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The Guardian’s Propaganda on Venezuela

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | July 25, 2017

With the Constituent Assembly elections due to take place on July 30th, the Guardian published a piece titled “Venezuela elections: all you need to know”. But instead of breaking through the fog of falsehood and misinformation that is typical of the mainstream media’s coverage of Venezuela, the Guardian comes up with another propaganda piece laden with lies, distortions and omissions. In this article we go through the Guardian’s piece, clarifying the falsehoods, adding the conveniently omitted information and questioning the whole narrative that is presented.

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What is happening on 30 July?

To be fair to the Guardian, there is one almost-informative paragraph, where the electoral procedure is explained. In a previous article the Guardian stated that

“[…] election rules appear designed to guarantee a majority for the government even though it has minority popular support”,

instead of presenting said electoral rules and letting the reader decide if they are so designed. This time they do present the rules, only omitting to say that everyone not currently holding public office can run for a seat. But then the Guardian brings in the propaganda artillery to ensure the reader’s conclusions do not stray too far off from those of the State Department.

“[…] voter turnout will be exclusively pro-government – and likely very low, given that Maduro’s approval rating hovers around 20%” 1

One assumes the Guardian is citing Datanalisis, their favourite Venezuelan anti-government pollster. Putting aside the fact that other, more reliable polls, demonstrate larger levels of government support, and the massive turnout for last Sunday’s dry-run, there are two obvious questions here. If turnout will be so low, why is the opposition hell-bent on stopping the vote from taking place, barricading streets and killing candidates? And if the opposition has such an overwhelming majority, why did they decide not to participate? This might have been their chance to introduce a Platt Amendment into the Constitution.

“The current constitution was written by an assembly called in 1999 by Maduro’s predecessor and political father, Hugo Chávez. But Chavez made sure he had popular support for the rewrite, by calling a referendum first. This time around, Maduro ordered the constituent assembly by decree.”

Chávez needed to call a referendum because he was working within the legal framework of the 1961 Constitution which did not have anything about such a mechanism. In the 1999 Constitution, article 348 states who can convene a Constituent Assembly.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly urged opposition leaders to engage in dialogue and has backed the Constituent Assembly to guarantee peace.

“On 16 July, a symbolic plebiscite against Maduro’s initiative held by the opposition drew more than seven million people – more than those who voted for Maduro in the 2014 election.”

When it comes to the Venezuelan opposition, the Guardian checks all the journalism tools at the door. In a recent Investig’Action article we examined the opposition’s highly doubtful numbers, Venezuelanalysis did the same. At least the Guardian refrained from explicitly saying this vote could have recalled Maduro, something the opposition could not manage even with a lot of number-cooking (see footnote 2).

“Amid mounting pressure, Maduro vowed last month to hold a popular vote at the end of the process to approve or reject the new constitution.”

This was announced almost two months ago, and if it had been due to “mounting pressure” the mainstream media would have done a victory lap. Here another question springs up: why are the Venezuelan opposition and the Guardian so scared of this process? If they represent this huge majority, can they not just vote down the Constituent Assembly proposal?

Why did Maduro call this vote?

The final paragraph of this section contains the mandatory red-baiting and waving of the Cuban bogeyman.

“Venezuela has been rocked by nonstop street protests since the government’s attempt in late March to strip Congress of its right to legislate. Although the move was partially reversed, demonstrations have continued against an increasingly authoritarian government widely blamed for the country’s tanking economy and soaring crime rate.”

Again, there is very little journalism here to be found. It was not the government that overrode the National Assembly, but the Supreme Court. And they did it because the National Assembly is currently in contempt of court. Three legislators from Amazonas state are being investigated for electoral fraud, and despite repeated warnings from judicial authorities, the opposition went ahead and swore in these legislators. One can agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s initiative, but omitting this fact is pure dishonesty.

This is also a good point to notice how only the “authoritarian” government and the “beleaguered” president have earned adjectives. “Protests” are referred to five times without a single reference to their violent nature, and a few adjectives (“divided”, “US-backed”, “coup-plotting”) also come to mind when describing the opposition.

“[…] violence and state repression have escalated since, with more than 100 people killed and hundreds arrested.”

Sophisticated newspapers like the Guardian are careful not to state directly that everyone was killed by state repression, only heavily implying it. A breakdown of the cases shows that it is the opposition’s political violence that has been responsible for the large majority of casualties.

What does the opposition say?

“The coalition of opposition forces known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (known by its Spanish initials, MUD) rejected the move from the start. But criticism extends far beyond the political opposition. According to one pollster, eight out of 10 Venezuelans oppose a new constitution and would prefer general elections.”

One would think this would be an opportune moment to remind readers of the opposition’s constant, repeated calls for a Constituent Assembly in the recent past. And according to a different pollster, 79% of Venezuelans agree that the process should take place, 54% think the process will defend social gains of recent years, and 65% agrees with holding elections in 2018.

Opposition leaders Freddy Guevara and Maria Corina Machado had called for a Constituent Assembly in the past. (Tweets by Misión Verdad)

What happens next?

“Pressure is set to rise after the MUD called a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday, and then mass protests dubbed the “taking of Caracas” on Friday.”

To anyone familiar with the recent history of Venezuela these announcements sound eerily like the events leading up to the failed 2002 coup. In fact, this would be the time to mention that many of the opposition leaders, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, were directly involved in the 2002 coup attempt. Why is there never a mention that the opposition leadership is full of protagonists from that US-backed military coup that ultimately failed? Quite simply because it would undermine the entire “democracy vs. dictatorship” propaganda narrative.

“Maduro has been very vague about the scope of the new constitution – prompting fears that this is simply a move to tighten the government’s hold on power rather than to solve the country’s many problems.”

This is again a distortion. Maduro proposed nine issues to be tackled by the ANC, including the economy, national sovereignty, social missions, communes, and more. Granted, there is some ambiguity on what a “post-oil economy” stands for, with radical sectors looking for a deepening of the Revolution and business leaders looking for more incentives to private investment. But is down to the individual candidates to bring forward their proposals during the campaign. If Maduro specifically said what changes he wanted made to the Constitution, would he not fit into the “authoritarian” label that the Guardian loves to use?

“Maduro threatened to jail two high profile opposition leaders for “treason to the motherland”…”

Once more, it would be useful to put the actions of the Venezuelan opposition in context. There is hardly any other place in the world where opposition leaders openly call for a US military invasion or urge foreign agents to create a financial blockade against their own country!

“According to human rights groups…”

Which rights groups? Why not link to the reports and disclose who funds these groups? Because groups like Human Rights Watch have been beyond partisan when it comes to Venezuela, not to mention the revolving door that puts former US officials as human rights “guardians”. UNICEF, for example, has criticised the use of children in the opposition’s violent protests and the opposition’s attack against a maternity hospital.

“The next presidential elections – which Maduro seems likely to lose – are currently scheduled to be held in 2018, but it is unclear whether this would remain the case under a new constitution.”

Maduro has said that, rain or shine, there will be a presidential election in 2018. And he said it after convening the Constituent Assembly. The omission of this statement is again plain dishonest journalism.

Chavistas march on May 1st. The Venezuelan opposition is fearful of a large turnout for the Constituent Assembly elections on July 30th.

What is the international community doing?

“The Organization of American States has tried repeatedly to chastise Venezuela diplomatically, but Caracas has used oil diplomacy to ensure that small Caribbean states reliant on subsidised oil voted against critical resolutions or abstained.”

It is amazing that countries that are part of PetroCaribe are bullied by oil diplomacy, and yet countries that receive billions in US (military) aid and host US military bases are moved by a genuine love for democracy and human rights. Does it not occur to a journalist that, for a small Caribbean country, if a US-dominated organisation such as the OAS is dictating to Venezuela which elections can take place and when, then soon enough the same will happen to them? By rejecting this interference they are actually asserting their own independence.

It is precisely because this kind of bullying that Venezuela left the OAS. On the other hand, regional organisations that have been formed in the last decade precisely to counter US hegemony, like ALBA or CELAC, have come out in support of Venezuela and its sovereignty. International meetings like the People’s Summit or the Foro de São Paulo have also rejected the imperialist aggression against Venezuela.

“Previous US sanctions have targeted Venezuelan officials accused of drug trafficking or involvement in human rights abuses.”

These accusations have always been very big in terms of publicity and very thin in terms of evidence. They are always based on dubious sources mentioning all-powerful, yet unheard-of, drug cartels, Hezbollah training camps in Latin America and the like.

In summary, the Guardian is passing a pure propaganda piece under the guise of clarifying the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela. Quite clearly the next few days will be crucial, as the opposition ramps up its violent regime change efforts and the US blares out its threats, while on the other side chavismo is mobilising for this important step and (true) solidarity movements are standing with the Venezuelan poor and working-class.

As for the Guardian, whenever they ask you to support “quality, independent journalism”, you should look for it someplace else…)

  1. Even if this number were true, that would still make Maduro more popular than the presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, staunch US allies in the region.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Calls Reports of Russia’s Alleged Arms Supplies to Taliban ‘Groundless’

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

MOSCOW – On Tuesday, CNN claimed that it had exclusive videos purporting to show that the Taliban had allegedly received weaponry in Afghanistan which appeared to have been supplied by Russia, however, presented no proof.

According to CNN, two separate Taliban groups say they got hold of weapons, which were allegedly supplied by the Russian government. One group said it took the weapons after defeating a rival group, while the other claims it got pistols for free that were smuggled through Tajik border. Experts say the weapons have no identification markings hence it is impossible to trace their origins.

“We have repeatedly stated that accusations of a series of Western and … Afghan media regarding Russia’s alleged support of the Taliban movement are groundless… We reiterate, Russia does not support the Taliban movement, and only maintains contacts with the Taliban to ensure the safety of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and to incentivise this group to join the process of national reconciliation,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry stressed that it is impossible to trace the country of origin of the weapons demonstrated in the video, as they were common and manufactured by many countries.

“It is hardly possible to seriously perceive the video materials, in which old, small arms of unknown and untraceable origin are demonstrated. [The weapons are] not stamped by the manufacturer, serial numbers are knocked down. In addition, the shown weapons are typical. As it is known, such samples were produced not only in Russia, but also in other countries, including [those in] Eastern Europe, from where the Americans imported them massively to Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Recently, the Taliban attacked the Afghan national security forces’ base in Helmand province using American Humvee armored vehicles. What conclusion can be made based on this information using the logic of the CNN?” the statement read.

The ministry strongly noted that neither Afghan authorities, nor US command or NATO in Afghanistan have provided evidence that would confirm these speculations.

Earlier, US and Afghan officials accused Russia of supporting the Taliban. Moscow denounced the claim, calling it utterly false. The Kremlin said that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow is only working with the Taliban in order to assist the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process. Lavrov also called accusations from the United States that it is supplying the Taliban with weapons baseless and unprofessional.

Earlier, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee said that there was no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Tillerson to Remain at State Department Despite Reports of Resignation

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will remain in office contrary to reports that he was going to resign, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press briefing.

“The Secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department,” Nauert said on Tuesday.

On Monday, CNN reported that Tillerson was considering resigning from the State Department before the end of the year due to growing frustration with President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report claimed Tillerson was at odds with the White House over several issues including department staffing and Iran policy.

RELATED:

ZOA Calls For Tillerson’s Resignation

Jewish Insider  · July 24, 2017

Amid reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing frustrated with the White House, even considering stepping down, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) on Monday called on Tillerson to resign. The group accused Tillerson of contradicting pro-Israel statements made by President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“In light of the U.S. State Department’s new, bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating error-ridden terrorism report, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) calls on Secretary of State Tillerson to resign,” the ZOA said in a statement.

The ZOA — headed by Morton Klein — took issue with the State Department’s annual terrorism report listing Israeli settlement construction, violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and the perception that Israel’s government was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount as “continued drivers of violence.” … Full article

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russian Military Denies Reports of Airstrike in Syria’s East Ghouta Safe Zone

Sputnik – 25.07.2017

DAMASCUS – The Russian reconciliation center in Syria denied Tuesday the reports of an airstrike on July 24 in the de-escalation zone in eastern Ghouta.

The agreement on operation of a de-escalation zone, envisaging full ceasefire, came into force in eastern Ghouta on Monday. Earlier Tuesday, media reports emerged claiming that an airstrike killed at least eight people in an attack on the town of Arbin the previous evening.

“Western media reports citing the UK-financed White Helmets and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on an alleged airstrike on evening of July 24 in the eastern Ghouta deescalation zone are a complete lie aimed at discrediting the peace process,” a spokesperson of the center said.

According to the spokesperson, local opposition groups “confirmed there were no airstrikes or combat in this de-escalation zone.”

On Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry announced the signing of an agreement on the order Eastern Ghouta de-escalation in Syria following the results of the talks held in Cairo with Syrian opposition, mediated by the Egyptian side. The agreements define the borders of the deescalation zone, the deployment sites and powers of the deescalation control forces, as well as the routes for delivering humanitarian aid and clear passage to the population. On Monday, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces reported that Russia has set up two checkpoints and four observation posts in the zone.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Impressions of Iran

By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | July 25, 2017

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity of visiting Iran. I spent time in the capital city of Tehran, the country’s largest city, and Mashhad, a large city in the northern part of Iran. I saw what I expected to see: each was a bustling city. The downtown area of each was crowded and busy, not unlike other cities I’ve visited in different parts of the world.

Where I gained the impression that Iran was a prosperous, modern nation before my visit, I don’t know. Prior to my departure, when I announced to friends and acquaintances that I would soon be visiting Iran, I was met with shocked reactions. Here are some of the questions I was asked at that time:

  • Is it safe?
  • Don’t you worry about being arrested?
  • Don’t people disappear there all the time?

Following my invitation to visit, but before the actual visit, Tehran experienced its first terrorist attack in several years. I was then asked if I was still going. My response: ‘London has had a few terrorist attacks, but if I were planning a visit there, I’d still go’. This seemed to make sense to my questioner.

Since my return, some of the questions I’ve been asked indicate that my view of Iran as a modern nation is not shared by everyone else. The following are some of the questions I’ve been asked about my visit to Iran:

  • How do the people there live?
  • Did you feel safe?
  • Did anyone stop you from taking pictures?
  • Were you afraid when visiting mosques?

The U.S. demonizes Iran, mainly because it is a powerful country in the Middle East, and Israel cannot countenance any challenge to its hegemony, and when Israel talks, the U.S. listens. Apparently, this demonization is working at least somewhat successfully, judging by the comments I received concerning my trip there.

I have to wonder how this is acceptable in the world community, but then again, there really isn’t much question. The U.S. uses its military might and its declining but still powerful economic strength to intimidate much of the world. This is why the Palestinians still suffer so unspeakably, but that is a topic for another conversation. The U.S. again, in the last few days, asserted that Iran is complying with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development program. Yet it continues to sanction Iran; for some bizarre reason, Iran must comply with its part of this agreement, but the U.S. government doesn’t feel any obligation to maintain its part. If Iran’s leaders were to say that, since the U.S. was not keeping to its word, Iran has no obligation to do so, the U.S.’s leaders would then say, ‘See? We told you so! Iran isn’t living up to the agreement!’.

The U.S.’s continued criticism and sanctions of Iran adds to the impression that it is a rogue nation, funneling all its money into the military, while its oppressed citizens cower in the streets, awaiting arrest for just about anything.

How much, however, does this impression actually mirror the U.S? A few facts are instructive:

  • Currently, the U.S. is bombing 6 nations; Iran, none.
  • The U.S. has used nuclear weapons, resulting in the horrific deaths of hundreds of thousands of people; Iran has never used such weapons.
  • Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has invaded, destabilized and/or overthrown the governments of at least 30 countries; Iran hasn’t invaded another country in over 200 years.
  • The U.S. has the largest per capita prison population in the world: 25% of all people imprisoned in the world are in prisons in the U.S. In the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, 716 of every 100,000 people are in prison. Iran’s rate is 287 per 100,000.
  • The U.S. finances the brutal apartheid regime of Israel, and has full diplomatic relations with that rouge nation and Saudi Arabia, both of which have human rights records that are among the worst in the world. Iran supports Palestine, and the Palestinians’ struggle for independence.
  • The poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.1%; between 2009 and 2013, Iran’s poverty rate fell from 13.1% to 8.1% (that has increased somewhat since 2014, but details were not readily available).

Based on this limited information, it seems that despite its somewhat successful efforts to demonize Iran, the U.S. is, in fact, the more dangerous and threatening nation.

But such facts are not what interests Congress. Beholden first and foremost to the lobbies that finance election campaigns, and Israeli lobbies chief among them, truth, justice, human rights and international law all take a back seat. And so the propaganda continues, with Iran being portrayed as an evil empire, when all evidence contradicts that view.

It is unfortunate that not everyone in the U.S. is able to visit Iran, to learn for themselves that it is nothing like what the corporate-owned media, working hand-in-hand with the government, portrays. The U.S. government seems anxious to extend its wars to Iran; this would be a global disaster. It is to be hoped that such a catastrophe can be prevented.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

When the Gatekeepers of Press Freedom Deride Trump or Putin…

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 24.07.2017

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcolm X

Seven hundred and nineteen words is what it takes for an experienced journalist at The Atlantic to earn his comeuppance hating Donald Trump, and fueling the anti-Putin narrative. When a second meeting between the two world leaders at the G20 comes out, the mainstream “fake news” outlets turn tabloid embellishing a non-event. Since CNN was proven to be running game for ratings, the creative floodgates seem to have opened for the rest of corporate controlled media.

The Atlantic piece in question, written by Trump hater David A. Graham, tells us the story of how Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met a second time after a dinner for G20 notables. Graham admits from the start, “it’s not known what they discussed”, but the lack of facts does not avert wondering propaganda evangelism from The Atlantic. The magazine led by the super Zionist and ultra-lefty, Jeffrey Goldberg the Obama doctrine preacher. History will remember Goldberg for his New Yorker piece entitled “The Great Terror”, which argued of the threat posed to America by Saddam Hussein, and which assisted (as other narratives did) the Bush White House in engaging in regime change there. I’ll leave off on my expectations and anticipations for when the chickens might come home to roost on Goldberg and The Atlantic here. Suffice it to say The Atlantic does not have “the truth” in it. Now on to the Trump-Putin secret meeting of super villains. Let me quote Graham once again here:

“When President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin went for more than two hours, well past the scheduled half-hour, it was a major news event. But it turns out that wasn’t even the end of the conversation between the two men.”

The reader can now sense the adolescent enthusiasm with which The Atlantic writer embosses the confidential meetup of world leaders. “Wasn’t even the end” appeals to the youthful Democrat just wringing his or her hands in anticipation of the state secrets disclosed in between Trump and Putin. But there is nothing more to learn! Trump and Putin met with a lone interpreter, neither officially denied the meeting, but somehow the media coverage is frenzied? From a media analyst and PR perspective, I can tell you the stories are just made as an opportunity to rehash the Trump-Russia collusion narrative – such opportunities being “momentum” and “reach” practice for “clients” who need buzz. The author continues:

“There’s no indication of what happened in the second meeting. White House aides only learned of it from Trump, and there was no official readout of the conversation. But given the collusion questions and the conflicting accounts of the earlier meeting, the content could be important.”

A “non-story” put into play by The Atlantic’s politics staff writer. One cannot blame Graham actually, because he gets paid for being on the “Trump beat”, after all. For those unaware of how media works, the various editors say “yeah or nay” for reporting and editorial. For somebody like Graham to step outside guidelines would mean certain unemployment or worse. But that’s another story. Trump bad, Putin bad, conservatism and protectionism bad, and only flat out globalist liberalism is good. This is the message people. The technocrats and western oligarchs are in control of the message – they control the horizontal and the vertical. And when you allow CNN to admittedly broadcast a false narrative for ratings?

This is what you get. Former journalism masterpieces convoluted and reduced to smut magazines. “The Other Putin-Trump Meeting” should have been only a sound bit, a blurb on the evening news, but The Atlantic uses it as a component of a bigger strategy. So, let me return to the subject of The Atlantic’s decline, the former Israeli prison guard, editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg. Yes, you read that correctly. The Atlantic is run by a man who inflicted torture on detained Palestinians, and by his own admission. But Goldberg’s foaming at the mouth Zion or die attitude is better characterized by a fellow Jew named  MJ Rosenberg, who wrote this scathing criticism on the Huff Post. Concerning The Atlantic’s editor Rosenberg writes:

“In fact, nothing drives him nuttier than people like former President Carter and Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the latter two in particular. He hates them — hates them like poison — because they wrote an expose of the lobby which dealt it such a serious blow that its defenders became unhinged and stayed that way.”

The media watchdog S.H.A.M.E. takes the case a step farther, characterizing Goldberg as the worst kind of Israel shill mutated into dangerous liar. It will save time and space if I simply quote from S.H.A.M.E. once again:

“For two decades now, Jeffrey Goldberg has peddled blatantly false war propaganda with disastrous consequences, fronted for the military-industrial machine, played a key PR role pushing America into war with Iraq, and advanced the agenda of the Israeli military-intel establishment—and he has been rewarded for his lies and failures with the top editor’s job at the Atlantic Monthly. Put another way: If Judith Miller was a dweeby Ivy League graduate who worked as a detention camp guard holding Palestinian prisoners, and she never had to answer for her journalistic fraud after being exposed, she would be Jeffrey Goldberg.”

So, there it is. When you read Google News headlines about Trump, Putin, Syria, Ukraine, or anything else for that matter, understand your news has been put in charge of the gatekeepers. And they are gatekeepers with no qualms about punishing people for simply disagreeing. This is where we are.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Syria Gas Attack and Russian Election Hacking… Debunking Fake News With Scott Ritter

RonPaulLibertyReport | July 21, 2017

Former Marine Intelligence Officer and former UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq, Scott Ritter, joins the Liberty Report today to explain why in his vast intelligence and WMD experience he believes the “Russia hacking” US Intel Report is bogus and why the “Assad used gas” conventional wisdom is just more fake news. Ritter’s expertise sheds much-welcome actual light onto these two vexing issues, where so much empty speculation seems to drive the thinking.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War

Overview of Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Book

By Antony C. Black | Global Research | July 19, 2017

Of the many myths that befog the modern political mind, none is so corrupting of the understanding or so incongruent with historical fact as the notion that the wealthy and the powerful do not conspire.

They do.

They conspire continually, habitually, effectively, diabolically and on a scale that beggars the imagination. To deny this conspiracy fact is to deny both overwhelming empirical evidence and elementary reason.

Nevertheless, for the astute observer of the ‘Great Game’ of politics, it is an unending source of wonderment to stumble across ever more astounding examples of the monstrous machinations of which wealthy and powerful elites are capable. Indeed, it is precisely here that authors Docherty and Macgregor enter the fray and threaten to take our breath away entirely.

Thus, the official, canonized history of the origins of the First World War, so they tell us, is one long, unmitigated lie from start to finish. Even more to the conspiratorial point is the authors’ thesis that – and to paraphrase a later Churchill who figures prominently in this earlier story – never were so many murdered, so needlessly, for the ambitions and profit of so few.

In demolishing the many shibboleths surrounding the origins of the ‘Great War’ (including ‘German responsibility’, ‘British peace efforts‘, ‘Belgian neutrality’ and the ‘inevitability’ of the war), Docherty and Macgregor point the finger at what they argue is the real source of the conflict: a more or less secret cabal of British imperialists whose entire political existence for a decade and a half was dedicated to the fashioning of a European war in aid of destroying the British Empire’s newly emerging commercial, industrial and military competitor, Germany.

In short, far from “sleepwalking into a global tragedy, the unsuspecting world”, Docherty and Macgregor contend, “was ambushed by a secret cabal of warmongers” originating not in Berlin, but “in London”.

I must confess at this juncture to a certain bias in granting credence to such a striking thesis, this if only on general principle alone. After all, one straight look at present day political reality is to look square into the maw of Orwell’s nightmare. Moreover, three decades of independent journalism have led me to conclude not only that virtually nothing of what is presented as ‘news’ is remotely true, but that the conventional writing and presentation of history itself is as phoney as a three dollar bill. Still, one does demand a credible argument or two. Let’s look at a few of those contained in ‘Hidden History’.

The Players

Cecil Rhodes (Source: Wikipedia)

Before launching pell-mell into the argumentative labyrinth it is apropos that we first sketch the central cast of characters of this grim story.

In the beginning there was Cecil Rhodes, the prime minister of Cape Colony but who, the authors remind us, was “in reality a land-grabbing opportunist” whose fortune had been underwritten in equal parts “by brutal native suppression and the global mining interests of the House of Rothschild”. Rhodes had, apparently, long talked of setting up a secret ‘Jesuit-like society’ in aid of furthering the global ambitions of the British Empire. In February of 1891 he did just that enlisting the services of his close associates, William Stead, a prominent journalist, and Lord Esher, a close advisor to the British Monarchy.

Two others were soon drawn into the inner circle of the clandestine group: Lord Nathaniel (Natty) Rothschild of the famous British and European banking dynasty, and Alfred Milner, a brilliant academic and colonial administrator who would quickly become the organizing genius and iron-willed master of ceremonies of the group.

These central four would later be joined by: Lord Northcliffe, the owner of ‘The Times’, who would complement Stead in propagandizing and softening up the British public for war with Germany; Arthur Balfour and Herbert Asquith, two future British Prime Ministers who would provide the needed parliamentary influence; Lords Salisbury and Rosebery who brought an additional wealth of political connections to the table; and Lord Edward Grey, he to whom, in the final analysis as British Foreign Secretary in 1914, it would fall to hammer the final nail in the coffin of European peace.

Of particular importance was the addition of Prince Edward (soon to be King Edward VII) who, despite his playboy image, was, in fact, an astute political operative whose frequent international social forays provided the perfect cover for helping to forge the, often secret, military and political alliances between Russia, France, Britain, and Belgium.

This core Praetorian Guard then extended its tentacles to all reaches of the British (and eventually, international) power hierarchy by vigorously recruiting its ‘Association of Helpers’, the myriad of lower down bureaucrats, bankers, military officers, academics, journalists, and senior civil servants, many, as it turns out, hailing from Balliol and All Souls Colleges, Oxford.

And, too, the legendary Churchill, liberally inflated with his own bombast and well lubricated with Rothschild money, would rise to take his anointed place amongst the war-hungry secret elect.

Early Adventures

The first foray of this elite cabal played out in South Africa with the deliberate fomentation of the (2nd) Boer War (1899 – 1902). Gold had been discovered in the Transvaal region in 1886 and British imperialists were determined to grab it. After a number of failed machinations by Rhodes himself to topple the Boers, the secret elite was dealt an ace when Alfred Milner was appointed high commissioner for South Africa. Seizing the moment, Milner, without passing Go, proceeded straight to war and, in his infamous scorched earth policies and adamant demands for unconditional surrender, demonstrated the general martial philosophy that would later be deployed against Germany.

A map of the British Empire as it was in 1898, prior to the Second Boer War (1899-1902). (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Following the defeat of the Boers, Milner & Co. (Rhodes had died during the ‘peace negotiations’) quickly penetrated the main organs of British imperial governance including the Foreign, Colonial, and War Offices. Arthur Balfour went one better by establishing, in 1902, the Committee for Imperial Defence (CID). The latter proved especially significant in helping to almost completely bypass the British Cabinet in the years, months and days leading up to August, 1914. Indeed, Balfour would prove to be one of only two permanent members of this all-important imperial institution; the other being Lord Fredrick Roberts, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and close friend of Milner. It was Roberts who would later appoint two tragically incompetent hangers-on, Sir John French and Douglas Haig, to their First World War posts overseeing the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers.

The year 1902 also saw the establishment of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. Britain had long feared for its Far East empire at the hands of Russia and sought to bolster Japan as a counterweight. The alliance bore fruit in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese conflict in which Russia was dealt a decisive defeat. Always with the long-term goal in mind, however, i.e. war with Germany, Milner et al adroitly switched bait and immediately began wooing Czar Nicholas II resulting in the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. In the same period (1904) Britain – with the crucial assistance of Edward VII –  broke its near thousand-year enmity towards France and signed the Entente Cordial with its former rival.

During this same time frame (1905) a more or less secret agreement was made with King Leopold II allowing Belgium to annex the Congo Free State. This was, for all intents and purposes, an alliance between Britain and Belgium; one which was, over the next decade, to be continually deepened with numerous (mostly secret, meaning withheld from the British Parliament) bilateral military agreements and ‘memorandums of understanding’, and which unequivocally put paid to any notion of Belgium being some sort of ‘neutral’ party in the upcoming conflict with Germany.

The core alliance was now complete, i.e. Britain, Russia, France and Belgium, and all that was needed was to secure the fealty and obeisance of the British colonies. In aid of the latter Milner convoked The Imperial Press Conference of 1909 which brought together some 60 newspaper owners, journalists and writers from across the Empire who hobnobbed with another 600 or so British journalists, politicians and military figures in a grand orgy of war-mongering propaganda. The martial message was then duly delivered to the unwitting colonial multitudes. The success of the Conference could be seen most visibly in Canada where, despite the extreme divisiveness of the issue, the nation would eventually send more than 640,000 of its soldiers to the killing fields of Europe, this all on behalf of a tiny handful of British imperialists.

The Moroccan ‘Crisis’

Docherty and Macgregor duly remind us that renowned historian Barbara Tuchman, in her Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Guns of August’, “made it very clear that Britain was committed to war by 1911 at the latest.” Indeed, preparations for war had proceeded apace since at least 1906.

Still, 1911 marked a turning point when the secret elite first made bold in attempting to ignite war with Germany. The pretext was Morocco. Now, truth to tell, Britain had no direct colonial interests in Morocco, but France and Germany did. By this time the cabal in London – with Edward Grey as Foreign Minister – had inducted a key French minister, Theophile Declasse, into their confidences and were able to engineer what was essentially a false flag operation in Fez. France then followed this up with an army of occupation. Germany posted a minimalist response by sending a small gunboat to Agadir whence the entire British press – reflecting Britain’s ‘deep state’ interests – went into high hysteria condemning German ‘threats to British sea-lanes’ etc. The fuse to war was only snuffed out in the final hour when France’s (recently elected) socialist Premier, Joseph Caillaux, initiated peace talks with the Kaiser. War with Germany would have to wait.

In the meantime, Britain, under the direction of its secret mandarins – i.e. almost entirely beyond Parliamentary review or approval – continued their preparations for war. To this end, for example, Churchill, who by 1911 had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, redeployed the British Atlantic fleet from Gibraltar to the North Sea and the Mediterranean fleet to Gibraltar. Simultaneously, the French fleet was moved from the Atlantic to cover Britain’s absence in the Mediterranean. These maneuvers were all strategically aimed at Germany’ North Sea navy. The pieces on the global chessboard were being positioned.

In France the leftist peacenik Caillaux was, in 1913, replaced as Premier with one of the British elites very own ‘helpers’ in the person of Raymond Poincare, a right-wing, rabid Germanophobe. Poincare quickly acted to remove his anti-war ambassador to Russia, George Louis, and substitute him with the revanchist Declasse. Meanwhile in America the secret cabal, acting largely through the Pilgrims Society and through the Houses of Morgan and Rockefeller, machinated to have an unknown but pliable democrat, Woodrow Wilson, elected over the publicly-controlled central bank advocate, President Taft. It was from this lofty perch that the Anglo-American ‘deep state’ launched the US Federal Reserve System, a private central bank dedicated from the get-go to funding the war against Germany.

The Balkan Sting

The simple tale repeated ad nauseam regarding the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, so Docherty and Macgregor tell us, contains as little veracity as, say, the official version of the assassination of JFK two generations later. Indeed, the structural similarities between the two – from the virtual total stand-down of security through to the clear evidence of state complicity (in this case, starting in Serbia, but leading straight to London) – are remarkable. Suffice to say that there was a domino-like chain of events that then ensued – it’s just that the events weren’t driven by base human instincts and ineluctable forces beyond all human control as is commonly proffered, but rather by calculating minds and conspiratorial design.

Thus, immediately following the assassination, there was widespread international support for Austria-Hungary which was widely perceived as the aggrieved party. Nevertheless, the usual suspects, having helped stage the murder in the first place, were able to deftly turn the propaganda tables against both Austria and Germany by means of an ingenious ruse. Having secretly obtained the contents of the ‘Note’, which contained Austria’s (reasonable under the circumstances) demands for Serbian contrition, the secret cabal were able to gain direct input into the crafting of the ‘Serbian Reply’. The ‘reply’, of course, was designed to be unacceptable to Austria. Simultaneously, France’s President, Poincare, decamped to Moscow to assure the Czar and his generals that, should Germany act to uphold its alliance responsibilities towards Austria, France would back Russia in launching a full scale European war. France, naturally, knew that England – or rather its elite imperial clique – was similarly committed to war. It was during this opportune moment, in fact, when Grey and Churchill connived to purchase the Anglo-Persian Oil Company so securing the necessary oil supplies for the British navy.

All the while Kaiser Wilhelm and Chancellor Bethmann were conspicuous in being the only statesmen genuinely seeking peace. Their subsequent vilification by hordes of appropriately housebroken historians thus rings with the same Orwellian tone as the present-day establishment demonization of nations and individuals resisting the American Imperium.

Grey Hits It Home

Having contrived to fan the flames of a local Balkan fire into a general European inferno, British Foreign Minister Grey and Prime Minister Asquith subsequently deployed every dirty trick in the diplomatic playbook to vitiate any possibility of peace and, instead, to guarantee war.

On July 9th, for instance, the German ambassador to London, Prince Lichnowsky, was repeatedly reassured by Grey that Britain had entered no secret negotiations that would play into war. This, of course, was an outright lie. On July 10, Grey then deceived Parliament into believing that Britain had not the slightest concern that events in Sarajevo might lead to a continental war. Meanwhile, the Austrian Prime Minister, Berchtold, was similarly deceived by all three Entente governments that their reaction to the ‘Note’ would not go beyond a diplomatic protest. However, by the 3rd week of July all of these self-same governments did an about-face and declared a complete rejection of Austria’s response.

On July 20, as already noted, the French Prime Minister, Poincare, went to St. Petersburg to reaffirm their two nations’ respective martial agreements. On July 25, Lichnowsky arrived unannounced at the British Foreign office with a desperate plea from the German government imploring Grey to use his influence to halt Russian mobilization. Incredibly, no one was available to receive him. Russia had, in any case, secretly begun mobilization of its armed forces on July 23, while, on July 26, Churchill quietly mobilized the British fleet at Spithead.

None of the foregoing, of course, was subject to democratic oversight. As Docherty and Macgregor put it,

“As far as the [British] public was concerned, nothing untoward was happening. It was just another summer weekend.”

On July 28th, Austria, despite not being in a position to invade for another fortnight, declared war on Serbia. Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office began to circulate rumours that German preparations for war were more advanced than those of France and Russia even though the exact opposite was, in fact, the case. Matters were quickly racing beyond Wilhelm’s control.

On the 29th, Lichnowsky again begged Grey to prevent a Russian mobilization on Germany’s borders. Grey’s response was to write four dispatches to Berlin which post-war analysis proved were, in truth, never sent. The dispatches turned out to be merely part-and-parcel of the elaborate charade to make it look as if Britain (and, specifically, he, Grey) was doing all it could in the effort to avert war. Also on the evening of the 29th did Grey, Asquith, Churchill, and Richard Haldane meet to discuss what Asquith called the ‘coming war’. Docherty & Macgregor once again here emphasize that these four men were virtually the only people in Britain privy to the impending calamity, i.e. not the other Cabinet members, not the members of Parliament, and certainly not the British citizenry. But then, they were its architects.

On the 30th, the Kaiser wired Czar Nicholas a heartfelt appeal to negotiate the prevention of hostilities. Indeed, Nicholas was so moved by Wilhelm’s plea that he decided to send his personal emissary, General Tatishchev, to Berlin to broker a peace. Unfortunately, Tatishchev never made it to Berlin, having been arrested and detained that very night by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sazonov, who, as ‘Hidden History’ cogently evinces, had long been an asset of the secret cabal in London. Under sustained pressure from senior members of his military Nicholas finally relented and on the afternoon of the 30th ordered general mobilization.

The official announcement of Russian mobilization effectively closed all doors to peace. The Germans, realizing that they had been set up, and also realizing that they were about to be attacked on two fronts – from the west by France, and from the east by Russia – finally, on Aug. 1, ordered their own mobilization; tellingly, the last of the continental powers to do so. Here, however, Germany made a crucial tactical error: it elected to follow up its mobilization with a formal, honour-bound declaration of war on France. By doing so it fell deeper into the trap laid by Grey & Co. who had, all along, machinated to do everything possible to guarantee war without, however, being seen to have officially caused the war.

Still, Grey had one last card to play in order to convince both a war-leery Cabinet and House of Commons to abandon their common sense and plunge headlong into a full-scale pan-European war. For just as the myth of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ would, in a later era, serve to advance American imperial aggression, so here did the myth of poor, benighted little ‘neutral Belgium’ carry the banner for British imperialism.

The Speech That Sealed The Fate of Millions

On the 2nd of August, 1914 Prime Minister Asquith convened a special Cabinet meeting to discuss the (manufactured) crisis. Though the Cabinet was in no mood to countenance British involvement in a continental war, they soon found themselves pressured and hedged about by revelations of a ‘web of [military and political] obligations, which they had been assured were not obligations, [and] had been spun around them as they slept’. Moreover, Grey crucially kept from them the fact that the German ambassador, Lichnowsky, had, only the day before (Aug. 1), specifically offered to guarantee Belgian neutrality. Indeed, Grey’s deception might never have come to light but for the fact that Chancellor Bethmann exposed the offer in the Reichstag on Aug. 4th.

With the Cabinet sufficiently brow-beaten, confounded – and deceived, i.e. Asquith, without Cabinet approval or knowledge, had already issued orders for the mobilization of the Army and Navy –  it now only remained to hoodwink Parliament. And so, on Aug. 3rd, Sir Edward Grey took to the pulpit and began what was to be an epic panegyric to the follies of peace and the virtues of war. Here too the audience was not particularly receptive, but the sermon soon gathered force.

Having first set the tone by announcing that peace in Europe ‘cannot be preserved’, Grey then moved on to a stunning series of lies and misrepresentations concerning the intricate and long-formulated military agreements between England, France, Russia and Belgium. According to Grey, they didn’t exist. But what of the dense skein of diplomatic agreements? There were no such agreements, there were no such entanglements. Parliament was ‘free’ to vote its conscience, to exercise its democratic mandate. Just as long, of course, as it didn’t vote for peace.

All of the foregoing was, in any case, mere preamble to the centerpiece ploy of Grey’s speech: Belgian neutrality. That the latter was an out-and-out sham was only surpassed in duplicity by Grey’s concealment, not only from Cabinet but now from Parliament, of Germany’s offer to guarantee exactly the point under contention, i.e. Belgian neutrality. Instead, Grey produced, for dramatic affect, an emotional telegram from the King of Belgium to King George pleading for assistance. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect if it had it been deliberately designed for the occasion. Which, of course, it was. Also pre-planned were the post-sermon affirmations in favour of war by the various opposition party leaders. They had all been vetted and brought onside by Churchill prior to the day’s session. Only Ramsay MacDonald, head of the Labour Party, swam against the well-orchestrated tide of ‘inevitability’ that was the constant and unerring motif of Grey’s martial peroration.

The day’s session ended without debate; Asquith had not allowed any to occur, though he had been pressured by the Speaker of the House to reconvene later that evening. In between Grey sealed the deal, i.e. war, by firing off an ultimatum to Germany demanding that it not invade Belgium even though he, Grey, knew that such an invasion had already begun. As Docherty and MacGregor phrase it, this was a “masterstroke”. War could not now be avoided. And though the night session witnessed a vigorous and substantive debate which largely demolished Grey’s stance, it was all for nought. At the appointed moment Arthur Balfour, “former Conservative Prime Minister and a member of the Secret Elite’s inner circle, rose menacingly. He had had enough.” Using the full weight of his magisterial authority he condemned, ridiculed and dismissed the naysayers’ anti-war arguments as, the ‘very dregs and lees of the debate’. With the Commons thus emotionally bullied into silence, so ended the last chance for peace in Europe.

Plus Ca Change

What strikes one again and again whilst reading ‘Hidden History’ is the ring of truth that resonates from every page, from every revelation. That such a tiny, elite group of individuals, completely beyond democratic control, could determine the fate – and deaths – of millions should shock us. It should, but it doesn’t really. It doesn’t because we see the same phenomenon occurring now, repeatedly, before our very eyes. Indeed, the current state of ‘permanent war’ is, more or less, the unconscious condition of modernity itself.

Docherty & Macgregor have made a fine contribution here. They have gone beyond what David Irving so aptly labelled as the ‘court historians’, i.e. those historians essentially prostituted to elite / establishment consensus, and given us a glimpse of what it really means to write history. And if there is any lesson – or rather counter lesson – we can take from it, it is that we are doomed to repeat history only so long as we listen to those dedicated to obscuring and inverting it. In short, to those who lie to us.

Title: Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War

Authors: Gerry Docherty and Jim MacGregor

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; Reprint edition (September 1, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1780576307

ISBN-13: 978-1780576305

Click here to order.

Featured image from Amazon

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Time To Raise the Level of Public Debate about Syria

By Tim Hayward | July 22, 2017

These past six months I have been getting to know the inter-media. They’re not formally part of mainstream, and they’re not very social, so I call them inter-media. They are like the maintenance team for the mainstream. To explain this, I’ll first say how I came to meet them.

The context of these encounters is writing posts on Syria. Doing so, I rely entirely on what others say. But the fact that we hear directly contradictory narratives provides a rare opportunity to test whose tale is the truer. Lies, whatever some bluffers and braggers may think, are infinitely harder to sustain, over time, than is the truth.[1]

The impulse to write about Syria originated at a very specific moment, even if my curiosity had been piqued earlier by the Netflix White Helmets: Where are the fighters that are holding off the combined military might of Syria and Russia? How come they don’t mind you filming here? The moment, though, was when Eva Bartlett responded to a mainstream media critic’s question: “Sources on the ground? You don’t have them.” And when Eva pointed out that the White Helmets were embedded with the fighters, this simply made more sense than Netflix had. But then I learned “That woman has been debunked.” (Note the way she is spoken about.) So who by? Well, Snopes for one. Fine, but seriously? I was informed that the mainstream view was verified by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Here, now, was a reputable organisation that actually had doctors there on the ground risking their lives to save others under very dangerous conditions. Except, as it turned out, they did not, and so I came to write my first blog on Syria.

(MSF had the good grace to accept that I’d identified a problem, and invited me to their annual research conference this year to discuss the issues involved in relying on secondhand testimony.)

Channel 4’s alleged debunking of Eva prompted a subsequent blog. That involved studying their output, which was revealed to include much more than some unreliable witness statements. If MSF’s misleading testimony might be attributable to an insufficiently accountable communications operation, Channel 4 appeared to be engaged in a systematic programme of disinformation. There seemed to be a conscious commitment to presenting part of the same alternative reality that White Helmets and Bana feature in. It all appears to be produced by the Aleppo Media Center, which is actually in Turkey, but Channel 4 got some bespoke pieces, like the ‘Inside Aleppo’ series, and not just syndicated stuff. Hence we find Channel 4’s Aleppo films winning awards, like Netflix did with the White Helmets.

(Hence the channel will not publicly address what some there privately acknowledge are valid questions. And when you think about the investment involved you can understand their reluctance.)

Reflect on what must be involved here, and you start to realise that such a coordinated effort must have a deep and extensive organisational basis that goes way beyond the specific organisations that retail the information. Consider the preparation, work, time, and resources, material and human, that go into producing even a single scene in a movie, and then, after a whole feature has been shot, the audience still knows it is just a movie, not real. How much more preparation and resource must go into not merely producing a movie but actually persuading the entire public that reality is like the movie.

Nor is the effort to build that wall of disinformation the end of the challenge. It will require constant maintenance, for any big structure is liable to stresses, and cracks will appear. Here is where you need people ready with some filler. This is where we meet the inter-media. More fleet-footed, less constrained, than straight up media channels, but more disciplined and very much less social than social media, they are something in between.  Their function with respect to the dominant narrative seems to be akin to that of those hi-tech bacteria that mould themselves into ongoing repairs in cracked concrete: the inter-media are there to plug up the cracks where shafts of truth show through.

This week afforded some opportunities to encounter the inter-media at work. Early in the week, a great article by Piers Robinson was published in openDemocracy urging a more serious look at propaganda and its contribution to the regime change agenda that is destroying Syria. Getting published in this prominent outlet was something of an achievement, for reasons I’ll let one of the first responders illustrate:

“By amplifying this conspiracist drivel, you are polluting the public sphere. @OpenSociety & @boell_stiftung should reconsider their support”

That tweet has since been deleted, perhaps because its author agreed with me that it cast a worrying light on his idea of how public debate should be conducted, and on whose terms. But it had made me curious as to why the Heinrich Böll Foundation should have a particular interest in the matter[2] I only knew them as a research organisation linked to the German Greens. (I’d spoken myself at their headquarters one time in Berlin.) But now I was about to turn over another stone! A cursory look on twitter quickly turns up that Foundation’s Middle East communications person tweeting about Tim Anderson, a longstanding critic in relation to The Dirty War on Syria, and lecturer at Sidney University:

“When will @sydney_uni finally end this producer of #FakeNews contract? Smearing of civilians, pretending #Assad doesn’t use gas.”

Wow! She attacks a man’s reputation, campaigns for him to lose his job, and challenges academic freedom, while also asserting an unproven claim as if it were truth, all within 140 characters. I can see how she got the job as communications head.

Moving on from this inter-media filler of German precision we will shortly come to meet one with American pizzazz. But first there is some backstory to fill in, starting with some words of clarification.

I hope it was clear, when I a moment ago implied a certain admiration for the skills of the propagandist just mentioned, that I am not approving of what she uses them for. I should have been clearer on this score when giving credit to Bellingcat in a post last week. In order to establish that my engagement with him would follow academic norms, I exaggerated the courtesies.[3] This caused some genuine consternation amongst readers, given the awareness many have of Bellingcat’s role in the propagation of the US-UK narrative. A few individuals were so outraged that they launched a forceful public criticism at me.[4] Since the last thing I want to do is mislead people I revised the blog, stripping out the confusing niceties, in order to bring attention back to its actual point. I had already apologised.

That incident taught me a few things. One is that writing in public, unlike in academia, means being aware of a potentially wide readership, with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. So I should take more care to say only what I mean. Something else I learned, though, is what wonderful people there are who share the kinds of concern that I’m working through in these posts. Many people who I had already instinctively felt trust in revealed a depth of solidarity and integrity that is simply humbling. I really want to thank you all for your words of support. Thank you, also, for urging everyone to settle any differences like friends.

Like friends. That this expression comes so spontaneously to mind is my most important lesson.[5] There is actually a group of friends who are bound by a few simple ties: a desire that what we learn about the world is the truth; a conviction that whatever pressures of life may drive human beings into conflict with one another, we should do everything in our power to deal with them without being pushed into wars. Our power may not be great as individuals, but we all partake of a power that is ultimately indomitable. As embodied creatures of this real world we have evolved with a deep commitment to pursuing truth. If our ancestors could not discern the difference between a snake and a stick, we would not be here. If we were not able to make correct judgements about myriad things every moment of our waking life, aware of it or not, we would not survive long. We have an instinct for seeking true knowledge. We are predisposed towards it. To those who want to obscure it, we will seem like partisans for the truth.

With this in mind, I return to the American intervention on my twitter feed this week. The twitter storm provoked by my being too polite to Bellingcat had been watched with some amusement by Higgins himself and some of his friends. Here is one of them:

trouble-in-paradise-e1500653132802.jpg

I have anonymised this because, like the first tweet I quoted above, it comes from a person who works at a UK University. I highlight it not because I personally mind being grouped with the majority of people living in Syria who prefer their legitimate government to the murderous bands of foreign-backed sectarians attacking it. But it is intended as a smear, and for the sake of people who want to engage in constructive and serious debate, I shall stand up to this practice of the inter-media brigade of attacking any and every attempt at actual public debate about the truth in Syria (or, indeed, in many other places). If they want to behave like rude trolls, they’d best keep a respectful distance from academia when they do it. That is a message I would encourage them to embrace.

I don’t believe the public want to think their own or their children’s university education is entrusted to people who think it is appropriate public conduct to come out with productions like the follow up to that tweet. For in lieu of the requested apology from the waggish twitterer, there ensued a series of tweets including this flourish of creativity:

"Show Trial"

The inter-media brigade may think this is a bit of fun, a change from straight up abuse and intimidation (and from unreasoned dismissals such as we find with Padraig Reidy calling Piers Robinson’s piece in openDemocracy ‘disgraceful’ apparently because Piers has elsewhere defended Russia Today against irrational attacks). But I ask them, very seriously, what actually is there to be having fun about? Those who promote propaganda that has real consequences for real people should man up, and grow up, and own what they do.

Frankly, none of this should need saying, and I am not paid to be spending valuable time dealing with it. So to them I leave it at this: Meet us in an academic forum or on a public platform where norms of civil debate apply. You cannot have it both ways: you cannot go bruising it around the internet just making ad hominem slurs while also staking an implicit claim to academic backing.

As for friendly and open readers, especially beyond academia, I have this to say. If in resisting propaganda you get called partisans, then let it be so. We are partisans for the truth. And resistance will work.  Perhaps the truth is ‘rarely pure and never simple’, but it is much less high-maintenance than the wall of misinformation that the inter-media team are perpetually trying to patch up, and it will out. Meanwhile, the resistance is growing.

And finally, just to illustrate the difference between the alternative reality and the world we live in, I leave you with a video released this week by the amazing journalist from Aleppo, Khaled Iskef. He shows us around the neighbourhood in Aleppo where the little Syrian girl called Bana actually lived, there alongside the HQs of the armed brigades whose men, alone, were able to make or send images from the place. You then get an idea of how the child used in the propaganda may have a true call on our human sympathies.

[1] I am willing to use the seemingly hyperbolic term ‘infinitely’ because the truth will be what it is forever, without any input from anyone, whereas a lie becomes increasingly high maintenance in the face of simple questioning. It is endlessly difficult to maintain the back story, and then the back story’s story, and so on, until the effort required to avoid self-contadiction simply becomes too much and the simple truth just comes out again, like a plant through cracked tarmac. That is why the propaganda campaign needs to be so vast and long term. It is a gargantuan feat that we only see the tip of. We see the movie, we don’t see the entire production process.

[2] A twitter contact, by way of answer, informed me that the ‘Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung was used by the CIA to influence culture in Europe. The financing was made via Ford Foundation’.  She sent me this video link (in German).  I have not investigated so I make no comment myself. A look at a longer sweep of tweets from the foundation’s spokesperson for Syria does reveal a pattern sufficiently familiar to anglophone inter-media agencies to warrant mentioning a possible concern here, but I emphasise the caveat that her twitter profile makes the disclaimer “Tweets my own”.

[3] In giving credit for his geolocation skills and responsiveness to my inquiries (which I’ve learned does not reflect everyone’s experience) I frankly laid it on too thick. It genuinely hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would think I misunderstood the nature of his operation, but that was my mistake. Notwithstanding my apologies, I can see my critics were justified in residual anger on the grounds that there would be readers at earlier stages of learning who could take it at face value. How much it then helped that those critics themselves proceeded to extract and broadcast precisely that misleading message, as if it really were my message to the world, I can only leave them to consider.

[4] I haven’t seen it myself, having opted out of interactions with its author and the initial instigator once it became evident they hadn’t accepted my apology. There have been replies on my behalf, and I also haven’t been reading these, but one was copied to me by a mutual friend on Facebook and I reproduce it below. One can tell from reading it that the debate had got heated, and such a forceful response needs to be seen in that context. Thank you, John Schoneboom, for your eloquent words:

Schoneboom on me on bellingcat

[5] The people I owe thanks to are far more than I shall even try to mention, but there is one person I do want to thank by name. Like Eva, she gets subjected to vast amounts of abuse for reporting a counter-narrative from Syria. Also like Eva, she is more than strong enough to take it. But frankly, she shouldn’t have to, certainly not from anyone associated with a UK university. Vanessa Beeley, I believe, has done more good for the prospects of ordinary people living in Syria than any of her trolls and detractors. If anybody in academia says I am wrong about this, I am ready to listen, but let them speak in terms that meet the standards of academic discussion.

Khaled & Bana

Amidst a cluster of (former) terrorist HQs.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | | 1 Comment

Is Iran in Our Gun Sights Now?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • July 21, 2017

“Iran must be free. The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement and appeasement is surrender.”

Thus does our Churchill, Newt Gingrich, dismiss, in dealing with Iran, the policy of containment crafted by George Kennan and pursued by nine U.S. presidents to bloodless victory in the Cold War.

Why is containment surrender? “Because freedom is threatened everywhere so long as this dictatorship stays in power,” says Gingrich.

But how is our freedom threatened by a regime with 3 percent of our GDP that has been around since Jimmy Carter was president?

Fortunately, Gingrich has found a leader to bring down the Iranian regime and ensure the freedom of mankind. “In our country that was George Washington and … the Marquis de Lafayette. In Italy it was Garibaldi,” says Gingrich.

Whom has he found to rival Washington and Garibaldi? Says Gingrich, “Maryam Rajavi.”

Who is she? The leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, or Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which opposed the Shah, broke with the old Ayatollah, collaborated with Saddam Hussein, and, until 2012, was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State.

At the NCRI conference in Paris in July where Gingrich spoke, and the speaking fees were reportedly excellent, John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani were also on hand.

Calling Iran’s twice-elected President Hassan Rouhani, “a violent, vicious murderer,” Giuliani said, “the time has come for regime change.”

Bolton followed suit. “Tehran is not merely a nuclear weapons threat, it is not merely a terrorist threat, it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region,” he said. Hence, “the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.”

We will all celebrate in Tehran in 2019, Bolton assured the NCRI faithful.

Good luck. Yet, as The New York Times said yesterday, all this talk, echoed all over this capital, is driving us straight toward war. “A drumbeat of provocative words, outright threats and actions — from President Trump and some of his top aides as well as Sunni Arab leaders and American activists — is raising tensions that could lead to armed conflict with Iran.”

Is this what America wants or needs — a new Mideast war against a country three times the size of Iraq?

After Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, would America and the world be well-served by a war with Iran that could explode into a Sunni-Shiite religious war across the Middle East?

Bolton calls Iran “a nuclear weapons threat.”

But in 2007, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies declared with high confidence Iran had no nuclear weapons program. They stated this again in 2011. Under the nuclear deal, Iran exported almost all of its uranium, stopped enriching to 20 percent, shut down thousands of centrifuges, poured concrete into the core of its heavy water reactor, and allows U.N. inspectors to crawl all over every facility.

Is Iran, despite all this, operating a secret nuclear weapons program? Or is this War Party propaganda meant to drag us into another Mideast war?

To ascertain the truth, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should call the heads of the CIA and DIA, and the Director of National Intelligence, to testify in open session.

We are told we are menaced also by a Shiite Crescent rising and stretching from Beirut to Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

And who created this Shiite Crescent?

It was George W. Bush who ordered the Sunni regime of Saddam overthrown, delivering Iraq to its Shiite majority. It was Israel whose invasion and occupation of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000 gave birth to the Shiite resistance now known as Hezbollah.

As for Bashar Assad in Syria, his father sent troops to fight alongside Americans in the Gulf War.

The Ayatollah’s regime, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij militia are deeply hostile to this country. But Iran does not want war with the United States — for the best of reasons. Iran would be smashed like Iraq, and its inevitable rise, as the largest and most advanced country on the Persian Gulf, would be aborted.

Moreover, we have interests in common: Peace in the Gulf, from which Iran’s oil flows and without which Iran cannot grow, as Rouhani intends, by deepening Iran’s ties to Europe and the advanced world.

And we have enemies in common: ISIS, al-Qaida and all the Sunni terrorists whose wildest dream is to see their American enemies fight their Shiite enemies.

Who else wants a U.S. war with Iran, besides ISIS?

Unfortunately, their number is legion: Saudis, Israelis, neocons and their think tanks, websites and magazines, hawks in both parties on Capitol Hill, democracy crusaders, and many in the Pentagon who want to deliver payback for what the Iranian-backed Shiite militias did to us in Iraq.

President Trump is key. If he does the War Party’s bidding, that will be his legacy, as the Iraq War is the legacy of George W. Bush.

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thought Crimes On The Left

“You can trust yourself to know who to collaborate with and in what areas; this notion that you cannot safely collaborate with the right is based on the false premise that we’re all too stupid and inept to make distinctions…” – Caitlin Johnstone

By Stuart Davies | MintPress News | July 18, 2017

A few days ago, MintPress News published a rather nasty hit piece by Yoav Litvin titled “The Green Party – Marks in a Media Con Job“, originally printed in CounterPunch a few days earlier. Litvin’s original post in CounterPunch was followed two days later by a very similar hit piece by Joshua Frank, ridiculously titled “On Caitlin Johnstone and David Cobb’s Attempt to Destroy the Green Party.”

Both articles attacked the popular progressive blogger/journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who has made a name for herself of late in international left/progressive circles for her acerbic, witty iconoclasm and pungent political analyses.

Naturally, most of those who have an appreciation for some of the excellent points that Johnstone has made in her (thus far) brief period of popularity will not agree with her thinking in every circumstance. But many of the ideas and opinions she expresses obviously resonate with considerable numbers on both the left and the right, and it is worth examining some of those ideas to get an inkling of what has gotten these two men so bent out of shape.

It seems a safe bet to disregard Litvin’s gratuitous and irrelevant sneering at Johnstone’s slim journalistic track record prior to making a big splash in social media more recently – that surely does not merit such a mean spirited attack. Ostensibly, their venom is primarily due to the fact that Johnstone has called for (an explicitly limited) collaboration with individuals on the alt-right on specific issues such as deep state lies and propaganda spewed out in the corporate media.

Both Litvin and Frank characterize those on the right with whom Johnstone has indicated a willingness to engage in limited collaboration as “alt right fascists” or the “racist far-right”. Neither of them hesitates to tar Johnstone, and anyone on the left who share her views, including David Cobb, with the most extreme rightward bigotry expressed by such limited allies on the alt right – in spite of the fact that Johnstone makes it very explicit what the parameters of her agreement (and disagreement) are with such characters.

“… there is still a lot of stigma attached to the notion of collaborating with the other side of the ideological spectrum… My own work gets criticized by establishment loyalists in this way on a daily basis; they point to the fact that I oppose things like US interventionism in Syria and the establishment narrative about Russia and then use the fact that the anti-establishment right opposes these things as well to imply that this makes me identical to the most vitriolic white supremacists of the alt-right.

… (limited collaboration) doesn’t mean we have to embrace all the beliefs of the anti-establishment right, nor does it mean we’ve got to collaborate with all of them… You can trust yourself to know who to collaborate with and in what areas; this notion that you cannot safely collaborate with the right is based on the false premise that we’re all too stupid and inept to make distinctions…”

Never mind that Johnstone isn’t the first to advocate working with elements of the right where there is common ground  – Ralph Nader made a similar case in the past, and the remarkable success of Bernie Sanders’ campaign was in large part due to his focus on issues that resonated across the political spectrum.

I have no recollection of anyone at CounterPunch coming unglued over that sort of common sense political pragmatism when Nader or Sanders called for it. Nor was there any attempt to advance the ludicrous premise that advocating such an odd political alliance amounts to embracing a full blown “red/brown” (left/fascist) alliance, or is the result of Russian influence – exerted by the Kremlin moving into the media vacuum left when the western media consolidated into one homogenous corporate mass.  So perhaps we should look elsewhere for clues as to what is getting these boy’s knickers in a knot.

In truth, what seems to really rub these self-appointed arbiters of (allegedly) leftist purity the wrong way is that Johnstone has come right out and called bullshit on a few key sacred propaganda cows. She has made the mistake of pointing out some of the lies that have been relentlessly rammed down the throats of the public regarding recent events in Syria, for example. She names names and blames western corporate co-opted governments and their colleagues in the corporate media for these misinformation campaigns.

What else are we to infer when Litvin attempts to substantiate his assertion that Johnstone is “promoting racists” with this link? In fact, this is a video about a fraudulent propaganda campaign pushed by CNN, which uses a young Syrian girl to mislead the American public about events there.

More revealing yet is when Frank uncorks here:

“So why is Cobb, and many others, so ga-ga over Johnstone? Could it be that she echoes Kremlin talking points and bogus conspiracies every chance she gets, exciting leftists looking for easy answers to today’s complex problems? Ding Ding. Of course, there’s much, much more. Despite the overwhelming evidence that DNC staffer Seth Rich wasn’t murdered for releasing emails, Johnstone has stood her conspiratorial ground. She’s also written for 9/11 Truth sites, so one can assume she is at the very least sympathetic to their fruitless cause.”

Ah, there it is! There are the narratives that must be defended by left gatekeepers everywhere! So, so reminiscent of the familiar conspiracy baiting style of the old CounterPunch.

Apparently, anyone who does not buy the blatant deep state lies regarding the two publicized chemical weapons attacks in Syria – promulgated by the Obama or Trump administration and relentlessly echoed in the corporate media – has been suckered by “bogus conspiracies and Kremlin talking points”.

In point of fact, I have noticed that Kremlin talking points often lack clarity, depth, and detail on certain issues. They might want to consider taking lessons from a few individuals in the west who have brilliantly researched and explicated some of these subjects. Unfortunately for those who peddle the pathetic lies of the corporate empire, facts matter to at least some of the public. When it comes to analyzing the question of these chemical weapons attacks, we not only have our own critical thinking abilities, we also have some excellent homegrown sources of information to draw on, such as Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and former Pentagon chemical weapons expert Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. Litvin and Frank apparently prefer the fact free version of events offered by Niki Haley, the NY Times, and CNN.

Whether it is the well coordinated deep state propaganda campaign on events in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Libya, the US, or elsewhere in the world, we have a fine crop of genuine left/progressive journalists with a commitment to discerning and telling the truth. On the matter of the “white helmet samaritans” propaganda, for example, we have Vanessa Beeley, as well as Eva Bartlett, or Mnar Muhawesh, John Pilger and Abby Martin.

Conspiracy theories, you say? Why bother with theories when you have a plethora of cold, hard, facts? But facts which contradict the official narrative on any subject are clearly meant to be viewed as “conspiracy theories” by our corporate masters. They remind us of this via their henchmen that permeate the corporate media, and those liberally salted within the ranks of the progressive media as well. Caitlin Johnstone’s offense is that she has gone beyond the pale with her defiant challenging of certain sacred cows of the corporate state, and that is an offense that must not go unpunished.

Stuart Davies is a writer and artist, a lifelong resident of the left coast living in Southwestern Oregon.

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

CONFIRMED: Trump’s cessation of arms to Salafists had nothing to do with Russia

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | July 20, 2017

Today, Russia’s Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the issue of America ceasing to arm Salafist jihadist groups in Syria such as the FSA was not discussed in any way during Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin.

This conforms to the analysis first published yesterday in The Duran :

“While the Washington post calls this a win for Russia, in reality this will not directly effect Russia one way or another. It is however, a win for Syria.

By most reasonable accounts, the conflict in Syria could have ended far earlier if not for the CIA and other US actors arming, funding and training Salafist jihadist fighters in Syria (often referred to as moderate rebels by the western mainstream media).

As even the Washington Post admits, almost in a gloating fashion, arming such jihadists was a flagship policy of the United States under Barack Obama.

This will take a substantial deal of pressure off the Syrian Arab Army and their fight against remaining terrorists in Syria.

Ever since Trump took office, the general trajectory of US meddling in Syria shifted from arming jihadists to arming, funding and working in close military coordination with Kurdish forces.

Today’s revelation simply affirms what was long the apparent on the ground policy of the United States since February of 2017.

It is key to remember that even after this announcement, the US presence in Syria is still illegal according to international law…..

At present, there is no overt linkage to these events and Donald Trump’s meeting at the G20 summit with Vladimir Putin. …

This contradicts the assumptions made in the Washington Post that somehow the move was a “victory for Putin” or that it represented Trump capitulating to a Russian demand.

The Washington Post’s assertion that Trump’s decision was “sought by Moscow” is patently misleading and that is being charitable.

Furthermore, under Donald Trump, the United States was moving in this direction since February when it became clear that the new US administration sought to shift the focus of it’s Syria policy from arming jihadists to arming secular Kurdish forces, a move which is still illegal according to international law and opposed by a vast majority of Syrians.

While Russia, Syria and Iran have all warned that any state or non-state actors funding, arming or aiding Salafist terrorists under the guise that they are ‘moderate’ will harm Syrian and wider global security, Russia has not ever attempted to dictate US policy nor has Russia issued any threats or even suggestions to the United States on how to frame its foreign alliances.

Once again, western mainstream media totally distort Russia’s foreign policy statements in order to make Donald Trump look weak or compromised.

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment