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We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth

By Edward Curtin | January 15, 2018

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know.

The word service is a loaded word, a smiley face word. It has also become a vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

The Assassination

King was not murdered because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism. To understand his life and death – to celebrate the man – “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.” Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, The Plot to Kill King, a book that should be read by anyone concerned with truth and justice.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why. If they did, they might pause in their tracks, and combine their “service” activities with a teach-in on the truth of these matters.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat – praised him to the heavens. This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

Educating people about the fact that U.S. government forces conspired to kill Dr. King, and why, and why it matters today, is the greatest service we can render to his memory.

William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against the alleged assassin James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.

The Trial

This shocking truth is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day civil trial with over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK. The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them. They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried by the media in cahoots with the government.

Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, but shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.

But service without truth is a disservice to the life, legacy, and radical witness of this great American hero. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered him.

It is time to rebel against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service. Let us offer service, but let us also learn and tell the truth.

“He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery,” King told us, “Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.”

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | January 15, 2018

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the right wing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot writes:

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that? Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest installment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars. The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Betrays the Most Basic Journalistic Principles When It Comes to Syria

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | January 15, 2018

Lies, deceit and forgeries have always been part of war, truth being ‘the first casualty.’ But in the past two decades the falsifications of war have reached unparalleled heights, thanks to technology. The lies told by the American, British, Australian and allied governments ahead of and during the attack on Iraq in 2003 reached heights which one would have thought could not be surpassed. But then came Libya and the black mercenaries, the soldiers fed Viagra, all lies. Topping this, for the past seven years, we have had Syria and its ‘revolution’, photo-shopped, faked and staged from beginning to end with the connivance of the mainstream media.

With isolated exceptions in the Anglo-American media (the US, Britain, France, Australia and Canada) there has been no reporting of the Syria crisis as such. There has only been propaganda, surging forward in wave after wave. It is not enough to say that the credibility of the media has never been lower. Insofar as these wars in the Middle East are concerned, with the exception of a tiny handful of correspondents who occasionally correct the imbalance, it has no credibility at all.

Relying on ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ and refusing to air the perspective of the Syrian government the media has spun a web of deceit designed to justify and perpetuate ‘western’ aggression against yet another Arab country, this time not through an open military attack, as in Iraq or Libya, but through armed terrorist proxies who have carried out a campaign of murder and mayhem across the country.

There are no ‘moderates’ amongst these groups, not by any reasonable standards. The US Vice President Joe Biden let the cat out of the bag in 2014 when he said there were no moderates in their ranks. They might fight among themselves over territory, arms, money and control but they have the same ideology as the official enemy, of themselves and ‘western’ governments, the Islamic State: extirpation of the Shia and the Alawi and the establishment of a takfirist Islamic regime in Damascus top their agenda. This is what the ‘west’ is supporting in Syria.

The latest issue fed into the headlines is the ‘siege’ of the population of the East Ghouta region, on the outskirts of Damascus, by the ‘regime’, with harrowing stories of children starving or denied hospital care fed into the news cycle. The ‘regime’ is held responsible, not the Jaysh al Islam takfiri collective which John Kerry described in 2016 as a ‘sub group’ of the ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra. These groups, armed and financed by outside governments, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have taken over large parts of East Ghouta and are holding the population hostage. The Syrian government has the responsibility of suppressing them, and in the conflict civilians are dying. This is the cause of the ‘siege’ of East Ghouta and the notion that the people there genuinely support these takfiri groups is as fanciful as the idea that they did in East Aleppo. It was also presented by the media as being under siege by the ‘regime’ but when it was finally liberated from the takfiris its people were literally dancing in the streets with joy. It will be the same in East Ghouta when these groups are sent on their way.

Now we hearing that the ‘regime’ is using chemical weapons in East Ghouta. According to the BBC news web site (‘Syrian war: Reports of chlorine gas attack on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta’, January 13), ‘people’ in the region reported smelling gas after a missile attack. A ‘health worker’ was quoted. An ‘aid worker’ said ten hospitals were affected. There is nothing here of any substance, no evidence of a chlorine attack and no attempt by the BBC to confirm what it has been told.

The BBC makes marvellous wildlife documentaries and excellent feature films but in its reporting of the Syrian conflict it has completely betrayed the most basic journalistic principles of objectivity and balance. Along with the rest of the media it runs whatever the ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ choose to tell it. The allegation that goes into the headlines, is not substantiated but fulfills the central task not of reporting but of smearing the Syrian government, which never gets the opportunity to state its case beyond ‘the Syrian regime denies the allegations.’  This symbiotic game between terrorist groups and the media has been in motion for the past seven years. Through its false reporting the media has supported the war on Syria and must share the responsibility for the massive death and destruction that has ensued.

Of all media outlets the BBC has less credibility than most when raising the issue of chemical weapons attacks. In 2013 it was involved in the fabrication of one such alleged attack, on a school in Aleppo. The children and young men moaning on the floor with shaving cream on their faces and theatrically created burns and patches of skin hanging from their bodies were ludicrously bad actors. ‘Dr.  Roula’, the woman speaking to the camera, turned out to be Roula al Hallam, the daughter of a member of the Syrian opposition in exile. The precedent for this performance is the blubbering young woman who told the story of babies being thrown out of their incubators by Iraqi soldiers after the invasion of Kuwait in 1991. She turned out not to be a hospital nurse but the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. This piece of theatre was produced by a Washington PR firm.

‘Dr Roula’s’ original statement (August 29) that this seemed to be a napalm attack had been changed to ‘chemical weapon’ by the time it was broadcast a few hours later (August 30). The film was the same, she was the same ‘Dr Roula’ but the words coming out of her mouth were not the same.

The timing of this fabrication was central to the story. On August 21, the very same day that UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in Damascus, the Syrian government was accused of orchestrating a chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta region, outside the city, that allegedly killed hundreds of people. On August 26 the napalm/chemical weapons attack was allegedly carried out on the Aleppo school. On August 29/30 the allegations were broadcast twice by the BBC, with ‘napalm’ changed to ‘chemical weapon’ in the second broadcast. Later in the day (August 30) the House of Commons voted on military intervention in Syria. The Cameron government lost the vote but only narrowly (285-272). The fabricated BBC report seems to have been aired with the intention of pushing the Commons vote across the line.

The attack in the Ghouta region around Damascus was never followed up by the media once the Syrian government had been smeared and set up for military attack. The identity of the children whose bodies were shown (sometimes the same bodies in different locations) remains a mystery. They were used for propaganda before disappearing forever. The takfiris have recently massacred hundreds of Alawis in the Latakia governorate and had kidnapped scores of women and children: according to Mother Agnes, the nun who did what the media should have done by trying to find the truth, some of the mothers identified the children at Ghouta as theirs.

The evidence of scientists and journalists, notably Seymour Hersh, showed, with no room for doubt, that the chemicals were fired from positions held by the takfiris. Barrack Obama had declared that a chemical weapons attack would be his ‘red line’ and the takfiris had set out to push him across it. The apparent involvement of other governments in this provocation was something else the media did not follow up.

After the New Yorker showed no interest in his story, Hersh took it to the London Review of Books, where it was published. When he exposed the falsity of a second alleged attack, in Khan Shaikhun, in April, 2017, he had to find a publisher in Germany (Die Welt). The truth-telling Hersh found a rapidly diminishing appetite for his truths in the mainstream even though, without any doubt, he is an outstanding investigative reporter,  all the way back to his exposure of the My Lai massacre during the US war on Vietnam (and neighboring countries). While Trump bombed a Syrian air base near Khan Shaikhun, Obama pulled back at the last minute. According to Hersh, senior intelligence figures knew the Syrian government was not behind the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus but ‘how can we help this guy Obama when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along.’

The war on Syria goes on. It is not over as many have said: but for outside intervention it never would have started. Even though ISIS has been virtually destroyed in Syria, thus fulfilling the rationale for its forces being there, the US is refusing to leave. It has been playing a double game, declaring war on the ISIS while clandestinely cooperating with it in various ways. It wanted a Salafist principality in eastern Syria and the Islamic State gave it one. ISIS fighters criss-crossed the Syrian desert, towards Mosul and Palmyra, without the US intervening, although satellite reconnaissance would clearly have shown these lines of pickup trucks kicking up the summer dust. US Special Forces passed through Islamic State positions on the way to Deir al Zor, the US shipped takfiri fighters out of Raqqa with their families and the US has been training takfiris rebranded as ‘rebel’ fighters at its Al Tanf base.

Far from withdrawing from Syria the US is entrenching itself even deeper. It is not there for the Kurds or the good of the Syrian people. It is there for itself and most probably for Israel, which has spent the past year preparing for its next war, most probably against Lebanon in the first place, and admits to at least 100 missile strikes against Syria. The US is not leaving Afghanistan either. Indeed, it is not shutting down or drawing down anywhere, but strengthening its global position to cover any possibilities arising in its rivalry with Russia and China. This is the vise in which Syria is now caught.

The empty rhetoric of supporting only ‘rebels’ against terrorists continues. If the collective of takfiri groups known as Jaysh al Islam is not officially designated as a terrorist group that is because when Russia proposed, in November, 2016, that it be added to the UN sanctions list, the US, France and the UK used their vetoes to block the move. They provide the political support for this group, Saudi Arabia and other countries the money and the weaponry needed to hold the people of East Ghouta hostage. These are the real realities of the ‘siege’ of this district.


Jeremy Salt is a former journalist, turned academic. He is based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara where he teaches courses in modern Middle Eastern history and propaganda. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Sweden Starts Anti-‘Fake News’ Body for Mental Defense Against ‘Russian Threat’

Sputnik | January 15, 2108

In a build-up prior the forthcoming general election in September 2018, the Swedish government is planning to set up a new authority responsible for psychological defense. The perennial and widely speculated upon “Russian threat” has once again been used as a bogeyman.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who presented the idea of a new authority tasked with the nation’s psychological defense at the national People and Defense security conference, said it would safeguard the people’s will for peace and resilience in times of war, as well as ensure the public’s right to accurate public information, deterring potential disinformation campaigns.

“We will not hesitate to expose those who are still trying to do something like this. We know that operations are underway at the moment,” Löfven said in his speech in Sälen, specifically pointing out Russia, which he also called a “large and important neighbor in the East.” “However, we cannot rule out that there may be others,” he said, adding that Sweden was “well prepared to face the new threats.”

Previously, the Nordic nation’s psychological defense has been safeguarded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB). The new authority will specifically focus on foreign indoctrination operations as part of Sweden’s “total defense.”

“Our election system is robust. Our intelligence services warn of suspicious operations in advance. Several authorities have received increased funding to further hone their ability. But more must be done. So to those considering influencing the election outcome in our country: Stay out!” Löfven thundered.

“Russian hacking” became part of the Swedish narrative about a year ahead of the elections. Already in January 2017, the very same Löfven groundlessly speculated that Russia would try and influence the Swedish parliamentary election.”There is nothing that indicates that future Swedish elections will be peaceful,” Löfven was quoted as saying.

Columnist Patrik Oksanen, who suggested that Sweden was engaged in an information war as early as 2015, argued that Russia’s aim is to have a direct ruling on who is fit to occupy key posts, in attempt to “restore its natural influence.” In late 2017, Oksanen went on so far as to accuse the Swedish establishment of “running Russia’s errands,” suggesting there were “Putin’s lackey’s” both left and right.

“So what can we expect from the 2018 election year? The structure of Russian influence in Sweden is established, the temperature is set to increase, Oksanen wrote in his recent opinion piece in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, titled “We have to protect ourselves mentally against Russia.”

The accusations, however, were brushed aside by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as ludicrous.

“I am sure that those who are aware of the situation understand how laughable this is,” Lavrov said.

At present, no start date for the new authority has been set. In a follow-up to upping the “total defense” strategy, however, leaflets “If the war comes” will be distributed among Swedish households for the first time in 30 years.

​In addition to instructing Swedes on handling war and terror, the new edition of the brochure will have an emphasis on psyops.

The first edition of “If the war comes” was developed by the Swedish Defense and was first distributed among all Swedish households During World War II in 1943. The circulation of the information booklet ceased in the 1980s, only to resume in 2018. By the end of June, 4.7 million Swedish families will have received the pamphlet from the MSB with detailed instructions on how to deal with terrorist attacks, natural disasters, war and, not least, “fake news.”

“Previously, the focus was entirely on war. Today’s society is totally different. There is a more complex threat of climate change, terrorist attacks, pandemics and indoctrination,” Christina Andersson, tasked with the preparation of the brochure, told the Aftonbladet daily.

At the same time, Swedes’ concern about military threats in the country are abating. Today, only 28 percent of Swedes feel worried, which is a marked drop from 34 percent in 2016, national broadcaster SVT reported.

READ ALSO:

Money Rains Over Swedish Mainstream Media to Stop ‘Fake News,’ ‘Russian Trolls’

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

LAST STEP IRAN: What Our Recent Protests Were Really About

By Hamed Ghashghavi | 21st Century Wire | January 15, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran — Two weeks ago, the first demonstration was held in Mashhad and the main reason was people’s total dissatisfaction of credit institutions and banks, which took their money as a hostage for several months.

Some months ago, I witnessed myself people protesting peacefully in front of Iran’s Parliament and Central Bank. Actually, banks in Iran have effective powers (sometime more than European banks), and the interest rates are between 15 to 25%, invested in boondoggle building projects and other matters that normally they should not! We see similar situations the world over.

We can never deny that citizens, including myself, are facing financial problems due to the situation of the country. Essentially, after president Rouhani’s government has invested most of its time and energy on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ‘Iran nuclear deal’, he had promised the public that Iran’s economic and financial crisis will be resolved after that deal, however, this crisis is still escalating.

Of course the American and European embargoes have partly influenced that economic crisis, but it seems that this has been exacerbated by the inefficiency of the Rouhani Administration. For years, the Supreme Leader has been speaking about the ‘Resistive Economy’ (Economy of Resistance), and the importance of the internal economy (an indigenous one based on nation’s production and employment) while many officials, particularly in Rouhani government, believe the best solution is to be more in touch with European and American economies.

So after the Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei issued the principles of that Economy of Resistance, authorities began to repeatedly use that expression in their interviews and speeches which urged the Supreme Leader to choose “Economy of Resistance: Production and Employment” as the name of current year in Persian calendar.

Since that deal, many European companies such as Peugeot, Citroen, TOTAL and other leading Europe-based trans-national corporations have come to Tehran and signed multiple contracts with both governmental and non-governmental sides. Practically, and as the Supreme Leader has affirmed, these contracts have been only signed and nothing has changed on the ground. Besides, people have realised that Rouhani’s promises have not been fulfilled. Even if there were any economic advantages out of this deal, the benefits were for the big companies and not the middle class.

These days I hear even some friends saying that European states would like to stay committed to JCPOA, and so I would like to add this point toward European attitude on that issue:

Francesco Condemi, a French documentary filmmaker in his work entitled “L’affaire Peugeot (2013)” has affirmed that the Zionist Lobby in France has been putting a lot of pressure on Peugeot Company to cut its ties with Iran Khodro (Branded as IKCO, an Iranian multinational automaker headquartered in Tehran). Consequently, this emphasises that the Europeans are not committed to any kind of deal with Iranians and moreover, once their interests are threatened, they are the first to turn against you.

Not only based on that documentary and statistics, but also according to FranceTV analysts after France itself, Iran is world’s greatest market for their products, while over in Europe – French cars are a mere ‘third priority’ behind German and Italian cars, which are superior in quality.

Holding a peaceful demonstration in Iran is a guaranteed right as the constitution stipulates. None of the first demonstrations witnessed in the beginning were violent – not until our enemies’ agent provocateurs infiltrated events and began burning the national flag and martyrs’ portraits, attacking some military and government buildings and damaging public places and even setting fire to them. All of this only served to distract the focus of the demonstrations from their original raison d’etre.

In the recent presidential elections, 73.03% Iranian people participated, showing they support the Islamic Revolution and recognise the main reason for Iran’s stability and security in such a region is the Supreme Leader’s wisdom.

And honestly, what percentage of American and European citizens participate in their elections?

For those who are not aware of how Iran’s politcal system is designed, here are some useful infographics to help explain:

Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, in a public speech, on 15 February 2017, said (translated from Farsi):

“I say that to country’s officials, if people participate in 22 Bahman (The date on the Persian calendar coinciding with the anniversary of the February 11, 1979, Islamic Revolution) demonstration, it does not mean that they’re satisfied with what we do, people are gluttonous, they are gluttonous based on many issues happening in the country, people don’t like discrimination, anywhere they see some discrimination they feel bad and suffer, the same when they see hypothyroidism, the same when they see (authorities) being indifferent about their problems, when they see the things not advancing, they’re gluttonous. 22 Bahman has to be counted separately, people’s resistance against an enemy ambush to swallow Iran is one thing, which has been illustrated in 22 Bahman, and their expectation from us, the country’s officials – is another thing!”

“If people took to the streets on 22 Bahman it does not mean that they are satisfied with what the government does. The Supreme Leader added, “People’s grievances cannot be ignored: recession, unemployment, and inflation are important issues.”

He also said,

“One European official said to one of our officials that if it was not for the JCPOA, a war on Iran would be certain. This is just a lie! Why are they talking about war? Because they want to engage the minds of the people in war; however, the real war is an economic war – sanctions and ruining the levels of employment activity and technology industries within our country. They draw our attention to a military war so we may forget about these other wars. A real war is a cultural war.”


French mountebank Bernard-Henri Lévy prancing around the MENA region from one war to next, in the service of terrorists.

Undoubtedly, the right of people to demonstrate peacefully is an essential one, but we should be careful of foreign infiltration. We cannot forget what has happened and still is happening in Ukraine, Georgia and some other countries around Eastern Europe. In addition to that we discovered the media manipulation on Libya and Syria by people like French self-styled ‘philosopher’ Bernard-Henri Lévy, and colour revolution engineer George Soros, and their various fabricated Arab Spring narratives in places like Libya. We witnessed the same in Syria, as media operatives made-up the girls and boys as if they have been brutally wounded by Syrian Army, or in Ukraine when we saw similar events on the Maidan. To them, the media is a tool they use to conjure fabricated ‘revolutions’ for a global audience.


A warning to the world: if you see this man, Bernard-Henri Lévy, you can be sure that trouble is around the corner.

During the recent events in Iran, the western Mainstream Media has utilised the same videos from different Iranian cities. BBC Persian, VOA Persian and Manoto were all trying to stimulate chaos in any possible way. It is worth mentioning also that almost 200 Persian-language television channels were founded after the 2009 presidential elections. Like the Gulf-based Arab channels did with Syria, these channels continually provoke people to reject their government by calling them to demonstrate and come to streets. In addition, they brainwash the minds of the Iranians through TV series and movies that attack our cultural lifestyle, values and conventions. The TV series and movies in which we can’t understand who has sexual relation with whom, or if a woman is pregnant as result of having sex with her husband or boyfriend, while constantly promoting various types of intellectual and sexual perversions.

All of these international channels are backed and financed by Western powers, often used as tools of the British and American intelligentsia. Besides, so-called ‘civil society’ NGOs like Brookings Institution’s Centre for Middle East Policy (Saban Centre), International Republican Institute, Freedom House, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Albert Einstein Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, American Enterprise Institute and many others – are all trying their best to interfere in Iranian affairs on some level.

Trump & others, in the name of ‘human rights’, are working hard to create chaos in Iran, whilst they ignore their worldwide crimes, killing, massacring, torturing, doing genocides, raping, violating, and stealing the wealth and resources of poor nations.

On one hand, we can see how Iranians, people and elites, condemn the violence, while on another hand they are against the corrupted authorities who have to pay the price – and people must see the result of this as the Leader said. Nevertheless, many officials including Major General Mohsen Rezaee view that we should not put the infiltrated anti-governmental individuals with the peaceful citizens in the same basket. Those peaceful people request to have a better economic situation, which is a legitimate and fundamental right.

Definitely, Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah have defeated the American’s so-called “War on Terror” and the new US-led project for the Middle East which began on 9/11. All extremists sectarian Wahhabi groups failed to fulfill the American dream of further breaking up the region. Accordingly, creating chaos in Iran is their last step, but, fortunately, the Iranian people are wise enough to confront these conspiracies.


Western media refused to show massive nationwide pro-government demonstrations in early January because these did not fit their western ‘regime change’ narrative.

It is significant that pro-government demonstrations are occasionally held in democratic states such as Iran. People have taken to streets, despite the extremely cold and snowy weather, to slam the anti-government violent activities taking place. However, Western and Saudi mainstream media did not cover these pro-Leader and pro-Islamic Republic demonstrations – as they themselves, the West and Saudi monarchs – don’t have such a popularity or passion in their own countries. Remarkably, one of the people’s slogans condemning foreign agents infiltrated in initial protests was,

“WE THE PEOPLE TAKE CARE OF STOPPING THE ANTI-REVOLUTION DEMONSTRATION AND YOU THE OFFICIAL TAKE CARE OF ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.”

Here are numerous examples of such demonstrations during these past weeks:

Anniversary of December 30, 2009 pro-government rally in Iran , some photos of 2009 rally

(Dec. 29): Tabriz, (Dec. 30): Tehran 1, Across the Country 1, Qom, Tehran 2, Across the Country 2,

Pro-government rallies after recent events: Zanjan (Jan. 1), Across the country 1 (Jan. 2), Across the country 2 (Jan. 2), People appreciating police forces in Azadshahr of Mashhad (Jan. 2), Across the country 3 (Jan. 3), Tehran after Friday prayer (Jan. 5), Past Friday prayer in Tehan (Jan. 5), Across the country 4 (Jan. 4), Across the country 5 (Jan. 4), Across the country 6 (Jan. 7)

Rasht,
Mashhad 2, Isfahan, Tehran 2, Ahavz, Ilam and Bodschurd. . .

Double Trouble: US and Saudi Hegemony

US military bases have formed a strategic envelope around Iran, as well as the strategic positioning many US-backed and funded terrorist and extremist groups – such as Al-Qaeda on the Eastern borders, and ISIS on Western borders. However, recent victories by Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran, have proven these Western and Gulf-backed terrorist groups to be a complete failure, and in their failure – have instead strengthened Iran.

Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei has mocked US president Donald Trump and said that he would fail in his hardline stance against Iran, just as his “smarter” predecessor Ronald Reagan did before him. “Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump. He was a better actor in making threats. He also moved against us and shot down our plane,” Leader Khamenei emphasised.

We knew that last year’s ISIS attack in Tehran was funded and sponsored by Saudi government and even before that Bin Salman said “we will bring war into Iran”. And as we look at the recent events in Iran, most related hashtags were tweeted from Saudi Arabia. No surprise there.

As I’ve been asked by many friends about the current status of former president Ahmadinejad, I add this point as a big FORMER fan of this man – I can imagine how understanding of Iran’s domestic policies is difficult for the foreign audience and that is why Western mainstream media is regularly confused about it. That’s why in my last article I explained about the succession of Iran’s presidents and I suggest to those who would like to know why and how Ahmadinejad fits into this series of events, to please take a read to the related part of this article.

We all know that judiciary power in Iran is politically independent as we witnessed many relatives of officials as Hashemi Rafsanjani’s son (Mehdi)’s, president Rouhani’s brother (Hossein Feridon), vice-president Jahangiri’s brother (Mehdi), Ahmadinejad’s deputy (Mohammad Reza Rahimi) were all convicted of corruption and are currently jailed.

Ahmadinejad has recently started to attack judiciary power because his close friends have been arrested or jailed, in Iranian news agencies or websites, except one or two, until now there is no confirmed information about Ahmadinejad’s arrest or his probable involvement in recent provocations. But once again as a big FORMER fan of Mahmoud, (and himself he knows how much I loved him and he was a very important figure for me) I hope this news to be true as this ex-great man became very selfish and arrogant.

And lastly, a surprising point: after Trump’s stupid decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing that Holy City as a capital of an inhumane and absolute criminal entity – the whole world was talking about Palestine, but now after Iran’s recent events, who is still talking about Palestine? This demonstrates the power of distraction.

We’ll finish by quoting Iran’s Supreme Leader and his reaction from to recent events (from Jan 9). The Leader of the Revolution discussed the ‘triangular model’, or the international pyramid hierarchy scheme, used to describe who was responsible for the flow of money and carrying out the orchestrated events in Iran recently.

The hierarchy of the pyramid/triangle is listed from top (1) to bottom (3) in Ayatollah Khamenei’s own words:

  1. “The plot was made by Americans (US) and Zionists. They have been plotting for many months to initiate riots in small cities and eventually move towards the center.”
  2. “Money was provided by a wealthy government near the Persian Gulf. Well, these plots are costly. The Americans are not willing to spend money while such accomplices are already there.”
  3. “The third side of the triangle consists of the US submissive henchmen: Mohajhedeen-E-Khalq Organization, the murderous MEK [aka MKO].”

“The rulers in the United States, firstly, know that they didn’t achieve their goal: they might try to repeat it, but they know that can never achieve it. Secondly, they damaged us during these days, they know there will be some sort of retaliation.”

“The vast manifestations arising from millions of Iranians against recent riots is no ordinary event. Nowhere, in this world, have we witnessed the same exact phenomena. I am well informed on this. This great, coherent people’s movement against the enemies’ conspiracy, with such organization, awareness, and enthusiasm is unique among the world, and it continues for forty years now.”

“It’s not simply a question of a number of years. It is a fight of a nation against an anti-nation; a fight of Iran against anti-Iran; a fight of Islam against anti-Islam: this has always existed and will persists.”

“All actions that the enemies have waged against us, during the past forty years, are counter-attacks against the Islamic Revolution. The revolution uprooted the enemies’ political position in the country; now they (the enemy) uses counter attacks, frequently, and is defeated each time. The enemy acts and cannot advance because of the resistance: the strong national and popular barrier.”

“Once again, the nation with its full power tells the United States, the UK and their Londoners, ‘they couldn’t make it happen this time, and will never achieve their goals.’”

“Various analyses were proposed during these days. All these analyses had a common point: the point which allows the righteous and truthful desires of the people to be distinguished from and the brutal and destructive movements of another group. The two must be distinguished,”

“That a person is deprived of a right and objects to it: or that protesters – hundreds of people — come together and gather to express their concerns, is one thing; and that a number of the people from this gathering misuse this motive–to insult the Quran, to insult Islam, to insult the flag, to burn the Mosque, commit sabotage or set the country on fire–is another thing. The two should not be mixed.”

“The people’s wants, appeals, or protests have always existed in this country, and persist today. Well, like these problematic financial institutions, some of the institutes have been problematic and have made some people very dissatisfied.”

“These appeals must be dealt with and heard out. They must be answered as much as possible,”

All of us — I do not say “others must follow”— I myself am responsible; all of us “must follow this approach.”

“I would like to add that these events had a distinct triangle pattern or scheme. Events did not emerge overnight; but they have been carefully organized. My observances are based on information from sources of intelligence: some are made obvious by their own statements, some have been obtained through intelligence operations.”

“They were prepared months ago. The media of the MEK admitted to this; they said, recently, that they were in contact with Americans some months ago, to carry out U.S.’ orders: to organize riots, meet with this or that person, find individuals inside the country to help them fan out to the people. And that it was they who initiated this.”

“They began with a slogan [to catch attention] in opposition to high prices. Well, this is a slogan that everyone likes. They wanted to attract some people with this message, then enter the arena themselves to pursue their evil goals and attract followers. What people did here is this: First, some people came to streets–though not a big number–, however, just as they understood the real intentions behind, the people separated their lines.”

“On the one hand, the rioters shouted ‘my life be sacrificed for the sake of Iran,’ on the other hand, they burned the flag of Iran! The fools did not understand that these two actions simply cannot go together. Well, we hope that you (MEK) die for Iran! But, when have you stood up to the enemies of Iran? Those who have always stood against the enemy of Iran are the devout, believing, and revolutionary people. Who were the 300,000 martyrs of the Holy Defense era? They were these believing and revolutionary men who defended their country. When have you (MEK) died for Iran, that you shout ‘my life be sacrificed for the sake of Iran’?”

“Well, the United States is now angry, extremely furious; it’s not angry with only me; it’s angry with everyone and everything: angry with the Iranian people, angry with the government, and angry with the Revolution of Iran because it was defeated by this massive, retaliatory movement.”

“Now, the US officials have started to talk nonsense; the president of the United States says the Iranian government fears its very own people! No, the Iranian government was born by their people; it is for their people, is created by the Iranian people, and relies upon them. Why should it fear their own people? If the people were not there, no Islamic government would exists!”

“He [Trump] says that the Iranian government is afraid of U.S.’ power. So, if we are “afraid” of you, how did we expel you from Iran in the late 1970’s and expel you from the entire region in the 2010’s?”

“The rulers in the United States, firstly, know that they didn’t achieve their goal: they might try to repeat it, but they know that can never achieve it. Secondly, they damaged us during these days, they know there will be some sort of retaliation. Thirdly, this man who sits at the head of the White House— although, he seems to be a very instable man–he must realize that these extreme and psychotic episodes won’t be left without a response.”

In his final statements Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Revolution, reminded his audience: “Those who like to make friends with U.S. agents–whether outside or whether, unfortunately, some inside–they also know that this system is strongly standing and will resolve all weaknesses and problems with God’s grace.”

***

Author Hamed Ghashghavi is a polyglot researcher on North American and Western European Studies, as well as a linguist and documentary filmmaker & editor, based in Tehran.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The CIA’s 70-Year History of Disinformation: How the CIA Funded the Opinion Magazines in Europe

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 15, 2018

When an intelligence agency arranges to disseminate fake news it is called “disinformation” and it is a subset of what is referred to as covert action, basically secret operations run in a foreign country to influence opinion or to disrupt the functioning of a government or group that is considered to be hostile.

During the Cold War, disinformation operations were run by many of the leading players in both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in the opposition Warsaw Pact. Sometimes the activity and the sponsorship were clearly visible, as when Radio Free Europe and Radio Moscow would exchange barbs about just how bad daily life was in the opposition alliance. Sometimes, however, it took the form of clandestinely placing stories in the media that were clearly untrue but designed to shift public perceptions of what was taking place in the world. The Vietnam War provided a perfect proxy playing field, with stories emanating from the U.S. government and its supporters presenting a narrative of a fight for democracy against totalitarianism while the Communist bloc promoted a contrary tale of colonial and capitalist oppression of a people striving to be free.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) inherited the mantle of covert action operations as a legacy from its OSS predecessor, which had had considerable success in conducting disinformation operations during World War 2. But there was from the start considerable opposition to continuing such programs as they were both expensive and subject to devastating blowback when they were identified and exposed. In Western Europe, powerful domestic communist parties were quick to publicize U.S. intelligence missteps, but nevertheless the ability to manipulate the news and information media to place stories critical of the Soviets and their allies led to major programs that funded magazines and books while also seeking to acquire a cadre of journalists that would produce pieces on demand proved too tempting to ignore.

There has been considerable ex post facto examination of the CIA’s use of covert funding mechanisms including the Congress of Cultural Freedom to fund writers and magazines in Europe, the best known of which were The Paris Review and Encounter out of London. As there was a low intensity war going on against communism, a conflict which many patriotic writers supported, funding magazines and finding contributors to write appropriate material was relatively easy and hardly challenged. Some senior editors knew or strongly suspected where their funding was coming from while some did not, but most didn’t ask any questions because then as now patrons of literary magazines were in short supply. Many of the writers were in the dark about the funding, but wrote what they did because of their own personal political convictions. The CIA, seeking value for money, would urge certain editorial lines but was not always very aggressive in doing so as it sought to allow the process to play out without too much interference.

Opinion magazines were one thing, but penetrating the newspaper world was quite a different story. It was easy to find a low or mid-level journalist and pay him to write certain pieces, but the pathway to actual publication was and is more complicated than that, going as it does through several editorial levels before appearing in print. A recent book cites the belief that CIA had “an agent at a newspaper in every world capital at least since 1977” who could be directed to post or kill stories. While it is true that U.S. Embassies and intelligence services had considerable ability to place stories in capitals in Latin America and parts of Asia, the record in Europe, where I worked, was somewhat mixed. I knew of only one senior editor of a major European newspaper who was considered to be an Agency resource, and even he could not place fake news as he was answerable both to his editorial board and the conglomerate that owned the paper. He also refused to take a salary from CIA, which meant that his cooperation was voluntary and he could not be directed.

CIA did indeed have a considerable number of journalist “assets” in Europe but they were generally stringers or mid-level and had only limited capability to actually shape the news. They frequently wrote for publications that had little or no impact. Indeed, one might reasonably ask whether the support of literary magazines in the fifties and sixties which morphed into more direct operations seeking journalist agents had any significant impact at all in geopolitical terms or on the Cold War itself.

More insidious was so-called Operation Mockingbird, which began in the early 1950s and which more-or-less openly obtained the cooperation of major American publications and news outlets to help fight communist “subversion.” The activity was exposed by Seymour Hersh in 1975 and was further described by the Church Commission in 1976, after which point CIA operations to influence opinion in the United States became illegal and the use of American journalists as agents was also generally prohibited. It was also learned that the Agency had been working outside its founding charter to infiltrate student groups and antiwar organizations under Operation Chaos, run by the CIA’s controversial if not completely crazy counterintelligence Czar James Jesus Angleton.

As the wheel of government frequently ends up turning full circle, we appear to be back in the age of disinformation, where the national security agencies of the U.S. government, including CIA, are now suspected of peddling stories that are intended to influence opinion in the United States and produce a political response. The Steele Dossier on Donald Trump is a perfect example, a report that surfaced through a deliberate series of actions by then CIA Director John Brennan, and which was filled with unverifiable innuendo intended to destroy the president-elect’s reputation before he took office. It is undeniably a positive development for all Americans who care about good governance that Congress is now intending to investigate the dossier to determine who ordered it, paid for it, and what it was intended to achieve.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Bezos Gives Millions to DACA, Amazon Staff Need Foodstamps

teleSUR | January 13, 2018

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been hailed for donating US$33 million of his fortune to a scholarship fund for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, while more than 700 Amazon employees have to rely on foodstamps to feed themselves.

News outlets CNBC, Politico, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published glowing reports on his philanthropic gesture benefitting immigrants, which comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump promising to revoke immigration protection for some 200,000 El Salvadorans living in the United States and referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”

But a recent study by Policy Matters Ohio indicates that more than 700 local Amazon employees – the bulk of Bezos’ staff, who ensure products are correctly sorted, packaged and dispatched – have to rely on foodstamps to survive.

Amazon reportedly received more than $17million in tax breaks in Ohio to open its first two distribution centers, according to The Daily Beast. This act of corporate welfare, which was recorded in 2015, was hailed by lawmakers as a job-creator.

Yet the company has also faced multiple lawsuits and complaints. According to a report by The Morning Call, Amazon employees in Allentown, Pennsylvania, worked in a warehouse where the heat index reached some 102 degrees Farenheit. At least 15 collapsed from heat exhaustion.

“I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one,” said Elmer Goris, who worked at the Lehigh Valley site.

Three plaintiffs sued Amazon in 2015, claiming that the company violated wage and hour policies in San Bernardino, California. Two years later, Amazon workers in Sacramento said they were denied overtime pay and rest breaks, according to Salon.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Amazon has been criticized in Scotland for not signing up to the government’s “fair work” program, despite having received more than £5.3million (US$7.28million) of taxpayers’ money to help spur job growth.

Forbes lists Bezos’ wealth at US$108billion, meaning his “philanthropic” donation to DACA recipients equates to roughly 0.03 percent of his total fortune.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

The Guardian, White Helmets, and Silenced Comment

By Tim Hayward | January 12, 2018

The Guardian recently published an article claiming that critical discussion of the White Helmets in Syria has been ‘propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government’. Many readers were dismayed at this crude defence of a – presumably – pro-imperialist perspective, and at the unwarranted smearing of reasoned questioning based on evidence from independent journalists.

What The Guardian did next:

  • quickly closed its comments section;
  • did not allow a right of reply to those journalists singled out for denigration in the piece;
  • did not allow publication of the considered response from a group of concerned academics (posted in full below);
  • did not respond to the group’s subsequent Letter,[1] or a follow up email to it;
  • prevaricated in response to telephone inquiries as to whether a decision against publishing either communication from the group had or had not been taken;
  • failed to respond to a message to its Readers’ Editor from Vanessa Beeley, one of the journalists criticised in the article.

Meanwhile, the article’s author, Olivia Solon, tweeting from California, allowed herself to promote her piece while simply blocking critical voices.

Conduct hardly more becoming was that of The Guardian’s George Monbiot who joined in, tweeting smears against critics and suggesting they read up about ‘the Russian-backed disinformation campaign against Syria’s heroic rescue workers’. Judging by the tenor of responses to this, the journalist misjudged his surprising intervention. It seems that people who follow these matters are able to decide for themselves who and what they find credible.

As for allowing a fair hearing to independent researchers like Vanessa Beeley, it is poignant to observe that while The Guardian’s journalists were tweeting away, she was actually on the ground in Syria, again putting herself at personal risk of bombs and mortars despatched by the fighters that the White Helmets provide support to; she was there meeting – and filming – Syrian people who provide grave witness statements concerning those that The Guardian uncritically commends as ‘heroic rescue workers’.

A growing number of us believe that it is high time the critical questions raised by independent investigators be treated with the seriousness and scrupulousness they warrant. That is why the academic Working Group on Syria, Propaganda, and the Media offered the following response to The Guardian under its ‘Comment is Free’ rubric. Since it was not published there, I post it on behalf of the group here.

From the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media:

Seeking Truth About White Helmets In Syria

The recent Guardian article by Olivia Solon attacks those investigating and questioning the role of the White Helmets in Syria and attributes all such questioning to Russian propaganda, conspiracy theorizing and deliberate disinformation. The article does little, however, to address the legitimate questions which have been raised about the nature of the White Helmets and their role in the Syrian conflict. In addition, academics such as Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson have been subjected to intemperate attacks from mainstream media columnists such as George Monbiot through social media for questioning official narratives. More broadly, as Louis Allday described in 2016 with regard to the war in Syria, to express ‘even a mildly dissenting opinion … has seen many people ridiculed and attacked … These attacks are rarely, if ever, reasoned critiques of opposing views: instead they frequently descend into personal, often hysterical, insults and baseless, vitriolic allegations’. These are indeed difficult times in which to ask serious and probing questions. It should be possible for public debate to proceed without resort to ad hominem attacks and smears.

It is possible to evaluate the White Helmets through analysis of verifiable government and corporate documents which describe their funding and purpose. So, what do we know about the White Helmets? First, the ‘Syria Civil Defence’, the ‘official title’ given to the White Helmets, is supported by US and UK funding. Here it is important to note that the real Syria Civil Defence already exists and is the only such agency recognised by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO). The White Helmets receive funding from the UK government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and the US government’s USAID, Office of Transition Initiatives programme – the Syria Regional Program II. The UK and US governments do not provide direct training and support to the White Helmets. Instead, private contractors bid for the funding from the CSSF and USAID. Mayday Rescue won the CSSF contract, and Chemonics won the USAID contract. As such, Chemonics and Mayday Rescue train and support the White Helmets on behalf of the US and UK governments.

Second, the CSSF is directly controlled by the UK National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, while USAID is controlled by the US National Security Council, the Secretary of State and the President. The CSSF is guided by the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) which incorporates UK National Security Objectives. Specifically, the White Helmets funding from the CSSF falls under National Security Objective “2d: Tackling conflict and building stability overseas”. This is a constituent part of the broader “National Security Objective 2: Project our Global Influence”.

The funding background of the White Helmets raises important questions regarding their purpose. A summary document published online indicates that the CSSF funding for the White Helmets is currently coordinated by the Syria Resilience Programme. This document highlights that the core objective of the programme is to support “the moderate opposition to provide services for their communities and to contest new space”, as to empower “legitimate local governance structures to deliver services gives credibility to the moderate opposition”. The document goes on to state that the White Helmets (‘Syria Civil Defence’) “provide an invaluable reporting and advocacy role”, which “has provided confidence to statements made by UK and other international leaders made in condemnation of Russian actions”. The ‘Syria Resilience CSSF Programme Summary’ is a draft document and not official government policy. However, the summary indicates the potential dual use of the White Helmets by the UK government: first, as a means of supporting and lending credibility to opposition structures within Syria; second, as an apparently impartial organisation that can corroborate UK accusations against the Russian state.

In a context in which both the US and UK governments have been actively supporting attempts to overthrow the Syrian government for many years, this material casts doubt on the status of the White Helmets as an impartial humanitarian organization. It is therefore essential that investigators such as Vanessa Beeley, who raise substantive questions about the White Helmets, are engaged with in a serious and intellectually honest fashion. The White Helmets do not appear to be the independent agency that some have claimed them to be. Rather, their funding background, and the strategic objectives of those funders, provide strong prima facie grounds for considering the White Helmets as part of a US/UK information operation designed to underpin regime change in Syria as other independent journalists have argued. It is time for the smears and personal attacks to stop, allowing full and open investigation by academics and journalists into UK policy toward Syria, including the role of the White Helmets, leading to a better-informed public debate.

Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

Steering Committee

Professor Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Professor Paul McKeigue, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh

Professor Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism University of Sheffield

Researchers

Jake Mason (PhD candidate, University of Sheffield)

Divya Jha (PhD candidate, University of Sheffield)

Note

[1] Having sent the article reproduced here to ‘Comment is Free’ at The Guardian on 23 December, but receiving no definite response, despite a follow up email, on 5 January, we sent the following letter to The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor. (This also received no response.)

Dear Mr Chadwick

We are writing in relation to an article by Olivia Solon “How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine” published on 18 December.  This article asserted that those who have questioned the ostensible role of the White Helmets as an impartial humanitarian organization, including the experienced journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, are part of “a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government “.  

We sent on 23 December a request (reproduced below) to Comment is Free requesting that they consider for publication a brief (800-word) response to Solon’s article.  This article set out the grounds for a more serious engagement with the questions that arise from UK and US government support for media-related operations in Syria.  The text of this article is reproduced below.  The original is attached as a Word document, in case the embedded links do not work in the unformatted text.

Despite a second message on 28 December specifically requesting a written response to the original message on 23 December (and copied to you), we have not had any response from the Guardian other than automated acknowledgements.   Before we proceed to publish this material elsewhere, it is important to document that this article has been seen by an editor and rejected (if that was the decision).   I understand that Comment is Free editors are not able to reply to every pitch, but this one concerns an article that has serious implications for the Guardian’s reputation.

We request therefore that you ask your editorial colleagues to respond in writing with a confirmation that our article has been seen and rejected.  A one-sentence email message from an editor would be enough – we shall not bother you again.

Signed:

Prof. Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Paul McKeigue, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism, University of Sheffield

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Neocon Think Tanks Not Russian Media Are the Enemy Within

By John Wight | Sputnik | January 12, 2018

The latest salvo in the ongoing attempt to de-legitimize and demonize Russia-based media has arrived with a directive from the US Justice Department that Sputnik News in the US must register as a foreign agent.

In this regard Sputnik now joins RT America (previously directed to register as a foreign agent) in being stigmatized as peddling propaganda instead of news and news analysis, its journalists and contributors smeared by association, in the context of a wider neo-McCarthyite offensive unleashed with the aim of pushing back against opposition to neoconservative nostrums and influence on Western foreign policy, along with its neoliberal economic counterpart.

What needs to be stressed is that this offensive is being waged not so much against Russian media as against Western dissident voices who dare appear on Russian media. It is an attack on the free speech of US citizens – and also on UK and European citizens given that the same offensive is underway in those parts of the world – on their right to ply their trade as journalists, writers, broadcasters and political analysts.

The reasoning behind this censorious campaign is not, as claimed, because those dissident voices are engaged in peddling falsehoods, lies and propaganda; instead it is because they deign to expose the actual causes of the seemingly unending wars and economic, social, political and refugee crises that are the norm in our time.

The most penetrating truths are often the most simply expressed, a truism given credence by the life and words of US labor leader and anti-war activist, Eugene Debs at the turn of the last century. “War does not come by chance,” the great man said in the context of his unstinting opposition to the First World War. “War is not the result of accident. There is a definite cause for war, especially a modern war.”

In our time the “definite cause for war” is Washington’s determination to maintain the ability of Western global corporations to rampage across the globe unimpeded, Wall Street to suck up the world’s surplus capital, and the continuing supremacy of the US dollar, backed up by a gargantuan military which stands as a monument not to democracy but imperialism.

Those committed to attacking the Western dissidents who appear on and work for Russian media do so on the basis of defending and maintaining this status quo, providing political and ideological support for regime change without end, no matter the scale of the carnage, human suffering and destabilization that ensues in its vapor trails.

By ‘those’ I refer specifically to the murky network of neocon think tanks such as the Henry Jackson Society, the Atlantic Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with the veritable rogues gallery of funders and sponsors supporting them and their works. The aforesaid think tanks are, along with too many others to mention, institutions in which a coterie of expensively-educated, democracy-denying, regime change cranks work day and night producing papers ‘exposing’ Russian media and strategizing against supposed Russian influence and interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies. This they do while ascribing lurid and sensationalist motives to the actions of countries, such as Russia, whose refusal to bow to Washington marks them as the enemy without at the same time as its media, and by implication those who work for and contribute to its media, as the enemy within.

The pressing problem a world interested in the rule of law and stability has to contend with, however, is not alleged Russian interference in the internal affairs of Western democracies; the problem has and continues to be Western interference – or attempted interference – in the internal affairs of Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, etc. This is the true source of the ills the world is grappling with.

When you have a mainstream media outlet in the West such as Foreign Policy magazine carrying an article under the less than cryptic title, ‘It’s Time To Bomb North Korea’, you start to gain an insight into the virulent strain of moral sickness which has those who pen such articles, not forgetting the media that publishes such articles, in its grip. And when you have former NATO staffers such as Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council publishing articles exploring the work of Sputnik contributors, such as myself, with the intention of extrapolating some dark conspiratorial motive for the pattern of said articles, you know you must be doing something right.

As an aside, I would like to extend Mr Nimmo a friendly invitation to come on my Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts, to discuss these matters further. It could be the radio equivalent of Ali-Frazier. I’ll be Ali, gliding round the ring popping him with a righteous jab, exposing his lack of movement, mobility and defense, while he can be Frazier, coming at me in straight lines, bobbing and weaving, trying to land that famous left hook but hitting fresh air.

The claim that Russian media is propaganda is in itself propaganda. The claim that Russia is interfering in ‘our’ democracy is in itself interference in ‘our’ democracy, what with those making this charge arrogating to themselves the right and power to adjudicate over election outcomes and ascribe legitimacy or illegitimacy to them as they deem fit. For such people there are invisible red lines beyond which people tread at their peril.

Dare, for example, to declaim against NATO as a Western military alliance engaged in the projection of imperial power rather than the defender of peace and democracy it claims to be, you are deemed beyond the pale. Describe the 2003 US-led war on Iraq as a crime entirely compatible with Western cultural values, rather than a mistake wholly out of keeping with those values, and you are deemed beyond the pale. Refuse to accept that head-chopping extremists in Syria are ‘moderate rebels’, and refuse to refer to the Syrian government as the Syrian regime, and you soon find yourself regarded as persona non grata.

However, paraphrasing English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill, better an anti-imperialist pilloried and demonized than a fanatical neocon in clover.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Democrat Senators publish a deeply disturbing and profoundly racist report about Russia

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | January 12, 2018

In the aftermath of Russiagate a group of Democratic Party Senators have published one of the most bizarre and disturbing reports ever to issue from the US Senate.

The best way to summarise it is to say that it takes every single charge which has ever been made against Vladimir Putin and Russia and repeats them whilst ignoring any evidence which contradicts them.

The whole dreary catalogue is there: the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, the Khodorkovsky prosecutions, the Politkovskaya and Litvinenko murders, the Magnitsky affair, Putin’s billions, Chechnya, the 2008 South Ossetia war, Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict, the state sponsorship of organised crime, the use of gas exports as a political weapon, the malign influence of RT and Sputnik, the sponsorship of extreme right groups in Europe, the Russian role in the Brexit vote, and even the Russian Olympic doping scandal.

To anyone accustomed to reading articles about Vladimir Putin and Russia in such places as the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian, it is all very familiar.  Indeed at times the report reads like an extended version of one of those articles.

In every case Vladimir Putin is the villain of the piece, demonically plotting to destroy democracy both in Russia and the West for reasons which incidentally are never made wholly clear.

As examples of where the report ignores contradictory evidence in order to make its case I will cite just five examples amongst the many others which could be made:

(1) The report claims that no-one has ever “credibly” claimed responsibility for the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings.

To this day, no credible source has ever claimed credit for the bombings and no credible evidence has been presented by the Russian authorities linking Chechen terrorists, or anyone else, to the Moscow bombings. As the public polling results show, there is still considerable doubt

The report says this in order to support its claim that Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services were actually responsible for the bombings.

However this is simply not true.  The Chechen and Jihadi warlord Shamil Basayev and his Saudi associate Al-Khattab made quite clear who was responsible for the bombings in comments made shortly after they took place, linking the bombings quite clearly to the ongoing conflict in the Russian Caucasian republic of Dagestan, which they had just invaded with a volunteer army of Jihadi fighters.

Here is how Wikipedia reports their comments

Commenting on the attacks, Shamil Basayev said: “The latest blast in Moscow is not our work, but the work of the Dagestanis. Russia has been openly terrorizing Dagestan, it encircled three villages in the centre of Dagestan, did not allow women and children to leave.”[35] Al-Khattab, who was reportedly close with Basayev, said the attacks were a response to what the Russians had done in Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi, two Dagestani villages where followers of the Wahhabi sect were living until the Russian army bombed them out.[39] A group called the Liberation army of Dagestan claimed responsibility for the apartment bombings.[39][40][41][42]

The “Liberation Army of Dagestan” is now widely acknowledged to be one and the same as the Islamic Army of Dagestan formed by Basayev and Al-Khattab in 1999 to attack Dagestan.

There is no doubt that Jihadi terrorists were responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings.  As the report rather grudgingly acknowledges many of those involved in the bombings were subsequently rounded up and put on trial for the bombings by the Russian authorities.

The outcome of the trials has never to my knowledge been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights which has the jurisdiction to do so and which would no doubt have done so if there had been anything about the trials which was obviously wrong.

All the major participants in the bombings have been identified and are known and it is or should be a fringe conspiracy theory to allege that Putin and the Russian authorities were responsible for them.

It is nonetheless that fringe conspiracy theory which the Democratic Senators have adopted for their report.

(2) The report repeats the common Western charge that the Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested and persecuted because of his political activities

Putin and his allies have neutered political competition by creating rubber-stamp opposition parties and harassing legitimate opposition. For example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the Russian oil company Yukos, was imprisoned for more than a decade on a spate of charges deemed to be politically motivated.

His prosecution could be broadly interpreted as a signal to other powerful oligarchs that supporting independent or anti-Putin parties carries great risk to one’s personal wealth and well-being.

This ignores the fact the European Court of Human Rights – the court with the authority to pronounce on this issue – has repeatedly said in a lengthy succession of Judgments that Khodorkovsky was convicted and imprisoned not because of his political activities but because he carried out a gigantic tax fraud – just as the Russian authorities have said – and that the case against him was not therefore brought for political reasons as the report says.

(3) The report repeats the charge that President Putin did away with direct election of governors in 2004 as part of a cynical power-grab

In 2004, Putin ‘‘radically restructured’’ the Russian political system by eliminating the election of regional governors by popular vote in favor of centrally directed appointments, characterizing this significant power grab as an effort to forge ‘‘national cohesion’’ in the wake of the terrorist attack at a school in Beslan in North Ossetia.

This ignores the fact that in 2012 direct election of governors was brought back again, something which the report never mentions.

It is fair to say that this reversal of the supposed “radical restructuring” of the Russian political system which took place in 2004 has not led to the dramatic changes in political conditions in Russia that some expected.

However that points to the underlying truth about the supposedly “radical restructuring” which supposedly took place in 2004: it wasn’t radical at all.

Though it is true that in 2004 Putin assumed the power to appoint governors to Russian regions, these appointments had to be approved by the parliament of the region to which the governor was appointed.

In practise regional parliaments showed no interest in challenging Putin’s nominees, just as regional electorates have shown little interest in the gubernational elections which were reintroduced in 2012, which almost always result in Putin’s nominees being elected.

This points to the political reality in Russia today.  As is the case in most countries – including by the way the US – there is scant interest in politics at a regional level, whilst the reason Russia is politically stable is not because of the country’s institutional structure – which is its internal affair – but because the government is popular and enjoys legitimacy.

(4) The report gives an extraordinarily elliptical and mendacious account of the causes of the 2008 South Ossetia war

Leading up to August 2008, tensions had been growing in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, regions that had been contested since Georgia’s independence in 1991. South Ossetian separatists shelled Georgian villages in early August, which led to the deployment of the Georgian military to the area.417 The Russian military responded by pushing the Georgian troops out of South Ossetia with a heavy assault of tanks.418 It soon became clear that the Russian attack was not limited to just conventional military means, but was much more comprehensive in scope

This completely ignores the fact that the EU’s Independent Fact Finding Mission Report headed by the Swiss lawyer Heidi Tagliavini, though making severe criticisms of Russia’s conduct during the war, nonetheless concluded that it was Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili not Russia who started the war.

As it happens Vladimir Putin was away in Beijing attending the 2008 Summer Olympics at the time when the war started.  That is hardly consistent with him planning or indeed expecting the war to start when it did.

(5) The report in a lengthy appendix discussing the Russian Olympic doping scandal treats the Russian government’s involvement in the doping of Russian athletes as proved. However the International Olympic Committee’s own investigation of this claim says quite clearly that it has not been proved.  See my detailed discussion here.

These are just five examples taken at random where the report simply ignores contrary evidence in order to make its case.

Anyone willing to plough through the 200 plus pages of the report is welcome to do so if they wish to find others.

The report is also characterised by some quite remarkable leaps of logic.

For example the fact that President Putin and Russia are extremely popular in Bulgaria is President Putin’s and Russia’s fault.  President Putin and Russia are also somehow to blame for the fact that there is massive corruption in Ukraine.

Presumably President Putin and Russia should be working to make themselves unpopular in Bulgaria, and presumably they also control Ukraine’s anti-corruption endeavours and are responsible for their failure despite the intense hostility to Russia of the current Ukrainian government.

The report in fact harps on the subject of “Russian corruption” to a frankly unhinged degree.

Not only are Putin and Russia corrupt but they ‘export’ corruption everywhere so that corruption wherever it happens whether in Ukraine or elsewhere is caused by them.

By way of example the political conflict in Catalonia is not the result of internal tensions within Catalonia.  It is the result of a plan by corrupt Russian businessmen and organised crime chiefs to gain control of Catalonia in order to secure the wealth they have hidden there, and to gain control of Catalonia’s economy by driving out the Spanish and European firms which were formerly based there.

The association of Russia with corruption highlights another fact about the report.

It begins with the common ritual statement that its quarrel is with President Putin and his “regime” and not with the Russian people

…..it is important to draw a distinction between Mr. Putin’s corrupt regime and the people of Russia. Many Russian citizens strive for a transparent, accountable government that operates under the democratic rule of law, and we hold hope for better relations in the future with a Russian government that reflects these demands.

In practice, as the obsession with Russian corruption all too clearly shows, the report finds it impossible to sustain this claim.  Hostility not just to Putin and his “regime” but to Russia itself is in fact present in every paragraph.

Thus the report contains a lengthy and tendentious discussion of Soviet disinformation activities during the Cold War though their relevance to what President Putin and his government are doing today is not obvious.

However the Soviets who carried out these disinformation activities were (mainly) Russians, which is obviously the reason the report discusses them at such length.

In other words Russians always and invariably engage in disinformation: they did so during the Cold War at the time of the USSR, and – because they are Russians – they are doing so again now.

Even the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture both at home and abroad is somehow sinister, as if the promotion of Russian culture is in itself sinister

Under Putin, the Kremlin has engaged and boosted cultural forces and religious institutions inside Russia to provide an additional bulwark against the democratic values and actors it paints as anathema to the country’s interests….

The Kremlin funds, directly or indirectly, a number of government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks throughout Russia and Europe. These groups carry out a number of functions, from disseminating pro-Kremlin views to seeking to influence elections abroad.

Following a series of ‘‘color revolutions’’ in former Soviet Union republics like Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, in 2006 the Russian government established the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots, which is responsible for coordinating the activities of Russian organizations abroad and their communications with the Kremlin.

Some GONGOs that receive and disburse funds from the Kremlin, such as the Russkiy Mir Foundation and Rossotrudnichestvo, established in 2007 and 2008, are headquartered in Russia but have branches throughout the EU, and are led by senior Russian political figures like the foreign minister or the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the parliament.

Kremlin-linked oligarchs also sit on the boards of many of the GONGOs.

Based on conservative estimates from publicly available data, the Kremlin spends about $130 million a year through foundations like Rossotrudnichestvo and the Gorchakov fund, and, in 2015, channeled another $103 million in presidential grants to NGOs; after including support from state enterprises and private companies, however, actual funding levels may be much higher.

Most of the Russian government’s funding is focused on post-Soviet ‘’swing states’’ like Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, but Kremlin-supported groups also operate in the Baltic states and the Balkans, especially Serbia and Bulgaria.

The Russkiy Mir Foundation which is referred to here is a cultural foundation and is Russia’s equivalent of the British Council and Germany’s Goethe Institute.

Rossotrudnichestvo is a Russian government agency concerned with administering civilian foreign aid programmes, principally within the territories of the former USSR.

The Gorchakov Fund is a publicly funded body intended to support Russian diplomacy (Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and former Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov are both trustees).

There is no justification for conflating the work of Rossotrudnichestvo and of the Gorchakov Fund with the quite different work of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, and it misrepresents the nature of the Russkiy Mir Foundation to do so.

Consistent with its hostility to the Russian government’s efforts to support Russian culture is the report’s intense and frankly sinister hostility to the Orthodox Church, to which the report devotes a whole chapter.  Thus we read

One prominent example is the strong ties that Putin and his inner circle have forged with the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliates.

The Russian Orthodox Church enjoys special recognition under Russian law, while in contrast, laws such as the 2006 NGO laws and the 2016 ‘‘Yarovaya’’ package of counterterrorism laws have enabled pressure against non-Russian Orthodox religious entities through cumbersome registration processes and administrative constraints, restrictions on proselytizing, and expanded surveillance.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department has reported that the Russian state has provided security and official vehicles to the Russian Orthodox patriarch (but not to other religious leaders) and noted reports that the Russian Orthodox Church has been a ‘‘primary beneficiary’’ of presidential grants ostensibly designed to reduce NGO dependence on foreign funding.103 In return for the state’s favor, the Russian Orthodox Church has promoted Putin and the state’s policies at multiple turns.

A former editor of the official journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliated churches outside the country) told The New York Times in 2016 that ‘‘The [Russian Orthodox] church has become an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to extend and legitimize the interests of the Kremlin.’’

This is noteworthy given Putin’s roots in the KGB—the tip of the Soviet spear in restricting religious activity during the Communist era—and it reflects a careful cultivation of his identity as a man of faith and a defender of the Orthodox faithful.

The image of Putin as defender of traditional religious and cultural values has also been leveraged by the Kremlin ‘‘as both an ideology and a source of influence abroad.’’

In projecting itself as ‘‘the natural ally of those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights,’’ the Russian government has been able to mobilize some Orthodox actors in places like Moldova and Montenegro to vigorously oppose integration with the West…..

Just as the Kremlin has strengthened its relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church and used it to bolster its standing at home, the Russian Orthodox Church also serves as its proxy abroad, and the two institutions [Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Orthodox Church – AM] have several overlapping foreign policy objectives……

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also used Kirill to promote a relativistic view of human rights at the United Nations, arranging for him to give a speech in 2008 (before he was Patriarch) at the UN Human Rights Council, where he bemoaned that ‘‘there is a strong influence of feministic views and homosexual attitudes in the formulation of rules, recommendations and programs in human rights advocacy.’’

According to a report by Chatham House, in Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia, Orthodox parent committees, modelled on similar Russian Orthodox committees, have launched attacks on LGBT and feminist groups.

These committees ‘‘claim that gender equality is a Western construct intended to spread homosexuality in Eastern Europe, blaming the United States and the EU for the decay of ‘moral health’ in the respective societies.’’

The Russian Orthodox Church also enjoys strong financial backing from Kremlin-linked oligarchs Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, who are both under U.S. sanctions.

In Bulgaria and Romania, the Kremlin even allegedly coopted Orthodox priests to lead anti-fracking protests.

In Moldova, senior priests have worked to halt the country’s integration with Europe (leading anti-homosexual protests and even claiming that new biometric passports for the EU were ‘’satanic’’ because they had a 13-digit number), and priests in Montenegro led efforts to block the country from joining NATO.

These comments paint Orthodox priests and believers everywhere and not just in Russia as proxies of the Kremlin, denying them any independent agency – at least when they speak out against Western cultural practices and US policies – and representing them as enemies of democracy.

To which all I can say is that Western attitudes to the Orthodox Church have witnessed an extraordinary reversal within my lifetime.

During the Soviet period the Orthodox Church was the heroic victim of Soviet persecution.  Today it is the despicable handmaiden of Russian power. The one constant is Western hostility to the Russian government.  That never changes.

The greater part of the report is however taken up with the now standard accusations about Russia’s supposed disinformation strategy and the way Russian media agencies like RT and Sputnik are supposedly destabilising the West and are interfering in Western political processes.

There are the usual calls to counter and censor these agencies and to police social media and the internet in order to discredit or eliminate these pro-Russian voices, “pro-Russian” in this context being anyone anywhere who voices any criticisms of the foreign policy of the United States or who makes any criticisms of its domestic conditions, even if that person is an American.

This harping on Russia’s disinformation strategy is every bit as obsessive as everything else in the report.

Its starting point is the belief that Russians – including of course the Russian media – have no right to hold or express views on any question which disagree with those of the US government.

That in turn leads inexorably to the assumption that when Russians do express such views they must be acting in bad faith.

The totalitarian nature of this reasoning is obvious, but the Democratic Senators who have authored the report seem oblivious to it.

Reading the report it is in fact quite clear that its authors believe that ‘disinformation’ is what Russians do, so that the Russians are ultimately responsible for all ‘disinformation’ wherever it takes place.  Thus if a false story appears anywhere on the internet it must be the Russians who are to blame for it.

Moreover since no right thinking person could ever agree with the Russians on any issue – and certainly not on any issue which involves criticism of or disagreement with the US government – it follows that anyone who does so must be either a Russian agent or a “useful idiot”.

This is not just totalitarian thinking; it is also profoundly paranoid thinking.  At one level it demonstrates an astonishing loss of nerve.  During the Cold War it was the Soviets who placed restrictions on the flow of information.  Now the reverse is happening.  It is however the paranoia which stands out.

This is all the more ironic in that the report actually contains a chapter entitled “the Kremlin’s paranoid pathology”.

This chapter despite its title in fact contains only one passage which discusses Russian beliefs in order to show that they are paranoid

Putin’s regime and most of the Russian people view the history of the late 20th century and early 21st century in a starkly different light than most of the West does. The historical narrative popular in Russia paints this period as one of repeated attempts by the West to undermine and humiliate Russia.

In reality, the perceived aggression of the United States and the West against Russia allows Putin to ignore his domestic failures and present himself as the leader of a wartime nation: a ‘‘Fortress Russia.’’

This narrative repeatedly flogs core themes like enemy encirclement, conspiracy, and struggle, and portrays the United States, NATO, and Europe as conspiring to encircle Russia and make it subservient to the West. As part of this supposed conspiracy, the EU goes after former Soviet lands like Ukraine, and Western spies use civil society groups to meddle in and interfere with Russian affairs.

(bold italics added)

This is the only passage in the report which admits that the Russian people and President Putin and the Russian government on a specific issue believe one and the same thing.

The problem with this passage is however that the Russian beliefs it discusses cannot be described as paranoid for the simple reason that Russians are right to believe them.

Recently declassified documents have now confirmed what in truth has been known all along: that the West promised Russia on multiple occasions that NATO would not be extended eastwards, and that the West subsequently broke this promise.

Western interference in Ukraine is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact.

So is Western interference in Russian domestic politics, with Time magazine for example openly bragging about the US’s role in engineering Boris Yeltsin’s fraudulent election victory in 1996.

By contrast believing that stories which appear in the Russian media and the relatively small number of often contradictory social media messages which are claimed to originate in Russia can have any significant impact on Western political processes is paranoid, as is constantly harping on about supposed Russian misdeeds even when evidence has appeared which proves they are not true (see above).

What then is the significance of this strange report?

At its most basic, the report must be seen as a shot in the bitter partisan conflict which is currently raging in the US between President Trump and his Democratic Party opponents.

That the primary target of the report is actually President Trump – who continues to say that he wants better relations with Russia – is confirmed by these words in the report

Following attacks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, U.S. presidents have rallied the country and the world to address the challenges facing the nation. Yet the current President of the United States has barely acknowledged the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s repeated attacks on democratic governments and institutions, let alone exercised the kind of leadership history has shown is necessary to effectively counter this kind of aggression.

Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president.

The threat posed by Mr. Putin’s meddling existed before the current U.S. Administration, and may well extend beyond it. Yet, as this report will demonstrate, the Russian government’s malign influence operations can be deterred.

Several countries in Europe took notice of the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and realized the danger posed to their democracies. They have taken steps to build resilience against Mr. Putin’s aggression and interference, and the range of effective measures implemented by European countries provide valuable lessons for the United States.

To that end, this report recommends a series of actions that the United States should take across government, civil society, and the private sector—and in cooperation with our allies—to push back against the Kremlin’s aggression and establish a set of long-term norms that can neutralize such efforts to undermine democracy.

Yet it must be noted that without leadership from the President, any attempt to marshal such a response will be inherently weakened at the outset

(bold italics added)

The trouble is that the paranoid language of the report shows that the Democratic Party Senators who have authored it believe what they say.

They are not conjuring up an invented threat from Russia in order to attack Donald Trump. Rather their reason for attacking Donald Trump is first and foremost because he does not share their paranoid view of Russia.

To suppose otherwise would be both complacent and wrong.

That makes the prospect of any rapprochement taking place between the US and Russia in any foreseeable future extremely improbable, to put it mildly.

Even if this is only a minority report, the fact that it has not been ridiculed and criticised across the US for the paranoid and preposterous document that it is shows the extent to which paranoia about Russia within the US elite has become universal and internalised.

Paranoia of this intensity is not susceptible to reason or argument, and it is all but impossible to see how a rapprochement between the US and Russia is possible when there are so many powerful people in the US who hold these views.

The report also shows the intense pressure Donald Trump is under to be even tougher with Russia than the US already is.

As well as demanding the banning or restriction of “pro-Russian” voices in the media and on the internet, the authors of the report press for intensified confrontation with Russia on every possible front.

They want more military spending to confront Russia, more military deployments close to Russia’s borders, more interference in Russian domestic processes, more efforts to block Russian oil and gas exports to Europe, they want Nord Stream 2 cancelled, and they demand an almost certainly illegal prohibition on US citizens buying Russian sovereign debt.

Even if some of these demands are unworkable or are resisted, the pressure is so intense that some of them at least are likely to be implemented, whilst the prospect of any relaxation of the restrictions which are already in place quite simply is not there.

In the longer term it is difficult to avoid being deeply disturbed by all this.

Back on 12th October 2016 I wrote an article for The Duran discussing how racism against Russians has become the one form of racism which continues to be acceptable in the West, and how this racism and the ugly stereotyping of Russians to which it gives rise is dangerous because it lowers the threshold where violence against Russians becomes acceptable.

This report – with its hostile attitude towards the spread of Russian culture and to the Russian Orthodox Church, and its depiction of corruption, aggression, disinformation and organised crime activity as peculiarly Russian activities – is a case in point.

It is inconceivable that such a report could be written about the cultural, religious and information policies of any other other country – Israel or China are obvious example – without this provoking a furious outcry. By contrast in the case of Russia such a report not only can be published; it is widely treated as authoritative and goes unchallenged.

What the report shows is how far these anti-Russian attitudes which can be accurately called racist – and which President Putin has recently compared to anti-semitism – have become internalised even at the highest levels of the US government and of the US political elite, so that it is not only possible but even respectable to repeat them there.

That is a very worrying fact, and it is impossible to see how it can end any way but badly.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Western Journalists Threaten Venezuela

Whitewashing a vile opposition leadership for decades makes military invasion a possibility

By Joe Emersberger | teleSUR | January 9, 2018

“Venezuela opposition looks to military to oust Maduro. Dream on” says the headline to an article by John Otis in the Guardian. “Having failed to dislodge President Nicolás Maduro, the opposition is openly talking of a coup but mutual benefit links the military with the ruling party” reads the subheading.

Otis cites opposition leaders Julio Borges, Maria Corina Machado and former Economist “journalist” Phil Gunson who is now with the International Crisis Group.

Borges and Machado, and the most prominent opposition leaders today (Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez) supported five different attempts to oust Venezuela’s democratically elected government by force. Otis doesn’t write a word about any of those attempts in his article. He thereby prevents readers from understanding why the opposition has suffered so many electoral defeats in Venezuela’s “chavista” era of the last 20 years. It has nothing to do with “undemocratic maneuvers” by the Venezuelan government as Otis suggests. In Otis’ own country, an opposition leadership like Venezuela’s – violent and foreign-funded – would have been immediately imprisoned and never seen or heard from again.

The most successful attempt to oust Venezuela’s government by force was a military coup in 2002 that briefly succeeded. It ousted Hugo Chavez for 2 days. It was backed by the Bush administration and prominent US media. It was also supported, tacitly, by the Labour government of Tony Blair, a key contributor to war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and a man whom the Guardian still makes periodic efforts to rehabilitate.

The most embarrassingly supportive of the 2002 coup was the New York Times editorial board that gushed over Pedro Carmona, the businessman turned dictator who fired Supreme Court justices, dismissed elected officials, and annulled the constitution voters had ratified in a referendum. Phil Gunson, like so many other corporate journalists based in Venezuela at the time, parroted the opposition’s propaganda during the coup. About 60 Chavez government supporters who rose up against Carmon’s dictatorship were killed, not that the international media cared then or now. Those deaths are routinely ignored when the coup is mentioned at all.

Months after that coup was defeated by a huge popular uprising among the poor, the opposition turned to massive sabotage of the oil industry that inflicted, at the time, the deepest economic downturn Venezuela had experienced in decades (until the current depression that began late in 2014).

In April of 2013, after the presidential election that Maduro won, Henrique Capriles led violent protests that sought to overturn the results by force. Those protests led to the deaths of several government supporters.

Early in 2014, shortly after suffering a big defeat in municipal elections, violent protests with the explicit aim of overthrowing the government were led by Machado and Lopez. They led to about 40 deaths; about half were government supporters, police or bystanders.

In 2016, violent protests led to 120 deaths. To the extent the facts are known, it appears the breakdown of the deaths is about the same as in 2014, with government supporters, police and bystanders accounting for roughly half the deaths.

Borges and other opposition leaders have constantly winked at another coup attempt like the one they briefly pulled off in 2002 by making direct veiled appeals to the military. While violent protests raged in 2014, Borges made such an appeal on Venezuela’s largest TV network (at about the 6:20 point of this video ). Borges turned to the cameras and said “…. A message to the armed forces: we know you are against the repression that is happening in Venezuela and that you want a constitution that will be respected….”

The hubris of Borges and other leaders has been greatly exacerbated by the overwhelming support they have received from the US government, the international corporate media and prominent NGOs. Borges recently likened Venezuelan migrants to infectious disease. He has openly boasted in Venezuelan media, where he very regularly appears, of having success blocking the government’s access to loans. In other words, Borges has bragged about making an economic crisis worse, a tactic opposed by most Venezuelans according to an opposition aligned pollster – and essentially confirmed by recent election results.

Otis’ article dismisses the Maduro government’s anti-corruption campaign, which has ensnared long time officials, as politically motivated. One can never discount political motivations in any government’s “anti-corruption” initiatives, but when perhaps the most brutal and backward government on earth, Saudi Arabia’s, launched a comically bogus “crackdown on corruption”, the Guardian published “news articles” that may as well have been written by the dictatorship. That these “news articles” brought no public protest from within the Guardian’s ranks, or resignations, speaks to how well-heeled and thoroughly “bought” liberal journalism is in the UK. Of course, hyping “reform” within Saudi Arabia has been done by the western media for several decades.

The positive or negative press a government gets in the western media has nothing to do with its record on democracy or human rights. It has everything to with whether or not western elites view it as sufficiently cooperative. Prominent Venezuelan opposition voices are now openly advocating foreign military invasion. If it happens, reporters like Otis and outlets the Guardian should be held primarily responsible. Two decades of relentless demonization of a democratically elected government have been essential to making that crime a possibility.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Ecuador and Assange

By Craig Murray | January 12, 2018

It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian citizen. It is for the government of Ecuador, not the UK, to determine who is an Ecuadorian diplomat.

It is not in the least unusual for Julian Assange to become an Ecuadorian citizen. Having been granted political asylum, and having lived for over five years under Ecuadorian jurisdiction, naturalisation is a perfectly normal step. There are a great many refugees in this country who are now naturalised UK citizens. Julian appears suitably proud of his new citizenship, and rightly so.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office appears to be putting out a story that it has refused to accredit Assange as an Ecuadorian diplomat. As the Guardian reports:

“Earlier this week the UK’s Foreign Office revealed that Ecuador had asked for Assange, who was born in Australia, to be accredited as a diplomat. The request was dismissed.”

I have no knowledge that the Ecuadorian government ever notified Assange as a member of diplomatic staff of its mission. But it has every right to appoint Assange, now an Ecuadorian citizen, as an Ecuadorian diplomat if it so chooses. Ecuador cannot tell the UK who may or may not be a British diplomat, and the converse applies.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – to which the UK and Ecuador are both party – is the governing international law and determines the obligations to respect diplomatic immunity. It is crystal clear (Article 4,1) that the need to obtain agreement in advance of the receiving state only applies to the Head of Mission – ie the Ecuadorian Ambassador. For other staff of the mission the sending state (in this case, Ecuador) “may freely appoint” the other members of the mission, (Article 7), subject to provisos in Articles 5,8,9 and 11. Plainly the only one of these which applies in the Assange case is Article 9. Julian Assange is persona non grata – unwelcome -to the UK government. That is a legitimate reply to notification, but comes following the appointment; it does not pre-empt the appointment.

Here is the key point. A member of staff below head of mission can already have entered the country before appointment, and their diplomatic immunity starts from the moment their appointment is notified, and NOT from the moment it is accepted. Article 39 (i) could not be plainer:

1.Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters
the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from
the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry
as may be agreed.

So to summarise.

There is no requirement for prior approval before arrival of staff below Ambassador, and it is just a notification regime (Article 10). If the FCO is telling the truth and Ecuador notified the UK of its appointment of Julian Assange as a member of diplomatic staff, the UK can only have refused by declaring Assange persona non grata. That does not remove his diplomatic immunity which started the moment he was notified. It continues until he has been given the chance to leave the country in “a reasonable time”. (Article 9.2, and 39.2).

The immunity of envoys has been universally regarded as essential to inter-state relations for thousands of years. The reasons why that immunity must start at notification are obvious if you think it through. The FCO bragging about refusing the alleged Ecuadorian request has been carried in virtually the entire neo-liberal media. Not one article, anywhere, has reflected anything approaching the applicable legal arguments. I am again left wondering whether mainstream media journalists are simply entirely incompetent, or deeply corrupt.

I suppose both.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments