Omar Baddar | January 2, 2017
UN Resolutions on the settlements:
The international Court of Justice on the wall, settlements, and the occupation: https://goo.gl/wgWEZR
Successive US administrations on Israeli settlements:
“We’re an empire now,” Karl Rove nefariously asserted in 2004, “and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Rove might have said that 12 years ago, but the words hauntingly describe our situation in 2016 — Oxford Dictionaries, incidentally, named “post-truth” the international word of the year — with facts seemingly relative, truth debatable, and a falsely-premised war on fake news, Orwell must be rolling in his grave.
In fact, given these telling circumstances, perhaps Oxford Dictionaries didn’t go far enough — this year epitomizes a new era of post-coherence. Rove and his ilk — the dynasties Bush and Clinton, reigning powers for nearly 30 years — must chuckle behind closed doors as Americans quarrel savagely over the authenticity of falsehoods and facts, alike.
With ostensibly everything now up in the air, the U.S. power apparatus has inarguably ‘created a new reality’ — one in which doubt has been so instilled as to obstruct and thwart the dissemination of accurate, factual information.
This purposeful manipulation of perception, in other words, does exactly what Rove and the aptly-termed “history’s actors” intend — it keeps the rest of us confused — and bitterly arguing over what’s actually going on.
Online communication facilitated this madness exponentially — it’s doubtful such disorientation would have occurred decades ago, when social media didn’t have critical influence.
Of course, this tumult and turbulence isn’t manufactured without reason — it allows the surreptitious and sometimes flagrant distribution of propaganda favorable to the American political establishment to circulate largely unhindered.
But those aspects of post-coherence unintentionally also gave rise to a furious backlash — the Internet might facilitate confusion and propaganda, but it is, after all, a global library of information — and wary independent and alternative media outlets immediately tear apart false information published by collusive corporate media presstitutes.
With all of this in mind, the following are just a smattering of many outrageous examples of how the Fake News narrative brought us post-truth, intentionally shaping the events of 2016 — and promises to continue the inanity far into the future.
Perhaps the most laughable Fake News came to us courtesy of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who warned the planet amid ongoing publication by Wikileaks of documents deleterious to the credibility of the Democratic establishment to “remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media. So everything you learn about this, you’re learning from us.”
Cuomo’s conspicuous ploy to limit the spread of the actual documents — and win CNN additional reader- and viewership — constituted a reckless foray into censorship of information.
Of course, CNN didn’t proclaim the leaked emails verboten for nothing — the outlet bears the snarky moniker, Clinton News Network, as its parent company, Time Warner, donated over $400,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and was exposed by alternative media countless times for cutting off reporters who dared criticize its darling candidate or report on revealed corruption.
Further, CNN’s pernicious claim came as the documents revealed the outlet and others colluding with the Clinton campaign to report news portraying Democrats in a favorable manner — of course, those who took Cuomo’s warning to heart and relied solely on the Clinton News Network would never know that pertinent detail.
Other mainstream media outlets who coordinated with the Clinton camp struggled to accurately report the contents of the Wikileaks documents — when they bothered covering the revelations. Corporate propaganda’s spin machine seemed to be on overdrive for the duration of the election cycle — and has reached the level of absurdity following Donald Trump’s win.
Because, according to corporate media — who ignored the depth of corruption exposed by Wikileaks — the election of Trump was so anomalous, there had to be an explanation beyond the fact the American people didn’t find Hillary qualified for the job.
Enter The Russians.
Taking cues from the era of McCarthyism and leading the new Red Scare with a bullhorn is the once-illustrious Washington Post, who first posited, without any evidence sans statements from unnamed CIA officials, that the Intelligence Community had reached a consensus — Russian hackers had interfered in the election to install Trump.
Famously in lockstep, the New York Times quickly parroted the same assertion as if it were steel truth — neither outlet, however, bothered consulting officials from the 16 other agencies comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community.
In actuality, no such consensus had been reached — not even inside the CIA. Shortly after the Post’s shameful scare piece was published, the FBI came forward to denounce the Russian hacking theory as “fuzzy” and “ambiguous” — showing the lack of cohesion amongst intelligence officials, as well as the rush to shirk blame for the lost election.
Wikileaks, itself — the one organization with insider information — has vociferously and repeatedly denied their source hacked anything, is not Russian, and that the documents were leaked by an insider.
Nonetheless, news of the report went viral and furthered current administration’s agenda to both paint Russia as a villain and Trump as having somehow stolen the election.
Indeed, the utterly unproven Russian Hackers theory provided the impetus for President Obama to an embarrassing diplomatic meltdown this week, announcing the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, sanctions, and the shuttering of two compounds owned by Russia.
While that move could have easily brought the two superpower nations yet closer to military conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin allowed cooler heads to prevail, went against the fury of other officials, and announced there would be no diplomatic tit-for-tat — no United States diplomats would be expelled from Russia.
Incidentally, the mainstream press jumped the gun again, publishing the statements of Russian officials claiming the country would be mirroring moves by the U.S. — before Putin announced Russia would not be stooping to such diplomatic pettiness. … continue
The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten, for it was properly done.
— Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, 1835
Among the current crop of Wall Street financiers, Laurence “Larry” Fink has received the greatest number of awards and plaudits. He is the CEO and Chairman of BlackRock (BR), the world’s largest multinational investment management corporation. By 2016, BR had over $5 trillion dollars under management with over 12,000 employees in 70 offices in 30 countries serving clients in 100 countries.
Fink has dominated Wall Street. He holds more assets than his biggest established competitors, because he had the political power to direct the enormous Washington bailout of Wall Street in 2009. He helped shape Hillary Clinton’s emerging Treasury Department team and policies, anticipating her presidential victory. Under a President Hillary Clinton, Fink’s political control would have matched his global economic empire. According to the Economist, Aladdin, the BlackRock electronic subsidiary, monitors 7% of the world’s 225 trillion dollar financial assets.
In the mass media and among the economic elite, Fink is a genius, a self-made empire builder, who has succeeded because he picks the winners and dumps the losers. He is a life-long Democratic Party contributor, although he works with and through both parties and a variety of high ranking government officials and financial CEOs.
As head of the most influential financial institution in the world, with institutional investors comprising over 65% of its assets, Laurence Fink controls the economic lives of many millions of pensioners, workers, employees and managers. Having risen to the pinnacle of financial power, he wields enormous political influence in shaping fundamental economic decisions. Fink’s economic empire is well-known: the financial elite and business publications are awed by his successes.
There is another side of the Rise of Fink. He has consistently cost his employers and clients millions of dollars in losses while never losing his aura of success! His economic empire is less a result of his economic skills and competitiveness and more a result of his political connections and trillion-dollar state contracts. Fink’s most famous financial product, mortgage-based securities led to the biggest collapse in world financial markets since the Great Depression.
Larry Fink is the best example of how an investment loser can become a ‘double’ W (Wall Street – Washington) emperor. Early on Larry Fink demonstrated his flair for incompetence. During his first position with the First Boston Corporation, Fink lost $100 million by betting the wrong way on interest rates.
After a ‘gentleman’s departure’ Fink co-founded BlackRock (BR) in 1988. He proceeded to grow BR by acquiring or merging with lucrative rivals – but not by investing in factories and productive employment. In 2003 Fink merged with Merrill Lynch, doubling BR asset management. The ‘Genius’ Fink, invested $5.4 billion dollars to purchase Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, the massive residential complex, built by Metropolitan Life in the 1940s. It was heralded as the largest real estate deal in US housing history. The project ended in default, BR clients lost their money, and the California Pension and Retirement system (CALPERS) was out $500 million dollars under Larry’s stewardship. Undaunted, BR continued to grow by merging with PNC Financial Services Group, Barclay’s Global Investors and numerous other financial specialists in speculative ‘products’.
But the big deal propelling Fink into the ‘thirteen digits’ (trillions) occurred in 2009 when newly elected Barack Obama awarded BlackRock with the Government contract to direct the ‘three-trillion dollar’ bailout of big financial companies and to manage the bankruptcy of others. Perhaps because of Fink’s deep ties with top senior officials, the contract was awarded without competitive bidding. Equally important, because of Fink’s ties with the biggest bankers, he facilitated the flow of Treasury trillions to the banks to be ‘bailed out’ while allowing other smaller banks and investment houses to go ‘belly up’ in a process dubbed ‘the cleanup after the meltdown’. BR would naturally buyout these assets at ‘fire sale’ prices. Millions and billions led to trillions on the BR ledgers. By 2010, Fink’s genius status grew and so did the number of wealthy pension funds and major institutional investors in his portfolio – despite his major losses in the recent past – (as Balzac would note, memories do not include ‘crimes properly done’).
Thus, Larry Fink became the most prominent former deadhead turned trillion-dollar speculator. Despite the influx of trillions, BR faces a new, bigger and more dangerous ‘mistaken’ decision. Fink has ploughed hundreds of billions in client funds in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), which are likely to take a dive as they overvalue and are under pressure to deflate.
BlackRock has been extraordinarily profitable because of Fink’s unique political, social and ethnic ‘identity’ ties to the US Treasury Department. In May 2009, the Fink-Treasury connection resulted in BlackRock receiving the ‘contract’ to manage the cleanup of ‘toxic’ mortgage assets amounting to an astronomical trillion-dollar chunk of business. In other words, Fink’s company would analyze, unwind and assign value onto billions of dollars of assets owned by Bear Stearns, AIG, Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley and other lucrative firms. Fink would ‘unwind’ the assets and rewind them into his mega fund; he could set prices favoring BR’s market position.
Fink’s history of mediocre market performance was no obstacle to his success because the political links more than compensated – they guaranteed a bonanza for BR.
The business press provided a veneer of technological and mathematical competence, which they cited as the basis for Fink’s/BR trillion dollar success story.
But the historic and contemporary reality of the political-economic success of the big financial houses depends on their political control over the US Treasury. Their ability to trade and get rich depends on a system of favorable state and federal rules (deregulation, taxes, etc.), which establish the necessary framework for the paper economy. This system is light years away from the ‘real’ economy of factories and stable, well-paying jobs for the citizenry.
Fink has turned BR into an empire by spending his time and energy in the politics of controlling and milking the US Treasury. Controlling this activity is more influential than the President of the United States or Pentagon in deciding who among the elite wins and who loses!
Once at the top, legions of journalists and academic courtesans will busily polish the stars in the financial firmament, covering up their failures and turning their political connections into hymns of praise for the ‘hard work and commitment’ of the self-made genius. This spectacle indeed will dazzle the eyes and judgment of lesser speculators. While the same pundits write extensively about the political leaders and lesser economic titans, the more the Larry Finks of Wall Street remain invisible to the citizenry, the greater their political control over the trillion dollar Treasury!
By Greg Bacon | Aletho News | January 4, 2017
CNN and Mossad Asset Rita Katz both use video game “Fallout!”
They both used video footage from the game. Katz from “Fallout 3” to show us that ‘al CIA Duh’ was going to nuke DC and the huckster Don Lemon–apt name–of CNN using “Fallout 4” footage to show that their LIE about alleged Rooskie hacking of the US election was true, at least in their warped, deluded minds.
First, the back story on Rita Katz using Fallout 3 back in 2008:
Tell me, Rita, how does a Jewess manage to get access to al Qaida password protected sites? And then use those sites repeatedly to obtain what you claim is cutting edge spy stuff? Is aL Qaida that stupid or do you think Americans are so stupid as to believe your agitprop?
Those al Qaida types are so ingenious to get Jewish Media Groups to release their latest batch of “Death to America” tapes.
Tell me, Ms. Katz, who pays better? The Pentagon or MOSSAD? And can you give us a “sneak” preview of your next al Qaida tape or do we have to wait for the nationwide release?
More, as shown in this article:
Turns out terrorist are familiar with both kinds of RPGs. by Ryan Geddes
May 30, 2008 – A computer-generated image of a post-nuclear Washington D.C., crafted by the Fallout 3 artists at Bethesda Softworks, has apparently popped up on terrorism-related Internet forums, and the image is now at the center of an online brouhaha.
According to the Entertainment Consumers Association’s GamePolitics blog, U.S. defense contractor and intelligence analyst group SITE found the image while perusing message boards commonly used by Islamic terror groups, who were apparently discussing the possibility of nuclear attacks on Western nations.
As GamePolitics points out, videogame images have crept into terrorism discussions before. In 2006, Battlefield 2 footage was presented to the House Select Committee on Intelligence as al Qaeda propaganda.
The “House Select Committee on Intelligence?” I’ll abstain from the obvious joke….
Who is creating and pushing these absurd stories that are nothing more than LIES to keep us bogged down in the M.E. for the next 30 years, fighting ‘Wars for Wall Street and Israel?’
Now CNN is using the same worn-out LIE, pushing images from “Fallout 4” to poison American minds?
In its recent coverage of President Obama’s proposed sanctions on Russia for allegedly hacking the 2016 U.S. election, CNN used footage from the popular video game Fallout 4, a post-apocalyptic video game series, BGR reports.
According to the report, Reddit user Poofylicious first spotted the footage, posting screenshots of CNN’s report and the corresponding footage from the video game. CNN used the footage of a hacking terminal in the Fallout 4 video game in its segment about alleged Russian hacking of the election. … Full article
It came as a big surprise that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently labeled members of the US-led coalition as promise breakers and supporters of terrorists. According to the Turkish leader, this coalition provides support to various terrorist groups, including ISIS, YPG, PYD and Ankara has the evidence to back up that claim.
But what exactly offended Ankara so much? Over the past few days, Turkey has been suffering extremely painful defeats from the Islamic State in the Syrian city of Al-Bab. Previously the troops employed in the Euphrates Shield operation successfully taken western suburbs of Al-Bab were planning to occupy the heights overlooking the city. However, ten days ago the “shield” cracked, when ISIS units opposed Turkish troops in a frontal assault, inflicting heavy losses upon the Turkish army. Radical militants report that in just one Turkey lost up to 70 soldiers and three modern tank. Immediately after the announcement ISIS started spreading videos featuring the destruction of Turkish armored vehicles. The Turkish General Staff announced that it lost 14 servicemen, 10 German manufactured Leopard tanks, an M-60 main battle tank, personnel carriers and a Cobra armored vehicle. The pictures that can be found now on the Internet depict Turkish armored vehicles severely damaged by TOW missiles that in recent years have “suddenly” started appearing in the hands of ISIS radicals.
But nobody should be really surprised at this point, as Turkish media were reporting in late December that Washington was stepping up its weapons supply efforts to radicals via the Syrian Al-Hasakah Governorate. It’s been noted that as the US Ambassador to Ankara, John Bass kept persuading Turkish reporters that Washington was not supporting militants directly, the airfield in the Syrian city of Rumeylan saw an ever increasing number of US transport planes landing. The payload that they were carrying would soon be transported by US helicopters to different parts of the country. According to Turkish journalists, the last large delivery of weapons occurred on the evening of 27 December. It has also been noted that weapons are being delivered to Syria via hundreds of trucks, carrying their deadly cargo from the Iraqi city of Erbil to the areas controlled by the Syrian Kurds.
We have seen various commentators noting that under the guise of military assistance to the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Obama administration is actively assisting various extremist groups in Syria by secretly supplying them to with all sorts of weapons, along with the so-called “advisers” in a bid to topple the legitimate Syrian government.
It’s no coincidence that after the liberation of Aleppo, Syrian troops found stockpiles of weapons and explosives manufactured in the US, Germany and Bulgaria, including a large quantity of anti-tank missiles.
While the Aleppo operation has been a turning point in the Syrian armed conflict, the White House is still in a hurry to provide maximum support to the so-called “moderate opposition” in Syria, but now it’s clear for pretty much everyone that Washington is assisting ISIS. Last December alone Turkish bloggers spotted the passage of three large cargo ships through the Bosporus Strait, presumably carrying arms for the Syrian rebels. In particular, in mid-December a freighter Karina Danica left the Bulgarian shore, while heading to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with weapons on board, reports Bosphorus Observer on Twitter. This data is confirmed by a specialized tracking site known as MarineTraffic. It is a publicly known fact that the freighter Karina Danica is a Danish vessel, chartered by the American company Cherming, which is the official supplier of non-standard NATO weapons for the US “allies” in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It’s curious that the Bulgarian Vazovski Machine-Building Plant that sells weapons to Cherming, increased its sales by 12 times in 2016, making a profit of 170 million dollars.
What makes this whole arms supplies story awkward is the scandal that broke out in 2015, when the Chairman of the Iraqi Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, Hakim Zamili asked PM Haider al-Abadi to intervene immediately to stop the 300 million dollar ammunition deal involving Romanian weapons being delivered to ISIS directly, while financed by one of the neighboring countries. In 2016, the director of the Conflict Armament Research, James Bevan stated that the weapons from Eastern Europe that were officially designated for the so-called “moderate opposition” are falling in extremist hands.
The decision to supply anti-government troops in Syria with all sorts of weapons, including MANPADS, that was signed by President Barack Obama on December 23, may lead to the further escalation of the Syrian conflict and new victims.
So there’s more than enough reason for Ankara’s resentment of the Obama administration, since it is directly responsible for every single Turkish soldier murdered by radical militants.
Let there be no mistake: this is by no means a criticism of human rights as an ideal to work for. The complete title should be “Open letter to those who invoke human rights selectively in order to justify the Western Powers’ policy of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Indeed, the only issue to be discussed about Syria is not the situation on the ground (which may be complicated), but the legitimacy of the interventionist policies of the U.S. and its “allies”, Europeans, Turkey, and the Gulf states in that country.
For decades, the principle on which international law is based, that is, equal sovereignty of States implying non-intervention of one State in the internal affairs of another, has been systematically violated, to the point of being practically forgotten, by champions of the “right of humanitarian intervention”. Recently, a number of such advocates of humanitarian intervention, self-identified as stalwart leftists, have joined the chorus of the Washington war party in reproaching the Obama administration for failure to intervene more in the military efforts to overthrow the government of Syria. In short, they are blaming the Obama administration for not having sufficiently violated international law.
Indeed, just about everything that the United States is doing everywhere in the world violates the principle of non-intervention: not only “preventive” invasions, but also influencing or buying elections, arming rebels, or unilateral sanctions and embargoes aimed at changing the target country’s policies.
Those who consider themselves on the left should take note of the historic basis of those principles. First, the lesson drawn from the Second World War. The origin of that war was Germany’s use of minorities in Czechoslovakia and Poland, extended later during the invasion of the Soviet Union. The war finally had catastrophic consequences for the very minorities that were used by the Germans.
Partly for that reason, the victors who wrote the United Nations Charter outlawed the policy of intervention, in order to spare humanity the “scourge of war”.
Next, principle of non-intervention was strengthened by the wave of decolonizations in the following decades. The last thing the newly decolonized countries wanted was intervention from the old colonial powers. The countries of the South have been virtually unanimous in condemning intervention. In February 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, the Non-Aligned Countries’ summit meeting in Kuala Lumpur adopted a resolution stating that:
The Heads of State or Government reaffirmed the Movement’s commitment to enhance international co-operation to resolve international problems of a humanitarian character in full compliance with the Charter of the United Nations, and, in this regard, they reiterated the rejection by the Non-Aligned Movement of the so-called “right” of humanitarian intervention, which has no basis either in the Charter of the United Nations or in international law.
It is obvious that such “interventions” are only possible on the part of strong States against weak States. It can only be a case of might makes right.
However, even all strong states are not equal among each other. Let’s imagine for a moment that the right of intervention is accepted as a new principle of international law. What would happen if Russia tried to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia because of “human rights violations” in that country? Or if China were sending troops into Israel in order to “protect the Palestinians”? One would quickly arrive at a new World War. To understand the “unacceptable” character of interventionist policies, it is enough to think of the American Establishment’s shrieks of alarms following the alleged Russian hacking of certain emails made public by Wikileaks. Note that the reality of this hacking remains to be proven (see here) and that, even if it were true, it would only mean that the hacking enabled the American public to become aware of some maneuvers by its leaders, which is a peccadillo compared to American interventions in Latin America, the Middle East or Indochina.
The consequences of US interventionist policies are multiple and catastrophic. On the one hand, you have the millions of deaths due to American wars (the following study arrives at a total of 1.3 million victims, counting only the “war on terror“).
Moreover it would be a mistake to imagine that the victims of interventions will not react to the threat of intervention by building alliances and trying to defend themselves by increasing internal repression. When the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, Washington introduced unprecedented security and surveillance measures and, far worse, invaded two countries. How can one imagine that Syria, Iran, Cuba, Russia or China will not take repressive measures to protect themselves from foreign subversion?
Thereby one enters into a logic of unending wars. Indeed, after having themselves intervened in Ukraine and Syria, the Western powers then entered into conflict with Russia and China because of the measures that those countries took in response to those interventions. Far from being a source of peace, the Security Council of the United Nations becomes the scene to express endless acrimony.
In the case of Syria, if, as it now seems, the insurrection ends up being defeated, the Western policy of intervention by arming the rebellion will be shown only to have prolonged the suffering of the population of this unfortunate land. The “human rights defenders” who defended this interventionist policy bear a heavy responsibility in that tragedy.
Although defense of human rights is a liberal concept and liberalism is in principle opposed to fanaticism, today’s “human rights defenders” often display fanaticism. We are warned against a perfectly imaginary Russian influence in Europe (compare the U.S. commercial, cultural, intellectual, diplomatic influence in Europe to that of Russia) and we are told not to consult the “Kremlin medias”. But in any war, and support to the Syrian insurrection is a war, the first casualty is truth. Any truly liberal mind would consult the « propaganda » of the other side, not to take it on faith, but in order to counterbalance and evaluate the propaganda to which his own side is constantly subjected.
Leaving aside “Russian propaganda”, such “human rights defenders” seem unable to pay attention to the following study: “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013.” This study, done by a former UN arms inspector Richard Lloyd and a Professor of Science, Technology and National Security at MIT, Theodore A. Postol, concludes that the gas attack near Damascus in August 2013 that almost resulted in all-out war against Syria, could not be due to the Syrian government. It is difficult to imagine that experts in such positions would deliberately lie in order to “support Assad” or that they are incompetent concerning relatively elementary questions of physics.
The “human rights defenders” also question whether it is still possible to talk with Putin “after Aleppo”. But the U.S. “war on terror”, including the invasion of Iraq, with its hundreds of thousands of deaths, has never prevented anyone from talking to the Americans. Actually, after that 2003 war that France disapproved, France became more integrated into NATO and followed the U.S. more faithfully than ever.
Besides, the European “human rights defenders” are in a particularly absurd situation. Consider, for instance, the alleged use of chemical weapons in 2013 by the Syrian government. There was wide agreement in France over the need to intervene militarily in Syria. But, without American intervention, such a purely French one turned out to be impossible. The European “human rights defenders” are reduced to beg the Americans: “Make war, not love!” But the Americans suffer from “war fatigue” and have just elected a president opposed in principle to wars of regime change. The only possibility for the European “human rights defenders” is to have their own peoples accept massive military spending in order to create a relationship of force that would make the interventionist policies possible. Good luck!
Finally, one must distinguish, among the “human rights defenders” the Noble Souls and the Beautiful Souls.
The Noble Souls warn their “friends” against the idea of “supporting” the butcher, the criminal, the murderer of his own people, Bashar al Assad. But this misses entirely the point of the anti-interventionist attitude.
States can support other States by giving them weapons and money. But individuals, or social movements, like an antiwar movement, cannot do that. So, it makes no sense to say, when individuals express criticism of interventionist policies in our society, necessarily in a marginal way, that they “support” this or that regime or leader, unless one considers that all those who do not want Russia to intervene in Saudi Arabia or China in Palestine support the Saudi regime or Israeli colonization.
Anti-imperialists support another foreign policy, for their own governments, which is an entirely different matter.
In every war, there is massive propaganda in favor of those wars. Since present wars are justified in the name of human rights, it is obvious that the war propaganda will concentrate on “violations of human rights” in the countries targeted by interventionists.
Therefore, all those who are opposed to the interventionist policies have to provide full information to counter that propaganda, for example, the study mentioned above concerning the use of poison gas in 2013, or the testimonies about Aleppo that contradict the dominant discourse (for example a former UK Ambassador to Syria). It is quite remarkable that some leftists, who are very critical of their mainstream media when it comes to domestic policies, swallow almost entirely the Western “narrative” when it comes to Russia or Syria. But if the media distort reality in our own countries, why wouldn’t they do the same when it comes to foreign countries, where things are harder to verify?
This critique of war propaganda has nothing to do with “support” for a given regime, in the sense that such a regime would be desirable in a world freed of interventionist policies.
The Noble Souls want to “save Aleppo”, “are ashamed of the inaction of the international community” and want to “do something”. Yes, but do what? The only practical suggestion that was made (before the recent events) was to create a “no fly zone” that would prevent the Russian air force from helping the Syrian army. But that would be one more violation of international law, since Russia was invited to Syria by the legal and internationally recognized government of that country, in order to combat terrorism. The situation of Russia in Syria is not, from a legal point of view, very different from the one of France when it was invited by the government of Mali to come fight the Islamists in that country (who, by the way, were in Mali because of the French-backed intervention in Libya). Moreover, intervening militarily in Syria would imply either a war with Russia or a Russian surrender without fighting. Who wants to bet on the latter possibility?
To illustrate the hypocrisy of the Noble Souls, compare the situation in Syria and in Yemen. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is committing numerous massacres, in total violation of international law. If you are indignant because nothing is done about Syria, why don’t you do something yourselves about Yemen? Moreover, there is a big difference between the two situations. In the case of Syria, a military intervention might lead to war with Russia. In the case of Yemen, on the other hand, it would probably be enough, in order to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, to stop delivering weapons to that country. Of course, the Noble Souls know perfectly well that they are unable to stop such deliveries. But, then, what is the point of being indignant about Syria?
The Beautiful Souls, on the other hand, are against all wars, all violence. They “condemn” Assad and Putin of course, but also Obama, the European Union, NATO, everybody! They denounce, they light candles and turn out lights. They “testify”, because “remaining silent” means “being complicit”.
But what they do not realize is that, on the ground, in Syria, nobody, whether the government or the rebels, know that they exist and, if they knew, they couldn’t care less about their indignation, condemnations and lighting up of candles.
This does not mean that the Noble Souls and the Beautiful Souls do not have any effect. They have one, but here it is: to stand in the way of any alternative foreign policy in their own country, which would be based on diplomacy and respect for the United Nations Charter. Yet, only such a policy would favor peace in the world, balance and equality between Nations and, eventually, advance the cause of human rights. But the demonization by the “human rights defenders” of Assad and Putin, as well as of anybody willing to talk to them, renders such an alternative politically almost impossible.
For the “human rights defenders” political realism and the consequences of their actions have no importance: what matters to them is to show that they belong to the “camp of Virtue”. You imagine yourselves as being free, while following at each step the indications of the dominant media as to what should be the object of your indignation.
If I had the slightest illusion concerning the lucidity that you may have about the consequences of your actions, I would call them criminal, because of the harm that you do to Europe and to the rest of the world. But since I harbor no such illusion, I will limit myself to call you hypocrites.
 Final document of the Thirteenth Conference of Heads of State and of Governments of the Movement of Non-aligned Countries, Kuala Lumpur, February 24-25, 2003, Article 354. (Available on http://www.bernama.com/events/newnam2003/indexspeech.shtml?declare).
It had been five years since I last ventured into the Occupied Territories, the shrinking Palestinian homelands. I had stood speechless at the misnomered separation wall, essentially a cement corral and a menacing blight on the landscape of the Holy Land. I had seen the oasis of Jericho become barely more than an imposing hotel where peace conferees and aid agents hide in style from the peace they are unarguably not advancing. I had witnessed how a simple crossroad, Qalandia, outside Jerusalem had become a fenced-in channel through which Palestinians waiting to be inspected by young Israeli guards are humiliated and delayed, only to sometimes be turned back. I had noted increasing numbers of women covering themselves in colorless, suffocating garb. (What their message was and to whom it was addressed, I couldn’t understand.) I had found it embarrassing to revisit families living under occupation who’d earlier spent hours with me remembering martyrs and imprisoned sons, detailing routine violence by an encroaching Jewish population, the armed colonists, and explaining the unpredictability of Israeli military procedures. I had stood with neighbors gazing helplessly as a family’s dwelling was demolished by a three-story high Israeli bulldozer. I‘d sat in a van with anxious Palestinians waiting to enter their homeland at the Jordan-Israeli border, watching in pained silence while happy travelers from a busload of American students casually tossed a football back and forth while their passports were processed.
Following the 1993 Oslo Accord—we can’t call it a peace treaty — one might have glimpsed the tricolor Palestinian banner posted somewhere on the dry hills between the Allenby Bridge and Abu Dis at the entry to Jerusalem. By 2010, there was no sign of that flag, except perhaps one painted on that foreboding cement wall– on the Palestinian side.
Even with bleak news continually seeping from inside the occupation, even with the risks of reporting on Israel’s suffocation and murders of Palestinians, I had promised a dear friend that I’d revisit her this winter. Laila remains there year after year. A psychologist, her skills are in increasing demand by the traumatized population.
Travelers not Palestinian can reach Ramallah and return to Amman in Jordan in one day. Within two days I’d be able to witness the latest changes, encroachments and destruction, and also pass an evening with Laila, this extraordinarily cheerful and resolute soul.
I never reached Ramallah, not physically. Resting after my arrival from Abu Dhabi at a friend’s home in Amman, I picked up a newly published volume her book club had recently discussed, Return: A Palestinian Memoir, by Ghada Karmi. I knew the author’s earlier work but I‘d not expected this, her second memoir, to be so gripping.
There are numerous memoirs by Palestinians, most notably Out of Place by Edward Said, another by his own sister, one by poet Suheir Hammad, by Randa Jarrar and many others, now extending into three generations. (Most are in English, the majority by women.)
One wonders how many more impassioned, compelling chronicles we need to inform us of the ongoing drama and injustices in their homeland. Yet, opening the pages of this ‘return’ I found myself following Karmi’s chronicle as if it were a crime story. (At one level it is a crime story.) Unlike many narrators of Israeli crimes, this book begins as an account of ‘soft’ crimes, those by Palestinian officials and the United Nations in complicity with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in their charade of possessing power and winning justice.
I myself had witnessed the gradual transformation of returned Palestinian leaders into a corrupt and impotent club of (mainly) men hanging out in Ramallah pretending to lead, but actually serving as front for independence, their putative authority extending no further than the boundary of this city of NGOs, foreign schools and upscale restaurants. I also witnessed diaspora Palestinians returning to Gaza City after 1993, investing in their forthcoming state, “a Mediterranean Hong Kong”, only to depart within a decade, embittered and often more deeply religious, returning to homes in Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.
Here was a well informed doctor and an experienced leader in the Palestinian diaspora coming to Ramallah not as a visiting correspondent, but with a prestigious insider’s ID. Karmi left a medical career in London to take a job as a UN appointee in the PA’s Ministry of Media and Communications. She was eager to join her compatriots, reasoning, “I would be at the heart of things, and would learn the inner workings of the institution that organized life in the Occupied Territories, although they were under Israeli control” …. happy she “would not join the host of marginal researchers, foreign experts and hangers-on who cluttered the numerous non-governmental organizations in the West Bank.” That was 11 years ago, in 2005, when both Gaza and the West Bank were under the new PA. Surely as a Palestinian born in Jerusalem to a well regarded family, a longtime activist for justice and statehood, Karmi had reason to be optimistic.
“What the hell was I thinking of?” is the opening line of the first chapter of Return uttered as her plane was touching down. This trip would be the culmination of many visits to Karmi’s mythical homeland. Her misgivings and evidence of a doomed mission on her first day at work aside, Karmi persisted, perhaps deciding early on that this could at least be the basis of another book, although this memoir appeared in 2015, a full decade after the assignment she describes–surely an indication of the time the author needed to come to terms with what she experienced and to recount them with such candor. (Anyone committed to the Palestinian cause would have difficulty abandoning it, even when facing censure and personal loss.)
With commendable skill, Karmi forges ahead detailing the routine of Palestinian Authority life, recalling word-for-word dialogues among sophisticated dining businessmen, diplomats, drivers and office colleagues that reveal the competition, the conflicts, the jealousies, the pretenses and disillusionment, the jockeying for favors, and just keeping one’s job. And keeping aid flowing.
The malice of Israeli policy is well known, so too the incompetence and duplicity of Palestinian officials. Karmi is not the first to admit the PA is dysfunctional and an utter failure in the quest for statehood. But she exposes the problems with such candor and literary skill that the reader is committed to follow her to the end.
I found myself feeling emotionally involved, without rancor or impatience, in the personalities Karmi introduces me to. Perhaps this is the result of the author’s respect for these people and her genuine curiosity in the issues they discuss, whether with an office worker, or with a co-founder of the Hamas movement who himself comes across to us as more sincere than Mahmoud Abbas or other PA officials. (Even while questioning this Gaza leader’s strategies, Karmi offers a stunningly convincing rationale for the resistance to which he and his compatriots are committed.)
Our author employs the same technique when chronicling her exchanges with her father in Amman. A learned man in religion, history and culture, Hassan Karmi held Britain and the USA largely responsible for the success of the Zionist plan; he argues with his daughter in defense of the heightened role of religion in Arab lives. In her recounted dialogues, the author expresses genuine doubts about the Hamas leader’s or her father’s positions on the subject at hand, while allowing their argument to prevail, at least for the purpose of edifying us, her readers. This literary strategy Karmi applies throughout her memoir, and with striking affect.
Karmi also invokes those visits with her ailing father to record her personal history and to expose problems she finds with Arab family values, exploring the expectations and challenges of women like herself. In this respect, this memoir is not only the story of a professional woman, but also the chronicle of a daughter, a wife and a mother.
As I proceed through this Palestinian memoir, I happen to be reviewing two very different productions related to Palestinian life– one a film, the other a theoretical analysis. The documentary film, Speed Sisters, opening February 2017, is by the Arab-Canadian director Amber Fares. Speed Sisters features five young and feisty Palestinian women who while living under occupation, become car racing enthusiasts–the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East–independent, bold, and free. The women’s indulgence in cars is understandable, given the bleakness of Israeli occupation, but hard to imagine alongside what’s in Karmi’s story. The other production is the ninth book by Steven Salaita whose brilliance and insight were evident even before he was denied a university appointment by a Zionist-influenced discriminatory university dean. Salaita’s Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine is an exploration of shared experiences of Palestinians and Native Americans where the author lays out conceptual ground between American Indian and Indigenous studies and Palestinian studies through concepts of settler colonialism, ‘indigeneity’, and state violence. It’s a groundbreaking study into what should have been obvious decades ago
These three stories may seem at odds with one another. Yet we can see them as continually evolving meanings of what it means to be Palestinian.
The United States has recently claimed the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from US territory as well as additional sanctions against the Russian state are in retaliation for what the Washington Post claims is “2016 election interference.”
In the Post’s article, “Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference,” it’s stated that:
The response, unveiled just weeks before President Obama leaves office, culminates months of internal debate over how to react to Russia’s election-year provocations. In recent months, the FBI and CIA have concluded that Russia intervened repeatedly in the 2016 election, leaking damaging information in an attempt to undermine the electoral process and help Donald Trump take the White House.
The “damaging information” that was leaked, however, was disseminated by Wikileaks, and likely the result of an internal whistle-blower, not Russian operatives. Questions surrounding the veracity of America’s claims are owed to a substantial lack of evidence provided by US departments and agencies involved in both the investigation and the punitive measures applied in its wake.
However, the US’ reaction to what it claims is “2016 election interference” could significantly backfire, since the US itself is engaged in very real, overt election interference globally, and for decades. In fact, even as the US berated Russia for allegedly interfering in America’s internal politics, its own organisations, including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), funded by the US government, openly admitted they were leaking information regarding China’s internal politics in efforts to undermine Beijing.
In fact, NED and its subsidiaries (including the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Freedom House) as well as myriad fronts around the world these organisations fund, support and direct, are openly dedicated to manipulating foreign elections, creating US-friendly opposition movements and even overthrowing governments that impede US interests worldwide.
The New York Times, in fact, would admit in 2011 in an article titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” that:
A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
US interference across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011 would eventually lead to regional war, the complete destruction of Libya and near destruction of Syria as well as regime change in a number of nations including Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.
NED and its subsidiaries are also busy elsewhere. In Southeast Asia, NED backs opposition parties and media fronts in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the current US-backed government in Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi whose political party and associated media organisations have been NED aid recipients for decades.
For nations in Asia like China, Malaysia and Thailand that still face significant pressure from NED-backed opposition fronts, the US’ current “retaliation” against Russia could serve as an opportunity to likewise “expel” those who could easily be characterised as “interfering” with each respective nation’s internal politics, and particularly, with elections.
Recipients of US aid (particularly media fronts) could also be dismantled under the same pretexts used by American and European powers regarding “fake news,” by citing Washington’s current actions versus Moscow.
While the US has little evidence regarding Russia’s role in leaking what were genuine e-mails revealing very real impropriety among American political circles, nations like China, Malaysia and Thailand have verified evidence that opposition fronts are funded, backed and even directed by US organisations like NED. What has been perhaps preventing these nations from dismantling these foreign-backed networks, has been the illusion of America’s pro-democracy stance. However, with the US now cracking down on whistle-blowers, opposition media and shifting tides amid American politics all based on allegations of “Russian” involvement, what is preventing other states from cracking down on verified US interference in their own internal politics?
Donald Trump says that a briefing he was due to receive on Russia’s alleged hacking attacks and meddling with US elections was strangely delayed until Friday, causing the President-elect to wonder whether there was enough “intelligence” to “build” such a case.
In a “very strange” turn of events, an intelligence briefing the US President-elect was expecting to receive early this week was delayed, Donald Trump said on Twitter.
After the US President-elect expressed his discontent, anonymous intelligence community sources rushed to assure CNN and NBC audiences that the briefing in question had always been planned for Friday. One of the unnamed officials even reportedly called Trump’s rant “adversarial.”
Trump previously expressed his skepticism about the US intelligence community’s assessment of Moscow’s involvement in hacking attacks on the US and its alleged attempts to influence presidential elections.
“I just want them to be sure because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump said on December 31, recalling the US invasion in Iraq was based on flawed and false intelligence. “If you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong.”
The incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier that there was little to “zero evidence” presented by the intelligence community to officials, let alone the public, that Russia somehow influenced the US presidential election in November.
“The President-elect needs to sit down with the heads of the intelligence communities next week and get a full briefing on what they knew, why they knew it, whether or not the Obama administration’s response was in proportion to the actions taken,” Spicer told ABC last week.
When pressured with a question whether the new FBI/DHS report made Trump “accept the fact that Russia was behind the DNC hack,” Spicer responded that the report was not final, did not actually talk about the Russian government being responsible for the hack and offered nothing but evidence-free allegations littered with disclaimers.
“The idea that we’re jumping to conclusions before we have a final report is frankly irresponsible,” Spicer emphasized.
“While the media played it up as this report about the hacking, what it actually is, if you look through it, and it’s available online, is a series of recommendations that should be taken, like changing passwords, changing administrative rights,” Spicer pointed out. “What it shows is that by all measures the Democratic National Committee had a very lax IT support.”