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Clinton Promotes War While US Public Opinion Speaks to Anti-Militarist Populism

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By James Petras :: 11.14.2016

Introduction

Castigating the US electorate as accomplices and facilitators of wars, or, at best, dismissing the voters as ignorant sheep-people (‘sheeple’) herded by political elites, describes a partial reality. Public opinion polls, even the polls overwhelmingly slanted toward the center-right, consistently describe a citizenry opposed to militarism and wars, past and present.

Both the Right and Left have failed to grasp the contradiction that defines US political life: Namely, the profound gap between the American public and the Washington elite on questions of war and peace within an electoral process that consistently leads to more militarism.

This is an analysis of the most recent US public opinion polls with regard to outcome of the recent elections. The essay concludes with a discussion of the deep-seated contradictions and proposes several ways in which these contradictions can be resolved.

Method

A major survey of public opinion, sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest, conducted by the Survey Sampling International, interviewed a sample of one thousand respondents.

The Results: War or Peace

More than half of the American public oppose any increase in the US military role overseas while only 25% back military expansion.

The public has expressed its disillusionment over Obama’s foreign policy, especially his new military commitments in the Middle East, which have been heavily promoted by the state of Israel and its US domestic Zionist lobby.

The US public shows a deep historical memory with regard to the past military debacles launched by Presidents Bush and Obama. Over half of the public (51%) believe that the US has become less safe over the past 15 years (2001-2015), while one eighth (13%) feel they are more secure.

In the present period, over half of the public opposes the deployment of ground troops to Syria and Yemen and only 10% favor continued US support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

With regard to specific US wars, over half believe that Bush’s invasion of Iraq made the US homeland less secure, while only 25% believe it didn’t increase or decrease domestic security. Similar responses were expressed with regard to Afghanistan: 42% believe the Afghan War increased insecurity and about a third (34%) felt it did not affect US security.

In terms of future perspectives, three quarters (75%) of the American public want the next President to focus less on the US military operations abroad or are uncertain about its role. Only 37% are in favor of increased spending for the military.

The mass media and the powerful financial backers of the Democratic Presidential candidate have focused on demonizing Russia and China as ‘the greatest threats in our time’. In contrast, almost two thirds (63.4%) of Americans believe the greatest threat comes from terrorism both foreign and domestic. Only 18% view Russia and China as major threats to their security.

In regard to the Pentagon, 56% want to reduce or freeze current military spending while only 37% want to increase it.

Wars and Peace: The Political Elites

Contrary to the views of a majority of the public, the last four US Presidents, since the 1990’s, have increased the military budget, sending hundreds of thousands of US troops to launch wars in three Middle Eastern countries, while promoting bloody civil wars in three North African and two European countries. Despite public opinion majorities, who believe that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have increased threats to the US security, Obama kept ground troops, air and sea forces and drone operations in those countries. Despite only 10% public approval for his military policies, the Obama regime has sent arms, advisors and Special Forces to support the Saudi dictatorship’s invasion of tiny Yemen.

Obama and the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pushed a policy of encircling Russia and demonizing its President Putin as the greatest threat to the US in contrast to US opinion, which considers the threat of Islamist terrorism as five times more serious.

While the political elite and the leading Presidential candidates promise to expand the number of US troops abroad and increase military spending, over three quarters of the American public oppose or are uncertain about expanding US militarism.

While candidate Clinton campaigned for the deployment of the US Air Force jets and missiles to police a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria, even shooting down Syrian and Russian government planes, the majority of US public opposed it by 51%.

In terms of constitutional law, fully four-fifths (80%) of the US public believes the President must secure Congressional approval for additional military action abroad. Nevertheless, Presidents from both parties, Bush and Obama launched wars without Congressional approval, creating a precedent which the next president is likely to exploit.

Analysis and Perspectives

On all major foreign policy issues related to waging war abroad, the political elite is far more bellicose than the US public; they are far more likely to ignite wars that ultimately threaten domestic security; they are more likely to violate the Constitutional provisions on the declaration of war; and they are committed to increasing military spending even at the risk of defunding vital domestic social programs.

The political elites are more likely to intervene in wars in the Middle East, without domestic support and even in spite of majoritarian popular opposition to war. No doubt the executives of the oligarchical military-industrial complex, the pro-Israel power configuration and the mass media moguls are far more influential than the pro-democracy public.

The future portends a continuation of militarism by the political elites, and increase in domestic security threats and even less public representation.

Some Hypothesis on the Contradiction between Popular Opinion and Electoral Outcomes

There is clearly a substantial gap between the majority of Americans and the political elite regarding the role of the military in overseas wars, the undermining of constitutional prerogatives, the demonization of Russia, the deployment of US troops to Syria and deeper US entanglement in Middle East wars for the benefit of Israel.

Yet it is also a fact that the US electorate continue to vote for the two major political parties which have consistently supported wars, formed military alliances with warring Middle East states, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel and aggressively sanctioned Russia as the main threat to US security.

Several hypotheses regarding this contradiction should be considered:

1. Close to 50% of the eligible voters abstain from voting in Presidential and Congressional elections. This most likely includes many among the majority of Americans who oppose the expansion of the US military role overseas. In fact, the war party ‘winner’ typically claims victory with less than 25% of the electorate – and threats this as a mandate to launch more wars.

2. The fact that the mass media vehemently supports one or the other of the two war parties probably influences a minority of the electorate who decide to actually participate in the elections. However, critics have exaggerated the mass media’s influence and fail to explain why the majority of the American public disagree with the mass media and oppose the militarist propaganda.

3. Many Americans, while opposed to militarism, vote for the ‘lesser evil’ between the two war parties. They may believe that there are greater and lesser ‘degrees’ of war mongering and choose the less strident.

4. Americans, who consistently oppose militarism, may decide to vote for militarist politicians for reasons besides those of overseas wars. For example, majoritarian Americans may support a militarist politician who has secured funding for local infrastructure programs, or protected farm and dairy subsidies, or who promises jobs programs, lowers public debt or opposes corrupt incumbents.

5. Americans, opposed to militarism, may be deceived by the pronouncements of a demagogic presidential candidate from one of the war parties, whose promise of peace will give way to escalating wars.

6. Likewise, the emphasis on ‘identity politics’ can deceive anti-war voters into supporting a proven militarist because of issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences or loyalties to overseas states.

7. The war parties work together to block mass media access for anti-militarist parties, especially preventing their participation in national electoral debates viewed by tens of millions of voters. War parties collude to set impossible restrictions against anti-militarist party participation in national level elections, banning citizens with non-violent police records or former convicts who have served their sentences from voting. They reject poor citizens who lack photo identification, limit access to transport to voting sites, limit the number of polling places in poor or minority neighborhoods and deny time-off for workers to vote. Unlike other countries, US elections are held on a work day and many workers are unable to vote.

In other words the electoral process is ‘rigged’ and imposes ‘forced voting’ and abstention: Collusion between the two war parties limits voter choice to abstention or casting a ballot for the ‘lesser evil’ among the militarists.

Only if elections were open and democratic, where anti-militarist parties were allowed equal rights to register, participate and debate in the mass media, and where campaign financing were made equal would the contradictions between the wishes of the anti-militarist majorities and votes cast for pro-war elites be resolved.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK rejects MPs’ calls to stop arms sales to Saudis

Press TV – November 14, 2016

The UK government has rejected calls by lawmakers to temporarily stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the Kingdom’s war crimes in Yemen.

Britain has signed off £3.3 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since March 26, 2015, when it launched a war in Yemen in order to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Saudi-backed former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Two committees of MPs recently released a joint report, urging the government to suspend arms sales until the United Nations conducts an investigation into the Saudi atrocities, The Independent reported Monday.

The committees include the International Development and Business Committee, which both sit on a parliamentary ‘super committee’ known as the Committee on Arms Export Control (CAEC).

The Foreign Affairs Committee, a third constituent committee of CAEC, did not endorse the report, but suggested that British courts should decide the legality of the sales.

Meanwhile, a legal challenge has been launched by Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which is set to be heard in the coming months.

The UK government has rejected the calls by the two committees, saying it “is confident in its robust case-by-case assessment and is satisfied that extant licenses for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria.”

“We continue to assess export license applications for Saudi Arabia on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application,” The Independent quoted the government as saying in an official response.

The government said that it would continue its arms sales to any country, unless its assessments show that the items are being used in violation of UN human rights laws.

“The key test for our continued arms exports is whether there is a clear risk that those exports might be used in a commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL),” it added.

The response was issued by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Priti Patel.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade told The Independent that “the government is in denial about the devastating impact of the Saudi-led bombardment and its own complicity in it.”

Smith called the response “very weak,” saying that it is indicative of the fact that “arms company profits are still being prioritized over the human rights and lives of Yemeni people.”

He noted that those who issued the response “could stop the arms sales right now” instead of “offering uncritical military and political support” to Saudi Arabia.

The UK government is “helping arms companies like BAE to sell even more weapons” to the Saudis, he added.

Since the beginning of the aggression, almost 10,000 people, including over 2,000 children, have been killed.

London has been one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Riyadh for 40 years.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: “Against Our Better Judgment”

The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir

Stephen J. Sniegoski • Unz Review • November 14, 2016

Alison Weir’s relatively short book covers the history of Zionism in the United States from the last decades of the 19th century until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. (She is working on a second volume that will carry this history to the present.) Its brevity does not mean, however, that it is in any sense superficial, as it brings out key historical information, all well-documented, that sets the stage for the troubled world in which we now live. While histories of Zionism have usually focused on Europe, Weir shows that American adherents of this ideology have been far more important than generally has been recognized

AlisonWeir The basic theses of this book are encapsulated in the title and subtitle. The history of how American Zionists used America to create Israel was “hidden” in two respects. First, it was “hidden” in the sense that American Zionists often worked behind the scenes. More importantly, however, that history is known but has been kept hidden from the general public, who rely on the mainstream media, and exists almost exclusively in works produced by small publishers—often of a scholarly bent—read by only a few. As Weir points out, those who have tried to bring this information to the general public have suffered both venomous verbal attacks and economic threats that quickly silence the message and often destroy the messenger. This treatment obviously serves to prevent others from doing likewise—“Pour encourager les autres.”

America’s support for Israel ran “against our better judgment” in the sense that American foreign policy experts of the era covered by this work recognized that support for Zionist goals would damage American national interest and that this support only came about because of the political power of American Zionism.

While Weir is not a professional historian, she has intensively studied the literature on this subject for years, much of it rather arcane, as well as spending considerable time traveling in the region. Having a Ph.D. in history myself, I would like to point out that the writing of history does not require any specialized talents as are needed in such fields as theoretical physics or medicine, so that intelligent, hardworking laypersons can often produce works of great value. Weir does not purport to have pored over primary sources to discover new information, which is the hallmark of the professional historian’s craft, but rather synthesizes information from existing published studies that are largely unknown to the general public. Moreover, she brings to her work knowledge of the land and the peoples which she has picked up from her travels.

For those who still might find her background insufficient for her task, it should be further added that Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz, who lacks as far as I can tell any college degree in history, manages to produce works on Israel that are picked up by major publishers who would not think of publishing anything done by most academic historians. It might be added that academic historians, who specialize in monographs, would be loath to produce a comparable account of this subject from Weir’s perspective, since it would do little for their careers and might serve as their professional death knell.

While the book’s narrative is very readable and the key points can easily be digested by the average reader, it is nonetheless well-documented. To satisfy the more academic reader, the book has a section of extended endnotes longer than the narrative. I found the endnotes section valuable not only for confirming and expanding upon the content of the narrative but also in serving as a point of departure for additional research. I often switched from my Kindle book to a Web search, coming up with names of related books and articles that I would like to peruse, should I ever have the time to venture to a research library.

The work goes over a large number of little known but very important topics to demonstrate the powerful influence of Zionism over American foreign policy. Space, naturally, precludes me from discussing all the topics in detail so I have focused on those which seem to deal most directly with the major themes of the book.

The early political influence of Zionism is illustrated by the fact that in 1887 a Jewish American was made ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which then controlled Palestine and was thus considered by Zionists as the key country with which to deal. This set the precedent of a Jewish ambassador to this country that was continued for the next 30 years, by which time the Zionist search for outside support had turned elsewhere.

The book brings up the central importance of Louis Brandeis and his disciple Felix Frankfurter in advancing the interests of Zionism. Brandeis was a noted social and economic reformer who was a Zionist and happened to be very close to President Wilson, who would put him on the Supreme Court in 1916, the first Jew to hold such a position. Even after joining the Supreme Court, Brandeis used this access to Wilson to promote Zionist interests, sometimes acting as a go-between for Wilson and British Zionists.

Brandeis would head the international Zionist Central Office during the teens but, perhaps even more significant, he would be a leading member of a secret society, the Parushim, the Hebrew word for “Pharisees” and “separate,” which covertly advanced the interests of Zionism in the United States and Europe. The Parushim was founded in 1913 by a University of Wisconsin philosophy professor, Horace M. Kallen, who ironically is considered to be the father of cultural pluralism in the United States. Obviously this idea conflicted completely with his support for the creation of a Jewish exclusivist state, but it is a contradiction that is rather commonplace among many Jews and liberal gentiles alike.

Kallen was regarded by some as first promoting the idea for what became the Balfour Declaration, which would set the stage for the modern state of Israel. He promoted this scheme in 1915 when the U.S. was still a neutral. He told a British friend that this would serve to bring the United States into World War I. It should be pointed out that at that time, despite serious diplomatic issues regarding German submarine warfare, the great majority of the American people wanted to avoid war and Wilson would be re-elected president in November 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Kallen’s idea for advancing the Zionist goal, however, soon gained traction.

Frustrated in their efforts to achieve a Jewish homeland in Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, the American Zionists turned toward Britain to bring this about. In 1916 as World War I dragged on indecisively, Zionist leaders promised the British that in return for a Jewish homeland in Palestine—which the British could expect to gain from the Ottomans as one of the spoils of a victorious war—American Zionists would work to bring the United States into the war on behalf of Britain and its allies. Many British strategists at the time, such as Winston Churchill, believed that such an event would turn the tide for victory. Weir holds that it “appears” that the Zionists’ activity was one factor in bringing America into the war [1] and cites a number a number of reputable books and leading contemporary figures—such as then-British Prime Minister Lloyd George—that held that Zionists carried out their side of the bargain by pushing the United States into war.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter, dated November 2, 1917 (and coming out in the press one week later), from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, officially stating that Britain would use its “best endeavours to facilitate the achievement” of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.

Now even to give attention to the Balfour Declaration in a history of World War I is somewhat outré; to claim that it caused the United States to enter war is one of those ultra-taboos. Although my Ph.D. was in American history with a focus on diplomacy (and a minor in 20th Century European history), never did I come into contact with anything about the Balfour Declaration in my college studies (which, granted, did not deal with the Middle East). I only knew about it from reading what the mainstream historical profession would regard as disreputable authors.

Reference to the Balfour Declaration and the Zionist role in it was considered one of the daring things done by the iconoclastic Israeli “New Historian” Tom Segev who discussed it in his book, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (2000). In a lecture on his book that I heard at the University of Maryland in 2002, Segev, though acknowledging that the British goal was winning over Jews to their side [2], derided the idea of any real Jewish power, attributing that mode of thinking to “anti-Semitism.” In 2010, Segev expressed this view in a review of a new book on the Balfour Declaration: “Obviously there was no ‘Jewish power’ controlling world affairs, but Weizmann [3] successfully pretended that the Jews were in fact turning the wheels of history. For once, the anti-Semitic image of the Jews proved useful — they were believed to be so maliciously dangerous that one would do best to acquire them as allies rather than as enemies.”[4]

Although Segev is a daring historian who often rejects the Zionist myths on the creation of Israel, in this case he essentially relies on a classic Zionist-constructed strawman, which involves greatly exaggerating the view that the Zionists (and Jews in general) don’t like. It is highly doubtful that the British foreign office believed that Jews were so powerful as to be “turning the wheels of history.” (If that had been the case, one would think that the British would have offered Jews much more than Palestine from the very start of the war.) Furthermore, as noted earlier, Weir does not subscribe to anything like this Zionist strawman in regard to the Balfour Declaration, or anything else, I should add.

