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Madame President Le Pen – Europe’s next political earthquake

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 22, 2016

After the shock of Brexit and then election of Donald Trump to the White House, anything now seems possible in the political world. Six months hence, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National (FN), will be within reach of the presidency.

It’s a possibility that Le Pen is not alone in trumpeting, following Britain’s surprise vote to leave the European Union and Trump’s equally surprising US victory earlier this month. Last week, incumbent French Prime Minister Manuel Valls acknowledged that the FN leader could be elected the French republic’s new president when the country goes to the polls during April-May next year.

The 48-year-old Le Pen, a trained lawyer, is hoping that her bid for Élysée Palace will tap into the zeitgeist of what she calls a “popular uprising against ruling elites”.

Her chances of becoming head of state in the EU’s second largest member after Germany has just received a further boost from the expected nomination of Francois Fillon as presidential candidate of the center-right Les Republicains party. Fillon is way ahead of his party rival Alain Juppé in the nomination process, which concludes this coming weekend.

While Fillon has adopted Le Pen’s agenda of tougher immigration controls, there is a gulf of difference on economic issues, as well as on France’s relation to the EU bloc.

Fillon, a prime minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012), is an economic neoliberal hawk. He proudly claims the late British premier Margaret Thatcher as one of his ideological mentors. Fillon is promising to slash public service jobs and budgets, while also gutting French labor laws to remove statutory caps on maximum working hours and to increase the retirement age.

It is hard to conceive of a more politically tone-deaf candidate for the presidency. This year France has seen months of massive public protests against the very hardline austerity measures that Fillon is advocating.

So, while his tough rhetoric on clamping down on immigration and his socially conservative opposition to gay marriage might appeal to some citizens on the political right, Marine Le Pen appears to be more in tune with concerns of the broader electorate. Those concerns are motivated by economic insecurity and loss of democratic accountability in an era of seemingly implacable financial globalization.

The rise of FN in France and other eurosceptic political parties across Europe is not simply due to xenophobia and racial tensions over immigration. It is arguably much more about counteracting the excesses of a global oligarchy, which the EU and established political parties have come to embody.

Whereas Le Pen wants to follow Britain in quitting the EU altogether to reassert national control over the economy, Fillon has no such ambitions. He is a candidate for globalization and austerity, the very program that has become a totemic hate symbol driving the populist mood for revolt.

The FN has come a long way from its origins when it was considered a bete noire of French and European politics owing to perceived fascist and racist tendencies. Founded in 1993 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of Marine, the party would never receive mainstream media coverage. Now it does.

Marine Le Pen cleans house

When she took over the FN leadership in 2011, Le Pen embarked on a “detoxication” of the party, cleaning up its image as an anti-Semitic, racist fringe movement. This has led to an acrimonious split with her father, who has been banished to obscurity as “honorary president” over his repeated remarks about the Nazi Holocaust being a mere “historical footnote”.

Under Marine, the FN has also adopted a more leftwing economic agenda, such as protecting employment rights, increasing the minimum wage and vowing to fight corporate capitalism by spurning neoliberal international trade deals.

This is perhaps where she promises to rally French voters when they go to the first and second rounds of the presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

The incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande and his prime minister Manuel Valls have become toxic for French workers and traditional leftwing voters. Since his election in 2012, Hollande’s popularity has plummeted to record single-digit lows. The Socialist party leadership is vilified as “betraying” ordinary citizens by accommodating finance capital and embracing neoliberal austerity.

So abject has the Socialist party become in the eyes of the electorate, it is inconceivable that it will be able muster a viable candidate for the presidential election.

That in effect makes the ballot a face-off between Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon, whose supporters may be betting on his anti-immigrant rhetoric to decisively capture the rightwing vote. The 62-year-old also has more than three decades of parliamentary experience, which might be viewed as giving him appeal for more centrist voters.

But such calculations are badly amiss in gauging the popular mood in France and elsewhere. The popular discontent with conventional politics goes beyond rightwing concerns over excessive immigration and “multi-culturalism”. It is about challenging the status quo of perceived economic oppression that politicians like Francois Fillon represent.

In this assessment, Le Pen stands to reap votes from a much broader constituency of French citizens, straddling both the traditional left and right, but all united under the banner of demanding democratic control over basic economic matters.

If the FN sweeps to power by May of next year, the European political landscape will be shattered. An outwardly anti-EU French presidency would herald the collapse of the 28-member bloc as we know it.

That will have radical implications for US, European and Russian relations. No longer shackled by pro-Washington Atlanticism, France and Europe would begin to realign with more balanced and mutual relations with Moscow. Given Donald Trump’s more pragmatic friendly intentions towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, the whole geopolitical outlook next year could be upended – and upended for the greater global good. The current US-led hostility towards Russia abandoned and flash-points in Ukraine and Syria defused.

Center-right presidential hopeful Francois Fillon has a more reasonable view of Russia compared with the slavish Socialist party leadership under Hollande and Valls. Last week, he called for a international coalition involving Russia as a partner in the global fight against terrorism.

However, Le Pen is again seen to be more in tune with the electorate on that issue. She has berated Washington and European leaders for demonizing Russia, wants to jettison self-defeating punitive sanctions against Moscow, and she openly aligns with Vladimir Putin on foreign policy objectives, including his support for Syria against illegally armed insurgents who also pose grave security threats to France and the rest of Europe.

Whether Le Pen can deliver on policies to ameliorate French society and the economy is a moot point. But the improved shake-up of France and Europe’s foreign relations with the US and Russia is something that one feels many French voters will be willing to take a chance on.

