest FSA brigade, Farouk, the original ‘poster boys’ of the ‘Syrian Revolution’, took over parts of Homs city. One US report called them ‘legitimate nationalists … pious rather than Islamists and not motivated by sectarianism’. The International Crisis Group suggested that Farouk might be ‘pious’ rather than Islamist. The Wall Street Journal also called them ‘pious Sunnis’ rather than Islamists. The BBC called them ‘moderately Islamist’.

All this was quite false. Syrians in Homs said Farouk went into the city with the genocidal slogan: ‘Alawis to the grave, Christians to Beirut’. Shouting ‘God is Great’ they blew up Homs hospital, because it had been treating soldiers. The churches blamed Farouk for the ethnic cleansing of more than 50,000 Christians from the city, and for the imposition of an Islamist tax. Journalist Radwan Mortada says most Farouk members were sectarian Salafis, armed and funded by Saudi Arabia. They later happily worked with the various al Qaeda groups, and were first to blame their own atrocities on the Army.

Let’s consider some key accusations against the Syrian Arab Army. In May 2012, days before a UN Security Council meeting set to debate possible intervention in Syria, there was a terrible massacre of over 100 villagers at Houla. Western governments immediately blamed the Syrian Government, which in turn accused the foreign-backed terrorists. Western officials at first blamed Army shelling, changing their story when it was found most had died from close quarter injuries. One UN report (UNSMIS) was shelved while another (CoI), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, blamed un-named pro-government ‘thugs’. No motive was given.

Although the Houla massacre did not result in a Libyan-styled intervention, because of opposition at the UN from Russia and China, controversy raged over the authors of this atrocity. German and Russian journalists, along with the Mother Superior of a Monastery, managed to interview survivors who said that a large Farouk battalion, led by Abdul Razzaq Tlass, had overwhelmed five small army posts and slaughtered the villagers. The gang had sought out pro-government and Alawi families, along with some Sunni families who had taken part in recent elections.

One year later a detailed, independent report (by Correggia, Embid, Hauben and Larson) documented how the second UN Houla investigation (the CoI) was tainted. Rather than visiting Syria they had relied on Farouk leaders and associates to link them to witnesses. They ignored another dozen direct witnesses who contradicted the ‘rebel’ story. In short, they tried to bury a real crime with identified perpetrators and a clear motive. As Adam Larson later wrote, the ‘official’ Houla massacre story was shown to be ‘extremely ambiguous at best and at worst a fairly obvious crime of the US-supported Contras’.

Houla set the tone for a series of similar ‘false flag’ massacre claims. When 245 people were murdered in Daraya (August 2012), media reports citing ‘opposition’ activists’ said that ‘Assad’s army has committed a massacre’. This was contradicted by British journalist Robert Fisk, who wrote that the FSA had slaughtered kidnapped civilian and off-duty soldier hostages, after a failed attempt to swap them for prisoners held by the army. Similarly, when 120 villagers were slaughtered at Aqrab (December 2013) the New York Times headline read ‘Members of Assad’s Sect Blamed in Syria Killings’. In fact, as British journalist Alex Thompson discovered, it was the victims who were from the President’s Alawi community. Five hundred Alawis had been held by FSA groups for nine days before the fleeing gangs murdered a quarter of them. Yet, without close examination, each accusation seemed to add to the crimes of the Syrian Army, at least to those outside Syria.

Another line of attack was that there had been ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of rebel held areas, resulting in civilian casualties. The relevant question was, how did they dislodge armed groups from urban centres? Those interested can see some detail of this in the liberation of Qusayr, a town near the Lebanese border which had been occupied by Farouk and other salafi groups, including foreigners. The Army carried out ‘surgical attacks’ but, in May 2013, after the failure of negotiations, decided on all-out assault. They dropped leaflets from planes, calling on civilians to evacuate. Anti-government groups were said to have stopped many from leaving, while an ‘activist’ spokesman claimed there was ‘no safe exit for civilians’. In opportunistic criticism, the US State Department expressed ‘deep concern’ over the leafleting, claiming that ‘ordering the displacement of the civilian population’ showed ‘the regime’s ongoing brutality’.

As it happened, on June 5 the Army backed by Hezbollah, liberated Qusayr, driving the remnants of Farouk FSA and their al Qaeda partners into Lebanon. This operation, in principle at least, was what one would have expected of any army facing terrorist groups embedded in civilian areas. At this point the war began turning decisively in Syria’s favour.

Accusations of ‘indiscriminate bombing’ recur. In opportunist questioning, more than a year later, British journalist John Snow demanded of Syrian Presidential adviser Dr Bouthaina Shaaban why the Syrian Army had not driven ISIS from Aleppo? A few questions later he attacked the Army for its ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of that same city. The fact is, most urban fighting in Syria is by troops on the ground.

The most highly politicised atrocity was the chemical attack of August 2013, in the Eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus. The Syrian Government had for months been complaining about terrorist gas attacks and had invited UN inspectors to Damascus. As these inspectors arrived ‘rebel’ groups, posted videos on dead children online, blaming the Syrian Government for a new massacre. The US government and the Washington based Human Rights Watch group were quick to agree. The UN investigation of Islamist chemical attacks was shelved and attention moved to the gassed children. The western media demanded military intervention. A major escalation of the war was only defused by Russian intervention and a proposal that Syria hand over its chemical weapons stockpile; a stockpile it maintained had never been used.

Saturation reporting of the East Ghouta incident led many western journalists to believe that the charges against the Syrian Government were proven. To the contrary, those claims were systematically demolished by a series of independent reports. Very soon after, a Jordan-based journalist reported that residents in the East Ghouta area blamed ‘Saudi Prince Bandar … of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaeda linked rebel group’. Next, a Syrian group, led by Mother Agnes Mariam, provided a detailed examination of the video evidence, saying the massacre videos preceded the attack and used ‘staged’ and ‘fake’ images. Detailed reports also came from outside Syria. Veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that US intelligence evidence had been fabricated and ‘cherry picked … to justify a strike against Assad’. A Turkish lawyers and writers group said ‘most of the crimes’ against Syrian civilians, including the East Ghouta attack, were committed by ‘armed rebel forces in Syria’. The Saudi backed FSA group Liwa al Islam was most likely responsible for the chemical attack on Ghouta. A subsequent UN report did not allocate blame but confirmed that chemical weapons had been used on at least five occasions in Syria. On three occasions they were used ‘against soldiers and civilians’. The clear implication was that these were anti-government attacks by rebels. MIT investigators Lloyd and Postol concluded that the Sarin gas ‘could not possibly have been fired … from Syrian Government controlled area’.

Despite the definitive nature of these reports, combined, neither the US Government nor Human Rights Watch have retracted or apologised for their false accusations. Indeed, western government and media reports repeat the claims as though they were fact, even falsely enlisting UN reports, at times, as corroboration.


When I met President Assad, with a group of Australians, his manner was entirely consistent with the pre-2011 image of the mild-mannered eye doctor. He expressed deep concern with the impact on children of witnessing terrorist atrocities while fanatics shout ‘God is Great’. The man is certainly no brute, in the manner of Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush.

The key factor in Syria’s survival has been the cohesion, dedication and popular support for the Army. Syrians know that their Army represents pluralist Syria and has been fighting sectarian, foreign backed terrorism. This Army did not fracture on sectarian lines, as the Takfiris had hoped, and defections have been small, certainly less than 2%.

Has the Army committed abuses? Probably, but mainly against the armed groups. There is some evidence of execution of foreign terrorists. That is certainly a crime, but probably has a fair degree of popular support in Syria, at the moment. The main constraint on such abuses seems to be the army order from ‘Mr Soft Heart’, to save the lives of Syrian rebels.

However, despite the repeated claims by sectarian Islamists and their western backers, there is no convincing evidence that the Syrian Army has deliberately bombed and gassed civilians. Nor would there be a motive for it.  Nor does the behaviour of people on the streets support it. Most Syrians do not blame their army for the horrendous violence of this war, but rather the foreign backed terrorists.

These are the same terrorists backed by the governments of the USA, Britain and France, hiding behind the fig-leaf of the mythical ‘moderate rebel’ while reciting their catalogue of fabricated accusations.

The high participation rate (73%) in June’s presidential elections, despite the war, was at least as significant as the strong vote (88%) Bashar received. Even the BBC could not hide the large crowds that came out to vote, especially those that mobbed the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.

Participation rates are nowhere as near in the US; indeed no western leader can claim such a strong democratic mandate as this ‘dictator’. The size of Bashar’s win underlines a stark reality: there never was a popular uprising against this man; and his popularity has grown.


About the Author

Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has researched the Syrian conflict since 2011 and visited Syria in December 2013.

War Crimes: Were the Nuremberg Tribunals Only Victors’ Justice?

Global Research, September 29, 2014

View_of_judges_panel_during_testimony_Nuremberg_Trials_1945-400x324On the surface, The Nuremberg Tribunals were a court assembled by the victors which prosecuted the losers.  It is also true Axis war criminals were tried though Allied war criminals were not. But there was a greater concern at the time about stopping wars of aggression than prosecuting individual war criminals, since no one thought the world could survive one more world war.  The intent was not retribution but to find a new way forward.  The Tribunal in its Judgment said “Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.”

Nuremberg was starkly different from the typical case of victor’s justice of the time. With Nuremberg the victors turned away from the accepted vindictive punishment of the vanquished. The motivation to punish those who started a war which killed seventy two million, including sixty one million on the victor’s side, was immense.  Justice Robert Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice and the main architect of the Nuremberg Tribunals,  said in the opening statement of the Tribunals “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” Stalin proposed a suitable deterrent would be executing the top 50,000 living German leaders.  Given the wanton killing on the Eastern Front experienced by the Russians, it is easy to understand how he considered this to be appropriate.  Churchill countered that executing the top 5,000 would be enough blood to assure it would not happen again.

The victorious powers instead set a new path, one of criminal trials, the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals. Justice Jackson declared “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”

Acknowledged as imperfect, Nuremberg was an effort to establish the rule of law to deal with  sociopathic and despotic leaders and their followers who would start wars of aggression. “This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of seventeen more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times – aggressive war.” said Jackson. The experiment provided that each defendant be indicted, have the right to a defense before a court, similar to a civilian court. And there seems to have been some level of justice since some were found completely innocent, some were only found guilty of some charges and most were not executed. Whether this was just a victor’s court dressed up in fancy trappings of justice or the first faulting steps of a new way forward would depend on what happened in the years after, even what happens now. Some of what is accepted as normal today comes to us from Nuremberg like the terms war crimes, crimes against humanity

Jackson said “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.” They knew they were only writing the first part of the story of Nuremberg and that others would write the ending. We can answer this question about victor’s justice by looking just at 1946. Or we can take a broader perspective and answer it in terms of today and of the future, in terms of the long term results from Nuremberg.

Whether it was justice only for the benefit of the victors is our challenge.  Will we let international law be a tool only for the powerful? Or will we use Nuremberg as a tool for “Reason over Power”? If we let the Nuremberg Principles be used only against the enemies of the powerful it will have been victor’s justice and we will be “putting the poisoned chalice to our own lips.”  If instead we, we the people, work, demand and, succeed in holding our own high criminals and government up to these same laws it will not have been a victor’s court.  Justice Jackson’s words are an important guide today, “The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils.”

Going back to the original question – Were the Nuremberg Tribunals only victor’s justice? – that depends on us – that depends on you. Will we prosecute our own high war criminals?  Will we respect and use the obligations of Nuremberg to oppose our government’s crimes against humanity and crimes against peace?

Elliott Adams was a soldier, a politician, a businessman; now he works for peace.  His interest in international law grew out of his experience in war, in places of conflict like Gaza, and being on trial for peace activism.

British PM David Cameron: “Non-Violent Extremists” Including “9/11 Truthers” and “Conspiracy Theorists” are Just as Dangerous as ISIL Terrorists

An Open Letter

Global Research, September 29, 2014

Dear Mr Cameron

I write this open letter to you in response to your recent speech at the United Nations calling for military intervention in Iraq and Syria over the threat of ISIL.  In particular I would like to make mention of your reference to the so called threat to society of what you have termed ‘non-violent extremists’, including those who are attempting to bring forward information and evidence about 9/11 which contradicts the official version of events.

Putting aside the direct issue of ISIL for a moment, I find this position on 9/11 evidence to be quite incredible.  It is a position that is either extremely ignorant, or it is a position that goes against freedom and democracy in British society to such an extent that it is scarcely believable.  Huge numbers of extremely credible and professional people across the world are now bringing forward incontrovertible facts and evidence showing us that the events of 9/11 have been systematically covered up, and that the public has been deceived and manipulated on this issue at a quite incredible level.  Just like the public was deceived and manipulated about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

While you are labelling these people who bring this evidence forward about 9/11 as ‘non-violent extremists’, are you aware of what is currently happening in New York City regarding 9/11?

Are you aware that more than 100,000 New York residents have just signed the petition calling for a new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Centre Building 7 through the ‘High Rise Safety Initiative’?

Are you aware that through the fundraising efforts of public groups in the US, there is currently a massive digital screen in the centre of Times Square showing rolling video footage of the controlled demolition of World Trade Centre Building 7 to three million New Yorkers?  This is footage of a collapse of a massive 47 story building (not hit by a plane) that most people have not even been aware of or seen before now.  How can this level of information cover-up be possible in this day and age?

 Are you aware that many members of US Congress are now demanding that President Obama release the 28 redacted pages of the  9/11 Commission Report because there is information in those pages that will shock the nation, according to the two members of Congress who have been authorised to view the pages?

But yet you have just stated to the world that you consider members of the public to be ‘non-violent extremists’ and a part of the ISIL challenge if they merely wish that these facts, evidence, and information about 9/11 be made available to the wider public and that appropriate investigations are held.

I repeat my previous point.  To make that statement to the world as you did, you are either extremely ignorant about this issue, or you are attempting to take a position which is so at odds with a decent, free society that it beggars belief.  I find it difficult to believe that the Prime Minister of Britain would be unaware of what I have stated here, and therefore I have to believe that it is the latter scenario that is most likely.

Just to reinforce my point here, according to what you have said, because of their views on 9/11, or because of the evidence they have brought forward, you consider the following people to be ‘non-violent extremists’ who are a part of the challenge that society faces with the ISIL threat:

·         Members of US Congress who have called for the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission Report to be released

·         100,000 members of the New York public for formally supporting and requesting a new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Centre Building 7 on 9/11

·         Dozens of first responder fire fighters who risked their lives on 9/11 and who lost 343 of their colleagues that day, including those who formed the organisation ‘Fire Fighters for 9/11 Truth’

·         More than 2,200 professional architects, engineers, and demolition experts from the organisation ‘Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth’

·         Norman Minneta – US Secretary of Transport during 9/11 who had his formal testimony to the 9/11 investigation panel stricken from the record

·         Richard Clarke – US Head of Counter Terrorism during 9/11

·         Numerous family members of the victims of 9/11

The above list is just a very quick start, but gives a feel for the type of people who you are now labelling as ‘non-violent extremists’ and a part of the battle against ISIL because of their views about 9/11 or the evidence they are bringing forward.  According to your speech to the United Nations, we now need to bring in legislation that will be able to shut down internet sites that bring forward the information and the evidence that the people listed above have been trying to highlight for investigation.  That to me sounds like extremist behaviour.  In fact, that sounds to me like the words of someone who is supporting an attempted cover up of monumental proportions.

It seems that everyone now acknowledges that we were deceived and manipulated on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to take us to war.  It also looks like we have been deceived and manipulated on a grand scale regarding the true facts about 9/11.  So, on this basis, why should you or anyone else believe one word about what the United States is saying about the threat of ISIL?

You have already attempted to take the UK to war in Syria on the basis of alleged evidence against the Assad government that has since proven to be inconclusive at best. Now just a few months later you are once again attempting to take the UK to war with Syria, this time because you now have conclusive evidence of a new and different threat.  Meanwhile, you consider anyone who holds views about 9/11 that are contrary to the official story to be ‘non-violent extremists’.

Putting aside the direct issue of ISIL, which seems to be clouded in uncertainties in terms of exactly who they are, who and how they have been created and supported, and what their wider threat is to the world, I find your comments at the United Nations about the other aspects of this issue to be quite incredible.

9/11 is the event that launched the so called global war on terror and military action in the Middle East.  It is now incontrovertible that we have been deceived and manipulated on a large scale about the true facts of 9/11.  Getting the true facts about 9/11 runs right to the heart of all the issues we currently see in the Middle East and the so called war on terror.  For you to label ordinary, caring, and patriotic members of the public as ‘non-violent extremists’ simply for asking these questions about 9/11 and bringing forward this evidence, and to state that these types of internet sites should be censored, then I have to say that it is you who are the extremist, in the extreme.

The truth facts and evidence about 9/11 are now coming forward and there is a tidal wave of growing awareness as people are now getting to see this information, as shown by what is happening in New York City as we speak.  It cannot be covered up by any crude efforts by the UK government to censor the internet or to give these people an extremist label.  It is far too late for that.  For anyone in office to continue to support the attempted suppression of this information will simply result in them being positioned on the wrong side of history.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Drew – MSc

( Bad ) Karma Amerikana

By Philip Farruggio

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – Here are a couple of definitions of karma: A) the total effect of actions and conduct during successive phases of existence, regarded as determining destiny; B) the principle of retributive justice determining one’s state of life. So, there you have it, as the man who hundreds of millions worship as Lord had put it: ” As ye sow so shall ye reap.” One need not be too deep in the study of American history to realize that we , as a nation, sure as hell sowed a lot of evil and selfish deeds.

Let us simply look at the 20th and early 21st centuries to browse a bit. To really study in more depth the scope of what our country has done to others, please get William Blum’s book Rogue Nation. This writer, for this commentary, will focus on a few tidbits of the Karma we have created, and , as Chalmers Johnson so aptly phrased it: Blowback. Perhaps we should sit down with those angry white males and females who wish to close our Southwestern borders to the ‘ hordes ‘ of illegals. All those areas of our country, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico ( aptly named ) and southern California were once… parts of Mexico! Using the false flag propaganda of Manifest Destiny and a strong military we robbed those regions from Mexico. Now, they are all coming back to live in what was there’s to begin with! Of course, most of those who are able to make it here are not the gun toting drug cartel thugs that our media plays up. No! The overwhelming majority of these people are the ones who mow the lawns, wash the dishes, clean the hotel rooms and do the shit jobs that most Americans refuse to work.

When you visit one of the countless Indian casinos to roll the dice and pull the levers, it is the American Indian tribes that have ownership ( though a corporate paleface machine is behind the scenes operating and profiting from these places ).Will all the centuries of massacres and brutalities thrown at these people be washed away because they now make a buck from us? No, but for some Indians ( and not enough ) it softens the anger a bit. If only the tribes who profit from this arrangement would do more for their fellow Indians who don’t… but that’s what makes capitalism so great: faulty moral compasses.

When the Reagan gang funded and supported the Mujahedeen to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, we accomplished two things: A) We helped give strength to what later became Al Qaeda and B) we allowed the Afghan drug lords to send more and more poison to the veins of our kids here at home. What a blowback that still reverberates some 30+ years later!

The ‘ piece de resistance ‘ was the illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Boy, did the Bush/Cheney gang do some job! They fermented such anti Amerikan rage in that region , which became the greatest recruiting tool for morons like the current Isis nuts. While destroying perhaps one million Afghans and Iraqis combined, not to mention their infrastructures ( which of course cronies of the Bush/ Cheney gang made billions repairing), our economy has been devastated. When over half of our federal tax revenue goes to the Military Industrial Empire… our cities wither. With the current stooge in the White House, we all can only hope there is some change left to spend on we working stiffs!

So, my fellow suckers, saps and lollipops, keep focusing on those sneaky Mexicans who are here to bleed us dry. Keep focusing on the gays who are subverting our morality or the minorities who are getting over on us all with those entitlements. Don’t realize the fact that one Boeing Apache Helicopter costs you taxpayers … are you ready for this… 52 million dollars! How many welfare cheats does that equal? Focus on the fact that those who run things here have hijacked both our flag and our patriotism. They love to honor our troops by what… keep sending them to invade, occupy and kill in places we have no business being in! Of course, if you work for Halliburton, General Dynamics , KBR and the other cronies, then , like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now, you ” love the smell of Napalm in the morning!”

Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist. Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at

Palestinian Authority Has No Legitimacy to Govern in Gaza

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah says Palestinians need to be able to rebuild independently of the neoliberal government in Ramallah.

88 Senators Urge Kerry to Shield Israel from Any Accountability at the UN


September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “Daily Kos” – Earlier this week, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led 86 other senators in a letter to John Kerry urging him to take steps to prevent Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas from seeking investigation of or redress for Israeli war crimes through the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court or a UNSCC resolution setting a clear date for the end of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Secretary Kerry,

We were pleased to see that Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian cease-fire plan last month. Sadly, Hamas continued its attacks on Israel for weeks after Egypt’s initial proposal, leading to unnecessary and increased suffering in Gaza and Israel.

As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

First, we fully support the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. We must also condition reconstruction assistance on the establishment of a system to prevent Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its military capability. In the past, Hamas has diverted construction materials intended for civilian use to the construction of the tunnel networks that were used during this last conflict to smuggle weapons and attack Israelis. We must support Israeli and Egyptian efforts to implement strict, comprehensive controls so that no assistance is diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The international community has twice spent billions to rebuild Gaza, only to see Hamas transform economic assistance into the means of war. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we cannot let this happen again. Ultimately, we must seek Gaza’s demilitarization.

Second, we must support efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza. Hamas has demonstrated conclusively both that it has no interest in peace with Israel and that it has no concern for the well-being of Gaza residents. Meanwhile, the West Bank has experienced periods of significant relative economic growth and stability, in part due to cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces there. All Palestinians deserve a government that will seek to advance their safety and prosperity-not use them as human shields. Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development and stability in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization. We must start this process now.

Third, while we work with the Palestinian Authority to extend its effective jurisdiction to Gaza, we must work equally hard to ensure that Palestinian officials do not take further harmful steps at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority must avoid steps that would undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We must let Palestinian Authority President Abbas know that America’s willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid unilateral measures that bypass direct negotiations.

We look forward to working with you on these critical matters, as our nation strives both to prevent another Hamas-instigated war and to create the conditions that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to move closer to peace.

The commitment of such senators to “peace,” defined in any meaningful way, should be viewed as suspect given their support for continued military aid for Israel even as the IDF attacks on hospitals,schools, and other aspects of civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

With 88 signers, that just leaves 12 who did not attach their name to the letter.

One of those was Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who does not traditionally sign letters.

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Pat Leahy (D-VT), as senior committee chairs, often do not sign either. Harkin and Rockefeller are also retiring.

That leaves three members of the Democratic caucus—Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)—and five members of the Republican caucus—Tom Coburn (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

I’m not sure about Coburn, Corker, Murkowski, and Sessions. The others–Baldwin, Paul, Sanders, and Warren–all seem like people who could be responsive to pressure from those seeking a more humane foreign policy. I know Warren and Sanders have both faced some backlash from their progressive constituents for their support from Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Getting someone to not sign a letter, of course, is quite a baby step. But any long-term strategy to change US foreign policy will require such steps and a knowledge of whatever leverage points exist.

See also –

Pro-Palestine protesters again thwart Israeli cargo ship in Oakland: New picketing effort at Port of Oakland prevents Israeli-owned cargo ship from unloading after similar incident last month

Stunning Op-Ed in NYT How Israel Silences Dissent

By Dartagnan

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “Daily Kos” –  I haven’t seen anything quite like this in recent years from a major media outlet.

The picture we are painted of Israel both by our politicians and in the U.S. media is one of a bravely struggling democracy, beset upon by threatening, radical autocratic regimes dominated by anti-democratic, militant Islamic ideologues.  Israel is the faithful guardian of human rights in this telling, a bastion of hope standing strong against tyrannical hordes at their border eager to snuff out this noble Western experiment.

U.S. Congressmen–Jewish and Gentile alike–are regularly feted with all-expense paid trips to the Holy Land, some to pay homage to their culture at the Wailing Wall, others to see the pathways where Jesus trod, still others to bathe naked in the sea of Galilee. When they return, egged on by an enormously powerful  political and religious lobby, they continually vote vast sums of US taxpayer money to flow to Israel, funding its defense and bolstering its economy.

So it’s not every day that we see the New York Times, of all publications, publish such a damning illustration of the current political climate in this so-called pluralistic democracy when it comes to tolerating dissent on the issue of Palestinian rights and sovereignty.

The situation inside of Israel for those who dare to speak out against the state’s tactics against the Palestinians is nothing short of dire:

On July 12, four days after the latest war in Gaza began, hundreds of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the killing of civilians on both sides and call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They chanted, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Hamas had warned that it would fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel after 9 p.m., and it did.

But the injuries suffered in Tel Aviv that night stemmed not from rocket fire but from a premeditated assault by a group of extremist Israeli Jews. Chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists,” they attacked protesters with clubs. Although several demonstrators were beaten and required medical attention, the police made no arrests.

The same thing happened at another antiwar protest in Haifa a week later; this time, the victims included the city’s deputy mayor, Suhail Assad, and his son. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no statement condemning the violence, even though he had previously stated his primary concern was the safety of Israeli citizens.

The article is written by Mairav Zonszein, an activist and former Executive Director of the Union of Progressive Zionists.  Her op-ed piece, appearing in today’s Times, recounts the intimidation, terrorizing and blacklisting of public figures, actors, and musicians in Israel who have spoken out in favor of Palestinian rights, or even expressed the mildest of sympathies towards Palestinian suffering. Zonszein calls this the “latest manifestation of an us-versus-them mentality that has been simmering for decades.”

Zonszein will doubtlessly be vilified and marginalized by those offended by her accounting of the situation, but she is not alone in bringing this new, virulent strain of Israeli national intolerance to light. This recent article by David Shulman in the New York Review of Books details Israeli right-wing violence against Palestinians living in the state of Israel at the time the most recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel began:

   In the weeks since then we have seen organized lynch mobs of Israeli youths prowling the streets of Jerusalem at night in search of Palestinians who have the misfortune to be passing by. Many restaurants and bars in downtown Jerusalem employ Palestinian waiters and kitchen staff; they tend to get off work around midnight or 1 AM, when they have to go home to their neighborhoods. Those are the dangerous hours. Dozens have been attacked. On July 25, two Palestinian men, Amir Jalal Shweiki and Samir Mahfuz, both twenty, were beaten unconscious near the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov. They are still in the hospital. There have also been unconfirmed reports of incidents where the police either stood by or joined in with right-wing thugs, for example on July 24 when two Palestinians, Amir Mazin Abu Eisha and Laith Ubeidat, who were delivering bread to stores on Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem, were savagely attacked.

    A particularly terrible case occurred in early July when a train of the Light Rail, the electric tram, was surrounded in the border between east and west Jerusalem by an Israeli mob screaming “Death to Arabs!” A Palestinian Ph.D. student in Islamic studies at the Hebrew University, a woman well known to my colleagues, was caught in the tram and witnessed passengers trying to shove another Palestinian woman, a young mother with her baby, out of the carriage, into the hands of the mob. Most of the passengers, as so often in such cases, watched passively.

They watched passively.  Shulman’s article also notes a remarkable, enforced intolerance even among Israel’s higher educational institutions towards even the mildest expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians. Israeli citizens on social media sites call for the “execution of all dissidents and leftists.” So it’s not particularly hard to understand the attitude of Israel’s “silent majority” towards those who would protest the state’s tactics against the Palestinians:
After so many years of repressing those who stand in the way, the transition to targeting “one of your own” isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of human rights who are branded as enemies.Zonszein believes that the visible upsurge in efforts to silence dissent stems from a myopia affecting all Israeli citizens, including liberals. While liberal Israelis challenging the state’s aggressive tactics tend to focus on the propagation of settlements and possibilities of a two state solution,  Zonszein sees the problem as more intrinsic to the nature of Israel itself–a state essentially founded upon a religion, rendering it unable to separate affairs of religion from affairs of state:
Israeli society has been unable and unwilling to overcome an exclusivist ethno-religious nationalism that privileges Jewish citizens and is represented politically by the religious settler movement and the increasingly conservative secular right. Israel’s liberal, progressive forces remain weak in the face of a robust economy that profits from occupation while international inaction reinforces the status quo. In their attempt to juggle being both Jewish and democratic, most Israelis are choosing the former at the expense of the latter.I suspect this article will spawn pushback, because it’s not what the Israeli government or its proxies and representatives want the American public to see.  The Times deserves to be commended for publishing it.

“Kos” and “Daily Kos” are registered trademarks of Kos Media, LLC

See also –

Pro-Palestine protesters again thwart Israeli cargo ship in Oakland: New picketing effort at Port of Oakland prevents Israeli-owned cargo ship from unloading after similar incident last month

Interview with Deputy Defense Minister of Russia – Dmitry Rogozin

This interview is important because it shows what Russia is really doing while keeping up the pretense of “partnership” with the AngloZionist Empire: preparing for war while hoping that it can be avoided.  In this interview, Rogozin speaks to a domestic audience in one of the most popular shows on Russian TV.

Via The Saker

Posted September 29, 2014

English Transcription & Translation: Marina (Russian Saker), Katya (Oceania Saker) & CG (Russian Saker)

Editing & Production: Augmented Ether (Oceania Saker)

The Saker’s in-depth geopolitical analysis: (English)

The Threat of War and the Russian Response

How to Lead a Coalition and Avoid a Global Conflict

By Sergey Glazyev

The world needs a coalition of sound forces advocating stability – a global anti-war coalition with a positive plan for rearranging the international financial and economic architecture on the principles of mutual benefit, fairness, and respect for national sovereignty.

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “Global Affairs” -U.S. actions in Ukraine should be classified not only as hostile with regard to Russia, but also as pursuing a process of  global destabilization. The U.S. is essentially provoking an international conflict to salvage its geopolitical, financial, and economic authority.

The response must be systemic and comprehensive, aimed at exposing and ending U.S. political domination, and, most importantly, at undermining U.S. military-political power based on the printing of dollars as a global currency.

The world needs a coalition of sound forces advocating stability —in essence, a global anti-war coalition with a positive plan for rearranging the international financial and economic architecture on the principles of mutual benefit, fairness, and respect for national sovereignty.


This coalition could be comprised of large independent states (BRICS); the developing world (most of Asia, Africa, and Latin America), which have  been discriminated against in the current global financial and economic system; CIS countries interested in balanced development without conflicts; and those European nations not prepared to obey the disparaging U.S. diktat. The coalition should take measures to eliminate the fundamental causes of the global crisis, including:

  • the uncontrolled issuance of global reserve currencies, which allows issuers to abuse their dominant position, thus increasing disproportions and destructive tendencies in the global financial and economic system;
  • the inability of existing mechanisms regulating banking and financial institutions to ward off excessive risks and financial bubbles;
  • an exhausted potential for growth within the prevailing technology-based economic system and lack of conditions for creating a new one, including insufficient investment for the broad use of basic technological solutions.

Conditions must be created to allow national fiscal authorities to lend money for building an economy based on new technologies and carrying out economic modernization, and to encourage innovation and business activities in areas of potential growth. The issuers of reserve currencies must guarantee their stability by capping the national debt and payment and trade balance deficits. Also, they will have to use transparent mechanisms for issuing currencies and ensure free exchange for all assets trading in their countries.

Another important requirement: issuers of global reserve currencies should meet is compliance with fair rules of competition and non-discriminatory access to financial markets. Other countries observing similar restrictions should be able to use their national currencies as an instrument of foreign trade and currency and financial exchanges, and allow their use as reserve currencies by partner countries. It would be advisable to group national currencies seeking the status of global or regional reserves into several categories depending on the issuers’ compliance with certain standards.

In addition to introducing rules for issuers of global reserve currencies, measures should be taken to strengthen control over capital flows to prevent speculative attacks that destabilize international and national currency and financial systems. Members of the coalition will need to forbid transactions with offshore jurisdictions and make refinancing inaccessible to banks and corporations created with offshore residents. The currencies of countries that fail to follow these rules should not be used in international settlements.

A major overhaul of international financial institutions is necessary to ensure control over the issuers of global reserve currencies. Participating countries must be represented fairly, on objective criteria, such as their share in global production, trade, and finances; their natural resources; and population. The same criteria should be applied to an emerging basket of currencies for new SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) that can be used as a yardstick for determining the value of national currencies, including reserve currencies. Initially, the basket could contain the currencies of those coalition members that agree to observe these rules.

Such ambitious reforms will require proper legal and institutional support. To this end, the coalition’s decisions should be given the status of international commitments; and UN institutions, relevant international organizations, and all countries interested in reforms should be broadly involved.

In order to encourage application of socially important achievements of a new technological mode globally, countries will have to devise an international strategic planning system of socio-economic development. It should provide long-term forecasts for scientific and technological development; define prospects for the global economy, regional associations and leading countries; look for ways to overcome disproportions, including development gaps between industrialized and emerging economies; and set development priorities and indicative targets for international organizations.

The U.S. and other G7 countries will most likely reject the above proposals for reforming the international currency and financial system without discussion out of fear that they could undermine their monopoly, which allows them to issue world currencies uncontrollably. While reaping enormous benefits from this system, leading Western countries limit access to their own assets, technologies, and labor by imposing more and more restrictions.

If the G7 refuses to “make room” in the governing agencies of international financial organizations for the anti-war coalition, the latter should master enough synergy to create alternative global regulators.

  • The BRICS could serve as a prototype and take the following measures to maintain economic security:
  • create a universal payment system for BRICS countries and issue a common payment card that would incorporate China’s UnionPay, Brazil’s ELO, India’s RuPay, and Russian payment systems;
  • build an interbank information exchange system similar to SWIFT and which is independent from the United States and the European Union;
  • establish its own rating agencies.


Russia will have a leading role in building a coalition against the U.S. since it is most vulnerable and will not succeed in the ongoing confrontation without such an alliance. If Russia fails to show initiative, the anti-Russian bloc currently being created by the U.S. will absorb or neutralize Russia’s potential allies. The war against Russia the U.S. is inciting in Europe may benefit China, because the weakening of the U.S., the European Union, and Russia will make it easier for Beijing to achieve global leadership. Also, Brazil could give in to U.S. pressure and India may focus on solving its own domestic problems.

Russia has as much experience of leadership in world politics as the U.S. It has the necessary moral and cultural authority and sufficient military-technical capabilities. But Russian public opinion needs to overcome its inferiority complex, regain a sense of historical pride for the centuries of efforts to create a civilization that brought together numerous nations and cultures and which many times saved Europe and humanity from self-extermination. It needs to bring back an understanding of the historical role the Russian world played in creating a universal culture from Kievan Rus’, the spiritual heir to the Byzantine Empire, to the Russian Federation, the successor state of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire. Eurasian integration processes should be presented as a global project to restore and develop the common space of nations from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and from St. Petersburg to Colombo, which for centuries lived and worked together.


A new world order could be based on a concept of social-conservative synthesis as an ideology that combines the values of world religions with the achievements of the welfare state and the scientific paradigm of sustainable development. This concept should be used as a positive program for building an anti-war coalition and establishing universally understandable principles for streamlining and harmonizing social, cultural, and economic relations worldwide.

International relations can be harmonized only on the basis of fundamental values shared by all major cultures and civilizations. These values include non-discrimination (equality) and mutual acceptance, a concept declared by all confessions without dividing people into “us” and “them.” These values can be expressed in notions of justice and responsibility, and in the legal forms of human rights and freedoms.

The fundamental value of an individual and equality of all people irrespective of their religious, ethnic, class, or other background must be recognized by all confessions. This stems, at least in monotheistic religions, from the perception of the unity of God and the fact that every faith offers its own path to salvation. This outlook can eliminate violent religious and ethnic conflicts and permit every individual to make a free choice. But there must be legal mechanisms in place to enable confessions to participate in public life and resolve social conflicts.

This approach will help neutralize one of the most destructive means of chaotic global warfare employed by the U.S.—the use of religious strife to incite religious and ethnic conflicts that develop into civil and regional wars.

The role of religion in molding international politics will provide the moral and ideological basis for preventing ethnic conflicts and resolving ethnic contradictions using national social policy instruments. Various religions can also be engaged in charting social policy, thus providing a moral framework for government decisions, restraining the attitude of permissiveness and laxity that dominates the minds of the ruling elites in developed countries, and bringing back an understanding of the authorities’ social responsibility to society. As the shaken values of the welfare state gain strong ideological support, political parties will have to acknowledge the importance of moral restrictions that protect the basic principles of human life.

The concept of social-conservative synthesis will lay the ideological groundwork for reforming international currency, financial, and economic relations on the principles of fairness, mutual respect for national sovereignty, and mutually advantageous exchanges. This will require certain restrictions on the freedom of market forces that constantly discriminate against most people and countries by limiting their access to wealth.

Liberal globalization has undermined the ability of countries to influence the distribution of national income and wealth. Transnational corporations uncontrollably move resources that were previously controlled by national governments. The latter have to trim back social security in order to keep their economies attractive to investors. State social investments, the recipients of which no longer have a national identity, have lost their potency. As the U.S.-centered oligarchy gets hold of an increasingly greater part of income generated by the global economy, the quality of life is dwindling in open economies and the gap in access to public wealth is widening. In order to overcome these destructive tendencies, it will be necessary to change the entire architecture of financial and economic relations and restrict the free movement of capital. This should be done in order to prevent transnationals from evading social responsibility, on the one hand, and to even out social policy costs shared by national states, on the other.

The former means eliminating offshore jurisdictions, which help evade tax obligations, and recognizing the nation states’ right to regulate transborder movement of capital. The latter would mean establishing minimal social criteria to ensure accelerated improvement of social security in relatively poor countries. This can be done by creating international mechanisms for balancing out living standards, which, in turn, will require proper funding.

Acting along the concept of a social-conservative synthesis, the anti-war coalition could move to reform the global social security system. A fee of 0.01 percent of currency exchange operations could provide funding for international mechanisms designed to even out living standards. This fee (of up to $15 trillion a year) could be charged under an international agreement and national tax legislation, and transferred to the authorized international organizations which include the Red Cross (prevention of and response to humanitarian catastrophes caused by natural disasters, wars, epidemics, etc.); the World Health Organization (prevention of epidemics, reduction of infantile mortality, vaccination, etc.); ILO (global monitoring of compliance with safety regulations and labor legislation, including wages not less than the subsistence level and a ban on the use of child and compulsory labor; labor migration); the World Bank (construction of social infrastructure facilities – water supply networks, roads, waste water disposal systems, etc.); UNIDO (transfer of technologies to developing countries); and UNESCO (support of international cooperation in science, education and culture, cultural heritage protection). Spending should be made according to the budgets approved by the UN General Assembly.

Another task to tackle is the creation of a global environmental protection system financed by polluters. This can be done by signing an international agreement establishing across-the-board fines for pollution and earmark them for environmental protection under national legislation and under the supervision of an authorized international organization. Part of this money should be committed to global environmental activities and monitoring. An alternative mechanism can be based on trade in pollution quotas under the Kyoto Protocol.

An important aspect is the creation of a global system for eliminating illiteracy and ensuring public access to information and modern education throughout the world. This will require standardizing minimum requirements for comprehensive primary and secondary education and subsidizing underdeveloped countries with revenue generated by the tax mentioned above. There must be a universally accessible system of higher education services provided by leading universities in major industrialized countries. The latter could assign admission quotas for foreign students selected through international contests and paid for from the same source. Simultaneously, the participating universities could set up a global system of free distance learning for all individuals with secondary education. UNESCO and the World Bank could commit themselves to creating and supporting the necessary information infrastructure, while drawing funds from the same source.


The growing gap between rich and poor countries is threatening the development and the very existence of humanity. The gap is created and sustained by national institutions in the U.S. and allied countries that arrogate certain international economic exchange functions proceeding from their own interests. They have monopolized the right to issue the world’s currency and use the revenue for their own benefit, giving their banks and corporations unlimited access to loans. They have monopolized the right to establish technical standards, thus maintaining technological supremacy of their industry. They have imposed upon the world their own international trade rules that require all other countries to open up their markets and limit substantially their own ability to influence the competitiveness of their national economies. Finally, they have forced the majority of countries to open up their capital markets, thus ensuring the domination of their own financial tycoons, who keep multiplying their wealth by exercising a currency monopoly.

It is impossible to ensure a sustainable and successful socio-economic development without eliminating the monopoly on international economic exchange used for private or national interests. Global and national restrictions can be imposed to support sustainable development, harmonizing global public affairs, and eliminating discrimination in international economic relations.

In order to ward off a global financial catastrophe, urgent measures need to be taken to create both a new, safe, and efficient currency and a financial system based on the mutually advantageous exchange of national currencies. This new system would exclude the appropriation of global seniority in private or national interests.

To level out socio-economic development opportunities, emerging economies need free access to new technologies, conditioned on their promise not to use them for military purposes. Countries that agree to such restrictions and open up information about their defense budgets will be exempted from international export control constraints and receive assistance in acquiring new developmental technologies.

An international mechanism to prevent multinational companies from abusing their monopoly power on the market could ensure fair competition. The WTO could exercise anti-trust control under a special agreement binding for all member states. This would allow economic entities to demand elimination of monopoly power abuses by transnational corporations and seek compensation for losses from such abuses by imposing sanctions against the entities at fault. Apart from overstated or understated prices, quality falsifications, and other typical examples of unfair competition, the payment of wages below the ILO-defined minimum regional subsistence level should also be regarded as an abuse. In addition, there should be reasonable price regulation for the products and services of global and regional natural monopolies.

Because of unequal economic exchanges, countries should be allowed to retain the right to regulate their national economies in order to equalize socio-economic development levels. In addition to WTO mechanisms protecting domestic markets from unfair foreign competition, such equalizing measures could also be achieved by encouraging scientific and technological progress and providing state support to innovation and investment activities; establishing a state monopoly on the use of natural resources; introducing currency controls to limit capital flight and prevent speculative attacks on national currencies; retaining government control over strategic industries; and using other mechanisms to boost competitiveness.

Fair competition in the IT sector is essential. Access to the global information networks must be guaranteed to all people throughout the world as both information consumers and suppliers. This market can be kept open by using stringent antitrust restrictions that will not allow any one country or group of countries to become dominant.

To ensure that all parties to the global economic exchange observe international and national rules, there must be penalties for violators under an international agreement that would enforce court rulings regardless of their national jurisdiction. However, one should be able to appeal a ruling in an international court whose judgment will be binding on all states.

Binding rules and penalties for non-compliance (alongside penalties for breaking national laws) would give international agreements priority over national legislation. Countries that break this principle should be restricted from participating in international economic activities by excluding their national currencies from international settlements, imposing economic sanctions against residents, and limiting those operations on international markets.

In order to enforce all of these fundamental changes in international relations, a strong coalition will have to be created, capable of overcoming the resistance of the U.S. and G7 countries, which reap enormous benefits from their dominance on global markets and in international organizations. This coalition should be ready to use sanctions against the U.S. and other countries that refuse to recognize the priority of international obligations over national regulations. Rejecting the U.S. dollar in international settlements would be the most effective way to coerce the U.S. into being cooperative.

The anti-war coalition should offer a peaceful alternative to the arms race as a means of encouraging a new round of technological development. This alternative would lie in broad international cooperation geared towards solving global problems that require concentration of resources for creating cutting-edge technologies. For example, there is no ready-made solution to protect the planet from threats stemming from deep space. Developing such solutions will require technological breakthroughs that can be achieved by combining the efforts of leading countries and by sharing costs.

The paradigm of sustainable development rejects war as such. Instead of confrontation and rivalry, it is based on cooperation and collaboration as a means of concentrating resources in promising areas of scientific and technological research. Unlike the arms race provoked by geopolitics, it can provide a better scientific and organizational basis for managing a new technological mode. The latter will drive the development of healthcare, education, and culture, which can hardly be spurred by defense expenditures. These non-productive sectors and science will account for as much as a half of GDP in major industrialized countries in upcoming years. Therefore, a forward-looking solution would include shifting the focus of government attention from defense spending to humanitarian programs, primarily in medicine and bioscience. Since the state pays more than half of health, education, and science expenditures, such a shift would facilitate systematic management of socio-economic development and curb destructive trends.

*  *  *

A new election cycle will begin in the U.S. in 2017 that is likely to be underscored by anti-Russian rhetoric as the ideological basis for the world war Washington is trying to unleash in a bid to retain its power. By that time, the crisis in the American financial system may have resulted in budget spending cuts, devaluation of the dollar, and declining living standards.

Domestic problems and foreign policy crises will cause the U.S. government to ramp up its aggressive tactics, while at the same time weakening its positions. If Russia mobilizes its intellectual, economic, and military potential, it will have a chance to get through conflicts in 2015-2018 in view of the fact that the U.S. and its allies will still not be prepared for direct aggression.

Russia will face the most dangerous period in the early 2020s when industrialized countries and China are expected to begin their technological modernization and the U.S. and other Western countries will emerge from financial depression and make a technological leap forward. But Russia may dramatically fall behind technologically and economically in 2021-2025, which will impair its defense capabilities and spur internal social and ethnic conflicts in much the same way as what happened in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. These conflicts will be fomented both from outside and inside, using social inequality, development gaps between regions, and economic problems. In order to avoid the worst possible scenario leading to the disintegration of the country, Russia will need to adopt a systemic domestic and foreign policy for strengthening national security, ensuring economic independence, improving international competitiveness, boosting economic development, mobilizing society, and upgrading the defense industry.

By 2017, when the U.S. starts threatening Russia openly and on all fronts, the Russian army should have modern and effective weapons, Russian society should be consolidated and confident of its strength, intellectuals should be in control of the new technological mode, the economy should be growing, and Russian diplomacy should succeed in building a broad-based anti-war coalition capable of pooling efforts in order to stop American aggression.

Sergei Glaziev is an Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Interview with Deputy Defense Minister of Russia – Dmitry Rogozin

This interview is important because it shows what Russia is really doing while keeping up the pretense of “partnership” with the AngloZionist Empire: preparing for war while hoping that it can be avoided.  In this interview, Rogozin speaks to a domestic audience in one of the most popular shows on Russian TV.

Via The Saker

Fact or fiction? Russia threatens to retaliate against U.S. military: Warns airspace over Syria under protection of Moscow. Russia has delivered a behind-the-scenes threat to retaliate if airstrikes carried out by the U.S. or its allies target the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle Eastern security officials told WND.

Becoming Hezbollah’s Air Force

By Chris Hedges

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “Truthdig” – – Those who use violence to shape the world, as we have done in the Middle East, unleash a whirlwind. Our initial alliances—achieved at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead, some $3 trillion in expenditures and the ravaging of infrastructure across the region—have been turned upside down by the cataclysm of violence. Thirteen years of war, and the rise of enemies we did not expect, have transformed Hezbollah fighters inside Syria, along with Iran, into our tacit allies. We are intervening in the Syrian civil war to assist a regime we sought to overthrow. We promised to save Iraq and now help to dismember it. We have delivered Afghanistan to drug cartels and warlords who preside over a ruin of a nation where 60 percent of the children are malnourished and the Taliban is poised to take power once NATO troops depart. The entire misguided enterprise has been a fiasco of gross mismanagement and wanton bloodletting. But that does not mean it will be stopped.

More violence is not going to rectify the damage. Indeed, it will make it worse. But violence is all we know. Violence is the habitual response by the state to every dilemma. War, like much of modern bureaucracy, has become an impersonal and unquestioned mechanism to perpetuate American power. It has its own internal momentum. There may be a few courageous souls who rise up within the apparatus to protest war’s ultimate absurdity, but they are rapidly discarded and replaced. The state rages like an insane King Lear, who in his madness and desire to revenge himself on his two daughters and their husbands decides that:

It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof.
And when I have stol’n upon these sons-in-law,
Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

And kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill is the mantra chanted with every new setback in the Middle East. How many times have we rejoiced at the murder of those we demonized—Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and dozens of others. But as soon as one hunt for the fountainhead of evil ends, another begins. Those we kill are swiftly replaced. Fresh terrorist groups take the place of the old. The Khorasan Group, the U.S. government assures us, is a more sinister and deadlier version of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which was once touted as a more sinister version of al-Qaida. We cannot extinguish our enemies. They spring out of the ground like the legion of hostile warriors that rose up when Cadmus sowed his dragon’s teeth. Our violence spawns violence and never-ending configurations of enraged militants. We will keep spawning them until we stop occupying the Middle East.

Endless war, which results in endless terror, leaves the arms manufacturers and generals giddy with joy. It is a boon to the state, which is possessed of an excuse to extinguish what few liberties we have left. It fuels the militancy and hatred that fanatics need to justify their slaughter and attract recruits. But it is a curse to humankind.

The barbarism of modern industrial warfare creates complex bureaucratic mechanisms that exist to perpetuate and manufacture death. We are hostages to those mechanisms. “The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” Simone Weil observed, “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”

“Thus war effaces all conceptions of purpose or goal, including even its own ‘war aims,’ ” she wrote. “It effaces the very notion of war’s being brought to an end. Consequently, nobody does anything to bring this end about. In the presence of an armed enemy, what hand can relinquish its weapon? The mind ought to find a way out, but the mind has lost all capacity to so much as look outward. The mind is completely absorbed in doing itself violence. Always in human life, whether war or slavery is in question, intolerable sufferings continue, as it were, by the force of their own specific gravity, and so look to the outsider as though they deprived the sufferer of the resources which might serve to extricate him.”

Violence as a primary form of communication has become normalized. It is not politics by other means. It is politics. Democrats are as infected as Republicans. The war machine is impervious to election cycles. It bombs, kills, maims, tortures, terrorizes and destroys as if on autopilot. It dispenses with humans around the globe as if they were noisome insects. No one dares lift his or her voice to protest against a war policy that is visibly bankrupting the United States, has no hope of success and is going to end with new terrorist attacks on American soil. We have surrendered our political agency and our role as citizens to the masters of war.

“It seems to me that nearly the whole Anglo-Saxon race, especially of course in America, have lost the power to be individuals,” wrote the artist Roger Fry. “They have become social insects like bees or ants.”

Søren Kierkegaard in “The Present Age” warned that the modern state seeks to eradicate conscience and absorb individuals into a public that can be shaped and manipulated by those in power. This public is not real. It is, as Kierkegaard wrote, a “monstrous abstraction, an all-embracing something which is nothing, a mirage.” In short, we became part of a herd, “unreal individuals who never are and never can be united in an actual situation or organization—and yet are held together as a whole.” Those who question the public, those who denounce endless war, are dismissed as dreamers or freaks. But only they, according to the Greek definition of the polis, can be considered citizens.

In endless war it does not matter whom we fight. Endless war is not about winning battles or promoting a cause. It is an end in itself. In George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” Oceania is at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia. The alliance then suddenly is reversed. Eurasia becomes an ally of Oceania and Eastasia is the enemy. The point is not who is being fought. The point is maintaining a state of fear and the mass mobilization of the public. War and national security are used to justify the surrender of citizenship, the crushing of dissent and expanding the powers of the state. The point is war itself. And if the American state, once a sworn enemy of Hezbollah, gives air cover to Hezbollah fighters in Syria, the goals of endless war remain gloriously untouched.

But endless war is not sustainable. States that wage endless war inevitably collapse. They drain their treasuries, are hated by the wretched of the earth, and militarize and strangle their political, social and cultural life while impoverishing and repressing their populations. They are seduced by what Sigmund Freud called the “death instinct.” This is where we are headed. The only question is when it will unravel.

Edward Gibbon observed about the Roman Empire’s own lust for endless war: ” … [T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious: and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

© 2013 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Why Don’t We Negotiate With Isis

Why don’t we do it and save some lives?

By Robert Fisk

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “The Independent” – – He’s offered to do a deal with Isis. No, not David Cameron. Not Obama, of course. I’m talking about Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader. He’s demanding that the Lebanese government swap Islamist prisoners for 21 soldiers and policemen held by Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra.

In case you had forgotten – or just missed the story, because these were Lebanese men, not Westerners – I should add that one of the soldiers was shot in the head. Two were beheaded. On video, of course. So their families could see their decapitation in the comfort of their home.

So let us be clear about this. The Lebanese army, the only serious institution in the country, was ambushed last August in the Sunni town of Arsal on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Arsal is both a town and a refugee camp, and a home to Isis – mortal enemies, as we journos like to say, of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – which is why Jumblatt will not be condemned by Messrs Cameron or Obama. After all, Cameron and Obama are bombing Isis, aren’t they? But they also want to overthrow Assad, don’t they? Problem.

Now, Jumblatt is a generous guy – and why wouldn’t he be when the families of the 21 still missing soldiers and cops pleaded with him to tell the Lebanese government to exchange their sons and husbands and brothers for imprisoned Islamists? Jumblatt’s spokesman announced that the government “cannot negotiate under the edge of a knife”. But we all know what that means. You can.

And I’m struck by how different the Lebanese are from the Brits. This morning, the families of the 21 soldiers and policemen plan to pitch tents in front of the homes of government ministers. Yesterday, they blocked roads across Lebanon. At least one newspaper has claimed that the government is killing its own soldiers by refusing to negotiate.

Prisoners held in Roumieh jail north of Beirut for their part in fighting the army in 2007 in the Palestinian camp of Nahr el-Bared have still not been tried. Isis wants them freed. Interesting. Because they belonged to a group called Fatah al-Islam and were – at the time – allegedly sent into Lebanon with the permission of the Syrian authorities. Is Fatah al-Islam really Isis? Did Isis exist in 2007 – seven years ago?

But just so we remember that the Lebanese are human, that they are just like us, here is the text of a message that Lance Corporal Sulieman Dirani of the Lebanese army sent to his family – courtesy of Isis, of course – in which he called upon his relatives to protest on the streets of Lebanon: “I call on the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese state to work with conscience and to have sympathy with our parents and mothers and consider us their sons. I call on them to see how our mothers and fathers are sleeping in the streets with no one feeling for them or showing any interest in the matter.”

And maybe these soldiers will live. The Lebanese government has one tough man who deals with kidnapped civilians. He’s called Abbas Ibrahim, a brave man who used to walk, unarmed, into the Ein el-Helweh Palestinian camp in Sidon to talk to Osama bin Laden’s men. He’s now head of the Lebanese “General Security”. And yes, he is a general. He organised the freeing of Christian nuns held by the Jabhat al-Nusra in the Syrian town of Yabroud. Many others owe their life to this man. It’s not his courage I’m talking about. It’s the fact that the Lebanese government is prepared to talk to the bad guys. We don’t do that, of course. But why not?

Perfectly reasonable, respectable governments swap prisoners. Take Israel. It hands over Hezbollah fighters for just a few captured Israeli soldiers. It’s done this many times. Nobody criticises the Israeli government. David Cameron certainly doesn’t. All over the Middle East, captives are freed for other captives. The release of lords and seigneurs and soldiers in return for other captives goes back to the time of the Crusades.

But there are other problems in Lebanon. A third of the population is now Syrian. And the military are deeply concerned that Isis is inside the country. Not just in Arsal. But in the south of Lebanon, too. Syrian refugees are now making their way into the country from Shebaa, close to the Israeli border. In fact, part of Shebaa is claimed by Israel – although maps from the old French mandate suggest the land is inside occupied Syria. But the Israelis must have been concerned to hear that a new slogan has been added to the walls of Hasbaya, a small and beautiful town just north of Shebaa. It calls for a future Islamic State in Lebanon.

Legal Basis for U.S. War in Iraq and Syria Is Thin

By Ivan Eland

September 29, 2014 “ICH” – “HP” – U.S. government officials recently began hyping the threat from a very small and little-known terrorist group called Khorasan and then striking it in Syria. Several of President Obama’s aides told the media that airstrikes were launched to foil an “imminent” terrorist attack, possibly using hidden explosives to blow up aircraft. Yet other government officials seemed to pour cold water on that assessment. According to the New York Times, one anonymous senior official described the Khorasan plot as only “aspirational” and said that the group had not seemed to have established a concrete plan. Other officials, at least one of who was a senior counterterrorism official, said that the plot was far from mature and that no sign existed that the group had decided on the method of attack or the time and target of it.

These divergent stories should alert us to the possibility that the old saying–the first casualty of war is truth–is operating again (remember all the falsehoods surrounding then-President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq?). The Times then cited some experts as explaining this divergence by saying that the Obama administration may have developed specific intelligence about the location of the group’s leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, and was trying to take advantage of it to kill him.

While this explanation may or may not be true, targeting the group also conveniently provides a rather lame excuse under international law and the U.S. Constitution for launching airstrikes Syria without congressional approval. The administration had a marginally better legal excuse for striking targets of the Islamic State (IS) group, its main adversary, in Iraq than it did in Syria. The legal reasoning for attacking in Syria has been thin indeed. Under international law, several reasons can exist for legally taking military action within another country’s borders–a United Nations Security Council resolution approving an attack on the country, a request for help by that country, or self defense on the attacking country’s part.

No U.N. Security Council resolution approving the war exists, but the Iraqi government has requested help in beating back the IS group. Syria, although secretly loving that the powerful United States attacking its armed opposition, doesn’t get along with the United States and has not formally requested that its territory be attacked.

One convoluted line of reasoning used by the administration is not accepted my many international legal scholars–that the United States is responding to a request to defend Iraq and that Syria is “unable or unwilling” to stanch the threat of fighters flowing into Iraq, thus allowing U.S. air strikes against Syria.

That’s where the third excuse comes in. The United States needs to find some self-defense rationale to attack Syria. Yet no one is alleging that IS is about ready to attack the United States. In fact, many experts note that IS, despite its clever anti-U.S. bluster to lure the United States into attacking it, is more of a threat to the Middle East and neighboring countries than it is to U.S. territory. IS is focused primarily on establishing an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria rather than attacking the United States. That’s where Khorasan comes in. The very small group, like the much larger IS, is an offshoot of al Qaeda, but seems to be more interested in attacking U.S. targets.

However, a self-defense justification would require an imminent threat to justify a pre-emptive attack to thwart any such strike. If no imminent threat existed, any U.S. attack would be “preventive”; preventive war can be abused (for example, Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq) and is frowned on by the international community.

Many conservatives, who purport to defend the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution (but often abandon that ship when “patriotic” military action is afoot), might correctly say that international law is less important than following America’s governing document. However, even here an imminent threat is also needed for the president to attack Syria. Although President Obama has cited the congressionally passed Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2001 to attack the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and the congressionally approved authorization to use military force against Iraq in 2002 as justifications for its current attacks on IS in Iraq and Syria, this argument at best could justify strikes in Iraq, but not Syria.

As it is, even those justifications are thin indeed. Contrary to what is rather casually reported in the American media, the AUMF of 2001 does not authorize military action against al Qaeda affiliates or former affiliates, such as Khorasan and IS, respectively. The resolution authorizes military attacks only on the perpetrators, enablers, and hosts of the executors of the 9/11 attacks–that is, the main al Qaeda group and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Most al Qaeda affiliates originated long after 9/11 and had nothing to do with those attacks. Administration officials have alleged that Khorasan leader Muhsin al-Fadhli was a confident of Osama bin Laden and probably knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance. Thus, the administration could claim that it was trying to assassinate an enabler of the 9/11 attacks, but attacking the entire Khorasan and IS groups under that rationale is highly suspect. And the administration has said that its revised policy on targeted assassinations, which allows such killings only if a person poses a “continuing and imminent threat” of attacks on Americans, does not apply to the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

As for attacks on IS in Iraq, using the long outdated congressional authorization to attack Saddam Hussein’s government (passed in 2002) to again attack Iraq for entirely different purposes 12 years later is very questionable. The Constitution’s framers would have frowned on the use of one congressional vote to endorse perpetual war.

The debates at the American Constitutional convention in 1787 seem to indicate only one exception to the requirement for congressional approval of any presidential military action–large or small: an imminent attack on the United States that the president must counter immediately. Even then, the intention was that when it was possible for Congress to convene, they should approve continued military action by the president. Thus, the U. S. government has little legal justification to attack Syria (and really Iraq too) without fresh congressional authorization, unless an imminent threat is afoot. In Iraq, Obama might have been justified in very limited air strikes to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities (technically they are U.S. soil), but those American attacks have gone way beyond that and need congressional approval.

Thus, we see the administration’s need to find an imminent threat in Syria to bolster the thin legal case for attacking that country. However, according to the framers’ original intent, as indicated by the proceedings at the Constitutional Convention, even after the alleged imminent threat–al-Fadhli and Khorasan–was neutralized, Congress would need to authorize further strikes in Syria.

But one cannot blame the legal and constitutional shenanigans of Obama–just the latest in a long line of presidents since Harry Truman to usurp Congress’s constitutional war power–for the entire problem. Instead of doing their constitutional duty and going on record with a dangerous vote on the latest war before an election, the cowardly Congress left town to campaign. This atrocious behavior on the most important function that the nation’s founders gave Congress–taking the nation to war–is typical and is an indication that Congress’s war power has been severely eroded by abdication as well as by presidential usurpation. At a bare minimum, Congress needs vote on this war after the election–and hopefully stop what is an internationally illegal and counterproductive war, which just fires more Islamic radicalism and causes that movement to put the United States needlessly in its crosshairs.

Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty, The Independent Institute

Death of the Bees: Canadian Beekeepers’ Lawsuit Against Bayer, Syngenta Over Bee-Killing Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Global Research, September 29, 2014

Honey-Bee-On-Flower-Pollin-400x225Canadian beekeepers have filed a class-action lawsuit against two pesticide manufacturers, seeking $400 million in damages for the devastating effects of the neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to the destruction of honeybee colonies.

“The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers,” said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with Siskinds LLP, the law firm that is handling the case.

The lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court on September 2 by two of the largest honey producers in Ontario, Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey. The next day, the Ontario Beekeepers Association publicly announced the lawsuit and invited other beekeepers to join in. By September 4, more than 30 beekeepers had already signed on.

Bee colonies devastated

The neonicotinoids, which include imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are systemic pesticides applied to seeds prior to planting. The neurotoxic chemicals then coats the plant, making the entire thing poisonous. This means that birds or insects that visit the plant for nectar or pollen are also poisoned.

“The plants become poison not only for the insects that farmers are targeting, but also for beneficial insects like bees,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Numerous studies have shown that bees exposed to neonicotinoids experience trouble navigating, are more likely to fail to return to their hives, and have smaller colonies than non-exposed bees. In a 2013 study by Health Canada, 70 percent of all dead bees tested positive for exposure to neonicotinoids.

In response to these concerns, the European Commission has restricted the use of neonicotinoids for two years, and Ontario has announced plans to regulate them more tightly.

In the lawsuit, the beekeepers accuse Bayer CropScience Inc., Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies of negligence in the design, manufacture, sale and distribution of the pesticides. The lawsuit claims that the negligent behavior of the companies has directly resulted in damage or death to bee colonies and breeding stock; contamination of beeswax, honeycomb and beehives; decreases in honey production; lost profit; and increased labor and supply costs. The plaintiffs are seeking $400 million in damages.

A global crisis

Over the past 20 years, neonicotinoids have become among the most popular of all pesticide varieties. In recent years, researchers have raised concerns that they may be a primary factor behind colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon marked by honeybees abandoning their hives and dying during the winter. Because honeybees pollinate a third of the entire global food supply — 130 different crops, valued at $15 billion per year — CCD has caused alarm at high levels of government and industry.

A pair of studies conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Worcester County Beekeepers Association decisively linked neonicotinoids to CCD. The researchers found that exposing bees to neonicotinoids induced CCD in the majority of beehives over the winter, while non-exposed bees did not experience CCD. The researchers suggested that, in part, neonicotinoids may cause CCD by making bees more vulnerable to cold.

But it’s not just honeybees that are affected by neonicotinoid poisoning; because the pesticides are systemic, any animal that even visits a treated crop may be affected. According to a comprehensive international review published in June 2014, neonicotinoids are severely damaging ecological integrity worldwide, on a scale comparable to the damage done by DDT prior to the 1970s.

Shockingly, there is no evidence that neonicotinoids are even particularly beneficial for farmers.

“We have been using these things for 20 years and there’s not a single study that shows they increase yield,” said researcher Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, England. “If they don’t benefit yield we should stop using them.”

Sources for this article include: [PDF]

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The Curious Case of Ebola Patents

The US government appears to have a cure and (almost) a vaccine for the deadly disease

Global Research, September 29, 2014
Down To Earth 31 August 2014

ebola_virus_vaccine-400x300by Latha Jishnu

As the deadly Ebola virus spreads in West Africa taking a lethal toll with its hemorrhagic fever, curious reports are emerging of the patents the US holds on a certain strain of the virus and the interest of its Department of Defence in developing a vaccine with a Canadian biotech firm. The details are sketchy but indicate an overwhelming American interest in Ebola.

The facts are thus: the US authorities administered an experimental serum, preserved in sub-zero temperature and flown under strict supervision to Africa, to two of its citizens who had contracted the virus in Liberia and were in critical condition, before flying them home. Ebola, which takes its name from a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a fatality rate of 50-90 per cent. At the last count, 890 of the 1,300 people who caught the virus had died.

Reports say that Kent Brantly, one of the two American missionaries infected with Ebola, was given a second dose after he was brought to a hospital in Atlanta amidst high security and stringent medical protocol. Brantly is said to be recovering, while the other, Nancy Writebol, was on her way home as this column was being written.

What is the miraculous serum that is helping the American victims of Ebola? From the snippets put out by medical experts on US television channels it appears the drug is a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies that was tried out for the first time on humans. It is said to have worked well in trials on primates but has yet to go through the mandatory clinical trials before it is certified for use on human beings. The serum, called ZMapp, is manufactured by Mapp Biopharmaceutical in San Diego and Defyrus Inc. of Toronto. Mapp is a tiny biotech lab with just 11 employees and has reportedly been working on Ebola for a decade. It was part of a consortium that received funding of $28 million from the government’s National Institutes of Health.

It is clear that the US government has been keeping tabs on Ebola for a while now. It holds the patents on a strain of the Ebola virus known as Bundibugyo (EboBun) that was found in Uganda. It is although not clear whether it is the same strain that has created the current epidemic. The patent, awarded in October 2012 to five scientists led by Jonathan S Towner, is now deposited with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Interestingly, the “invention” of the isolated human Ebola (hEbola) virus has not been made available to an international depository authority as required under the Budapest Treaty that governs the rules on global deposits of microorganisms for the purpose of granting patents. However, samples of this accession (Deposit No. 200706291) will be made available to “approved facilities for 30 years from the date of deposit, and for the lifetime of the patent”.

While Mapp says it is “in the midst of an intense effort to help address the Ebola outbreak in West Africa”, Canadian firm Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation is developing a vaccine for Ebola under a $140 million project funded by the US Department of Defence. Tekmira claims its therapy has proved 100 per cent effective in protecting primates from one of five strains of the virus and has finished the first phase of clinical trials. The second phase will start once the US Food and Drug Administration reviews its protocols and gives a go-ahead.

So, look to the US for both the vaccine and the cure for Ebola.

Copyright 2014

Spain’s government denounces Catalan referendum

By Alejandro López

29 September 2014

Artur Mas, regional president and leader of the ruling party in Catalonia, Convergència i Unió (Convergence and Union-CiU), has signed a decree allowing a referendum on independence on November 9. This comes after the “No” vote in the Scottish referendum and the mass demonstration in Barcelona on September 11, the Spanish region’s national day.

Mas signed the document using a Catalan-made fountain pen in room of Verge de Montserrat, reserved for “great occasions”, in the building of the Catalan government. He was surrounded by all the parties that support the referendum. Afterwards he left the building to greet hundreds of people in one of Barcelona’s main squares, the Plaça de Sant Jaume. Only the Catalan public television TV3 was allowed to follow the whole ceremony and broadcast it live.

The decree includes the two questions that will be asked in the referendum: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” If the answer is affirmative, the next question is, “Do you want that state to be independent?”

The reaction of the Spanish government was immediate. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saénz de Santamaría held a press conference in which she reiterated that the government would not allow the referendum to take place “because it is not constitutional … it is the government’s job to ensure that the law is not broken.”

Catalan separatist forces know the government will appeal the decree to the Constitutional Court (CC), which could paralyse the process until its final decision. On Sunday, the government called the State Council advisory body with the aim of presenting an appeal against the decree this week. In less than two hours the State Council passed two resolutions giving support to the government’s appeal. Saénz de Santamaría declared that “no actions toward executing it [the referendum]” will be allowed once the CC suspends the decree.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, in an official visit to China, told journalists that Mas “has got himself in a mess over this all on his own. We told him what was going to happen, it’s what we have always said. I suppose he thought we were going to back down, but we are going to do what we said we would do.”

Basque nationalists have also been quick to react. Regional president Iñigo Urkullo of the ruling Basque Nationalist Party called for a new status of the Basque region within Spain. Earlier this year, the Basque parliament passed a resolution declaring self-determination, and in June, 100,000 people formed a 123 kilometre-long human chain demanding a referendum.

There are now several possible outcomes. The first is that Mas suspends the referendum once it is declared illegal. Mas has already said in that case he would call snap elections in the region and make them a plebiscite on separation.

This would create tensions with the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC) and the Popular Unity Candidates (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP). Both parties have stated that Catalans should carry out a civil disobedience campaign if the central government denies them the referendum. The Stalinist and Green alliance, Initiative for Catalonia Greens (Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, ICV), have called for maintaining unity among pro-referendum forces.

The other outcome is pushing forward with an illegal referendum, which would risk suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy. The government could also deploy armed forces, arrest Mas and put civil servants who attempt to use public buildings and resources under military discipline.

Last April, retired Colonel Leopoldo Muñoz, president of the Spanish Military Association, the largest organisation of military and Civil Guard personnel, called for separatists to be prosecuted by a military court for “crimes of high treason.” The Union Progress and Democracy (Unión Progreso y DemocraciaUPyD), a party that calls for the rollback of most powers given to the regions, has called for the suspension of the Catalan government.

Workers in Catalonia and throughout Spain have nothing to gain from this escalating conflict. This is a struggle between two factions of the bourgeoisie. What unites both camps is their hostility to the working class. All are implicated in imposing mass austerity. The PSOE government (2008-2011) and the current Popular Party (PP) government have imposed one austerity measure after another, including spending cuts of around 63.393 billion euros since 2011, three labour and two pensions “reforms”.

In Catalonia, the PP and the PSOE have supported the separatist forces’ cuts, with Catalonia at the top of the 17 regions in imposing austerity measures.

The ERC and ICV have also imposed austerity. In 2010 they formed the “Coalition of Progress” that included the PSC (the Catalan sister party of the PSOE), which passed an austerity plan that included cuts totalling €1.6 billion. The following year the ERC declared it would work with the new CiU government, which approved unprecedented cuts, including €3.4 billion in health care, €2.5 billion in education, €758 million in social welfare, and €433 million in other services. ICV’s sister party in the south of Spain has over the last two years slashed the regional budget by €2.6 billion.

This has created a social catastrophe. There is now 27 percent unemployment, 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and wages have been cut by an average of 7 percent.

The mass opposition amongst the working class to austerity and pauperization has been repeatedly diverted by the unions into token protests and one-day general strikes. This paralysis has been aided by the pseudo-left, which has intervened to tie workers to the union bureaucracy. Now they are promoting Catalan nationalism, parochialism and the referendum, as a way of breaking the unity of the Spanish working class.

The Morenoite party, Corriente Roja and En Lucha, sister party of the Socialist Workers Party, have signed a manifesto, “Left Forces for Yes-Yes” [to both questions of the referendum], with the CUP, ERC, the Stalinists of IC and EuiA and other pro-separatist forces and personalities.

One of the reasons cited is to “support and strengthen the social mobilization against the cuts by the Catalan and Spanish governments”. This is deeply cynical, given that the ICV-EUiA and the ERC have imposed austerity measures. The aim of En Lucha and Corriente Roja is to provide a left-cover for the ERC and ICV-EUiA, while promoting their own careers.

Another stated reason in the manifesto is that the referendum provides “an opportunity to build a country … which guarantees basic education and quality public healthcare, the right to housing, to public pensions and a dignified job. A country that can protect the territory and promote the culture and where there is no space for discrimination of gender, sexual orientation, origin or any other.”

This is a fraud. In country after country the ruling classes are pursuing a social counter-revolution. Wealth is being redistributed from the bottom to the very top, while attacks on democratic rights, cuts in essential social services like health care and education, have become the norm. An independent Catalonia would be no exception.

An article by the Morenoites, “Catalonia must hold the N-9 referendum”, declared that Mas would not defy the Constitutional Court’s prohibition, because this “would open a huge and uncontrolled institutional crisis and would lead to the emergence of a mass movement that not only will overwhelm him and his party, but could jeopardize the status quo”.

This argument is repeated by the Pabloite Izquierda Anticapitalista, Clase contra Clase and others. Pressurising the bourgeois faction represented by the separatist forces into conflict with the Spanish state is portrayed as a means of sparking a revolution. To refute such lies, one needs only look at Yugoslavia, where NATO, ex-Stalinist bureaucrats and communalist movements encouraged a fratricidal war that led to seven ethnically divided mini-states, subject to imperialist domination and increasing social misery. The answer to the dictatorship of the Spanish and Catalan ruling class and its parties is not the creation of new states in the Iberian peninsula, but the struggle for a workers’ government in Spain, as part of the United Socialist States of Europe.

Australia: Workers condemn police killing of alleged “terrorist” Abdul Numan Haider

By our correspondents

29 September 2014

World Socialist Web Site correspondents again spoke with workers and young people in Melbourne over the weekend about last Thursday’s police killing of Abdul Numan Haider in the south-eastern suburb of Endeavour Hills. People were scathing of the media coverage and deeply concerned that Haider has been labelled a “lone wolf” terrorist in order to stampede the population into supporting Australia’s involvement in military operations in Iraq and Syria and attacks on democratic rights.

Haider was shot dead after he allegedly attacked two police officers with a knife in a car park adjacent the Endeavour Hills police station. Police had arranged to meet him after he called the station to protest over the fact his family’s house had been searched a few hours earlier without a warrant. He was reportedly already upset over being denied a passport on the grounds that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) believed he might have been considering travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). His communications and activities were clearly being monitored by ASIO and the police.

Everything suggests that Haider was highly emotional and unstable due to the police pressure he was under. In an interview with the Special Broadcasting Service “Dateline” program, Nasir Andisha, the Afghan ambassador to Australia, described the youth as “disturbed and disillusioned” and someone who “needed more help, guidance, counselling, a helping hand.” Haider was the son of Afghan immigrants.

Haider was only 17-years-old, not 18 as the media reported. He would not have reached voting age until next February. He had ended his brief association with an Islamist grouping in Melbourne which, while holding extreme religious views, has publicly opposed violence and terrorism.

Ambassador Andisha explained that Haider came from a “very educated family” who “were doing very well” since migrating to Australia. He noted that the family were waiting for authorities to present the evidence regarding the weapon allegedly used by the boy to attack police, to see whether it was “a kitchen knife or something.” Andisha stated that the police made no attempt to inform the family that officers had shot and killed their son, which they found out from the television news.

The outrage among those who knew Haider and his family, and the broader anger over the boy’s death, was reflected at his funeral on Friday afternoon. The mosque where the service took place could not accommodate the hundreds of relatives, friends and supporters who rallied to mourn. Many people participated outside in the courtyard.

Dozens of police were deployed in surrounding streets. The Melbourne HeraldSun reported that “two plainclothes men—one of them armed—were wearing ear pieces and kept a close watch on who was attending.” Camera crews, not necessarily all from media outlets, filmed everyone entering and leaving the mosque.

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott continued to stoke fears, declaring on Saturday that he was “deeply concerned about the threat that ‘lone wolf’ terrorism poses to people.” To further condition the public to the increased public presence of the security apparatus, the Australian Football League’s Grand Final match on Saturday was the target of a massive police operation. The number of police deployed in and around the stadium was doubled; streets sealed off to vehicles; spectators were subjected to multiple searches; and undercover police were infiltrated throughout the crowd.

Workers and youth spoke with WSWS correspondents on Saturday in Dandenong, a suburb near where Numan Haider was killed, and in the western suburb of Footscray.


Safar, who is originally from Afghanistan, said: “I don’t know about the background, but I think they could have just arrested him. They didn’t have to kill him. They are using this to create hatred against Muslims. The media headlines just say ‘terrorist’ but we don’t know the real facts. I have checked Facebook and people are now commenting differently about Muslims. After this news, I heard of an Afghan family being bashed.”

Mohamed, a factory worker who migrated to Australia from Afghanistan, condemned the shooting: “Nobody deserves to be killed like that. I don’t know what the truth is. The media say anything. I’m angry that every time a Muslim does something wrong, they are labelled a terrorist. When Christians, or Jews, or Buddhists do something wrong, they are never called terrorists.


“I don’t like ISIS. They are cowards. They act as the police, the judge, and the executioner. But where did ISIS come from? Who made them? If you have cancer, you have to find out where it has come from to cure it. They were a small group, and now they’re massive and they have high-tech weapons. One hundred percent they have been supported by America, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE [United Arab Emirates].

“They are using ISIS as a reason to invade Syria, like they used WMD to invade Iraq, because Syria is the only country in the Middle East allied to Russia. It was the same thing in Afghanistan with Osama Bin Laden. They needed Osama Bin Laden to justify the war in Afghanistan. The whole war is about Russia and Iran, and controlling Syria. It is just like in Ukraine. We are heading for a war which is going to be big. I love the American people, but I am 100 percent against US foreign policy. What is happening in Iraq and Syria is affecting everybody.”

Fariha, a young supermarket worker in Footscray, said: “I don’t agree with the Victorian police shooting a boy. It shouldn’t be done so easily. They could have shot him somewhere not fatal. The media are also taking a part. They don’t go into what is the truth behind it. I’m not sure why it is happening, but I totally agree that it is an excuse for war.”


Emma, a Dandenong local, raised the possibility that Haider may have been suffering mental health problems: “In America the police said a young man was attacking them, but he had mental issues. The guy who was killed here probably had mental issues. My partner has schizophrenia, and he got in trouble with the police very often.

“I work in the city and a lot of people come in there who have nowhere to go and who have problems. They need to go somewhere. I think it’s ridiculous. With the state of things at the moment I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for my son. It is scary.”

Marcus, a hotel worker in Footscray, said: “They want to justify billions being spent on fighter jets. I get so angry. In my opinion unless you have 100 percent concrete proof that someone is about to do a terrorist act, you don’t have the right to brand them a terrorist. The current government is further and further into control and further and further into power. As for the role of the media, it makes me sick. It is trying to make us scared.”


A shopkeeper in Dandenong told WSWS correspondents: “What the guy [Haider] did was not the right way, but they shouldn’t have killed him. I saw him the day he came to the [Dandenong] Plaza. He was just walking around with an ISIS flag. There were 10 or 15 police. They held him and took photos of the flag, and asked him questions. They asked him what the meaning of the flag was, and he didn’t know. He was just a young innocent guy. There was obviously something wrong with him. I don’t trust what we are being told in the media. No-one knows exactly what the truth was. The police should have given him a chance to live, and now it is too late. I am very fearful of the police.”

More arrests in Ferguson, Missouri after police chief “apologizes”

By Eric London

29 September 2014

Tensions in Ferguson, Missouri show no sign of subsiding seven weeks after the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

In recent days, local police officials have responded to ongoing protests by combining arrests and violence against demonstrators with empty apologies. On Thursday, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson released a video in which he apologized for leaving Michael Brown’s body on the asphalt for four hours, but did not acknowledge that his killer, Darren Wilson, did anything wrong in shooting the unarmed young man six times.

“Please know that the investigating officers meant no disrespect to the Brown family,” Jackson said, adding to the parents that he was “truly sorry for the loss of your son.”

Brown’s killer has yet to have any charges brought against him. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said last week that he does not expect a grand jury to come to a decision on whether to bring charges until mid-November. The grand jury has been granted an extension through early January, meaning that it might not come to a decision for five months following Brown’s killing.

Michael Brown’s father said Saturday in an interview with the Associated Press that “an apology would be when Darren Wilson was handcuffed, processed, and charged with murder.”

Later on Thursday evening, Jackson attempted to address a crowd of demonstrators, saying: “I’m sorry, and I said that from my heart. I had tried to get that off my chest. It’s been sitting there for two months.”

The crowd responded with indignation to Jackson’s apologies, with one demonstrator yelling: “If you are not resigning tonight, go home.”

When Jackson attempted to march with demonstrators, police arrested several demonstrators who expressed their opposition to the chief’s presence.

Jackson’s apology came two days after police attacked and injured several demonstrators who had gathered on West Flourissant Avenue after a memorial for Michael Brown was burned earlier in the day. Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said that he ordered the police to clear demonstrators on Tuesday because protestors were yelling and invading officers’ “personal space.”

The dominant sentiment amongst Ferguson police officers is hardly one of regret over the killing of Michael Brown. To the contrary, photos taken by demonstrators reveal that many officers on duty at demonstrations were wearing wristbands bearing the words “I am Darren Wilson” in support of the officer responsible for killing Brown.

Meanwhile, reports of two nearby shooting incidents on Saturday night underscore the continuing scale of social tensions in the suburban Midwestern city.

The first shooting took place at a community roughly two miles from the evening demonstrations on West Flourissant. According to initial reports, a resident fired shots at a police officer who was responding to a burglary call in the area. According to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, the officer “was able to get off a couple of shots” and was shot in the arm in the exchange. He is expected to live.

A second incident occurred several hours later, when an off-duty St. Louis police officer said he took fire from another car as he drove down a major freeway that passes through Ferguson. The officer sustained minor injuries.

Few details of the shootings have emerged, with police stating that neither incident was related to the demonstrations. Regardless of the veracity of these claims, the shootings will be used by the police to justify further crackdowns on protestors.

Just minutes after the shooting in Ferguson, dozens of police cars rushed to the area, and police armed with assault rifles took up positions around the perimeter of the scene.

USA Today noted that police went on a ninety minute “manhunt” for the alleged shooter, while Captain Johnson appeared nearby at the scene of protests and ordered the crowd to disperse.

In a speech before a gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus Saturday, President Obama noted that the police crackdown on peaceful protestors has been an embarrassment to the administration as it launches a new war in the name of preserving “democracy.”

“Ferguson was used by some of America’s enemies and critics to deflect attention from their shortcomings overseas; to undermine our efforts to promote justice around the world,” he said.

Announcing that this conception was ill-placed on the absurd grounds that “we address our differences in the open space of democracy,” Obama said Ferguson should not detract from the need “to rally the world against Russian aggression in Ukraine” and “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.”

But Obama, whose administration has been intimately involved in the police crackdown in Ferguson while making no calls for Wilson’s arrest, anxiously warned that “a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement” in “too many communities around the country.”

French government exploits Islamist murder of Hervé Gourdel to expand Iraq war

By Pierre Mabut

29 September 2014

The barbaric assassination on September 24 of 55-year-old French alpinist Hervé Gourdel in Algeria by group loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was the occasion for the French government and media to step up its campaign for war in the Middle East.

Gourdel was trekking in the Kabylie region of Algeria and taken hostage by the ISIS-linked Jund Al-Khalifa group. The gruesome murder is now being used to fan a media campaign of hysterical calls for war and law-and-order, as the Socialist Party (PS) government seeks to step up its military intervention in Iraq. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian declared that bombing Syria was now “the question that is posed.”

The government ordered flags on all public buildings to be flown at half-staff for three days. Leaders of France’s five million-strong Muslim community organized rallies in front of mosques in French cities on Friday to denounce the murder. The rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, denounced “the barbaric and bloodthirsty horror of the terrorists who in the name of a humiliating ideology pervert Islam and its values.”

This is accompanied by an unrelenting campaign to terrorize the public. The government defense committee met on Thursday to reinforce its anti-terror procedures and alert French nationals abroad to be “vigilant.” The military presence at transport terminals and shopping malls is to be extended, and tourist sites, religious buildings, and public buildings will have extra security. Spontaneous identity checks are to be carried out.

The foreign ministry declared that “no zone can any longer be considered as totally safe.” The alert for “vigilance” to French nationals abroad is extended from 31 to 40 countries, updated to include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the Comoros, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia.

On September 18, the government introduced new anti-terrorist legislation attacking the basic democratic rights of freedom of speech and movement, supposedly in an effort to stem the flow of young French nationals who have joined ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.

Passports can be withdrawn for a period of six months to prevent travel. The law was voted through the National Assembly with full support from all parties, from the far-right National Front to the Left Front, with the Greens abstaining. Although the government estimates the number of French ISIS fighters at 900, the new law brands anyone a terrorist who consults Internet sites or possesses documents deemed to be related to ISIS.

Underlying all these wars and attacks on democratic rights is a monumental political fraud. It is well known that French imperialism and its NATO allies oversaw the massive arming of various Al Qaeda-linked militias as part of their proxy wars for regime change first in Libya and then in Syria. In Syria, the Islamic Front group and other “moderate rebels” that NATO promoted last year did not hide that it worked with various Al Qaeda-linked forces, such as the Al Nusra Front and the ISIS.

Olivier Besancenot, a spokesman for the pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party, even publicly called for the French government to “graciously” arm the Syrian opposition militias. As Hollande later made clear, French intelligence took Besancenot’s advice and directly armed Islamist groups in Syria. (See: “France admits it directly supplied arms to Syrian ‘rebels’”)

Paris is now hypocritically using the blow-back from these reactionary operations as a pretext to wage more wars in the face of widespread popular opposition.

The state’s mourning of Hervé Gourdel in this context is deeply sinister. Gourdel was murdered by an Islamist fighter in Algeria. However, the main authors of his death are officials in Washington, Paris, and other NATO capitals who over the last several years have backed the large-scale arming of Islamist militias across the Middle East and North Africa.

At the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Haïder Al-Abadi told reporters that he had received “credible” information from Baghdad that the Islamic state was preparing terrorist attacks on the New York and Paris metro systems. The French prime minister’s office said there was no confirmation of such a planned attack.

In any event, this will not stop French President François Hollande from pursuing his military escalation in Iraq and Syria, in alliance with Washington. Hollande was in the forefront of the temporarily-aborted drive to war against Syria to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a year ago. Currently, he is reluctant to attack ISIS forces in Syria, where France has supported all manner of far-right Islamist militias in its war against Assad.

The government now is trying to manipulate public horror and anger at the barbaric murder of Gourdel to pursue the war it could not launch a year ago.

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ISIS offensive in Iraq exposes French pseudo-left’s support for Syria war
[25 June 2014]

US military, Obama administration plan massive military escalation in Syria and Iraq

By Patrick Martin

29 September 2014

The comments this weekend by spokesmen for the White House, the Pentagon and US Congress are part of an orchestrated campaign to stampede the American people into an all-out war in Iraq and Syria that could spread quickly throughout the Middle East.

The drumbeat for war has been carefully worked out to prepare public opinion in the United States and internationally for a dramatic escalation in military operations in the region, including the direct and open targeting of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Since President Obama announced the US war in Iraq and Syria in a nationally televised speech September 10, the White House and the American media have gone all-out to portray the conflict as a response to “terrorism” in the form of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamist organization whose sudden rise was fueled by assistance from US allies in the Persian Gulf and from the CIA itself.

On Friday, however, US officials began open discussion of the imposition of a “no-fly” zone in Syria, supposedly in response to appeals from the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the only NATO ally in the region.

At a Pentagon press conference, both Major General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and defense secretary Chuck Hagel said that a no-fly zone over Syria was under consideration, along with a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border near the town of Kobani, the scene of mass flight by Syrian Kurds under attack by ISIS forces.

Hagel said, “We’ve discussed all these possibilities and will continue to talk about what the Turks believe they will require.” Dempsey added that “a buffer zone might at some point become a possibility,” although that would involve some outside military force, likely Turkish, moving into Syrian territory.

There is a glaring contradiction between Obama’s claims to be fighting ISIS, and discussion of a no-fly zone, since this would be directed against the Assad regime, which controls the Syrian Air Force. ISIS has no planes, no helicopters and no aerial assets of any kind. A no-fly zone would mean scrapping the pretense of a war with ISIS and openly acknowledging the real purpose of the US intervention all along: the destruction of the Assad government and the establishment of a US puppet regime in Damascus.

Retired General Carter Ham, who headed the Pentagon’s Africa Command, explained the implications of a no-fly zone in an interview Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” Ham oversaw the no-fly zone imposed during the 2011 US-NATO war on Libya.

“We should make no bones about it,” he said. “It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties…”

The designated White House representative on the Sunday morning television interview programs, Deputy National Security Adviser Anthony Blinken, confirmed that the administration was considering imposing a no-fly zone on Syria as part of its war plans in the region.

On Fox News Sunday, Blinken said, “We’re proceeding very deliberately and taking this one step at a time.” He added, “These are all things that we’re looking at over time, if they prove useful, necessary and effective, we’ll take them on.”

A further signal of the real direction of US policy came from Secretary of State John Kerry, in an op-ed column published Friday in the Boston Globe, under the headline, “Under US leadership, world will defeat ISIS.” Kerry went out of his way to rebut claims that bombing ISIS would help the Assad regime in Syria.

“We are not on the same side as Assad,” Kerry declared. “We are embarking on an important effort to train and equip vetted members of Syria’s opposition who are fighting the Islamic State and the regime at the same time.”

At the same time—and no doubt by prearrangement with the White House—the top congressional Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, declared his support for sending US ground combat troops to Iraq. Appearing on the Sunday ABC program “This Week,” Boehner said, “At the end of the day, I think it’s gonna take more than air strikes to drive them outta there,” referring to ISIS. “At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

Boehner was asked by interviewer George Stephanolpoulos, “And if no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?” Boehner replied, “We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re gonna pay the price.”

Boehner added that if Obama proposed a resolution authorizing US combat operations in Syria and Iraq, he would call the House of Representatives back into session to vote on it. The House is in recess until after the November 4 congressional elections.

Asked about Boehner’s comment, White House representative Blinken replied, “We have been very clear that there will not be a US ground invasion of Iraq or Syria.”

Since no “invasion” of Iraq is at issue—the puppet regime in Baghdad will rubber-stamp any proposal for more US troops—this new formulation is a political signal of a shift towards the mobilization of significant US ground forces in the war, notwithstanding Obama’s repeated declarations, to delude antiwar opinion in the United States, that there will “no US ground troops” in Iraq or Syria.

The White House has steadily shifted its language on ground troops since the declaration by General Dempsey September 16 that if there were no alternative, he would urge Obama to reverse himself and order US ground troops to Iraq to prevent the collapse of the US puppet regime in Baghdad.

Meanwhile US airstrikes have continued in both Iraq and Syria. US warplanes pounded ISIS positions Friday around Kobani, the first time that targets have been hit so close to the Syria-Turkish border.

At the Pentagon press conference, Hagel gave the highest estimate for the cost of the war issued so far, as much as $10 million a day. This would bring the cost of the bombing campaign to $1 billion if it continues at the present level through the end of 2014. The cost would spiral upwards rapidly with a no-fly zone or deployment of large numbers of US ground troops.

Hagel also revealed that the first US troops had arrived in Saudi Arabia to begin training Syrian rebel forces under the auspices of the brutal and reactionary Saudi monarchy.

Overall, the US-led military operations in Iraq and Syria have now involved a dozen other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, all of them engaged in the air war in Syria; and Britain, France, Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, all contributing warplanes to the air war in Iraq.

The potential for a still wider spread of the conflict was indicated in the statements of Iranian ground forces commander Ahmad Reza Pourdestana Saturday, who warned that if ISIS penetrated too far into Iraq’s Diyala province, which borders on Iran, “we will attack deep into Iraqi territory and we will not allow it to approach our border.”

These developments underscore the danger of the reckless and incendiary policy of US imperialism, which threatens to plunge the entire Middle East, and potentially the entire world, into a widening military conflagration.

Sea of people mourn victims of Ukrainian civil war in Moscow


Thousands of Muscovites, human rights activists, representatives of political parties, public organizations and other people honored the memory of those killed and executed in the Donbas of Ukraine. The people gathered for a public meeting in Moscow to mourn the memory of the victims of the civil war in Ukraine. The meeting was held on September 27 on the Poklonnaya Hill, near the “Tragedy of Peoples” monument.

The event, organized by “Mothers of Russia” and the National Parental Association, brought together as many as 17,000 people, officials at the Central Directorate of the Interior Ministry in Moscow said.

The police even promised to punish the organizers of the meeting for the fact that the actual number of participants of the meeting in memory of those who died in the Donbass of Ukraine was almost six times larger than was officially announced.

According to the UN, during the civil war in Ukraine, because of the actions of the punitive troops, as many as 3,500 civilians were killed. In addition, on the outskirts of Donetsk, several mass graves were found, in which “the bodies of civilians, including women,” were discovered along with the bodies of captive militia fighters and soldiers of Ukrainian troops.

According to media reports, they were shot in the head at close range. The territory, where the graves were discovered, was controlled by Ukrainian security forces and National Guard Battalion Aydar. Militias already found more mass graves in the region. The Russian Foreign Ministry, representatives of the Russian parliament, public and human rights organizations demanded an international investigation be conducted into the tragedy.

The victims were brutally executed and thrown into the pit to be subsequently buried. World War II veterans said that Nazis were exterminating the civilian population of Ukraine similarly.

Photos and video reports from the meeting in memory of victims of the Ukrainian civil war show that people came with homemade placards calling on Ukraine to come to its senses. Many people came wearing St. George ribbons, carrying flags of the People’s Republic of Donetsk. Many were crying as they were lighting candles and carrying flowers to the “Tragedy of Peoples” monument.

Veterans of the Afghan war, people of Donbass and others spoke to the participants of the meeting. Children read out blood-chilling poems about their schoolmates and neighbors dying in the streets. The orators reminded that international organizations silenced the crimes and did not agree to investigate them.

Opposition leaders flatly refused to mourn and honor the memory of those killed and executed in the Donbass region. Violetta Volkova, an opposition activist,  according to participants, joined the meeting, having put on a St. George ribbon. In response, her former colleagues and associates said that they should have delivered her for experiments with electricity in 2012, apparently, as it appears, to kill her with electric shock, as their idols similarly did in Odessa …

Publicist Andrei Prokhanov accused Ukraine of nurturing fascism. “If we don’t stop this, we will find these mass execution sites near Paris, Warsaw and Berlin,” he said. “Theatre of fascism requires parade of tortures,” he concluded.

Before the end of the action, a child came up to the symbolic bell of memory and tolled the bell to mark the opening of the minute of silence.

After the meeting, people started laying flowers – the sea of ​​people was coming to the monument, laying flowers and placing hundreds of candles.

Organizers of the meeting “Donetsk: Innocently Murdered” said that they were very grateful for the massive response to the call to honor the memory of the innocent victims in the Donbass.

“Despite the cold, rain and a day off work, people came to the meeting, which means that they have a heart, they have a soul,” one of the organizers of the event, co-chairwoman of the National Parental Association, Elena Tretyakova said. She said that organizers would be ready to pay the penalty for exceeding the number of participants of the meeting.


Russian FM Lavrov blames the West for global chaos


AP photo

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at the 69th UN General Assembly on Saturday, September 27, cracked down on the United States for its foreign policy and spoke very strongly about the actions of the Ukrainian authorities in connection with the events in the Donbass.

In particular, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the Western alliance led by the United States was acting on the international arena contrary to the principle of sovereign equality of all member states of the UN.

“Contradiction between the need for collective action in the interests of elaborating appropriate responses to common challenges and the wish of a number of states to dominate and revive the archaic bloc-like thinking based on the barrack discipline and flawed “friend or foe” logic has been manifesting itself stronger and stronger. The Western alliance led by the United States, while advocating democracy, the rule of law and human rights in individual countries, acts with directly opposite positions on the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the UN Charter for sovereign equality of states and trying to decide for all what is good, and  what is evil,” said Lavrov.

According to him, many actions of the West in international politics are motivated by the wish to create chaos in the world. “Highly powerful blows have been struck on the stability of the international system: the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, the attack on Libya, the failure in Afghanistan. It was only intensive diplomatic efforts that prevented the aggression against Syria in 2013. Involuntarily, it brings up an impression that the only purpose of various “color revolutions” and other projects to change undesirable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.”

“Washington has openly declared its right to use military force unilaterally and anywhere – to defend its own interests. Military intervention has become a norm, even though all military operations that the United States has conducted during the recent years, ended deplorably,” Lavrov said, Interfax reports.

“Today, Ukraine has become a victim of such arrogant policy. The state of affairs in the country bared deep, systemic flaws in the existing architecture of the Euro-Atlantic alliance,” the Russian minister said.

“The West aims to vertically structure mankind to its own standards that are far from being harmless. Having proclaimed victory in the “cold war” and “the end of history,” the United States and the EU are committed to expanding their geopolitical space, without taking account of the balance of legitimate interests of all peoples of Europe,” said Lavrov.

“Western partners ignored many of our warnings about the inadmissibility of violating the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. They repeatedly evaded serious work together to create common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation in the area from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Russia’s proposal to develop the European Security Treaty was rejected,” he said.

Lavrov also commented on the deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO.

“NATO’s instant switch to hostile rhetoric, to curtailing cooperation with Russia, even to the detriment of interests of the West, to building up military infrastructure at the Russian border has exposed the incapability of the alliance to change its genetic code that had been programmed during the “Cold War” era,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Minister called for the UN to proclaim, in a special declaration, the principle of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of coup d’etat as a method of change of power.

“Why not adopting a declaration of the General Assembly about non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states, about non-recognition of coup d’etat as a method of change of power? It’s about time one should completely exclude attempts of illegal pressure of one state on another in the field of international communication. The pointless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions became evident on the example of the American embargo against Cuba,” Lavrov said.

The struggle against terrorists in Syria must be conducted only in cooperation with the government of the Arab republic, Lavrov said.

“The struggle against terrorists on the territory of Syria must be built in cooperation with the Syrian government that clearly stated its readiness for it,” said the Russian minister.

He noted that a key challenge of the world community was “solid opposition to the terrorists, who are trying to gain control of increasingly vast areas in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan.”

“This objective can not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or an aspiration to settle personal scores. Terrorists, whatever slogans they use to cover themselves up, must remain outside the law,” said the minister.

“The threat of terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, if we want to eradicate its causes, rather than be doomed to reacting to symptoms. ISIS is only a part of the problem,” said the Minister.

“We offer, under the auspices of the UN Security Council, to arrange an in-depth study of the threats of extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia in their entirety. A comprehensive approach involves the consideration of long-standing conflicts and above all – the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Lavrov said.

The Minister noted that the unresolved Palestinian issue remains one of the main factors of instability in the region for decades, helping extremists recruit more and more new jihadists,” said the Minister.

The perpetrators of all crimes in Ukraine must be identified and brought to justice, otherwise it is difficult to rely on reconciliation, Lavrov said, speaking at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

“Attempts to distort the truth, hide facts behind  the unfounded allegations were made at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis,” said the Minister.

“Nothing is being done to identify and punish those responsible for the bloody events on the Maidan in February, for massive killings in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions of Ukraine – Lavrov said. – The extent of the terrible humanitarian disaster caused by the actions of the Ukrainian army in the south-east of the country is being diminished deliberately. New horrifying facts have been recently revealed, when mass graves near Donetsk were discovered. Contrary to Resolution 2166 of the UN Security Council, independent investigation into the collapse of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine is being protracted. The perpetrators of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice, otherwise it is difficult to rely on national reconciliation in Ukraine.”

Lavrov said that Russia was interested in restoring peace in Ukraine. The minister believes that a military solution can not resolve the conflict.

“We are convinced that with goodwill and refusal to support the “party of war” in Kiev that tries to push the Ukrainian people into the abyss of a national catastrophe, a way out of the crisis is within reach,” said Lavrov.

According to him, “a way to the political settlement is known: in April, the Kiev authorities undertook to immediately start a national dialogue involving all regions and political forces in Ukraine to implement the constitutional reform.”

“Implementing this commitment would let all Ukrainians agree on how to live in accordance with their traditions and culture. It would let Ukraine return to its role of a link between different parts of European space, which, of course, implies the preservation and respect for its non-aligned neutral status by all,” said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Lavrov also said that the choice of the Crimean population in favor of self-determination was absolutely free. “The United States and the European Union supported the coup in Ukraine, started to blindly justify any act of the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities to violently suppress the part of the Ukrainian people, who rejected attempts to impose anti-constitutional orders and wanted to defend rights for their native language, culture and history,” noted the minister.

“It was an aggressive attack on the rights that pushed those living in the Crimea to take their destiny into their own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination – Lavrov said. – It was a completely free choice, whatever those primarily responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine may invent.”

Russia is ready to find a compromise in the resolution of any complex problem in an equal conversation, Lavrov said.

“We have always been and will be open to discuss most difficult questions, no matter how insolvable they may seem at first,” said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“One needs to be honest: no one has a monopoly on truth, and no one is capable of adjusting global and regional processes to their needs,” said the minister.

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria in connection with the growth of the terrorist threat of the Islamic State group, ITAR-TASS reports.

“Sergei Lavrov stressed out the need for unconditional and full implementation of the whole complex of agreements reached by the tripartite Contact Group in Minsk on September 5. The UN Secretary-General reiterated the readiness of contribute to the regulation of the Ukrainian crisis,” officials at the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

In turn, Ban Ki-moon called on Moscow to ensure sustainable cease-fire regime in the east of Ukraine, as well as strengthen cooperation with partners on the Syrian issue.


President Barack Obama does not speak for God


A Lesson on Good and Evil for Western Civil-Military Leaders

by John Stanton

President Barack Obama does not speak for God:. 53651.jpeg

Who in the world is Barack Obama to claim that “No God” would allow the Islamic State to exist and slaughter what it considers to be non-believers? His statement follows the same line of transgression committed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in their baleful appeals to God and Christ, even as they approved and presided over operations leading to torture, rape, murder and the wounding of large swaths of humanity. And this sinful vanity– the claim to know God’s Will, is precisely the sin that the Islamic State’s Caliph, the House of Saud, the Vatican, the Church of England and all stripes of religious sects worshiping Prophets/Gods from Yahweh to Zoroaster make each and every day in the name of “good.”

Let us turn to the Russian author of Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman, for a lesson on good and evil as the civil-military leaders of the 21st Century Western world appeal to their Gods to sanction suffering, censure, torture, murder and the creation of gulags large and small.

“Few people ever attempt to define ‘good’. What is ‘good’? ‘Good’ for whom? Is there a common good – the same for all people, all tribes, all conditions of life? Or is my good your evil? Is what is good for my people evil for your people? Is good eternal and constant? Or is yesterday’s good today’s vice, yesterday’s evil today’s good? When the Last Judgment approaches, not only philosophers and preachers, but everyone on earth – literate and illiterate – will ponder the nature of good and evil. Have people advanced over the millennia in their concept of good? Is this concept something that is common to all people – both Greeks and Jews – as the Apostle supposed? To all classes, nations and States? Even to all animals, trees and mosses – as Buddha and his disciples claimed? The same Buddha who had to deny life in order to clothe it in goodness and love.

The Christian view, five centuries after Buddhism, restricted the living world to which the concept of good is applicable. Not every living thing – only human beings. The good of the first Christians, which had embraced all mankind, in turn gave way to a purely Christian good; the good of the Muslims was now distinct. Centuries passed and the good of Christianity split up into the distinct goods of Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy. And the good of Orthodoxy gave birth to the distinct goods of the old and new beliefs. At the same time there was the good of the poor and the good of the rich. And the goods of the whites, the blacks and the yellow races… More and more goods came into being, corresponding to each sect, race and class. Everyone outside a particular magic circle was excluded.

People began to realize how much blood had been spilt in the name of a petty, doubtful good, in the name of the struggle of this petty good against what it believed to be evil. Sometimes the very concept of good became a scourge, a greater evil than evil itself. Good of this kind is a mere husk from which the sacred kernel has been lost. Who can reclaim the lost kernel?

But what is good? It used to be said that it is a thought and a related action which lead to the greater strength or triumph of humanity – or of a family, nation, State, class, or faith. People struggling for their particular good always attempt to dress it up as a universal good. They say: my good coincides with the universal good; my good is essential not only to me but to everyone; in achieving my good, I serve the universal good. And so the good of a sect, class, nation or State assumes a specious universality in order to justify its struggle against an apparent evil.

Even Herod did not shed blood in the name of evil; he shed blood in the name of his particular good. A new force had come into the world, a force that threatened to destroy him and his family, to destroy his friends and his favourites, his kingdom and his armies. But it was not evil that had been born; it was Christianity. Humanity had never before heard such words: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again… But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.’

And what did this doctrine of peace and love bring to humanity? Byzantine iconoclasticism; the tortures of the Inquisition; the struggles against heresy in France, Italy, Flanders and Germany; the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism; the intrigues of the monastic orders; the conflict between Nikon and Avvakum; the crushing yoke that lay for centuries over science and freedom; the Christians who wiped out the heathen population of Tasmania; the scoundrels who burnt whole Negro villages in Africa. This doctrine caused more suffering than all the crimes of the people who did evil for its own sake…

In great hearts the cruelty of life gives birth to good; they then seek to carry this good back into life, hoping to make life itself accord with their inner image of good. But life never changes to accord with an image of good; instead it is the image of good that sinks into the mire of life – to lose its universality, to split into fragments and be exploited by the needs of the day. People are wrong to see life as a struggle between good and evil. Those who most wish for the good of humanity are unable to diminish evil by one jot. Great ideas are necessary in order to dig new channels, to remove stones, to bring down cliffs and fell forests; dreams of universal good are necessary in order that great waters should flow in harmony… Yes, if the sea was able to think, then every storm would make its waters dream of happiness. Each wave breaking against the cliff would believe it was dying for the good of the sea; it would never occur to it that, like thousands of waves before and after, it had only been brought into being by the wind.

Many books have been written about the nature of good and evil and the struggle between them… There is a deep and undeniable sadness in all this: whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good that will never be overcome by evil – an evil that is itself eternal but will never succeed in overcoming good – whenever we see this dawn, the blood of old people and children is always shed. Not only men, but even God himself is powerless to lessen this evil. ‘In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.’ What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher’s definitions of good and evil? But what if life itself is evil?

I have seen the unshakeable strength of the idea of social good that was born in my own country. I saw this struggle during the period of general collectivization and again in 1937. I saw people being annihilated in the name of an idea of good as fine and humane as the ideal of Christianity. I saw whole villages dying of hunger; I saw peasant children dying in the snows of Siberia; I saw trains bound for Siberia with hundreds and thousands of men and women from Moscow, Leningrad and every city in Russia – men and women who had been declared enemies of a great and bright idea of social good. This idea was something fine and noble – yet it killed some without mercy, crippled the lives of others, and separated wives from husbands and children from fathers.

Now the horror of German Fascism has arisen. The air is full of the groans and cries of the condemned. The sky has turned black; the sun has been extinguished by the smoke of the gas ovens. And even these crimes, crimes never before seen in the Universe – even by Man on Earth – have been committed in the name of good. Once, when I lived in the Northern forests, I thought that good was to be found neither in man, nor in the predatory world of animals and insects, but in the silent kingdom of the trees. Far from it! I saw the forest’s slow movement, the treacherous way it battled against grass and bushes for each inch of soil… First, billions of seeds fly through the air and begin to sprout, destroying the grass and bushes. Then millions of victorious shoots wage war against one another. And it is only the survivors who enter into an alliance of equals to form the seamless canopy of the young deciduous forest. Beneath this canopy the spruces and beeches freeze to death in the twilight of penal servitude.

In time the deciduous trees become decrepit; then the heavyweight spruces burst through to the light beneath their canopy, executing the alders and the beeches. This is the life of the forest – a constant struggle of everything against everything. Only the blind conceive of the kingdom of trees and grass as the world of good… Is it that life itself is evil? Good is to be found neither in the sermons of religious teachers and prophets, nor in the teachings of sociologists and popular leaders, nor in the ethical systems of philosophers… And yet ordinary people bear love in their hearts, are naturally full of love and pity for any living thing. At the end of the day’s work they prefer the warmth of the hearth to a bonfire in the public square.

Yes, as well as this terrible Good with a capital ‘G’, there is every day human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner, the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water-flask, the kindness of youth towards age, the kindness of a peasant hiding an old Jew in his loft. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner not to his ideological comrades, but to his wife and mother.

The private kindness of one individual towards another; a petty, thoughtless kindness; an unwitnessed kindness. Something we could call senseless kindness. A kindness outside any system of social or religious good.

But if we think about it, we realize that this private, senseless, incidental kindness is in fact eternal. It is extended to everything living, even to a mouse, even to a bent branch that a man straightens as he walks by.

Even at the most terrible times, through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States, times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind, filling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche – even then this senseless, pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium.

Some Germans arrived in a village to exact vengeance for the murder of two soldiers. The women were ordered out of their huts in the evening and set to dig a pit on the edge of the forest. There was one middle-aged woman who had several soldiers quartered in her hut. Her husband had been taken to the police station together with twenty other peasants. She didn’t get to sleep until morning: the Germans found a basket of onions and a jar of honey in the cellar; they lit the stove, made themselves omelettes and drank vodka. The eldest then played the harmonica while the rest of them sang and beat time with their feet. They didn’t even look at their landlady – she might just as well have been a cat. When it grew light, they began checking their machine-guns; the eldest of them jerked the trigger by mistake and shot himself in the stomach. Everyone began shouting and running about. Somehow the Germans managed to bandage the wounded man and lay him down on a bed. Then they were called outside. They signed to the woman to look after the wounded man. The woman thought to herself how simple it would be to strangle him. There he was, muttering away, his eyes closed, weeping, sucking his lips… Suddenly he opened his eyes and said in very clear Russian: ‘Water, Mother.’ ‘Damn you,’ said the woman. ‘What I should do is strangle you.’ Instead she gave him some water. He grabbed her by the hand and signed to her to help him sit up: he couldn’t breathe because of the bleeding. She pulled him up and he clasped his arms round her neck. Suddenly there was a volley of shots outside and the woman began to tremble.

Afterwards she told people what she had done. No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself. This senseless kindness is condemned in the fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his bosom. It is the kindness that has mercy on a tarantula that has bitten a child. A mad, blind, kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this senseless kindness. But one shouldn’t be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean. The harm from time to time occasioned a society, class, race or State by this senseless kindness fades away in the light that emanates from those who are endowed with it.

This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No, it says, life is not evil! This kindness is both senseless and wordless. It is instinctive, blind. When Christianity clothed it in the teachings of the Church Fathers, it began to fade; its kernel became a husk. It remains potent only while it is dumb and senseless, hidden in the living darkness of the human heart – before it becomes a tool or commodity in the hands of preachers, before its crude ore is forged into the gilt coins of holiness. It is as simple as life itself. Even the teachings of Jesus deprived it of its strength. But, as I lost faith in good, I began to lose faith even in kindness. It seemed as beautiful and powerless as dew. What use was it if it was not contagious?

How can one make a power of it without losing it, without turning it into a husk as the Church did? Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes. Today I can see the true power of evil. The heavens are empty. Man is alone on Earth. How can the flame of evil be put out? With small drops of living dew, with human kindness? No, not even the waters of all the clouds and seas can extinguish that flame – let alone a handful of dew gathered drop by drop from the time of the Gospels to the iron present… Yes, after despairing of finding good either in God or in Nature, I began to despair even of kindness. But the more I saw of the darkness of Fascism, the more clearly I realized that human qualities persist even on the edge of the grave, even at the door of the gas chamber.

My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”

John Stanton

John Stanton can be reached at

Cradle to Grave: Student Debt Now Bankrupting Seniors

By Sarita Gupta

September 28, 2014 “ICH” – “The Hill” –  As if aging in America isn’t hard enough these days, a new government report has uncovered that seniors are facing yet another barrier to a secure retirement: their student debt. Once thought to be a young person’s issue, new data released by the Government Accountability Office shows that older Americans are also finding themselves buried under the weight of their student loans. The data helps paint a much larger picture of the overall economic insecuritythat too many of our country’s seniors face every day.

According to a recent story based on the report, a record number of borrowers are seeing their Social Security payments garnished because their federal student loans are in default. As the story explains, “More than half, or 54 percent, of federal student loans held by borrowers at least 75 years old are in default, according to the federal watchdog. About 27 percent of loans held by borrowers aged 65 to 74 are in default. Among borrowers aged 50 to 64, 19 percent of their loans are in default. The Education Department generally defines a default as being at least 360 days past due.”

The price of an education is quickly becoming too heavy a burden for far too many people, and it’s a burden that’s staying with them forever. College debt looms large as the most difficult debt to get rid of, and these numbers paint a startling picture of exactly how big a toll it’s taking on people as they age. For many, student debt is following them from the cradle to the grave – they’re condemned to a lifetime of payments that stagnant wages and mounting economic insecurity make it nearly impossible to manage.

What’s even scarier is that the health and retirement security of our friends and neighbors was, in many ways, already in jeopardy. In fact, the very idea of retiring has increasingly become a pipe dream for most workers. People are working until they die just to get access to health insurance and because they don’t have enough saved in retirement. If they ever do stop working, too many are living in fear that debt collectors will come garnish their Social Security payments. Student loan debt is just the latest in a long line of threats to the financial well-being of seniors.

And the problem is only going to get worse. Every eight seconds, someone turns 65 in this country. But as is true for the student-debt crisis, our country has no comprehensive plan to support our aging parents and grandparents and only a very fragmented, fragile system to cover them financially, medically or otherwise. At the end of the day, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to age securely in America without incredible wealth, which is further and further out of reach for younger generations.

That threat puts all of us in jeopardy. It endangers an already fragile economic recovery, and it exacerbates the financial vulnerability of people who have worked all of their lives to provide for themselves and their families. If our economy doesn’t work for students, and it doesn’t work for workers, and it definitely doesn’t work for seniors, you have to wonder, is it time to try a different approach?

Sarita Gupta is the executive director of Jobs with Justice, a national network of more than 40 local coalitions of labor, community, student, and faith organizations, working together to build a broader global movement for economic and social justice.

©2014 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp

‘What the US Did to Cambodia Was an Epic Crime’

Q&A with Journalist John Pilger

By Daniel Pye

September 28, 2014 “ICH” – Since his early days as a correspondent covering the wars in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, documentary filmmaker and journalist John Pilger has been an ardent critic of Western foreign policy. Following in the footsteps of Martha Gellhorn, Pilger set out to cover the Vietnam War from the perspective of those most affected by it – the Vietnamese people and US draftees. In 1979, he filmed Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, which depicted the humanitarian catastrophe following the ousting of the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh. He would go on to make three more films about Cambodia and become an outspoken critic of the United States’ intervention in the country and the West’s support of Pol Pot.

This week, he spoke to Post Weekend’s Daniel Pye about covering the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, Henry Kissinger’s recent comments downplaying the US bombing of Cambodia and new plans to send Australian refugees to the Kingdom.

You visited the country in 1979 with filmmaker David Munro and photographer Eric Piper. What drew you to Cambodia and what was it like reporting in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge?

I had reported, written about and filmed Vietnam since the 1960s; I suppose part of my heart lay in Indochina and its struggle for peace and independence – a struggle in which Vietnam may have lost more than four million people and Cambodia certainly lost well over two million, if you include the bombing and civil war that paved the way for Pol Pot. So, yes, I had kept a close eye on developments in Cambodia. What was evident then, and is clear now, was that Pol Pot would not have been able to seize power had it not been for the US bombing campaign. CIA assessments, the work of scholars like Ben Kiernan and the reporting of Richard Dudman from inside Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea, together with numerous other credible sources, reach that conclusion. My own interviews with refugees and former Khmer Rouge left little doubt. In 1979, my colleagues and I were determined to see for ourselves, which wasn’t easy. We teamed up with a French group of doctors bringing aid as that critical year’s monsoon got under way. It’s almost impossible to describe the devastation and trauma we found. Incredibly, the United States and its Western allies imposed a crippling embargo on the country, then led by the government of Heng Samrin. This was blatant revenge on Vietnam, whose liberating troops had come from the wrong side of the Cold War. While the West stood by – concentrating its aid in the refugee camps in Thailand and supporting Pol Pot’s defunct regime in the UN – much of the emergency aid to reach Cambodia came from the devastated southern provinces of Vietnam.

Can you describe the humanitarian situation you witnessed and the response from the West to the suffering of the Khmer people?

The need of people was overwhelming. On my first day in Phnom Penh, I saw terribly malnourished children, including those who had walked in from the countryside. For many, life was a nightmare. People were drifting back to what had been a ghost city, and their distress was obvious. In an abandoned petrol garage, a woman and a group of stricken children were cooking leaves in a pot, the fire crackling with banknotes – worthless money – that had poured from the National Bank of Cambodia which the retreating Khmer Rouge had blown up. One of the first emergency aid flights into Phnom Penh arrived while I was there. The DC-8 was filled with medical supplies and powdered milk, organized by Oxfam, then the only major Western NGO prepared to break the Western embargo. And this was the “International Year of the Child”.

In an interview last week with NPR, Henry Kissinger said that the Nixon administration’s secret bombing of Cambodia had killed fewer people than drone strikes under President Obama. How would you respond to his comments?

There is plenty of evidence that makes Kissinger’s version [of events] laughable. The credible Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry described – rightly in my view – a “decade of genocide” with three phases. The first phase was 1969 to ‘75, the years of the American bombing, during which it is estimated that 600,000 Khmer died while two million became refugees. Michael Vickery’s study gives a “war loss” of 500,000 for this period. There are other estimates, some lower, some higher. What is beyond doubt is that Kissinger and Nixon unleashed an unprecedented aerial savagery – much of it kept secret from the US Congress and people – on a defenceless people. Kissinger should have stood trial with Khieu Samphan and the other Khmer Rouge leaders. What the US did to Cambodia was an epic crime.

What do you think of the Australian government’s deal with Cambodia to have refugees “resettled” here from its off-shore detention centre on Nauru and of Australia’s “stop the boats” policy?

The Australian governments’ treatment of refugees is immoral and criminal. The deal by which Cambodia will detain refugees for Australia defies natural justice, the decisions of the Australian courts and the legally-binding 1951 Refugee Convention, which lays out the rights of refugees and the legal obligations of governments. The agreement Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is making with the Cambodian government both squalid and lawless. His government is bribing Cambodia to collude in this lawlessness, and the reason is political opportunism and racism. Politicians like Morrison are terrified they’ll be voted out of office if they allow refugees fleeing personal danger in the Middle East or South Asia to enter the country. For an Australian like myself, this is all too shaming; and any official or diplomat who took part is setting up this deal ought to be shamed. Two refugees recently died in terrible circumstances in “offshore” detention imposed by Australia: one of them was murdered, the other denied basic medical care. Some 2,500 refugee children are held in detention by the Australian government, many of them suffering terrible conditions, and some of them, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, denied even “places for babies to learn to crawl or walk on the three-by-three metre metal containers where they are confined in the extreme heat”.

Civil society groups have documented what has been described as a “land-grabbing crisis” in Cambodia. Do you think donor nations and institutions should shoulder more responsibility for the exploitation of Cambodia’s natural resources?

Yes, I do. All the major so-called donor nations have been content to watch Cambodia’s exploitation, from which they have profited.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Copyright © 2013 The Phnom Penh Post

Washington’s Secret Agendas

By Paul Craig Roberts

September 28, 2014 “ICH” – One might think that by now even Americans would have caught on to the constant stream of false alarms that Washington sounds in order to deceive the people into supporting its hidden agendas.

The public fell for the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan are terrorists allied with al Qaeda. Americans fought a war for 13 years that enriched Dick Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, and other private interests only to end in another Washington failure.

The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a “mushroom cloud going up over an American city.” With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.

The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.

The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.

The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used “chemical weapons against his own people.” The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington’s propaganda, a threat to America.

The greatest threat to the world is Washington’s insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.

Many still believe Washington’s lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth. The claim that America is “exceptional and indispensable” is used to justify Washington’s right to dictate to other countries.

The casualties of Washington’s bombings are invariably civilians, and the deaths will produce more recruits for ISIS. Already there are calls for Washington to reintroduce “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Otherwise, Western civilization is doomed, and our heads will be cut off. The newly created propaganda of a “Russian threat” requires more NATO spending and more military bases on Russia’s borders. A “quick reaction force” is being created to respond to a nonexistent threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, and Europe.

Usually it takes the American public a year, or two, three, or four to realize that it has been deceived by lies and propaganda, but by that time the public has swallowed a new set of lies and propaganda and is all concerned about the latest “threat.” The American public seems incapable of understanding that just as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, threat was a hoax, so is the sixth threat, and so will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Moreover, none of these American military attacks on other countries has resulted in a better situation, as Vladimir Putin honestly states. Yet, the public and its representatives in Congress support each new military adventure despite the record of deception and failure.

Perhaps if Americans were taught their true history in place of idealistic fairy tales, they would be less gullible and less susceptible to government propaganda. I have recommended Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the US, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the US, and now I recommend Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, the story of the long rule of John Foster and Allen Dulles over the State Department and CIA and their demonization of reformist governments that they often succeeded in overthrowing. Kinzer’s history of the Dulles brothers’ plots to overthrow six governments provides insight into how Washington operates today.

In 1953 the Dulles brothers overthrew Iran’s elected leader, Mossadegh and imposed the Shah, thus poisoning American-Iranian relations through the present day. Americans might yet be led into a costly and pointless war with Iran, because of the Dulles brothers poisoning of relations in 1953.

The Dulles brothers overthrew Guatemala’s popular president Arbenz, because his land reform threatened the interest of the Dulles brothers’ Sullivan & Cromwell law firm’s United Fruit Company client. The brothers launched an amazing disinformation campaign depicting Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was a threat to Western civilization. The brothers enlisted dictators such as Somoza in Nicaragua and Batista in Cuba against Arbenz. The CIA organized air strikes and an invasion force. But nothing could happen until Arbenz’s strong support among the people in Guatemala could be shattered. The brothers arranged this through Cardinal Spellman, who enlisted Archbishop Rossell y Arellano. “A pastoral letter was read on April 9, 1954 in all Guatemalan churches.”

A masterpiece of propaganda, the pastoral letter misrepresented Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was the enemy of all Guatemalans. False radio broadcasts produced a fake reality of freedom fighter victories and army defections. Arbenz asked the UN to send fact finders, but Washington prevented that from happening. American journalists, with the exception of James Reston, supported the lies. Washington threatened and bought off Guatemala’s senior military commanders, who forced Arbenz to resign. The CIA’s chosen and well paid “liberator,” Col. Castillo Armas, was installed as Arbenz’s successor.

We recently witnessed a similar operation in Ukraine.

President Eisenhower thanked the CIA for averting “a Communist beachhead in our hemisphere,” and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles gave a national TV and radio address in which he declared that the events in Guatemala “expose the evil purpose of the Kremlin.” This despite the uncontested fact that the only outside power operating in Guatemala was the Dulles brothers.

What had really happened is that a democratic and reformist government was overthrown because it compensated United Fruit Company for the nationalization of the company’s fallow land at a value listed by the company on its tax returns. America’s leading law firm or perhaps more accurately, America’s foreign policy-maker, Sullivan & Cromwell, had no intention of permitting a democratic government to prevail over the interests of the law firm’s client, especially when senior partners of the firm controlled both overt and covert US foreign policy. The two brothers, whose family members were invested in the United Fruit Company, simply applied the resources of the CIA, State Department, and US media to the protection of their private interests. The extraordinary gullibility of the American people, the corrupt American media, and the indoctrinated and impotent Congress allowed the Dulles brothers to succeed in overthrowing a democracy.

Keep in mind that this use of the US government in behalf of private interests occurred 60 years ago long before the corrupt Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes. And no doubt in earlier times as well.

The Dulles brothers next intended victim was Ho Chi Minh. Ho, a nationalist leader, asked for America’s help in freeing Vietnam from French colonial rule. But John Foster Dulles, a self-righteous anti-communist, miscast Ho as a Communist Threat who was springing the domino theory on the Western innocents. Nationalism and anti-colonialism, Foster declared, were merely a cloak for communist subversion.

Paul Kattenburg, the State Department desk officer for Vietnam suggested that instead of war, the US should give Ho $500 million in reconstruction aid to rebuild the country from war and French misrule, which would free Ho from dependence on Russian and Chinese support, and, thereby, influence. Ho appealed to Washington several times, but the demonic inflexibility of the Dulles brothers prevented any sensible response. Instead, the hysteria whipped-up over the “communist threat” by the Dulles brothers landed the United States in the long, costly, fiasco known as the Vietnam War. Kattenburg later wrote that it was suicidal for the US “to cut out its eyes and ears, to castrate its analytic capacity, to shut itself off from the truth because of blind prejudice.” Unfortunately for Americans and the world, castrated analytic capacity is Washington’s strongest suit.

The Dulles brothers’ next targets were President Sukarno of Indonesia, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of Congo, and Fidel Castro. The plot against Castro was such a disastrous failure that it cost Allen Dulles his job. President Kennedy lost confidence in the agency and told his brother Bobby that after his reelection he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. When President Kennedy removed Allen Dulles, the CIA understood the threat and struck first.

Warren Nutter, my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, later Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, taught his students that for the US government to maintain the people’s trust, which democracy requires, the government’s policies must be affirmations of our principles and be openly communicated to the people. Hidden agendas, such as those of the Dulles brothers and the Clinton, Bush and Obama regimes, must rely on secrecy and manipulation and, thereby, arouse the distrust of the people. If Americans are too brainwashed to notice, many foreign nationals are not.

The US government’s secret agendas have cost Americans and many peoples in the world tremendously. Essentially, the Foster brothers created the Cold War with their secret agendas and anti-communist hysteria. Secret agendas committed Americans to long, costly, and unnecessary wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. Secret CIA and military agendas intending regime change in Cuba were blocked by President John F. Kennedy and resulted in the assassination of a president, who, for all his faults, was likely to have ended the Cold War twenty years before Ronald Reagan seized the opportunity.

Secret agendas have prevailed for so long that the American people themselves are now corrupted. As the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head.” The rot in Washington now permeates the country.

Dr. 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. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

The AngloZionist Empire is at War with Russia

By The Saker

The context: A double declaration of war

September 28, 2014 “ICH” – “Vineyard of the Saker” –  Listening to Poroshenko a few days ago and then to Obama at the UNGA can leave no doubt whatsoever about the fact that the AngloZionist Empire is at war with Russia.  Yet many believe that the Russian response to this reality is inadequate.  Likewise, there is a steady stream of accusations made against Putin about Russia’s policy towards the crisis in the Ukraine.  What I propose to do here is to offer a few basic reminders about Putin, his obligations and his options.

First and foremost, Putin was never elected to be the world’s policeman or savior, he was only elected to be president of Russia.  Seems obvious, but yet many seem to assume that somehow Putin is morally obliged to do something to protect Syria, Novorussia or any other part of our harassed world.  This is not so.  Yes, Russia is the de facto leader of the BRICS and SCO countries, and Russia accepts that fact, but Putin has the moral and legal obligation to care for his own people first.

Second, Russia is now officially in the crosshairs of the AngloZionist Empire which includes not only 3 nuclear countries (US, UK, FR) but also the most powerful military force (US+NATO) and the world’s biggest economies (US+EU).  I think that we can all agree that the threat posed by such an Empire is not trivial and that Russia is right in dealing with it very carefully.

Sniping at Putin and missing the point

Now, amazingly, many of those who accuse Putin of being a wimp, a sellout or a naive Pollyanna also claim that the West is preparing nuclear war on Russia.  If that is really the case,  this begs the question: if that is really the case, if there is a real risk of war, nuclear or not, is Putin not doing the right thing by not acting tough or threatening?  Some would say that the West is bent on a war no matter what Putin does.  Okay, fair enough, but in that case is his buying as much time as possible before the inevitable not the right thing to do?!

Third, on the issue of the USA vs ISIL, several comment here accused Putin of back-stabbing Assad because Russia supported the US Resolution at the UNSC.

And what was Putin supposed to do?!   Fly the Russian Air Force to Syria to protect the Syrian border?   What about Assad?  Did he scramble his own air force to try to stop the US or has he quietly made a deal: bomb “them” not us, and I shall protest and do nothing about it?  Most obviously the latter.

In fact, Putin and Assad have exactly the same position: protest the unilateral nature of the strikes, demand a UN Resolution while quietly watching how Uncle Sam turned on his own progeny and now tries to destroy them.

I would add that Lavrov quite logically stated that there are no “good terrorists”.  He knows that ISIL is nothing but a continuation of the US-created Syrian insurgency, itself a continuation of the US-created al-Qaeda.  From a Russian point of view, the choice is simple: what is better, for the US to use its forces and men to kill crazed Wahabis or have Assad do it?  And if ISIL is successful in Iraq, how long before they come back to Chechnia?  Or Crimea?  Or Tatarstan?  Why should any Russian or Syria soldier risk death when the USAF is willing to do that for them?

While there is a sweet irony in the fact that the US now has to bomb it’s own creation, let them do that.  Even Assad was clearly forewarned and he obviously is quite happy about that.

Finally, UN or no UN, the US had already taken the decision to bomb ISIL.  So what is the point of blocking a perfectly good UN Resolution?  That would be self-defeating.  In fact, this Resolution can even be used by Russia to prevent the US and UK from serving as a rear base for Wahabi extremists (this resolution bans that, and we are talking about a mandatory, Chapter VII, UNSC Resolution).

And yet, some still say that Putin threw Assad under the bus.  How crazy and stupid can one get to have that kind of notion about warfare or politics?  And if Putin wanted to toss Assad under the bus, why did he not do that last year?

Sincere frustration or intellectual dishonesty?

But that kind of nonsense about the Syria is absolutely dwarfed by the kind of truly crazy stuff some people post about Novorussia.  Here are my favorite ones.  The author begins by quoting me:

“This war has never been about Novorussia or about the Ukraine.”and then continues:
That statement is too vacuous and convenient as a copout. Do you really mean to say that the thousands of people murdered by shelling, the thousands of young Ukrainian conscripts put through the meat grinder, the thousands of homes destroyed, the more than 1 million people who have turned into refugees… NONE of that has anything to do with Novorussia and Ukraine? That this is only about Russia?  Really, one would wish you’d refrain from making silly statements like that.The only problem being, of course, that I never made it in the first place 🙂

Of course, it is rather obvious that  I meant that FOR THE ANGLOZIONIST EMPIRE the goal has never been the Ukraine or Novorussia, but a war on Russia.  All Russia did was to recognize this reality.  Again, the words “do you really mean to say that” clearly show that the author is going to twist what I said, make yet another strawman, and then indignantly denounce me for being a monster who does not care about the Ukraine or Novorussia (the rest of the comment was in the same vein: indignant denunciations of statements I never made and conclusions I never reached).

I have already grown used to the truly remarkable level of dishonesty of the Putin-bashing crowd and by now I consider it par for the course.  But I wanted to illustrate that one more time just to show that at least in certain cases an honest discussion is not the purpose at all.  But I don’t want to bring it all down to just a few dishonest and vociferous individuals.   There are also many who are sincerely baffled, frustrated and even disappointed with Russia’s apparent passivity.  Here is an excerpt of an email I got this morning:
I guess I was really hoping that perhaps Russia, China The BRICS would be a counter force. What I fail to understand is why after all the demonisation by the U.S and Europe doesn’t Russia retaliate. The sanctions imposed by the West is hurting Russia and yet they still trade oil in euros/dollars and are bending over backwards to accommodate Europe. I do not understand why they do not say lift all sanctions or no gas. China also says very little against the U.S , even though they fully understand that if Russian is weakened they are next on the list. As for all the talk of lifting the sanctions on Iran that is farcical as we all know Israel will never allow them to be lifted. So why do China and Russia go along with the whole charade. Sometimes I wonder if we are all being played, and this is all one big game , which no chance of anything changing.In this case the author correctly sees that Russia and China follow a very similar policy which sure looks like an attempt to appease the US.  In contrast to the previous comment, here the author is both sincere and truly distressed.

In fact, I believe that what I am observing are three very different phenomena all manifesting themselves at the same time:

1) An organized Putin-bashing campaign initiated by US/UK government branches tasked with manipulating the social media.
2) A spontaneous Putin-bashing campaign lead by certain Russian National-Bolshevik circles (Limonov, Dugin & Co.).
3) The expression of a sincere bafflement, distress and frustration by honest and well-intentioned people to whom the current Russian stance really makes no sense at all.

The rest of this post will be entirely dedicated to try to explain the Russian stance to those in this third group (any dialog with the 2 first ones just makes no sense).

Trying to make sense of an apparently illogical policy

In my introduction above I stated that what is taking place is a war on Russia, not hot war (yet?) and not quite an old-style Cold War.  In essence, what the AngloZionists are doing is pretty clear and a lot of Russian commentators have already reached that conclusion: the US are engaged into a war against Russia for which the US will fight to the last Ukrainian.  Thus, for the Empire, “success” can never be defined as an outcome in the Ukraine because, as I said previously, this war is not about the Ukraine.  For the Empire “success” is a specific outcome in Russia: regime change.  Let’s us look at how the Empire plans to achieve this result.

The original plan was simplistic in a typically US Neocon way: overthrow Yanukovich, get the Ukraine into the EU and NATO, politically move NATO to the Russian border and militarily move it into Crimea.  That plan failed.  Russia accepted Crimea and the Ukraine collapsed into a vicious civil war combined with a terminal economic crisis.  Then the US Neocons fell-back to plan B.

Plan B was also simple: get Russia to intervene militarily in the Donbass and use that as a pretext for a full-scale Cold War v2 which would create 1950’s style tensions between East and West, justify fear-induced policies in the West, and completely sever the growing economic ties between Russia and the EU.  Except that plan also failed – Russia did not take the bait and instead of intervening directly in the Donbass, she began a massive covert operation to support the anti-Nazi forces in Novorussia.  The Russian plan worked, and the Junta Repression Forces (JRF) were soundly defeated by the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) even though the latter was suffering a huge deficit in firepower, armor, specialists and men (gradually, Russian covert aid turned all these around).

At this point in time the AngloZionist plutocracy truly freaked out under the combined realization that their plan was falling apart and that there was nothing they could really do to rescue it (a military option was totally impossible as I explained it in the past).  They did try economic sanctions, but that only helped Putin to engage in long overdue reforms.  But the worst part of it all was that each time the West expected Putin to do something, he did the exact opposite:

  • Nobody expected that Putin would use military force in Crimea in a lightening-fast take-over operation which will go down in history as at least as amazing as Storm-333.
  • Everybody (including myself) expected Putin to send forces into Novorussia.  He did not.
  • Nobody expected Russian counter-sanctions to hit the EU agricultural sector.
  • Everybody expected that Putin would retaliate after the latest round of sanctions.  He did not.

There is a pattern here and it is one basic to all martial arts: first, never signal your intentions, second use feints and third, hit when and where your opponent doesn’t expect it.

Conversely, there are two things which are deeply ingrained in the western political mindset which Putin never does: he never threatens and he never postures.  For example, while the US is basically at war with Russia, Russia will gladly support a US resolution on ISIL if it is to Russia’s advantage.  And Russian diplomats will speak of “our American partners” or “our American friends” while, at the same time, doing more than the rest of the planet combined to bring down the AngloZionist Empire.

A quick look at Putin’s record

As I have written in the past, unlike some other bloggers and commentators, I am neither a psychic not a prophet and I cannot tell you what Putin thinks or what he will do tomorrow.  But what I can tell you is that which Putin has already done in the past: (in no particular order)

  • broken the back of the AngloZionist-backed oligarchy in Russia.
  • achieved a truly miraculous success in Chechnia (one which nobody, prophets included, had foreseen).
  • literally resurrected the Russian economy.
  • rebuilt the Russian military, security and intelligences forces.
  • severely disrupted the ability of foreign NGOs to subvert Russia.
  • done more for the de-dollarization of the planet than anybody before.
  • made Russia the clear leader of both BRICS and SCO.
  • openly challenged the informational monopoly of the western propaganda machine (with projects like RussiaToday).
  • stopped an imminent US/NATO strike on Syria by sending in a Russian Navy Expeditionary Force (which gave Syria a full radar coverage of the entire region).
  • made it possible for Assad to prevail in the Syrian civil war.
  • openly rejected the Western “universal civilizational model” and declared his support for another, a religion and tradition based one.
  • openly rejected a unipolar “New World Order” lead by the AngloZionists and declared his support for a multi-polar world order.
  • supported Assange (through RussiaToday) and protected Snowden
  • created and promoted a new alliance model between Christianity and Islam thus undermining the “clash of civilization” paradigm.
  • booted the AngloZionists out of key locations in the Caucasus (Chechnia, Ossetia).
  • booted the AngloZionists out of key locations in Central Asia (Manas base in Kyrgyzstan)
  • gave Russia the means to defend her interest in the Arctic region, including military means.
  • established a full-spectrum strategic alliance with China which is at the core of both SCO and BRICS.
  • is currently passing laws barring foreign interests from controlling the Russian media.
  • gave Iran the means to develop a much needed civilian nuclear program.
  • is working with China to create a financial system fully separated form the current AngloZionist controlled one (including trade in Rubles or Renminbi).
  • re-establised Russian political and economic support for Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Nicaragua and Argentina.
  • very effectively deflated the pro-US color-coded revolution in Russia.
  • organized the “Voentorg” which armed the NAF.
  • gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.
  • sent in vitally needed humanitarian aid to Novorussia.
  • provided direct Russian fire support and possibly even air cover to NAF in key locations (the “southern cauldron” for example).
  • last but not least, he openly spoke of the need for Russia to “sovereignize” herself and to prevail over the pro-US 5th column.

and that list goes on and on.  All I am trying to illustrate is that there is a very good reason for the AngloZionist’s hatred for Putin: his long record of very effectively fighting them.  So unless we assume that Putin had a sudden change of heart or that he simply ran out of energy or courage, I submit that the notion that he suddenly made a 180 makes no sense.  His current policies, however, do make sense, as I will try to explain now.

If you are a “Putin betrayed Novorussia” person, please set that hypothesis aside for a moment, just for argument’s sake and assume that Putin is both principled and logical.  What could he be doing in the Ukraine?  Can we make sense of what we observe?

Imperatives Russia cannot ignore

First, I consider the following sequence indisputable:

First,  Russia must prevail over the current AngloZionist war against her.  What the Empire wants in Russia is regime change followed by complete absorption into the Western sphere of influence including a likely break-up of Russia.  What is threatened is the very existence of the Russian civilization.

Second, Russia will never be safe with a neo-Nazi russophobic regime in power in Kiev.  The Ukie nationalist freaks have proven that it is impossible to negotiate with them (they have broken literally every single agreement signed so far), their hatred for Russia is total (as shown with their constant references to the use of – hypothetical – nuclear weapons against Russia).  Therefore,

Third, regime change in Kiev followed by a full de-Nazification is the only possible way for Russia to achieve her vital objectives.

Again, and at the risk of having my words twisted and misrepresented, I have to repeat here that Novorussia is not what is at stake here.  It’s not even the future of the Ukraine.  What is at stake here is a planetary confrontation (this is the one thesis of Dugin which I fully agree with).  The future of the planet depends on the capability of the BRICS/SCO countries to replace the AngloZionist Empire with a very different, multi-polar, international order.  Russia is crucial and indispensable in this effort (any such effort without Russia is doomed to fail), and the future of Russia is now decided by what Russia will do in the Ukraine.  As for the future of the Ukraine, it largely depends on what will happen to Novorussia, but not exclusively.  In a paradoxical way, Novorussia is more important to Russia than to the Ukraine.  Here is why:

For the rest of the Ukraine, Novorussia is lost.  Forever. Not even a joint Putin-Obama effort could prevent that.  In fact, the Ukies know that and this is why they make no effort to win the hearts and minds of the local population.  If fact, I am convinced that the so-called “random” or “wanton” destruction of the Novorussian industrial, economic, scientific and cultural infrastructure has been intentional act of hateful vengeance similar to the way the AngloZionists always turn to killing civilians when they fail to overcome military forces (the examples of Yugoslavia and Lebanon come to mind).  Of course, Moscow can probably force the local Novorussian political leaders to sign some kind of document accepting Kiev’s sovereignty, but that will be a fiction, it is way too late for that.  If not de jure, then de facto, Novorussia is never going to accept Kiev’s rule again and everybody knows that, in Kiev, in Novorussia and in Russia.

What could a de facto but not de jure independence look like?

No Ukrainian military, national guard, oligarch battalion or SBU, full economic, cultural, religious, linguistic and educational independence, locally elected officials and local media, but all that with Ukie flags, no official independence status, no Novorussian Armed Forces (they will be called something like “regional security force” or even “police force”) and no Novorussian currency (though the Ruble – along with the Dollar and Euro – will be used on a daily basis).  The top officials will have to be officially approved by Kiev (which Kiev will, of course, lest its impotence becomes visible).  This will be a temporary, transitional and unstable arrangement, but it will be good enough to provide a face-saving way out to Kiev.

This said, I would argue that both Kiev and Moscow have an interest in maintaining the fiction of a unitary Ukraine.  For Kiev this is a way to not appear completely defeated by the accursed Moskals.  But what about Russia?

What if you were in Putin’s place?

Ask yourself the following question: if you were Putin and your goal was regime change in Kiev, would you prefer Novorussia to be part of the Ukraine or not?  I would submit that having Novorussia inside is much better for the following reasons:

  1. it makes it part, even on a macro-level, of the Ukrainian processes, like national elections or national media.
  2. it begs the comparison with the conditions in the rest of the Ukraine.
  3. it makes it far easier to influence commerce, business, transportation, etc.
  4. it creates an alternative (Nazi-free) political center to Kiev.
  5. it makes it easier for Russian interests (of all kind) to penetrate into the Ukraine.
  6. it removes the possibility to put up a Cold War like “wall” or barrier on some geographical marker.
  7. it removes the accusation that Russian wants to partition the Ukraine.

In other words, to keep Novorussia de jure, nominally, part of the Ukraine is the best way to appear to be complying with AngloZionist demands while subverting the Nazi junta in power.  In a recent article I outlined what Russia could do without incurring any major consequences:

  1. Politically oppose the regime everywhere: UN, media, public opinion, etc.
  2. Express political support for Novorussia and any Ukrainian oppositionContinue the informational war (Russian media does a great job)
  3. Prevent Novorussia from falling (covert military aid)
  4. Mercilessly keep up the economic pressure on the Ukraine
  5. Disrupt as much as possible the US-EU “axis of kindness”
  6. Help Crimea and Novorussia prosper economically and financially

In other words – give the appearance of staying out while very much staying in.

What is the alternative anyway?

I already hear the chorus of indignant “hurray-patriots” (that is what these folks are called in Russia) accusing me of only seeing Novorussia as a tool for Russian political goals and of ignoring the death and suffering endured by the people of Novorussia.   To this I will simply reply the following:

Does anybody seriously believe that an independent Novorussia can live in even minimal peace and security without a regime change in Kiev?  If Russia cannot afford a Nazi junta in power in Kiev, can Novorussia?!

In general, the hurray-patriots are long on what should be done now and very short any kind of mid or long term vision.   Just like those who believe that Syria can be saved by sending in the Russian Air Force, the hurray-patriots believe that the crisis in the Ukraine can be solved by sending in tanks.  They are a perfect example of the mindset H. L. Mencken was referring to when he wrote “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong”.

The sad reality is that the mindset behind such “simple” solutions is always the same one: never negotiate, never compromise, never look long term but only to the immediate future and use force in all cases.

But the facts are here: the US/NATO block is powerful, militarily, economically and politically and it can hurt Russia, especially over time.  Furthermore, while Russia can easily defeat the Ukrainian military, this hardly would be a very meaningful “victory”.  Externally it would trigger a massive deterioration of the international political climate, while internally the Russians would have to suppress the Ukrainian nationalists (not all of them Nazi) by force.  Could Russia do that?  Again, the answer is that yes – but at what cost?

I good friend of mine was a Colonel in the KGB Special Forces unit called “Kaskad” (which later was renamed “Vympel”).  One day he told me how his father, himself a special operator for the GRU, fought against Ukrainian insurgents from the end of WWII in 1945 up to 1958: that is thirteen years!  It took Stalin and Krushchev 13 years to finally crush the Ukrainian nationalist insurgents.  Does anybody in his/her right mind sincerely believe that modern Russia should repeat that policies and spend years hunting down Ukrainian insurgents again?

By the way, if the Ukrainian nationalists could fight the Soviet rule under Stalin and Krushchev for a full 13 years after the end of the war – how is it that there is no visible anti-Nazi resistance in Zaporozhie, Dnepropetrivsk or Kharkov?  Yes, Luganks and Donetsk did rise up and take arms, very successfully – but the rest of the Ukraine?  If you were Putin, would you be confident that Russian forces liberating these cities would receive the same welcome that they did in Crimea?

And yet, the hurray-patriots keep pushing for more Russian intervention and further Novorussian military operations against Ukie forces.  Is it not about time we begin asking who would benefit from such policies?

It has been an old trick of the US CIA to use the social media and the blogosphere to push for nationalist extremism in Russia.  A well know and respected Russian patriot and journalist – Maksim Shevchenko – had a group of people organized to track down the IP numbers of some of the most influential radical nationalist organizations, website, blogs and individual posters on the Russian Internet.  Turns out that most were based in the USA, Canada and Israel.  Surprise, surprise.  Or, maybe, no surprise at all?

For the AngloZionists, supporting extremists and rabid nationalists in Russia makes perfectly good sense.  Either they get to influence the public opinion or they at the very least can be used to bash the regime in power.  I personally see no difference between an Udaltsov or a Navalnii on one hand and a Limonov or a Dugin on the other.  Their sole effect is to get people mad at the Kremlin.  What the pretext for the anger is does not matter – for Navalnyi its “stolen elections” for Dugin it’s “back-stabbed Novorussia”.  And it does not matter which of them are actually paid agents or just “useful idiots” – God be their judge – but what does matter is that the solutions they advocate are no solutions at all, just pious pretexts to bash the regime in power.

In the meantime, not only had Putin not sold-out, back-stabbed, traded away or otherwise abandoned Novorussia, it’s Poroshenko who is barely holding on to power and Banderastan which is going down the tubes.  There are also plenty of people who see through this doom and gloom nonsense, both in Russia (Yuri Baranchik) and abroad (M. K. Bhadrakumar).

But what about the oligarchs?

I already addressed this issue in a recent post, but I think that it is important to return to this topic here and the first thing which is crucial to understand in the Russian or Ukrainian context is that oligarchs are a fact of life.  This is not to say that their presence is a good thing, only that Putin and Poroshenko and, for that matter, anybody trying to get anything done over there needs to take them into account.  The big difference is that while in Kiev a regime controlled by the oligarchs has been replaced by a regime of oligarchs, in Russia the oligarchy can only influence, but not control, the Kremlin.  The examples, of Khodorkovsky or Evtushenkov show that the Kremlin still can, and does, smack down an oligarch when needed.

Still, it is one thing to pick on one or two oligarchs and quite another to remove them from the Ukrainian equation: the latter is just not going to happen.  So for Putin any Ukrainian strategy has to take into account the presence and, frankly, power of the Ukrainian oligarchs and their Russian counterparts.

Putin knows that oligarchs have their true loyalty only to themselves and that their only “country” is wherever their assets happen to be.  As a former KGB foreign intelligence officer for Putin this is an obvious plus, because that mindset potentially allows him to manipulate them.  Any intelligence officer knows that people can be manipulated by a finite list of approaches: ideology, ego, resentment, sex, a skeleton in the closet and, of course, money.  From Putin’s point of view, Rinat Akhmetov, for example, is a guy who used to employ something like 200’000 people in the Donbass, who clearly can get things done, and whose official loyalty Kiev and the Ukraine is just a camouflage for his real loyalty: his money.  Now, Putin does not have to like or respect Akhmetov, most intelligence officers will quietly despise that kind of person, but that also means that for Putin Akhmetov is an absolutely crucial person to talk to, explore options with and, possibly, use to achieve a Russian national strategic objective in the Donbass.

I have already written this many times here: Russians do talk to their enemies.  With a friendly smile.  This is even more true for a former intelligence officer who is trained to always communicate, smile, appear to be engaging and understanding.  For Putin Akhmetov is not a friend or an ally, but he is a powerful figure which can be manipulated in Russia’s advantage.  What I am trying to explain here is the following:

There are numerous rumors of secret negotiations between Rinat Akhmetov and various Russian officials.  Some say that Khodakovski is involved.  Others mention Surkov.  There is no doubt in my mind that such secret negotiations are taking place.  In fact, I am sure that all the parties involved talk to all other other parties involved.  Even with a disgusting, evil and vile creature like Kolomoiski.  In fact, the sure signal that somebody has finally decided to take him out would be that nobody would be speaking with him any more.  That will probably happen, with time, but most definitely not until his power base is sufficiently eroded.

One Russian blogger believes that Akhmetov has already been “persuaded” (read: bought off) by Putin and that he is willing to play by the new rules which now say “Putin is boss”.  Maybe.  Maybe not yet, but soon.  Maybe never.  All I am suggesting is that negotiations between the Kremlin and local Ukie oligarchs are as logical and inevitable as the US contacts with the Italian Mafia before the US armed forces entered Italy.

But is there a 5th column in Russia?

Yes, absolutely.  First and foremost, it is found inside the Medvedev government itself and even inside the Presidential administration.  Always remember that Putin was put into power by two competing forces: the secret services and big money.  And yes, while it is true that Putin has tremendously weakened the “big money” component (what I call the “Atlantic Integrationists”) they are still very much there, though they are more subdued, more careful and less arrogant than during the time when Medvedev was formally in charge.  The big change in the recent years is that the struggle between patriots (the “Eurasian Sovereignists”) and the 5th column now is in the open, but it if far from over.  And we should never underestimate these people: they have a lot of power, a lot of money and a fantastic capability to corrupt, threaten, discredit, sabotage, cover-up, smear, etc.  They are also very smart, they can hire the best professionals in the field, and they are very, very good at ugly political campaigns.  For example, the 5th columnists try hard to give a voice to the National-Bolshevik opposition (both Limonov and Dugin regularly get airtime on Russian TV) and rumor has it that they finance a lot of the National-Bolshevik media (just like the Koch brothers paid for the Tea Party in the USA).

Another problem is that while these guys are objectively doing the US CIA’s bidding, there is no proof of it.  As I was told many times by a wise friend: most conspiracies are really collusions and the latter are very hard to prove.  But the community of interests between the US CIA and the Russian and Ukrainian oligarchy is so obvious as to be undeniable.

The real danger for Russia

So now we have the full picture.  Again, Putin has to simultaneously contend with

1) a strategic psyop campaign run by the US/UK & Co. which combines the corporate media’s demonization of Putin and a campaign in the social media to discredit him for his passivity and lack of appropriate response to the West.
2) a small but very vociferous group of (mostly) National-Bolsheviks (Limonov, Dugin & Co.) who have found in the Novorussian cause a perfect opportunity to bash Putin for not sharing their ideology and their “clear, simple, and wrong” “solutions”.
3) a network of powerful oligarchs who want to use the opportunity presented by the actions of first two groups to promote their own interests.
4) a 5th column for whom all of the above is a fantastic opportunity to weaken the Eurasian Sovereignists
5) a sense of disappointment by many sincere people who feel that Russia is acting like a passive punching-ball.
6) an overwhelming majority of people in Novorussia who want complete (de facto and de jure) independence from Kiev and who are sincerely convinced that any negotiations with Kiev are a prelude to a betrayal by Russia of Novorussian interest.
7) the objective reality that Russian and Novorussian interests are not the same.
8) the objective reality that the AngloZionist Empire is still very powerful and even potentially dangerous.

It is very, very, hard for Putin to try to balance these forces in such a way that the resulting vector is one which is in the strategic interest of Russia.  I would argue that there is simply no other solution to this conundrum other than to completely separate Russia’s official (declaratory) police and Russia’s real actions.  The covert help to Novorussia – the Voentorg – is an example of that, but only a limited one because what Russia must do now goes beyond covert actions: Russia must appear to be doing one thing while doing exactly the opposite.  It is in Russia’s strategic interest at this point in time to appear to:

1) Support a negotiated solution along the lines of: a unitary non-aligned Ukraine, with large regional right for all regions while, at the same time, politically opposing the regime everywhere: UN, media, public opinion, etc. and supporting both Novorussia and any Ukrainian opposition.
2) Give Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs a reason to if not support, then at least not oppose such a solution (for ex: by not nationalizing Akhmetov’s assets in the Donbass), while at the same time making sure that there is literally enough “firepower” to keep the oligarch under control.
3) Negotiate with the EU on the actual implementation of Ukraine’s Agreement with the EU while at the same time helping the Ukraine commit economic suicide by making sure that there is just the right amount of economic strangulation applied to prevent the regime from bouncing back.
4) Negotiate with the EU and the Junta in Kiev over the delivery of gas while at the same time making sure that the regime pays enough for it to be broke.
5) Appear generally non-confrontational towards the USA while at the same time trying as hard as possible to create tensions between the US and the EU.
6) Appear to be generally available and willing to do business with the AngoZionist Empire while at the same time building an alternative international systems not centered on the USA or the Dollar.

As you see, this goes far beyond a regular covert action program.  What we are dealing with is a very complex, multi-layered, program to achieve the Russian most important goal in the Ukraine (regime change and de-Nazification) while inhibiting as much as possible the AngloZionists attempts to re-created a severe and long lasting East-West crisis in which the EU would basically fuse with the USA.

Conclusion: a key to Russian policies?

Most of us are used to think in terms of super-power categories.  After all, US President from Reagan on to Obama have all served us a diet of grand statements, almost constant military operations followed by Pentagon briefings, threats, sanctions, boycotts, etc.  I would argue that this has always been the hallmark of western “diplomacy” from the Crusades to the latest bombing campaign against ISIL.  Russia and China have a diametrically opposed tradition.  For example, in terms of methodology Lavrov always repeats the same principle: “we want to turn our enemies into neutrals, we want to turn neutrals into partner and we want to turn partners into friends“.  The role of Russian diplomats is not to prepare for war, but to avoid it.  Yes, Russia will fight, but only when diplomacy has failed.  If for the US diplomacy is solely a means to deliver threats, for Russia it is a the primary tool to defuse them.  It is therefore no wonder at all the the US diplomacy is primitive to the point of bordering on the comical.  After all, how much sophistication is needed to say “comply or else”.  Any petty street thug know how to do that.  Russian diplomats are much more akin to explosives disposal specialist or a mine clearance officer: they have to be extremely patient, very careful and fully focused.  But most importantly, they cannot allow anybody to rush them lest the entire thing blows up.

Russia is fully aware that the AngloZionist Empire is at war with her and that surrender is simply not an option any more (assuming it ever was).  Russia also understands that she is not a real super-power or, even less so, an empire.  Russia is only a very powerful country which is trying to de-fang the Empire without triggering a frontal confrontation with it.  In the Ukraine, Russia sees no other solution than regime change in Kiev.  To achieve this goal Russia will always prefer a negotiated solution to one obtained by force, even though if not other choice is left to her, she will use force.  In other words:

art: Josetxo Ezcurra

Russia’s long term end goal is to bring down the AngloZionis Empire.  Russia’s mid term goal is to create the conditions for regime change in Kiev. Russia’s short term goal is to prevent the junta from over-running Novorussia. Russia’s preferred method to achieve these goals is negotiation with all parties involved.  A prerequisite to achieve these goals by negotiations is to prevent the Empire from succeeding in creating an acute continental crisis (conversely, the imperial “deep state” fully understands all this, hence the double declaration of war by Obama and Poroshenko.)

As long as you keep these basic principles in mind, the apparent zig-zags, contradictions and passivity of Russian policies will begin to make sense.

It is an open question whether Russia will succeed in her goals.  In theory, a successful Junta attack on Novorussia could force Russia to intervene.  Likewise, there is always the possibility of yet another “false flag”, possibly a nuclear one.  I think that the Russian policy is sound and the best realistically achievable under the current set of circumstances, but only time will tell.

I am sorry that it took me over 6400 words to explain all that, but in a society were most “thoughts” are expressed as “tweets” and analyses as Facebook posts, it was a daunting task to try to shed some light to what is turning to be a deluge of misunderstandings and misconceptions, all made worse by the manipulation of the social media.  I feel that 60’000 words would be more adequate to this task as it is far easier to just throw out a short and simple slogan than to refute its assumptions and implications.

My hope that at least those of you who sincerely were confused by Russia’s apparently illogical stance can now connect the dots and make better sense of it all.

Kind regards to all,

The Saker –

International Committee of the Red Cross: U.S. Airstrikes Making a Bad Humanitarian Situation Worse

By Matt Carr

In August 2013, when the U.S. et al looked set to start bombing Syria in response to what they claimed was a chemical weapon attack by the Assad regime in Ghouta, The International Committee of the Red Cross went on record to say that any escalation of the conflict  would:

likely trigger more displacement and add to humanitarian needs which are already immense.

And it’s clear from the context that by ‘escalation’, they meant U.S. led bombing.

Just over a year later, and that bombing has finally commenced.

The International Committee of the Red Cross have now had this to say about it. From Reuters:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that U.S.-led air strikes on Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria had worsened a dire humanitarian crisis on the ground.

All warring parties in the widening conflicts in the two countries should spare civilians and allow delivery of aid, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement.

“Years of fighting in Syria and Iraq, the proliferation of armed groups and the recent international air strikes in Iraq and Syria have compounded the humanitarian consequences of the conflicts in both countries,” it said. “The humanitarian situation continues to worsen.”

As they’d previously predicted, then, the U.S. led ‘humanitarian’ bombing of Syria has already lead to a worsening of the humanitarian situation, and we are only a few days in.

And if anything, it’s only going to get more brutal from here on in, rather than less so, as all sides start to dig in for what they could see as a fight to the finish. Or to put it more bluntly, a fight to the death.

The very idea that a coalition featuring the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – some of the world’s most persistently abusive, repressive and criminal states – was going to start bombing Syria to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis there always seemed absurd on the face it. Regardless of what Samantha Power says, or what The Guardian says, or any of those other ‘liberal humanitarians’ who are busily spinning illusions in the beneficent power of U.S. led military violence.

Now the world’s foremost aid and relief organisation is openly saying that a bad humanitarian situation is being ‘compounded’ by the bombing. But expect them to be virtually ignored by these said same ‘humanitarians’, on account of their statements simply not being commensurate with the dominant state-corporate media narrative.

Matt Carr is the author of three published books: My Father’s House (Penguin 1997), The Infernal Machine: a History of Terrorism (New Press 2007), recently republished in the UK as The Infernal Machine: an Alternative History of Terrorism (Hurst & Co 2011), and Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain (New Press 2009, Hurst 2010).

Worldwide Poverty and “The Global Development Crisis” Beyond 2015: Is Another Development Possible?

Global Research, September 28, 2014

 povertyAs we near 2015, the United Nations (UN) will probably set new objectives on behalf of the global community to supersede the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are held largely by the UN, the World Bank and many anti-poverty campaigners, which I label here the anti-poverty consensus, to have been a success. According to the UN, The First MDG – the objective of halving world poverty between 1990 and 2015 – was achieved already in 2010.

U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, amongst others, have been arguing for some time now for the total elimination of world poverty by 2030. Who on Earth could possibly fail to celebrate the global community’s achievements to date on poverty alleviation? Who could disagree with the objectives of achieving zero global poverty?

To see what is wrong with the above proclamations and objectives, we need to view them from a radically different perspective to that of the anti-poverty consensus. To do so we may start by reminding ourselves of the term ‘doublethink’ coined by George Orwell in his dystopic novel 1984. Winston, the novel’s main character defines Doublethink as “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies… to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it…”

Anti-Poverty Consensus

The anti-poverty consensus legitimates the extreme concentration of global wealth in the hands of a tiny minority whilst ideologically justifying continued mass impoverishment. It is an example of doublethink in at least four ways. Firstly, the international poverty line as devised by the World Bank and used by the UN to calculate extreme poverty is $1.25 (U.S.) a day purchasing power parity.

This is an inhumanely low poverty line. If applied to Britain it would be equivalent to 37 people living on a single minimum wage, with no benefits.[1]

There are other more humane poverty lines. The London-based New Economics Foundation argues for $5 (U.S.) a day.[2] World Bank insider Lant Pritchett advocates $10 (U.S.) a day.[3] Both would reveal a much higher incidence of world poverty than claimed by the anti-poverty consensus. Pritchett’s calculation shows that 88 per cent of humanity lives in poverty. Martin Ravallion, author of the World Bank’s $1.25 (U.S.) poverty line himself admits that it is extremely conservative.[4]

This poverty line is invaluable for the anti-poverty consensus because it purports to show how millions are being pulled out of poverty by neoliberal globalization. A higher more humane poverty line would show many billions of people living in poverty with little hope of escape from it under the present development model.

Secondly, the anti-poverty consensus argues that global poverty reduction is best pursued through rapid economic growth. This requires the world’s rich to become much richer before the poor of the world can become a little less poor. It also hides from view the way in which the world’s rich have been increasing their share of global wealth at the expense of the world’s poor.

By 2013 the richest 1 per cent of the world controlled $110-trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people.[5] This concentration of wealth is based, in part, on the immiseration of the world’s poor. The latter have seen their share of global wealth reduced over the last 30 years through falling wages, reduced social protection, rising unemployment and the privatization and despoliation of natural resources.

Thirdly, the anti-poverty consensus is opposed to reducing inequality, within or between countries. Inequality is not portrayed as contributing to poverty. Re-distribution of wealth and resources is strictly off the political agenda. The wealth of the rich is safe.

The fourth way in which the anti-poverty consensus is an example of doublethink is in its rejection of forms of human development that do not fit into its model of perpetual economic growth and wealth concentration. This denial requires the deligitimization and repression of alternative attempts at pursuing human development, and the forcing of these movement’s members back into poverty. But it is precisely these movements that we should look to if we are concerned with identifying new forms of human development.

Labour-Centred Development

In The Global Development Crisis I propose the concept of Labour-Centred Development based upon the actions of mass movements. Examples include: struggles by landless workers from Brazil to India to gain access to land; attempts by indigenous communities to protect their natural resources from Multi-National companies; mass protests by industrial labourers in China and by South African miners for living wages and improved working conditions; and unemployed workers in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America taking over and running factories rather than face a life of unemployment and insecurity.

There are examples of attempts at labour-centred development the world over. Each one contains the seed of an alternative mode of human development to that proposed by the anti-poverty consensus. However, they face repression by states and private armies, demonization in the media, and are ignored in much of the professional development studies literature. This is because they potentially threaten the elite view of the world that prioritises economic growth and wealth concentration over real human development.

These movements embody ideas of development based upon using existing wealth to eliminate poverty and to enhance human abilities and choices, directing production toward human need rather than profit, of sharing and reducing working hours, and ultimately, economic democracy.

These social movements have another thing in their favour compared to the global anti-poverty industry. They are part of the mass of the world’s labouring class, whilst the anti-poverty consensus is led by, and serves, the interests of the world’s elites. But this is why the latter require doublethink – to mask their own self-interest as part of a global common interest.

Benjamin Selwyn teaches at the University of Sussex and is Visiting Professor in the department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, and is the author of The Global Development Crisis (Polity: 2014).


1. How Poor is ‘Poor’? (2013). New Economics Foundation, London.

2. Ibid.

3. Lant Pritchett. (2006). “Who is Not Poor? Dreaming of a World Truly Free of Poverty.” World Bank Research Observer (Spring) 21 (1): 1-23.

4. Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen and Prem Sangraula (2008). “A Dollar a Day Revisited.” Policy Research Working Paper 4620. The World Bank Development Research Group. Washington DC.

5. Oxfam (2014). Working for the Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality. Oxfam, London

Analysis of the reasons for the crash of flight MH17

by Ivan A. Andrievskii


1. The event

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 (Amsterdam —Kuala-Lumpur) departed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at 10:14 UTC (14:14 Moscow Time) and was scheduled to arrive at its destination at 18:10 local time (22:10 UTC/2:10 Moscow time).

Echelon 330, including the 10 kilometers altitude that the crashed Boeing was flying at, was open for international transit flights over the territory of Ukraine. According to the data provided by the airline, contact with the airplane was lost at 14:15 GMT, approximately 50km away from the Russian-Ukrainian border. However, according to internet portal Flightradar24, the airplane stopped transmission of ADS-B over Snezhnoe (the last reported coordinates — 48.0403° northern latitude 38.7728° east longitude (G) (O)) after 13:21:28 UTC (17:21:28 Moscow time, 16:21:28 local time) at an echelon of 33 thousand feet (a bit over 10 kilometers).

Later on, the wreckage of the airplane was found burning on the ground on the territory of Ukraine. The plane crashed in the area of village Hrabove (not far from Torez). No one from the passengers and aircrew members survived.

2. Investigated questions

Under what circumstances did the airplane crash?

Who could be responsible for the crash?

3. Analyst group

A group of experts from the Russian Union of Engineers was gathered to analyze the situation. The expert group included retired AA officers, who had combat experience with surface-to-air missile systems, as well as pilots experienced in using air-to-air weapons. The problem was also discussed at the meeting of the Academy of Geopolitical Affairs, where many different versions were tested and discussed once again. In the course of the analysis, the experts used materials received from open sources published in mass media. The situation was also analyzed with the help of the Su-25 aircraft flight simulator.

Concluding the conducted research work, the following analytical materials are presented.

4. General source data for the purposes of analysis

4.1. Overall aerial situation in the area around Donetsk.

The overall aerial situation in the area around Donetsk was presented at a Special briefing of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense regarding the crash of MH-17 in the airspace of Ukraine, on 21.07.2014.

The objective control data, registered from 17.10 pm to 17.30 pm Moscow time, were presented at the briefing, during the speech of head of the Main Operations Directorate, deputy of the Russian Air Force Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov.

During the time period in question, there were three civil airplanes in the sky, all of which were on their scheduled flights:

• Flight from Copenhagen to Singapore at 17:17;
• Flight from Paris to Taipei at 17:24;
• Flight from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur Apart from these, Russian civil airspace control facilities recorded an altitude gain by a Ukrainian Air Force aircraft, supposedly Su-25, towards the Malaysian Boeing-777. The distance between the Su-25 and the Boeing-777 was 3-5 km.

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The aerial situation in the area of the crash of Boeing 777 (according to the data of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense)

4.2. Meteorological conditions in the area of the crash of the Boeing 777

Record of weather conditions in Topez, Donetsk Oblast, Thursday, 17 July, 2014.

Time Weather conditions Air temperature Wind speed m/s Atmospheric pressure Relative humidity %
15:00 Overcast sky +31°C 4.0 730 29
15:00 Overcast sky +31°C 4.0 730 29

4.3. Source data from the Boeing 777 crash site

A more complete picture of the reasons for the crash of Boeing 777 can be achieved through the analysis of its wreckage. Examining the pictures of the fragments, published on the Internet, one can notice various damage on its fuselage – disruptions and breaks, holes with edges from the internal and external sides of the fuselage, which speak of a powerful external pressure against the airplane.

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A fragment from the wing of the Boeing 777
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A fragment from the fuselage of the Boeing 777
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A wing fragment from the aircraft
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A wing fragment from the aircraft
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A fuselage fragment from the aircraft
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A cabin fragment from the aircraft

Holes with inward edges catch the eye. These are round-shaped holes, which are normally grouped. Such holes could only have round shapes in the case of being cut with metallic elements, possibly with bars or aviation cannon projectiles. This brings up the question: by whom and how could such elements be delivered to the airplane and what could these elements actually be?

4.4. Characterization of the Boeing 777 aircraft as an air target

The source data for the analysis of the given situation are technical specifications of the Boeing 777 aircraft; its flight path; the altitude and speed of the flight; heading alteration compared to the initial flight plan; site of the crash; photo and video materials of the plane wreckage; description of the range and the nature of wreckage dispersion.

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Boeing 777

The most significant parameters of Boeing 777 serving for the purposes of the current analysis

Wing span, m 60.93
Length of the airplane, m 63.73
Height of the airplane, m 18.52
Wing area, m2 427.80
Maximum airspeed, km/h 965
Cruise airspeed, km/h 905
Operational range, km 8910
Service ceiling, m 13100

The Boeing 777 aircraft is not considered to be a difficult aerial target for AA systems. It is a high altitude aerial target (4000—12000 m) with a very large RCS (Radar Cross Section) – no less than 10m (the RCS for an airplane of the Su-25 type is 0.5—0.6m), it has limited maneuverability, and it has no capacity for anti-AA counteraction (active and passive jammers, false targets, etc). It can be effectively targeted both by military aircraft (interceptors or other types of aircraft acting in the same altitude and speed range) as well as by AA systems of object (S-200, S-300 type) or tactical (BUK-M1) types.

5. Technical aspects of the problem

In the present day practice of using anti-air systems engagement of aerial targets is classified according to the following types:

A. type – termination of controlled flight
B. type – restricted continuation of controlled flight without possibility of landing
C. type – restricted continuation of controlled flight with possibility of landing and a subsequent repair of the aircraft

In this case, according to the available data, there is enough ground to claim that we deal with (A) type target engagement – termination of controlled flight.

We examined all major versions which had already been published by experts from different countries. Turning to the technical aspect of the problem, it can be claimed that the Boeing 777 was destroyed by anti-air defense systems – either by using a surface-to-air missile, launched from the ground, or by another aircraft employing its missile or aircraft cannon.

Applying engineering methods and technical analysis, the experts of the Russian Union of Engineers discussed both of these versions, which represent almost the unanimous spectrum of opinions by experts and specialists.

6. Version I. Boeing 777 was shot down as a result of using a surface-to-air missile, for example BUK-М1

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AA missile 9K37M1 BUK-М1

Technical characteristics of the AA missile 9K37M1 BUK-М1

The start of mass-production 1983
Targeting range, km
—F-15 airplane types 3..32—35
Targeting altitude, km
—F-15 airplane types 0,015..22
Number of simultaneously engaged targets 18
Single shot kill probability SAM
• Of a fighter 0,8..0,95
• Of a helicopter 0,3..0,6
• Of a cruiser 0,4..0,6
Maximum velocity of engaged targets, m/s 800

6.1. Evidence supporting the first version

6.1.1. The probability for the effective shooting down of an aerial target of the Boeing 777 type by an AA missile 9K37M1 BUK-М1 is high, as the plane was moving at a 10100 echelon, at the speed of 900 km/h. Such parameters could make it an aerial target for BUK-M1. The probability for successfully hitting such a target by a BUK-M1 AA system is 0.8-0.95, as a consequence, it is technically possible to hit an air target of this type.

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A group of Ukrainian AA missile systems

The Ukrainian troops group around the site of the crash site included 3—4 systems of the BUK-M1 type. This information was published by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Head of the main Operation Directorate of General Stuff, Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, emphasized the fact that the Russian military possesses photos of separate Ukrainian troop locations, made from space, including photos of Ukrainian army divisions in the southeast of Ukraine, particularly, BUK systems 8 km from Lugansk. In the morning following the crash of the Malaysian airliner, Russian control facilities discovered a BUK-M1 AA missile system around the Zaroshenskoe village. On that same day that system was redeployed towards the Donetsk area – towards the area where the militia troops were positioned. We consider these data to be objective and reliable.

6.1.2. Also, the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense stated that Russian military officers recorded the operation of a radar of a Ukrainian BUK-M1 AA missile system on the day of the crash of the Malaysian liner Boeing 777. The target location and guidance system Kupol 9С18 is a three-axis coherent-impulse target locator performing the transmission of information about the aerial environment to the command observation post of the 9С470 AA missile system 9K37 BUK. The 9С18 radar is capable of detecting and identifying aerial targets at a distance of 110-160km, with an identification range for low-altitude targets (under 30m) of up to 45km. Such a radar could be used for the detection and tracking of a Boeing 777.

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Radar 9С18М1 «Kupol»

Radar 9С18М1 Kupol

Coverage area:
In azimuth, degrees 360
In elevation angle, degree 0-40
Instrumented range, km 10-160
Resolving power: In range, м 400
In azimuth, degrees 3-4,5
In elevation angle, degrees 3-4,5
Continuous operation time, h 48
The set up and clotting time, min. 5

Maximum velocity, km /h 65

6.1.3. However, experts of the Russian Union of Engineers find it important to note that the launch of a BUK-M1 missile is accompanied by the following significant audio-visual factors:

• Significant noise effect, both at missile launch time and during its flight, especially at altitudes between 100 and 3000m.
• A powerful flash at the launch site (Photo 10).
• A condensation trail, formed by the missile as a result of missile fuel burning on its flight trajectory (Photo 11).
• A flash and a characteristic picture in midair at the point of convergence of the missile with the target. (Photo 12).

6.1.4. The version that a BUK-M1 AA missile was used in this incident, according to the experts, has a number of vulnerable aspects, making it questionable:

а) Up to now no one has provided reliable evidence of the a “surface-to-air” missile launch, which is known to be accompanied by significant noise and visual effects. Its condensation trail goes into the clouds and stays in the air for up to 10 minutes. The sound wave produced during the launch of the missile can be heard within a radius of 7-10 km around the launch site.

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Launch of a BUK-M1 AA missile

b) The flight of a surface-to-air missile is accompanied by a very loud noise. Its flight can be visually traced due to the trail formed as a result of the missile fuel burning (condensation trail).

In this case, there is no record of a trail in the form of a dense white condensation from the burning of fuel, as well as of a vapor path, which appears and stays for a few minutes after the launch and is well visible within a radius of no less than 10km from the launch site.

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BUK-M1 AA missile during flight

c) The detonation of the warhead has a characteristic configuration, which can be seen from the ground under clear weather conditions.

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Air target shot down by a BUK-M1 AA missile

The surface-to-air missile 9М38 is equipped with a dual-mode solid-fuel engine (general operation time about 15 seconds).

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AA missile 9М38 BUK-M1

Surface-to-air missile 9М38

Missile length 5,5 m
Diameter 400 mm
Flaps width 860 mm
Missile weight 685 kg
Warhead weight 70 kg

The surface-to-air missile, with 40-70kg of warhead payload, explodes not inside of the target, but in its proximity, at a distance of 50-100 meters.

The warhead detonation causes an aerial shockwave, which results in a high-speed fragment distribution. The fragments are capable of breaking an airplane fuselage, but taking into account the dimensions of a Boeing 777 (63.7m length, with a large wingspan of over 60 m), they still cannot destroy the airplane, causing its fragmentation into several smaller parts, as is the case with aircraft that are 7-10 times smaller in size. When hitting a Boeing 777 such fragments may cause disruptions of fuel flow and lead to the leakage of fuel over the fuselage and wings and its subsequent ignition leading to a fire.

d) Similarly, in the case that the hydraulic system had been damaged, the Boeing-777 would have lost control, or control would have become extremely difficult (shooting down type «В»). If an aircraft as big as the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 had been hit by a surface-to-air missile, the crew might have been able to warn flight services of the situation created onboard the aircraft. However, according to the information presented by mass media, nothing of the kind has been registered in the decoded data of the aircraft recorders.

e) The crash of the airplane took place during daytime, in a highly populated area, where there were not only numerous military observers monitoring the air environment, but also many reporters equipped with video cameras, as well as local residents, having digital cameras and cellphones with cameras. It is also worth noting that the launch of a BUK-M1 surface-to-air missile requires the participation of at least a combat crew, which makes a stealthy launch rather difficult.

It would be logical to assume that pictures and video recordings depicting the situation from various angles and displaying several stages of the flight of the missile, would have instantly appeared on the internet (the numerous amateur video recordings of the meteor impact near Chelyabinsk are a good example of that). However, local residents recorded only the fact of an explosion in the air and the falling of body fragments near their houses.

f) During the crash of the Boeing-777 airplane, an American satellite was overflying the territory of Ukraine. Because of this, Russian military officers believe that the American side should publish satellite images made at the moment of its crash, if Washington possesses any such images.

Conclusions from the first version:

The data and considerations above pose very significant challenges to the version according to which the Malaysian Boeing 777 airliner was shot down by a BUK-M1 surface-to-air missile system.

7. Version II. Boeing 777 was shot down as a result of another aircraft (one or multiple) using its missile and/or aircraft cannon equipment.

7.1. Evidence in favor of this version:

7.1.1. In the airspace around the area where the Boeing has crashed, numerous witnesses claim to have seen a military aircraft (some people say there were two), supposedly an air superiority fighter, as they derived from its characteristic features and speed (the flight altitude of an air superiority fighter is 5000-7000m, and the velocity is around 950km/h or more).

They also heard the sound of an airplane in the clouds. Presumably, these could have been airplanes of MiG-29 or Su-25 type.

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Maximum velocity –high altitude \on the deck 2450 km/h (М=2,3)\1300 km/h
Maximum rate of climb, m/s 330
Acceleration time from 600 to 1100 km/h, from1100 to1300 km/h, s 13,5\8,7
Takeoff airspeed, km/h 220
Service ceiling, m 18000
Operational range (without a drop tank\with one drop tank tank\with 3 drop tanks), km 1500\2100\2900
Maximum turning rate, °/s 23,5
Operational acceleration, g units +9

MiG-29 armament includes a single-barrel cannon GSh-301 (30 mm, 150 rounds of ammunition, firing rate of 1500 shots/minute) in the left wing root extension. For engaging air targets 6 short range R-60М or short range R-73 guided missiles with IR Seekers can be installed on the 6 below-wing stations of the MiG-29; 4 medium range guided missiles R-27RE with radar location or with R-27TE IR navigation system Р-77.

Also, according to the data of the Ministry of Defense, on 17 July, Russian air control means registered altitude gain by an airplane of Ukrainian Air Forces, presumably, a Su-25, moving towards the Malaysian Boeing 777. The distance between the two airplanes did not exceed 3-4 km.

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Armament: One 30-mm 2-barrelled autocannon GSh-30-2 in the lower forebody with 250 rounds of ammunition. GM: air-to-air R-3 (АА-2) or R-60 (АА-8)air-to-surface Kh-25ML, Kh-29L or S-25L.Containers SPPU-22 with a 2-barrel 23-mm utocannon GSh-23L with 260 ammunition rounds.


Wing span, m 14.36
Weight, kg
Maximum takeoff weight 17600
Maximum airspeed, km/h
At cruise altitude 975
High altitude М=0.82
Operation range, km 1850
Mission radius, km
High altitude 1250
At cruise altitude 750
Service ceiling, m 7000—10000

It should be noted that Su-25 specifications allow it to gain an altitude of 10.000m and above for a short period of time. Its standard armament includes air-to-air missiles R-60, which are capable of engaging and hitting targets at a distance of 10km, of which 8km is a guaranteed range. Moreover, it does not even need to come close to the target, but only to reduce the distance down to the required engagement range.

7.1.2. The Russian Federation Ministry of Defense stated that Russian military officers fixed the operation of a Kupol radar, belonging to an Ukrainian AA missile BUK-M1 battery, on the day of the crash of the Malaysian liner Boeing 777.

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Statistics of Ukrainian radar activity in the area of the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash

Operation of this radar can indirectly point to a military deployment of aircraft, as radars are regularly used for airspace reconnaissance and for transferring information to aircraft direction centers, i.e. they provide source data for flight officers’ work in the course of an interceptor’s or and interceptor group flight during “combat air patrol” missions or during ambush activities. Usually, attacks are performed according to target guidance from the ground, both head-on and in pursuit.

7.1.3. On radars, the Su-25 is displayed in the same way as the MiG-29, as their radar cross sections are similar. The operational service ceiling of the MiG-29 is 18013m, so the altitude at which the Malaysian airliner was moving, 10100m, could easily be reached by a MiG-29. The MiG-29 has two high thrust engines, allowing it to attain a speed of 2000km/h.

7.1.4. The data on meteorological conditions can also count in favor of the version that the Boeing 777 was attacked by another aircraft. Meteorological conditions from 15:00 to 18:00, 17.07.2014 in and around the city of Donetsk, were marked by rain and an overcast sky. Flight paths of passenger airplanes lie above the lower border of high-echelon clouds. At this altitude, only cirrus cloud can form. Those are separate white-colored fibrous clouds, which are thin and transparent, and rarely contain dense or flaky formations. They are arranged in the form of bundles and stripes, passing all along the sky and meeting at the horizon. They show perfectly well through the sky. The average height of the lower border is 7-10km, while the width can be from hundred meters up to several kilometers.

An attack by a fighter aircraft with a rapid ascent, from below the cloud layer could be quite unexpected for the crew of the Boeing 777. Such an attack could not have been discovered visually from the earth either due to the dense layer of clouds in the medium and lower cloud echelons.

Thus, it can be claimed with a certain degree of certainty, that the Boeing 777, conducting a horizontal flight at the altitude of 10000m, could actually be in the lethal range of aircraft cannon or missile armament of a fighter aircraft, be it MiG-29 or Su-25.

7.1.5. Thus the logical question arises: which particular weapon was the cause of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777?

Missile armament

In terms of missile armament, MiG-29 as well as Su-25 can carry short range guided missiles R-60M

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R-60M missiles on the external sling of the airplane


Length, m 2,14
Diameter, m 0,12
Wingspan, m 0,39
Weight, kg 45
Warhead weight, kg 3,5
Speed 2,5M
Target kill altitude range 0,03…20
Maximum launch range, Front/Rear hemisphere 10/8 km
Minimal launch range Rear hemisphere, km 0,3 – 0,25

MiG-29 is equipped with a 30mm GSh-301 cannon, with a fire rate of 1500 rounds per minute. The cannon is armed with 150 rounds, which contain a tungsten alloy. The effective range of firing at air targets is 200-800m, and 1200-1800m for ground targets. Such type of rounds exit cleanly, leaving holes of a perfectly circular shape. They do not explode inside the cabin, are not incendiary-based, but are able to kill the crew and cause the destruction of the cabin, which is typical for the entrance and exit holes configuration: entry holes – with edges bent inwards, exit holes – on the opposite wall – with edges bent outwards.

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Aircraft Cannon GSh-301

The Su-25 is equipped with a GSh-2-30 aircraft cannon.

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Aircraft cannon GSh-2-30

GSh-2-30 (GSH-2-30K)

Delivery vehicles Су-25, Су-39, (Ми-24П)
Shot weight 390 г
Ammunition weight 832 г
Cannon weight 105 (126) кг
Caliber 30 мм
Number of barrels 2
Allotment of rounds 250 (750) патронов
Rate of fire (300—2600) выст/мин
Effective range for air targets 200—800 м.

Apart from that, the Su-25 can carry SPPU-22 containers with the 2-barrelled 23-mm cannon GSh-23L.

During combat usage, both types of cannon ammunition can cause fuselage damage similar to that visible on the wreckage of the Boeing 777.

Conclusions for the second version:

Thus, based on the opinion of the analysts of the Russian Union of Engineers, a complex shooting down of the Boeing 777 airplane has taken place, both by a short-range air-to-air guided missile and a 30-mm aircraft cannon or a SPPU-22 container with the 2-barreled Gsh23-L cannon. Furthermore, a laser rangefinder or a laser aiming device could have been used when firing the target, which allowed to significantly increase the shooting accuracy. This conclusion can be made from the nature of damage and the fragment distribution: there are both circular holes, which are usually caused by cannon fire, and explosive damage, which indicates a missile with arrow-type submunition.

8. Wreckage analysis

If we examine the first version of the crash, the location of holes in the wreckage surfaces and the fuselage clearly shows that there is no typical picture of a plane being affected by the missile system BUK-M1 submunition, which would otherwise leave highly remarkable and typical evidence of damage. In this case we see that there is no such evidence on the wreckage fragments.

According to experts, in the case of a BUK-M1 AA missile system hit, there should have been traces of numerous specific holes caused by the submunition elements from the missile warhead. However, there is no such evidence present in the photos taken at the crash site.

As to the possibility of such damage being inflicted by the usage of short range “air-to-air” missiles, it should be noted that the R-60 (Su-27) and R-73 (MiG-29) missiles are short range low-duty missiles with infrared homing. Their lethal range only 3-5m, with a guaranteed kill only in case of a direct hit. The warhead of the prior weighs 3.5kg, while the latter carries a 5kg warhead. They have thinly chopped tungsten wire in their warheads. These are rather low-power missiles, meant exclusively for small-sized targets. Such missiles follow thermal wake and are mainly meant to destroy the engine of the targeted aircraft.

It would be more logical to assume that the damage presented in Photo 19 is more indicative for an aircraft cannon round of GSh or SPPU type.

Boeing777 wing damage is not indicative for submunition elements of a BUK-M1 AA missile system.

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Boeing 777 wing surface damage
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Boeing 777 cabin damage

The picture of entry and exit holes in the cockpit area (control cabin) of the Boeing 777 fully corresponds to the assumption that it was caused by being shot through by approximately 20-30mm rounds from a fighter cannon. This supports the second version of the crash. The same can be said about the nature of fragment distribution over the fuselage of the plane. From the left side the edges of fragments of the control cabin fuselage are rolled up from inside to outside, which points at significant damage inside the cabin as a result of dynamic pressure of missiles over its right side.

There are characteristic entrance holes and several exit holes visible on the fuselage. The edges of the holes are bent inwards, they are much smaller and are round-shaped. Exit holes are less precisely shaped, and their edges are bent outwards. Additionally, it is visible that the exit holes pierced the aluminum covering twice and bent it outwards. I.e., the striking elements (judging by the impact type, aircraft missile rounds) broke through the cockpit. Open rivets were also bent outwards.

Boeing 777 fragment Fuselage damage is clearly visible – break through holes, caused by a 20- to 30-mm cannon.

Distinctive inward bends of the fuselage indicate a cannon round impact.

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Boeing 777 cover damage nature
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Boeing 777 fuselage damage nature

Boeing777 fragment.

Rivets blown out.

Destruction of the fuselage with edges bent outwards due to an internal dynamic impact, either caused by an explosion inside the plane, or a sudden and rapid change of internal pressure at high altitude.

The general typology of the holes and their location lead us to the conclusion that, most probably, the Boeing 777 was attacked by an aircraft cannon GSh-2-30, or an SPPU-22 container with a two-barreled 23mm cannon GSh-23L. The target zone was the control cabin, and the rounds, breaking through the cockpit, affected the wing surface as well. (see Photo. 20).

Both types of cannon rounds during combat usage cause damage to aerial targets similar to that which can be seen on the fragments of the Boeing 777.

The nature of the holes on the fragments of the plane fuselage, present in the currently available information sources, allows claiming that the airplane was shot down by aircraft cannon and missile armament of a combat aircraft.

9. Re-enactment of the event

Based on the considerations stated above, the following conclusions can be made:

9.1. Regarding to the circumstances of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was conducting the flight Amsterdam-Kuala-Lumpur, on 17.07.2014, according to the tunnel set by the air traffic controllers. It is most probable that manual steering was offline and the airplane was flying in autopilot mode, performing horizontal flight following the route which was laid out on the ground and adjusted by Ukrainian air traffic controllers.

At 17.17–17.20 the Boeing 777 was in Ukrainian airspace, in Donetsk area, at the altitude of 10100m. An unidentified fighter aircraft (presumably Su-25 or MiG-29), which was previously at a lower echelon, on a head-on course in a layer of clouds, ascended rapidly, unexpectedly emerging in front of the passenger plane out of the clouds and opened fire at the control cabin (cockpit), using 30mm or smaller cannon armament. The targeting could have been performed not only by the pilot of a fighter aircraft in “free hunt” conditions (using the aircraft radar), but also by a navigation officer on the ground, using the airspace data received from ground-based radars.

The cockpit of the airliner was damaged in the result of numerous rounds hitting the aircraft fuselage. The control cabin was depressurized, which caused the instant death of the crew, due to mechanical influences and decompression. The attack was quite unexpected and lasted only a fraction of a second. Due to the surprise situation, the crew was unable to give any alarm signals intended for such situations, as the flight was following its scheduled route and the attack was unexpected for everyone.

As neither the engines, nor the hydraulic system, nor other devices crucial to the continuation of the flight, were set out of operation, the Boeing 777 continued its horizontal flight in autopilot mode (which is a standard situation), perhaps gradually losing altitude.

After that, the pilot of the unidentified fighter aircraft maneuvered and repositioned himself into the rear hemisphere of the Boeing 777. He entered an engagement course, performed the targeting using onboard target tracking equipment, and launched a R-60 or R-73 air-to-air missile (one or multiple).

As a result of the missile impact, the entire cabin was depressurized, the flight control system was incapacitated, the autopilot was switched off, the plane ceased its horizontal flight and went into a tail-spin. The created g-forces caused a mechanical disruption of the airframe at high altitude.

As indicated by the available flight recorder data, the plane fell apart in the air, but this is possible mainly in the case of vertical falling from a 10000m altitude, which can typically happen only in a case of exceeding the maximum allowed g-force. As a rule, such a tail-spin can be explained by the inability of the crew to control the airplane as a result of some emergency case in the cabin and subsequent instant depressurization of the cockpit and passenger compartment. The destruction of the airplane took place at a high altitude, which explains the fact that the wreckage of the plane was dissimilated over a territory over 15 km².

9.2. Regarding the party responsible for the death of 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

On 17.07.2014 the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic possessed neither appropriate fighter aircraft capable of engaging an air target similar to the Boeing 777, nor an airfield network, nor radar detection devices, targeting and guidance equipment.

Fighter aircraft of the Russian Federation Armed Forces did not violate the airspace of Ukraine, which is confirmed by both the Ukrainian side and by third parties performing space-based reconnaissance over the territory of Ukraine and its airspace.

To ascertain the truth, it is required to objectively and impartially investigate all the circumstances of the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash, to question thousands of residents in the area who might have seen anything. Naturally, the surveys must be conducted by highly experienced specialists. Asking relevant questions is both a strict science and a sophisticated art of coming close to the truth. Crucial information is hidden in the wreckage and fragments of the crashed airplane, but this very information can easily be eliminated, distorted and concealed. It should not be forgotten that there are always people involved who seek to conceal each and every real fact. An indirect confirmation of this is the fact that on August 8th Ukraine, The Netherlands, Belgium and Australia signed an agreement allowing the disclosure of information regarding the investigation of the crash only at the consent of all parties involved.

“The investigation proceeds with inspections and other investigatory activities – declared the Speaker of Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, Yuri Boychenko, – their results will be announced upon the end of the investigation and at the consent of all the parties, who have signed the relevant agreement”.

Delays and deviation from carrying out a comprehensive objective investigation with the participation of reputable international organizations, raise doubts that the involved parties will actually present the real circumstances of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash.

Оdnako (Russia)

The Sandy Hook School Massacre and FBI Data Anomalies

By Jason Kissner
Global Research, September 27, 2014


Adan Salazar at Infowars recently published an article asserting that the FBI says no one was killed at Sandy Hook. The article draws on FBI uniform crime report (UCR) data as evidence. Specifically, Salazar indicates that UCR homicide data contains an entry of “0” for the Newtown, Connecticut row.

While there are very important FBI data issues in play regarding the Sandy Hook event, the issue identified by Salazar is a non-starter. This article (written by a criminologist) first explains why the data entry identified by Salazar in no way whatsoever supports the claim that the FBI says no one was killed at Sandy Hook. Then, we pinpoint a legitimate FBI/Sandy Hook related data issue that adds to the host of important questions about the Sandy Hook event.

Salazar may be unaware that the FBI does not itself gather crime-related data. Rather, the FBI obtains its data from participating states, which in turn collect localized data from within their jurisdictions. The FBI’s 2012 UCR data contains the Newtown “0” data entry simply because Newtown reported that figure. This raises the question as to why that happened.

The answer is that it has to do with the way the state of Connecticut accounted for the Newtown event. Connecticut happens to issue its own Uniform Crime Reports, and you can access the 2012 version by clicking here. If you scroll to page 415, you will note that the state accounted for the 27 Newtown/Sandy Hook murder “victims” by including them under the “Agency or Area” heading “State Police Misc.”, which is obviously not Newtown. In fact, if you go to page 245, you will see that, like the FBI UCR, the Connecticut UCR also lists 0 murders for the “Agency or Area” Newtown.

There could conceivably be real issues as to why the Sandy Hook murders weren’t scored in the Newtown “Agency or Area” even if it is true that the Connecticut State Police managed the “investigation.” But the fact remains that the Newtown event was scored under the “State Police Misc.” heading, and since the FBI received the data from Connecticut, it placed a “0” in the Newtown row just as the state of Connecticut did. Thus, the claim that the FBI says nobody was killed at Newtown is unsupported by the FBI’s UCR Newtown “0” data point.

Nonetheless, there does appear to be a different, and potentially critical, issue concerning the Sandy Hook event and FBI data. In a 9/10 USA Today article, we are told:

“The records are voluntarily submitted by police agencies, and FBI officials say the Connecticut State Police and Aurora police departments initially provided the information on the year’s two largest killing incidents – only to request that it be deleted.

In Aurora, Sgt. Chris Amsler says his department provides data to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations monthly. The FBI database contains information on 18 other homicides in Aurora in 2012.

“We checked our records and found that all data related to the theater shooting was submitted,” he said, adding that investigators were still trying to figure out why the incident was later deleted from FBI records.Connecticut’s homicide count is correct, but the FBI’s detailed supplementary material includes only the shooting of Adam Lanza’s mother at her home in December 2012, just before Lanza went to the elementary school. Lt. Paul Vance says his department submitted a six-page report on the Newtown school victims to the FBI but later identified a mistake. Updated data was provided too late to be reflected in the database, Vance says, but the information should be added soon.”

The missing Aurora data is disturbing, and could conceivably connect to the Sandy Hook event at some point, but we’ll have to bypass that possibility here in order to focus on the issue at hand.

So moving along, it is utterly bizarre—for reasons that will become clear shortly—that, according to FBI officials, the Connecticut State Police “initially provided the information…only to request that it be deleted.” We should couple this information with Lt. Paul Vance’s claim that “his department submitted a six-page report on the Newtown school victims to the FBI but later identified a mistake” and his claims that “[u]pdated data was provided too late to be reflected in the database, Vance says, but the information should be added soon.”

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, makes no sense at all. Really: it makes no sense at all. To see this, it might help to know (in case you don’t already) that the “supplementary material” referred to in the above quote is actually “Supplementary Homicide Report” (SHR) data. That data is simply a spreadsheet that contains very simple information reported to the FBI by states and their agencies. Thus, viewing the SHR data allows one to determine, for example, what the race of the offender was, how old the offender was, the number of victims, the ages of the victims, and other data of more or less equal simplicity. SHR data does not involve very complex forensic issues, witness narratives, and so forth. None of these types of things are included in the SHR. In fact, the vast majority of data points included in the SHR are so simple that they can be represented by a just a single letter or number.

Therefore, when the FBI says it deleted Sandy Hook SHR data upon having been requested to do so by the state of Connecticut on the alleged grounds that Vance’s department made a “mistake”, we must ask:

what sort of “mistake” (and please note that the singular was used by Vance, although given the simplicity of SHR data that doesn’t matter terribly much) could possibly have been made that would justify deleting every single, simple, data point other than those pertaining to the Nancy Lanza killing?

Following from (1), why wouldn’t Vance have simply requested that the FBI delete only the data point he thought was inaccurate (remember he says “mistake”, not “mistakes.”) After all, he allowed the FBI to keep the Nancy Lanza related data points. And even if Vance made more than one mistake, again, why not simply tell the FBI to keep the correct data points?Remember that what we are talking about here is data like the age of victims. So if Vance’s “mistake” was, for example, that someone in his department indicated that a victim was 7 when they were in fact 6, it could have been fixed forthwith without deleting the rest of the victim ages, victim gender, and all of the rest of the very simple data Vance says he gave the FBI in the first place.Notice also that these observations totally scotch the preposterous “it was too late to make the corrections” assertion, completely aside from the fact that if it was too late before to fix the problem, why isn’t it too late now?Could Vance be banking on an implicit lie to the effect that SHR data is contextual and sophisticated, so that just one mistake could in principle taint the entirety of the non-Nancy Lanza data if it is not corrected, thereby requiring deletion of all of the data until corrections are made? And what’s taking so long to make what are necessarily very simple—given the very nature of the SHR data—corrections?

Remember too that researchers are analyzing SHR data, and have not been told by the FBI in its SHR material that the non-Nancy Lanza Newtown data are missing—and so the scientific enterprise has been needlessly compromised.

It’s too bad for Vance that the SHR data is not sophisticated; it’s very simple. Therefore, there is no legitimate excuse for his request that the entirety of the data (other than the Nancy Lanza data) be deleted. Since per the FBI’s statements and dataset the data were nonetheless deleted, we have one more truly compelling set of reasons to consider the Sandy Hook event fraudulent.

As for the USA Today “journalist”, I will be charitable and suppose that these issues simply never occurred to her.

Dr. Jason Kissner is Associate Professor of Criminology at California State University. Dr. Kissner’s research on gangs and self-control has appeared in academic journals. His current empirical research interests include active shootings. You can reach him at

Australia’s Police State: “Coercive Surveillance” and the New Security Laws

Global Research, September 27, 2014

125503What we’ve seen [tonight] is, I think, a scary, disproportionate and unnecessary expansion of coercive surveillance powers that will not make anybody any safer but that affect freedoms that have been quite hard fought for and won over a period of decades.  Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens, Sydney Morning Herald, Sep 26, 2014

So much for Parliament and its representative functions.  So much for politicians who have a rather nasty habit of forfeiting duties and, in the name of duties, smoothing the path to a surveillance and policing imperium. Where is the mettle, the determination in Canberra?  Distinctly absent, given the recent vote on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1), which promises to be a first in a serious of laws that will fatten the executive while impoverishing needling oversight.[1] The paranoids in hunt for the permanent enemy will be gleeful.

When specific, localised incidents become the premise for general applications in legislation, you know that democracy is ready for the chop.  Security environments in Australia have tended to be stable in its history, and notions of exceptional emergency should be treated as the ranting monologue of a fantasist.

Unfortunately, the insecurity fantasists, be it the strangely extra-terrestrial Australian Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, or the even less believable Prime Minister Tony Abbott, are in charge.  According to Brandis, we live in a “newly dangerous age”.  For that very fact, the Australian domestic intelligence agency ASIO is half way to a general mandate to target the internet with an engorged power of surveillance. The means by which this will be done will be through one warrant for a computer system, negating the specific need of seeking several authorisations.

The explanatory memorandum behind the amendment being sought by ASIO on the subject of how broadly a “computer” might be defined is relevant.  It “clarifies the ambiguity around the current definition of computer in relation to a ‘computer system’ by extending the definition to ‘computer networks’ and by making it clear that the definition of ‘computer’ under the ASIO Act, means all, or part of, or any combination of, one or more computers, computer systems and computer networks.”[2]

Professor George Williams was already warning an indifferent Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security that the definitions ASIO would be working with would be too broad, effectively watering down any warrants regime.

When oversight mechanisms for intelligence gathering are diluted, or simply evaded, the prospects for abuse are all but inevitable. Organisations have a habit of getting lazy over time, and this rule of sloth is rather hard to resist in the field of intelligence gathering.

When espionage outfits should be on a trimming course, specialised and specific in wading through data and material, the converse is happening to the agencies of the Five Eyes arrangement. Perhaps the greatest revelation of the Edward Snowden disclosures was not that that spooks were drooling and voyeuristically tapping into the world of the private citizen.  It was more the point they were doing so with so little discrimination, clumsily sifting through a world of metadata.  The skills set, as modern human resource companies like harping about, has been somewhat emptied.

Turning off the spigot on information about government activity is a fundamental aim of the new laws, a regime in desperate search of an enemy.  The enemy, rather than being tangible, security threats of the “existential” sort actually become the writing class, the intelligentsia (if such a term ever deserves to be used in Australia) and those who so happen to publish material on special intelligence operations, notably of the abusive sort.

Naturally, if these operations fall short of the criminal exceptions for which ASIO and its associate personnel would otherwise be held accountable, any member of the fourth estate disclosing it is bound to be found in a tight fix.  Brandis has tried throwing water over the claims, bringing the focus back on punishing the likes of Snowden, who remains something of a devil’s incarnation for the intelligence fraternity in Australia.

Is greater accountability to be sought after the disclosures of mass, unwarranted surveillance?  No.  Instead, the information disclosures will be punished, and indiscriminate activities shrouded.  “These provisions have nothing to do with the press”, claims Brandis, though he is very quiet over instances when activities such as the bugging of East Timor’s cabinet by the foreign spy agency ASIS, or the Australian Signals Directorate’s tapping of the Indonesian president and his wife’s phone are revealed.  Who, then, to jail?

Australian journalists, given the essential duopoly they tend to be employed by (Fairfax or Murdoch) are bound to remain silent.  Modern journalism has lost its investigative sting and critical faculties, and such laws will simply put the kibosh on any closer scrutiny.

The Abbott government, knowing it has the opposition frontbenchers for the most part in their pocket, anticipated little opposition from Labor in the upper house.  They got none.  Australian Labor, a somewhat listless, non-ideological unit, merely serve and points of echo in the current national security debate.  It is not that they are impotent – it is, rather, that they actually agree in a characteristically seedy way in Abbott’s rather clownish but dangerous security program.

Such laws are not merely dangerous but poisonous for states.  That particularly effective hemlock has already been taken by Australian politicians.  The poison is taking hold, and will be confirmed on Tuesday, when the lower house will all but allow it through.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email:


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