However, what is important is not only whether the American Zionists were able to bring the United States into a war, but that they made a solemn promise to a foreign country that they would try to do so. As a matter of fact, since Zionists such as Brandeis knew much about Wilson’s thinking and undoubtedly were kept abreast on what Germany was likely to do (it being well-known that Germany was suffering from the British “starvation” blockade and that politically powerful voices there wanted to retaliate by pursuing a harsher submarine policy toward neutrals such as the U.S.), they may have realistically thought in 1916 that there was a good chance that the United States would shortly go to war whether they interceded or not, which meant it would be a wise move to make such a deal and be able to get credit for a result that was not of their own making.[5]

It is also of significance that the American Zionists promised to push the U.S. into war not because they believed that it was in their own country’s national interest—as was the case for a number of prominent Americans such as former President Theodore Roosevelt—but solely for what they considered to be in the interests of world Jewry. Ascribing “dual loyalty” to any Jews is regarded as a classic anti-Semitic canard. In this case, however, the American Zionists’ position did not even rise to the level of “dual loyalty,” being purely singular in that it evinced no apparent concern whatsoever for American interests.

Linked to the Balfour Declaration, Weir points out that “American Zionists may also have played a role in preventing an early peace with the Ottoman Empire.”[6] In 1917, the U.S. State Department had heard that the Ottomans were becoming weary of the war, and it decided to send a secret mission to explore the possibility of detaching the Ottoman Empire from its alliance with the other Central Powers. Such a separate peace would likely leave the Ottoman Empire (or Turkey as it would become shortly)[7] in control of its Asian possessions, which would mean that since Britain would not gain Palestine, no home for Jews could emerge there.

This mission was headed by former Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who, though Jewish, was not a Zionist. However, he was persuaded by Zionists such as Brandeis protégé Felix Frankfurter, who was a member of the mission’s delegation, to abandon the effort. In a meeting with Morgenthau, Chaim Weizmann, a leading British Zionist who was alerted by American Zionists as to the danger posed by Morgenthau’s mission, also played a major role in stopping the potentially-peacemaking mission, as is indicated in Weir’s endnotes.[8]

Other obstacles to the Zionists’ goal in Palestine would also arise soon after the end of the war in November 1918. Important Christian Americans who were intimately involved in the Near East and supported self-determination for the Arabs recognized that this could not take place if the Zionists were able to set up an ethnic Jewish enclave on Arab land. They went to the Paris Peace Conference which, among a number of issues stemming from World War I, would deal with the territorial settlement.

As a result of the divergent views on the future status of the territory to be given up by the Ottoman Empire, President Wilson decided to send an investigatory commission to the region, which became known as the King-Crane Commission.[9] In line with Wilson’s goal of national self-determination, the commission sought to discover how the region’s inhabitants wanted to be governed, and they overwhelmingly expressed opposition to a Jewish home in Palestine.

Weir points out that “Zionists through Brandeis dominated the situation, however, and the report was suppressed until after the Peace Accords were enacted.”[10] At the Paris Peace Conference, Weir writes, “[t]he U.S. delegation was forced to follow Zionist directives.”[11]

One minor criticism here is that the reader might incorrectly get the impression that the King-Crane Commission dealt solely with Palestine, while it actually involved all the territories severed from, or expected to be severed from, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).[12] The issue of Palestine made up about half of the report on “Syria,” which also included present day Syria and Lebanon. The other two geographical sections of the report were “Mesopotamia” and “Non-Arabic speaking portions of the Former Ottoman Empire (Asia Minor).”[13] Thus the suppression of the commission’s report was likely due not only to opposition by Zionists, but also to other interested parties disturbed by its findings in areas other than Palestine. These parties would include the British, French and Greeks.

In regard to the report’s description of Palestine, however, Weir’s presentation was completely on the mark. The King-Crane report reflected extreme opposition to Zionism expressed by those Muslims and Christians who lived in Palestine as well as by those who lived in neighboring areas.

Weir points out that during the inter-war period, when Palestine was governed by Britain under a League of Nations mandate, which was intended to prepare the country for eventual independence, the American Zionists moved away from openly pushing for the establishment of an exclusivist Jewish state in Palestine since this ran counter to the temper of the times—which reflected American opposition to militant nationalism and dual loyalty, and respect for majority rule and national self-determination. Instead, Zionists focused on the development of Jewish institutions in Palestine, which would serve as a basis for a Jewish state. Zionist leaders, such as David Ben-Gurion, still viewed American support as key to their establishment of a Jewish state.

With World War II on the horizon, Zionists began to return directly to their goal of a Jewish state. A precursor of the current Israel lobby, the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), began in 1939. In order to pressure the U.S. government to support a Zionist state, AZEC worked to establish more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches to promote this goal. These committees distributed Zionist pamphlets, circulated petitions, and engaged in letter writing campaigns to promote the Zionist cause. AZEC also funded books, articles and academic studies for this same purpose.

By the end of World War II, Zionist efforts gave them considerable power in American politics. In order to appeal to the general American populace, they stressed the needs of the many Jewish European refugees, connecting the refugee problem to Palestine, the latter destination purportedly being the only solution to their existing homelessness. By this humanitarian argument, Zionists could thus appeal to many Americans who did not necessarily believe the Zionists’ contention that Jews had a historical right to control Palestine.

As Britain opted to turn over the troublesome issue of Palestine to the United Nations in 1947, Zionists pushed for a partitioning of Palestine between Jews and the indigenous Palestinian population. The partition plan discriminated in favor of the Zionists, since while the Jewish population comprised about 30 percent of Palestine’s population, the plan would award them with 55 percent of the land. And the Zionists’ real goal was not to be content with that amount but to also grab the remainder.

U.S. State Department officials strenuously opposed the partition plan, looking upon this approach as both contrary to America’s professed principle of national self-determination and its vital interests in the Middle East, where a vast majority of the governments and their people were vehemently opposed to Zionism. A leading State Department official in this opposition was Loy Henderson, Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs. Zionists viciously attacked him, demanding his removal and even threatening his family. The State Department chose to move him elsewhere and in 1948 President Truman named him Ambassador to Nepal, which kept him far away from anything to do with Palestine.

Removing Henderson, however, did not make the State Department favorable toward transforming any part of Palestine into a Jewish state. Among the higher level opponents were the head of the State Department‘s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Gordon P. Merriam; Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, who later became Secretary of State; and George F. Kennan, the State Department‘s Director of Policy Planning, noted as the architect of America’s containment policy against Soviet Communism.

The State Department was not the only part of the executive branch of the United States government that opposed the Zionist goal for Palestine. The newly-created CIA reported in 1947 that the Zionists were seeking goals that would be harmful to both Jews and “the strategic interests of the Western powers in the Near and Middle East.”[14] The Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed partition and expressed the prescient fear that the Zionist aim was to involve the U.S. in their conflict with their Middle East enemies.

Despite this opposition from a consensus of foreign policy and national security experts within his own government, Truman opted to support the Zionist partition plan for political reasons, relying heavily on the views of his domestic political advisor, Clark Clifford, who maintained that the Jewish vote and financial backing were necessary to win the presidential election in 1948. Truman‘s Secretary of State George Marshall, noted for the famed Marshall Plan that helped to rebuild devastated Western Europe, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal remained staunchly opposed to what they regarded as Truman’s willingness to sacrifice vital national security interests on the altar of domestic politics.

Weir points out that a number of wealthy Zionist Jews provided financial support for Truman’s presidential campaign in 1948, which may put us in mind of Zionist mega-donors of today such as Sheldon Adelson. One of these backers was Abraham Feinberg who funded Truman’s epic whistle-stop train campaign. Truman would give Feinberg credit for his victory. As quid pro quo, the Truman administration remained inert when the CIA later reported that Feinberg was involved in illegal gun-running to Zionist groups in Palestine.

I should add that while Truman has become something of an idol for recent historians, he was looked upon during his time as being driven by what would benefit his own political interest. As the redoubtable journalist H. L. Mencken quipped about Truman’s 1948 campaign: “If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised them with free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayer’s expense.” In Truman’s defense, however, it should be pointed out that two of his key opponents in the 1948 presidential election, Republican Thomas Dewey and the left-wing Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt’s former Vice-President, were both staunchly pro-Zionist.[15]

Weir describes a number of Zionists who maintained personal contact with Truman and likely played a role in shaping his policies. David K. Niles, Truman’s executive assistant, was regularly briefed by the head of the Washington Office of the Zionist Organization of America and was believed to be passing top-secret information to the Israeli government. Truman’s long-time friend and former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, was a staunch Zionist with close access to Truman who would describe his information to be of “decisive importance.”[16] Sam Rosenman, a political advisor to Truman, screened State Department memos to Truman.

Although the United States had announced its support for the partition of Palestine, it was apparent that the partition plan still lacked the necessary two-thirds vote to pass in the UN General Assembly. Consequently, the Zionists were able to get a delay in the vote and used that time to intimidate or bribe opponents to reverse their positions.

For example, Weir notes that Wall Street financier and perennial presidential adviser Bernard Baruch threatened war-torn France that it would be denied aid from the United States if it voted against partition. David Niles was able to get rubber baron Harvey Firestone to tell the Liberian president that he would terminate his planned expansion in his country if it did not vote in favor of partition. Haiti was promised economic aid if it would change its vote and support the measure. Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres was said to have received a blank checkbook to get his country’s vote.

As a result of this behind the scenes skullduggery, the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947, voted in favor of the adoption and implementation of the partition plan as UN General Assembly Resolution 181. Although this resolution is widely believed in the United States to have created Israel,[17] Weir correctly points out that it “was of limited (if any) legal impact” since General Assembly resolutions, as opposed to those of the Security Council, are not binding on member states. Although the resolution recommended that the UN Security Council implement the partition, it never did.[18]

The effect of the General Assembly’s resolution, however, was to increase the fighting in Palestine. While the Zionist myth would have it that the Jews in Palestine were simply a peaceful community set upon by violent Arabs intent on genocide, Weir points out that Zionist military forces had been covertly preparing for war for some time. They had amassed extensive armaments, some of it coming illicitly from the U.S., and their troop numbers exceeded those of their foes even after five Arab governments had joined the fray. The traditional Zionist portrayal of Israel’s war for independence (which, of course, prevented independence for the Palestinians) as a David versus Goliath conflict in which the Jews miraculously overcame overwhelming odds is pure fiction, but it is still believed in many quarters today and continues to generate sympathy for Israel. On May 15, 1948, Zionists announced the establishment of their new state of Israel, for which they did not establish any boundaries.

A quick aside here: somewhat ironically, in my view, Weir barely touches on the United States decision to recognize Israel. Moreover, what does exist is largely in the endnotes. Although there will be a second volume to Weir’s history, and the cut-off point for this volume has to be somewhere, still the fact that the book does make reference to events in 1948 would seem to have made it appropriate to discuss in some detail the issue of America’s quick recognition of Israel.

A number of interlocking organizations operated in the U.S. to raise money for Zionist paramilitary groups in Palestine, though this goal was kept secret. These organizations were under the direction of the leader of the Irgun Delegation, Hillel Kook, who operated under the name of Peter Bergson. During World War II, these organizations purported to be trying to alert people to the genocide of European Jews and trying to rescue those still alive. By promoting this purpose these organizations were able to attract substantial public support, including from those who would be repulsed by their funding of terrorist activities, which, Weir implies, was their real intent. The latter, she maintains, was made manifest by the organizations’ failure to actually rescue Jews from Europe.

The Irgun group engaged in numerous public activities to raise money, one of the most successful being a pageant entitled “We Will Never Die!” which, woven within the backdrop of the Nazi genocide, celebrated the Jewish contribution to Western civilization. Written by Ben Hecht, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, the pageant included such Broadway and Hollywood celebrities of the era as Edward G. Robinson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Leonard Bernstein. Forty thousand attended the extravaganza’s New York performances. It went on to play in a number of other large American cities. The group produced a number of other plays and rallies, one of which featured a young Marlon Brando, and raised $1 million.[19]

Some American Zionists, Weir observes, actually planned terrorist activities outside of Palestine in order to influence developments there. One such terrorist activity conceived by a group of American Zionists headed by an Orthodox Rabbi named Baruch Korff consisted of a plan to drop bombs along with threatening leaflets on the British foreign office in London, or anywhere in London if that were too difficult. The airplane pilot sought for this task, however, went to the Paris Police—he and Korff both being in France at the time—and Korff was arrested. Powerful people rushed to Korff’s defense and the charges were dropped. Korff thus was able return to his former activities in America as if nothing had happened. With this particular event thrown down the Orwellian “memory hole,” Korff resurfaced over two decades later as a public figure close to President Richard Nixon, influencing the latter’s Middle East policies.

The amount of money raised for Zionist groups in the United States during these years is impossible to calculate accurately, but it would be enormous. Weir writes that between 1939 and May 1948 the Jewish Agency for Israel alone raised the equivalent of $3.5 billion in today’s dollars.

David Ben-Gurion, then de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, realized that the international concern for Jewish refugees could be used to advance the cause of a Jewish state by making it appear that no other safe refuges for Jews existed. Weir illustrates this deception by a discussion of the famous ship Exodus, which carried Holocaust survivors to Palestine when the British were not allowing illegal immigration there.

Weir points out that what is generally unknown to the public is that the French were willing to take in those Exodus refugees but Ben-Gurion rejected that solution, forcing those survivors to remain on board the ship for seven months. Weir quotes historian Baruch Kimmerling on the significance of the Exodus affair: “Ben-Gurion‘s strategy in the Exodus affair paid off. The fate of the refugee ship attracted considerable and sympathetic attention around the world, and served the Zionist cause well. Few observers at the time knew that many of the refugees from the Exodus had applied for immigration visas to the United States, and were hardly anxious to settle in Israel . . . . By dramatizing the fate of the survivors, in whom he had little interest except as future residents of the state he was building . . . Ben-Gurion helped to make Israel the world’s chief power broker over Jewish affairs.”[20]

Weir includes a brief reference to Leon Uris’s bestselling 1958 novel on the Exodus ship, and though it falls outside the chronological purview of this volume, I would add that the impact of the already mythologized Exodus event was greatly magnified by Uris’s book, which sold over 7 million copies and was turned into a blockbuster movie in 1960 by Otto Preminger, a leading film director of the era. The film has been identified by many commentators as having greatly enhanced support for Israel in the United States by Jews as well as gentiles and in the view of some scholars this movie has had a lasting effect on how Americans view the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Weir even acknowledges that it had initially shaped her thinking on the subject.[21]

While the pro-Zionist propaganda that inundated the American media played up the existence of Jewish refugees who allegedly sought to come to Israel, there was little popular attention paid toward the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were being driven from their homeland as a result of Zionist massacres and other forcible expulsion measures. A State Department study in March 1949 found the American public was “unaware of the Palestine refugee problem, since it has not been hammered away at by the press or radio.”[22]

To underscore the importance of what Weir presents on this subject, it should be pointed out that until fairly recently, Israel’s denial of ever having expelled the Palestinians dominated the public discourse in the U.S. It was alleged that when Arab armies were about to invade the newly-declared state of Israel, Palestinians left their homes in the new Israel at the behest of their leaders, expecting to return with the victorious Arab armies. Beginning in the 1980s, however, Israel’s so-called “New Historians,” relying on newly released Israeli documents, exploded this myth. They concluded that the major cause of Palestinian flight was Israeli military action, which included terrorist massacres and the fear of them.

Even without the discovery of this Israeli documentary evidence, or any other documentary evidence for that matter, the use of the cui bono test would strongly point to Zionist culpability for the removal of the native Palestinians. For the Zionists planned to create a state that was both democratic and Jewish. This would be impossible if a large number of non-Jewish people, who were largely hostile to Zionism, resided within the country. From this fact, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the emptying of Palestine in 1948 was not a serendipitous development from the perspective of the Zionists, but one that was intentionally brought about by them.

Weir observes that U.S. State Department experts at the time were aware of Israel’s inhumane actions and sought to take action to at least moderate Israel’s effort to achieve a permanent removal of Palestinians. The State Department threatened to withhold $49 million of unallocated funds from an Export-Import Bank loan to Israel if it did not allow at least 200,000 refugees to return to their homes. Although Truman sympathized with the Palestinians’ plight, and in early 1948 even briefly considered backtracking from the partition and supporting a UN trusteeship for the entirety of Palestine, he ultimately prevented the State Department’s move from being implemented.

Weir points out that those in the mainstream media who attempted to alert the American people to the reality of the dispossession of the Palestinian people were effectively prevented from doing so by pro-Zionists. The latter relied on hurling the career-destroying charge of “anti-Semitism” and threatening economic measures to harm any media outlet that would dare to disseminate information they deemed to be too negative toward Israel.

The individual whom the Zionists caused to fall the farthest was Dorothy Thompson. Weir deserves much credit here for pulling this once well-known figure out of the Orwellian memory hole. Thompson happens to have been one of the principal figures in my doctoral dissertation titled, ”The Intellectual Wellsprings of American World War II Interventionism, 1939-1941.”[23] And I have added a few additional points to what Weir has in her book to illustrate the high reputation Thompson had at one time.

Thompson was an early and persistent critic of Nazism. She had an interview with Hitler in 1931 before he had become German Chancellor, which was made into a book. Thompson portrayed Hitler and Nazism in a negative light and in 1934, the now Nazi government of Germany expelled her when she attempted to visit the country. From 1934 onward, the bulk of her writing dealt with the danger posed by Nazism to the Western democracies. After the start of World War II in Europe in September 1939, Thompson was a staunch interventionist who initially advocated greater American aid to the allies but by the latter part of 1941 she was advocating American entrance into the war.

In 1939, Time Magazine named Thompson the second most popular and influential woman in America behind Eleanor Roosevelt.[24] She spoke out about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Jews in Europe, and urged a relaxation of immigration restrictions so the U.S. could be a safe haven for Jews under threat in Europe. She also was a strong supporter of Zionism.

In early 1945 she took a trip to Palestine where she saw firsthand Jews oppressing Palestinians. She came to realize that the Zionists sought to create a Jewish exclusivist state, not one that would include all of its current inhabitants. Her criticism of Zionism led to charges against her of “anti-Semitism” and even pro-Nazism, as absurd as that was given her background.[25] As a result of this all-out Zionist attack, newspapers began to drop her columns. Especially harmful was her loss of an outlet in New York City—where she had received a large proportion of her income—when the New York Post dropped her column with no other major New York City daily being willing to pick it up. Her radio program and speaking engagements also disappeared. Despite these problems, Thompson would not back away from her criticism of Zionism. And she continued to do so in the dwindling number of newspapers that still took her column, which did not end until 1958.

It is significant that the black-out of Dorothy Thompson has continued after her death, and perhaps even become worse. In the effort to make the subject of American history more inclusive, recent historians have often added women who were little known in their own eras, whereas Thompson who had been an important figure remains unmentioned. It seems likely that she has remained largely unmentioned both for what she had to say about Zionism and also by the fact that she was blacklisted by pro-Zionists, the power of whom one is not allowed to publicly acknowledge. (This contrasts with those Americans who were blacklisted for being pro-Communist, who are now often praised as martyrs because of this treatment.)

To conclude the review, it should be emphasized that this concise book should be of value to a wide audience. The general reader with little background knowledge should easily pick up a number of key points that serve to dispel the many myths that loom large today in the mainstream media, while even those individuals familiar with the subject are almost guaranteed to profit from little known facts, especially in the notes section, that should augment their knowledge. And it is essential that many more Americans become aware of this knowledge if America’s position is to change regarding Israel and the Middle East in general. Such a change is essential not only to bring about some degree of justice for the Palestinians but in order to extricate the United States from the debilitating regional conflicts that its close connection with Israel has entailed. It will be interesting to see how Weir, in her forthcoming volume, deals with the problems America has faced in more recent years that ineluctably derived from the events described in this work.

References

[1] Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), Kindle Edition, Kindle Location 364. Weir contends that there were a number of factors that caused the United States to enter World War I in April 1917, some of which she lists, and that “Zionism appears to have been one of those factors.”

[2] Some historians have diluted this Jewish factor, attributing motivation to British foreign policy goals in the Near East. A Jewish homeland allegedly could serve as a buffer zone that would protect the Suez Canal.

[3] Chaim Weizmann was a leading figure in the Zionist movement who served as President of the Zionist Organization and later as the first President of Israel.

[4] Tom Segev, “‘View With Favor’, Review of The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Jonathan Schneer, International New York Times, August 20, 2010, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/books/review/Segev-t.html.

In other parts of his review, Segev’s analysis is impressive. For example he writes: “The Balfour declaration thus finds its place among a multitude of fruitless schemes and indulgent fantasies, except, of course, that in this case, surprisingly, the British by and large kept their word. For at least two decades they allowed the Zionist movement to bring hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants into Palestine, and these new arrivals set up hundreds of settlements including several towns, as well as the political, economic, military and cultural infrastructure of the future state of Israel. But if Israel’s existence originated with the British, so did the Palestinians’ tragedy.”

[5] The controversial House-Grey memorandum, developed with Britain in February 1916, stated that at an appropriate time Wilson would call for a peace conference. If the Allies accepted the offer and Germany rejected it or acted intransigently at the conference, the United States would go to war against Germany. And if Germany accepted the offer and a peace conference did take place, the settlement would not be unfavorable to the Allies. Wayne S. Cole, An Interpretive History of American Foreign Relations (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1968), 363

[6] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 449.

[7] The Wikipedia entry for “Ottoman Empire,” states that the “’Ottoman Empire’ and ‘Turkey’ were often used interchangeably, with ‘Turkey’ being increasingly favored both in formal and informal situations. This dichotomy was officially ended in 1920–23, when the newly established Ankara-based Turkish government chose Turkey as the sole official name,” accessed December 13, 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire .

[8] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 2668-2669 .

[9] The King-Crane Commission was originally created as the American Section of the Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, which was also to include British and French members, and be like a number of other fact finding missions stemming from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. These two countries failed to participate. Ken Grossi, Maren Milligan, and Ted Waddelow, Restoring Lost Voices of Self-Determination: Background to the Commission, August 2011, Part of the King-Crane Commission Digital Collection, Oberlin College Archives, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.oberlin.edu/library/digital/king-crane/intro.html .

[10] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 502-503.

[11] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 505.

[12] The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919, http://www.hri.org/docs/king-crane/. The report includes discussions of territory intended to have been taken from Turkey in the Treaty of Sevres, which Turkey never accepted and was not implemented.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Quoted in Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 798.

[15] Wallace had no chance of winning the election but Truman’s backers feared that he could syphon off enough liberal votes in large Northern and Midwestern states to enable Dewey to win the election. The issue of Israel did not play a role in Strom Thurmond’s 1948 campaign in the South, which focused on states’ rights and racial issues.

[16] Quoted in Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 894.

King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919.

[17] Jeremy R. Hammond, “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel,” Foreign Policy Journal, October 26, 2010, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/26/the-myth-of-the-u-n-creation-of-israel/.

[18] More than this, the UN General Assembly, after the vote, created another committee that came to quite different conclusions. Jeremy Hammond writes: “The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was established by the General Assembly shortly after the issuance of the UNSCOP report in order to continue to study the problem and make recommendations. A sub-committee was established in turn that was tasked with examining the legal issues pertaining to the situation in Palestine, and it released the report of its findings on November 11. It observed that the UNSCOP report had accepted a basic premise ‘that the claims to Palestine of the Arabs and Jews both possess validity’, which was ‘not supported by any cogent reasons and is demonstrably against the weight of all available evidence.’ With an end to the Mandate and with British withdrawal, ‘there is no further obstacle to the conversion of Palestine into an independent state’, which ‘would be the logical culmination of the objectives of the Mandate’ and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It found that ‘the General Assembly is not competent to recommend, still less to enforce, any solution other than the recognition of the independence of Palestine, and that the settlement of the future government of Palestine is a matter solely for the people of Palestine.’’’ Hammond, “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel.”

[19] Marlon Brando was very close to Jews before he became a movie star and later donated a considerable amount of money to Zionist causes. He expressed more negative views of Jews toward the end of his life. See: Allan M. Jalon, “How Marlon Brando Became Godfather to the Jews,” Forward, September 16, 2015, accessed December 13, 2015, http://forward.com/culture/320671/how-marlon-brando-became-godfather-to-the-jews/; Danielle Berrin, “Marlon Brando and the Jews,” Jewish Journal, July 30, 2014, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew/item/marlon_brando_and_the_jews.

[20] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 1249-1256.

[21] The movie had an all-star cast (and a very popular, award winning theme song), which included: Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Peter Lawford, Sal Mineo, and Lee J. Cobb.

[22] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 1370-1371.

[23] Stephen John Sniegoski, “The Intellectual Wellsprings of American World War II Interventionism, 1939-1941,” (PhD diss., University of Maryland-College Park, 1977).

My research on Thompson included a visit to the archival collection of her papers at the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, in 1976, where I perused some material dealing with her break with American Jews, which was outside the scope of my dissertation.

[24] Thompson’s correspondence in her manuscript collection at Syracuse University illustrates her importance. The Overview of the Collection states: “Correspondents include authors (John Gunther, Wallace Irwin, Alfred M. Lilienthal, Edgar A. Mowrer, Vincent Sheehan, Johannes Urzidil), literary figures (Jean Cocteau, Rose Wilder Lane, Thomas Mann, Rebecca West), politicians and statesmen (Bernard M. Baruch, Winston Churchill, Ely Culbertson, Ralph E. Flanders, Felix Frankfurter, Charles de Gaulle, Cordell Hull, Clare Boothe Luce, Jan Masaryk, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman).” Overview of the Collection, Dorothy Thompson Papers, Syracuse University Libraries, accessed December 13, 2015, http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/t/thompson_d.htm.

[25] Thompson’s relationship with American Jews actually began to sour toward the end of the war before the emergence of the issue of Zionist mistreatment of Palestinians. She differed with the Jewish establishment regarding her opposition to the Anglo-American incendiary bombing of German cities, which involved the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, and also the demand for a Carthaginian peace with Germany that was reflected in the Morgenthau Plan. She viewed these actions as violating the alleged idealistic purpose of the war, whereas many Jews sought punishment of the German people because of what the Nazis had done to their co-religionists.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian journalist released – on condition of deactivating Facebook and turning over his laptop

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – November 14, 2016

689856423Palestinian journalist Khaled Maali of Salfit was ordered released on Sunday, 13 November by the Israeli Salem military court – on the condition that he turn over his laptop to Israeli occupation forces and close his Facebook account, as well as paying a fine of 7,000 NIS ($1700 USD).

Maali, 48, was arrested from his home in Salfit last week in a military raid by occupation forces. He is one of hundreds of Palestinians targeted for arrest, interrogation and imprisonment on the basis of their social media posts in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation. The “evidence” introduced into military court in order to convict these Palestinians – convictions which occur in over 99% of cases before Israeli military courts – include the number of “likes” and “shares” a post receives.  Other prominent cases of Palestinians targeted for social media postings include poet Dareen Tatour, astrophysics professor Imad Barghouthi, and fellow journalists Sami al-Saee and Samah Dweik. Maali earned his PhD from The Hague University after studying at An-Najah University.

Recently, Facebook executives met with Israeli officials, including Ayelet Shaked, announcing “cooperation” against so-called “incitement,” sparking widespread protests among Palestinian and solidarity activists. While pledging to crack down on “hate speech,” they made no mention of Shaked’s genocidal comments about Palestinians posted on Facebook that referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes” and urged the execution of their mothers. Instead, Facebook has granted 95 percent of Israel’s 158 requests to remove content in the last four months. Samidoun in New York City joined the global protest against Facebook with a protest at the social media giant’s NYC offices.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Euro-Atlanticist course fails in Bulgaria

Katehon | 14.11.2016

In Bulgaria, the country’s first direct elections in the second round of presidential elections were won by the candidate who has been called pro-Russian. General Rumen Radev won the overwhelming majority of votes.

A former chief of the Bulgarian Air Force and the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party, General Rumen Radev emphasizes his independence from both Russia and the United States. Before the second round of the elections, he said: “Until recently, I was flying a Soviet-made fighter. I am a graduate of a US military academy, but I am a citizen of Bulgaria, and Bulgaria is my main priority.”

Despite the fact that he is called the pro-Russian candidate due to his policy of lifting the anti-Russian sanctions, reality is different. Moreover, Radev supports his country gaining NATO membership and continuing close ties with the West. However, he is certainly a more advantageous president for Moscow than Tsetska Tsacheva, who represented the ruling liberals.

In Bulgaria, the president does not play a serious role. However, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced his resignation and the dissolution of the government over the defeat of their candidate. He stressed that he would be going into the opposition and that “there will no longer be any compromises.” The current president, Rosen Plevneliev, began to make quite sharp anti-Russian statements several days before the election.

It is premature to expect any major changes before the new government is formed. But many agree that relations with Moscow will actually significantly improve even if the new president does not initiate the lifting of the EU sanctions against Russia.

In addition, the socialist Radev’s victory comes alongside the victory of the socialist Dodon in Moldova and, of course, against the backdrop of the high-profile election results in the US. Taken together, all of these new elections and their results allow one to speak of impending global changes across the whole world.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Trump effect’ divides European opinion

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 14, 2016

The results of the two presidential elections held on Sunday in Bulgaria and Moldova underscore the winds of change blowing over the western edges of Eurasia. To an extent they can be called the early signs of the ‘Trump effect’. In both elections, ‘pro-Russian’ candidates won convincingly. (here and here)

In both cases, the contestation essentially boiled down to whether Bulgaria and Moldova would be better off casting their lot with the European Union or whether they need to realign with Russia. The answer is clear.

The open-ended quest for EU membership no longer holds attraction for Moldova, whereas, Bulgaria appears to be disheartened with its EU membership. On the other hand, Russia is real and it is next-door. The election results yesterday constitute a blow to the EU’s prestige. Indeed, Moscow’s influence is spreading in Eastern Europe.

This is also a swing to the Left in political terms. There is much discontent with ‘reforms’, rampant corruption, etc. in both countries. The Russophile sentiment is very substantial, and there is eagerness to boost trade with Russia to overcome economic difficulties. Also, the local partisans of the West and EU stand discredited in both countries.

In Moldova, only around 30% of population find EU attractive, while 44% would support their country joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union. Curiously, 66% of Moldovans trust Vladimir Putin; in comparison, only 22% place trust in Barack Obama’s words.

Against the backdrop of the election victory of Donald Trump in the US, how these trends are going to play out will be interesting to watch. Bulgaria’s president-elect Rumen Radev has called for an end to the EU sanctions against Russia. He argues that Sofia should be pragmatic in its approach to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (This is notwithstanding Bulgaria’s long history of divided loyalties between Russia and Europe.)

The Obama administration in its lame duck phase will endeavour to pressure the EU to extend the sanctions against Russia for yet another 6-month period beyond December. But will Trump follow Obama’s footfalls when the issue crops up again toward the middle of next year? He is unlikely to show Obama’s messianic zeal to ‘contain’ Russia. That is how the EU consensus on sanctions against Russia can break down because many countries in Europe resent the American pressure and prefer to restore trade and economic ties with Russia.

Interestingly, Trump may get resonance in Old Europe as well. The Labour leader in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn made a stunning call in the weekend for Western leaders to ‘demilitarize’ the border between Eastern Europe and Russia or risk a New Cold War. He said the West didn’t have to pile up forces on Russia’s border. Corbyn told the BBC:

I have many, many criticisms of Putin, of the human rights abuses in Russia, of the militarisation of society. But I do think there has to be a process that we try –demilitarise the border between what are now the NATO states and Russia, so that we drive apart those forces and keep them further apart in order to bring about some kind of accommodation. We can’t descend into a new Cold War.

Corbyn also made a thoughtful suggestion that that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes Russia, could replace NATO as a forum for solving issues in the region.

Indeed, some churning has already begun regarding European security even before Trump takes over in the Oval Office. By the way, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday that American statements about possible deployment of a U.S. global missile shield’s radar in the Czech Republic are pure fiction.

He said, “A radar in the Czech territory would mean further escalation in relations with Russia. We need to use the window opening after Donald Trump’s election to have the United States and Russia sit down at one table.” Sobotka pointed out that Eastern Europe’s main security problem today is about putting an end to the war in Syria.

“The United States has considerable influence on the situation in Syria, Russia has considerable influence. So, it is necessary to use this,” he said, adding that Donald Trump can establish more efficient cooperation with Russia on Syria.

However, the fact of the matter is that neither has Trump taken his position yet on NATO nor is it going to be easy for him to seek a separation for America from the western alliance. Simply put, Europe is not ready for a post-NATO future. There is palpable fear in many quarters (both in the US and in Europe) that if the US were to withdraw from Europe, Russia would advance and exercise more assertive behaviour in Eastern Europe.

In an article in the weekend, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg made an impassioned appeal to Trump that now is not the time for the US to abandon NATO. He pointedly invoked the threat perceptions from “a more assertive” Russia. Read the opinion piece here.

The bottom line is that European opinion stands divided. Britain, France and Hungary refused to attend a contentious EU ministerial meeting last night in Brussels, backed by Germany, to align the bloc’s approach to Trump’s election. The rift within the EU on the US vote stands exposed. The irrepressible British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has publicly chided EU politicians to end their ‘whinge-o-rama’ over Trump. (Daily Mail )

Interestingly, the first politician from abroad whom Trump met after the election has been Nigel Farage, the populist Brexit campaigner.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

After the Election: Don’t Panic, Think!

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | November 14, 2016

In 2016, the fundamentally undemocratic U.S. two-party system presented the public with the two most hated candidates in history. The choice was so dismal that over forty three percent of the voters could not bring themselves to go to the polls. Everyone hated one or the other of the candidates, or both. Whoever won was bound to face vehement opposition.

The unexpected shock of Donald Trump’s victory created mass hysteria, with crowds in tears going into the streets to protest – an unprecedented reaction to an uncontested election.

This hysterical opposition is not the best basis for building the new movement needed to oppose a widely rejected political establishment.

Most of the weeping and wailing comes not from Bernie Sanders supporters, who were prepared for the worst, but from those who believed the Clinton campaign claim that Trump represents nothing but various ways to “hate” other people: sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. The response is to hate Trump. This is sterile and gets nowhere politically.

Trump’s reputation as a racist fiend is largely based on excessive remarks such as his outrageous promise to build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants from entering the country – outrageous, in fact, because the wall already exists! Except that it is called a “fence”.

Washington is not about to be ruled by Nazis, but by reactionary Republicans, which are bad enough but nothing new. If Trump is better than they are on some points, that should be noted and encouraged.  An effective opposition should know how to distinguish between hot air and real issues, and to judge issues on their own specific merits.

The Clinton campaign was based on the “identity politics” claim to protect women and minorities from their enemy, Trump. An opposition movement based on perpetuating that claim, with emphasis on how horrible Trump must be personally, is also likely to swallow other aspects of the Clinton campaign line, notably its anti-Russian propaganda.  Incited by the mainstream media, the “left” opposition risks echoing the Clintonist accusation that “dictator” Trump is too friendly with “dictator” Putin. And the hysterical opposition will oppose the one positive element in Trump’s campaign: the desire to make business rather than war with Russia.

It is significant that the German foreign minister Ursula von der Leyen wasted no time in demanding that Trump choose between friendship with Putin on the one hand or NATO and “our shared values” on the other. This is a sign that not only the U.S. war party but also the European NATO machine will be putting pressure on Trump to pursue the very same warlike policies favored by Hillary Clinton. And the disappointed Clintonite opposition is likely to be out in the streets not to oppose wars, but to oppose Trump’s opposition to wars, all in the name of our shared democratic humanitarian values and opposition to “dictators”.

This is the danger of hysterical opposition to Trump.  It would be a continuation of the worst aspects of this dreadful campaign, totally centered on denouncing individuals, and neglecting serious political questions. A progressive opposition should leave Clintonism behind and develop its own positions, starting with opposition to regime change wars – even if Trump is also against regime change wars. And indeed, it should push Trump to maintain that position, because he will be under strong pressure in Washington to give it up. The opposition should demand that Trump make good on his promise to avoid war, while opposing his reactionary domestic policies. Otherwise, we are heading for the worst of both worlds.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

US, British ‘Clean House’ to Delete Syria Terror Links

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.11.2016

US President Barack Obama has just given the Pentagon orders to assassinate commanders of the Al Nusra terror network in Syria. American media reports over the weekend say the new urgency arises from US intelligence fears that al Qaeda-affiliated groups are preparing to mount terror attacks against Western targets from strongholds in Syria.

The purported US «kill list» will be acted on through drone strikes and «intelligence assets». The latter refers, presumably, to US special forces that are already operating in northern Syria alongside Turkish military.

Last week, a similar announcement was carried in the British press, which reported that elite British SAS troops had received orders to kill up to 200 jihadi volunteers from Britain who are suspected to be active in Syria (and Iraq). Again, the same rationale was invoked as in the latest American plan. That the assassination program was to pre-empt terror attacks rebounding on Western states.

A British defense official was quoted as saying that the mission could be the most important ever undertaken by the SAS in its entire 75-year history. «The hunt is on», said the official, «to take out some very bad people».

Significantly, too, the British SAS kill operations in Syria are reportedly being carried out as part of a «multinational effort». That suggests that the Pentagon’s initiative reported this weekend is being coordinated with the British.

However, there is something decidedly odd about this sudden determination by the Americans and British to eliminate terrorists in Syria.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, US, British and other NATO forces have shown meagre success in delivering on official claims of combating al Qaeda-linked terror groups, such as Islamic State (IS, ISIS or Daesh) and Jabhat al Nusra (also known as Jabhat al Fatal al Sham).

A straightforward explanation for this apparent anomaly is that the US and its NATO allies are in reality covertly working with these terror networks as proxies for regime change against the Assad government – a longtime ally of Russia and Iran. What Washington refers to as «moderate rebels» whom it supports are in reality serving as conduits for arms and funds to the known terror groups. In this context, the terror groups have been Western assets in the regime-change war. Therefore, there has been no incentive to liquidate these assets – until now that is. Why now is the telling question.

The recent ceasefire debacles in the battleground northern city of Aleppo have demonstrated a systematic Western terror link. The failure by Washington to deliver on its commitment to separate so-called moderates from extremists is clear evidence that the alleged dichotomy is a hoax. The plain fact is that the US-backed «rebels» are fully integrated with the terror groups. That is, the US and its allies are sponsors of terrorism in Syria.

This has led to the reasonable charge by the Russian government that the US is supporting al Nusra, despite the latter being an internationally proscribed terrorist organization at the heart of the so-called American «war on terror». That charge has been corroborated by claims made by Nusra commanders who say that they have been receiving covert weapons supplies from the Americans. It is also substantiated by recent finds of US weaponry among terrorist dens that have been over-run by the Syrian Arab Army.

So, the question is: what is this latest urgency from the Pentagon to wipe out Nusra’s leadership in Syria really about?

First, let’s note that the implied precision of terrorist «kill lists» that the Americans and British are suddenly working on seems incongruous given that these NATO powers have up to now apparently been unable to furnish Russia with coordinates for extremist bases in Syria.

The Russian Ministry of Defense disclosed last week that the Americans have not provided a single scrap of information on the location of terrorist groups in Syria. The US was obliged to share intelligence on extremist positions as part of the ceasefire plans resolved in September by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

That then marks a seeming curious shift. From not being able to provide any intelligence on terror groups, now we are told in a different context that the US and its British counterpart are urgently moving ahead to carry out decapitation strikes on Nusra and ISIS commanders.

On the British side, reports said that a kill list of hundreds of British jihadis had been drawn up by the intelligence services of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. Why wasn’t this information shared before with Russia, as part of the Kerry-Lavrov accord?

Timing is also another telling factor. Obama’s announced order to the Pentagon to ramp up assassination of Nusra leaders comes in the wake of the shock presidential election victory for Donald Trump. Trump’s election last week was an outcome that completely blindsided the White House and the Washington establishment, who thought that Democrat rival Hillary Clinton was a safe bet.

The abrupt US impetus to neutralize Nusra cadres also comes as the Russian navy flotilla takes up position in the Mediterranean off Syria. The flotilla is led by the aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, along with destroyers equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles. The naval formation has been described as the biggest Russian deployment since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago. It will greatly enhance Russia’s air power which already has over the past year transformed the Syrian war into an eminent defeat for the Western-backed insurgents.

Now that nearly three weeks of Russia’s unilateral cessation in air strikes on terror targets in Syria has elapsed to no avail for a surrender by the insurgents, it is anticipated that Russian air power and Syrian forces on the ground are readying for a final, decisive offensive to vanquish the Western-backed proxy war.

President-elect Trump has stated on several occasions his approval of Russian and Syrian anti-terror efforts, unlike the Obama administration, which has sought to hamper them by accusing Moscow and Damascus of «war crimes» against civilians. Russia has rejected those claims as false. It points to recent initiatives to set up humanitarian corridors in Aleppo as evidence that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties. It is the US-backed militants who have sabotaged the humanitarian efforts.

In any case, Trump’s accession to the White House can be expected to give Russia a freer hand to bring the Syrian war to a close. And as noted, increased Russian military forces appear to be poised for this final push.

This is perhaps where the real significance of the latest Pentagon and British terrorist kill program is evinced. If we accept the plausible and proven premise that the Americans and their NATO allies have been covertly funding, arming and directing jihadi terror proxies, then one can expect that there is plenty of evidence within the terrorist ranks of such state-sponsoring criminal connections.

As Russian and Syrian forces eradicate the terrorist remnants one can anticipate that a trove of highly indicting information will be uncovered that grievously imputes Washington, London, Paris and others in Syria’s dirty war. Among the finds too will be hundreds of Nusra and other terrorist operatives who may be willing to testify as to who their handlers were. A huge can of worms awaits to be prized open.

To pre-empt such devastating evidence of Western culpability in waging a covert criminal war in Syria, the Pentagon and its British partner appear to be dispatching their elite troops to perform a little bit of «house cleaning». That cleaning may involve whacking jihadis who know too much.

No wonder the British official said it could the most important mission for the SAS in its 75-year history. Washington and London’s neck is on the line.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

China’s nuclear roll-out facing delays

China may scale down plans for nuclear power because of slowing demand for electricity and construction setbacks

By Steve Thomas – ChinaDialogue – 26.10.2016

For China’s nuclear industry, 2016 has been a frustrating year. So far, construction has started on only one new plant, and its target of bringing 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 seems impossible to meet.

At present, China has 19.3 gigawatts of nuclear supply under construction and a further 31.4 gigawatts already in service. Given that new plants take five years or more to build, the country faces a shortfall of more than seven gigawatts on its target.

All the plants started between 2008 and 2010 are online except for six imported reactors. These include four AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse, based in the USA but owned by Toshiba of Japan; and two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR), developed by Areva, a French multinational group specialising in nuclear power.

The plants are not expected to be completed before 2017 and all will be at least three years late, an unprecedented delay in China’s nuclear history. It would be surprising if China was not disillusioned with its suppliers and their technologies.

Technology problems

The EPR and AP1000 reactors have been problematic to build. The two EPRs are 3-4 years late although there is little available information detailing why. Meanwhile, EPR plants in Finland and France, which should have been completed in 2009 and 2012, respectively, will not be online before 2018.

There are no obvious problems that account for the majority of the delays at any of the sites, just a series of quality and planning issues that suggest the complexity of the design makes it difficult to build.

The four AP1000s are also running 3-4 years late. They are being built by China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC), which has not built reactors before. There is some publicly available information about the problems suffered in China with the AP1000s, including continual design changes by Westinghouse. The reactor coolant pumps and the squib valves, which are essential to prevent accidents, have been particularly problematic, for example.

Still, China is expected to be the first country to complete construction of AP1000 and EPR designs, a scenario it did not expect or want. The government is required to develop and demonstrate test procedures for bringing the plants into service, which could take up to a year. These test procedures are developed by vendors and generally standardised although national safety regulators must approve them and can add specific requirements.

In 2014, a senior official at China’s nuclear safety regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) complained that only a small number of test procedures had been developed for the AP1000, and no acceptance criteria had been submitted for review. He said the same issues affect the EPR.

China will likely be reluctant to commit to further AP1000s (and the CAP1400, a Chinese design modified from the AP1000) until the first of the Westinghouse designs is in service, passes its acceptance tests, and demonstrates safe, reliable operation. There are no plans to build additional EPR reactors.

In fact, state-owned China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) opted instead to develop medium-sized reactors (1000 megawatts), the ACP1000 and the ACPR1000, respectively, based on Areva’s much older M310 design rather than the EPR.

Challenging circumstances

The slowdown in electricity demand growth at home has left China with surplus power-generating capacity. Nuclear is now competing against coal plants supplied with cheap fuel. Furthermore, nuclear has a lower priority for dispatch in winter than combined heat and power plants, which warm homes and factories and typically burn coal and gas.

In 2015, nuclear power accounted for only 3% of China’s electricity and at any plausible rate of building nuclear plants, it is unlikely that nuclear would achieve more than 10% of China’s electricity supply.

This year, one reactor (Hongyanhe 3) in Liaoning, operated for only 987 hours in the first quarter of 2016, just 45% of its availability, while reactors in Fujian (Fuqing) and Hainan (Changjiang) were shut down temporarily.

Another challenge is the strain placed on China’s nuclear regulators in the face of such an ambitious target. The NNSA is under particular pressure to oversee the operation of 36 plants and the construction of 20 plants, as well as being the first regulatory authority to review six new designs. Not even the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitored standards during the huge build out of the industry in the 1960s and 1970s, has faced such a workload.

Safety authorities are usually reluctant to appear critical of their international peers but in 2014, a senior French safety regulator described NNSA as “overwhelmed”, and claimed that the storage of components was “not at an adequate level”.  A senior official from SNPTC said in 2015: “Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough.” To build up the capabilities to support such a large construction programme a pause in ordering new plants and equipment may be necessary.

Uncertain future

The 58GW target of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 is not achievable and, like nuclear capacity targets in the past in China and elsewhere, it will be quietly revised down. The challenge for the Chinese nuclear industry is to do what no other nuclear industry worldwide has been able to do; to bring the cost of nuclear generation down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables.

If it is unable to do this, China cannot afford to carry on ordering nuclear plants and nuclear will retain a small proportion of the electricity mix.

This leaves China’s nuclear export drive in a precarious position. Since 2013, China has turned its attention to nuclear export markets, offering apparently strong advantages over its competitors. The Chinese government can call on all the resources of China to offer a package of equipment, construction expertise, finance and training that none of its rivals, even Russia, can match.

Unlike its competitors, it also has a huge amount of recent construction experience allowing it to supply cheap, good quality equipment. Its attempt to build reactors in the UK is an important element to this strategy; convincing an experienced user of nuclear power that a Chinese plant is worth investing in is a strong endorsement of their technology.

Despite these advantages China has had little export success so far. In part, this is because there are fewer markets open to new nuclear. Such markets are typically found in developing countries where the financial risks are greater, and where governments have tried and failed to launch nuclear power programmes themselves.

It seems clear there is a political element to the Chinese nuclear export strategy, which is to gain influence and leverage in the importing countries. However, if the world nuclear market does not pick up soon, the Chinese government may decide to put its formidable resources behind other technologies that would develop influence with less economic risk. If China’s nuclear home market is not flourishing, this decision will be much easier.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | Leave a comment