Brexit, Trump, Le Pen could prove to be three moments in a year of major upheaval. As with any change, there are always risks for downsides. But given the rottenness of conventional politics in the West, the possibility of change is welcome.

And a Le Pen political earthquake might be the final shock to bring a rotten edifice crashing down.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Congressional Hawks Rush to Intensify War in Syria

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | November 21, 2016

Hawks pass HR5732

Late in the day Tuesday November 15, Congress convened in special session. With normal rules suspended, they passed House Resolution 5732 the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. The resolution calls for intensifying already harsh sanctions on Syria, assessing implementation of No Fly Zone in Syria and escalating efforts to press criminal charges against Syrian officials. HR5732 claims to promote a negotiated settlement in Syria but, as analyzed by Friends Committee for National Legislation, imposes preconditions which would actually make that more difficult.

There was 40 minutes of “debate” with six representatives (Royce, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Kildee, Smith, and Curbelo) speaking in favor of the resolution. There were few other Congressional representatives present in Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the resolution was passed “unanimously” without mentioning the special conditions.

The “Non Controversial” Resolution that could lead to World War III

According to wikipediaSuspension of the rules is a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills in the United States House of Representatives …. such as naming Post Offices…” In this case, the resolution calls for evaluating and developing plans for a “No Fly Zone” which is an act of war. This is obviously controversial and it seems clear the resolution should have been debated and discussed under normal rules with a normal amount of Congressional presence and debate.

The motivation for bypassing normal rules and rushing the bill through without debate was articulated by the bill’s author and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel: “We cannot delay action on Syria any further…. if we don’t get this legislation across the finish line in the next few weeks, we are back to square one.”  The current urgency may be related to the election results since Trump has spoken out against “regime change” foreign policy. As much as they are critical of Obama for not doing more, Congressional neoconservatives are concerned about the prospect of a President who might move toward peace and away from war.

The Caesar Fraud  

HR5732 is titled the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Ca) explained that the resolution is named after “the brave Syrian defector known to the world as Caesar, who testified to us the shocking scale of torture being carried out within the prisons of Syria.”

In reality, the Caesar story was a grand deception involving the CIA with funding from Qatar to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations. The 55,000 photos which were said to show 11,000 torture victims have never been publicly revealed. Only a tiny number of photos have been publicized. However, in 2015 Human Rights Watch was granted access to view the entire set. They revealed that almost one half the photos show the opposite of what was claimed: instead of victims tortured by the Syrian government, they actually show dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of car bombs and other terror attacks! The “Caesar” story, replete with masked ‘defector’, was one of the early propaganda hoaxes regarding Syria.

False Claims that the US has been doing nothing

One of the big lies regarding Syria is that the US has been inactive. Royce says:

The administration has decided not to decide. And that itself, unfortunately, has set a course where here we sit and watch and the violence only worsens. Mr. Speaker, America has been sitting back and watching these atrocities for far too long. Vital U.S. national security interests are at stake.

The ranking Democrat Eliot Engel said:

Four years ago I thought we should have aided the Free Syrian Army. They came to us in Washington and begged us for help… they were simply looking for weaponry. I really believe if we had given it to them, the situation in Syria would have been different today.

This is nonsense. The US was actively coordinating, training and supplying armed opposition groups beginning in late 2011. When the Qadaffi government was toppled in Fall 2011, the CIA oversaw the theft of the Libyan armories and shipment of weapons to Syrian armed opposition as documented in the Defense Intelligence Agency report of October 2012.

These weapons transfers were secret. For the public record it was acknowledged that the US was supplying communications equipment to the armed opposition while Saudi Arabia and Qatar were supplying weaponry. This is one reason that Saudi purchases of weapons skyrocketed during this time period; they were buying weapons to replace those being shipped to the armed opposition in Syria. It was very profitable for US arms manufacturers.

Huge weapons transfers to the armed opposition in Syria have continued to the present. This past Spring, Janes Defense reported the details of a U.S. delivery of 2.2 million pounds of ammunition, rocket launchers and other weaponry to the armed opposition.

Claims that the US has been inactive are baseless. In reality the US has done everything short of a direct attack on Syria. And the US military is starting to cross that barrier. On September 17 the US air coalition did a direct attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, killing 80 Syrian soldiers and enabling ISIS to launch an attack on the position. Claims that it was a “mistake” are highly dubious.

The claims by Congressional hawks that the US has been ‘inactive’ in the Syrian conflict are part of the false narrative suggesting the US must “do something” which leads to a No Fly Zone and full scale war. Ironically, these calls for war are masked as “humanitarian”. And never do the proponents bring up the case of Libya where the US and NATO “did something”: destroyed the government and left chaos.

Congress as a Fact-Free House of Propaganda

With only a handful of representatives present and no debate, the six Congress members engaged in unrestrained propaganda and misinformation. The leading Democrat, Eliot Engel, said “We’re going into the New Year 2017, Assad still clings to power, at the expense of killing millions of his citizens.” That number is way off anyone’s charts.

Rep Kildee said “The world has witnessed this terrible tragedy unfold before our eyes. Nearly half a million Syrians killed. Not soldiers – men, women, children killed.”

The official text of the resolution says,

It is the sense of Congress that–

(1) Bashar al-Assad’s murderous actions against the people of Syria have caused the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians…

The above accusations – from “millions of citizens” to “half a million” to “400,000 civilians” – are all preposterous lies.

