Only a few months ago, interventionists were demanding a militant response by Washington to what George Soros branded “a humanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions” — the killing of “hundreds of people” by Russian and Syrian government bombing of rebel-held neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo.
Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former New Republic editor, was denouncing the Obama administration as “a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time,” asserting that its failure to “act against evil in Aleppo” was like tolerating “the evil in Auschwitz.”
How strange, then, that so many of the same “humanitarian” voices have been so quiet of late about the continued killing of many more innocent people in Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have died and 12 million people face famine. More than a thousand children die each week from preventable diseases related to malnutrition and systematic attacks on the country’s food infrastructure by a Saudi-led military coalition, which aims to impose a regime friendly to Riyadh over the whole country.
“The U.S. silence has been deafening,” said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch, last summer. “This blatant double standard deeply undermines U.S. efforts to address human rights violations whether in Syria or elsewhere in the world.”
Official acquiescence — or worse — from Washington and other major capitals is encouraging the relentless killing of Yemen’s civilians by warplanes from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Last week, their bombs struck a funeral gathering north of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, killing nine women and a child and injuring several dozen more people.
A day earlier, officials reported a deadly “double-tap” airstrike, first targeting women at a funeral in Sanaa, then aimed at medical responders who rushed in to save the wounded. A United Nations panel of experts condemned a similar double-tap attack by Saudi coalition forces in October, which killed or wounded hundreds of civilians, as a violation of international law.
The Tragedy of Mokha
On Feb. 12, an air strike on the Red Sea port city of Mokha killed all six members of a family headed by the director of a maternal and childhood center. Coalition ground forces had launched an attack on Mokha two weeks earlier.
Xinhua news agency reported, “the battles have since intensified and trapped thousands of civilian residents in the city, as well as hampered the humanitarian operation to import vital food and fuel supplies . . . The Geneva-based UN human rights office said that it received extremely worrying reports suggesting civilians and civilian objects have been targeted over the past two weeks in the southwestern port city . . . Reports received by UN also show that more than 200 houses have been either partially damaged or completely destroyed by air strikes in the past two weeks.”
The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator further reported that “scores of civilians” had been killed or wounded by the bombing and shelling of Mokha, and that residents were stranded without water or other basic life-supporting services.
That could be Aleppo, minus only the tear-jerking photos of dead and wounded children on American television. However, unlike Syria, Yemen’s rebels don’t have well-financed public relations offices in Western capitals. They pay no lip service to the United States, democracy, or international human rights. Their foe Saudi Arabia is a friend of Washington, not a long-time adversary. In consequence, few American pundits summon any moral outrage at the Saudi-led coalition, despite findings by a United National Panel of Experts that many of its airstrikes violate international law and, in some cases, represent “war crimes.”
Aiding and Abetting
The United States hasn’t simply turned a blind eye to such crimes; it has aided them by selling Saudi Arabia the warplanes it flies and the munitions it drops on Yemeni civilians. It has also siphoned 54 million pounds of jet fuel from U.S. tanker planes to refuel coalition aircraft on bombing runs. The pace of U.S. refueling operations has reportedly increased sharply in the last year.
The Obama administration initially supported the Saudi coalition in order to buy Riyadh’s reluctant support for the Iran nuclear deal. Over time, Saudi Arabia joined with anti-Iran hawks to portray Yemen’s rebels as pawns of Tehran to justify continued support for the war. Most experts — including U.S. intelligence officials — insist to the contrary that the rebels are a genuinely indigenous force that enjoys limited Iranian support at best.
As I have documented previously, all of the fighting in Yemen has damaged U.S. interests by creating anarchy conducive to the growth of Al Qaeda extremists. They have planned or inspired major acts of terrorism against the West, including an attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane in 2009 and a deadly attack on the Parisian newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. The Saudis tolerate them as Sunni allies against the rebels, in the name of curbing Iran.
Though the Obama administration is gone, the Trump administration is flush with ideologues who are eager to take a stand against Tehran through Yemen and look tough on “terrorism.” Within days of taking office, President Trump approved a commando raid targeting an alleged Al Qaeda compound in central Yemen that went awry, killing an estimated 10 women and children. The administration has also diverted a U.S. destroyer to patrol Yemen’s coast.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to his credit, has cited “the urgent need for the unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Yemen,” according to a department spokesman. But no amount of humanitarian aid will save Yemen’s tormented people from the bombs made in America and dropped from U.S.-made warplanes, with little protest from Washington’s so-called “humanitarian interventionists.”
Fleeing to Canada is no longer an option
Liberals are supposed to be antiwar, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who were not being motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.
As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment and generally speaking are retired limousine liberals. And they now call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. But they also have done a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Bill Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. And more recently we have seen the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen and Syria in so called humanitarian interventions which have turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems it was “responsibility to protect time” (r2p) and all the world trembled as the drones were let loose.
Last Friday I started to read an op-ed in The Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system.” It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in the terms that have been repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media. And it was, of course, lacking in any evidence, as if the opinions of coopted journalists and the highly politicized senior officials in the intelligence community should be regarded as sacrosanct. These are, not coincidentally, the same people who have reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.
Ignatius is well plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish but he is also a typical Post politically correct progressive on most issues. So here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that has not been demonstrated and might be completely untrue. Russia is attacking “our political system!” And The Post is not alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from The New York Times and on television news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American ‘hysteria’ relating to anything coming out of Moscow.
Rachel Maddow is another favorite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on January 26th she roundly chastised Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely when Donald Trump was elected, is now keen to demonstrate that Trump has been corrupted by Russia and is now controlled out of the Kremlin. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to get to the bottom of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy.” Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.
Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow are not alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it is not, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous maneuvering that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it would not hesitate use nuclear weapons if it is being confronted militarily and facing defeat.
The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that has long bedeviled a certain type of American know-nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there is a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham has recently said “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.”
It is my belief that many in the National Security State have convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the United States and not because it is a nuclear armed power that can strike the U.S. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it is seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump.
No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and Ukraine. Plus, it is a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the U.S. sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that are euphemistically described as “peace missions.”
There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the treasury into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military industrial congressional complex, but my real fear is that, having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat against U.S. vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the U.S. has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the United States. In fact, it is Washington that is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilizing entire regions, not Moscow, and when Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the U.S. was not so innocent it was a gross understatement.
Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the John McCain camp which demonizes Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain has never found a war he couldn’t support. It would be a tragedy for the United States if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.
As Democrats compete to become the new War Party – pushing for a dangerous confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia – some constituents are objecting, as Mike Madden did in a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Dear Senator Klobuchar, I write with concern over statements you have made recently regarding Russia. These statements have been made both at home and abroad, and they involve two issues; the alleged Russian hack of the presidential election and Russia’s actions in the aftermath of the February 22, 2014 coup in Kiev.
U.S. intelligence services allege that President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to denigrate Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. The campaign is purported to include the production of fake news, cyber-trolling, and propaganda from Russian state-owned media. It is also alleged that Russia hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, subsequently providing the emails to WikiLeaks.
Despite calls from many quarters, the intelligence services have not provided the public with any proof. Instead, Americans are expected to blindly trust these services with a long history of failure. Additionally, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, have both been known to lie to the public and to Congress, Mr. Clapper doing so under oath.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange maintains the emails did not come from Russia (or any other state actor) and his organization has an unblemished record of revealing accurate information in the public interest that would otherwise remain hidden. While responsible journalists continue to use the word ‘alleged’ to describe the accusations, Republicans with an ax to grind against Russia, and Democrats wishing to distract from their own failings in the campaign, refer to them as fact. Indeed, on the ‘Amy in the News’ page of your own website, Jordain Carney of The Hill refers to the Russian meddling as “alleged”.
A congressional commission to investigate the alleged Russian hacking is not necessary. Even if all the allegations are true, they are altogether common occurrences, and they certainly don’t rise to the level of “an act of aggression”, “an existential threat to our way of life”, or “an attack on the American people” as various Democratic officials have characterized them. Republican Senator John McCain went full monty and called the alleged meddling “an act of war”.
Joining War Hawks
It is of concern that you would join Senator McCain and the equally belligerent Senator Lindsey Graham on a tour of Russian provocation through the Baltics, Ukraine, Georgia, and Montenegro. The announcement of your trip (December 28, 2016) on the ‘News Releases’ page of your website renewed the unproven claim of “Russian interference in our recent election”. It also claimed that the countries you were visiting were facing “Russian aggression” and that “Russia illegally annexed Crimea”.
It is unfortunate that these claims have become truisms by sheer repetition rather than careful examination of the facts. Russia has not invaded eastern Ukraine. There are no regular units of the Russian military in the breakaway provinces, nor has Russia launched any air strikes from its territory. It has sent weapons and other provisions to the Ukrainian forces seeking autonomy from Kiev, and there are most certainly Russian volunteers operating in Ukraine.
However regrettable, it must be remembered that the unrest was precipitated by the February 22, 2014 overthrow of the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych which, speaking of meddling, was assisted by U.S. State Department, other American government agencies, and one Senator John McCain. The subsequent military and paramilitary operations launched by the coup government against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk were described by President Putin as “uncontrolled crime” spreading into the south and east of the country. In American parlance, both the interim coup government in Kiev and the current government of President Petro Poroshenko have engaged in “killing their own people”.
Ignoring the Details
If Russia’s actions are to be considered “aggression” or an “invasion”, one must find a whole new word to describe what the United States did to Iraq in 2003. If, like your colleague Senator McCain, you hold the annexation of Crimea to be illegal under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, I urge a closer look.
On February 21, 2014, an agreement brokered by the European Union was signed between President Yanukovych and the leaders of three major opposition parties. The agreement contained terms for a cessation of violence, immediate power sharing, and new elections. Smelling blood in the water, the opposition in Maidan Square did not withdraw from the streets or surrender their illegal weapons as agreed, but instead went on the offensive. Yanukovych, under threat to his life, fled Kiev along with many others in his Party of Regions.
Nor did the opposition party leaders honor the agreement. The next day, they moved to impeach Yanukovych, however they failed to meet several requirements of the Ukrainian Constitution. They failed to indict the president, conduct an investigation, and have that investigation certified by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Instead, they moved directly to a vote on impeachment and, even on that count, they failed to obtain the required three-fourths majority vote. So, even though the Budapest Memorandum did offer assurances of Ukrainian security and territorial integrity in exchange for surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons on its soil, the sovereign government of Ukraine had fallen in a violent unconstitutional putsch.
Yanukovych remained its legitimate president-in-exile and he, along with the prime minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, requested Russian intervention on the peninsula to provide security and protect the human rights of ethnic Russians threatened by the new coup government and neo-Nazi elements within it.
One can now see how real that threat was by looking to eastern Ukraine where the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi paramilitaries such as the Azov Battallion, have moved with force against the defenders of the Donbass region whose people seek autonomy from a government in Kiev that they do not recognize. Approximately 10,000 people have died in the Donbass War, whereas only six people were killed during the period of annexation (February 23-March19, 2014) in Crimea.
While the Donbass War drags on, Crimea remains stable today. The popular referendum conducted on March 16, 2014 lent legitimacy to the subsequent annexation. Official results claimed 82% turnout with 96% of voters favoring reunification with Russia. Independent polling conducted in the early weeks of March 2014 found 70-77% of all Crimeans favored reunification. Six years prior to the crisis in 2008, a poll found that 63% favored reunification. Even though many ethnic Ukranians and Tatars boycotted the election, rejoining Russia was clearly the will of the majority of Crimean people.
President Putin, characterizing the situation in Ukraine as a revolution, claimed that Russia had no agreements with the new state and therefore no obligations under the Budapest Memorandum. He also cited Chapter I: Article 1 of the United Nations Charter, which calls for respect for the principle of self-determination of peoples. The 1975 Helsinki Accords, which affirmed post-World War II borders, also allowed for the change of national boundaries by peaceful internal means.
The Kosovo Precedent
It is also useful to consider parallel occurrences in Kosovo. In 1998 ethnic cleansing by Serbian troops and paramilitaries led to a NATO intervention without U.N. authorization. There is little question that the move was illegal, but legitimacy was claimed due to the urgent humanitarian need. Ten years later, Kosovo would declare independence from Serbia and the disputed matter would end up before the International Court of Justice. In 2009 the United States provided the Court with a statement on Kosovo that read in part: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.”
The United States should accept the Russian annexation of Crimea both as a pragmatic matter, and one of principle. In 1990, during negotiations for the re-unification of Germany, the United States promised that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO. That promise has now been broken three times and eleven new nations have been added to the alliance. Ukraine has also entered in partnership with NATO, and at various times, full membership has been discussed. Russia has consistently expressed its disapproval. According to your website, an objective of your trip was “to reinforce support for NATO”. If this weren’t provocative enough, your three-senator delegation went to a front-line military outpost in Shirokino, Ukraine to incite an escalation to the Donbass War. Senator Graham told the assembled soldiers “Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offense”. The leader of your delegation, Senator McCain, said “I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win”.
After the speeches were given, you are seen in a video of the New Year’s Eve event accepting what appears to be a gift from one of the uniformed soldiers. With all of the furor over former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation, and possible violation of the Logan Act, for discussing alleviation of sanctions with a Russian ambassador, this appears to be a far more serious offense. Not only did your delegation advocate for a foreign policy that was not aligned with that of acting President Obama, it was also contrary to President-elect Trump’s approach to the region. And the results of your advocacy have the potential to be far more deadly than the mere alleviation of sanctions.
Sincerely, Mike Madden St. Paul, Minnesota
There are currently three major flash points in the world, where a false step could rapidly lead to escalation and a major war from which human civilization would be the main loser. Those flashpoints are the Middle East, the South China Sea and Ukraine/Crimea. In each of them Australia has made major missteps, invariably at the request of the Americans, and where Australia’s national interest is either non-existent or the opposite of the actions that have been taken.
The recent upsurge in fighting in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, collectively referred to as Donbass, where Ukrainian forces have vastly increased the artillery barrage of civilian areas has sharpened the likelihood of a more serious war breaking out. In these circumstances the responsibility of the media to accurately report what is happening and why is high. Yet, as is so often the case, we are treated to a non-stop barrage of misinformation and outright propaganda.
The reincorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation in March 2014 is invariably portrayed as the result of an “invasion” and “annexation” and that peace can only be restored with Crimea’s return to Ukraine.
This is not only a rewriting of history; it also ignores the crucial historical background of that region of the world and how that is relevant to the present day. A brief history is in order, if only because it is not something that the mainstream media will ever state, as wedded as they are to a narrative whose sole purpose is the demonization of Russia and of President Putin.
Ukraine itself has only had its modern borders since 1945. Prior to that time part had come under the sway of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and another part had been incorporated into Tsarist Russia in 1667. Following the peasant revolt of 1768/69 there was a partitioning between the Austrian empire and the Russian empire. It has therefore to a greater or lesser extent been a part of the Russian empire for more than 300 years. To give that some perspective, it is a longer period than either the United States or Australia has been a nation state.
Following the Ukrainian War of Independence from 1917-1921 it was absorbed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where it remained until the break up of the USSR in 1991.
Crimea has had a similarly chequered history. Prior to the Crimean War 1853-56 when Australian troops fought with the British and the Turks against Russia, Crimea had been part of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783 and thereafter Crimea was part of Russia. That war was fought on Crimean soil. Prior to the Ottomans, Crimea had for the previous 2000 years been variously parts of the Greek, Roman, Mongol and other empires. Then as now it occupied a strategic position on the Black Sea. The Crimean War had as a primary target the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Which is further evidence that nothing really changes.
After the Russian Revolution Crimea became an autonomous Republic within the USSR and stayed there until 1954. In that year, following a resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR it was transferred to Ukraine.
There are various theories as to why the transfer was made, one popular version being that it was a symbolic gesture marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming part of the Tsardom of Russia. The actual reasons do not matter so much as two other factors that were operative.
The first was that as an integral part of the USSR it did not make a great deal of political difference as to which State Crimea was nominally attached. The second factor was that neither the Russian people nor the Crimeans were consulted about the decision.
There things remained until February 2014 when a coup was mounted against the lawful government of Ukraine. The Australian media refuse to acknowledge that it was a coup, and that the coup was organized and paid for ($5 billion dollars) by the Americans, as the chief organizer, then Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland freely acknowledged to a congressional committee.
The Crimeans, as indeed also the residents of the Donbass region, were extremely unhappy with the takeover in Kiev of a frankly fascist government. The people of eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, are overwhelmingly ethnic Russian, speak the Russian language as their first language, intermarry with Russians across the border, and culturally identify with Russia.
A referendum was hastily organized and held on 16 March 2014. The result was that there was an 83% turnout, and 96.77% of those who voted were in favour of being readmitted to the Russian Federation. That result was condemned by the US and Australia, among other nations. The main objections stated were that the vote was held after Russian troops had “invaded” Crimea, and that the Crimeans had no right to hold such a referendum.
In one form or another those objections have been repeated by the western media ever since. An added claim is that the “annexation” of Crimea is further evidence of “Russian aggression” in general and that of Mr Putin in particular.
The facts are rather different. First, let us look at the “invasion” claim. There were already 25,000 Russian troops in Crimea. They were there pursuant to a treaty with the Ukrainian government, mainly associated with the very important Russian naval base at Sevastopol. It will be recalled that that naval base was a major target of the British and allied forces in the Crimean War more than 150 years earlier.
There was absolutely no evidence that the presence of Russian troops prevented the free exercise of the vote by Crimeans in the referendum, except indirectly in that their presence certainly deterred Ukraine from military intervention.
Independent polls conducted after the referendum, for example by the German Gfk polling organisation showed that 82% of those polled supported the referendum result and only 4% opposed it. Other, including American, polling organisations, obtained similar results.
The second major claim is that the referendum was “unlawful” and as such not recognised by the western powers. This is a classic example of western hypocrisy. Western governments are perfectly willing to accept independence referenda when it suits their geopolitical purposes to do so. There are a number of recent examples.
In April 1993 Eritrea held a referendum to establish its independence from Ethiopia. Only Eritreans were able to vote. It passed overwhelmingly. There was no objection from the US or Australia.
On 17 February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. There was no referendum. Not only did the US not object, they bombed Serbia to encourage the government to accept the result. Australia protested neither the declaration of independence nor the illegal bombing.
The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 23 July 2010. The Court noted that previous declarations of independence being declared invalid had to be seen in their specific context. Importantly, the Court noted as a general principle that there was an absence of a general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence under international law.
The important factual difference in Crimea’s case is the long history of the peninsula as a part of Russia; its ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia; and that there was a referendum with the overwhelming majority of citizens voting to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
In September 2014 the people of Scotland voted in a referendum of whether or not they would remain a part of the United Kingdom or become a separate sovereign nation. In that case the referendum was narrowly lost although a mooted second referendum following the Brexit vote in the UK may well have a different result.
Again, neither the US nor Australia claimed that the Scots were not entitled to have a referendum, nor that they would refuse to recognise the result.
The final point to be made in this context is that in 1970 the United Nations General Assembly passed by acclamation (i.e. without dissent from either Australia or the United States) a Declaration on Principles of International Law .
In the section of the Resolution regarding “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” was the following passage:
By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.
What the Crimeans have done is no more nor less than they are entitled to in accordance with this Declaration. It is Australia, the United States and others that condemn Crimea and the Russians who are in breach of their legal and moral obligations.
A further illustration of western hypocrisy over Crimea and the Donbass is the total silence over the ongoing military assault against the civilian population of Donbass. The Minsk 2 Accords, initiated by France and Germany, and agreed to by Russia and Ukraine, contained a number of provisions designed to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the people of Donbass.
The Minsk 2 Accord provided, inter alia, for a ceasefire; a pullback of Ukrainian troops; for the Ukrainian Rada to pass specific laws relating to the governance of Donbass; and to amend the Ukrainian constitution to incorporate decentralization as a key component.
All of these provisions have been ignored and violated. Instead of condemning the Ukrainian violations and failure to carry out its obligations, the US and its allies have continued to blame Russia. Immediately after the US election, Senators McCain and Graham travelled to Kiev and urged Ukraine to keep fighting, promising American support.
There is no evidence that they did so with the support of then President –elect Trump and their authority to do so is unclear. The immediate result of the US Senator’s visit was an upsurge in the bombardment of villages and towns in the Donbass region.
There is an equally stunning silence from the Australian authorities. They seem incapable of understanding history, incapable of recognizing the efforts made by the Russians to create an economic arrangement that would benefit Ukraine through open association with both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union; and of recognizing the grave potential for war posed by the reckless expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.
Instead of recognizing the historical and geopolitical realities, including that Ukraine is now a failed state ruled by neo-fascists, they continue to parrot the tired cliché that the Russians are to blame.
Upon such fatal ignorance are wars often started.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law.
In the anti-Russian frenzy sweeping American politics and media, Democrats, liberals and mainstream pundits are calling for an investigative body that could become a new kind of House Un-American Activities Committee to hunt down Americans who have communicated with Russians.
The proposed commission would have broad subpoena powers to investigate alleged connections between Trump’s supporters and the Russian government with the apparent goal of asking if they now have or have ever talked to a Russian who might have some tie to the Kremlin or its intelligence agencies.
Such an admission apparently would be prima facie evidence of disloyalty, a guilt-by-association “crime” on par with Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Cold War pursuit of “communists” who supposedly had infiltrated the U.S. government, the film industry and other American institutions.
Operating parallel to McCarthy’s Red Scare hearings was the House Un-American Activities Committee (or HUAC), a standing congressional panel from 1945-1975 when it was best known for investigating alleged communist subversion and propaganda. One of its top achievements was the blacklisting of the “Hollywood Ten” whose careers in the movie industry were damaged or destroyed.
Although the Cold War has long been over – and Russia has often cooperated with the U.S. government, especially on national security issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan – Democrats and liberals seem ready to force Americans to again prove their loyalty if they engaged in conversations with Russians.
Or perhaps these “witnesses” can be entrapped into perjury charges if their recollections of conversations with Russians don’t match up with transcripts of their intercepted communications, a tactic similar to ones used by Sen. McCarthy and HUAC to trip up and imprison targets over such secondary charges.
Ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has already encountered such a predicament because he couldn’t recall all the details of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016, after Flynn took the call while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
When Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department decided to gin up a legal premise to go after Flynn, they cited the Logan Act, a law enacted in 1799 to prohibit private citizens from negotiating with foreign adversaries but never used to convict anyone. The law also is of dubious constitutionality and was surely never intended to apply to a president-elect’s advisers.
However, based on that flimsy pretext, FBI agents – with a transcript of the electronic intercept of the Kislyak-Flynn phone call in hand – tested Flynn’s memory of the conversation and found his recollections incomplete. Gotcha – lying to the FBI!
Under mounting media and political pressure, President Trump fired Flynn, apparently hoping that tossing Flynn overboard to the circling sharks would somehow calm the sharks down. Instead, blood in the water added to the frenzy.
Some prominent Democrats and liberals have compared Trump-connected contacts with Russians to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal or President Reagan’s Iran-Contra Affair, an issue that I know a great deal about having helped expose it as a reporter for The Associated Press in the 1980s.
The key difference is that Iran-Contra was an unconstitutional effort by the Reagan administration to finance an illegal war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government in defiance of a congressional ban. The Trump-connected communications with Russians – to the degree they have occurred – appear to have been aimed at preventing a new and dangerous Cold War that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.
In other words, Iran-Contra was about enabling a paramilitary force to continue its brutal marauding inside a country that was no threat to the United States while the current “scandal” is about people trying to avoid hostilities between two nuclear superpowers, an existential threat that many mainstream and liberal pundits don’t want to recognize.
Indeed, there is a troubling denial-ism about the risks of an accidental or intentional war with Russia as the U.S. media and much of Official Washington’s establishment have lots of fun demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin and jabbing the Russians by shoving NATO troops up to their borders and deploying anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe. For some crazy reason, the Russians feel threatened.
This Russia-bashing and Russia-baiting have been accompanied by false narratives presented in the major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, to justify increased tensions.
For instance, the Post’s senior foreign affairs writer Karen DeYoung on Friday described the civil war in Ukraine this way: “That conflict began when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, then backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in what has become a grinding war, despite a deal to end it, called the Minsk agreement, negotiated with Putin by the leaders of France and Germany.”
But DeYoung’s synopsis is simply not true. The crisis began in the fall of 2013 when Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of what he regarded as a costly and unacceptable association agreement with the European Union, a move which prompted protests by Ukrainians in Kiev’s Maidan square.
The Obama administration’s State Department, U.S. neocon politicians such as Sen. John McCain, and various U.S.-backed “non-governmental organizations” then stoked those protests against Yanukovych, which grew violent as trained ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi street fighters poured in from western Ukraine.
In early 2014, a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Yanukovych took shape under the guidance of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who were caught in a phone call in late January or early February 2014 conspiring to impose new leadership inside Ukraine.
Nuland disparaged a less extreme strategy favored by European diplomats with the pithy remark: “Fuck the E.U.” and went on to declare “Yats is the guy,” favoring Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new leader. Nuland then pondered how to “glue this thing” while Pyatt ruminated about how to “midwife this thing.”
On Feb. 20, 2014, a mysterious sniper apparently firing from a building controlled by the ultranationalist Right Sektor killed both police and protesters, setting off a day of violence that left about 70 people dead including more than a dozen police.
The next day, three European governments struck a deal with Yanukovych in which he agreed to early elections and accepted reduced powers. But that political settlement wasn’t enough for the U.S.-backed militants who stormed government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.
Instead of standing by the Feb. 21 agreement, which the European nations had “guaranteed,” Nuland pushed for and got U.S. allies to accept the new post-coup regime as “legitimate,” with Yatsenyuk becoming prime minister and several top government posts given to the ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.
In the ensuing days, the right-wing violence spread beyond Kiev, prompting Crimea’s legislature to propose secession from Ukraine and readmission to Russia, whose relationship to the peninsula dated back to Catherine the Great.
Crimea scheduled a referendum that was opposed by the new regime in Kiev. Russian troops did not “invade” Crimea because some 20,000 were already stationed there as part of a basing agreement at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The Russians did provide security for the referendum but there was no evidence of intimidation as the citizens of Crimea voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Putin and the Russian duma accepted.
Eastern Ukrainians tried to follow Crimea’s lead with their own referendum, but Putin and Russia rejected their appeals to secede. However, when the Kiev regime launched an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” against the so-called Donbass region – spearheaded by ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi militias – Russia provided military assistance so these ethnic Russians would not be annihilated.
Karen DeYoung also framed the Minsk agreement as if it were imposed on Putin when he was one of its principal proponents and architects, winning its approval in early 2015 at a time when the Ukrainian military was facing battlefield reversals.
But Assistant Secretary Nuland, working with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and the Ukrainian parliament, sabotaged the agreement by requiring the Donbass rebels to first surrender which they were unwilling to do, having no faith in the sincerity of the Kiev regime to live up to its commitment to grant limited autonomy to the Donbass.
In other words, Kiev inserted a poison pill to prevent a peaceful resolution, but the Western media and governments always blame the Minsk failure on Putin.
If Karen DeYoung wanted to boil all this history down to one paragraph, it might go: “The Ukraine conflict began when U.S. officials supported the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, prompting Crimea to rejoin Russia and causing ethnic Russians in the east to rise up against the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev, which then sought to crush the rebellion. The Kiev regime later torpedoed a peace deal that had been hammered out by Russian, Ukrainian and European negotiators in Minsk.”
But such a summary would not have the desired propaganda effect on the American people. It would not present the U.S.-backed side as the “white hats” and the pro-Russia side as the “black hats.”
The simple truth is that the story of Ukraine is far more complex and multi-sided than The Washington Post, The New York Times and most mainstream U.S. news outlets want to admit. They simply start the clock at the point of Crimea’s rejection of the post-coup regime and distort those facts to present the situation simply as a “Russian invasion.”
A Whipped-Up Hysteria
The major media’s distortion is so egregious that you could call it a lie, but it is a lie that has proved very useful in whipping up the current anti-Russian hysteria that is sweeping Official Washington and that has given birth to a New Cold War, now accompanied by a New McCarthyism that deems anyone who doesn’t accept the “groupthink” a “Russian apologist” or a “Moscow stooge.”
Since last November’s election, this New McCarthyism has merged with hatred toward Donald Trump, especially after the outgoing Obama administration lodged unproven accusations that Russia undercut Hillary Clinton’s campaign by hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and those of her campaign chairman John Podesta – and slipped that information to WikiLeaks.
Those emails showed how the DNC undercut the rival campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders and revealed the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks as well as pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation, information that Clinton wanted to keep from the voters.
But no one thought the emails were a major factor in the Clinton-Trump race; indeed, Clinton blamed her stunning defeat on FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute decision to reopen and then re-close his investigation into security concerns about her use of a private email server as Secretary of State.
But the script on how Clinton lost was flipped during the Trump transition as President Obama’s intelligence agencies floated the Russia-hacked-the-election scenario although presenting no public evidence to support the claims. WikiLeaks representatives also denied getting the material from Russia, suggesting instead that it was leaked by two different American insiders.
A Ministry of Truth
Still, during the post-election period, the anti-Russian hysteria continued to build. In November, The Washington Post highlighted claims by an anonymous group called PropOrNot accusing some 200 Web sites, including Consortiumnews.com and other major independent media outlets, of disseminating Russian “propaganda.”
The New York Times joined in the frenzy by calling for leading technology companies to marginalize Web sites that are deemed to be publishing “fake news,” a vague term that was applied not just to intentionally false stories but to information that questioned official narratives, no matter how dubious those narratives were. The New McCarthyism was morphing into a New Orwellianism.
The movement toward a Ministry of Truth gained further momentum in December when Congress passed and President Obama signed a military authorization bill that included a new $160 million bureaucracy to identify and counter alleged “Russian propaganda.”
The anger of Democrats and liberals toward President Trump in his first month has added more fuel to the Russia-bashing with some Democrats and liberals seeing it as a possible route toward neutralizing or impeaching Trump. Thus, the calls for a full-scale investigation with subpoena power to demand documents and compel testimony.
While the idea of getting to the full truth has a superficial appeal, it also carries dangers of launching a witch hunt that would drag American citizens before inquisitors asking about any contacts – no matter how innocuous – with Russians.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, HUAC also claimed that all it wanted was the truth about whether some Americans were allied with or sympathetic to Moscow. Sen. Joe McCarthy offered a similar rationale when he was trying to root out “disloyal” Americans with the question, “are you now or have you ever been a communist?”
That Democrats and liberals who hold the McCarthy era in understandable disdain would now seek to rekindle something similar reeks of rank opportunism and gross hypocrisy – doing whatever it takes to “get Trump” and build an activist movement that can revive the Democratic Party’s flagging political hopes.
But this particular opportunism and hypocrisy also carries with it the prospect of blindly ramping up tensions with Russia, diverting more taxpayer money into the Military-Industrial Complex and conceivably sparking – whether planned or unplanned – a nuclear Armageddon that could eliminate life on the planet. Perhaps this anti-Trump strategy should be rethought.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
Review of Douglas Valentine’s The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World
The terrible truth is that a Cult of Death rules America and is hell-bent on world domination.
— Douglas Valentine
Douglas Valentine’s life’s work has been to expose and explain the CIA’s role in many key aspects of American society, and how they’re behind most of the atrocities, subversion and war since WWII, all over the world. I doubt that any other writer has given the details, or written with the force and courage that he has. He’s told us how America really functions, and what is behind much of its success in business, especially overseas. He’s described how the CIA infiltrates and is protected by the media and all the branches of the government, and how they can create chaos and control political messages, here and abroad. I’d like to talk a bit about how what I’ve learned from reading Douglas Valentine’s books can be seen day to day on the news and other media outlets. I’ll focus on the most current events that I think are very indicative of planned control and subversion. Valentine covers many other events in his new book, The CIA As Organized Crime, so I’ll add my thoughts.
I’m writing this review of Douglas Valentine’s crucial new book, The CIA As Organized Crime, as the Democratic Party conducts a mainstream and social media based “revolution” against Trump. Most of the protestors are summoned from Party front group databases and many are paid to protest by big donors like George Soros. The theme of this revolution is: Stop (Impeach/Kill) the Racist Fascist Dictator! Other themes from other times and other presidents are: Make the World Safe for Democracy and 9/11 – Never Forget!
This theme was created by operatives and principles from the Obama gang and their overlords from the ruling financial elite. These people were responsible for war crimes in Libya, Ukraine and Syria among many other atrocities resulting in the deaths of over four hundred thousand people, as many or more maimed, millions of refugees, entire cities destroyed along with many antiquities. These war crimes were committed by actual neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and by fascist terrorist groups in Syria, funded and armed by the Obama gang and the Republican neocons, through its allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. But the protestors carry signs that say “Stop Fascism!” only now that Trump is elected.
I’m not arguing that it’s unfair or wrong to protest Trump but want to make the deeper point that some people recognize this as the result of social engineering and media-based mind control. The obvious question is: how is it possible that all of the Obama gang’s war crimes were never called fascistic and never massively protested? How is it possible that millions were kept in a deep trance and suddenly activated into enraged bloodthirsty revolutionaries? It’s Guy Debord’s prophecy [quoted on p.305 of Valentine’s book] come true: “Yet the highest ambition of the integrated spectacle is still to turn secret agents into revolutionaries and revolutionaries into secret agents.” This anti-Trump scenario goes a big step further by turning average citizens who think they’re being progressive and moral into revolutionaries and secret agents! They’re not only protesting against Trump but for the serial war criminal Clinton, who was the obvious Establishment choice. That’s what makes this protest so sinister. The media was completely for her and so were many arch Establishment Republicans like the Bush gang.
Here’s Valentine [p. 346]:
The CIA established a strategic intelligence network of magazines and publishing houses, as well as student and cultural organizations, including political and psychological warfare operations directed against American citizens. In other nations, the program was aimed at what Cord Meyer [CIA agent] called the Compatible Left, which in America translates into liberals and pseudo-intellectual status seekers who are easily influenced.
All of this is ongoing, despite being exposed in the late 1960s. Various technological advances, including the internet, have spread the network around the world and many people don’t even realize they’re a part of it, that they’re promoting the CIA line.
Valentine’s new book explains how societies, going back to early organized humanity, have been controlled to believe certain myths, primarily warrior hero myths. Today, these myths are very pervasive and diffused. They’re called “beliefs” and “opinions” and are often disguised in moralistic language; even the protests are controlled and co-opted and diluted to create other myths. Myths like the Democratic Party is anti-war or the protector of minorities, women and workers and only the other party is racist, sexist and militaristic. This myth, carefully engineered and delivered to the masses through the media, and meant to keep the US bitterly divided, is what was used to trigger the targeted group to react when called upon, in tacit, and often explicit support of the psychopath Clinton.
The themes and messages are delivered to the gullible public by the media through “news” agencies; books, including revisionist history and pandering biographies; social media viral thinking; celebrities of all factions; and nominally fictional movies, TV shows and books, such as Fox’s 24, Ben Affleck’s Argo, Kathyrn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Clancy books etc.
The people that planned the war crimes in Ukraine, Libya and Syria are actual fascist dictators, but the revolutionaries aren’t aware of this and refuse to believe it even when confronted with undeniable proof. The people that control the media are the same people that planned the war crimes. I know, I know, it’s one of those things you just can’t believe, right? It’s just too much! Don’t bury your head in the sand; it’s not going away. Douglas Valentine’s new book will explain how that’s just the way those people planning those things want to keep it. You obey the laws and they’ll break them. You believe what they say and they’ll get rich while you live in deception.
The socially engineered revolutionaries in the streets range from middle-aged white suburban housewives and their teenage kids, to young black militants and activists to celebrities from both mainstream and counter/alternative culture: Robert De Niro and Madonna to Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, who called Obama a “conscientious politician.” Moore is a disturbing case: a brilliant rock musician and lyricist, who is capable of writing a song about Chelsea Manning, yet calls Obama, her jailer and tormentor, “conscientious” and a “legal scholar.” He refuses to play in Israel, supporting the BDS movement, but endorsed Clinton, a devoted enemy of Palestine, after Sanders capitulated to her. What is this? Moral relativism? Can it even be called moral? This type of thinking is rampant with liberals and conservatives alike and with people everywhere, but we’re seeing the spectacle in a new form with this level of hysteria, and with the massive liberal Group Think that has even infected artists who are supposed to be punk and counter culture figures. They’re supposed to know what bullshit is!
These people: enraged, genuinely scared and hysterical, are demanding Trump be toppled, “by any means necessary,”(also from Moore, playing Malcom X). There are countless Facebook assassins calling for Trump’s blood. Madonna exhorts people to blow up the White House. Rosie O’Donnell begged Obama to enact martial law! Mainstream rags and CIA-linked journalists glibly write about assassination and coups. After all this, they shamelessly call Trump a fascist! This happened in Trump’s first week, before he even has a chance to commit his own war crimes or to show how loyal he is to the old power structure and how he thinks the CIA is “really really great.” Maybe they’re just teasing him a bit, eh? A shot across the bow.
These “revolutionaries” are transmitting a message of violence, planted in them by a methodical and purposeful system of disinformation and smears, in the hopes that it will activate some deranged person who thinks they’re on a mission from God, or better yet, Madonna or Lady Gaga – Remember Jodie Foster. That’s one possibility but the people who plan these things like to keep all their options open at all times. It’s a world of possibilities for them. Their Chosen One, Clinton, was buried alive by the dispossessed workers in the Rust Belt, and now they must seriously look at their options. Doug Valentine’s new book gives you the history and methods of how they look at their options and the results of those options. It’s not for the feint of heart. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
These revolutionaries were nowhere to be seen while Obama droned thousands to smithereens and allowed for the destruction of three nations, and the continuing destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. I doubt the millions of socially engineered revolutionaries will ever see themselves for what they are, despite being told by many people in real time responses to their social media rage (before they get blocked by the liberals defending free speech). They’ve found a purpose in life, or, more likely, “somebody” found a purpose for them. Douglas Valentine’s new book will explain how and why those “somebodies” do that.
[From p. 311]:
Information management –including official secrecy and false accusations – is the key to pacifying the people through implicit terror, while making the internal security apparatus appear legal, moral and popular. This is being done to American citizens through the most ambitious psywar campaign ever waged on planet Earth.
Some books raise the curtain on the whole shit show, and this is one of those books. I haven’t read everything about US history and politics, but I’ve read enough to know the score. I did read Valentine’s previous books: The Phoenix Program, Strength of the Pack, and Strength of the Wolf, and I reviewed them for Amazon and Goodreads. Before reading them, I thought I knew the score, but I didn’t really. Now I do. I knew we were screwed but just not how badly and I didn’t know how exactly it happened that we are in the mess we are in.
Valentine names all the perps and all the plans. He weaves the comments of the people he interviews into his own prose structure that creates a fascinating, page-turning narrative that never lags. It often reminds me of Raymond Chandler and William Burroughs, when they talk about the sordid and sad ways of the world. He’s never boring, even when he’s detailing bureaucratic structures, probably because the details are so damn sinister. His sentences are deadly efficient, hard-hitting, dense with information and always end with a stab to the heart of the beast he so clearly and righteously despises. He is the real revolutionary.
His books are deeply detailed with interviews from the people that set up the bureaucracies like the Phoenix Program and the various inter-agency drug front groups, designed to parasitically subsume nations through corruption paired with false ideological political motives. False, because as it turned out, the endgame wasn’t freedom and democracy as the USA-CIA promised, in countries like Vietnam and El Salvador and Iraq, to name a few; the endgame was the looting of resources, land grabs for corporate and strategic gain and in the larger sense, world domination, a.k.a. neoliberal globalism/corporatism– Valentine’s subtitle: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World.
The word on the street is that the CIA does not operate in America’s interest; that is, doing things that would protect the majority of Americans and ensure that the country’s written standards and laws are upheld. Instead, it subverts nations for an oligarchy of super-rich financial and corporate interests that are essentially trans-national or global, whose allegiance is not national; their allegiance is to a captive government at the service of, and essentially indistinguishable from, financial institutions. The oligarchy is comprised of the super-rich of many nations whose money is handled by one dominant Western system and network. The goal is to enrich this group at any cost and since the cost to maintain the system is greater than the profits, making it essentially a Ponzi scheme, constant looting through warfare, debt service, taxes, stock market/real estate bubbles and bailouts, and organized crime must be maintained to generate cash. The majority of humanity is the intended victim of all of these massive crimes and the key is that they pay the costs, while the oligarchs take the profits. Anyone that works to further the interests of the oligarchy are given decent-paying jobs with lots of benefits and perks, pensions, and sometimes, included in schemes that bring in a lot of money. They’re also made to feel superior and part of some glorious purpose.
Valentine’s new book is the introduction to and condensation and summation of his other work along with several interviews that always add and elaborate on his subject of CIA control mechanisms and corruption of governments, starting with the US; it enhances the reading of those other great works and offers many insights into the time up to 2016, after the period covered in the other books: the early 20th century to the mid 1990s. The subjects of his previous books are political subversion of nations through terror and war for profit, and government collusion with, and control of, organized crime. This book is equally as important as the others, and continues the previous subjects, but includes the other main element of government control: the media’s role in propaganda, secrecy, social engineering and mind control. Valentine has masterfully condensed his previous books, while integrating his thoughts on the media component of control throughout the chapters. The result is not only a history of the CIA but a precise description of how the US government and society works.
The Phoenix Program exposed the new method that the US would use to take over governments and the collusion between the military and political(intelligence) units of government. Think tank intellectuals are the mouthpieces for the financial oligarchs: this is the vaunted public-private partnership. It’s being extended into private mercenary armies and intelligence gathering corporations, mostly in the form of cyber-security groups. All of these are branches of the CIA in spirit and often in fact. They create the complexity and confusion that provides cover; this system of multiple companies and organizations is also used by big financial institutions. It becomes so extensive and diffused that people say it can’t ALL be CIA; but it is; at least anything the CIA thinks matters.
Valentine’s overarching subject is the military/political/intelligence, and corporate (finance) networks and how they interconnect. Phoenix is the blueprint for total bureaucratic conquest of a foreign country using virtually untraceable cash that is returned with interest from profits reaped, or raped, from the conquest. The cash comes from a complex network of taxes, crime, and corporate donors. To the people involved in subverting countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, war is nothing more than a good investment. They know they aren’t patriots and don’t give a damn about democracy, freedom, women’s rights, the troops, or any of the other things they incessantly babble about. That stuff is just their con artist’s cover story for the rubes.
In Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack, Valentine describes the connections between the police and intelligence apparatus and organized crime for the purpose of controlling the sources of all organized crime profits — mainly drugs and weapons — but also prostitution and human trafficking. This is the chaos element necessary to prevent the formation of viable political opposition. The enormous profits from crime fund much of the dark budgets of the CIA and other intel groups, and are used to corrupt individuals, buy weapons and train and equip proxy death squads and terrorist armies. Crime also weakens, impoverishes and destabilizes cultures and societies, turning ethnic groups against each other and themselves. We see this clearly in the US with gang warfare over drug turf.
I don’t think any other book on this subject could ever surpass the intricacy of Valentine’s books, built around the first-hand accounts from most of the main agents involved. They are, among other things, epic accomplishments in the art of the interview, conducted on a massive scale. Valentine doesn’t hold anything back or stop short, like so many books do. The point of the exhaustive interviews, as well as his prose, is to lay bare the ugly reality that the US government took over the drug trade as a key element in its strategy for world control, especially post WWII. This is really where they beat the Soviets, who, I’m afraid, with all their devious chess master skills, failed to see that killer strategy. As a result of that killer strategy, heroin has gone from a deeply underground big city thing, then to much wider inner city use, and now a worldwide epidemic that’s in every little town from Maine to Moldova; it’s hopelessly fed and complicated (by design?) by the presence of highly addictive pharmaceutical opiods that are always getting stronger.
The missing component in Valentine’s work, until now, in his study of the US government’s control strategy, was the media – it’s the main subject of this new book. While in some chapters he condenses the subjects of his other books, he’s doing it in the context of the media’s role — that he writes about in greater detail in other chapters — exposing the work of corrupt or compromised journalists. The book is a synthesis of his previous subjects and the role the media plays in protecting the secrecy and spreading the lies that enable subversion and conquest of nations.
Valentine quotes from the Marine Corps Gazette from 1989 [p. 354]:
The new type of warfare will be widely dispersed and largely undefined. The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. There will be no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between civilian and military will disappear. Success will depend heavily on effectiveness and joint operations, as the lines between responsibility and missions become blurred…This new type of warfare will depend on psychological operations manifested in the form of media information intervention… One must be adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion. On this new psychological battlefield, television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.
And it was for a while, but now the mainstream news has been largely ridiculed and exposed, especially by many Trump voters and by Trump himself, calling them “fake news,” turning their own smear phrase against real left and libertarian news sites (mostly internet-based) against them. The whole fake news narrative was certainly a CIA ploy, though a total failure from the start, except, of course, for the liberal “revolutionaries” and Democrats in Congress who still repeat that Putin was behind the “fake news” about Clinton’s record-setting corruption. One positive thing is that many people are looking out for this sort of nonsense, and the concept of false flag attacks, both violent and disinformation-based, has entered into the public consciousness to a certain extent. Valentine asserts that the CIA will always increase the pressure and resort to a complete authoritarian takeover, complete with concentration camps, if it feels the interests of the oligarchy are threatened.
Valentine describes his own blackballing by the mainstream media starting with Morley Safer doing a poison pen hit job on The Phoenix Program in the New York Times. It killed the book in its infancy and thwarted his career as an historian and journalist for many years. But Safer is already forgotten while Valentine is and will always be regarded as one of the truly great and courageous historians and journalists.
Valentine exposes “heroes” like Daniel Ellsberg and his CIA friends and connections; he explains that they’re only allowed to become heroes, as a show for the masses, that re-enforces the myth that America is a country where no one is above the law. But the age of the heroes is over, as we see with Snowden and Manning; it didn’t last too long, did it? He describes how famous journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Sy Hersh stop short of exposing the whole story and are in a sense being used to convey diluted messages. He talks at length about how war criminals like former Senator Bob Kerrey, Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT) and others are repackaged as heroes and put into public office. He details evidence against them that is enough for any fair judicial system to put them on trial.
Valentine’s great gift to the nation and the world is to show that most of what you see in the news is all highly orchestrated and interconnected to direct US military wars or indirect subversion like Syria, Ukraine and the many countries before them. What was acceptable one day, and even created by the US, like Saddam Hussein, is not acceptable after a certain preordained expiration date. One day acceptable, the next day Hitler. Same story over and over again and the suckers buy it every time. Valentine gives philosophical and psychological context of the effects of these often subtle, but noticeable journalistic compromises and purposeful failures, on the willingness of people to understand and seek intellectual, emotional, and consequentially, political freedom.
My intention was to convey how important Valentine’s work as a whole is, and how this new book is another main component of his enormously complex theme. I say another because I want more; but we can be satisfied with this book because it closes the circle: government (military-intel-private finance)/organized crime/ and now media (mainstream and compromised leftist journalism). Others can elaborate with more books but he’s giving them the blueprint to work from.
Which brings me back to the Democratic Party/Facebook revolutionaries. If they want to know why they’re out there, and why they think Trump is a fascist but Obama isn’t, and why they think they’re really doing something for the good of the country, they should read this book, and all of Doug Valentine’s books; then, maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize that they’re out there on the streets because some people sitting in skyscrapers, and government buildings and secure compounds want them there, and told them them to go there, and are dictating the terms every step of the way through the media.
They’ve been conditioned to scream “RACIST!” on demand, and to be silent when institutional racism is being carried on by a black president, or by Bill Clinton, who the media absurdly calls, “the first black president.” They’re silent as the tomb when the “good guys” are bombing black, brown, yellow and white people. Maybe those people will never read Douglas Valentines new book, but hopefully you will.
Representative Maxine Waters has argued that US President Donald Trump will inevitably be impeached because of his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin who she claimed is “advancing in Korea.”
Waters, a 13-term Democrat from Los Angeles, has called for Trump’s impeachment several times now, however she has yet to explicitly accuse the president of breaking the law.
Speaking to reporters with other House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Waters sought to explain why she is pushing for Trump’s impeachment less than a month into his term in the White House.
“I am not calling for the impeachment yet. He’s doing it himself,” Waters claimed.
“How can a president, who is acting in the manner that he’s acting, whether he’s talking about the travel ban, the way that he’s talking to Muslims, or whether he’s talking about his relationship to Putin, and the Kremlin, and knowing that they have hacked our D-triple-C, DNC, and knowing that he is responsible for supplying the bombs that killed innocent children and families in, um… um… Aleppo.”
“And the fact that he is wrapping his arms around Putin while Putin is continuing to advance into Korea. I think that he is leading himself into that kind of position where folks will begin to ask, what are we going to do?”
“And the answer is going to be, eventually, we’ve got to do something about him. We cannot continue to have a president who’s acting in this manner. It’s dangerous to the United States of America.
“Aleppo” was suggested to Waters by members of the press corps when she couldn’t remember where she alleged that the Russian president supplied bombs.
Waters may argue that it was merely a slip of the tongue, and that she meant Crimea as opposed to Korea.
Pelosi quickly distanced herself from her colleague’s comments. “Many things the congresswoman said are grounds for displeasure and unease in the public about the performance of this president,” she said.
She explained that Trump has acted in a way that is “strategically incoherent, incompetent and that is reckless… that is not grounds for impeachment,” she stated.
Democrats will tell you that the Republicans are the reason the U.S. is the only industrial country in the world that does not have universal, government-provided health care. But, that’s not true. Despite their legislative majorities, the Republicans are not strong enough on their own to defeat a concerted campaign for a Medicare for All program, which is supported by overwhelming majorities of the public, including a very large percentage of Republicans. The U.S. does not have a single payer health care system because corporate Democratic leadership, most shamefully under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have confused the public about what is, and what is not, “universal” health care. They have offered counterfeit, private industry-based schemes – “Hillary-care” in 1993, Obamacare in 2009 — and fraudulently called them universal health care, when in fact these were bait-and-switch schemes designed to prevent the successful passage of a genuine single payer health program.
The numbers tell the tale. When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992, two-thirds of the public – 66 percent – told pollsters they supported a “national health insurance plan financed by tax money.” The Clintons instead responded with a secretly-hatched “managed competition” plan that relied on private insurers and took more than 1,300 pages to explain. “Hillary-care” died ignominiously in Congress.
By late 2006, an amazing 69 percent of Americans were telling pollsters they agreed with the statement that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.” Barack Obama was getting ready to make his run for the White House. He claimed to want something he called “universal health care.” Most people assumed he meant a single payer, Medicare for All-type program, but instead, Obama dusted off an old Republican private insurance-based plan devised by the far-right Heritage Foundation and later adopted by Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Not only was Obamacare unpopular on its own merits, but because Obama had used the trick terminology “universal health care” to describe his program, the public became confused and demoralized about the whole subject of government health care. By 2016, only 44 percent of the people had a positive reaction to the term “single payer health coverage.” However, nearly two-thirds of those polled — 64 percent — liked the idea of Medicare-for-All, which is a form of single payer. Medicare for the elderly is probably the nation’s most popular social safety net program, and younger folks would like to be part of it, too, including lots of low-income Republicans. Even Donald Trump used to be for it.
Medicare-for-All is an idea whose time has come — again! And, with Obamacare being dismantled and a health care emergency looming, one would think the Democrats would seize the time to push for a truly universal health care plan with such broad support. But, corporate Democratic leadership — just like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — do not really want single payer health care, because their fat cat contributors oppose it. Therefore, they will urge the people to waste their energy on trying to salvage some aspects of Obamacare.
Bernie Sanders will help them do it, because he’s still sheep-dogging for corporate Democrats.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Representative Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
233 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
January 17, 2017
Dear Representative Pelosi:
I see you were quoted in The Hill newspaper recently (“Pelosi Rips GOP for Cut and Run Strategy on Obamacare,” by Mike Lillis, January 12, 2017) saying that you are for single payer health insurance. You had this preference before Presidents Clinton and Obama, who ideally agree with you, dismissed single payer as “impractical” given the entrenched and powerful healthcare industry.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article titled “21 Ways Canada’s Single Payer System Beats Obamacare”.
Within a week or so, your colleague, Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), will re-introduce HR 676, the single payer bill in the House.
Will you actively support this much more efficient and comprehensive legislation, with its many advantages proven in other countries, and persuade other House Democrats to also co-sponsor?
Last year, only 63 Democrats co-sponsored.
Obamacare, without a public option, has been a complex patchwork in so many ways — including forcing individuals to purchase inadequate insurance from private health insurance companies — insurance that carries with it high premiums, deductibles, co-pays and forces narrow networks.
For many, Obamacare is quasi-catastrophic insurance with limited choice of doctor and hospital.
If the Republicans repeal Obamacare, Democrats need to be ready and offer to replace it with something that can attract left/right support — single payer, Medicare for All — everyone in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital, no medical bankruptcies, no coercive co-pays or deductibles, with all their accompanying fears and anxieties, and no more deaths due to lack of health insurance.
A December 2015 national Kaiser public opinion poll found that 58 percent of adults in the U. S. supported single payer (Medicare for All), including 81 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 30 percent of Republicans. Imagine the poll numbers when Full Medicare for All starts to be explained, in its clear simplicity, and promoted by a major political party.
Let’s work together to present the American people something both more efficient and responsive that they want and need — Medicare for All and freedom to choose their doctor, clinic and hospital.
PO Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
There are many indications of the deep systemic crisis now confronting America and the world. The fact that Donald Trump was elected president when neither his party nor any of the elites wanted him is just one piece of evidence. The bizarre passivity from Democrats after their party’s colossal failure is another. These people who are loath to point out the extent of the Democrats’ disintegration do little else but repeat the many reasons they don’t like Trump. Increasingly they use Russophobia and what was once the language of the right wing to do it.
The crisis of legitimacy has turned the world upside down. People who call themselves progressives are engaged in a contest to see who can blame Russia when the failings come from their own leadership. This columnist witnessed participants in anti-Trump inaugural protests carrying signs attacking Vladimir Putin and blaming him for the election outcome.
The evidence of Russian interference in the elections is based on the flimsiest evidence. It is far more likely that an insider gave the Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks. Trump’s call for dialogue with Russia is a reasonable one that should call progressives to question why they cling to the war party when they say they want peace. Instead they join in helping the Democrats to excuse their debacle. In so doing they support a very dangerous effort to expand American hegemony against another nuclear power.
Democrats are eager to embarrass themselves in the Russophobic frenzy. A California state legislator is sponsoring a bill that would require schools to teach children that the Russian government interfered in the election. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have joined in sinking to new depths of stupidity and uselessness.
Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against war in Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks, is now among those pointing fingers at Russia. She opposed the Electoral College certification of Trump’s victory based on a belief in the findings of the “intelligence community.” This new phrase was chosen deliberately to make the institutions that deprive millions of people of their human rights seem more like a neighborhood block association. Her colleague Elijah Cummings was equally idiotic. “If we don’t respond now the Russians will attack us again.” It is sad to watch Maxine Waters, once among the most progressive members, as she blathers on that Putin and Trump “wrap their arms around each other” and are “in the bed together.” She says that Putin is responsible for “killing innocent children in Syria” when the United States instigated that humanitarian disaster and Russia may bring it to a close.
The orders from the discredited Democratic leadership are clear. Everyone parrots the same foolish words. All repeat that “seventeen intelligence agencies” confirm Russian interference and use the phrase “intelligence community” as if they were hypnotized cult members. Such is the degree of irrelevance now afflicting Democrats from the leadership down to the rank and file.
Democrats are no longer interested in action, demands or debate. They treat their party as if it is a religion to be worshipped and not as a political force that is supposed to deliver what they want. It is astounding that Hillary Clinton raised $1 billion and lost because she failed to gain an additional 77,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Even more astounding is the fact that Democrats won’t call her or the rest of their leadership to account for their stunning and ignominious failure.
The years of marketing spin and acquiescence to Democratic Party corruption have brought the leadership and members to a new low. Having given up their power to the likes of Clinton, Obama and another Clinton, Democrats have rendered themselves mute. The Obama team’s famous marketing acumen turned into a poison. The era of being able to fool all of the people all of the time had ended but the Democratic Party persisted in thinking they could use the same thin gruel and win again.
Instead, a reality television star found a way to touch the nerve of millions of desperate people. If the Democrats acknowledged that most Americans have a yearly income of less than $31,000 or that national student loan debt totals an astronomical $1 trillion they may have seen Hillary Clinton inaugurated instead of Trump. But they failed and won’t admit it. Now their members have chosen to let them off the hook by spinning tall tales of Russian espionage. They no longer even pretend to care about the issues their constituents do, and that is why Hillary Clinton isn’t the new president.
The members of the CBC have now proven themselves to be the worst of the lot. Years of capitulation to corporate interests and to Barack Obama have killed black politics. The anti-Russia mutterings are proof of their irrelevance. But they should not just be ignored. They must be taken on and called out because they are most likely to fight our efforts at self-determination and revolutionary change. The best that can be said about their sad performance is that they have exposed themselves as dupes and traitors. It is always a good thing to see the truth, no matter how sad it may be.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
The access of RT (Russia Today), a Russian state-funded media company, to its Facebook page was partially blocked by the social network. The ban would have coincided with President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20. The pretext was a copyright complaint about an Associated Press (AP) video stream of Barack Obama’s press conference on RT’s Facebook page on January 18. The ban, initially set to last until January 21, was lifted on January 19. RT has a sizable Facebook presence, with 4.1 million likes.
This is the first time that Facebook has ever blocked the content of any media outlet from appearing on the service. No other news outlet has been punished by Facebook in a manner like this.
The event is part of a broader picture. A few hours after the Facebook ban, RT claimed that some users had complained about not being able to see news from the broadcaster on other social media platforms. It was corrected later. Dataminr, a news-alert service partly owned by Twitter, has terminated its contract with the broadcaster. RT has received a request from YouTube to show that its employees were not among the individuals sanctioned by the US over Ukraine.
RT appears to come under attacks coming from all sides. The journalists and university professors in the United States who have appeared on RT television have been blacklisted. Last October, the National Westminster Bank informed RT that it would no longer have the broadcaster among its clients. The bank provided no explanation for the decision. «They closed our accounts in Britain. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’. Long live freedom of speech!» RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account.
The US intelligence report on Russia’s alleged hacking issued this January says «RT — as well as Sputnik, another Russian government–funded English-language propaganda outlet — began aggressively producing pro-Trump and anti-Clinton content starting in March 2016. That just so happens to be the exact same time the Russian hacking campaign targeting Democrats began». The authors of the paper affirm that «During the 2016 campaign, RT aired a number of weird, conspiratorial segments — some starring WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange — that cast Clinton as corrupt and funded by ISIS and portrayed the US electoral system as rigged».
The idea to use soft power for political ends has been glorified in the West, becoming part of all foreign policy concepts. Freedom of speech has always been extolled, any attempts to curtail it have been slammed. Now the West is losing the battle to the Russian outlet offering its own opinions and it is ready to go to any length in an effort to reverse the trend, including outright pressure.
RT challenges the West’s hegemonic grip on shaping and controlling the global media agenda. The broadcaster is popular with Western audiences because it offers a refreshingly different perspective. The RT broadcasting is called «propaganda» simply because it says something different.
Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, believes that US media are a «disgrace» and the quality of published material is «embarrassingly low». According to him, «we have a system that’s owned and dominated by a handful of huge corporations».
RT has provided independent journalists and professors a chance to make detailed arguments often contradicting the views expounded by Western mainstream media. Remember how the US and UK «pro-establishment» outlets defended the idea of military intervention in Iraq? That’s life. Governments are prone to employ strategies of manipulation to shape public opinions.
Alternative sources of information are the only way to shape impartial views. One has the right to choose news sources. Useful insights and information may be gained from a variety of the media outlets and RT is the one.
Until now RT has fended off the attacks. It has mustered broad support, including in social networks. The AP has not openly accused RT of running a pirated live-stream of outgoing President Barack Obama’s final speech. Nothing was said openly. Facebook has not responded to RT to explain why the restrictions have been placed on its account. YouTube’s request on sanctioned RT employees was said to be not politically motivated. But it’s not the end. The pressure will grow stronger to threaten the very same values the West has sworn to protect.
For instance, the human rights situation in America evokes concern serious enough to be addressed by media independent from the US government. For instance, Paul Craig Roberts, former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, asked for Russian citizenship accused of being a Russian agent for speaking his mind fearlessly. In particular, in an appearance on RT Mr. Roberts dared to support Senator Bernie Sanders for president.
Many hold an opinion that an information war is being waged. But even wars have certain laws to abide by but RT appears to be engaged in a fight without rules.
It seemed to come almost out of nowhere. The United States usually protects Israel from critical resolutions at the UN Security Council. However, in a dramatic move, the US abstained and a resolution criticizing recent settlement activity was passed by the 15-member body.
But this was not the end. John Kerry, Obama’s former Secretary of State, gave a lengthy address a few days later. Kerry’s speech was not so different from the statements of previous leaders, both Democrats and Republicans. He defended Israel’s existence, and denounced almost all forces actively opposing Israel.
However, Kerry harshly criticized specific Israeli policies. While Kerry’s speech defending the UN abstention uttered the standard, mildly critical, pro-Israeli talking points, it did contain some words that, taken out of context and spread throughout the internet, could and did indeed make a lot of Israelis and Zionists very angry. The most quoted one was: “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both.”
Kerry was alluding to the fact that if Palestinians are absorbed into Israel in a “one state solution” but Israel remains a “Jewish State” this will not be democratic. According to Kerry, under such circumstances Palestinians would be second class citizens, i.e. non-Jews in a Jewish state.
Immediately, Kerry’s speech was decried by Israelis. Netanyahu fired back, as did the entire pro-Israeli blogosphere. The Republican and Likud Party aligned voices escalated the shrill accusations that Obama was a secret Muslim, a member of the Muslim brotherhood, a terrorist sympathizer, a Neo-Nazi, a Communist, and everything else he has been called for 8 years straight.
Meanwhile, Israel did not stop its settlement activity, and was not really affected at all by the resolution. The billions of dollars in US aid to Israel continued. Obama has left the office on January 20th, and is now replaced by Donald Trump, who claims to be more pro-Israel than Obama. The UN Security Council is not taking any specific action to halt the settlement activities condemned in its resolution.
Nothing really changed, but a lot of dramatic, heated words were exchanged between the USA and its closest Middle Eastern ally. Why did this happen?
Napoleon & Obama: “I Come to Restore Your Rights”
In 1798, the French militarist Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power in the aftermath of the revolution and eventually became Emperor, set out to conquer Egypt. He issued a proclamation saying:
People of Egypt! You will be told by our enemies that I am come to destroy your religion. Believe them not. Tell them I am come to restore your rights, punish your usurpers, and revive the true worship of Mohammed. Tell them that I venerate, more than do the Mamelukes, God, his prophet, and the Koran.
Among the people of Egypt and Syria, as well as the entire Arab world, there was deep hatred for the British and Ottoman empires, who functioned as Napoleon’s rivals. Napoleon hoped that he could convince Muslims throughout the region to support him, and on this basis that he could defeat their hated colonial enemies, and conquer the region for France.
Napoleon was lying. He was not an adherent of the Islam faith. Some speculate that he may have been a freemason, and became familiar with the Koran and Islam due to their inclusion in Masonic rituals. Regardless, years later, Napoleon explained the proclamation to his fellow French Christians saying:
A change of religion, inexcusable for the sake of private interests, becomes comprehensible when immense political results are involved…. Do you think the Empire of the East and perhaps the subjugation of the whole of Asia was not worth a turban and some loose trouser? The state of feeling in the army was such that it would have undoubtedly lent itself to a joke.
Barack Obama, like Napoleon Bonaparte, is not a Muslim. As offensive and heretical as some evangelical Christians and Catholics may consider the teachings of the United Church of Christ and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, they are not Islamic in any conceivable way. Barack Obama was married in a church. He has been photographed drinking wine and eating hot dogs.
Obama’s middle name is “Hussein.” As a child, while living in Indonesia, he attended an Islamic elementary school. Obama apparently did meet with the Palestinian-American professor Edward Said. With all of this to cite as evidence, the allegation that he was a “secret Muslim” has not vanished.
The endless, semi-hysterical attacks on Obama for having alleged links to Islam certainly had an impact outside of US borders. This impact may not have been accidental. Writing in the Atlantic Monthly in 2007, the self-described conservative Andrew Sullivan considered the colorful background of the future president to be an asset:
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy… The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West’s advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this.
Sullivan’s widely read and cited article said:
If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
The USA certainly had a lot of credibility to regain as the Bush era came to an end. The unilateral invasion of Iraq had been widely opposed, not just in the Middle East, but even among NATO states. Bush had gone as far as to say “this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” The word “crusade” doesn’t exactly bring up pleasant feelings among Muslims around the world.
Meanwhile, the federal agencies of the United States flew into a very Islamophobic mode after the 9/11 attacks. The leaders of a religious charity known as the “Holy Land Foundation” were imprisoned for nothing other than running soup kitchens for Palestinian children. Mosques across the United States were then and continue to be widely surveilled.
His Middle Name is “Hussein”
Voices like Andrew Sullivan’s hoped that Obama’s background could restore the credibility of the USA in the eyes of Muslims. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. What came about in the first term of the Obama administration? In 2011 the world watched the “Arab Spring.” Across the Middle East, impoverished people rose up against their governments.
Analysts often argue that the Arab Spring was spawned by the global financial crisis and the regional drought. Throughout the Arab world, crops failed, water was scarce, and impoverished people piled into the cities facing dire economic conditions. The uprisings that eventually erupted were predictable. Such conditions are known to spark unrest.
But the world did not see a repeat of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, where the Persians toppled a western puppet dictator under the slogans of “Not Capitalism but Islam” and “War of Poverty Against Wealth.” The western capitalist apparatus was ready. The Arab Spring was immediately redirected to serve their ends. Social media outlets based in western countries, and the global apparatus of pro-American NGOs swung into action.
With a commander-in-chief who most people in the Middle East had a favorable opinion of, the forces of global power were able to ensure that the revolt did not become an uprising against western capitalism. No new anti-imperialist regimes were born. Rather, the opposite happened.
In Egypt, the pro-US regime of Hosni Mubarak fell, but what replaced it? First, Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the CIA-linked Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was then toppled by a military coup d’etat. Now General Sisi, a top military leader under Mubarak, is in power.
The US backed Saudi regime was allowed to crush the uprisings within its own borders. Ayatollah Nimr Al-Nimr, a Shia cleric who led protests demanding civil liberties and religious freedom in the country was eventually beheaded for his role in the Arab spring. Saudi troops poured into Bahrain to keep the monarchy in power and crush the Shia majority that demanded their rights. In the aftermath of the revolt, Yemen staged a sham election in which Mansour Hadi, a Saudi puppet, was the only candidate on the ballot. Yemen is now torn apart by war, as many Yemenis reject Hadi’s pro-Saudi and Pro-US regime.
The energy and momentum of the Arab Spring, amplified and directed by the western TV networks along with Twitter and Facebook, went toward targeting two anti-imperialist, socialist governments. Gaddafi’s Libya had the highest life expectancy in Africa. Syria’s Bashar Assad presides over a centrally planned economy, supports Palestinian resistance, and is aligned with Iran, Russia and China.
In both Libya and Syria the United States began actively working to transform the Arab Spring into a successful regime change operation. Though the faces promoted on western television were often middle class, secular young people who dreamed of American consumerism while mouthing words about “democracy,” the brute force behind the Syrian and Libyan “revolutions” were religious extremists.
Based from the Syrian and Libyan countryside, forces linked to Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were joined by many foreign Jihadist fighters from throughout the region. The forces who toppled the Libyan government and continue to fight against the Syrian Arab Republic are dominated by those who adhere to Wahabbism, the ideology of Saudi Arabia and Osama Bin Laden. These deeply religious forces, working to topple anti-imperialist governments, happily took guns and funding from a country led by a man who went to a Muslim school, met with Edward Said, and whose middle name happened to be “Hussein.”
Imagine what could have happened in the region, if the wave of uprisings had taken place while George Bush “the crusader” was still in office. Obama’s presidency played a decisive role in manipulating and redirecting the events of 2011.
Netanyahu vs. Obama: A Made For TV Drama
It is not uncommon for celebrities to clash with each other in the public arena. Often, these fights are not spontaneous, but intentionally provoked, or even planned, in order to generate publicity for both parties involved. For example, long before running for President, Donald Trump captured the attention of news headlines by having a spat with TV personality Rosie O’Donnell.
The perceived tension between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama has the looks of a “made for TV drama.” It is a prolonged public spat that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Do they actually dislike each other when the cameras are not rolling? Who knows.
While Obama and Netanyahu have butted heads, the US aid to Israel has not decreased or been cut off. Under Obama, the United States has worked to topple the Baathist Syrian government, one of Israel’s primary regional opponents. Israel has supported the regime change efforts with airstrikes in Syria targeting the anti-ISIS fighters of the Hezbollah organization.
The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, championed loudly from the White House, toppled the Islamic Socialist government that had a long record of opposing Israel and arming Palestinian resistance.
Obama boasts that he has ended Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program, and is making Israel safer from a supposed Iranian threat in the process. While there is occasionally criticism of Israel’s settlement activities, they continue unabated.
However, Obama’s clash with Netanyahu plays well for him, and the United States, in the Arab world. Throughout the Middle East, Netanyahu and Tel-Aviv are the most hated villains. Obama’s trading of nasty words with Israeli leaders raises the credibility of the United States. It gives the United States a kind of distance from Israel on the international stage, while US support remains key and keeps flowing in without pause. Obama’s Department of Justice has even conducted raids against pro-Palestinian activists.
Netanyahu benefits from the spat as well. Fear and hatred of Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs has been key in securing the recent electoral victories of the Likud Party. If Netanyahu looked like he was friendly toward someone who attended an Islamic elementary school, or had the middle name “Hussein” this would discredit him in the eyes of his base.
Despite the fact that Israel receives billions of dollars from the United States, as well as weapons and other assistance, Netanyahu looks as if he is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. Fighting with Obama allows Netanyahu to look like a brave, fearless, true believer in the Zionist cause.
“Don’t Forget About Obama!”
Though many Israelis and supporters of Israel in the United States dislike Donald Trump, he has presented himself during the campaign as a pro-Israeli hardliner. His speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee was a repetition of standard pro-Israeli talking points, saying:
“When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters… In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews.”
Trumps statements about banning Muslim immigration haven’t exactly been popular in the Arab world. Statements like “Islam hates us” don’t go over so well either.
The fear among certain forces in the United States is that Trump could alienate the many Muslim allies of the United States in the Arab world. Wall Street oil companies make lots of money from the various autocratic regimes in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arab, UAE, and elsewhere. Pentagon weapons manufacturers also make lots of money from selling their hardware to these regimes.
Like Napoleon’s strategy in Egypt, efforts to portray Obama as sympathizer with Muslims and Arabs haven’t exactly worked out so well. While the elites within the US aligned Gulf States and some of extremists forces who have poured into Syria have bought into the idea Obama is a trustworthy ally, many people in the region have not. The Syrian government has not fallen. Iran has not really been weakened.
The economic problems and other factors that fueled the discontent of 2011 have not vanished. There is no guarantee that the oil bankers of the United States will keep their grip over this vastly important territory. Certain sectors harbor real fear that Trump’s brash tone could now ruin everything. [emphasis added]
The last minute moves at the UN Security Council, publicly invoking Israel’s wrath, was a message to the Arab world. It was a desperate, final attempt to say: “Whatever Trump does, don’t forget about Obama! Not all Americans are hardline supporters of Israel! Not everyone in Washington hates the Arabs! Muslims of the world, keep trusting us, don’t turn against America!”
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College.