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How 1960’s French Nuclear Tests Are Still Claiming Lives in Algeria

Sputnik – 15.02.2018

On February 13, 1960, France carried out its first nuclear test in Algeria’s southern Reggane region. According to official statistics, 17 nuclear tests were carried out in total over the next 6 years. The area remains affected, and local scientists say that radioactive contamination has caused genetic mutations and irreversibly changed the region.

There are no official statistics on the number of victims. The only figures can be found in the records kept by the French representative of the local church, which lists 42,000 victims of nuclear tests. Three years ago, the French Ministry of Defense issued a statement, putting the number at 27,000 people. The victims include French soldiers as well as local Algerians who lived in the surrounding areas.

However, these figures do not take into account the untimely deaths of the descendants of these people, who were affected by cancer and other nuclear radiation-related illnesses. To this day, the contaminated areas pose a danger to life and health.

A representative of the ‘Desert Detainees’ (a community of people who served sentences in prisons located in the desert regions of Algeria from 1992 to 1996), Nureddin Mauhub, said that many prisoners were exposed to radiation while serving their sentences in jails in the desert.

Nuclear engineer Ammar Mansuri told the newspaper Arabi al-Jadid, that in fact, there were more nuclear tests carried out in Algeria.

“France conducted 13 underground nuclear tests, 4 ground tests, 4 plutonium tests and 35 other tests,” he said.

According to him, the nuclear tests documentation was passed on to the Algerian government only 10 years ago.

Some of the documents are still classified. For these reasons, no systematic observations or studies have been conducted in the area in the past century. Therefore, no timely measures were taken to reduce the negative impact on the environment. It is difficult to say how the level of contamination has changed over the past decades and what to expect in the future.

The Algerian government claims that the contaminated area is more than 100 square km, according to the Al-Arabi al-Jadid website. However, problems aren’t limited to this exclusion zone. The desert winds carry contaminated particles to formally clean areas. There’s now a need to study the level of radiation in the desert to accurately determine the boundaries of the contaminated area.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders Hits on Winning Message He Avoided in 2016

By David Swanson | CounterPunch | February 15, 2018

video has shown up on Senator Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page, with his name on it and his face in it making all the familiar (to a small number of people) points about U.S. military spending (how much it is, how it compares to the rest of the world, how it does not produce jobs, what wonders could be achieved with a small fraction of it, etc.).

I wish there were mention of the fact that it kills huge numbers of people, or that it risks apocalypse, or that it damages the earth’s environment. I wish the alternatives proposed were not all of the bring-our-war-dollars-home variety, as if the amount of money under consideration were not enough to radically transform this and every other country.

Still, had Sanders put out this video in 2015, tens of thousands of people wouldn’t have had to petition him in vain to oppose militarism, to fill the glaring gap in his website. I wouldn’t have had to write this or this or even this.

Sanders willingly subjected himself to endless accusations of raising taxes, rather than declare that he would push for a small cut in military spending. Jeremy Corbyn has had greater success — albeit in a different country — by taking the other approach. I continue to think Sanders is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s not as if Sanders doesn’t know the issues. A half-century back he would have said something very close to what I want to hear. There’s no reason why he can’t do so now. But I’m afraid that this video may have slipped through because there’s not a presidential election this year, and that such things will be nowhere to be found in the years ahead.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that Sanders actually declares himself in favor of a serious transfer of resources from militarism to human and environmental needs. As soon as he does, I’ll start advocating for all of us to work for his election. He can keep promoting the Russiagate nonsense that was primarily invented to distract from the story of the DNC cheating him. He can publicly commit to allowing the DNC to cheat him again. He can ask Saudi Arabia again to kill even more people. But if he comes out against the military budget, that’s the big one. He will deserve the support he could have had last time.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

Sideshows & Distractions While the Zombie Media Cheer & US Start Killing Russians in Syria

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | February 15, 2018

Whether “mercenries” or “special forces”, whether “only four” or “hundreds”, it’s incredibly dangerous that the illegal US Syria occupation force is killing Russians

It’s a story that isn’t getting as much coverage as it should, but American soldiers have allegedly killed “dozens” of Russian “mercenaries” in an attack on pro-Government forces in eastern Syria.

The numbers vary according to source. Some put them in single figures, some say “hundreds”. Some say they were special forces. Some say “mercenaries.” The Kremlin is vague and non-commital, so are the Pentagon & State Department. But no one is denying that Russians have been killed by the US Army.

Couple that with the second attack on a “Syrian tank” yesterday, and the “new cold war” that people keep talking about just got a bit hotter.

This really happened. It is an unavoidable reality. The time has come for people to truly wake up, because American fantasies are in danger of destroying the real world.

But the western media who are bothering to cover this seem entirely unaware of its meaning or even its historical significance. Alec Luhn in the Telegraph describes the incident as the “deadliest” confrontation between the two nations “since the Cold War”, as if he believes the 1950s-80s were seeing the Soviet Union & NATO taking pot shots at each other on a regular basis. He simply does not understand that rigid rules of engagement once existed specifically to avoid this kind of thing. Because back then the US military & State Department was run by people who understood what MAD (“mutually assured destruction”) actually meant. That neither they, nor journos such as Luhn have any comprehension of this any more is the most dangerous thing in this dangerous situation.

Luhn and other western journalists seem to believe a potential nuclear holocaust is a relic from the past, a thing that can no longer happen, or that if it does it will be “somewhere else”. Growing up with years of phoney “wars” with countries barely able to defend themselves has lulled these people into a sense of absolute safety and invulnerability. They believe war is a video game they can watch from the security and comfort of their living room and comment about in smug soundbites on Twitter.

By the time they realise their mistake it will probably be too late.

But let’s have a quick reality check.

These things didn’t  happen

The Russian’s did not hack the American election.
That did not happen, the entire machinery of American bureaucracy has been working overtime to attempt to prove this story true. They have found nothing. If they had even the tiniest shred of evidence, it would be being pasted onto 20 foot tall billboards.

The hysterical social media-based screaming about Trump being “Putin’s man”, or the “Siberian” candidate, or any other ridiculous label needs to stop, because while people are talking about non-problems, the American deep state is causing REAL problems.

Do a results based analysis. If Trump had been put in power by the Kremlin… why would he promote increased NATO funding? Why would he be overhauling American nuclear weapons? Why would he be carrying out airstrikes in Syria, that kill Russian nationals? Trump has not made a single move to de-escalated the new conflict with Russia. The opposite. He has made the situation worse at every juncture, despite his campaign promises to work together. That fact alone disproves the “Russian interference” meme.

Assad did not gas his people.
There has never been any proof that either the attack on Ghouta or Idlib was carried out by the SAA, or under Assad’s orders. Quite the contrary, weapons experts have spoken out against those accusations, many times. Even the US Defense Sec. recently admitted:

We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used… We do not have evidence of it.

In contrast, America’s own military admit that they have been using depleted uranium shells in Syria. The claimed moral authority of the US and NATO does not exist.

The White Helmets are not “non-partisan aid workers” or selfless heroes.
The White Helmets receive funding from US and UK governments, this is not disputed. They operate only within “rebel” held areas, and associate with globally recognised terrorist groups.

These things did  happen

Bashar Al-Assad won a Presidential election.
Far from being a dictator with no democratic mandate, Assad won an election in 2014. Assad is the legitimate president of Syria. All polls carried out over the years since the war started have shown a large majority support their President. One in 2012, 2013, and 2017. Some of the polls were carried out by NATO powers. There is no question that Assad has the support of most Syrians.

America has been planning regime change in Syria for years.
In a now famous 2007 interview, Gen. Wesley Clark of the US Army stated that he was given a list of countries that the US was planning to “hit”. Those 7 countries were Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran… and Syria. Of those 7 counties, only 2 are still standing in one piece, Iran and Syria…and Syria only just. It’s perfectly clear that Syria has been in America’s crosshairs for a long time.

ISIS et al are funded by the West and their allies.
ISIS are the excuse for all of America’s military personnel on the ground in Syria. They are the reason for “coalition” air strikes. But they are the creation of American intelligence. No one disputes that the CIA armed and trained the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, in order to undermine the USSR. No one disputes that the Contras in Nicaragua were armed and trained by the CIA also. Cuba and Chile likewise. Arming and training extremists (whether religious or political) to fight proxy wars has been the American MO for decades. Leaked e-mails show that ISIS, al-Nusra and their ilk are exactly the same, therefore any claims that America are in Syria to defeat ISIS are proven lies.

America (and Israel) are in breach of international law.
Syria is a sovereign state, it is illegal to perform military operations on the territory of a sovereign state without permission of the government of said state. This is the basic premise of all international law. War is a crime, to declare war on another state without approval of the UNSC is illegal under international law. To fund, train or arm mercenaries in order to fight a proxy war is also illegal under international law. You cannot shoot down Syrian jets over Syrian airspace. You cannot perform “defensive” air strikes against Syrian soldiers, in Syria, whilst being on their land illegally. Any such attacks are de facto war crimes.

Russia and Iran, on the other hand, are operating on Syrian soil at the express invitation of the legitimate Syrian government. In terms of international law, there is no question as to who is in the wrong.

It’s very important that this fact doesn’t get lost.

*

In 2013, as the world was priming for another (illegal) NATO war in the middle east, people prevented it. People stood up. The wounds of Iraq and Libya were still fresh. Ed Milliband was uncharacteristically principled. The Russians stepped in to mediate. War, for the moment was averted, because people were aware and spoke out.

This time, they’re not asking our permission, they’re not trying to persuade us or deceive us. They are distracting us. The Oscars and the Olympics and Brexit and Oxfam and ‘hate speech’ and #MeToo…none of it ultimately matters. Side shows, a three ring circus with an orange clown in the centre ring.

Behind these distractions, the deep state moves, declaring their intentions openly for anyone with eyes willing to see or ears to hear. The machine is moving toward war, a war far more dangerous than Iraq or Libya. Potentially global. Potentially devastating. Potentially final.

The above are the basic facts of the Syria conflict, they cannot be refuted. They must be repeated and spread. The fantasies need to be put aside and the realities understood. We can’t afford to keep our eyes shut, and stopper our ears, as we let a delusional American elite, and their zombified spokespeople in the MSM, push us toward a global war.

The only way to stop it is to be aware. Luhn and his fellow stenographer-journalists are clueless in the face of potential catastrophe. They are not going to be speaking truth to anyone. We have to do this ourselves.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Taliban Letter to the American People

Full text in English of the Taliban “Letter to the American People” published February 14, 2018

Letter of the Islamic Emirate to the American people!

The American people, officials of independent non-governmental organizations and the peace loving Congressmen!

With the hope that you will read this letter prudently and will evaluate the future of American forces and your profit and loss inside Afghanistan in light of the prevailing realities alluded to in the following lines!

The American people!

You realize that your political leadership launched a military invasion of our country 17 years ago. This invasion was not only contrary to the legal and national norms of our own sovereign country but also a violation of all international rules and regulations, but still the following three main points were put forward by your authorities to justify this illegitimate invasion:

1. Establishing security by eliminating the so called terrorists inside Afghanistan.
2. Restoring law and order by establishing a legal government.
3. Eradicating narcotics.

However let us analyze how successful your war-monger leaders were in achieving the above three slogans in this illegitimate war?

Increased insecurity and fighting:

In 2001 when your ex-president George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, his justification for that felonious act was the elimination the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) and Al-Qaeda.

But despite continuing this bloody war for seventeen years and accepting huge casualties and financial losses, your current president Donald Trump – to continue the illegal 17 year old war in Afghanistan – acknowledged increased insecurity and emergence of multiple groups instead of the single unified Islamic Emirate (Taliban).

This was stated by Trump while declaring his new war strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia on 23rd August 2017 and seventeen years later, again ordered the perpetuation of the same illegitimate occupation and war against the Afghan people. Since your authorities admit the presence of multiple warring factions inside Afghanistan, it verifies our claim that by invading Afghanistan and overthrowing a unified responsible government of Taliban, the Americans have merely paved the way for anarchy in the country.

No matter what title or justification is presented by your undiscerning authorities for the war in Afghanistan, the reality is that tens of thousands of helpless Afghans including women and children were martyred by your forces, hundreds of thousands were injured and thousands more were incarcerated in Guantanamo, Bagram and various other secret jails and treated in such a humiliating way that has not only brought shame upon humanity but is also a violation of all claims of American culture and civilization.

In this lopsided war and as confirmed by your own military authorities, 3546 American and foreign soldiers have been killed, more than 20,000 American forces injured and tens of thousands more are suffering mentally but in reality the amount of your casualties is several times higher and is deliberately being concealed by your leaders. Similarly this war has cost you trillions of dollars thus making it one of the bloodiest, longest and costliest war in the contemporary history of your country.

Chaos and the most corrupt regime:

Even though it is not the duty of America to draft laws and suggest systems for other countries but nevertheless, the second excuse of George W. Bush for the invasion of Afghanistan was to establish a supposed legitimate government. But despite seventeen years of war costing thousands of American and coalition lives and billions of dollars, such a system has taken root in Afghanistan which has achieved the following administrative, legal, military and political records:

Number one internationally in administrative and financial corruption.
Number one internationally in violating human rights.
Number one internationally in usurping of land and embezzling international aid.
Number one internationally in violence against women, etc. etc.

The latest example of the corrupt regime formed in the wake of American invasion is the presence of a two-headed system which is unparalleled in the established laws of forming a government throughout the world.

Production and expansion of narcotics:

The third justification of George W. Bush to invade Afghanistan was the prevention and eradication of narcotics. Let us examine the amount and levels of production and expansion of the narcotic trade in Afghanistan after seventeen year war effort?

According to the data provided by UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes) – prior to the American invasion – poppy was cultivated only on 185 hectors land of Afghanistan and only in areas controlled by anti-Taliban forces whereas the level of heroin addiction among Afghans was next to nil. But following the American invasion of Afghanistan, poppy cultivation skyrocketed from 185 hectors to 328,000 hectors while under the shadow of seventeen year occupation, the number of drug addicts has reached 3 million people.

On 21st December 2017, the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes) reported that drug production increased by 87% and poppy cultivation increased by 63% during the year 2017, thus mounting the total production of narcotics to 9000 metric tons.

The American people!

You proclaim to be a developed and civilized nation of the world. Since the imposed government in Afghanistan is established by you therefore we leave it to your judgment to decide – according to your logic and conscience – whether the present system and its pertinent changes, insecurity, chaos and 87% increase in narcotics are reforms or crimes against humanity?

Your authorities proclaim that tens of billions of dollars have been spent on various reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Of course this is the same money which is collected from you as taxes and revenues, but here it has been distributed among thieves and murderers.

Do you agree that the hard earned money of your labor should be wasted on such a corrupt system where in only one criminal case, $900 million were stolen from Kabul Bank by corrupt officials?

Do you consider it the rule of law in American culture and lexicon where the first deputy of a government is a person involved in the felonious act of sexual assault on a 70-year-old man besides hundreds of other crimes against humanity?

Is this the civilization, modernity and rule of law proclaimed by you in the world?

Were your 3546 forces killed in Afghanistan to establish and empower such a system?

Can your scholars, intellectuals and unbiased analysts produce an answer to our questions?

You must understand that our people are living, watching and closely analyzing all these calamities and that is why the regime working under the shadow of your military support and the corrupt elements assembled therein are not looked upon as a legitimate government rather they are considered a band of usurpers, looters, mafia warlords and drug-dealers while at the same time, the resistance against them is considered their legal, moral and national obligation. The people working alongside you to impose this system are committing treason against our nation and national interests. On the other hand, the people who waging armed resistance against your corrupt regime are the defenders of their homeland, national interests, sovereignty as well as their dignity and they are revered by the Afghan masses as their heroes. That the American media is propagating against the Afghan resistance and labelling them as foreign terrorists instead of Afghan freedom fighters, all of this is baseless propaganda aimed at concealing their own humiliating defeat. To repudiate this propaganda, we only want to say that had there been any chance of success in Afghanistan with foreign support, the American invaders and their coalition forces would definitely have succeeded due to enjoying the political and military support of a powerful country like the United States of America as well as the support of a well-equipped military alliance like NATO.

The People of America!

We would like to summarize our message to you in the following words:

The Afghans who are fighting your forces and any other invader today, this is their legal, religious and national obligation. However mighty and well-equipped your forces might be, even if supported by the entire world, this resistance will be sustained by the Afghan people due to their religious, legal and national obligation. This resistance is considered by Afghan masses as a sacred responsibility of defending their creed and country. To relinquish this sacred obligation is considered by them as abandoning Islam and all human values and this disgrace is never acceptable for any valiant Muslim Afghan individual.

Afghans have continued to burn for the last four decades in the fire of imposed wars. They are longing for peace and a just system but they will never tire from their just cause of defending their creed, country and nation against the invading forces of your war-mongering government because they have rendered all the previous and present historic sacrifices to safeguard their religious values and national sovereignty. If they make a deal on their sovereignty now, it would be unforgettable infidelity with their proud history and ancestors.

Afghanistan is a country which has maintained its independence throughout its several thousand year history. Even in the 19th and 20th century when most Muslim countries were occupied by the then European imperial powers, Afghanistan was the only country in the region to preserve its independence and despite an eighty year imperialistic endeavor, the British failed make them accept occupation. It is the same inherent zeal and historic succession in the hearts and minds of Afghan masses which presently inspires this empty-handed nation to continue protracted resistance against your occupying forces. This is not exaggeration rather irrefutable reality that today the valiant Afghan self-sacrificial attackers are competing among themselves to carry out martyrdom seeking attacks against your invading forces.

This national religious resistance of the Afghans is not a futile war, rather it is progressing everyday as various parts of the country are liberated. At this moment the head of SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) acknowledged that sixty percent of Afghan territory is under the control of Taliban (Islamic Emirate).

In 2001 during the American invasion of Afghanistan, a number of world countries came under the influence of misleading propaganda by your officials and supported the warring strategy of the then president George W. Bush. But today we see that your government has lost that international support as a number of your coalition partners have withdrawn their forces from our country by discerning the prevailing realities and they are currently seeking a political solution. The international community at large is now backing our justified resistance against the illegitimate American occupation. If your government is still insisting on perpetuating the war in Afghanistan by conjuring excuses, it will further undermine American prestige in the world.

The People of America!

In the American society where the main source of power is the masses and the authorities are elected by public votes, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – as representatives of the will of Afghan nation – asks the American people and the peace loving Congressmen to put pressure on your authorities and demand an end to the occupation of Afghanistan because stubbornly seeking the protraction of this war and existence of a corrupt and ineffective regime here in Kabul will have dreadful consequences for the region and particularly for the stability of America herself.

The Afghan masses feel pity for the whole American nation because they are being sacrificed and are losing respect through the world with each passing day solely due the war-mongering policies of a few war-mongering officials.

Your intellectuals, peace loving Congressmen and independent chiefs of civil organizations should question your authorities as to why the American people are so insecure and detested at home and abroad despite their international prestige?

For how long will your modern country and your children continue to be sacrificed for the war-mongering policies of a few war-mongering officials?

And what eventual benefit will these warring policies bring for your country?

The American People!

Your president and his military and political officials following his war policies still speak the language of war in Afghanistan. They intentionally release fake statistics for the sake of their vested interests and misguide you and the world by throwing dust in your eyes. The reality is that in contemporary world, the use of force and arms has been replaced by peaceful dialogue and wars cannot be won with lies.

Only in past September – in accordance with Trump’s new strategy – American forces used all their new powers and carried out 751 air strikes. You should ask your Generals that despite using such force, have you retaken even a single inch of land from the Taliban or have they become even more powerful.

If you do not understand the inexperienced policies of president Trump and his war-monger advisors, then look no further than his irrational decision of shifting the American embassy to from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which brought America in opposition with 128 countries of the world.

Truly it is humiliating for a civilized people like you to be confronted with such a decisive international majority. It was only due of the pursuit of policies of force which pitted majority of the world countries against America, and your authorities are still insistent upon that ridiculous policy!!

The Islamic Emirate had asked America from the very beginning to solve her issues with the Islamic Emirate through talk and dialogue. The use of force has adverse consequences, and you might have now discerned the bitter consequences of American aggression against Afghanistan. If the policy of using force is exercised for a hundred more years and a hundred new strategies are adopted, the outcome of all of these will be the same as you have observed over the last six months following the initiation of Trump’s new strategy.

According we still believe that it is not too late for the American people to understand that the Islamic Emirate – as representative of its people – can solve its problems with every side through healthy politics and dialogue. Needless use of force only complicates the issues by creating new dimensions which gradually move out of the realm of control. The Islamic Emirate is a regional power with deep roots which cannot be subdued by sheer force. The chances of dialogue however are not exhausted. The American people must understand that the Islamic Emirate understands its responsibility and can play a constructive role in finding a peaceful solution for issues but this can never mean that we are exhausted or our will has been sapped. It is our policy that logic should be given a chance before the use of force. Whatever can be achieved by logic, should not be relinquished due to the use of force. It is the moral obligation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to inform you, the American masses, about these realities.

We must state that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan undertakes legitimate efforts for the independence of our homeland. Having a sovereign country free from any foreign occupation is our natural and human right. Seeking freedom of our homeland and establishing an Islamic system conforming to the creed of our people can never be called terrorism by any law of the world. It is worth mentioning that we have no agenda of playing any destructive role in any other country and we have practically proven over the past seventeen years that we have not interfered in any other country. Likewise we will not allow anyone else to use Afghan territory against any other country. War is imposed on us, it is not our choice. Our preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogues. America must end her occupation and must accept all our legitimate rights including the right to form a government consistent with the beliefs of our people. After gaining independence, we would like to have positive and constructive relations with all countries of the world including our neighboring countries. We welcome their assistance and support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our country. We want to play a beneficial role in regional and world peace and stability, provide high standard education and employment opportunities for our people and guarantee all human and legal rights of every child, woman and man, secure our youth from drugs and all other moral indecencies, provided job opportunities to every individual such that they not leave their homeland or seek refuge abroad.

In brief, insisting on prolonging the war in Afghanistan and maintaining American troop presence is neither beneficial for America nor for anyone else, rather it endangers the stability of the entire world. This is irrefutable reality which is only rejected by your arrogant authorities. If you want peaceful dialogue with the Afghans specifically and with the world generally, then make your president and the war-mongering congressmen and Pentagon officials understand this reality and compel them to adopt a rational policy towards Afghanistan!

This will be the most constructive step for the stability of your people, the Afghans as well as the whole world.

Our only obligation is to convey (the message) to you!

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
هـ ق 1439/5/28
هـ ش 1396/11/25

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 8 Comments

Former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, at Imperialism on Trial

Eva K Bartlett | February 6, 2018

Video from RT UK’s live coverage of recent panel in Ireland.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Macron vows to bring back ‘compulsory’ national service for French youth

RT | February 14, 2018

Two decades after France scrapped compulsory military service, President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to introduce “obligatory” national service for all young people. It could also be a “civic engagement,” Macron said.

“I want a mandatory service, open to women and men,” the French leader said on Tuesday, adding that its duration could be “around three months” but could be “longer if we integrate a civic service.” The president said the service will include “a mandatory part [set to last] between three and six months, which is not yet established.”

The whole thing is “not about recreating massive barracks,” Macron noted, however.

The planned service “will be universal, will involve the entire age group, and will be mandatory,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux confirmed in an interview with Radio Classique earlier on Tuesday.

A taskforce has been created to come up with suggestions on how to implement the French leader’s plan by the end of April.

Eyebrows were raised when Macron promised during his campaign, in March 2017, to restore a “mandatory national universal service,” designed to last one month and to involve between 600,000 to 800,000 youngsters per year. This “universal military service” would have to be taken by people aged between 18 and 21 years old, he specified at the time.

Macron promised that, if elected, he would make all young people spend a month receiving “a direct experience of military life with its know-how and demands.”

“The universal national service will be a school of fraternity. It’s about giving our youth an opportunity to come together for a common goal, breaking down all social barriers,” Macron tweeted last month.

While opposition parties warned of the costs involved in training up hundreds of thousands of youngsters a year, Macron’s proposal also raised concerns in the army, stretched thin by anti-terrorism operations in the Middle East and enhanced patrols against threats at home.

Last week, Defense Minister Florence Parly cast doubt on the scope of Macron’s plan, saying it would “probably not be obligatory.”

“It will be a service that will seek to make it attractive for young to take part in…for what they learn and for what they can give to others,” she said.

France’s defense budget will increase by €1.7 billion (US$2.1 billion) a year between 2019 and 2022, the Armed Forces Ministry said earlier this month, confirming spending commitments outlined by Macron last year, Reuters reported.

From 2023, the increase is set to rise to €3 billion annually so that France can hit its NATO-agreed target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2025.

Read more:

France to pour $45bn into nukes as part of defense spending hike

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The Patheticism of U.S. Sanctions on North Korea

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | February 12, 2018

Officials of the Sheraton Hotel might be experiencing some sleepless nights as a result of what they recently did at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. A five-star Sheraton Hotel permitted Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, to stay there during her official visit to the Olympic Games. If they did that without the permission of U.S. officials, they might just find themselves the targets of severe punishment at the hands of U.S. bureaucrats.

Why might that incur the ire of U.S. officials? Because U.S. officials have Kim Yo Jong on their list of North Koreans specifically targeted for U.S. sanctions. If the Sheraton permitted her to stay there without securing the permission of U.S. officials, they might soon find that U.S. officials can be as vicious as their North Korean counterparts.

Just ask Bert Sacks, the American citizen from Washington State who dared to violate U.S. sanctions against the Iraqi people. Horrified by the high death toll among Iraqi children from the sanctions, Sachs decided to take medicines into Iraq knowing full well that he was violating the sanctions. U.S. officials went after him with a vengeance that bordered on the pathological. Fining him $10,000 for daring to violate their sacred sanctions, a fine that Sachs refused to pay, U.S. officials pursued him for more than a decade in their attempt to collect not just the fine but also extremely high penalties and interest. (For more on the remarkable story of Sack’s heroic resistance to the U.S. sanctions on the Iraqi people, see here.)

It’s what they do to anyone who dares to violate their sacred sanctions. That’s why even big and powerful international businessmen quiver and quake whenever they are faced with the possibility that they are violating U.S. sanctions. They know what U.S. officials will do them if they violate them.

Consider Samsung, for example. It has a policy of giving out smartphones to the Olympic athletes, not only as a means of communication but also so that they will be able to take photos of their Olympic experience.

Not so for the North Korean athletes, who won’t be taking any selfies home with them. No, not because they might be punished by North Korean officials for having something by which they could access the Internet but because Samsung was scared to death that they would be violating U.S. sanctions if they gave free phones to the North Korean athletes. Samsung officials were scared of what the U.S. government, not the Korean government, might do to them.

Is that pathetic or what?

That’s not all.

A North Korean 229-member cheerleading squad, consisting of an “army of beauties,” has mesmerized the crowds and the press at the Olympics. They came down from North Korea in a huge ferry, where North Korean officials required them to stay to prevent their learning too much about life in South Korea and to prevent defections.

But a big problem arose with the ferry. After it arrived, it was low on fuel and asked the South Koreans to refuel it. South Korean officials were scared to death. They just didn’t know how the U.S. government would react to what would amount to a clear violation of sanctions. According to an article in the New York Times, “As of Wednesday evening, the South had not decided whether to supply the fuel.”

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

According to the Times’ article, the sanctions problem extends to hockey sticks and uniforms. When North Korea’s hockey team showed up at a tournament in New Zealand last year, they brought their battered wooden sticks with them. The organizers lent them high-tech carbon fiber sticks but required they return them before going home for fear of what U.S. officials would do to them for violating the sanctions.

Nike is another company afraid of antagonizing the U.S. government. Despite being an official Olympics sponsor, it decided to let a Finnish company furnish the uniforms for the Korean hockey team for fear of violating the sanctions.

U.S. officials decided to be nice to Asiana Airlines. It granted the airlines permission an “exception” to the sanctions by permitting it to enter U.S. airspace after flying South Korean hockey players to train in North Korea. The sanctions require that when a plane flies into North Korea, it has to wait six months before entering U.S. airspace. Maybe U.S. officials are concerned with the spread of communist germs, which, theoretically, could lead to an expansion of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, and farm subsidies.

Vice President Pence was in attendance at the Olympics and, not surprisingly, spent all his time growling, scowling, and calling for increased enforcement of U.S. sanctions against the North Koreans. Agitated and angry over North Korea’s Olympics outreach to South Koreans, Pence was not amused by either the cheerleaders or Kim Yo Jong, who he pointedly refused to acknowledge when she was seated directly behind him during the opening ceremonies.

The last thing Pence or other U.S. officials want is for Americans to begin personalizing the North Koreans. Better that Americans continue thinking of everyone in North Korea as nothing more than a bunch of commies or commie sympathizers. It that way, Americans, including American Christians, will consider it to be no big deal to kill all of them, either with sanctions or, if war breaks out, with carpet-bombing of towns and villages, as the U.S. military did during the Korean War.

After all, don’t forget the purpose of the sanctions: To kill the North Korean populace, including those North Korean cheerleaders, through starvation and illness. The idea is that if enough of them are dying, either Kim Jong-un will abdicate in favor of a pro-U.S. dictator or the North Korean people will initiate a violent revolution and install a pro-U.S. dictator into power.

Neither one is going to happen. Kim Jong-un is not going to capitulate to U.S. extortion. And the North Korean people are never going to revolt, especially since they are all disarmed as a result of North Korea’s strict gun-control policy. Thus, the only thing that is going to happen is that the sanctions will continue to kill more and more North Koreans, especially in combination with North Korea’s socialist system.

Unfortunately, business people are not the only ones afraid of acting without getting the permission of U.S. officials. When Kim Yo Jong extended an invitation to South Korean president Moon Jae-in to visit North Korea, he deflected the invitation, no doubt scared to accept the invitation without first checking with U.S. officials to see if it was okay to accept.

Throughout the Olympics, the American right-wing has never ceased reminding us of the brutality of the North Korean regime. Well, duh. It is a communist regime. But I can’t help but wonder whether the North Korean people are more afraid of their government than Samsung, Nike, and other big businesses are scared of the U.S. government. I also can’t help but wonder whether it matters to a North Korean whether he dies from North Korean socialist policies or U.S. sanctions policies.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Afghan Officials in Secret Talks With Taliban – Reports

Sputnik – February 13, 2018

Kabul has found itself in a challenging situation due to the intra-governmental struggle and the Taliban’s expanding influence on Afghan soil.

Afghan officials are holding secret talks with Taliban representatives amid the bombings that have left some 200 people dead and the group’s outgrowth in the country, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing individuals “familiar with the backdoor negotiations.”

Afghanistan’s intelligence Chief Masoom Stanikzai and its National Security Chief Mohammed Hanif Atmar continue to each talk separately to the Taliban,” the outlet said.

According to the sources cited by the AP, the move was prompted by Kabul’s desire to end the Taliban’ militancy that has been continuing for 17 years since the US overthrew the then-ruling group.

Speaking further, the sources pointed out disagreements in the Afghan government, as neither of the two officials, assigned to hold talks with Taliban, want to talk to each other or the High Peace Council that was established to discuss the Afghan peace process.

At the same time, Hakim Mujahid, a member of the High Peace Council, has confirmed that Stanikzai still maintains contacts with the Taliban’s negotiator Mullah Abbas Stanikzai, who is not related to the government’s official, the Associated Press continued.

Furthermore, former top Taliban member Aga Jan Motasim has said that he was eager to be a mediator in talks between Kabul and the group. He is now reportedly traveling between Kabul, where he holds talks with the authorities, and Turkey, where he is in contact with Taliban representatives.

Meanwhile, according to the US, the Taliban has gained control over more than a half of Afghanistan, while some reports say that the group either controls or has influence over some 70 percent of the countries territory.

In this respect, Donald Trump has ordered to intensify airstrikes on Taliban’s positions. The order came half a year after the US president released his new Afghanistan strategy, envisaging the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops, as well as other support to the politically, socially and security-wise unstable country.

See Also:

Chief of Iranian General Staff Accuses US of Transferring Daesh Terrorists to Afghanistan

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US ready for direct talks with sanctions-bashed N. Korea

RT | February 12, 2018

Washington is no longer opposed to the idea of talks with Pyongyang without preconditions, but still favors ramping up sanctions pressure against North Korea until it agrees to relinquish its nuclear arsenal, Mike Pence said.

The US vice president disclosed this subtle change in US Korean policy to Washington Post correspondent Josh Rogin while flying back from South Korea after a state visit. Apparently, Pence was convinced that actually talking to North Korea may be a good idea. Previously, senior US officials – starting with President Donald Trump – have insisted that talking to the North Korean government was of no use to America.

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said as cited by the newspaper. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”

So the US still wants to hurt North Korea as much as possible without starting an actual shooting war, but now it looks like it is willing to eventually hear Pyongyang’s plea for mercy. Which is admittedly a step in the right direction compared to obstructing any talks.

Washington previously signaled it was willing for direct talks with Pyongyang in December, when State Secretary Rex Tillerson said as much – only to be disavowed by his own department a day later. Trump at one point called talking to North Korea a waste of time and tweeted that he had told his top diplomat to “save your energy.”

Tillerson gave a lukewarm comment to Pence’s suggestion, saying it was “too early to judge” if such talks would be possible.

“We’ll have to have some discussions that precede any form of negotiations to determine whether the parties are in fact ready to engage in something that is meaningful,” he said.

Apparently Washington is at least willing to give a nod to a Kim-Moon meeting, allowing the current truce between the leaders of the two Koreas to extend beyond the Olympics. But it is unlikely to let Pyongyang score any political points, for example, by extending the pause in joint US-South Korean military exercises, which North Korea considers a major threat to its national security. Pyongyang may feel a need to counter such a show of force with more tests, which would further undermine whatever diplomatic effort comes after the end of the games.

There is a lot of mistrust between the US and North Korea, including over the failed diplomatic agreements of the past. For instance, the 1994 Agreed Framework was to see North Korea freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and help in developing civilian nuclear industry. Pyongyang did dismantle its 5 MWe pilot nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, but somehow the US Congress went against the deal, obstructing the lifting of sanctions and funding the construction of light-water nuclear reactors North Korea was promised. The deal finally collapsed when George W. Bush labeled Pyongyang part of the “Axis of Evil.”

The story is somewhat reminiscent of what is currently happening with the Iranian nuclear deal – negotiated by a Democrat president and currently being undermined by a Republican one. So the North Korean government may require a very good incentive to relinquish its nuclear arsenal, which it considers a better guarantee of its survival than any promises given by the US.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US To Build New Military Base in Northern Argentina

teleSUR | February 11, 2017

Argentine President Mauricio Macri is also letting in more DEA, FBI, and U.S. military forces to control narcotrafficking and terrorism within the country.

Argentina is allowing the U.S. to build a new military base at its northern border with Brazil and Paraguay. Officials of the South American country also announced that it will work with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at the triple border “to analyze where drugs are coming from.”

Argentina’s Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich announced in Washington that the Mauricio Macri administration is going to allow the U.S. to build a military base in Posadas, Misiones, bordering Brazil and Paraguay.

Bullrich says her government is creating “an analysis center with Paraguay and Brazil (and the U.S.) to figure out where, how and with whom narco traffickers operate” at the triple border region.

This “task force,” as its being called, will operate in conjunction with the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the U.S. Southern Command, which watches over U.S. operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This will be the second task force against drug trafficking in Argentina. The first one was installed in Salta province located near the borders with Bolivia and Chile during the Barack Obama administration.

Bullrich told the press that the DEA initially wanted Argentine officials to send drug samples to the U.S. so the agency could analyze them for their origin. She said this would be against Argentine law and that officials within the country would analyze the drugs.

The U.S. and Argentine functionaries also discussed the suspected presence of Lebanese Hezbollah, an organization the U.S. government considers a terrorist group, at the border shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

“It’s important for our government to collaborate (with the U.S.) and that they collaborate with us. We’re going to work together at the triple border regarding terrorism. We think we’ll have DEA and other agencies there to better understand what’s happening in the region,” Bullrich assured the press.

The minister of security also met with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in Washington to discuss their training of Argentine Federal Police.

After leaving Washington Bullrich flew to Miami to meet with the chief of U.S. Southern Command, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd and the Defense Minister of Argentina, Oscar Aguad.

Admiral Tidd was recently in Colombia meeting with its military forces.

Human rights organizations are protesting the increased U.S. military presence in Latin American and the Caribbean.

The former Argentine ambassador to Venezuela and the United Kingdom, Alicia Castro, tweeted of Bullrich’s proposed policies, “Do you want to see how the U.S. … ‘combats terrorism’? Look at the Middle East devastated. And ‘combating narcotrafficking’? Look at the cartels and assassinations in Colombia y Mexico, the places where the DEA intervenes.”

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

New War in the Middle East? – Washington Is Dancing To the Tune Being Played by Israel

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | February 12, 2018

How many Americans are aware that every two years the United States military engages in large scale exercises with the Israeli Defense Forces that simulate wars against Israel’s neighbors? Three thousand American soldiers are in Israel right now involved in maneuvers that are focused on countering a missile attack from Lebanon. When the exercise, known as Juniper Cobra, was run in 2016 the U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, who appeared to confuse American national security with that of a small Middle Eastern state, described it as the European Command’s “highest priority” drill that year. He then added that “this exercise increases our military readiness, but just as importantly it also signals our resolve to support Israel.”

Ironically, Lebanon has an army of its own that is in part financially and logistically supported by Washington, though not at the level that the U.S. supports Israel, which means that the U.S. is participating in war games that pit one friendly country and military aid recipient against another. Israel has warned that in any future conflict it will target the Lebanese Army equally with Hezbollah as both are “enemies.”

The truly most interesting aspects of the current exercises in Israel is that the United States has never had any formal alliance with Israel and has absolutely no national interest in becoming involved in Israel’s wars at all. The assumption that the U.S. might be called upon to help defend Israel is not based on any strategic reality, which is not to say it might not happen if Congress and the White House have their way, but it would likely be a double war of aggression, with Israel attacking the militarily much weaker Lebanese followed by the United States weighing in to finish the job after Hezbollah tries to fight back with its batteries of rockets.

That Washington is the Israeli poodle in the current situation is made clear by the recent opening of the first U.S. military base in Israel. It is described as a base within a base as it is completely contained by an Israeli air force installation and operates “under Israeli military directives.” It has no function in support of U.S. regional interests but is instead a shell headquarters with limited support facilities that can be ramped up considerably if Israel goes to war and calls for American assistance. Together with billions of dollars-worth of U.S. military equipment that is pre-positioned in Israel and can be used by the Israelis as needed, it is all about supporting Israeli war-making and has nothing to do with American security or defense interests.

Maneuvers are supposed to simulate possible future military actions, bloodless battles that provide lessons learned for future engagements, suggesting that some genius in the Pentagon who initiated these biennial exercises under George W. Bush, expects American soldiers to assist in the Israeli mission to remake the Middle East in their favor. Pentagon number two Paul Wolfowitz, who had an unseemly close relationship with Israeli military visitors, comes to mind as a possible candidate.

Israel has actually been planning to invade Lebanon. Last September it held its largest military exercise in over twenty years around the theme of a ground invasion of Lebanon. Israeli soldiers even dressed as Hezbollah militiamen as part of the training. There have been repeated warnings by Israeli government officials that there are several red lines that will bring about an Israeli attack, to include evidence that Iran is aiding the development of sophisticated “missile plants” in either Lebanon or Syria. The evidence for such plants is otherwise reported to be apocryphal or perhaps even fabricated, known only to Israeli intelligence, but they should perhaps be seen as a pretext for war and not necessarily based on fact.

Apart from having no compelling interest to get involved in the latest round of bloodletting, the U.S. would be well advised to keep its distance from Benjamin Netanyahu’s schemes to destroy Hezbollah’s power as crushing Lebanon would produce the same kind of regional catastrophe as did the U.S. led Iraq invasion of 2003. Israel’s Minister of Transportation Ysrael Katz recently warned that Lebanon will be “razed to the ground” and “returned to the stone age” if Hezbollah proves able and willing to fire any missiles at Israel.

Israel is itching for a fight and working hard to get Washington involved, not a difficult task given the belligerent proclivities of those who gather to discuss national security strategy in the White House. Viewing Israel’s recent actions relating to Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, it is clear that Netanyahu’s government is the aggressor and is both willing and able to destabilize the entire region without any regard for what happens next. It has already warned that its expected conflict with Lebanon will also involve Syria and that the ultimate target is to eliminate Iranian influence in the area.

Bombings of neighboring Syria by Israeli aircraft have also intensified, leading to the shooting down of an Israeli jet by Syrian air defense forces. The U.S. media covered the story but largely ignored the fact that Netanyahu has launched hundreds of airstrikes against a country with which it is not at war, again using the false claim that Israel is acting defensively and it is Iran that is doing the “interfering.” Of course, the United States in Syria has done much the same thing, lying about developments before setting up an ambush last week that killed 100 Syrian soldiers.

That Washington is dancing to the tune being played by Israel to dismember the Middle East makes the American government an accomplice when the war actually does break out. And it will undoubtedly also have to do much of the fighting. That the United States appears to be committed to defend Israel, even if Israel starts the war, is deplorable and is particularly so as there is no reciprocity. Israel has never fought side-by-side with the United States and if Washington actually finds itself in a situation where it needs Israeli military assistance or support don’t count on it.

*(Juniper Cobra 2016. Image credit: Israel Defense Forces/ flickr)

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 6 Comments

The depopulation of the Chagos Islands, 1965-73

By Mark Curtis – February 12, 2007

An edited extract from Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World

During the decolonisation process in the 1960s Britain created a new colony – the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). This included the Chagos island group which was detached from Mauritius, and other islands detached from the Seychelles. Mauritius had been granted independence by Britain in 1965 on the barely concealed condition that London be allowed to buy the Chagos island group from it – Britain gave Mauritius £3m. “The object of the exercise was to get some rocks which will remain ours”, the Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, its chief civil servant, said in a secret file of 1966. The Colonial Office similarly noted that the “prime object of BIOT exercise was that the islands… hived off into the new territory should be under the greatest possible degree of UK control [sic]”.

In December 1966 the Wilson government signed a military agreement with the US leasing the BIOT to it for military purposes for fifty years with the option of a further twenty years. Britain thus ignored UN Resolution 2066XX passed by the General Assembly in December 1965 which called on the UK “to take no action which would dismember the territory of Mauritius and to violate its territorial integrity”. Higher matters were at stake: Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos group, was well situated as a military base. Britain allowed the US to build up Diego Garcia as a nuclear base and as the launch pad for intervention in the Middle East, notably in Afghanistan and Iraq. Diego Garcia’s role “has become increasingly important over the last decade in supporting peace and stability in the region”, a Foreign Office spokesman managed to say with a straight face in 1997.

To militarise Diego Garcia, Britain removed the 1,500 indigenous inhabitants of the Chagos islands – “the compulsory and unlawful removal of a small and unique population, Citizens of the UK and Colonies, from islands that had formed their home, and also the home of the parents, grand-parents and very possibly earlier ancestors”, as the Chagossians’ defence lawyers put it. The islanders were to be “evacuated as and when defence interests require this”, against which there should be “no insurmountable obstacle”, the Foreign Office had noted.

The Chagossians were removed from Diego Garcia by 1971 and from the outlying islands of Salomen and Peros Banhos by 1973. The secret files show that the US wanted Diego Garcia to be cleared “to reduce to a minimum the possibilities of trouble between their forces and any ‘natives’”. This removal of the population “was made virtually a condition of the agreement when we negotiated it in 1965”, in the words of one British official. Foreign Office officials recognised that they were open to “charges of dishonesty” and needed to “minimise adverse reaction” to US plans to establish the base. In secret, they referred to plans to “cook the books” and “old fashioned” concerns about “whopping fibs”.

The Chagossians were described by a Foreign Office official in a secret file: “unfortunately along with birds go some few Tarzans or man Fridays whose origins are obscure”. Another official wrote, referring to a UN body on women’s issues: “There will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee (the status of women committee does not cover the rights of birds)”. According to the Foreign Office, “these people have little aptitude for anything other than growing coconuts”. The Governor of the Seychelles noted that it was “important to remember what type of people” the islanders are: “extremely unsophisticated, illiterate, untrainable and unsuitable for any work other than the simplest labour tasks of a copra plantation”.

Contrary to the racist indifference of British planners, the Chagossians had constructed a well-functioning society on the islands by the mid-1960s. They earned their living by fishing, and rearing their own vegetables and poultry. Copra industry had been developed. The society was matriarchal, with Illois women having the major say over the bringing up of the children. The main religion was Roman Catholic and by the first world war the Illois had developed a distinct culture and identity together with a specific variation of the Creole language. There was a small hospital and a school. Life on the Chagos islands was certainly hard, but also settled. By the 1960s the community was enjoying a period of prosperity with the copra industry thriving as never before. The islanders were also exporting guano, used for phosphate, and there was talk of developing the tourist industry.

Then British foreign policy intervened. One of the victims recalled: “We were assembled in front of the manager’s house and informed that we could no longer stay on the island because the Americans were coming for good. We didn’t want to go. We were born here. So were our fathers and forefathers who were buried in that land”.

Britain expelled the islanders to Mauritius without any workable resettlement scheme, gave them a tiny amount of compensation and later offered more on condition that the islanders renounced their rights ever to return home. Most were given little time to pack their possessions and some were allowed to take with them only a minimum of personal belongings packed into a small crate. They were also deceived into believing what awaited them. Olivier Bancoult said that the islanders “had been told they would have a house, a portion of land, animals and a sum of money, but when they arrived [in Mauritius] nothing had been done”. Britain also deliberately closed down the copra plantations to increase the pressure to leave. A Foreign Office note from 1972 states that “when BIOT formed, decided as a matter of policy not to put any new investment into plantations” [sic], but to let them run down. And the colonial authorities even cut off food imports to the Chagos islands; it appears that after 1968 food ships did not sail to the islands.

Not all the islanders were physically expelled. Some, after visiting Mauritius, were simply – and suddenly – told they were not allowed back, meaning they were stranded, turned into exiles overnight. Many of the islanders later testified to having been tricked into leaving Diego Garcia by being offered a free trip.

Most of the islanders ended up living in the slums of the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, in gross poverty; many were housed in shacks, most of them lacked enough food, and some died of starvation and disease. Many committed suicide. A report commissioned by the Mauritian government in the early 1980s found that only 65 of the 94 Illois householders were owners of land and houses; and 40 per cent of adults had no job. Today, most Chagossians continue to live in poverty, with unemployment especially high.

British officials were completely aware of the poverty and hardships likely to be faced by those they had removed from their homeland. When some of the last of the Chagossians were removed in 1973 and arrived in Mauritius, the High Commission noted that the Chagossians at first refused to disembark, having “nowhere to go, no money, no employment”. Britain offered a miniscule £650,000 in compensation, which only arrived in 1978, too late to offset the hardship of the islanders. The Foreign Office stated in a secret file that “we must be satisfied that we could not discharge our obligation… more cheaply”. As the Chagossians’ defence lawyers argue, “the UK government knew at the time that the sum given [in compensation] would in no way be adequate for resettlement.”

Ever since their removal, the islanders have campaigned for proper compensation and for the right to return. In 1975, for example, the islanders presented a petition to the British High Commission in Mauritius. It said: “We, the inhabitants of the Chagos islands – Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos and Salomen – have been uprooted from these islands because the Mauritius government sold the islands to the British government to build a base. Our ancestors were slaves on those islands but we know that we are the heirs of those islands. Although we were poor we were not dying of hunger. We were living free… Here in Mauritius… we, being mini-slaves, don’t get anybody to help us. We are at a loss not knowing what to do.”

The response of the British was to tell the islanders to address their petition to the Mauritian government. The British High Commission in Mauritius responded to a petition in 1974 saying that “High Commission cannot intervene between yourselves as Mauritians and government of Mauritius, who assumed responsibility for your resettlement”. This, as the British government well knew, was a complete lie, as many of the Chagossians could claim nationality “of the UK and the colonies” (see below). In 1981, a group of Illois women went on hunger strike for 21 days and several hundred women demonstrated in vain in front of the British High Commission in Mauritius.

The Whitehall conspiracy

The British response was: after removing the islanders from their home, to remove them from history, in the manner of Winston Smith. In 1972 the US Defence Department could tell Congress that “the islands are virtually uninhabited and the erection of the base would thus cause no indigenous political problems”. In December 1974 a joint UK-US memorandum in question-and-answer form asked “Is there any native population on the islands?”; its reply was “no”. A British Ministry of Defence spokesman denied this was a deliberate misrepresentation of the situation by saying “there is nothing in our files about inhabitants or about an evacuation”, thus confirming that the Chagossians were official Unpeople.

Formerly secret planning documents revealed in the court case show the lengths to which Labour and Conservative governments have gone to conceal the truth. Whitehall officials’ strategy is revealed to have been “to present to the outside world a scenario in which there were no permanent inhabitants on the archipelago”. This was essential “because to recognise that there are permanent inhabitants will imply that there is a population whose democratic rights will have to be safeguarded”. One official noted that British strategy towards the Chagossians should be to “grant as few rights with as little formality as possible”. In particular, Britain wanted to avoid fulfilling its obligations to the islanders under the UN charter.

From 1965, memoranda issued by the Foreign Office and then Commonwealth Relations Office to British embassies around the world mentioned the need to avoid all reference to any “permanent inhabitants”. Various memos noted that: “best wicket… to bat on… that these people are Mauritians and Seychellois [sic]”; “best to avoid all references to permanent inhabitants”; and need to “present a reasonable argument based on the proposition that the inhabitants… are merely a floating population”. The Foreign Office legal adviser noted in 1968 that “we are able to make up the rules as we go along and treat inhabitants of BIOT as not ‘belonging’ to it in any sense”.

Then Labour Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart wrote to prime Minister Harold Wilson in a secret note in 1969 that “we could continue to refer to the inhabitants generally as essentially migrant contract labourers and their families”. It would be helpful “if we can present any move as a change of employment for contract workers… rather than as a population resettlement”. The purpose of the Foreign Secretary’s memo was to secure Wilson’s approval to clear the whole of the Chagos islands of their inhabitants. This, the prime minister did, five days later on 26 April. By the time of this formal decision, however, the removal had already effectively started – Britain had in 1968 started refusing to return Chagossians who were visiting Mauritius or the Seychelles.

A Foreign Office memo of 1970 outlined the Whitehall conspiracy: “We would not wish it to become general knowledge that some of the inhabitants have lived on Diego Garcia for at least two generations and could, therefore, be regarded as ‘belongers’. We shall therefore advise ministers in handling supplementary questions about whether Diego Garcia is inhabited to say there is only a small number of contract labourers from the Seychelles and Mauritius engaged in work on the copra plantations on the island. That is being economical with the truth.”

It continued: “Should a member [of the House of Commons] ask about what should happen to these contract labourers in the event of a base being set up on the island, we hope that, for the present, this can be brushed aside as a hypothetical question at least until any decision to go ahead with the Diego Garcia facility becomes public”.

Detailed guidance notes were issued to Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence press officers telling them to mislead the media if asked.

The reality that was being concealed was clearly understood. A secret document signed by Michael Stewart in 1968, said: “By any stretch of the English language, there was an indigenous population, and the Foreign Office knew it”. A Foreign Office minute from 1965 recognises policy as “to certify [the Chagossians], more or less fraudulently, as belonging somewhere else”. Another Whitehall document was entitled: “Maintaining the Fiction”. The Foreign Office legal adviser wrote in January 1970 that it was important “to maintain the fiction that the inhabitants of Chagos are not a permanent or semi-permanent population”.

Yet all subsequent ministers peddled this lie in public, hitting on the formula to designate the Chagossians merely as “former plantation workers”, while knowing this was palpably untrue. For example, Margaret Thatcher told the House of Commons in 1990 that: “Those concerned worked on the former copra plantations in the Chagos archipelago. After the plantations closed between 1971 and 1973 they and their families were resettled in Mauritius and given considerable financial assistance. Their future now lies in Mauritius”.

Foreign Office minister William Waldegrade said in 1989 that he recently met “a delegation of former plantation workers from the Chagos Islands”, before falsely asserting that they “are increasingly integrated into the Mauritian community”. Aid minister Baroness Chalker also told the House that “the former plantation workers (Illois) are now largely integrated into Mauritian and Seychellese society”.

New Labour continued the lie into the twenty-first century, continuing to peddle the official line in the court case that the islanders were “contract labourers”. As I write this, the Foreign Office website contains a country profile of the British Indian Ocean Territory that states there are “no indigenous inhabitants”.

Another issue that the British government went to great lengths to conceal was the fact that many of the Chagossians were “citizens of the UK and the colonies”. Britain preferred to designate them Mauritians so they could be dumped there and left to the Mauritian authorities to deal with. The Foreign Secretary warned in 1968 of the “possibility… [that] some of them might one day claim a right to remain in the BIOT by virtue of their citizenship of the UK and the Colonies”. A Ministry of Defence note in the same year states that it was “of cardinal importance that no American official… should inadvertently divulge” that the islanders have dual nationality.

Britain’s High Commission in Mauritius noted in January 1971, before a meeting with the Mauritian prime minister, that: “Naturally, I shall not suggest to him that some of these have also UK nationality …always possible that they may spot this point, in which case, presumably, we shall have to come clean [sic]”. In 1971 the Foreign Office was saying that it was “not at present HMG’s policy to advise ‘contract workers’ of their dual citizenship” nor to inform the Mauritian government, referring to “this policy of concealment”.

Ministers also lied in public about the British role in the removal of the Chagossians. For example, Foreign Office minister Richard Luce wrote to an MP in 1981, in response to a letter from one of his constituents, that the islanders had been “given the choice of either returning [to Mauritius or the Seychelles] or going to plantations on other islands in BIOT” [sic]. According to this revised history, the “majority chose to return to Mauritius and their employers… made the arrangements for them to be transferred”.

Ministers in the 1960s also lied about the terms under which Britain offered the Diego Garcia base to the US. The US paid Britain £5 million for the island, an amount deducted from the price Britain paid the US for buying the Polaris nuclear weapons. The US asked for this deal to be kept secret and Prime Minister Harold Wilson complied, lying in public. A Foreign Office memo to the US of 1967 said that “ultimately, under extreme pressure, we should have to deny the existence of a US contribution in any form, and to advise ministers to do so in [parliament] if necessary”.

A Foreign Office memo of 1980 recommended to then Foreign Secretary that “no journalists should be allowed to visit Diego Garcia” and that visits by MPs be kept to a minimum to keep out those “who deliberately stir up unwelcome questions”. The defence lawyers for the Chagossians, who unearthed the secret files, note that: “Concealment is a theme which runs through the official documents, concealment of the existence of a permanent population, of BIOT itself, concealment of the status of the Chagossians, concealment of the full extent of the responsibility of the United Kingdom government…, concealment of the fact that many of the Chagossians were Citizens of the UK and Colonies… This concealment was compounded by a continuing refusal to accept that those who were removed from the islands in 1971-3 had not exercised a voluntary decision to leave the islands”.

Indeed, the lawyers argue, “for practical purposes, it may well be that the deceit of the world at large, in particular the United Nations, was the critical part” of the government’s policy.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments