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Making War on Everyone

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 3, 2015

The New York Times is reporting that most Republican voters as well as quite a few Democrats are leaning in favor of American soldiers intervening directly in Syria and Iraq. Republican politicians are paying attention, sounding more bellicose than ever, demanding “boots on the ground” and even suggesting that a John Bolton presidential run is a real possibility.

Apparently the widely noted war fatigue resulting from all the unsuccessful military engagements after 9/11 has worn off. ISIS and Russia are, of course the enemies du jour, but there is also a frequently expressed hankering to go after the Mullahs in Iran if they don’t completely cede their sovereignty tout suite. And there is always the “Red Menace” from China if all else fails. So many enemies, so little time to defeat them all.

How did all this come about as the United States has almost no actual interests compelling getting involved in the Middle East or Eastern Europe yet again? It is not as if a new foray into realms that we Yanks know little or nothing about is likely to be any more successful than the last couple of misadventures. To be sure, a series of sickening atrocities by ISIS has gotten the juices flowing, but the White House’s desire to obtain blanket authority to initiate and deepen an open ended conflict that presumably will go on forever is just about as poorly defined and prone to failure as was the Bushite global war on terror that it replaces.

Part of the problem is undoubtedly an ignorant public. Foreign news coverage is superficial and tends to follow a preordained groupthink that is set by the engaged punditry in Washington and New York City. Putin is always evil and the Iranians are always perfidious. Americans remain ignorant because they are fed a steady diet of untruths and are rarely allowed to hear or read alternative viewpoints. The journalists who write the lies for the leading newspapers and who interview Senator John McCain repeatedly on Sunday mornings are far worse than Brian Williams, who only embellished his stories. The Judy Millers of this world go far beyond that in selling a complete set of bogus goods carefully packaged into prefabricated arguments, which, in the case of Iraq, led to an unnecessary and ultimately disastrous war.

The media has a responsibility to challenge such dishonesty but it rarely does so. A recent puff piece in the Washington Post on Republican President wannabe Mike Huckabee’s acting as a tour guide to Israel was astonishing in terms of what it forgot to mention. Huckabee clearly thumped his belief that God and Israel and the United States are all joined at the hip, but along the way he also revealed that he believes that the Palestinian people do not actually exist, denying them any kind of historical claim to their own land. The article also quoted Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who was accompanying Huckabee, as saying “there’s really no such thing as the ‘Palestinians’.”

The author of the piece, the Post’s Israel correspondent William Booth, did not point out that the claim is ridiculous and un-historical, that Palestine has been settled for thousands of years with an indigenous population that was initially pagan and Jewish, then mostly Christian, and finally mostly Muslim. If roots define national legitimacy then the Palestinian Arabs have more claim to the land that now makes up Israel than do the recent Jewish settlers who came from Europe, America and elsewhere in the Middle East. But a casual reader knowing none of that would not be enlightened by Mr. Booth and might quite possibly leave the article with the impression that there are no Palestinians.

The Post’s editorial policy is relentlessly neocon under the tutelage of Fred Hiatt, whom, hopefully, Jeff Bezos will be firing when he finally gets around to shaking up the paper’s senior staff. There has been a steady drumbeat to take military action against Russia and Syria while sniping relentlessly against any possible agreement with Iran.

Gems that have appeared recently in connection with the upcoming visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu include Dennis Ross’s February 22 nd op-ed on “How to ease Israel’s concerns.” Ross, once described as “Israel’s lawyer,” is inevitably most concerned with making Israel comfortable and proposes legislation mandating a military strike by the U.S. if Iran were perceived to be moving towards weapons grade production of uranium. Of course Ross ignores the evidence that such a perception can be engineered through fake intelligence or by political interests seeking to start a war. The IAEA recently determined that much of the case for Iran having an alleged weapons program in the first place was derived from intelligence fabricated by the United States and also Israel. Ross’s advice would create a trip wire and place the decision whether the U.S. should go to war with Iran in Israel’s hands.

A day later there was a triple whammy. The Post printed a letter from one Robert Tropp claiming that Iran is “developing a nuclear weapon” and “wants to destroy Israel.” Neither assertion is true but the editorial staff apparently felt the letter made a significant contribution to the discussion. On the facing page appeared two articles, one by Hiatt himself, entitled “A credibility gap: Obama’s challenge in selling and Iran deal” and the second by former Senator Joe Lieberman entitled “Hear out Israel’s leader.”

Hiatt argues that President Barack Obama should have sought to “eradicate[e] Iran’s nuclear weapons potential” and points out that the president has backed off from previous foreign policy commitments, including what to do about Iraq, Syria, and Russia. One might note that Hiatt’s desire to “eradicate” a “potential” could be interpreted to mean almost anything that Iran does that the Washington Post does not like.

Because Iran is a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory whose facilities are open to inspection it has a perfect right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. All of which means that Hiatt is essentially saying that Iran’s rights under international law should be abrogated because they make Israel nervous, though he does not, of course, mention Israel. Nor for that matter does he bother to explain exactly how Iran threatens the United States.

Israel, of course, is central to Hiatt’s argument. It has an estimated secret arsenal that includes two hundred nuclear weapons and multiple delivery systems, which Hiatt does not find disturbing, presumably because Benjamin Netanyahu is such a solid individual. Hiatt concludes by expressing his desire to see Congress as a partner in any agreement with Iran. As the Republican majority in Congress is hostile to any deal he is basically calling for a solution that can only fail.

Lieberman on the other hand does not hide his deep regard for Israel and all its works. He encourages all Congressmen to attend the Netanyahu speech on March 3 rd. For Joe, the former “conscience of the Senate,” it is all about hearing Bibi explain how “best to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons” and also because everyone should be a “strong supporter of America’s alliance with Israel.” In addition Congressmen have to be informed by experts like Netanyahu because some day down the road they might have to raise armies and declare war as Iran is not just threatening Israel. Those mad Mullahs are developing nukes and long range missiles that can strike America. And nuclear proliferation by Iran is particularly bad because it might encourage Arab neighbors to do the same.

Joe then returns to his oft repeated meme that “Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies” before concluding that Iran “remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world.” The op-ed is so bad that one suspects Joe wrote it himself, though possibly with a little help from AIPAC. Every single point made is wrong or misleading, most particularly the double assertion that Israel is a wonderful ally. It is not an ally at all and never has been. And if there is an out of control secret nuclear proliferator in the Middle East whose paranoid behavior might well produce a nuclear World War 3 it is Israel, which ex-Senator Lieberman fails to grasp.

If I could I would like to send a message to the mainstream media. It might go something like this: “Please tell your readers the truth for a change. The only thing exceptional about America at the present time is our hubris. We helped create al-Qaeda by attacking the Soviets in Afghanistan. Iraq is a basket case because we invaded it without cause. Syria is in chaos because we have never seriously sought a peaceful solution with Bashar al-Assad. What we have done in Iraq and Syria taken together has produced ISIS. Libya is a toxic mess because we overthrew its government on phony humanitarian grounds. Afghanistan is about to copy Iraq because we have occupied it for thirteen years without a clue how to get out. We started the troubles in Ukraine and with Russia when we broke our promise by expanding NATO and then worked to overthrow an elected government. And finally there is Israel. Israel is not an ally and is the source of many of the problems in the Middle East. American and Israeli interests do not coincide, frequently quite the contrary.”

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing Chicken with Nuclear War

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | March 2, 2015

The United States and Russia still maintain vast nuclear arsenals of mutual assured destruction, putting the future of humanity in jeopardy every instant. But an unnerving nonchalance has settled over the American side which has become so casual about the risk of cataclysmic war that the West’s propaganda and passions now ignore Russian fears and sensitivities.

A swaggering goofiness has come to dominate how the United States reacts to Russia, with American politicians and journalists dashing off tweets and op-eds, rushing to judgment about the perfidy of Moscow’s leaders, blaming them for almost anything and everything.

These days, playing with nuclear fire is seen as a sign of seriousness and courage. Anyone who urges caution and suggests there might be two sides to the U.S.-Russia story is dismissed as a wimp or a stooge. A what-me-worry “group think” has taken hold across the U.S. ideological spectrum. Fretting about nuclear annihilation is so 1960s.

So, immediately after last Friday night’s murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, the West’s media began insinuating that Russian President Vladimir Putin was somehow responsible even though there was no evidence or logic connecting him to the shooting, just 100 meters from the Kremlin, probably the last place Russian authorities would pick for a hit.

But that didn’t stop the mainstream U.S. news media from casting blame on Putin. For instance, the New York Times published an op-ed by anti-Putin author Martha Gessen saying: “The scariest thing about the murder of Boris Nemtsov is that he himself did not scare anyone,” suggesting that his very irrelevance was part of a sinister political message.

Though no one outside the actual killers seems to know yet why Nemtsov was gunned down, Gessen took the case several steps further explaining how – while Putin probably didn’t finger Nemtsov for death – the Russian president was somehow still responsible. She wrote:

“In all likelihood no one in the Kremlin actually ordered the killing — and this is part of the reason Mr. Nemtsov’s murder marks the beginning of yet another new and frightening period in Russian history. The Kremlin has recently created a loose army of avengers who believe they are acting in the country’s best interests, without receiving any explicit instructions. Despite his lack of political clout, Mr. Nemtsov was a logical first target for this menacing force.”

So, rather than wait for actual evidence to emerge, the Times published Gessen’s conclusions and then let her spin off some even more speculative interpretations. Yet, basing speculation upon speculation is almost always a bad idea, assuming you care about fairness and accuracy.

Remember how after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, some terrorism “experts” not only jumped to the false conclusion that the attack was a case of Islamic terrorism but that Oklahoma was chosen to send a message to Americans that no part of the country was safe. But the terrorist turned out to be a white right-wing extremist lashing out at the federal government.

While surely hard-line Russian nationalists, who resented Nemtsov’s support for the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev, should be included on a list of early suspects, there are a number of other possibilities that investigators must also consider, including business enemies, jealous rivals and even adversaries within Russia’s splintered opposition – though that last one has become a target of particular ridicule in the West.

Yet, during my years at the Associated Press, one of my articles was about a CIA “psychological operations” manual which an agency contractor prepared for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noting the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a “martyr” for the cause. I’m in no way suggesting that such a motive was in play regarding Nemtsov’s slaying but it’s not as if this idea is entirely preposterous either.

My point is that even in this age of Twitter when everyone wants to broadcast his or her personal speculation about whodunit to every mystery, it would be wise for news organizations to resist the temptation. Surely, if parallel circumstances occurred inside the United States, such guess work would be rightly dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

Nuclear Mischief

Plus, this latest rush to judgment isn’t about some relatively innocuous topic – like, say, how some footballs ended up under-inflated in an NFL game – this situation involves how the United States will deal with Russia, which possesses some 8,000 nuclear warheads — roughly the same size as the U.S. arsenal — while the two countries have around 1,800 missiles on high-alert, i.e., ready to launch at nearly a moment’s notice.

Over the weekend, I participated in a conference on nuclear dangers sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation in New York City. On my Saturday afternoon panel was Seth Baum of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute who offered a sobering look at how the percentage chances of a nuclear war – though perhaps low at any given moment – add up over time to quite likely if not inevitable. He made the additional observation that those doomsday odds rise at times of high tensions between the United States and Russia.

As Baum noted, at such crisis moments, the people responsible for the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are more likely to read a possible computer glitch or some other false alarm as a genuine launch and are thus more likely to push their own nuclear button.

In other words, it makes good sense to avoid a replay of the Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse by edging U.S. nuclear weapons up against Russia’s borders, especially when U.S. politicians and commentators are engaging in Cold War-style Russia-bashing. Baiting the Russian bear may seem like great fun to the tough-talking politicians in Washington or the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post but this hostile rhetoric could be taken more seriously in Moscow.

When I spoke to the nuclear conference, I noted how the U.S. media/political system had helped create just that sort of crisis in Ukraine, with every “important” person jumping in on the side of the Kiev coup-makers in February 2014 when they overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

Since then, nearly every detail of that conflict has been seen through the prism of “our side good/their side bad.” Facts that put “our side” in a negative light, such as the key role played by neo-Nazis and the Kiev regime’s brutal “anti-terrorism operation,” are downplayed or ignored.

Conversely, anything that makes the Ukrainians who are resisting Kiev’s authority look bad gets hyped and even invented, such as one New York Times’ lead story citing photos that supposedly proved Russian military involvement but quickly turned out to be fraudulent. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]

At pivotal moments in the crisis, such as the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper fire that killed both police and protesters and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 killing 298 passengers and crew, the U.S. political/media establishment has immediately pinned the blame on Yanukovych, the ethnic Russian rebels who are resisting his ouster, or Putin. Then, when evidence emerged going in the opposite direction — toward “our side” — a studied silence followed, allowing the earlier propaganda to stay in place as part of the preferred storyline.

A Pedestrian Dispute

One of the points of my talk was that the Ukrainian crisis emerged from a fairly pedestrian dispute, i.e., plans for expanding economic ties with the European Union while not destroying the historic business relationship with Russia. In November 2013, Yanukovych backed away from signing an EU association agreement when experts in Kiev announced that it would blow a $160 billion hole in Ukraine’s economy. He asked for more time.

But Yanukovych’s decision disappointed many western Ukrainians who favored the EU agreement. Tens of thousands poured into Kiev’s Maidan square to protest. The demonstrations then were seized upon by far-right Ukrainian political forces who have long detested the country’s ethnic Russians in the east and began dispatching organized “sotins” of 100 fighters each to begin firebombing police and seizing government buildings.

As the violence grew worse, U.S. neoconservatives also saw an opportunity, including Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who told the protesters the United States was on their side, and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who passed out cookies to the protesters and plotted with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on who would become the new leaders of Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.“]

Thus, a very manageable political problem in Ukraine was allowed to expand into a proxy war between nuclear-armed United States and Russia. Added to it were intense passions and extensive propaganda. In the West, the Ukraine crisis was presented as a morality play of people who “share our values” pitted against conniving Russians and their Hitler-like president Putin.

In Official Washington, anyone who dared suggest compromise was dismissed as a modern-day Neville Chamberlain practicing “appeasement.” Everyone “serious” was set on stopping Putin now by shipping sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainian government so it could do battle against “Russian aggression.”

The war fever was such that no one raised an eyebrow when Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told Canada’s CBC Radio last month that the West should no longer fear fighting nuclear-armed Russia and that Ukraine wanted arms for a “full-scale war” against Moscow.

“Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore, in Ukraine,” Prystaiko said. “However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop [Putin] somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe. … What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little.” [See Consortiumnews.com’sReady for Nuclear War over Ukraine?”]

Instead of condemning Prystaiko’s recklessness, more U.S. officials began lining up in support of sending lethal military hardware to Ukraine so it could fight Russia, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said he favored the idea though it might provoke a “negative reaction” from Moscow.

Russian Regime Change

Even President Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders who have yet to publicly endorse arming the Kiev coup-makers enjoy boasting about how much pain they are inflicting on the Russian economy and its government. In effect, there is a U.S. strategy of making the Russian economy “scream,” a first step toward a larger neocon goal to achieve “regime change” in Moscow.

Another point I made in my talk on Saturday was how the neocons are good at drafting “regime change” plans that sound great when discussed at a think tank or outlined on an op-ed page but often fail to survive in the real world, such as their 2003 plan for a smooth transition in Iraq to replace Saddam Hussein with someone of their choosing – except that it didn’t work out that way.

Perhaps the greatest danger from the new neocon dream for “regime change” in Moscow is that whoever follows Putin might not be the pliable yes man that the neocons envision, but a fierce Russian nationalist who would suddenly have control of their nuclear launch codes and might decide that it’s time for the United States to make concessions or face annihilation.

Yet, what I find truly remarkable about the Ukraine crisis is that it was always relatively simple to resolve: Before the coup, Yanukovych agreed to reduced powers and early elections so he could be voted out of office. Then, either he or some new leadership could have crafted an economic arrangement that expanded ties to the EU while not severing them with Russia.

Even after the coup, the new regime could have negotiated a federalized system that granted more independence to the disenfranchised ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine, rather than launch a brutal “anti-terrorist operation” against those resisting the new authorities. But Official Washington’s “group think” has been single-minded: only bellicose anti-Russian sentiments are permitted and no suggestions of accommodation are allowed.

Still, spending time this weekend with people like Helen Caldicott, an Australian who has committed much of her life to campaigning against nuclear weapons, reminded me that this devil-may-care attitude toward a showdown with Russia, which has gripped the U.S. political/media establishment, is not universal. Not everyone agrees with Official Washington’s nonchalance about playing a tough-guy game of nuclear chicken.

As part of the conference, Caldicott asked attendees to stay around for a late-afternoon showing of the 1959 movie, “On the Beach,” which tells the story of the last survivors from a nuclear war as they prepare to die when the radioactive cloud that has eliminated life everywhere else finally reaches Australia. A mystery in the movie is how the final war began, who started it and why – with the best guess being that some radar operator somewhere thought he saw something and someone reacted in haste.

Watching the movie reminded me that there was a time when Americans were serious about the existential threat from U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons, when there were films like “Dr. Strangelove,” “Fail Safe,” and “On the Beach.” Now, there’s a cavalier disinterest in those risks, a self-confidence that one can put his or her political or journalistic career first and just assume that some adult will step in before the worst happens.

Whether some adults show up to resolve the Ukraine crisis remains to be seen. It’s also unclear if U.S. pundits and pols can restrain themselves from more rushes to judgment, as in the case of Boris Nemtsov. But a first step might be for the New York Times and other “serious” news organizations to return to traditional standards of journalism and check out the facts before jumping to a conclusion.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Military and NATO: Praetorian Guard of the Orwellian Empire

By Gilbert Mercier | News Junky Post | February 26, 2015

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has positioned itself, one administration after another, as a global supercop guarantor of world peace. Indeed, since the end of World War II, even as the US has projected its power worldwide through military might, its clever ideologues have managed to convince a large portion of their public opinion that their ambitions for global hegemony are altruistic and benevolent. This dichotomy between the fictional discourse and the brutal reality of US imperialism, applied globally since 1945, is more blatant than George Orwell’s worse fears expressed in1984. In this war-is-peace construct, nothing is what it appears to be, and imperialist wars are sold to a gullible citizenry as being humanitarian. Despite the disinformation propagated by the think tanks and Western mainstream media outlets, factual evidence shows that currently, the clear-and-present dangers to world peace are not ISIS, “Russia‘s aggressive acts” or Ebola but, rather, the US military and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq given by the spin masters of Orwellian imperialism was to “spread freedom and democracy to the Middle East”. Twelve years later, what has spread in Iraq, Libya and Syria is not freedom and democracy, but ashes, ruins, blood baths and despair. The new world order that the ideologues of Orwellian imperialism are striving to impose globally under the cover of fake revolutions, at least until everyone is beaten into submission, is actually controlled chaos. The destructive empire has several wrecking balls at its disposal, but its tools of choice are, in addition to the US military and the troops of its dependable and mostly occupied vassals in NATO, the Israel “Defense” Forces. The creation of controlled chaos works as a tactic to mold the collective psyche of the citizenry, because people usually strive for stability, security and order, even at the expense of their own personal liberty. The collective state of fear that chaos generates makes most people welcome the worst kinds of repression from the most oppressive forms of governments. Fear and paranoia are the essential ingredients of police states.

Global hegemony plan from a warmongering Nobel peace prize laureate

Nothing could be more appropriate for the warmongering Orwellian empire than to have as its current public-relations person a Nobel peace prize laureate. The irony and absurdity of it all is tragic. On February 11, 2015, president Obama sent an official request to the US Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against America’s latest elusive enemy: ISIS or ISIL. In the request to Congress, which is a gem in Orwellian rhetoric and legalese, it is mentioned that Obama “has directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL”, further the letter explains the plan to use convenient regional surrogates on the front line of the empire’s new war: “Local forces, rather than the US military should be deployed to conduct such operations. The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility (for the US military) to conduct ground combat operations…..”

Needless to say, the new AUMF will pass unquestioned, with flying colors and wide bipartisan support. After all, could the US Congress say no to a perfect new war that promises very few US casualties, for its patrons of the military-industrial complex? War is the US’ leading export and an extremely lucrative business for everyone associated with the merchants of death. The timing of the AUMF, a few months after the full-scale operation against ISIS started without it, has to do with the budget of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2016. Added to a “base” defense budget of $534 billion, the Pentagon is asking for $51 billion to pay for “the war on ISIL in Iraq and Syria”. The 2016 budget proposal asks for $168 million of additional funding to “counter Russian aggressive acts”, with $117 million for Ukraine and $51 million for Moldova and Georgia, plus $789 million to bolster NATO in the European Union. The direct and indirect beneficiaries, namely Wall Street and the political class, of the colossal war machine are thrilled with the prospect of more profit from permanent war.

Despite the fact that ISIS was originally the foster child of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Uncle Sam for its godfather, it has just been labeled enemy number one and is a dream come true to make the “War on Terror” global, permanent and perhaps even more destructive. The Islamic State foreign legion is indeed the perfect enemy: one that can justify a permanent war-without-borders; help finish the job of wrecking the Middle East in preparation for the greater Israel project; and finally, create a clash-of-civilizations fear and discourse in Europe to make people accept a full-blown police state.

In the time of the Orwellian empire, most people not only accept the notion that they must be protected against themselves, but are also conditioned to embrace it happily, as if they are singing cheerfully to the slaughterhouse. Furthermore, the war on ISIS will allow the US military and its NATO surrogate to invade and occupy more countries.

US military: occupier of allies

Facts are still awfully stubborn even in this era. Seventy years after the end of World War II, the US military still occupies the main losers of the conflict and current “allies”. About 40,000 US troops occupy Germany, while  60,000 occupy Japan. Fifty-four years since the end of the Korean war, almost 30,000 troops occupy South Korea. Fourteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan, a Praetorian guard of 11,000 is still in that country, and 12 years after the invasion of Iraq a force of about 5,000 troops, quickly growing, remains there. Some other significant footprints of the US military on so-called sovereign countries are as follows: about 12,000 in Kuwait; 3,500 in Bahrain; 1,500 in Turkey; 11,000 in Italy; 10,000 in the United Kingdom; and 2,000 in Spain.

The overall US military force overseas occupies more than 150 countries and amounts to the staggering number of 160,000 troops, with an additional 70,000 deployed in “contingency” operations with either the Navy, Air Force, or Special Forces. A priority of further military expansion, in this case through NATO, is Eastern Europe using the pretext of necessary defense against “Russia’s aggressions”. In Spring 2015, NATO will establish command centers in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to oversee 5,000 troops.

From time to time, despite the thick fog of disinformation and propaganda where basic truth become meaningless, the empire’s ideologues slip up and become candid. Such a chilling moment of semi-truth happened in the White House National Security Strategy report/statement of February 6, 2015. Vague literary flourishes do not hide the fact that the leadership of Orwellian Empire Inc. does not intend to respect national sovereignty and pull out its Praetorian guards.

“Now, at this pivotal moment, we continue to face serious challenges to our national security, even as we are working to shape the opportunities of tomorrow. Violent extremism and an evolving terrorist threat raise a persistent risk of attacks on America and our allies. Escalating challenges to cybersecurity, aggression by Russia, the accelerating impact of climate change, and the outbreak of infectious diseases all give rise to anxieties about global security. We must be clear-eyed about these and other challenges and recognize the United States has a unique capability to mobilize and lead the international community to meet them. Any successful strategy to ensure the safety of the American people and advance our national security interests must begin with an undeniable truth- America must lead. Strong and sustained is essential to a rules-based international order that promotes global security and prosperity as well as the dignity and human rights of all peoples. The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.”

So we have it. The global citizenry must challenge the US’ Orwellian leadership that has driven the world from one war to another for the past seven decades. This is a clear-and-present danger to all of us. Nations, worldwide, must reclaim their sovereignty by firstly recognizing that the Praetorian guard of the Orwellian empire are not allies but occupiers. Contesting the “leadership” of the US is the only way out of a perverse global construct where war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and reality is fiction.

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

State Dept asks for budget to counter RT

RT | February 26, 2015

Citing RT’s influence, Secretary of State John Kerry asked US lawmakers for more money for propaganda and “democracy promotion” programs around the world.

“Russia Today (sic) can be heard in English, do we have an equivalent that can be heard in Russian? It’s a pretty expensive proposition. They are spending huge amounts of money,” Kerry said in the course of the budget hearing on Wednesday, apparently forgetting that Voice of America has been broadcasting in Russian since 1947.

Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), chairing the House Foreign Affairs Committee, opened the hearing with the allegation that “Russia’s military aggression is matched only by its propaganda.”

To Kerry’s approval, Royce went on to claim that “Russia is spending more than $500 million annually to mislead audiences, sow divisions, and push conspiracy out over RT television.”

Royce’s remarks echo the claim made by Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) chief Andrew Lack last month, when he listed “Russia Today” (sic) in the same breath as ISIS and Boko Haram as one of the challenges facing his agency.

In reality, RT’s budget for 2015 is less than half the amount cited by Representative Royce – $225 million, according to the current exchange rate, or 13.85 billion rubles. By contrast, the US government media receives $721 million. The BBC World Service, which complained about RT “winning the information war” in January, is funded to the tune of $375 million a year.

In the budget proposal submitted by Kerry, the Department of State is asking for “$639 million to help our friends in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova as they seek to strengthen their democracies, withstand pressure from Russia, and to integrate more closely into Europe.” [PDF] Washington is also requesting over $2 billion – described as “a significant increase” – for “democracy, human rights, and governance programs.”

Read more: More money, more problems?

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

THE GRAND ILLUSION

The truth is that the risk of an American being killed by terrorism is close to zero, having been calculated at 1:20,000,000

By John Chuckman | Aletho News | February 25, 2015

In the years since 9/11, American police alone have killed at least twice as many Americans as died in that single large event, the annual toll of police killings being somewhere between 500 and 1,000, the variation owing to many such events going inaccurately reported by police.

Each year, somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand Americans are killed in automobiles, the level having declined in recent years. Each year about 15,000 Americans are murdered, down from about 25,000 not too many years ago. Each year about 100,000 Americans are killed by medical malpractice. About 40,000 Americans commit suicide annually. These are just a few causes of death in America, not the largest ones but some of the more interesting.

Let’s get a rough total estimate of what has happened to Americans from these causes in the time since 9/11. Just using the low number in each case for fourteen years, 7,000 Americans were killed by their own police, 420,000 were killed by something parked in their garage, 210,000 were murdered by fellow citizens, 1,400,000 were killed by friendly family doctors, and there were 560,000 who just decided to pack it in for one reason or another. The total of these various causes of death rounds to 2, 600,000 deaths, nearly 867 times the number of Americans killed on 9/11, 867 collapsed sets of twin towers, nearly 62 collapsed sets of towers per year.

So why are we spending countless billions of dollars fighting terror, an almost insignificant threat to our well-being? We spend a total by various estimates of between 1 and 5 trillion dollars (yes, that’s trillion with a “t”), although such totals can never accurately be given owing to secrecy, false accounting, and the immense waste that is an inherent part of all military and intelligence operations. Even in the crudest military terms of “bang for the buck,” ignoring all the death and destruction and ethical issues, just as the military routinely does in its grim work, the War on Terror has to be the greatest misdirection of resources in all of human history.

Or is it?

Perhaps there are other reasons for the War on Terror, reasons never discussed in newspapers or on news broadcasts, reasons which make the expenditure of such colossal amounts against such an insignificant risk acceptable to those doing the spending? Unless American leaders are all lunatics, I think there must be.

Most people are aware that the War on Drugs has been a stupendous flop, with a great deal of resources having bought nothing except a general diminishment of personal freedoms, construction of new prisons, and make-work employment for many unnecessary police and prison guards. But each year the War on Terror spends many, many times the amount spent on the War on Drugs, and what has it bought us? A far greater debasement of freedoms, almost wiping clean parts of the Bill of Rights, raising to a high status in our society such dark and anti-democratic forces as security agents of every kind and the military, increasing exponentially the secrecy of government and thus giving voters no hope for an informed ballot, making countless future enemies in the world, and causing Americans willy-nilly to support filthy acts identical to the hateful work of military juntas who made tens of thousands of civilians disappear.

I think there are only a couple of explanations for this waste of resources which otherwise employed could have made the world an immeasurably better place. They are assisted greatly by what I’ll call the “crime in the news” effect, although I might just as well call it the “advertising effect,” because advertising works on people’s minds through its seeming omnipresence and repetition planting suggestions, suggestions not entirely different to those planted by the stage-performer hypnotist in the minds of his volunteers from the audience.

It has been demonstrated many times that daily reports of violent crime, even when the crimes occur outside a listening community, cause people to become apprehensive about many ordinary activities such as letting kids walk to school or go to the park to play. And no advertising campaign in history could begin to compare to the complete audience saturation of “terror this or that” in our newspapers, magazines, and on-air. Surely, no totalitarian government ever more completely blanketed its people with fearful suggestions than does America’s “free press” today. You literally cannot hear a news broadcast or read a newspaper with the word terror missing, a fact which keeps most people in an unquestioning frame of mind about what properly should be regarded as sinfully immense expenditures to no useful purpose, at the same time conditioning them to surrender precious freedoms. For most people, the fact is that fear overcomes both logic and courage.

Americans, along with people in other lands heavily under American influence, have voluntarily given up claims to what we believed were well-established rights. Yes, there is some controversy over the high-tech equivalent of Big Brother’s telescreens, over the construction of immense new or expanded agencies such as the TSA and NSA, and even some over a seemingly-endless set or wars, but much less than you might have expected. There has been relatively little controversy over America’s smashing its adherence to everything from the Geneva Conventions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the complete disregard for established basic principles of common law in America’s international behavior goes largely unremarked, at least in America.

In a very real sense, America’s establishment, its government within the government consisting of leaders in security and the military and of its great corporations, has been given license to create a kind of Frankenstein monster which now stands ready with terrible powers to do its bidding. It certainly isn’t just terrorists who need fear, it is every person with the impulse in his or her breast for justice, fairness, and human decency, and it is every country which has an impulse for independence from America’s imperious declarations of how they should carry on their affairs. I don’t like the expression New World Order, but it does in fact communicate something of what has been pursued relentlessly by America’s establishment since 9/11 with an unbounded sense of its entitlement and privilege. The awesome creature it has brought to life – which already runs secret prisons, tortures, conducts non-judicial killings, and supports horrible governments in many places – is no respecter of principles or human rights or even basic decency. We all know from history and common experience that over time any well-funded, established, and privileged institution grows, altering the terms of its charter and spreading its influence always farther, just as today American intelligence, bound by charter not to spy on Americans, spies on them all the time through various technical arrangements effectively going around its charter.

This monster serves ambitions abroad – crush democracy anywhere it proves inconvenient or a barrier to the interests of America’s establishment, as in Ukraine and in Egypt and as attempted in Venezuela, but also crush old arrangements which have produced advancing societies in other lands, even though they are not yet democratic, as in Syria, Iraq, or Libya.

In a relatively short time the monster has made a chaotic wasteland of such previously prosperous lands as Iraq and Libya, and it is now hard at work doing the same to the lovely, ancient land of Syria where it is allied in its efforts with some of the ugliest violent fanatics you could hope to find anywhere. Its acts have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths in these places, countless refugees and injuries, the destruction of much precious infrastructure, and left people to wallow in chaos for years to come.

It created a coup, and thereby a civil war, in Ukraine, reducing that impoverished land still further, and it allied itself for the effort with the kind of stormfront militia trash that even the pathetic FBI surely would infiltrate and investigate were they active in the United States. It did all this just to gain temporary psychological advantages over Russia, a country whose leadership today far better represents principles of international peace and good order – not without some distant echo of irony for those of us raised on a steady diet of Cold War propaganda – than those in Washington who never stop mouthing slogans about rights and democracy which they routinely ignore. We all have an immense investment in America’s reckless game of “playing chicken” with Russia, the only country on the planet capable of obliterating most of Western civilization. I’ve never liked frat-boy pranks and humor, but in this case the overgrown frat-boys at the CIA are guffawing over stupidities which risk most of what we hold precious.

But the monster serves also to intimidate America’s own population. Don’t hold big or noisy demonstrations against injustice, don’t complain too much about authorities and truly abusive police, don’t communicate with others who may be viewed as undesirables for whatever reasons by the government, and don’t describe any group which has been arbitrarily-declared terrorist as being merely freedom fighters – any of these acts or many others risks arbitrary powers that never formally existed before.

Homeland Security has stocked huge amounts of crowd-control equipment and weapons, and it was a military general who quietly announced a few years back that the Pentagon was prepared should martial law became necessary in America. America’s local police forces, long ago having earned an international reputation for violent, militaristic behavior, have been given surplus military-grade crowd-control equipment. The FBI seeks new authorities and capabilities regularly, the same FBI with such a sorry record, going back to its origins, of abusing authority.

In my mind, and I think in the minds of many, America’s posture towards the world resembles a pug-ugly bully confronting you on the street, someone who just will not let you pass until you give him what he demands. The bully is the country’s immensely wealthy and influential privileged establishment, having the country’s general population now completely in tow, fearful and intimidated, quite apart from being in large part underemployed or unemployed. The bully naturally pays no attention to international organizations and agreements, believing himself above the rules and constraints to which others hold. The organizations are either simply ignored or, as in the case of the UN, coerced into behaving along acceptable lines, America having spent some years recently refusing to pay its legally-required dues just to prove a point as well as having been involved in more than one cabal to unseat a disliked Secretary General.

And I fear this gives us just a hint of what is likely to come because, as we should never stop reminding ourselves, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The world’s hope for relief from a form of international tyranny comes from the growth of countries like Russia, China, India, and Brazil. I wish I could add the EU to the list, but it seems almost as supine and voiceless as America’s own general population or Canada’s present government. Only forces capable of saying “no” to America’s establishment and building interest blocs to oppose its excesses offer redress and relief in future, and it is only through political contention that new international organizations are likely to emerge, ones with some power and effect. Americans all give lip service to competition in economics, but the concept applies no less to the spheres of politics and world affairs. And Americans all give lip service to democracy, not realizing that its governing elites represent the tiniest fraction of the world’s population and resemble in their acts abroad about as aristocratic a government as ever existed.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

MEK Hoax Exposed

CASMII – February 25, 2015

GMP product photo

GMP product photo

The latest NCRI revelations of a new “Lavizan 3″ facility has been sent to the right wing and pro-war media and has been playing in the US non-stop. The group claims it has photo of a “steel door” designed to prevent radiation leaks. (Washington Post).

Here’s a typical article. It links to the original report.

The report feature only one singular picture as proof, they say was taken from an underground bunker that is “anti nuclear radiation”. But the picture is from an Iranian safe company GMP It’s a product shot for their “explosive resistant” door.

Page 10 of NCRI Report, Feb 24, 2015

Page 10 of NCRI Report, Feb 24, 2015

The NCRI is a front organization controlled by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a violent terrorist organization at war with Iran. It has targeted and killed many civilians including American citizens since the 1960’s. The group was listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 in the United States.

The cult-like group has also perpetrated human rights abuses against its own members. But in the post-Iraq invasion era, it has become a vocal supporter of military action by US and Israel. MEK participated in assassination of Iranian scientists and has an established relationship with Israel. Read this National Interest article for some of the details.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Bogus ISIS Stories

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | February 20, 2015

… as America debates the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion of ISIS-controlled territory, it’s important to note that much of the ISIS threat — namely that which targets the West — has been habitually overstated by an uncritical media.

In no particular order, here are the ten most bogus ISIS scare stories over the past year:


1. Female genital mutilation edict – July 2014


Genital Mutilation

Who it fooled: Most major media outlets from Time to Reuters to The Atlantic to the BBC (whose story has since been scrubbed online). Above all, the UN itself.

Why it’s bogus: Actual residents of Mosul and regional experts quickly knew it reeked. The story was subsequently discredited by experts and jouranalists and called a hoax soon after.


2. Church-burning in Mosul – July 2014


Mosul Church Burning


Who it fooled: Human Rights Watch, The Atlantic, The Independent, The Times of India

Why it’s bogus: An intrepid archaeologist, Sam Hardy, called BS and thanks to the magic of reverse image Google search and some prodding by yours truly, it was eventually retracted by several outlets and never mentioned again.


3. ISIS in Mexico – October 2014


ISIS in Mexico


Who it fooled: Fox News, Judicial Watch, The Inquisitr.

Why it’s bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.

4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen – December 2014


ISIS Emo Teen


Who it fooled: Metro, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph

Why it’s bogus: The person who uploaded the picture admitted on Twitter it was a fake. The media subsequently deemed it a “hoax”.


5. ISIS Caliphate map – July 2014


ISIS Map


Who it fooled: ABC News, International Business Times, Breitbart

Why it’s bogus: The original story from ABC News cited a map that had been floating around the Internet for months. To this day, its one and only source is a tweet from a noted white supremacist website Third Position.

io9.com and others eventually deemed it a hoax.

6. ISIS beheads Christian children – Aug 2014


aj_6


Who it fooled: Originally asserted on CNN by self-proclaimed Iraqi-Christian activist Mark Arabo–a grocery story industry lobbyist whose previous media appearance was on a local San Diego news channel to oppose an increase in minimum wage–this story spread among right-wing and Christian media.

Why it’s bogus: After a fairly thorough inquiry, snopes eventually determined the claim was “inconclusive,” having found no independent evidence it occurred.


7. $425m bank robbery – June 2014


ISIS Robbery


Who it fooled: The Washington Post, International Business Times, Fox News, Mic, Vocativ

Why it’s bogus: The story was based solely on accounts from the former mayor of Mosul and was later found to be uncredible by The Financial Times and, ultimately, US officials themselves.


8. ‘Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS’ – October 2014


100 Americans in ISIS


Who it fooled: NBC News, Washington Post, Al Jazeera


Only 12 Americans Fighting With ISIS


Why it’s bogus: After the FBI admitted there were only “about a dozen” Americans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria in September 2014, several media outlets continued to report “over 100,” despite the government correcting the record several weeks prior.

9. #AllEyesOnISIS “Twitter storm” – June 2014


ISIS Twitter War


Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, McClatchy

Why it’s bogus: Yours truly showed that the “Twitter storm” was simply a reposting of weeks- or months-old tweets by an overzealous ISIS fanboi.

10. ISIS’s ebola terror plot – December 2014


alt


Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, Fox News, Mashable, random right-wing media

Why it’s bogus: “Iraqi media” was the only source for the story, and the Iraqi minister of Health quickly debunked it.

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Failing Tonkin Gulf Test on Ukraine

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | February 21, 2015

Many current members of Congress, especially progressives, may have envisioned how they would have handled the Tonkin Gulf crisis in 1964. In their imaginations, they would have asked probing questions and treated the dubious assertions from the White House with tough skepticism before voting on whether to give President Lyndon Johnson the authority to go to war in Vietnam.

If they had discovered what CIA and Pentagon insiders already knew – that the crucial second North Vietnamese “attack” on U.S. destroyers likely never happened and that the U.S. warships were not on some “routine” patrol but rather supporting a covert attack on North Vietnamese territory – today’s members of Congress would likely see themselves joining Sens. Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening as the only ones voting no.

Bravery in hindsight is always easy, but things feel quite different when Official Washington is locked in one of its pro-war “group thinks” when all the “important people” – from government to the media to think tanks – are pounding their chests and talking tough, as they are now on Russia and Ukraine.

Then, if you ask your probing questions and show your tough skepticism, you will have your patriotism, if not your sanity, questioned. You will be “controversialized,” “marginalized,” “pariahed.” You will be called somebody’s “apologist,” whether it’s Ho Chi Minh or Vladimir Putin.

And nobody wants to go through that because here’s the truth about Official Washington: if you run with the pack – if you stay within the herd – you’ll be safe. Even if things go terribly wrong – even if thousands of American soldiers die along with many, many more foreign civilians – you can expect little or no accountability. You will likely keep your job and may well get promoted. But if you stand in the way of the stampede, you’ll be trampled.

After all, remember what happened to Morse and Gruening in their next elections. They both lost. As one Washington insider once told me about the U.S. capital’s culture, “there’s no honor in being right too soon. People just remember that you were out of step and crazy.”

So, the choice often is to do the right thing and be crushed or to run with the pack and be safe. But there are moments when even the most craven member of Congress should look for whatever courage he or she has left and behave like a Morse or a Gruening, especially in a case like the Ukraine crisis which has the potential to spin out of control and into a nuclear confrontation.

Though the last Congress already whipped through belligerent resolutions denouncing “Russian aggression” and urging a military response – with only five Democrats and five Republicans dissenting – members of the new Congress could at least ascertain the facts that have driven the Ukraine conflict. Before the world lurches into a nuclear showdown, it might make a little sense to know what got us here.

The Nuland Phone Call

For instance, Congress could investigate the role of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in orchestrating the political crisis that led to a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President Viktor Yanukovych a year ago.

What was the significance of the Nuland-Pyatt phone call in early February 2014 in which Nuland exclaimed “Fuck the EU!” and seemed to be handpicking the leaders of a new government? “Yats is the guy,” she said referring to her favorite, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, with Pyatt musing about how to “midwife this thing”?

Among other questions that Congress could pose would be: What does U.S. intelligence know about the role of neo-Nazi extremists whose “sotin” militias infiltrated the Maidan protests and escalated the violence against police last February? [See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

And, what does U.S. intelligence know about the mysterious snipers who brought the crisis to a boil on Feb. 20, 2014, by opening fire on police apparently from positions controlled by the extremist Right Sektor, touching off a violent clash that left scores dead, including police and protesters. [A worthwhile documentary on this mystery is “Maidan Massacre.”]

Congress might also seek to determine what was the U.S. government’s role over the next two days as three European countries – Poland, France and Germany – negotiated a deal with Yanukovych on Feb. 21 in which the embattled president agreed to Maidan demands for reducing his powers and accepting early elections to vote him out of office.

Instead of accepting this agreement, which might have averted a civil war, neo-Nazi and other Maidan militants attacked undefended government positions on Feb. 22 and forced officials to flee for their lives. Then, instead of standing by the European deal, the U.S. State Department quickly embraced the coup regime as “legitimate.” And, surprise, surprise, Yatsenyuk emerged as the new Prime Minister.

What followed the coup was a Western propaganda barrage to make it appear that the Ukrainian people were fully behind this “regime change” even though many ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east and south clearly felt disenfranchised by the unconstitutional ouster of their president.

A U.S. congressional inquiry also might ask: Was there any internal U.S. government assessment of the risks involved in allowing Nuland and Pyatt to pursue a “regime change” strategy on Russia’s border? If so, did the assessment take into account the likely Russian reaction to having an ally next door overthrown by anti-Russian extremists with the intent to put Ukraine into NATO and potentially bring NATO armaments to Russia’s front yard?

Since the entire crisis has been presented to the American people within an anti-Yanukovyh/anti-Moscow propaganda paradigm – both by the U.S. mainstream news media and by the U.S. political/academic elites – there has been virtually no serious examination of the U.S. complicity. No one in Official Washington dares say anything but “Russian aggression.”

Post-Coup Realities

Beyond the events surrounding the coup a year ago, there were other pivotal moments as this crisis careened out of control. For instance, what does U.S. intelligence know about the public opinion in Crimea prior to the peninsula’s vote for secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia on March 16?

The State Department portrayed the referendum as a “sham” but more objective observers acknowledge that the vote – although hasty – reflected a broad consensus inside Crimea to bail out of the failed Ukrainian state and rejoin a somewhat more functional Russia, where pensions are about three times higher and have a better chance of being paid.

Then, there was the massacre of ethnic Russians burned alive in Odessa’s trade union building on May 2, with neo-Nazi militias again on the front lines. Like other topics that put the U.S.-backed coup regime in a bad light, the Odessa massacre quickly moved off the front pages and there has been little follow-up from international agencies that supposedly care about human rights. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUkraine’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Reality.”]

The next major catastrophe associated with the Ukraine crisis was the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17. Again, the State Department rushed to a judgment blaming the ethnic Russian rebels and Russia for the tragedy that killed all 298 people on board. However, I’ve been told that some U.S. intelligence analysts had a very different take on who was responsible, finding evidence implicating a rogue element of the Ukrainian government.

However, following the pattern of going silent whenever the Kiev coup regime might look bad, there was a sudden drop-off of interest in the MH-17 case, apparently not wanting to disrupt the usefulness of the earlier anti-Russian propaganda. When a Dutch-led inquiry into the crash issued an interim report last October, there was no indication that the Obama administration had shared its intelligence information. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Danger of an MH-17 Cold Case.”]

There also is little interest from Congress about what the MH-17 evidence shows. Even some progressive members are afraid to ask for a briefing from U.S. intelligence analysts, possibly because the answers might force a decision about whether to blow the whistle on a deception that involved Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior Obama administration officials.

This sort of cowardly misfeasance of duty marks the latest step in a long retreat from the days after the Vietnam War when Congress actually conducted some valuable investigations. In the 1970s, there were historic inquiries into Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, led by Sen. Sam Ervin, and into CIA intelligence abuses by Sen. Frank Church.

A Downward Spiral

Since then, congressional investigations have become increasingly timid, such as the Iran-Contra and October Surprise investigations led by Rep. Lee Hamilton in the late 1980s and early 1990s, shying away from evidence of impeachable wrongdoing by President Ronald Reagan. Then, in the 1990s, a Republican-controlled Congress obsessed over trivial matters such as President Bill Clinton’s personal finances and sex life.

Congressional oversight dysfunction reached a new low when President George W. Bush made baseless claims about Iraq’s WMD and Saddam Hussein’s intent to share nuclear, chemical and biological weapons with al-Qaeda. Rather than perform any meaningful due diligence, Congress did little more than rubber stamp Bush’s claims by authorizing the Iraq War.

Years afterwards, there were slow-moving investigations into the WMD intelligence “failure” and into the torture practices that were used to help fabricate evidence for the fake WMD claims. Those investigations, however, were conducted behind closed doors and did little to educate the broader American public. There apparently wasn’t much stomach to call the perpetrators of those abuses before televised hearings.

The only high-profile foreign-affairs hearings that have been held in recent years have been staged by House Republicans on the made-up scandal over an alleged cover-up of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a hot-button issue for the GOP base but essentially a non-story.

Now, the United States is hurtling toward a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and this congressional ineptness could become an existential threat to the planet. The situation also has disturbing similarities to the Tonkin Gulf situation although arguably much, much more dangerous.

Misleading Americans to War

In 1964, there also was a Democratic president in Lyndon Johnson with Republicans generally to his right demanding a more aggressive military response to fight communism in Vietnam. So, like today with President Barack Obama in the White House and Republicans demanding a tougher line against Russia, there was little reason for Republicans to challenge Johnson when he seized on the Tonkin Gulf incident to justify a ratcheting up of attacks on North Vietnam. Meanwhile, also like today, Democrats weren’t eager to undermine a Democratic president.

The result was a lack of oversight regarding the White House’s public claims that the North Vietnamese launched an unprovoked attack on U.S. warships on Aug. 4, 1964, even though Pentagon and CIA officials realized very quickly that the initial alarmist reports about torpedoes in the water were almost surely false.

Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1964 was a young Defense Department official, recounts – in his 2002 book Secrets – how the Tonkin Gulf falsehoods took shape, first with the panicked cables from a U.S. Navy captain relaying confused sonar readings and then with that false storyline presented to the American people.

As Ellsberg describes, President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara announced retaliatory airstrikes on Aug. 4, 1964, telling “the American public that the North Vietnamese, for the second time in two days, had attacked U.S. warships on ‘routine patrol in international waters’; that this was clearly a ‘deliberate’ pattern of ‘naked aggression’; that the evidence for the second attack, like the first, was ‘unequivocal’; that the attack had been ‘unprovoked’; and that the United States, by responding in order to deter any repetition, intended no wider war.”

Ellsberg wrote: “By midnight on the fourth, or within a day or two, I knew that each one of those assurances was false.” Yet, the White House made no effort to clarify the false or misleading statements. The falsehoods were left standing for several years while Johnson sharply escalated the war by dispatching a half million soldiers to Vietnam.

In August 1964, the Johnson administration also misled Congress about the facts of the Tonkin Gulf incident. Though not challenging that official story, some key members worried about the broad language in the Tonkin Gulf resolution authorizing the President “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression … including the use of armed force.”

As Ellsberg noted, Sen. Gaylord Nelson tried to attach an amendment seeking to limit U.S. involvement to military assistance – not a direct combat role – but that was set aside because of Johnson’s concern that it “would weaken the image of unified national support for the president’s recent actions.”

Ellsberg wrote, “Several senators, including George McGovern, Frank Church, Albert Gore [Sr.], and the Republican John Sherman Cooper, had expressed the same concern as Nelson” but were assured that Johnson had no intention of expanding the war by introducing ground combat forces.

In other words, members of Congress failed to check out the facts and passed the fateful Tonkin Gulf resolution on Aug. 7, 1964. It should be noted, too, that the mainstream U.S. media of 1964 wasn’t asking many probing questions either.

Looking back at that history, it’s easy for today’s members of Congress to think how differently they would have handled that rush to judgment, how they would have demanded to know the details of what the CIA and the Pentagon knew, how they wouldn’t let themselves be duped by White House deceptions.

However, a half century later, the U.S. political/media process is back to the Tonkin Gulf moment, accepting propaganda themes as fact and showing no skepticism about the official line. Except today, Official Washington’s war fever is not over a remote corner of Southeast Asia but over a country on the border of nuclear-armed Russia.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

February 22, 2015 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

There Goes the Guardian, Lying About Ukraine… Again!

By Eric Draitser | CounterPunch | February 20, 2015

The western media is busily trying to prop up their failed narrative of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine in a desperate attempt to legitimize their consciously deceitful reporting. To do so, they are now relying not on experts or western intelligence reports, but a discredited blogger and his corporate media chums.

On February 17, 2015, The Guardian ran a story with the headline “Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study.” The title alone is enough to convince many casual observers that yes, the mainstream media reporting on the civil war in Ukraine has been correct all along. You see, it’s all because of Russian aggression, or so the meme would go. But closer analysis of this story, and the key players involved, should cause any reasonably intelligent and logical person to seriously doubt the veracity of nearly every aspect of the story.

Let’s begin first with the headline and subhead which, as anyone in media knows, is often all that will be read by many readers. The headline leads with a conclusion: Russia shelled Ukraine from within Russian territory. Simple. Clear. Why bother reading further? Well, in reality, the article both overtly and tacitly admits that the so called “study” (more on that later) has not reached that clear conclusion, not even close. Here are some key phrases sprinkled throughout the piece that should give pause to any serious-minded political observer or analyst.

Despite the declaration in the headline, a close reader encounters phrases such as “near conclusive proof,” “estimated trajectories,” “likely firing positions,” and other ambiguous phrases that are more suggestive than they are declarative. In other words, these are mere rhetorical flourishes designed to lead casual, uninformed readers to make conclusions that are simply not backed up by the evidence.

The so called study relied heavily on “crater patterns from satellite photos of three battlefields,” and it is from these crater patterns, and the equally dubious “tyre tracks” that the authors of the study drew their conclusions. However, even the independent military forensics expert contacted by The Guardian “warned that the accuracy of crater analysis in determining direction of fire on the basis of satellite photography was scientifically unproven.”

Indeed, conveniently buried at the end of the long article is the key quote from Stephen Johnson, a weapons expert at the Cranfield Forensic Institute, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom who said quite clearly that crater analysis is “highly experimental and prone to inaccuracy.” Mr. Johnson added that “This does not mean there is no value to the method, but that any results must be considered with caution and require corroboration.”

Wait a second. I thought that our dear expert authors of the study had “near conclusive proof” according to the lead paragraphs of the story. When you actually read what the real expert, as opposed to the non-experts who conducted the “study,” has to say, it immediately casts a long shadow of doubt on the entire narrative being propagated by the article. Is The Guardian here guilty of clear manipulation of the story for political purposes? It would seem at best unprofessional and dishonest reporting, at worst it’s outright lying in the service of the agenda of those at the top of the western political establishment.

Now of course we know that The Guardian has repeatedly been taken to task by highly respected journalists and analysts for its biased and one-sided reporting of issues ranging from its coverage of Russian President Putin and Russia’s actions in Crimea, to its shamefully biased (here, here and here for three of the many examples) coverage of Israel-Palestine conflict, and a number of other important issues.

Perhaps most germane to this discussion is The Guardian’s own reporting last summer, which it references in this article, of Russian military vehicles crossing the border into Ukraine – a significant charge that would be taken seriously if there were one shred of tangible proof. But alas there isn’t. There is only the word of The Guardian’s reporter Shaun Walker, who conveniently could not get a photograph or video of the alleged military vehicles crossing into Ukraine. One would think with mobile phones all equipped with cameras and the vast resources of a major western media outlet, not to mention the seemingly all-encompassing global surveillance architecture at the disposal of western governments, at least some credible, verifiable evidence would have emerged. But no, we just have to take the Guardian’s word for it.

There’s a lot of that going around when it comes to Ukraine. We just have to “take their word for it,” as we were supposed to with regard to the charges of Russian military shooting down MH17, a baseless charge that has since disappeared from the headlines, with the actual results of the investigation being buried or suppressed entirely.

Not only should The Guardian’s reporting be scrutinized, but so too should their darling “expert” blogger Eliot Higgins, aka Brown Moses, the author of this inconclusive “conclusive report.”

Fifty Shades of Brown

Aside from the deceptive language and misleading statements, there is a broader issue that must be addressed, namely the reliability of the source of this so called study. Perhaps first we should dispense with the use of the term “study” as that would imply experts using objective facts, data, etc. Rather, what we are dealing with is a politically motivated report by a source that has already been discredited numerous times.

The report comes from an organization called Bellingcat, purportedly an independent citizen journalism platform that uses social media and other open source information to draw conclusions about everything from military hardware movements to the firing of missiles and artillery. Of course it should immediately raise questions that The Guardian’s article is co-authored by one Eliot Higgins, a self-proclaimed “military expert” who founded the “Brown Moses” blog. Why is this important? Because Bellingcat is a creation of the same Eliot Higgins. Indeed, Bellingcat’s Kickstarter page made no secret of the fact that “Bellingcat is a website founded by Brown Moses… the pseudonym for Eliot Higgins, a laid-off government worker turned blogger turned weapons analysis expert and leading source of information on the conflict in Syria.”

A close look at some of the blurbs noted on the Kickstarter page reveals that this “independent blogger” has been touted by The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, UK’s Channel 4, The Daily Beast, and many other corporate media outlets. Anyone with an understanding of how hard it is to actually be an independent analyst knows that such establishment outlets do not simply promote independent media that provides thoughtful analysis. Rather, Brown Moses and Bellingcat have been seized upon as a convenient foil to true alternative media, spinning the establishment narrative under the guise of “independent reporting.” However, let us not simply deride this obvious sham. Let us evaluate Brown Moses’ own record, which for an “expert” is dismal.

Higgins aka Brown Moses aka BM claimed to have proven that the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Syria on August 21, 2013 could only have been carried out by the Syrian military and government. His claims are based on his own “expert” analysis of missile trajectories and other “evidence” he claims to have obtained through videos and other open source information. Of course, in making this claim, Higgins places himself in direct opposition to former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and Prof. Theodore Postel of MIT, the authors of an actual report from the MIT Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group entitled “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013.” The report, conducted by real experts, not armchair bloggers, concluded that the Syrian government could not have carried out the attack, and that such intelligence was nearly used as justification for yet another aggressive war.

Also debunking BM’s spurious charges is the report from Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh which revealed the existence of a classified US Defense Intelligence Agency briefing which noted unequivocally that the Al Nusra Front had its own chemical weapons, not to mention deep ties to Saudi and Turkish intelligence and chemical arms suppliers. Hersh’s reporting finally firmly established the fact that the rebels were indeed capable of carrying out the attack on East Ghouta, and that they had help from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and possibly other regional actors. And so, not only did they have the motive (to blame Assad for using chemical weapons while international investigators were in Syria, thereby justifying a military intervention and regime change), but also the means and opportunity. This is an essential point because the entire ‘case’ against Assad relied on the fact that only Damascus was technologically and logistically capable of carrying out such an attack.

But BM contended that he was right, Hersh, Lloyd, and Postel were wrong, and that the narrative should reflect that. So, on the one hand we have a blogger with no formal training in ballistics, physics, or any relevant scientific or military field, and on the other we have a Pulitzer Prize winner with decades of experience and high-level contacts and sources all over the world. We have the word of some guy in an apartment in the UK, or the scientifically arrived at findings of a former chemical weapons inspector (read actual expert) and an internationally respected Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at MIT, a world renowned academic and research institution. And which do you think The Guardian chose to promote?

But BM’s noxious odor also pervades the reporting on the downing of MH 17, yet another story that The Guardian utterly distorted, before mostly dropping it from the headlines when the western narrative was discredited. In an August 2, 2014 article written by Higgins entitled “MH17 Missiles Can’t Hide From These Internet Sleuths,” Higgins claims to have concluded that Russia or the anti-Kiev rebels must have shot down the plane with a Buk missile launcher – a weapons system also in the possession of Kiev’s military. What is his evidence? It’s a series of photographs published in various media outlets that he cannot corroborate in any way. Instead, this “sleuth” is making his case based on faith – faith that the photographs were taken where and when they claim to have been, and show what they claim to show.

Of course, it has since been publicly acknowledged on more than one occasion that photographs purporting to show Russian military incursions into Ukraine have been fabricated and/or misrepresented causing tremendous embarrassment for US and European governments that have repeatedly claimed to have such evidence. But our dear BM is unfazed by such revelations. Instead, he seems to simply shriek louder. Rather than leaving analysis of MH 17 to aviation and military experts, he peddles his “opinion.” Rather than acknowledging the bias in his own reporting, to say nothing of the limitations of armchair technical analysis, he continues to grow his image, and with it, the lies, omissions, and distortions he propagates.

And so we return to the new “study” by Higgins and his Bellingcat group of “digital detectives.” They are obviously front-and-center in the western media because their conclusions are aligned with the US-NATO political agenda. They are a de facto arm of the western corporate media and military-industrial complex, providing the veneer of “independent analysis” in order to penetrate the blogosphere and social media platforms where the mainstream narrative is being questioned, scrutinized, and discredited. Bellingcat and Higgins’ names should be known to everyone, but not because their analysis is worthwhile. Rather, they need to become household names so that those who understand how western propaganda and soft power actually works, will be on the lookout for more of their disinformation.

Perhaps The Guardian should also be more careful in how it presents its information. By promoting Higgins and his discredited outfit, they are once again promoting disinformation for the purposes of selling war. The US almost went to war with Syria (which it is doing now anyway) based on the flawed intelligence and “analysis” of people like Higgins. Naturally, everyone remembers how The Guardian, like all of its corporate media brethren, helped to sell the Iraq War based on complete lies. Have they learned nothing? It would seem so.

But those interested in peace and truth, we have learned something about propaganda and lies used to sell war. We who have called out these lies repeatedly – from Iraq in 2003, to Syria and Ukraine today – we once again repudiate the false narrative and the drumbeat for war. We reject the corporate media propagandists and their “alternative media” appendages. We stand for peace. And unlike The Guardian and Higgins, we stand on firm ground.

Eric Draitser  can be reached at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

 

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Hamas says no militants crossed into Egypt from Gaza

MEMO | February 21, 2015

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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri

Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday denied reports of militants crossing into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.

“There haven’t been any militants crossing [into Egypt from Gaza], especially after the destruction of all underground tunnels and the deployment of [Egyptian and Palestinian] security forces on border,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Abu Zuhri called on Arab parties to shoulder their responsibility in standing against any form of “slander and incitement” against the Palestinian people.

He also went on to appeal to scholars and intellectuals to organize a major media campaign to expose what he described as “pro-Israel media”.

On Friday, the United Arab Emirates-based Sky News Arabia reported that the Egyptian army raised the alert level in the country’s eastern Sinai Peninsula following reports that militants from self-styled “Army of Islam” group crossed into Egypt from Gaza.

The Egyptian army has not commented on the report.

Last month, an Egyptian court declared the military wing of Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a “terrorist organisation.”

Abu Zuhri had described the court verdict as “politically-motivated”, and reiterated that his movement does not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Defending Ukraine From Russian Imperialism?

By Jason Hirthler | CounterPunch | February 20, 2015

In Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, the philosopher delivered his summarization of the writings of Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas thusly, “Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion given in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading.”

American foreign policy is determined in much the same fashion. Valuable objects are desired. Noble justifications are manufactured. Trusting populations are deceived. War is made. Empires do their special pleading on a global scale. For instance, the U.S. and its allies know precisely how they want to portray the Ukrainian conflict to their deluded Western populations. They need only apply the false flags and fashion the nefarious motives—like so many brush strokes—to the canvas of geopolitics.

Both the government and their corporate media vassals know their conclusions in advance. They are simple: Russia is the aggressor; America is the defender of freedom; and NATO is a gallant security force that must counter Moscow’s bellicosity. As the chief pleader in the construction of this fable, the Obama administration has compiled a litany of lies about the conflict that it disseminates almost daily to its press flacks.

One lie is that Putin has a feverishly expansionist foreign policy. No evidence exists for this claim, repeated ad nauseum in the West. The annexation of Crimea hardly seems like an example of such a policy. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine. Russia was quite content with its long-term agreements with Kiev over the stationing of its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol. It was the Kiev putsch that forced its hand.

There are plenty of signals that Putin has sent a stream of conscripts across the border to battle alongside the besieged “rebel separatists” in the East of Ukraine. But is this a crime of imperialism, sending soldiers to defend communities of ethnic peers under attack? Seems a difficult argument to make.

Moreover, Moscow has long stated that it wouldn’t permit NATO bases on its border—a purely defensive stance. The West knows this, but that is precisely its plan. It also surely knew that by capsizing Kiev and installing a few Westernized technocrats, it would provoke Russia into taking Crimea rather than sacrifice its Black Sea outpost. This cynical baiting permitted Washington to frame its aggression as self-defense, and Moscow’s self-defense as aggression. For context, consider how the U.S. might react if China suddenly toppled Mexico City using local drug lords with the aim of stationing hypersonic glide missiles in Tijuana. For once, Washington’s contempt for diplomacy would be justified.

Another lie is that we know Russia was behind the downing of MH17. Obama repeated this outlandish claim in the pulpit of the United Nations, no less. No proof exists, but plenty of circumstantial evidence seriously undermines the charge—missing air traffic controller (ATC) transcripts, the absence of satellite evidence of Buk anti-aircraft missile launchers in rebel territory, shelling traces on cockpit material, and Ukrainian ATC worker tweets pointing the finger at Kiev, and so on. Yet within hours of the crash, Barack Obama had told the world that Russian-backed separatists were responsible, and that Moscow must be punished. Nobody owns the narrative better than the USA.

A third lie is that the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych was a democratic uprising. Interesting how these always seem to occur wherever America has “strategic interests” in peril. Only then does the fever for representative government seize upon the minds of the rabble. Setting fantasy aside, the most reasonable conclusion, judging not least by admissions from Victoria Nuland and Obama himself, is that the U.S. engineered a coup using fascist thugs in the vanguard, and false flag shootings to drive Yanukovych into hurried exile. Odd how it all occurred when Yanukovych, after prevaricating for a time, discarded his association agreement with the EU for a better Russian offer. (Note likewise how Syria erupted in violence immediately following Bashar al-Assad’s decision to reject a Western-backed Qatari pipeline deal in favor of an Iranian one. In both cases, the inciting incidents were examples of an imperial province defying the diktats of Rome.)

A fourth lie is that Western sanctions against Russia are merited, since they are based on Russian aggression. However, a State Department run by his rhetorical eminence, Secretary of State John Kerry, would never phrase it so bluntly. Instead, we were informed that Russia was being chastened for “violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” and because it had worked to, “undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.” One can just imagine the media flacks in speechless submission as this decree was sonorously recited from on high. None of this puffery removes the fact that the coup was a contemptuous move to bring NATO to the edges of Russia.

Bootlickers Anonymous

My, how the media lemmings fall in line with the official rhetoric. Dutiful to a fault, Western corporate media have performed their servile tasks with aplomb this month. A Thursday Times edition earlier in the month led with the headline, “U.S. and Europe working to end Ukraine fighting.” Saturday morning’s edition led with “U.S. faults Russia as combat spikes in East Ukraine.” A lead in the Economist put it rather more bluntly, “Putin’s war on the West.” Beneath the headline was a Photoshopped image of the Russian President, looking resolute, hand extended with puppet strings dangling from each digit. The op-ed pages of the Washington Post teemed with vitriol, continuing efforts to portray Obama as a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, arch appeaser of transparent tyrants. The “alarmingly passive” White House should be more concerned about how “to keep Vladimir Putin in line.”

This isn’t nuanced propaganda. It isn’t hedging or garden variety bias. It’s flat-out mendacity. Surely these publications have, as none of the rest of us does, the resources to know that the United States, trailed by its milquetoast EU lackeys, is trying to provoke a conflict between nuclear powers in eastern Ukraine. It either wants Russia to quit backing eastern rebels and permit NATO to establish bases on its border, or allow itself to be drawn into a resource-sapping proxy war. The end goal of the former is to divide Moscow from Europe. The goal of the latter is to vastly diminish the federation’s capacity to support its Shiite and Alawite allies in the Middle East, all of who stand in the way of Washington’s feverish dream of regional hegemony. Neither option holds much hope for residents of Donetsk, Luhansk and the surrounding oblasts, or provinces.

Yet the Times leads the Western world in disseminating, in every Starbuck’s in America, the folderol that our high-minded, hand-wringing, and munificent leaders are pursuing peace. This despite the unquenchable imperial ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will not cease his provocations until he has resurrected the former glory of the Soviet Union, circa the Stalin era. How soon before the term “Hun” starts circulating? We’ve already got warmongering Senators releasing fake photos and cantankerously arguing that Obama is weak in the face of a world-historical threat.

Howitzers for Peace

Despite hysterical claims that Obama is a dove and tremulous fears that Putin will roll unopposed across the European mainland, the U.S. Congress approved new sanctions on Russia just before Christmas. The Orwellian, “Ukraine Freedom and Support Act” was intended to make sure that Vladimir Putin, “pays for his assault on freedom and security in Europe,” according to co-author of the bill, Senator Larry Corker, the Republican who will soon chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But what are sanctions without a little lethal aid thrown in? The bill also provided $350 million in such aid to Kiev. That means “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, crew weapons and ammunition, counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries, fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment.”

Now President Obama, tired of the pretense of diplomacy, is said to be weighing a recommendation from the always-helpful Brookings Institute to speed some $3 billion more in military aid to Kiev, including missiles, drones and armored Humvees. Look at this stern-faced collection of the pale and pious, spines erect as they advocate more slaughter in East Ukraine, where the U.N. has condemn both sides of the conflict—Western-backed Ukrainian government and the Russian-supported Novorossiya Army in the East—of indiscriminate shelling, which no doubt accounts for the hundreds of civilian deaths in just the last few weeks. A million have already fled to Russia as shelling from their own nation’s army has destroyed power and medical infrastructure, one of the first steps toward the impoverishment of a region. Couple that physical distress with the economic stress being implemented through Kiev’s agreement with the European Union.

The U.S. has also promised energy aid to Kiev to counter—as the media generally puts it—Russian threats to cut gas supplies. It is rarely noted that Kiev has refused to pay or even schedule payments on its $2 billion past-due invoice on previous deliveries. This is no doubt a Western prescription or precondition of assistance.

Note the staggering disparities here. Kiev owes Russia $2 billion in back payments. Vice President Joe Biden promises $50 million in energy relief, none of which will make it to Moscow. Then the president weighs in with $350 million in military aid and contemplates a staggering $3 billion more. He also offers a piddling $7 million for humanitarian purposes alongside some 46 million in the same bill for border security and the like.

That’s some $3.35 billion to further destroy a fractured Ukrainian society and $57 million to help repair it. Forgive me for being obtuse, but how is this peacemaking? Yet Secretary of State Kerry, Senator John McCain and others in Congress have continuously cast the conflict in defensive terms, producing all manner of fabrication to support the conceit. In the next sound byte, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance wants to double its Response Force to some 30,000 troops. France’s Hollande has called for Ukrainian entry into NATO.

Peace Before the Thaw?

Amid all this belligerent posturing, cameras crisply flashed when Angela Merkel and Francoise Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko concluded a second Minsk ceasefire agreement last week, implemented Sunday. It was perhaps a last ditch effort by a temporizing EU to prevent a vicious proxy war, or possibly more insincere diplomatic posturing to provide cover for Western aggression. In any event, Washington was notably absent, but surely it loomed large over the meetings. The core points of the accord include a withdrawal of heavy weapons behind the nominal buffer zone; amnesty for prisoners; withdrawal of foreign militias and disarming of illegal groups; decentralization of areas controlled by Novorossiya Armed Forces, supposedly in the form of constitutional reform; but also Ukrainian control of the Russian border by year’s end. Despite the agreement, the battle for city of Debaltseve continued, with the rebels—or “terrorists” in Kiev parlance—finally emerging victorious yesterday and driving the Ukrainian Army into retreat.

Betting on peace isn’t a smart call in this circumstance. Already radical voices have flared up in Kiev and also in rebel circles declaring their contempt for the agreement. None of the contracting parties in Minsk seem to have control over these groups. Poroshenko himself said he agreed to the first Minsk agreement to let his troops regroup, and he has evidently refused the stipulation of constitutional reform this time around. Nor has Washington shown any serious interest in implementing a peace plan. In fact, the financial outlay by the White House suggests this is no token conflict, but part of a larger imperial strategy that many pundits claim doesn’t exist.

But it does. Look at Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s strategic master plan, laid out in his book The Grand Chessboard, among others. Then see how that plan found its apostles in the neoconservative movement, re-articulated in Paul Wolfowitz’s 1992 Defense Planning Guidance for the Clinton administration, and later in the Bush administration’s madcap blueprint for reshaping the Middle East. As ever, the objective is full-spectrum dominance, an arcadia or nightmare, depending on which side of the imperial fence you find yourself.

Jason Hirthler can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dennis Ross calls for law mandating US war on Iran if deal “violated” to “address Israel’s concerns”

Press TV – February 18, 2015

A former US presidential aide says Washington should pass a law mandating military action against Iran if the Islamic Republic violates the terms of a final deal over its nuclear program.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Dennis Ross said the US must be clear what the consequences would be for any possible Iranian violations of the deal in any agreement over Tehran’s nuclear work.

“You cannot wait until you face the violations, and decide what it (the consequence), will be,” he said. “You actually should work that out now.”

Ross, who from 2009 to 2011 was a key White House official dealing with Iran, said this is an area where the US administration and Congress can cooperate and agree in advance what the price of violations will be.

If Iran is found to have been engaged in a non-civilian nuclear work despite a nuclear agreement, said Ross, then the consequence should be the use of American military force.

“There should be legislation, worked out with the [Capitol] Hill in advance, which says if we catch them with the following kinds of violations, then the implication is that we are going to take out those facilities,” he added.

He said a law that would authorize military action if Iran violates the deal, could also address Israel’s concerns.

Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany – are seeking to reach a high-level political agreement by April 1 and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.

Since an interim deal was sealed in the Swiss city of Geneva in November 2013, the negotiating sides have missed two self-imposed deadlines to ink a final comprehensive agreement over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has in numerous times confirmed Iran has been abiding by its commitments to the Geneva deal.

The Agency that is supervising Tehran’s nuclear program, has never reported any deviation in Iran’s nuclear program toward militarism.

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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