Glenn Greenwald has written an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. In this editorial he asserts that American spies are motivated primarily by the desire to thwart terrorist plots. Such that their inability to do so (i.e., the attacks in Paris) coupled with the associated embarrassment motivates a public relations campaign against Ed Snowden. Greenwald further concludes that recent events are being opportunistically leveraged by spy masters to pressure tech companies into installing back doors in their products. Over the course of this article what emerges is a worldview which demonstrates a remarkable tendency to accept events at face value, a stance that’s largely at odds with Snowden’s own documents and statements.
For example, Greenwald states that American spies have a single overriding goal, to “find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks.” To a degree this concurs with the official posture of the intelligence community. Specifically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence specifies four topical missions in its National Intelligence Strategy: Cyber Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterproliferation, and Counterintelligence.
Yet Snowden himself dispels this notion. In an open letter to Brazil he explained that “these [mass surveillance] programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”
And the public record tends to support Snowden’s observation. If the NSA is truly focused on combatting terrorism it has an odd habit of spying on oil companies in Brazil and Venezuela. In addition anyone who does their homework understands that the CIA has a long history of overthrowing governments. This has absolutely nothing to do with stopping terrorism and much more to do with catering to powerful business interests in places like Iran (British Petroleum), Guatemala (United Fruit), and Chile (ITT Corporation). The late Michael Ruppert characterized the historical links between spies and the moneyed elite as follows: “The CIA is Wall Street, and Wall Street is the CIA.”
The fact that Greenwald appears to accept the whole “stopping terrorism” rationale is extraordinary all by itself. But things get even more interesting…
Near the end of his article Greenwald notes that the underlying motivation behind the recent uproar of spy masters “is to depict Silicon Valley as terrorist-helpers for the crime of offering privacy protections to Internet users, in order to force those companies to give the U.S. government ‘backdoor’ access into everyone’s communications.”
But if history shows anything, it’s that the perception of an adversarial relationship between government spies and corporate executives has often concealed secret cooperation. Has Greenwald never heard of Crypto AG, or RSA, or even Google? These are companies who at the time of their complicity marketed themselves as protecting user privacy. In light of these clandestine arrangements Cryptome’s John Young comments that it’s “hard to believe anything crypto advocates have to say due to the far greater number of crypto sleazeball hominids reaping rewards of aiding governments than crypto hominid honorables aiding one another.”
It’s as if Greenwald presumes that the denizens of Silicon Valley, many of whose origins are deeply entrenched in government programs, have magically turned over a new leaf. As though the litany of past betrayals can conveniently be overlooked because things are different. Now tech vendors are here to defend our privacy. Or at least that’s what they’d like us to believe. In the aftermath of the PRISM scandal, which was disclosed by none other than Greenwald and Snowden, the big tech of Silicon Valley is desperate to portray itself as a victim of big government.
You see, the envoys of the Bay Area’s new economy have formulated a convincing argument. That’s what they get paid to do. The representatives of Silicon Valley explain in measured tones that tech companies have stopped working with spies because it’s bad for their bottom line. Thus aligning the interests of private capital with user privacy. But the record shows that spies often serve private capital. To help open up markets and provide access to resources in foreign countries. And make no mistake there’s big money to be made helping spies. Both groups do each other a lot of favors.
And so a question for Glenn Greenwald: what pray tell is there to prevent certain CEOs in Silicon Valley from betraying us yet again, secretly via covert backdoors, while engaged in a reassuring Kabuki Theater with government officials about overt backdoors? Giving voice to public outrage while making deals behind closed doors. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before during an earlier debate about allegedly strong cryptography. Subtle zero-day flaws are, after all, plausibly deniable.
How can the self-professed advocate of adversarial journalism be so credulous? How could a company like Apple, despite its bold public rhetoric, resist overtures from spy masters any more than Mohammad Mosaddegh, Jacobo Árbenz, or Salvador Allende? Doesn’t adversarial journalism mean scrutinizing corporate power as well as government power?
Methinks Mr. Greenwald has some explaining to do. Whether he actually responds with anything other than casual dismissal has yet to be seen.
We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are and to have somebody (Jonathan Pollard) screw it up… and then have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me…
— Admiral Sumner Shapiro, US Navy Rear Admiral who served as Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (1978-82), Washington Post, 6/16/2008
We … feel obligated to go on record with the facts regarding Pollard in order to dispel the myths that have arisen from the clever public relations campaign… aiming at transforming Pollard from greedy, arrogant betrayer of the American national trust into Pollard committed Israeli patriot.
— Sumner Shapiro, William Studeman, John Butts and Thomas Brooks, former Directors of Naval Intelligence cited in Ronald Olive, Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How one of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, Annapolis Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 248.
Over two decades ago, Harvard political science professor, Samuel Huntington, argued that global politics would be defined by a ‘clash of civilizations’. His theories have found some of the most aggressive advocates among militant Zionists, inside Israel and abroad.
During the past month, the Israeli regime has been slaughtering and wounding thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. The Israeli state terrorists, who commit mass murder in Palestine, are part of a movement that sees an inevitable mortal final battle between Zionism and the Islamic and Western world.
Many Western democratic leaders have questioned Huntington’s prognosis and discreetly refuted the Zionist belief that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, leading Western Zionist ideologues have argued that, while liberal values should be reaffirmed, the US and EU leaders must recognize ‘malign global Islamic trends’. Influential Western Zionist journalists and ideologues, who dominate the mass media, argue that ‘hardline Islamism’ is on the rise, even in previously moderate Muslim countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh… These ideologues (for example Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times ) systematically avoid commenting on the rise of hardline Zionism in its most racist form in Israel and the conversion of formerly moderate Zionist organizations into willing accomplices of Israeli state terror against a captive people.
Together, these developments in Israel and among the major Zionist organizations in the US and the European Union have limited the space for critics of the ‘clash of civilizations’ dogma.
State terror assaults, such as those taking place daily in Palestine, incite tensions between Zionists and non-Zionists – and that is their intent. Larger structural and systemic forces are at work and are driving Zionist radicalization. One of the most pernicious is the way in which wealthy US and EU Zionist individuals and organizations, in particular the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have used their economic power to spread the most intolerant forms of Judaism into the rest of the Western World.
The effects are now visible in the major political institutions and media of the US, England and the Continent. Previously, France was held up as an example of a successful multi-cultural nation – a dubious assumption as any historian of colonial France can testify. But that image is rapidly changing. Influential Zionists have fomented widespread Islamophobia and authored legislation restricting free speech which has outlawed criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitism’.
French civil libertarians have noted that political and social space has increasingly narrowed for ‘non-Zionists’, especially for anyone critical of Israel’s state terrorism. In other words, there is immense pressure in France to ‘keep quiet’ or self-censor in the face of Zionist racist brutality – so much for Les Droits de L’Homme et Du Citoyen.
For over a decade, Zionist influence, especially from Israel’s far-right Netanyahu regime, has eroded the French version of ‘moderate Zionism’, replacing it with a more doctrinaire, exclusivist and authoritarian version. World-wide condemnation of Israel’s massacre of over 4,000 entrapped Palestinians in Gaza, the world largest prison camp, led the Netanyahu regime to resort to a virulent Zionist version of ‘identity politics’ to rally support for the slaughter – or enforce silence among the horrified. Israeli Cabinet ministers recently denounced US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as ‘anti-Semites’ for their administration’s negotiations over Iran. Numerous prestigious rabbis have blessed the killing of unarmed Palestinians. A prominent Israeli jurist, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked urged the killing of Arab women so they would not give birth to ‘little snakes’. Israeli-Jewish judges have exonerated Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers for killing Palestinian children – even unarmed teenage Arab girls hysterical over their brutal humiliation. And world public opinion is ordered to ‘move along, look away, nothing for you to see here…’
All the major overseas Jewish organizations have marched in step. In the United States, a country with a democratic constitution and centuries-old Bill of Rights, self-styled ‘mainstream Zionists’ have defended Israeli spies and criminals, as well as un-extraditable swindlers, and organized nation-wide networks of university, professional and business organizations to demand the firing of colleagues and to suppress free speech and free assembly of Israel’s critics.
First and foremost, major Zionist organizations and leaders have stoked the fire of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racist rhetoric, which has become commonplace in the mass media and among Republican candidates engaged in the current Presidential nomination campaign.
The convergence of these developments in Israel and among the Zionist power configuration in North America, Europe and the Middle East is fueling the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’.
The ideological marriage of Herzl and Huntington is fast eroding the former reality of Jewish and non-Jewish integration and intermingling across the globe. The alternative to a plural civilization is more primitive and brutal injustice, violence and death.
Contemporary Manifestations of Zionist Power: The Release of the Most Damaging Spy-Traitor in US History
On November 20, 2015, former Naval Intelligence Analyst, Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy for Israel, was freed by the Obama regime under Zionist pressure after repeated refusals by three Republican and one Democratic President and over the objections of the heads of all 27 major US intelligence agencies. The significance of this release has to be viewed against the history of Pollard’s crimes.
Fabricating Lies to Justify Obama’s Release of Pollard
The mass media and the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (AIPAC, ADL, etc…), claim that 1) Pollard committed espionage against US security for ‘altruistic reasons’ — a deep concern for Israel’s security and because US intelligence agencies had refused to share crucial information with Israel’s intelligence counterparts (out of anti-Semitism), 2) the information Pollard handed over had no lasting harm and did not endanger US security, and 3) Pollard’s punishment was ‘excessive’, his ‘repentance’ was sincere and his example precluded any future Israeli espionage activity against the US. These assertions are completely false.
Pollard was a mercenary, spying against the US out of greed. He lived a decadent, expensive lifestyle and had demanded the Israelis pay him a total package of over $250,000 for his work. The Israeli Embassy was known to have paid Pollard, a US Naval Analyst, to spy against the United States government. Court records reveal that he collected over $50,000 for ‘expenses’ during his espionage career, including expensive jewelry, and a monthly stipend of $2500. Court records furthermore reveal that he offered to sell additional secret documents to Pakistan, Apartheid South Africa, Australia, Russia and some Middle East countries. He collected dozens of box-loads of confidential documents, many of which had nothing to do with the ‘security of Israel’, but were deemed essential to US global security, including a top secret ten volume set of National Security Agency high level codes exposing the most advanced means and methods of espionage and the main targets of intelligence collection. Some of his ‘vacuumed-up’ treasure trove included the identity of US intelligence operatives and assets in Warsaw pact countries and the Soviet Union. The 27 US intelligence agencies have consistently opposed Pollard’s release because his sale of this information to the Israelis led to the capture and execution of US operatives after Israel handed over this top-secret information to the Soviet Union in exchange for allowing Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel in massive numbers. Needless to say, this treason crippled US intelligence operations and led to deaths. US military and intelligence officials view Pollard as having ‘blood on his hands’. So much for the ‘altruistic American Zionist keen on helping insecure, little Israel.’ Years of Zionist propaganda and lobbying have obscured this aspect of Pollard’s crimes.
Excessive Punishment or Excessive Leniency?
Far right Israeli Cabinet Ministers and liberal American Jews, supporters and opponents of Pollard, pundits and editorialists argue that the life imprisonment given to Pollard was out of proportion to the crime of treason. They claim that, after 30 years, he was ‘overdue’ for release.
The severity of the punishment is determined by the crime and the damage caused. In case of treason and espionage committed by US officials, (especially for money), the sentence is always severe. The leaders of the John Anthony Walker Naval spy ring were given multiple life sentences in 1985 and there are many other similar cases.
Among the documents Pollard handed over to his Israeli handlers (operating out of the Israeli Embassy), was US intelligence on strategic installations in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. No doubt, this provided Israel with strategic coordinates to bomb major security facilities in those countries as well as facilitated their brutal invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. Pollard’s treachery led to the death of thousands of civilian lives in Lebanon and facilitated the wars in Iraq and Syria. The damage to those countries and to innocent people would not have been considered by the judge in Pollard’s life sentence – but it must be considered here, in understanding the enormity of his crimes. Pollard has boasted that he was operating out of a ‘racial imperative’ to protect Israel.
Pollard did not serve a life sentence. In fact, while in prison he became an Israeli citizen, a salaried officer in the Israeli armed forces and, after divorcing his American wife (who had also engaged in espionage for pay and served several years in prison), he re-married a Canadian-Israeli woman. This sheds a different light on the ‘severity’ of a life sentence for treason.
Pollard did not serve this ‘life sentence’. He was paroled in November 2015 (to the cheers of his adoring Jewish-American fans) demonstrating the wealth and power of American Zionists and their ability to buy the support of US politicians, domestic and foreign notables and the entire Israeli-Jewish political spectrum-and push aside the objections of the heads of the three major US armed services and intelligence agencies.
Israeli public opinion overwhelmingly supports Pollard and regards him as a ‘role model’ for other US Zionists in official positions. Contrary to Israeli lies, several other major Israeli spy operations occurred in the US after Pollard, including the case involving AIPAC officials, Rosen and Weissman, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin during George W. Bush’s administration.
In stark contrast to the freeing of an Israeli spy responsible for endangering the security of thousands of US operatives abroad and millions of innocent civilians, two authentic American political prisoners, who have fought for the rights of minorities, rot in jail with no prospect of freedom. Leonard Peltier, a Native American leader has spent 38 years in the highest security prison and Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American leader from Philadelphia, whose 33 years in prison have been on death row or brutal solitary confinement. Both were framed by perjured evidence in a parody of justice, which has revolted millions around the world. Neither threatened US security. Over the years, numerous witnesses, legal authorities and academics have testified regarding the miscarriage of justice that characterized their ‘show trials’ and have pleaded for their humanitarian release.
Unlike Pollard, and despite decades of worldwide campaigns for their release, Peltier and Abu-Jamal will probably die entombed in prison. Unlike Pollard, their cases were never about treason, selling information and greed. They have worked hard for justice within their communities, hence earning the hatred of the police state. They fought to serve their oppressed American communities, rather than an oppressive and racist Israeli elite – determined to oppress and erase the native Palestinian population.
The decisive factor has been the political power of Pollard’s supporters, the US Zionist Power Configuration, which leads President Obama and 430 US members of Congress by the nose. Through their media connections, they can lie about Pollard’s case and his motives. They can minimize the consequences of his treason and twist the arms of obedient politicians to support a traitor. Despite the fact that scores of high-ranking US intelligence and military officials have repeatedly attested to the damage inflicted by Pollard on the US, campaign finance hungry politicians recite the Zionist line that Pollard’s treason did not warrant a harsh sentence!
Beyond the immediate shame of a US president caving in to Israeli pressure with regard to this spy, there is the issue of the flagrant double standard:
Why do Israeli spies (or American Zionist traitors) evoke the unconditional support of the entire US Zionist apparatus? Why do thousands of rabbis, hundreds of movie executives and media moguls and scores of billionaires (talk about the 0.01%!) campaign on behalf of this arrogant, greedy thief? Why does Pollard merit a totally different standard of justice, in stark contrast to the vast majority of American minorities – who can rot in dungeons even when clearly innocent? Why does a self-described Israeli (who renounced his US citizenship in jail), who sold vital national secrets to fund a decadent life-style and for what he described as a ‘race imperative’ merit such favors while hundreds of thousands of poor US citizens are routinely denied leniency – let alone mercy? Clearly, the interests of Israel, a foreign regime, carry much greater weight within the US judicial system than millions of American minorities…
Cyber Crimes of Our Times: Billionaire Israeli Swindlers and the Chinese Military
For over three years, the Obama administration, the NSA and the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter have fed their media mouthpieces breathless denunciations against China for cyber-theft. Every week, there are lurid stories about the theft of confidential US industrial, military and political intelligence committed by the Chinese. The Obama regime has followed up his charges of ‘cybertheft” by threatening to confront China in the South China Sea, apply sanctions and raise the military ante in the Pacific against the world’s most dynamic economic superpower.
Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland (Nudelman-Kaplan) has claimed that Chinese cyber theft is a top national security threat requiring an immediate military-security response. US officials have provided no evidence that Chinese officials, at any level, are involved in espionage. Moreover, they have presented no proof that cyber theft is a policy of the Chinese government! There has been no evidence that these alleged thefts have damaged US companies or security interests. Nevertheless, US hostility toward China has been justified by unproven accusations and are used to increase the possibility of a major confrontation.
Contrasted with the ‘allegations’ against the Chinese, three ‘Israeli businessmen’ have been officially charged by US prosecutors with running a multi-billion dollar cyber-hacking scam within the US over the past five years. Dubbed the biggest financial hack in US history, the story hardly made headlines in the US media and was conveniently buried by subsequent ‘terror attacks’ in Europe.
The case is instructive. Three Israelis (one a US-Israeli dual citizen) hacked-attacked ten of the largest US financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments, as well as the Wall Street Journal … downloading protected information on over 100 million Americans – the biggest hack-attack in US history. Gery Shalon, Ziv Orenstein and Joshua Samuel Aaron employed hundreds of employees in Israel and elsewhere running a mega-cybercriminal enterprise.
According to the Financial Times (11/11/2015, p1), “the hacks took place from 2012 to mid-2015 and were aimed at aiding stock market manipulation that generated tens of millions of dollars.” In addition to selling ‘pumped-up’ stocks to millions of customers of the companies they had hacked, Shalom et al. launched cyber attacks to launder millions (more likely billions) for illegal drug and counterfeit software dealers, malicious malware distributors, illegal online casinos and an illegal ‘bitcoin exchange’ known as ‘Coin.mx.’ Someone within the financial security apparatus of the US government (white collar crime unit) must have tipped them off. They are safe in Israel; the Netanyahu regime has yet to act on a US extradition order, although they are reportedly under ‘house arrest’ in their villas.
In contrast to the on-going bellicose rhetoric, which Washington has directed against China’s alleged hackers, Washington has been ‘very reluctant’ to press the issue of extraditing the cyber-thieves with its ‘special partner’ in Tel Aviv.
Israeli super-hackers launched virulent attacks against major US financial institutions and American investors with apparent impunity, following the practice of Israeli info-tech operatives who have raided US military, technology and industrial sites for years.
While the US sends air squadrons and an armada of warships to Chinese waters over a few sand-bars, and brays about arresting Chinese researchers (who it later released with no charges) for alleged cyber-theft, it cannot persuade its ‘closest strategic ally’, Israel, to hand over a trio of formally charged swindlers. Instead, the US increased its annual $3 billion in military aid and provides an open market for Israeli ‘security’ products based on stolen US technology!
The reason for the differential response is not the nature of the ‘crimes’ – it is who commits the crimes! Israeli dominance of US politics via the unconditional support of its US Zionist power configuration ensures impunity for Israeli citizens, including the ability to delay or postpone the extradition of notorious multi-billion cyber thieves! Washington feels free to accuse China, without proof of official Chinese complicity, despite overwhelming evidence, while it cannot persuade its close ‘friend’ Israel to extradite criminals. Netanyahu, backed by his Israeli-Jewish public will decide if, when and where to extradite. When it comes to shielding Israeli or American-Israeli criminals from American justice, Israel treats its ally in Washington like an enemy.
Zionist political clout is evident in Washington’s judicial leniency toward other mega-swindlers with ties to Israel. Michael Milken contributed millions of (swindled) dollars to Israeli and US Zionist programs and won a ‘get out of jail’ card despite his conviction for major financial scams. He served 2 years out of a 10-year sentence and was granted a ‘humanitarian release’ because he was ‘dying’ of extensive terminal metastatic prostate cancer. So far, Michael’s quarter century of miraculous remission from ‘terminal metastatic prostate cancer’ constitutes a first in the annals of urologic cancer! He has gone on to re-constitute his fortune and prominence, while welfare mothers who took a few extra dollars rot in jail.
Ivan Boesky, another uber-Zionist and mega-donor to Israel was a swindler of gargantuan proportions. He raked in hundreds of millions a year. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to a mere 42 months in prison. He was out in less than 24 months, thanks to the support of ….
Marc Rich, a mega- billionaire rogue trader who broke US sanctions against trading with enemies, was also a self-described agent for the Israeli Mossad. Despite having been convicted in absentia in US courts for fraud, (he had skipped bail for Switzerland), President ‘Bill’ Clinton pardoned the ‘absentee felon’ in absentia– a historical first for a criminal who had never spent a day in jail. Mrs. Rich’s $100,000 donation to the Hilary Clinton New York senatorial campaign probably did little to influence the President’s sense of mercy…..
However, ‘Bernie’ Madoff, a $50 billion dollar swindler’ who gave huge amounts of illicit earnings to Zionist charities and projects in Israel was convicted and sentenced to over 100 years in prison. Unlike the above mentioned ‘untouchables’, Madoff will never breathe free again because he made the unforgivable mistake of mostly swindling other Jews, ardent Zionists and even ripping off a number of pro-Israel foundations. His differential treatment stems from his poor choice of victims rather than the crimes… Otherwise he might now be enjoying a comfortable villa in Israel rather than a cold cell in Pennsylvania.
Israeli capacity to manipulate and influence the American judicial process is based on 52 powerful front organizations – organized in the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations. This situation has made a mockery of the American court system and feeds the cynicism and bitterness of the average American. Zionist officials and allies occupy strategic position within the White House and judiciary.
Through their influence in the mass media, they converted a grotesque mercenary spy, like Jonathan Pollard, into an altruistic, Israeli-Jewish patriot, celebrated throughout Israel and within US Zionist circles. Veteran American intelligence and military officials who opposed his release have been painted with the broad brush of ‘anti-Semite’. The formidable Zionist power configuration, nurtured and financed by mega-swindlers, successfully secured his release. Zionist dominance essentially guarantees that the US will treat an indicted Israeli cyber-thief with extreme tact, supplicating the Israeli government for their extradition, while going ballistic over an alleged Chinese hacker.
Few progressive web sites or even the micro-Marxist journals confront these issues, more out of moral cowardice (self-censorship) than ignorance. Instead they bleat general clichés and ‘radical rhetoric’ about ‘US imperialism’ and the ‘rise of the right’ without identifying the precise social and political identity of the forces who move national policy. In a word, the Zionist Power Configuration gets more than a ‘free ride’. Across the political spectrum it continues to campaign on behalf of Israeli spies and Zionist financial swindlers. This corruption of the American judicial system and the betrayal of American trust have far-reaching consequences and undermine efforts to effectively address major national problems.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects.
In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security. They added that the Justice Ministry would be duly informed about these conclusions and would add the two groups to Russia’s list of undesirable foreign organizations.
Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations – both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros – in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House.
In late July, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group after prosecutors discovered the US NGO had spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service.
The Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in early June this year. It requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to draw up an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of any of its materials must be banned.
If the ban is violated, the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with them could face heavy fines, or even prison terms in the case of repeated or aggravated offences.
The Soros Foundation started working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but wrapped up its active operations in 2003.
Released a day before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of State disclosed its annual list of gifts from foreign governments to federal employees. Although the State Department publicly condemned Saudi Arabia for numerous human rights violations, the Saudi king gave President Obama and his family roughly $1.35 million in gifts last year.
According to the Office of the Federal Register, many world leaders offered the president and multiple other federal employees lavish gifts throughout 2014. While British Prime Minister David Cameron gave Obama a photograph and facsimile telegram from Winston Churchill estimated at $440, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered First Lady Michelle Obama $1.13 million in jewelry sets. As Prince William pompously gave the president a signed photographic portrait of Prince William valued at $888, the Saudi King sent $80,000 jewelry sets to Obama’s daughters.
The Saudi government also gave the president two gold wristwatches valued at $85,240. Leading the international community in attempting to whore out our commander-in-chief, the Saudi king also presented Obama with a gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower on marble base estimated at $57,000.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a $440 photograph of the first American consulate in Jerusalem circa 1888, while Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas gave Obama an ornate metallic disc plaque valued at $625. The Iraqi government sent a vase worth $430.
Instead of giving alms to the poor, Pope Francis presented Obama with a bronze medal valued at $1,015. His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, gave the president a folio of lithographs worth $1,707.
On January 5, 2014, the Saudi king gave a $19,628 silver wristwatch to White House Staff Member Prem Kumar. He also sent $8,170 gold wristwatches to White House Staff Members Philip Gordon, Rob Malley, and Ben Rhodes. With no sense of dignity or integrity, the Saudi government also gave Dr. Susan Rice a gold wristwatch and figurine valued at $6,340.
Before passing away earlier this year, King Abdullah reportedly spent over $9.8 million on U.S. lobbyists in 2013. According to the State Department’s 2014 human rights report, the Saudi government physically abuses detainees, holds political prisoners, denies due process, commits arbitrary arrests, and restricts freedom of expression. While allowing corrupt government officials to operate with impunity, the Saudis also beheaded Mohammad bin Bakr al-Alawi, a Saudi national, for practicing sorcery.
Although the State Department listed several gifts to CIA Director John Brennan and multiple anonymous agency employees, the donors’ names have been redacted because “such information could adversely affect United States intelligence sources or methods.” Besides receiving a $10,000 Omega men’s watch, Brennan was also given a $7,500 decorative rug. While world leaders openly gave the president books, a CIA employee received an unidentified series of children’s books valued at $832.13. For some reason, the kid’s books were “retained for official use.”
Fortunately, the First Family cannot keep any of these gifts without paying market value for them when Obama leaves office. According to U.S. law, the president must pay for the gifts/bribes or turn them over to the National Archives or other organizations for storage or display. According to the State Department, non-acceptance of the gifts “would cause embarrassment to the donor and U.S. Government.”
The Zionist entity will inaugurate for the first time an official diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi in the coming weeks, Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported on Friday.
The daily quoted a senior Israeli official as saying on condition of anonymity that the new legation will be officially accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is based in Abu Dhabi.
Haaretz added that the director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, visited Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to participate in the biannual meeting of IRENA’s Council.
“The meeting was to discuss the future activities and budgetary issues pertaining to the organization’s members, but the main purpose of the trip was to finalize the opening of the mission. During the three days of his visit, Gold met with IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin and discussed with him the opening of the mission,” the daily said.
A senior official in al-Quds (Jerusalem) said that diplomat Rami Hatan has been appointed to head the Israeli legation, and will depart for Abu Dhabi in the near future, the report said.
The official added that “office space for the new mission has already been found and that it is undergoing final preparations before the formal opening.”
Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet today shows the utter desperation currently sweeping through the regime change camp as Russia closes in on the death squads in Syria – and does so with massive international support.
At 9.30am on Tuesday morning, a Russian SU-24 jet was shot down by Turkish fighter planes. Its pilots were then allegedly killed by Syrian Turkmen anti-government militias, with the body of one paraded on camera in a video that was immediately posted on youtube. Turkey claimed the jet had encroached on Turkish airspace, but Russia maintains the plane was shot down well inside Syrian territory, 4km from the Turkish border. Rather than calling Russia to defuse any tension arising from the attack, Turkey then immediately called an emergency NATO meeting to ramp it up – “as if we shot down their plane”, Putin commented, “and not they ours”.
To make sense of this apparently senseless provocation, it is necessary to cut through the multiple layers of obfuscation which surround Western narratives around Syria and ISIS. The reality is that the forces essentially line up today just as they did at the outbreak of this crisis in 2011: with the West, Turkey and the gulf monarchies sponsoring an array of death squads bent on bringing down the Syrian government; and Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria (obviously) and Hezbollah resisting this project; the rise of ISIS has not fundamentally changed this underlying dynamic. Indeed, the next-to-useless impact of the West’s year-long phony war against ISIS – alongside its relentless funneling of weaponry to militias with an, at best, ambiguous relationship with Al Qaeda and ISIS – has demonstrated that the Syrian state (or “Assad” to use the West’s puerile personalization) remains the ultimate target of the West’s Syria policy. As Obama himself put it, the goal is not to eliminate ISIS, but rather to “contain” them – that is, keep them focused on weakening Syria and Iraq, and not US allies like Jordan, Turkey or the US’s favoured Kurdish factions. In civil wars, there are only ever really two sides: those who want the insurgency to overthrow the government, and those who want the government to defeat the insurgency. In the Syrian civil war, NATO remains on the same side as ISIS. In this sense, Putin is entirely correct when he commented on the Turkish attack it was a “stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists” and asked: “do they want to make NATO serve ISIS?”
Russia’s direct entry into the Syrian conflict two months ago, however, has caused utter panic in the ‘regime change’ camp. Belying all their ‘anti-ISIS’ rhetoric, the US and Britain were openly horrified that Russia might actually be putting up an effective fight against the group and restoring governmental authority to the ungoverned spaces in which it thrives. Immediately, the West began warning of ‘blowback’ to Russia, and ramping up advanced arms shipments to the insurgency. Within a month, a Russian passenger plane was blown up, with ISIS claiming responsibility and British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond calling the attack a “warning shot”. It was a “shot” alright, aimed not only at Russia, but also at her allies; the downing of the plane on Egyptian soil was a deliberate act of economic war against the Egyptian tourist industry, a punishment for Egypt’s support for Russia and Syria and its choking off of fighters to Syria since Sisi came to power. Then, two weeks later, came the attack on Paris. White supremacist niceties prevented Hammond calling that a “warning shot”, but that is precisely what it was, this time at those within the regime change/ anti-Russia camp who were showing signs of ‘wobbling’. Hollande had suggested back in January that sanctions on Russia should be lifted asap, and more recently had showed a willingness to cooperate with Russia militarily over Syria: a ‘red line’ for France’s ‘Atlantic partners’. This is what France was being punished for.
Nevertheless, the net continues to close on the West’s death squad project in Syria. From the start the key to ISIS success has been, firstly, the porous Syria-Turkey border, through which Turkey has allowed a free flow of fighters and weapons back and forth for the past four years, and secondly, the massive amounts of finance ISIS receives both from oil sales and from donors in countries prepared to turn a blind eye to terror financing. In recent weeks, all of this has been threatened by the Russian-led alliance (of which France is increasingly willing to be a part).
The past week has seen a large scale Syrian ground offensive, supported with Russian air cover, in precisely the Syrian-Turkish border region which is the death squads’ lifeline: a move which prompted the Turkish foreign ministry to warn of “serious consequences” if the Russian airstrikes continued. Simultaneously, Russia has embarked on a major campaign against ISIS’ reportedly 1,000-strong oil tanker fleet which is so crucial to the group’s financial success. As the Institute for the Study of War reported, “Russian military chief of staff Col. Gen. Andrey Kartapolov announced on November 18 “Russian warplanes are now flying on a free hunt” against ISIS-operated oil tanker trucks traveling back and forth from Syria and Iraq, claiming that Russian strikes had destroyed over 500 ISIS-operated oil trucks in the past “several days.”” This massive dent in the group’s oil transporting capacity even shamed the US into belatedly and somewhat half-heartedly launching similar attacks of their own. The smashing of ISIS’ oil industry will not only be a blow to the entire death squad project, but will directly affect Turkey, widely thought to be involved in the transportation of ISIS-produced oil, and even Erdogan’s family itself, as it is the company run by his son Bilal that is believed to be running the illicit trade.
Finally, France yesterday announced a crackdown on ISIS’ financiers, and demanded other countries do the same. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin implied that the report to the G20 on the issue last month was a whitewash, and demanded that the international Financial Action Task Force be much more explicit in its report to the next G20 finance meeting in February about which countries are lax in terms of terror financing. The move is very likely to expose not only Turkey and Saudi Arabia but also, given HSBC’s links to Al Qaeda, the City of London. Indeed, as the Politico website noted, Sapin specifically “said that considering the reputation of the City of London, he would be “vigilant” on the U.K.’s implementation of EU-agreed measures to clamp down on money laundering and exchange financial information on shady transactions or individuals”.The reactions to his demands that implementation of tougher EU regulations be moved forward will also be instructive (in another move exposing the total lack of urgency in the West’s supposed ‘war on ISIS’, they are currently not due to be implemented for another two years).
And on top of all this, the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution authorizing ‘all necessary measures’ to be used against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria, effectively granting UN approval to Russia’s intervention. As Pepe Escobar has pointed out, French support for the resolution rendered it politically impossible for the US or UK to use their veto – although US ambassador Samantha Power, an extreme Russophobe and ‘regime changer’, registered her disapproval by failing to turn up for the vote and sending a junior official along instead.
In other words, on all sides the net is closing in on the West’s death squad project in Syria. Turkey’s actions today have merely demonstrated, again, the impotent rage of those who have thrown in their chips with a disastrous and bloody attempt to remake the Middle East. Syria is indeed becoming the Stalingrad of the regime changers – the rock on which the imperial folly of the West and it’s regional imitators may finally be broken.
The election of Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential race comes as a welcome victory to the country’s business elite and right-wing parties across Latin America, but the president-elect has some dubious ties that could signal a lasting legacy in the new head of state of darker times in Argentina.
Macri has been particularly criticized for his indirect ties to the last military dictatorship in Argentina in the late 1970s and early 1980s that cracked down on left-wing activists and political opposition.
While many of Macri’s powerful economic backers and corporate allies propped up the dictatorship that benefited them economically, Macri’s closest ties to the dictatorship are through his own family business Macri Society, known as Socma.
Macri, a long-time business magnate and former mayor of Buenos Aires, has been a director of his father’s Socma corporate conglomerate since a young age. The Macris are one of Argentina’s wealthiest families, and Socma was among the companies that directly benefited from the dictatorship.
In 1973, prior to the 1976 military coup that ousted the civilian Peronist government of President Maria Estela de Peron and installed a dictatorship, Socma owned seven companies. When the dictatorship ended 10 years later, in 1983, the Socma corporate empire had expanded to 46 companies.
Among Socma’s dozens of companies were various businesses that benefited the Macri family economically by providing services to the dictatorship regime, such as the solid waste management company Manliba, privatized under the dictatorship in 1979, and the postal company Correo Argentino, later nationalized in 2003 under former President Nestor Kirchner.
Macri also showed his sympathies for corporate complicity in dictatorship-era abuses earlier this year when he and his party opposed a government move to end impunity for dictatorship supporters.
Argentina’s Parliament decided in September to launch an investigation into how people and businesses participated in crimes committed by the 1976-1983 dictatorship. While the vote passed by a wide margin of 170-14, Macri and his Republican Proposal Party made up the minority of lawmakers opposing the bill.
The U.S.-backed Dirty War disappeared between 7,000 and 30,000 people in Argentina under the dictatorship regime.
Argentina’s right-wing newspaper La Nacion, which supported the dictatorship, hailed Macri’s election as signalling an end to “revenge” for the dictatorship years.
“The desire for revenge should be buried once and for all,” a La Nacion editorial said on Monday following Macri’s victory. The editorial referred the end to a “culture of revenge” under the governments of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez in reference to their efforts to seek truth and justice for dictatorship-era crimes, including Kirchner’s 2003 repeal of amnesty laws for crimes against humanity.
Macri’s election marks the first victory for the country’s right-wing business elite through electoral means rather than military coup. He will be the third non-Peronist head of state in the more than three decades since the end of the dictatorship.
Right-Wing Alliances in Latin America
While corporate elites and dictatorship-supporters celebrate Macri’s election in Argentina, right-wing organizations across Latin America also welcome his victory as a win for their neoliberal political project in the region.
Macri has already made his foreign policy plans clear, vowing to reshape international ties to strengthen relations with the United States and European Union while requesting that Venezuela be suspended from the South American regional bloc Mercosur.
Macri’s relationship with the United States has been demonstrated in leaked diplomatic cables, published by WikiLeaks, in which he accused the U.S. of being “too soft” on the Kirchner governments and called on the U.S. to crack down on Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Macri’s stance against the Venezuelan government was also clearly solidified when Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, took to the stage with Macri during his victory celebration on Sunday night. Tintori hailed Macri’s win as the start of “political change in Latin America and Venezuela’s opposition was “delighted” by Macri’s win, Reuters reported.
Many of Macri’s supporters are those who hope to reinvigorate neoliberal free trade politics in Latin America and roll back the regional integration projects launched by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
For example, the Argentine think tank Thinking Foundation, focused on developing projects and strategies to get Macri’s party elected, has collaborated with the Spanish FAES Foundation, which promotes neoliberal politics and has strong ties to Spain’s conservative People’s Party.
The Thinking Foundation is also part of the Atlas Foundation, which in turn is part of the global Atlas Network, a think tank that promotes neoliberal free trade and market-based public policy through over 400 member think tanks worldwide.
Macri’s Majority Pro-Kirchner Opposition Government
Macri’s plans to shift Argentina to the right may still face resistance. The president-elect will be forced to govern without majority support from Congress.
In the Argentine Senate and House of Representatives, the majority of lawmakers are not representatives of Macri’s Let’s Change coalition, but of the pro-Kirchner alliance Front for Victory that backed Daniel Scioli’s bid for president. Of 257 seats in the Lower House, 114 are held by the Front for Victory. In the Senate, 42 of 72 senators are Front for Victory officials.
The era of “Kirchnerismo” under Cristina Fernandez and Nestor Kirchner may have come to an end with Macri’s election, but the Peronist movement that has long fought for social justice in Argentina now forms the official opposition.
While change under Macri is certain, the question that remains is what the long-term legacy of the Peronist movement and Kirchner governments will be in Argentina and Latin America.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is determined to end its reliance on Russian technology for space travel, paying billions of dollars to Boeing and SpaceX to come up with an alternative to Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
The organization, which risks losing its reputation for reliability over a series of failed launches, is hiring Boeing and the private aerospace manufacturer and commercial space transport company, SpaceX, to carry out manned missions to the International Space Station (ISS), the ABC News reported Monday.
Boeing received a $4.2 billion order for sending a crewed flight to space in May, and SpaceX was assigned a $2.4 billion order this Friday.
“It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from US companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan,” NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders said in a statement.
NASA expects to blast off its first commercial crew mission in late 2017.
If successful, the new plan will put an end to NASA’s long-standing reliance on Russian technology for such purposes.
This will also allow NASA to save money as it has been paying more than $70 million per astronaut to the Russian Federal Space Agency to reserve seats on board the three-seated Soyuz spacecraft.
However, it is not yet clear if the new alternatives boast the same reliability as Russians’ space technology, since this will be the first time that a private company will take on the task.
SpaceX is developing a capsule design for the mission known as the Crew Dragon, or Dragon V2, which is based on the company’s Dragon cargo capsules.
The commercial company has been already working with NASA on cargo resupply missions to the ISS.
SpaceX uses its own Falcon 9 launch vehicles to deliver the capsule. Despite having an impressive streak of 18 successful launches, the Falcon 9 received much criticism after disintegrating mid-air in July, destroying a 5200 lbs (2359kg) cargo which included a cutting-edge docking port for the space station, a new spacesuit and hours of research.
The incident marked NASA’s third launch failure in 8 months.
Boeing’s spacecraft is under development in collaboration with Bigelow Aerospace. It is also a capsule design, known as the Starliner.
Interestingly enough, the Starliner is designed to be launched by multiple vehicles, with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 among them.
NASA’s own manned vehicle, the Space Shuttle Program, met its end in 2011, after several unfortunate missions that killed all of the astronauts on-board.
The Assembly of States Parties is meeting this month in The Hague to review the work of the International Criminal Court and to discuss the ICC’s budget. The ASP is the International Criminal Court’s management oversight and legislative body. The Assembly also elects the judges and prosecutors and decides the Court’s budget. The court’s proposed budget for 2016 amounts to €153.32 million, representing an increase of €22.66 million, or 17.3 per cent, over the 2015 approved budget. At face value, far from increasing the budget for the ICC, the Assembly of State Parties should be demanding a refund.
Established in 2002, the ICC is an impotent billion euro white elephant. 2015 has been a particularly bad year for the court. It has botched the Kenyan cases it has undertaken and its continuing alienation from Africa was centre-stage internationally when South Africa, previously a keen member, publicly ignored ICC arrest warrants and appears on the verge of withdrawal from the organisation – something seen by observers as a death knell for the court.
The International Criminal Court has self-evidently failed across the board. In 2010 the ICC-friendly Economist had already found it necessary to publish an article about the ICC entitled “International justice: Courting disaster?” Things have worsened considerably since then. The ICC has consumed more than a billion euros in its 13-year existence and has only secured two deeply questionable convictions. The ICC’s claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the court’s reputation has been irretrievably damaged by its racism, blatant double standards, hypocrisy, corruption and serious judicial irregularities. The Assembly of State Parties should also accept that it has grotesquely neglected its responsibility to manage the court. The ASP has turned a blind eye to systemic failure on the part of the ICC.
While the ICC pretends to be the world’s court this is simply not the case. Its members, however, represent under one-third of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside the court’s jurisdiction. India, the world’s largest democracy, has chosen not to join the ICC because the court is subordinate to the United Nations Security Council and because it does not criminalise terrorism and the use of nuclear weapons. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence, and has said that no American citizen will ever come before it. That said, Washington is perfectly happy when it suits American foreign policy objectives to demand that black Africans appear before a deeply flawed court peddling sub-prime justice.
The ICC pretends to be independent. Far from being an independent and impartial court, the ICC grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the UN Security Council – by default its five permanent members (three of which are not even ICC members). The court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The ICC has come to be seen within Africa very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy. The Office of the Prosecutor, for example, has to date received approximately 9,000 complaints about alleged crimes in 139 countries. From these almost nine thousand alleged instances of serious abuses of human rights, the ICC has acted in eight African “situations”, and indicted 39 Africans, to the exclusion of any complaints implicating white Europeans and North Americans or their protégés. The ICC has turned a blind eye to self-evident human rights abuses well within its jurisdiction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an ICC member state. As a result the court can investigate alleged war crimes committed by citizens of any country, ICC Member State or not, within its borders. Tens of thousands of civilians have died and well over one hundred thousand have been injured in the conflict in Afghanistan, many of them at the hands of NATO and US forces. The ICC has however ignored any allegations of war crimes by NATO, US or EU citizens in Afghanistan.
The ICC promised “swift justice” but took several years to bring the first accused to trial for allegedly using child soldiers. The Nuremberg trials, which addressed infinitely more serious charges, were over and done within a year. The ICC pretends to be victim-centred yet Human Rights Watch has publicly criticised the ICC’s ambivalence toward victim communities. The court promised to usher in a new era of gender justice. Women’s rights specialists such as Professor Louise Chappell have noted that the ICC’s record in this respect “has been partial and inconsistent”, and that “The ICC’s legitimacy is fragile.”
Despite having consumed more than one billion euros the ICC has also shown itself to be stunningly dysfunctional. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. At the heart of any judicial process is testimony provided by witnesses. The court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organisations as to what false statements to make. In its first trial, that of Thomas Lubanga, a process that lasted seven years, the judges found all but one of the alleged former child soldiers presented as witnesses by the Prosecution to be unreliable. Dozens of other “witnesses” have either been similarly discredited or disavowed their “evidence”. This hallmark of incompetence continues to this day. Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “thoroughly unreliable and incredible”. In reality it is the Office of the Prosecutor that has been revealed to be thoroughly unreliable and unprofessional.
There have been scandalous examples of prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which the ICC Chief Prosecutor hiding hundreds of items of exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The ASP has simply stood by doing nothing.
That the International Criminal Court is corrupt is also self-evident. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines “corrupt” as “destroyed in purity, debased; vitiated by errors or alterations.” The Assembly of State Parties is responsible for the appointment of judges to the ICC. It is in the selection of judges that the ASP and ICC have been at their most corrupt. ICC judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading within the Assembly of State Parties amongst member states and delegates. The relationship between appointments to the ICC and vote trading between states is an open secret. Selecting International Judges: Principle, Process, and Politics, a ground-breaking study of international judicial appointments, written by Professor Philippe Sands QC, and others as part of Oxford University Press’ International Courts and Tribunals Series, concluded that “the evidence leads unequivocally to the conclusion that merit is not the main driving factor in the election processes.” The study also revealed that “[m]any individuals who participate in the ICC process believe it to be even more politicized than other international judicial elections.” The sheer corruption of the process aside, the reality is that vote-trading results in mediocre judges which in turn leads to a dysfunctional, politicised court.
It is clear that the both the Assembly of States Parties and the International Criminal Court are simply unfit for purpose. Far from granting the ICC yet more money, both the ASP and the ICC should be defunded and disbanded.
Dr David Hoile is the Director of the Africa Research Centre and author of Justice Denied: the Reality of the International Criminal Court, a 610-page study of the ICC. The book is available to read or download at www.africaresearchcentre.org. The author can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Campesino leaders say the government is criminalizing their movements and does not protect their rights. | Photo: @marchapatriota
At least 300 campesino leaders have been killed in Colombia in 2015, according to Andres Gil, human rights leader and spokesperson of the Marcha Patriotica.
Many of these deaths have come as campesino leaders are attempting to defend their land and their natural resources. Another 7,000 campesino leaders have been jailed.
Land distribution in Colombia is extremely unequal. Less than 1 percent of the population owns roughly half of the land, and 70 percent of the population owns only 5 percent of the land. Campesinos who fight for their land are often risking their lives.
At least three campesinos leaders where killed just in the last two weeks, including the young Afro-descendent leader Jhon Jairo Ramirez Olaya in the Valle region; the environmental and campesino leader Daniel Abril, in the Orinoquia region; and the representative of Afro-descendent victims from Cordoba, Luis Francisco Hernandez Gonzales.
Another young campesino leader allegedly killed by the armed forces last Friday, according to Marcha Patriota.
According to Verdad Abierta — an investigative project on the armed conflict of Colombia’s Semana magazine — Abril accused various state officials of corruption, and was fighting against multiple oil corporations with extensive land interests.
Feliciano Valencia, another indigenous leader from the region of Cauca who was controversially sentenced to 18 years in jail, was also victim of a homicide attempt on Tuesday, as four men opened fire on his home, according to local social organizations.
Still in Cauca, in the end October, the armed forces were recently involved in the murder of indigenous leader Alfredo Bolaño, the 58th victim from security forces in the region, one of the most affected by violence because of its highly fertile lands.
On Friday, the Colombian army killed one campesino and wounded five others after it raided a rural area in what military officials said was an effort to “manually eradicate” illegal coca crops.
According to the local community, the armed forces opened fire on a peaceful march last Thursday in Argelia, Cauca.
The country’s ombudsman Fabian Laverde told teleSUR that this issue was rooted in several causes.
“First, the national government refuses to recognize the existence of paramilitarism. Second, the complaints from the social movements made about situations of threats or concrete actions against residents of these territories have been completely ignored,” he said.
The FDA has been called an arm of the drug industry because of how often it smiles on questionable new drugs and new drug approvals only to issue greater warnings or even withdraw them after the drugs made billions. Remember Vioxx, Baycol, Trovan, Meridia, Seldane, Hismanal and Darvon? They are not around anymore. Why? Remember how popular statins, brand name asthma and psychiatric drugs and GERD drugs were? Once they went off patent, the FDA “discovered” serious side effects and began to list warnings. Sorry about that.
There is a stereotype of backwoods courtroom “justice” in which prosecutors and defense attorneys who appeared to be adversarial leave arm in arm and go for a beer after a judicial decision. No hard feelings. The same collegiality oozes at FDA hearings with FDA staffers seeming to suck up to industry, perhaps for jobs in which they return to squeeze their prior colleagues. (Who remembers former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s chief of staff leaning on Perry to vaccinate all the state’s girls with the Merck vaccine Gardasil after he left for industry?)
FDA advisory panels, whose recommendations the FDA usually follows, are supposed to include “patient representatives” to see that the public’s interests are balanced against Big Pharma consultants. So many doctors and researchers now live on 5 and 6 digit drug company stipends, the FDA actually relaxed conflict of interest rules a few years ago–it could not find enough unlinked doctors!
But the “patient representatives” can be a sham. At one meeting I attended, one “patient representative” was a member of the drug industry-funded National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which was investigated by Congress for its hidden Pharma income and many consider a front group. The other so-called patient representative” had given keynote speeches at NAMI. So much for transparency.
Because of the huge amount of money to be made from a blockbuster drug like Lipitor—it was the best selling drug in the world—there is a natural tension between drug companies who want to hurry the march to Wall $treet and drug regulators who want to slow it down to protect the public.
That is why the nomination of unapologetic drug industry supporter, Robert M. Califf, for FDA Commissioner is so concerning. A disclosure statement on the website of Duke Clinical Research Institute lists 25 drug companies Califf receives “research” funds from including drug giants like Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Schering Plough and GSK.
Califf has gone on record that collaboration between industry and regulators is a good thing. He told NPR, “Many of us consult with the pharmaceutical industry, which I think is a very good thing. They need ideas and then the decision about what they do is really up to the person who is funding the study.” What?
He is known for defending Vioxx which is reported to have caused at least 50,000 heart attacks and events before its withdrawal. (Merck is said to have known about Vioxx’ cardio effects but marketed the blockbuster drug anyway.)
Califf was instrumental in the Duke drug trial of the blood thinner Xarelto and a cheerleader of the drug despite medical experts’ objections to its approval and 379 subsequent deaths. Duke, where Califf directed clinical research, is still recovering from a major research fraud scandal that resulted in terminated grants, retracted papers and a Sixty Minutes special. It is the least appropriate place from which to choose an FDA Commissioner.
If approved as FDA Commissioner, as many expect, will Califf recuse himself from decisions on the dozens of drugs whose manufacturers pay him? Or will he rule on them anyway? Either way, his nomination is a slap in the face of every honest doctor, researcher and regulator and the public that puts its trust in the FDA. In fact, if the FDA Commissioner is funded by industry, why have an FDA?
Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).
Over the past 15 years the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an empire, built primarily by and for the projection of military power – and only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.
The rise of a military-based empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing, conflicting, and convergent power configurations within the imperial state. These factions of the Washington elite define the objectives and targets of imperialist warfare, often on their own terms.
Having stated the obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperialist state, it is necessary to recognize that the key policy-makers, who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the country targeted, type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In other words, while US policy is imperialist and highly militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified strategic vision of the US Empire.
In order to understand the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the shifting coalitions of elites, who make decisions in Washington but not always primarily for Washington. Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior ‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.
We will start by listing US imperialist wars during the last decade and a half. We will then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the driving force in each war. We will discuss their successes and failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation of “the state of the empire” and its future.
Imperial Wars: From 2001-2015
The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007-2009; the bombing, invasion ‘regime change’ in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria (since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.
Over the past 15 years, there have been overt and covert military interventions, accompanied by an intense, provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans (Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.
Parallel to the military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.
In South America, US military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in 2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009, overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.
In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.
Washington: Military Workshop of the World
War and violent regime change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities. Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push their own war agenda.
The invasion of Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by all sectors of the militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars elsewhere.
Afghanistan was followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Frum and mouthed by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’ was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world. Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented increase in the military budget and ushered in Caesar-like dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing domestic critics and sending scores of thousands of US and NATO troops to the Hindu Kush.
In itself, Afghanistan was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing Taliban had insisted.
The US military (with its Coalition of the Willing or COW) successfully invaded and occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority wars, namely Iraq.
The decision to invade Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.
Washington’s militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on 9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized public.
Flush with their military victories in the Hindu Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the 9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and starved Iraq in March 2003.
Leading the Washington militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists, including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Zionists had a powerful entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon.
There were ‘outsiders’ – non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside, not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.
None of the ‘old hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s Office of Special Plans, a tight group of Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002-June 2003).
The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing ‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on 9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war, designed the ‘occupation policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a once modern secular nationalist Arab state.
In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special treatment’.
But Zionist policymakers had a much larger agenda than erasing Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destruction was to be carried out with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli soldier).
Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late 2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned out to be very costly to the US. The US completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’, despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was because the real Zionist plan was to destroy these nations – beyond any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain. Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable policy for empire builders.
Israel has been the biggest winner with no cost for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed forces in history: the US. Israel-Firsters played a decisive role among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people)was destroyed.
The US gained an unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.
After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they failed to push the US to attack Tehran but they succeeded in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.
The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab countries: Yemen, Syria, and Libya. The Zionists were not able to manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the Zionist factions did secure brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards, were positioned to enforce the sanctions.
Even before the ascendancy of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to integrate occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.
Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their 2nd decade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.
‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch. However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.
Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon despite resorting to carpet bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.
Libya: A Multi-faction War for the Militarists (without Big Oil)
The war against Libya was a result of multiple factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the Zionists, coming together with French, English and German militarists to smash the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under President Muammar Gaddafi.
The aerial campaign against the Gaddafi regime had virtually no organized support within Libya with which to reconstruct a viable neo-colonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been independent of the US Empire.
The war succeeded wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state, and society. It unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups, (who appropriated the modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
The entire war was carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants (Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually, even Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by … the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly liberated Bengazi!
The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture, grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated), eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war, got nothing positive – not even a secure naval, air, or training base – only a dead Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe, and thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.
For a while Libya became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in Damascus.
Once again the least influential faction in Washington turned out to be the oil and gas industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these wars were not ‘for oil’!
Ukraine: Coups, Wars, and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative, establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its vast iron and coal reserves.
The mechanics of the power grab were relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power, but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil and gas supplier, Russia.
The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four ‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse by the imposition of an IMF austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4) and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US puppet regime.
The militarists in Washington and Brussels succeeded in engineering the coup in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a viable country.
Apparently the militarist factions in the State Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly in the latter.
The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria
During most of the previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the new world economic superpower in Asia, China.
US economic supremacy in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US MNCs were heavily invested in China. Three years into President Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.
But it was not profits and markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the militarist elites – it was military power. Even trade agreements, like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional influence.
Led by the hysterical Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.
The US signed expanded military base agreements with the Philippines, Japan, and Australia; it participated in military exercises with Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia; it dispatched battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.
The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, Trade Negotiator Michael Froman (who works for both the Asia militarist and Zionist factions), and Treasury Secretary Jake Lew. The result was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries while deliberating excluding China. Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to militarize the entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.
The ‘Asia-militarist faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to accommodate its vastly more aggressive posture toward China.
Predictably, China has insisted on defending its maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.
While the US depends heavily on its military pacts with South Korea and Japan, the latter nations have been meeting with China – their most significant trading partner – to work on expanding and deepening economic ties.
Up until 2014, the “business-with-China faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the Asia militarist-faction, which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.
Ashton Carter, the US Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the TPP failed to curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington toward a high risk military course, which could destabilize the region and risk a nuclear confrontation.
The Pirouette: China and Syria
Meanwhile in the Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.
The US joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates, and the EU in sponsoring a replay of the Libyan ‘regime change’ — sponsoring proxy terrorists from around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran and Lebanon; for having an independent foreign policy; and for maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the Saudis would have Syria fractured into an ethnically cleansed ‘tribal state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.
The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded, trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s directions. The emergence of ISIS showed just how close these ‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.
Initially, the traditional militarist wing of Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for direct US military intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.
Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation
The Washington militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the coasts of China and Iran. The militarist-Zionist ‘compromise’ over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist mercenaries – the so-called moderates. There are commitments for greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.
Elite Factional Politics: An Overview
How does the record of these competing factions, formulating US imperial war policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial economic strategy.
The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its failure to end the longest war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been immediately followed by military advances by the nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural populations.
The Afghan war’s initial appearance of success triggered new wars – inter alia Iraq. But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop – with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials – the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and family clans and associations.
Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy. They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban, which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.
They artificially slapped together a massive army of surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and influence of the Zionist faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq – without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory) was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.
Before the militarists could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered war against Iraq.
The build-up for the US war against Iraq has to be understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the unchallenged political-military power in the region using American troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…
The US military and occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).
Washington’s Zionist faction set about in a parody of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge to identify and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society. They were assassinated, arrested, tortured, or driven into exile. The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction did not pursue the traditionally understood policy of empire building which would incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies, imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an ‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of culture and community.
The goal of the ‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival. The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many millions of refugees did not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.
After all, Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill (costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem includes the specter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which they may consider to be a success – since hysteria over ISIS pushes the West ‘closer to Israel’.
The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and eventually form the ISIS. This group of experienced Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of ISIS which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy, which united highly trained nationalist Ba’athist military officers with young Sunni fighters ,both locals and increasingly foreign jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven underground, and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left to lose!
This core of ISIS leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt, and demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came within 40 miles of Baghdad.
The US militarist faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They mobilized, financed, and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to appeal to the Shia militia.
ISIS exploited the Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria and extended their sweep well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible, and its military outcome uncertain… Moreover the US was aligned with dubious allies – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional ambitions. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power territorially and politically.
In the midst of this, the traditional Washington militarists are left with no overall viable imperialist strategy. Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like ISIS.
Throwing a wrench into the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia finally moved to bomb ISIS strongholds – after identifying a significant ISIS contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims are to bring war and terror back to Russia.
The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them. Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their ‘liberated’ regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion, regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism. And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of such barbarism.
Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals
As we have seen, the major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have been dominated by militarists, not professional diplomats-linked to the multi-national corporations. Latin America stands as something of an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by big business interests. Their main focus has been on pushing the neo-liberal agenda. Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’ agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and political backing for the US global military agenda.
The ‘militarist faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction in support of the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002 and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful regime change in Honduras (2010).
To harass the independent Argentine government which was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the ‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the Nisman Affair was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.
The Washington business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left regimes and moved them closer to Washington.
The ‘excesses’ committed by the US backed military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through eighties, and the crisis of the neo-liberal nineties, set the stage for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US political elite operates in Latin America mostly via political and business proxies, for the time being.
From our brief survey, it is clear that wars play a key role in US foreign policy in most regions of the world. However, war policies in different regions respond to different factions in the governing elite.
The traditional militarist faction predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force, and Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.
In the Middle East and South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power with the Zionist faction. Fundamentally the Zionists dictate policy on Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine and the militarists follow.
Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.
The factions form shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.
It should be noted that at no point did the oil and business elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction pushed hard to secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was not able to force the US to send large contingents of ground troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.
Clearly, the business faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.
The Zionist faction among Washington elite policymakers takes positions which consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is no question of who benefits and who loses.
The kind of war which the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country and incorporate it into a stable empire.
It is a serious error to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist, and various militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not one homogeneous group. They may overlap at times, but they also differ as to interests, liabilities, ideology, and loyalties. They also differ in their institutional allegiances.
The overarching militarist ideology which permeates US imperialist foreign policy obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers master the mechanics of war but have no strategy for ruling after intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc. Improvisation has repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.
Long wars and short memories are the norm for Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having destroyed ‘the enemy country’ they leave a vacuum to be filled by chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and greater international strife.