Credible estimates of casualties in the Syrian conflict range from 300,000 to 420,000. The opposition supporting Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the documented 2011-2016 death toll as follows:

killed pro Syrian forces – 108,000

killed anti government forces – 105,000

killed civilians – 89,000

In contrast with Congressional and media claims, civilians comprise a minority of the total death count and the largest casualty group is those fighting in defense of the the Syrian state. These facts are ignored and never mentioned because they point to the reality versus the propaganda narrative which allows the USA and allies to continue funding terrorism and a war of aggression against Syria.

The Congressional speakers were in full self-righteous mode as they accused the Syrian government of “committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians including murder, torture and rape. No one has been spared from this targeting, even children.” A naive listener would never know that the Syrian government is primarily fighting the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda including thousands of foreigners supplied and paid by foreign governments.

The Congressional speakers go on to accuse the Syrian military of “targeting” hospitals, schools and markets. A critical listener might ask why they would do that instead of targeting the Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies who launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of hell cannon missiles into government held Aleppo every day.

The Congressional propaganda fest would not be complete without mention of the “White Helmets.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said:

We (previously) heard the testimony of Raed Saleh of the Syrian White Helmets. These are the doctors, nurses and volunteers who actually, when the bombs come, run towards the areas that have been hit in order to try to get the injured civilians medical treatment… They have lost over 600 doctors and nurses.

This is more Congressional nonsense. There are no nurses or doctors associated with the White Helmets. The organization was created by the USA and UK and heavily promoted by a “shady PR firm.” The White Helmets operate solely in areas controlled by Nusra and associated terrorist groups. They do some rescue work in the conflict zone but their main role is in the information war manipulating public opinion. The White Helmets actively promote US/NATO intervention through a No Fly Zone. Recently the White Helmets has become a major source of claims of innocent civilian victims in east Aleppo. Given the clear history of the White Helmets, these claims should be treated with skepticism. What exactly is the evidence? The same skepticism needs to be applied to video and other reports from the Aleppo Media Center. AMC is a creation of the Syrian Expatriates Organization whose address on K Street, Washington DC indicates it is a US marketing operation.

What is really going on?

The campaign to overthrow the Syrian government is failing and there is possibility of a victory for the Syrian government and allies. The previous flood of international jihadi recruits has dried up. The Syrian Army and allies are gaining ground militarily and negotiating settlements or re-locations with “rebels” who previously terrorized Homs, Darraya (outer Damascus) and elsewhere. In Aleppo the Syrian army and allies are tightening the noose around the armed opposition in east Aleppo.

This has caused alarm among neoconservative lawmakers devoted to Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. empire. They are desperate to prevent the Syrian government from finally eliminating the terrorist groups which the West and allies have promoted for the past 5+ years.

“Pro Israel” groups have been major campaigners for passage of HR5732. The name of Simon Wiesenthal is even invoked in the resolution. With crocodile tears fully flowing, Rabbi Lee Bycel wrote “Where is the Conscience of the World?” as he questioned why the “humanitarian” HR5732 was not passed earlier.

Israeli interests are one of the primary forces sustaining and promoting the conflict. Syria is officially at war with Israel which continues to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria has been a key ally of the Lebanese resistance; and Syria has maintained its alliance with Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton urged Syria to break relations with Hezbollah, reduce relations with Iran and come to settlement with Israel. The Syrian refusal to comply with these Washington demands was instrumental in solidifying Washington’s hostility.

Congressional proponents of HR5732 make clear the international dimension of the conflict. Royce explains “It is Russia, it is Hezbollah, that are the primary movers of death and destruction… it is the IRGC fighters from Iran.” Engel echoes the same message: “Yes, we want to go after Assad’s partners in violence… along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces”.

These statements are in contrast with the analysis of some writers who believe Israel is not deeply opposed to the Damascus government. For example, Phyllis Bennis recently wrote that belief in an “arc of resistance” has been “long debunked” and that “the Syrian regime …. often plays a useful role for US and Israeli interests.”

It’s remarkable that this faulty analysis continues to be propounded. In words and deeds Israel has made its position on Syria crystal clear. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained in an interview:

We always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran … the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.

These statements have been fully backed up by Israeli actions bombing Syrian positions in southern Syria and providing medical treatment for Nusra/Al Qaeda and other armed opposition fighters.

What Will Happen Now?

If the Syrian government and allies continue to advance in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, outer Damascus and the south, the situation will come to a head. The enemies of Syria – predominately the USA, Gulf Countries, NATO and Israel – will come to a decision point. Do they intervene directly or do they allow their regime project to collapse?

HR5732 is an effort to prepare for direct intervention and aggression.

One thing is clear from the experience of Libya: Neoconservatives do not care if they leave a country in chaos. The main objective is to destabilize and overthrow a government which is too independent. If the USA and allies cannot dominate the country, then at least they can destroy the contrary authority and leave chaos.

What is at stake in Syria is whether the USA and allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. are able to destroy the last secular and independent Arab country in the region and whether the US goal of being the sole superpower in the world prevails.

The rushed passing of HR5732 without debate is indicative that:

* “regime change” proponents have not given up their war on Syria

* they seek to escalate US aggression.

* the US Congress is a venue where blatant lies are said with impunity and where violent actions are advanced behind a cynical and amoral veneer of “humanitarianism” and crocodile tears.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Draining the Swamp at State

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Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0
By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | November 22, 2016

If there is one hopeful sign in the Presidency of Donald Trump, it is his pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ as it relates to those special insider interests who run the show and those outsider interests who own the show.

It is a hugely ambitious task and hardly achievable in four short years but there is a branch of the Federal government where the President-elect (PE) would find immediate results and bring the satisfaction that American foreign policy would no longer be dependent on globalization or spreading unwinnable wars on wasteful adventurism overseas. If the PE is, in fact, favorable towards a non-interventionist role, the opportunity for a thorough housecleaning and a reshape of the State Department is Now. According to current reports, the struggle is underway within the transition team for the soul of the State Department and ultimately the Trump Administration.

As HRC continued her crazed war talk about Syria and defended NATO encroachment on Russian borders while uttering unprovoked attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin, there was every reason to believe that minutes after concluding her inaugural address, HRC would have walked off the stage and signed the order initiating a No-Fly Zone over Syria, right then and there. And bingo-bango-bongo, Putin would have responded. I knew it as sure as I know my own name.  At some point it became clear, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein said so precisely, HRC would be more dangerous than Donald Trump.

Even as he talked about modernizing the US military, Trump’s campaign rhetoric about disentangling from foreign entanglements, making NATO nations pay their fair share and dialogue with Putin rather than the usual “Blame it on the Russians” bombast, struck a chord; there was reason for hope. Unlike Bernie Sanders who has proven to be just another Democrat, Trump dared to question whether there were any ‘moderate’ rebels (aka terrorists) in Syria, the mythical existence of which justified the Obama administration’s lust to overthrow the Assad government. Trump’s positions, limited elucidation though there was, were always far more reasonable than HRC’s inflammatory saber rattling and aggressive militarism that stirred justified fears of WW III. If anyone bothered to listen, Trump was voicing foreign policy concerns that not one Democrat in Congress has dared to articulate in the last eight years.

While I am in the ‘wait and see’ category of pragmatists regarding the PE, I agree with Robert Parry’s point that Trump has the opportunity to be a truly great president IF, and it’s a big IF,  he uses his inner grit and a street savvy to break the globalist/neoliberal/neocon  stranglehold (with its links to shadow government) on foreign policy at the State Department, a concept that President Barack Obama never understood or even aspired to.  The PE appointment for Secretary of State which is currently an intense subject of debate within the transition will indicate which direction the PE will take US foreign policy.

In the early days after the election Trump communication advisor Jason Miller offered reassurance with the following:

“There will be non-traditional names, a number of people who have had wide-ranging success in a number of different fields; wide-ranging success in business … People will be excited when they see the type of leaders the President-elect brings into this administration.”

One not so non-traditional and not so exciting appointment is that of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi, as Director of the CIA.  Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at West Point and then Harvard Law School and was a backer of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl) during the primaries, would hardly qualify as anything more than the ‘same old’ school of CIA Directors that have dominated the agency for decades under the Republicrats. Pompeo, known as a rabid political ideologue, is not expected to break with the past and can be expected to continue the agency’s widespread unconstitutional violations with an unabashed torture program as if that ever revealed reliable ‘actionable intelligence’ or curtailed dedicated terrorists. So what message does that appointment send?

During their interview, it would be interesting to know if there was discussion that PE Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear treaty has been largely based on non-inclusive trade concerns. If, in fact, the PE’s view of foreign policy includes trade as a legitimate tool for negotiations, the House of Representatives recent party-line vote in rejection (a plum for Israel) of the sale of Boeing and Airbus commercial jets to Iran would be considered a diplomatic setback (under a Trump Administration).

Yet to be determined is whether Trump will roll over and appoint his good friend Rudy Giuliani who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever to qualify him and will inevitably be utterly lost in the State Department’s bureaucracy and political snake pit – or will the President-elect allow himself to be pressured to accept former Bush UN Ambassador, the wacky conniving John Bolton who will owe his allegiance to the professional warmongering neocons. Sen. Rand Paul (R-SC) who frequently shows some good Libertarian common sense on foreign policy issues, has announced his intention to block either nomination.

While former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who has been recently added to the list for Secretary of State would add a certain gravitas, he is another not non-traditional name with little first hand, on the ground knowledge of today’s foreign policy complexities. More importantly, does Romney know how to clean house?

As soon as the votes were counted, certain neo-cons jumped Clinton’s sinking ship without so much as a fond adieu and, being shy, retiring types, sought to elbow their way onto the Trump Ship of State. More recently, Eliot Cohen’s attempts at a tryst soured as he expressed displeasure after having ‘made the case that young conservatives should volunteer to serve” now concluded he ‘was wrong’.

Other neo-con names floating as transition team members have been the especially slimy, Richard Perle known appropriately as the Prince of Darkness, foreign policy analyst Michael Ledeen who supports the use violence to spread democracy and  noted Islamaphobe Frank Gaffney,  who denied he was on the transition team and had ever been contacted.

If the PE and his closest aides are naïve enough to believe that a conciliatory gesture will engender cooperation from the foreign policy establishment, they are woefully misguided. If Trump fails to rein in the neocons and war hawk neolibs (including assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries and lower level staff) with dispatch, they will quickly discover that if you get into the swamp with alligators, you had better be prepared to wrestle alligators.

At the same time, the reality is that the estimated hundreds of embedded neocons and neolibs at State have the potential, as they clean out their desks, to pilfer (an ultra serious legal violation) the last decade worth of top secret and confidential memos, notes and reports, contacts and network names and other vital information necessary for the transition of foreign policy to the Trump administration. It would not be surprising for a situation to develop similar to some months ago when fifty plus State mid level careerists ‘leaked’ an internal memo criticizing President Obama’s policy on Syria without any apparent repercussions. If the Trump Administration takes foreign policy in a new, improved direction, how will the new President deal with being subtly, or not so subtly, undermined by his own staff? There is no reason to believe that the most virulent elements of the US foreign policy establishment closely tied to Israel will ‘go quietly into that good night.’

Less than a week after the election, PE had his first phone conversation with Putin and they reportedly talked extensively about Syria and promised a face-to-face in the near future. Moscow reported that Putin told Trump he was ready for “dialogue of partnership based on principles of equality, mutual response and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.” The Trump transition team statement said that the PE told Putin ‘he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia” which is considerably more encouraging than what HRC would have told Putin if she had been elected.

In a Wall Street Journal interview three days after the election, Trump suggested a shift from Obama’s foreign policy objectives regarding support for the Syrian opposition and its insistence on ousting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. “We’re backing rebels against Syria and we have no idea who these people are.”

Not unexpectedly, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (2012-2014), as his National Security Adviser succeeding Obama NSA Susan Rice. Flynn resigned or was pushed out of the DIA because of a public difference of opinion regarding the Obama Syria strategy which was to support those mythical ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels to oust Assad rather than focus on the destruction of ISIS. Flynn is being portrayed by the NY Times and others as ‘hotheaded’ and irresponsible with ‘poor judgment’ as well as an “alarming pick” for NSA.

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria in 2015 which was replayed on CNN since his appointment, Flynn spoke about threats from ISIS: “We are not winning, we are participating. We need to do more to defeat this problem than just go kill a couple more radical Islamists.” Flynn took the discussion beyond a military solution citing the need for an “economic transformation beyond building schools” while creating “other aspects of energy to achieve that economic transformation” and the use of “water as a means to increase the economic health of the region.”

Zakaria debunked Flynn’s thoughts with “that would require a huge transformation of the whole region” and would be “incredibly costly, laborious and generational. I think the Obama Administration would say it’s not worth the effort; not the kind of existential threat to the US that would warrant that massive expenditure of time, money and resources.” As if the US war-related $20 trillion deficit is peanuts.

Currently, Flynn is being criticized for comments referring to radical Islamists as ‘a political ideology hiding behind the notion of it being a religion” which brings to mind a discussion re the true tenets of Islam that I had with a Florida Imam. His comparison was that as certain fundamental Christians have distorted Christianity to suit their political agenda; so too have certain Moslems used their religion to justify their ideology. The fact that Flynn sees that distinction is encouraging.


Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UNCLOAKED: White Helmets Rescue Crisis Actor in ‘Mannequin Challenge’ Fakery

21st Century Wire – November 21, 2016

… This video appears to be another White Helmets staged rescue operation, complete with a “crisis actor,” in what some have dubbed a poor attempt at the mannequin challenge type of video. The #TheMannequinChallenge social engineering phenomena first went viral in late October featuring, students from a Jacksonville high school, who were “pretending to be stuck motionless, mid-pose, as if they were modeling slacks at Macy’s.” … Full article

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Does Clinton’s Defeat Mean the Decline of US Interventionism?

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0
By Marwen Bouassida | CounterPunch | November 22, 2016

Carthage, Tunisia – No one knows what the future will bring. Yet, many observers have been quick to announce the decline of American interventionism and the revival of isolationism–the end of an era and the beginning of another.

Rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump fuels this prediction, which depresses some and delights other. The conflicted responses to Trump’s victory, based on ideological interests and values, register even within families. However, the most dramatic split reactions to Trump’s victory are exemplified by the left’s reception—liberal or socialist—in the global North versus the global South. If the North reacted to Trump’s victory with suffocated apprehension, the South experienced it as a breath of fresh air, not out of sympathy for Trump but as a rejection of Clinton.

The global South associates the name of Clinton—Bill or Hillary—with the heralds of humanitarian intervention. If the discourse of humanitarianism seduced the North, it has not been so in the South, even less in the Near and Middle East, which no longer believe in it. The patent humanitarian disasters in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have disillusioned them.

It is in this sense that Trump’s victory is felt as a release, a hope for change, and a rupture from the policy of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. This policy, in the name of edifying nations (“nation building”), has destroyed some of the oldest nations and civilizations on earth; in the name of delivering well-being, it has delivered misery; in the name of liberal values, it has galvanized religious zeal; in the name of democracy and human rights, it has installed autocracies and Sharia law.

Who is to blame?

Did the United States not know that intervening in “the lands of Islam” would act as a catalyst for Jihad? Was it by chance that the United States intervened only in secular states, turning them into manholes of religious extremism? Is it a coincidence that these interventions were and are often supported by regimes that sponsor political Islam? Conspiracy theory, you say? No, these are historical facts.

Can the United States not learn from history, or does it just doom itself to repeat it? Does it not pose itself the question of how al-Qaeda and Daesh originated? How did they organize themselves? Who trained them? What is their mobilizing discourse? (1) Why is the US their target?  None of this seems to matter to the US: all it cares about is projecting its own idealism. (2)

The death of thousands of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria, has it contributed to the well being of these peoples? Or does the United States perhaps respond to this question in the manner of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, who regretted the death of five-hundred-thousand Iraqi children, deprived of medications by the American embargo, to conclude with the infamous sentence, “[But] it was worth it “?

Was it worth it that people came to perceive humanitarian intervention as the new crusades? Was it worth it that they now perceive democracy as a pagan, pre-Islamic model, abjured by their belief? Was it worth it that they now perceive modernity as deviating believers from the “true” path? Was it worth that they now perceive human rights as human standards as contrary to the divine will? Was it worth it that people now perceive secularism as atheism whose defenders are punishable by beheading?

Have universal values become a problem rather than a solution? What then to think of making war in their name? Has humanitarian intervention become punishment rather than help?

The South has understood where the North has not: the selective nature of humanitarian interventions reflects their punitive nature; sanctions go to non-client regimes; interventions seem to be a new excuse for the hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its allies; they are a new rationale for NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they are a way to suppress Russia and deprive it of its zones of influence. (3)

What a far-sighted motion was that of the coalition of the countries of the Third World (G77) at the Havana Summit in 2000! It declared its rejection of any intervention, including humanitarian, which did not respect the sovereignty of the states concerned. (4) This was nothing other than a rejection of the Clinton Doctrine, announced in 1999, in the wake of the war of Kosovo, which made “humanitarian intervention” the new bedrock, or perhaps the new facade, of the foreign policy of the United States. It was the same policy followed and developed by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. (5)

The end of interventionism?

But are Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession to power sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism?

Donald Trump is a nationalist, whose rise has been the result of a coalition of anti-interventionists within the Republican Party. They profess a foreign policy that Trump has summarized in these words: “We will use military force only in cases of vital necessity to the national security of the United States. We will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving ourselves in situations in which we have no right to intervene.” (6)

But drawing conclusions about the foreign policy of the United States from unofficial statements seems simplistic. At the moment of this writing, any speculation as to the policy choices of Trump’s foreign policy is premature. One can’t predict his policy with regard to the Near and Middle East, since he has not yet even formed his cabinet. Moreover, presidents in office can change their tune in the course of their tenure. The case of George W. Bush provides an excellent example.

Like Donald Trump, George W. Bush was a conservative Republican non-interventionist. He advocated “America First,” called for a more subdued foreign policy and adopted Colin Powell’s realism “to attend without stress” (7) with regard to the Near and Middle East. But his policy shifted to become the most aggressive and most brutal in the history of the United States. Many international observers argue that this shift came as a response to the September 11 attacks, but they fail to note that the aggressive germs already existed within Bush’s cabinet and advisers: the neo-conservatives occupied key functions in his administration. (8)

Up until now, Trump’s links with the neo-cons remain unclear. The best-known neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan, appear to have lost their bet by supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But others, less prominent or influential, seem to have won it by supporting Trump: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and James Woolsey, his adviser and one of the architects of the wars in the Middle East.

These indices show that nothing seems to have been gained by the South, still less by the Near and Middle East. There appears to be no guarantee that the situation will improve.

The non-interventionism promised by Trump may not necessarily equate to a policy of isolationism. A non-interventionist policy does not automatically mean that the United States will stop protecting their interests abroad, strategic or otherwise. Rather, it could mean that the United States will not intervene abroad except to defend their own interests, unilaterally–and perhaps even more aggressively. Such a potential is implied in Trump’s promise to increase the budget for the army and the military-industrial complex. Thus, it is more realistic to suppose that as long as the United States has interests in the countries of the South and the Near and Middle East, so long it will not hesitate to intervene.

In this context, Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession are not sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism—the end of an era and the beginning of another. The political reality is too complex to be reduced to statements by a presidential candidate campaigning for election, by an elected president, or even by a president in the course of performing his office.

No one knows what the future will bring.

Marwen Bouassida is a researcher in international law at North African-European relations, University of Carthage, Tunisia. He regularly contributes to the online magazine Kapitalis.

(Translated from the French by Luciana Bohne)

Works Cited

1    The Declaration of 77 South Summit, Havana – Cuba, 10 – 14 April 2000: http://www.g77.org/summit/Declaration_G77Summit.htm

2    See : Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos : The misadventure of Hillary Clinton, CounterPunch, 2015.

3    Actualité : « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Suptniknews (Novembre 04, 2016) En ligne : http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ

4    Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90.

5    Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?” The National Interest (Novembre 12, 2016) Online: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378

6    Sputniknews, « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est élu », Novembre 04, 2016. http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ (last seen: November 17, 2016)

7    Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard, 2004, p.90

8    Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy: What will he really do?”, The National Interest, Novembre 12, 2016 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378 (last seen: Novembre 17, 2016)

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Empire Perpetrates Its Dirty War on Syria Beneath the Protected Cover of Big Lies

Global Research – November 22, 2016

The following text is an excerpt of a forthcoming E-Book entitled Voices From Syria, by Mark Taliano.

Taliano focuses on the broad issue of  Media Disinformation and America’s Wars: Liars Versus Truthers. According to the author, the  “Progressive Left” has been coopted.

Voices From Syria is slated to be launched by Global Research publishers in December.

*       *      *

Well-documented facts pertaining to the 9/11 wars, all supported by sustainable evidence, have barely made inroads into the collective consciousness of Western media consumers.

The War on Syria is no exception. Despite the presence of five years of sustainable evidence that contradicts the Western narratives, people still believe the “official” lies.

One of the more prevalent lies about the dirty war on Syria, for example, is that there are so-called “moderate rebels”. This false cover for certain terrorists groups furnishes Western powers with pretexts for illegally arming and supporting terrorism in Syria.

Syrian resident Lilly Martin describes the crimes committed by the so-called “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) on August 4, 2013, in Ballouta, a small village near Latakia, Syria:

The FSA went house to house killing everyone in their path.  Whole families were wiped out. One pregnant woman was seized and her stomach cut open and the fetus hung in a tree.  There were many survivors, despite the fact that 220 dead bodies were later counted at the hospital in Latakia. The survivors made their way to an empty school in Latakia and took shelter there until the village could be freed by the Syrian Arab Army on August 17, 2013.

During the sectarian massacre, 100 small children and a few females were kidnapped by the FSA. They were taken as captives to Selma, which was and still is occupied and held by the FSA.  The children and females were tortured.  They were all held underground without sunlight. One boy had his eyes gouged out, and another boy was shot through the head.

About 2 weeks later the FSA used those children to create a video.  They drugged the 100 children and arraigned them in poses on the floor to appear dead. They created many videos using their captives as actors. The video was sent via cell phone to a contact person in Damascus.  It was that person who later uploaded the famous Sarin Chemical attack video on YouTube.com

Martin explains further, that on May 7, 2014,

 after 9 months of captivity, 44 of the original 100 kidnap victims were released from Selma to a hospital in Latakia. Their release was part of the deal which also released terrorists in the Old City section of Homs. However, the remaining kidnap victims continue to be held in Selma.  On May 8th some of the captives began to give testimonies about their time in captivity in Selma with the FSA. They said most of the terrorists were Syrian but that they did occasionally hear foreign languages spoken. From other sources, we know that Selma was home to many Australian terrorists, especially from the Sydney area, which also had ties to Latakia. Those Australians would be able to speak Arabic with a Syrian accent, and also speak English very well.

The notion that these un-Islamic murderers are somehow “moderate”, is patently absurd, yet the “Big Lie” is sustained in the West by a “consensus of ignorance” which is protected by what Prof Michel Chossudovsky describes as an “American Inquisition”. Beneath the protection of this psychological operation, the engineered enemy is Islam, and the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) has become a brand to disguise imperial wars of aggression as “humanitarian”.

Thus, huge sums of public monies are diverted from worthwhile, domestic projects such as healthcare schools and roads, to support a criminal Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that is globalizing death, poverty, and destruction as the U.S led empire tries to impose a unilateral model of control over the world.

The U.S is said to be “exceptional”, and therefore the rightful ruler. Manifest Destiny writ large.

Dissent is suppressed within the framework of corporate media monopolies. Predominant narratives are supported by corrupt “NGOs” – totally bereft of objectivity — and intelligence agency “fronts”. Real investigative journalism offering historical context and legitimate evidence are relegated to the fringes, far outside the domain of the broad-based “consensus of misunderstanding.”

The “Progressive Left” has been co-opted. So-called “progressives” (presumably unwittingly) support Canada’s close relationships with Wahabbi Saudi Arabia, Apartheid Israel, and even the foreign mercenaries currently invading Syria (ie ISIS and al Nursra Front/al Qaeda, and all the “moderates”).

The foundational sources upon which the pretexts for war are built and perpetrated are taboo topics, despite longstanding evidence that the official narratives explaining the crimes of 9/11  – and the subsequent “Gladio B” operations — are flawed.  The truth is seen as “heresy”, and fact-based narratives are derided as “conspiracy theories”.

Thus, a firm foundation of lies that serves as a sanctified justification for global war and terror, remains strong.

But the stakes are high, as Western hegemony presses us closer and closer to a real prospect of widespread nuclear war. Already, the use of nuclear weapons is being “normalized” through the introduction of “mini-nukes” into the equation, and the blurring of lines between conventional and nuclear war.

Chossudovsky explains in “Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust? | Will the US launch ‘Mini-nukes’ against Iran in Retaliation for Tehran’s ‘Non-compliance’?” that

The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations outlines the procedures governing the use of nuclear weapons and the nature of the relationship between nuclear and conventional war operations.

The DJNO states that the:

‘use of nuclear weapons within a [war] theater requires that nuclear and conventional plans be integrated to the greatest extent possible’ (DJNO, p 47, italics added, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 )

The implications of this ‘integration’ are far-reaching because once the decision is taken by the Commander in Chief, namely the President of the United States, to launch a joint conventional-nuclear military operation, there is a risk that tactical nuclear weapons could be used without requesting subsequent presidential approval. In this regard, execution procedures under the jurisdiction of the theater commanders pertaining to nuclear weapons are described as ‘flexible and allow for changes in the situation …’ ”

The taboos need to be lifted, and all of the repeated lies need to be contradicted.

The War on Syria is not a “civil” war; the “uprising” was not “democratic”; Assad does not “starve his own people”; Assad does not “bomb his own people”, and, of course, there are no “moderate” terrorists.

The initial uprisings were marred by foreign-backed violence perpetrated against innocent people, soldiers, and police. Peaceful grassroots protests were hijacked by these murderous foreign-backed elements (as was the case in Ukraine) – all consistent with “hybrid war” as elaborated by Andrew Korybko.

The illegal sanctions imposed by the West – which benefit the terrorists and punish Syrian citizens – coupled with terrorist practices of theft and hoarding of humanitarian aid – are responsible for the starvation.

Assad is a democratically elected reformer, and hugely popular with Syrians, not a brutal dictator. Claims that he “kills his own people” were further debunked when the so-called “Caesar photos” evidence was proven to be a fraud. Many Syrians criticize Assad for not carpet bombing terrorist occupied areas (as US occupiers did in Fallujah, for example). Syrians sometimes refer to Assad as “Mr. Soft Heart”.

Unfortunately, though, the well-documented truth is not yet widely accepted. We need to shatter the “Inquisition” which serves to protect the criminal cabal perpetrating and orchestrating this global catastrophe. Truth and justice must prevail over lies and crimes. Currently, the opposite is the case.

Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2016

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Saudi Ammunition Bound for Syrian Moderate Opposition Ends Up in Daesh Hands

Sputnik – 22.11.2016

Ammunition supplied by the United States and Saudi Arabia to moderate Syrian opposition groups has been found in the possession of Daesh terrorist group, representatives of a UK-based organization monitoring weapons movement said.

The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) investigators work in the areas recently liberated from Daesh and its research shows that ammunition boxes left by the jihadists can be traced back to factories in Eastern Europe, the BBC reported Monday, citing CAR team leader James Bevan.

Inquiries by Bevan’s team indicated that the factory orders could be traced back to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Ammunition was then shipped to southern Turkey en route to opposition groups in northern Syria.

“Their procurement networks reach out into southern Turkey and they obviously have a series of very strong relationships with very big distributors,” Bevan told the BBC.

The ammunition then found its way into Daesh hands, eventually ending up in Iraq, where Daesh is fighting US-backed government troops. Ammunition boxes in question were found starting late 2015 in Tikrit, Ramadi, Falluja and Mosul, according to CAR.

CAR estimated that the speed of procurement was some two months between factory and the final destination in Iraq. The organization’s report has yet to be published.

Daesh, a militant jihadist organization outlawed in many countries, including the United States and Russia, took over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 amid the ongoing Syrian civil war.

The US Train and Equip Program aimed at moderate Syrian rebels was canceled in October 2015 after a number of US-trained forces were quickly overrun by extremists while the US-provided weapons were reportedly handed over to the terrorist groups. A part of the US-trained forces defected and fought on the side of terrorists.

Both the United States and the United Kingdom have recently decided to resume training programs in Syria.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN chemical watchdog refused to send experts to Aleppo under Western pressure – Lavrov

RT | November 22, 2016

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons refuses to send its experts to Aleppo to check substances used by rebels in attacks. The move was “seemingly done under pressure from our Western colleagues,” Russia’s foreign minister said.

“Russian specialists found that militants in east Aleppo used ammunition with poisonous substances, with the ammo targeting west Aleppo. The collected samples leave no doubt that it’s a toxic agent,” Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference with his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk, as cited by Interfax.

However, when the Russian Ministry of Defense addressed the leadership of the UN watchdog OPCW “with the demand to urgently send its experts to Aleppo to participate in the sample analysis,” the organization “refused to carry out this simple task, citing security issues.”

The underlying reason behind this, Lavrov said, seemed to be “tremendous pressure from our Western colleagues,” because “our and Syrian sides guaranteed security [for the experts].”

Russia is now working on the possibility of delivering the samples for analysis to The Hague, Lavrov added.

“It will make it hard [for them] to back out,” the minister said, as quoted by TASS.

Lavrov’s statement comes a day after the Ministry of Defense spoke about the evidence of chemical attacks by rebels, and stressed that the OPCW was refusing to cooperate.

Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said that Russian experts collected bioassays from four Syrians injured in the attacks, and made the shocking discovery earlier this month.

In fact, Russian top brass has been warning since September that the militants might use chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo, and in October, Syrian state media reported toxic gas having been used against a government-held area in the city.

Fifteen people were injured back then, and a local doctor told RT that the symptoms could be those observed after the use of chlorine gas.

Over the past few years, the Syrian government has often come under fire over claims of its alleged use of chemical weapons to attack the rebel-held areas – from activists and the UN, as well as the US State Department.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Syria militants get anti-aircraft missiles: Report

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An Ansar al-Islam terrorist tests a shoulder-fired and low-altitude 9K32 Strela-2 surface-to-air missile system in an unknown location in southwestern Syria
Press TV – November 22, 2016

A report says members of a foreign-sponsored militant group in Syria have received a considerable amount of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, a possible indication that the US has eased restrictions on the supply of weapons to the anti-Damascus militants.

In a video published by the a pro-militant television network on Sunday, terrorists from the so-called Ansar al-Islam group can be seen testing low-altitude 9K32 Strela-2 missile systems in the southwestern Syrian provinces of Dara’a and Quneitra.

“We, in Ansar al-Islam Front, have distributed several points of air defense to counter any attempt by the Syrian warplanes or helicopters, which bomb points in Quneitra Province. We have a good number of these missiles,” a militant can be heard saying in the video.

A second militant says his group and the so-called Free Syrian Army are deploying munitions and forces to the towns of al-Harra, Masharah, Sandaniya and Jabata for attack against Syrian government forces within the next few days.

The report comes amid indications that the US administration has given the green light to its allies in the Middle East to send missiles to terrorist groups inside Syria through Jordan and Turkey.

A militant source said in late September that the US has agreed to the start of arms shipments from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

A Reuters report has also hinted at the possibility that President Barack Obama would overturn the ban on the supply of missiles to extremist militants in Syria in the wake of Russian and Syrian forces’ offensives to retake the militant-held eastern part of the city of Aleppo.

Turkish airstrike kills Syrians

Meanwhile, Turkish aerial bombardment against the purported positions of Daesh terrorists near the northwestern Syrian city of al-Bab has killed seven people.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that ten people also sustained injuries in the Monday attack.

On August 24, the Turkish air force and special ground forces kicked off Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria in a bid to support the so-called Free Syrian Army militants and rid the border area of Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The incursion drew strong condemnation from the Damascus government for violating Syrian sovereignty.

Also on Monday, ten civilians were killed when fighter jets from a US-led military coalition hit an area in the al-Salehiyah Village of the northern Syrian province of al-Raqqah.

Since September 2014, the US and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against what they say are Daesh positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a United Nations (UN) mandate.

The US-led coalition has done little to stop Daesh’s advances in Syria and Iraq. Some analysts have criticized the US-led military campaign, saying the strikes are only meant to benefit US weapons manufacturers.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment