From the CIA document dump earlier this week: Online Now! 12 Million Pages of Declassifed CIA Documents I read all four documents Ynet is claiming demonstrate some imminent danger against Israel.
What is actually written there leaves one with the impression that Israel desired and planned for the war- despite the US asking them, more than once, not to preemptively strike other nations. And clearly reporting that Israel had begun to mobilize troops in advance of their desired war.
Considering all the recent Israeli aggression against Syria present day. The invasion of Lebanon. I find it impossible to believe that Israel was anything but the aggressor in this instance.
Despite the spin put on this news by Ynet.
The very first document Ynet points to:
There is NO information to confirm Israeli reports of an imminent attack-
“We have no information that would confirm the Israeli reports of an imminent attack”
In fact there is proof of a partial mobilization of Israeli Defense forces already being underway
“He said that a partial mobilization of the Israeli Defense Force is underway”
The second document used by Ynet, again fails to demonstrate an attack is imminent against Israel- It may demonstrate that there was going to be an attack against Syria? If we should assume citizens of the Soviet Union were actually being evacuated? Which is what this document does. “probably”?
The third document doesn’t confirm imminent attack either?
The US asks Israel to exercise restraint
The US asks Israel to take no preemptive action
The US opposes preemptive action on the part of Israel
The fourth document tells us only about Israel’s intelligence.
“I was notified that the Israeli’s have what they consider to be hard information…”
“Urgently communicating with the Israelis, Warning them against any pre emptive attack”
And Egypt expected an Israeli provocation..
Ynet : The morning of the coordinated attack on Israel, US assessments flipped from presuming war was not on the horizon to frantic attempts to prevent Syria and Turkey from attacking the Jewish state, which was warned off any preemptive strike.
Read the documents and decide for yourself... In all four documents it is clear Israel has prepared for an aggressive move and the US is repeatedly calling for restraint. Warning Israel not to move preemptively. Egypt expecting an Israeli provocation..
… and so does the Palestinian leader (again)
The Middle East peace conference in Paris was the usual farce with Israel and Palestine, the subjects under discussion, both staying away. Netanyahu called the talks “useless” and Abbas was off opening an embassy in Vatican City and meeting the Pope while 70 nations gathered to take part in another peace pantomime. It ended with a pathetic declaration urging both sides to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution”.
Is this what the much-trumpeted 2-state solution looks like?
Everyone knows Netanyahu and the Israeli regime have never wanted peace. Land-grabbing and ethnic cleansing is what they do, so the jackboot of Israeli occupation must remain firmly on the Palestinians’ neck. He was bound to treat any peace conference with utmost contempt. And Abbas’s crass absence was not only another slap in the face to all who sympathise with the Palestinians’ plight and to the millions of campaigners who fight for their cause but also another disservice to the Palestinian people.
I call the conference declaration “pathetic” because no-one in the international community, as far as I’m aware, has actually told us what the 2-state solution they keep banging on about will look like – or even what they think it should look like. No-one, that is, since Ehud Barak and his so-called “generous offer” to the Palestinians in the summer of 2000.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22% and recognise Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishingly big-hearted concession on their part.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Israel. Barak’s “generous offer” demanded the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22% Palestinian remnant. It was obvious on the map that those settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control probably indefinitely. The generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? But the ludicrous reality of Barak’s 2-state solution was cleverly hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. The ugly facts of the matter are well documented and explained by organisations such as Gush Shalom, yet the Israel lobby’s stooges continue to peddle the lie that Israel offered the Palestinians a generous peace on a plate. Is Barak’s crazed vision of the 2-state solution the one the 70 nations have in mind?
Britain’s stance on Palestinian independence has always been nonsensical. I remember former foreign secretary Alistair Burt announcing that we would not recognise a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel. London “could not recognise a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders.”
Where did he suppose Israel’s borders are? And is Israel within them? Where did he think Israel’s capital is? And where did Israel claim it to be? In other words, is Israel where Israel is supposed to be? If not, how could he possibly recognise it let alone align himself with it? “We are looking forward to recognising a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements because our position is again very straightforward: We wish to see a two-state solution, a secure and recognized Israel side by side with a viable Palestine, Jerusalem as a joint capital and agreed borders,” Burt said.
Negotiations about illegal settlements? Since when did Her Majesty’s Government favour negotiating with the perpetrator of criminal acts and crimes against humanity? At around the same time Hillary Clinton had rejected in advance an anticipated Palestinian bill in the UN against unlawful Israeli settlement building. According to her, Israel’s illegal squats could be resolved through “negotiations” between Palestinians and Israelis and to hell with international law. Burt embraced this “solution” instead of enforcing international law and upholding justice, as he should have. He co-operated with the most dishonest peace brokers on the planet to revive discredited, lopsided direct talks. It’s been the same story with every other UK foreign secretary.
Resolution 242, a work of evil
So why, after decades, is the Palestinian homeland still under foreign military occupation and total blockade when international law and the United Nations have said it shouldn’t be?
And why are the Palestinians being pressured – yet again – to submit to “direct negotiations”, victim versus armed invader haggling and pleading for their freedom?
The answer appears to lie in the hash made of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967. Here is what it said:
The UN Security Council…
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,
- Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories [i..e. Gaza, West Bank including Jerusalem, and Golan Heights belonging to Syria] occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
- Affirms further the necessity
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
- Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;
- Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
It was adopted unanimously.
Article 2 of the UN Charter states, among other things, that all Members “shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered” and “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
Nothing too difficult there for men of integrity and goodwill, one would have thought. But after 49 years nothing has happened to give effect to the Charter’s fine words or to deliver the tiniest semblance of peace, or allow the Palestinians to live in security free from threats or acts of force. Israel still occupies the Holy Land and the Golan Heights with maximum brutality while law and justice, the cornerstones of civilisation, have evaporated.
This dereliction of duty began with careless use of language – or more exactly the deliberate non-use of a certain word, the “the” word which should have been inserted in front of “territories” but was purposely omitted by the schemers who drafted the resolution.
Behind the scenes there was no intention of making Israel withdraw
Arthur J. Goldberg, US Ambassador to the UN in 1967 and a key drafter of Resolution 242, stated:
There is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967. Instead, the resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. And it can be inferred from the incorporation of the words ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.
According to Lord Caradon, then the UK Ambassador to the UN and another key drafter:
The essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognised is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognised boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognised…. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary….
He later added:
It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967… That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.
Professor Eugene Rostow, then US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, had also helped to draft the resolution. He was on record in 1991 that Resolution 242:
… allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable Armistice Demarcation Lines (the ‘Green Line’).
Israel could thus keep the territory it seized as long as the Zionist regime avoided making peace. Even if it did make peace, it could keep some unspecified territory, presumably what it had stolen in terror raids before the 1967 war.
In the meantime Arab leaders had picked up on the fact that the all-important “the” word in relation to territories had been included in other language versions of the draft resolution (e.g. the French document) and it was therefore widely understood to mean that Israel must withdraw from all territories captured in 1967. Unfortunately, under international law, English is the official language and the English version ruled.
For Israel, Abba Eban said:
As the representative of the United States has said, the boundaries between Israel and her neighbors must be mutually worked out and recognized by the parties themselves as part of the peace-making process. We continue to believe that the States of the region, in direct negotiation with each other, have the sovereign responsibility for shaping their common future. It is the duty of international agencies at the behest of the parties to act in the measure that agreement can be promoted and a mutually accepted settlement can be advanced. We do not believe that Member States have the right to refuse direct negotiation….
Eban seemed to forget that Israel was in breach of international law.
‘Acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible’, right?
So here was Israel, aided by the devious drafters, pressing for direct negotiations as far back as 1967 and sensing that the defenceless and impoverished Palestinians under their heel would be easy meat.
But the Russian, Vasily Kuznetsov, wasn’t fooled.
In the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the ‘withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ becomes the first necessary principle for the establishment of a just and lasting peace…. We understand the decision taken to mean the withdrawal of Israel forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab States and seized by Israel following its attack on those States on 5 June 1967.
Kuznetsov dismissed Goldberg’s border-adjustment argument, saying that the clause concerning the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition trumped any consideration for secure boundaries. He argued that the security needs of Israel “cannot serve as a pretext for the maintenance of Israel forces on any part of the Arab territories seized by them as a result of war.”
Your average native English speaker would not have been fooled by the missing word either. To the man on the Clapham omnibus “withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict” plainly means “get the hell out of the territories you occupied in the recent conflict”.
US Secretary of State Dean Rusk writing in 1990 remarked:
We wanted [it] to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be rationalized; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties…. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war. On that point we and the Israelis to this day remain sharply divided…. I’m not aware of any commitment the United States has made to assist Israel in retaining territories seized in the Six-Day War.
And how had UN members so conveniently forgotten about the Palestinian lands seized and ethnically cleansed before 1967? You know, those important Arab towns and cities and hundreds of villages that had been allocated to a future Palestinian state in the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan but were seized by Jewish terrorist groups and Israel militia while the ink was still drying on the document? Had they also forgotten that the Palestinians were never consulted on the UN’s decision to hand over their lands to aliens mainly from Europe and with no ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land? The borders set down in the 1947 Partition and incorporated into UN Resolution are certainly “recognised” because they were duly voted on and accepted even by the Zionists and their allies, were they not?
As everyone knows, Israel has never declared its borders nor respected the UN-specified borders. It is still hell-bent on thieving lands and resources, so no border is ever secure enough or final. Of course, a Palestinian state, if or when it emerges, is equally entitled to secure borders but the Israeli regime is unlikely to agree. It wants total control. So going down the talks path again and again is fruitless. Borders should be imposed by the proper international bodies and enforced. That has to be the start-point. Adjustments can then be made with mutual consent once Israeli troops are no longer in occupation.
Incidentally, Article 33 of the UN Charter says that parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger international peace and security, shall first of all seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
Should the parties fail to settle it by those means Article 37 says they must “refer it to the Security Council. If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.”
Article 36 declares that “in making recommendations under this Article the Security Council should also take into consideration that legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the Court.”
Isn’t the Israeli occupation a legal dispute? How much longer must we wait to see the Charter complied with? Which brings us back to the question: why wasn’t Abbas at the conference batting for Palestine’s freedom and a just solution based on law? His presence would have put Netanyahu on the wrong foot.
Over-population of a particular kind contributes to planetary environmental degradation, poverty, and wars without end. Thanks to Oxfam, we know just who the offending individuals are. Eight people now have the same wealth as the poorest half the world’s population.
Heading the list of the world’s richest is Microsoft magnate Bill Gates; number three is investor Warren Buffett. The Gates Foundation, bolstered by Buffett’s fortune, is the world’s largest private charity. Without a hint of irony, the foundation’s website describes their vision to “develop strategies to address some of the world’s most challenging inequities.”
The supreme irony of our modern era – really a contradiction – is that the forces of production have developed to the level that there is a material basis for eliminating poverty for the first time in human history. Yet the relations of production are such that unprecedented accumulations of wealth are ensured, threatening our very existence with destruction by either WMDs or ecocide also for the first time in human history.
The Gates Foundation is a leading modern promoter of the neo-Malthusian gospel of over-population, which has historical antecedents in British cleric Thomas Malthus’s theories of 1798. The ideology of over-population diverts criticisms of capitalist social relations of unequal distribution, serving to justify a system that creates needs without the means of satisfying them.
After World War II, Malthusian theory was resurrected to support the ideological initiatives of the ascendant US superpower and its cohorts. This ideological initiative in the service of international capital took place in the context of a wave of national liberation struggles in the post-war period. Peasant tillers of the soil were demanding land reform. To this rightful claim, the Cold Warriors offered population control coupled with the commercialization of land using the model of US agribusiness.
According to the Gates Foundation, population growth “contribute(s) significantly to the global burden of disease, environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict.”
Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster comments on this framing of global problems:
“There can be little doubt that the real aim of the neo-Malthusian resurrection of Malthus, then, was to resurrect what was after all the chief thrust of Malthusian ideology from the outset; that all of the crucial problems of bourgeois society and indeed of the world could be traced to over procreation on the part of the poor.”
“The biggest danger of blaming over-population for environmental problems,” warns Anne Hendrixson of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College, “is that it ignores the real culprits.”
Conceptually underlying this particular understanding of the dynamics of human population growth is that these deleterious effects are somehow natural, because human reproductive activity is itself natural. In fact, poverty and environmental destruction are not simply and inevitably natural consequences of the human condition but are mediated by particular historical circumstances.
The high fertility rates of the poor and the high resource consumption rates of the rich are both environmental issues that should not be counter-posed, but should be seen as keys to understanding a single larger solution to environmental destruction.
For the super-rich such as Gates and Buffett and their self-serving foundations, over-consumption is not an especially troubling problem but over-population is. Illustrating the consumption gap, Oxfam reports “someone in the richest one percent of the world’s population uses 175 times more carbon on average than someone from the bottom 10 percent.”
Poverty is an inevitable by-product of a socio-economic system that generates increasingly inequitable wealth. Wealth is linked as a driver of population growth because the high fertility rates of the poor are a response to their precarious condition. A large family is the poor person’s work force and retirement fund.
Martin Luther King, Jr., commented, “I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” The 1960’s counterculture slogan “serve the poor… eat the rich” put it more crudely.
The more trenchant predicament, though, is not so much a moral one that the super-rich have too much money and live in obscene luxury, but the political one that they have too much power. Let them keep their mansions and yachts, if only they’d hand over their senators, generals, and presidents.
We do have an over-population problem – too many too rich people. The capitalist system, which creates both great wealth with unsustainable consumption rates and great poverty with unsustainable population growth rates, is the fundamental adversary of the environment.
As Bill and Melinda Gates counsel:
“Our friend and co-trustee Warren Buffett once gave us some great advice: ‘Don’t just go for safe projects,’ he said. ‘Take on the really tough problems.’”
Surely ending wealth inequality and the capitalist system that produces it must top the to-do-list.
Roger D. Harris is on the State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party, the only ballot-qualified socialist party in California.
Judging from how the mainstream media has characterized the legacy of Barack Obama so far, the outgoing president will be most remembered for his many rousing aspirational speeches and well-timed shows of emotion.
His talent as a persuasive public communicator and the strength of his personal brand, bolstered by years of apple-shining from liberal magazines and newspapers, has been Obama’s most valuable asset.
This perception of Obama that has been propagated from the top, the view that he is essentially a benevolent figure with deep integrity or the personification of a modern liberal-statesmen, is a stunning smokescreen.
The contradiction between the high-minded rhetoric of the president in contrast to the actual policies pursued by his administration has been stark and utterly scandalous.
To hear Obama wax poetic about ‘the politics of hope’ and ‘how ordinary Americans can steer change’ feels deeply perverse coming from a figure that has institutionalized a vast, unaccountable permanent warfare state.
In the face of Obama’s global covert assassination program, his numerous secret wars without congressional approval, a mass electronic surveillance capability unprecedented in history, the speeches reveal themselves as little more than banal platitudes and vapid sloganeering.
As the sun sets on Obama’s presidency, to say the press has given him a pass is a grand understatement.
Some outlets have occasionally run criticism of Obama’s drone policies or inconvenient relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Other voices invert reality altogether, chastising Obama for his reluctance to militarily engage Syria, despite the US dropping over 12,000 bombs on the country in 2016 alone.
Contrary to his predecessor, Obama had a firmer grasp on the political risks inherent in the large-scale deployment of US troops in sustained military campaigns, but his strategic objectives differed little, and his belief in American exceptionalism was total.
Rather than ‘shock and awe,’ Obama proffered ‘leading from behind,’ culminating in NATO support and air power for insurgents that toppled the Libyan government on the pretext of defending human rights, turning the country into a cauldron of rival fiefdoms and lawlessness.
The Obama administration and the CIA fueled a proxy war in Syria with arms and training for insurgents, many of whom took up arms with ISIS or Al-Qaeda affiliated groups. The US military’s presence in Syria and support for non-state actors abjectly violates international law, and John Kerry’s leaked comments make clear how the administration cynically leveraged the threat of ISIS against the Syrian government.
Not only did Obama fail in his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay torture facility, he effectively replaced enhanced interrogation with an unaccountable covert assassination complex, endowing himself with the roles of judge, jury, and executioner.
By virtue of his suave and benevolent public persona, top-tier entertainers and figures of the liberal intelligentsia were largely willing to acquiesce to the precedent set by Obama’s unrestrained executive powers, exercised in near-complete secrecy.
They believed Obama would use the entrenched military and surveillance capacities of the US government judiciously. They swallowed the Democrats’ rhetoric of social inclusion and focused their political energies largely on identity issues.
Liberal figures didn’t protest against the president’s ability to spy on countless Americans suspected of no crime, nor did they organize against the president’s extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens and non-Americans without trial or due process.
Liberals hardly spoke out against the thousands of civilians killed by Obama’s drone bombings. Oddly enough, many seemed more outraged at Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Muslims and Mexicans than the reality of President Obama engaging in military hostilities against seven Muslim countries and deporting more people than any president in history.
Frankly, far too many Americans have been utter cowards in the face of the outgoing Democratic presidency. Obama will soon leave office as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms at war.
Despite his tense relationship with the Israeli prime minister and token opposition to the expansion of settlements, Obama signed the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance to Israel in history, enabling the cancerous Israeli occupation and further brutalization of Palestinians.
As the Saudi military ceaselessly bombarded towns and cities across impoverished Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, in a botched attempt to reinstall an ousted proxy government, the Obama administration offered muted criticism and a $115 billion arms deal.
Obama’s administration has in fact brokered more arms sales than other since the second world war. Despite campaigning on the building of ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ he has waged war against whistleblowers and official leakers, invoking the 1917 Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined.
Obama spoke of his dramatic commitment to building a nuclear weapons-free world on the campaign trail. Once in office, he committed the country to a trillion-dollar modernization of US nuclear production facilities and weapons, including warheads with adjustable yields that, according to the New York Times, make the weapons “more tempting to use.”
One of the most consequential international developments to occur under Obama’s watch was the deterioration of US-Russia relations and the revival of Cold War antagonisms, marked by the covert American role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine that brought to power a crude, corrupt and pervasively anti-Russian regime.
The largest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the second world war has unfolded under Obama’s watch, and the White House has moved in lock-step with the US intelligence community to propagate the anti-Russian line that has now captured American politics.
His administration’s pivot to Asia policy aimed to transfer 60 percent of the US naval presence to the Asia Pacific region by 2020, while the now-botched Trans-Pacific Partnership sought to – in the words of Senator Charles E. Schumer – “lure” other countries “away from China.”
On the domestic front, there have hardly been any clear-cut achievements for President Obama. He has overseen an obscene transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class, becoming the first two-term presidency that has failed to post a three percent GDP growth on an annualized basis over two terms.
The much-touted streak of job recovery rests on the proliferation of insecure part-time and temporary jobs with the low protection characteristic of the gig economy, while the share of workers in temporary jobs has risen from 10.7 percent to 15.8 percent under his watch.
Wall Street banks hoarded funds fueled by the quantitative easing policies of the Federal Reserve to triple the size of stock values. Corporate profits reached an 85-year peak under Obama while the total compensation of employees’ wages and salaries slipped to levels last recorded in 1929.
The wealth of the richest 400 Americans increased from $1.57 trillion in 2008 to $2.4 trillion in 2016.
The market-driven Affordable Care Act, Obama’s primary domestic initiative, did extend medical coverage to segments of American society, while millions of others were forced to pay higher premiums for substandard care. This shifted health care costs from employers and the state to working individuals in a move that effectively amounts to a bailout for private insurers.
And finally, there is the obscene proliferation of police brutality that has unfolded under Obama’s watch, with offending officers rarely held to account for their actions. African-American males were found to be nine times more likely to be killed by police officers in 2015 than white men of the same age.
But despite Obama’s troubled and deeply hypocritical track record, he remains a figure that many Americans continue to admire and respect, especially as the country moves rapidly toward a new and highly divisive political era.
A great many Americans, especially those in African-American communities, desperately and sincerely want to believe in the hope that Obama inspired in them. Unfortunately, Obama’s key achievement has proven to be his skillful usurpation of progressive rhetoric in the interest of an extremely militaristic and pro-corporate political agenda.
While many fear the specter of Donald Trump’s incoming presidency and the new forms of authoritarianism and state violence that will inevitably accompany it, none should forget that it was President Obama who set a precedent for the extreme executive authority that President Trump will soon enjoy.
Nile Bowie is an independent writer and current affairs commentator based in Singapore. Originally from New York City, he has lived in the Asia-Pacific region for nearly a decade and was previously a columnist with the Malaysian Reserve newspaper, in addition to working actively in non-governmental organisations and creative industries. He can be reached at email@example.com.
With few exceptions, media scoundrels relentlessly bashed him throughout the political season.
Vilification continues daily post-election, inventing reasons to denigrate him, an unprecedented example of political presstitution at its worst.
An open letter to him from the US press corp, written by Columbia Journalism Review editor-in-chief and publisher Kyle Pope, warrants a reader response. Trump and his team can speak for themselves.
Pope: “You’ve banned news organizations from covering you.”
Fact: False! He leveled sharp criticism as justified, including blasting CNN as fake news. He should have applied that label to the entire scoundrel media establishment, suppressing hard truths, substituting managed news misinformation and Big Lies – about him and on virtually all other important issues.
Any news organization and their members are free to cover him. He’s free to ignore any ones he wishes.
Pope: “(Y)our press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House…”
Fact: False! Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said space is being sought to accommodate a larger number of journalists – not change the workspace for White House reporters.
At the same time, Trump is entitled to challenge members of the press spreading malicious lies about him. No one should put up with abusive practices.
Pope: “You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same.”
Fact: Western media scoundrels are a national disgrace. Trump should respond when they blast him irresponsibly.
Twitter is his favorite way of communicating. He’s able to reach millions, free from misquotes and distortions. Earlier I called him America’s tweeter-in-chief, encouraging him to keep tweeting.
Pope: “You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences.”
Fact: Advice referees give prize fighters to protect themselves at all times especially applies to presidents and other heads of state. If he wishes, Trump is entitled to avoid press corp members denigrating him maliciously.
He’s yet to assume office, so it’s unknown how often he’ll hold press conferences. Franklin Roosevelt, serving nearly four terms, held far more than any other president. They were more informal affairs in pre-television days than how they’re held today.
Pope: “You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability.”
Fact: Trump debunked the accusation as a malicious lie.
Pope: Press “access is preferable, but not critical.” Lacking it is “a challenge we relish.”
Fact: Trump has no problem with responsible reporting. Denigrating him without just cause is another matter entirely.
Pope: “Ground rules are the prerogative of the press.”
Fact: That type attitude would antagonize anyone.
Pope: “We decide how much airtime to give your spokespeople and surrogates.”
Fact: How much time isn’t the issue. Responsible truth-telling matters most – what’s sorely lacking in mainstream Western reporting, turning journalism into presstitution.
Pope: “Facts are what we do…”
Fact: Media scoundrels suppress them, substituting fake news.
Pope: “(W)hile you may seek to control what comes out of the West Wing, we’ll have the upper hand in covering how your policies are carried out.”
Fact: If reporting on Trump follows the pattern seen throughout the political season and post-election so far, expect endless rubbish substituting for responsible journalism.
Pope: We’ll set higher standards for ourselves than ever before.”
Fact: Presstitutes make street whores look good by example. Case closed!
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Introduction: The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000.
But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition.
These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order.
We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president.
Regime Change in America
In recent times, elected officials in the US and their state security organizations have often intervened against independent foreign governments, which challenged Washington’s quest for global domination. This was especially true during the eight years of President Barack Obama’s administration where the violent ousting of presidents and prime ministers through US-engineered coups were routine – under an unofficial doctrine of ‘regime change’.
The violation of constitutional order and electoral norms of other countries has become enshrined in US policy. All US political, administrative and security structures are involved in this process. The policymakers would insist that there was a clear distinction between operating within constitutional norms at home and pursuing violent, illegal regime change operations abroad.
Today the distinction between overseas and domestic norms has been obliterated by the state and quasi-official mass media. The US security apparatus is now active in manipulating the domestic democratic process of electing leaders and transitioning administrations.
The decisive shift to ‘regime change’ at home has been a continual process organized, orchestrated and implemented by elected and appointed officials within the Obama regime and by a multiplicity of political action organizations, which cross traditional ideological boundaries.
Regime change has several components leading to the final solution: First and foremost, the political parties seek to delegitimize the election process and undermine the President-elect. The mass media play a major role demonizing President-Elect Trump with personal gossip, decades-old sex scandals and fabricated interviews and incidents.
Alongside the media blitz, leftist and rightist politicians have come together to question the legitimacy of the November 2016 election results. Even after a recount confirmed Trump’s victory, a massive propaganda campaign was launched to impeach the president-elect even before he takes office – by claiming Trump was an ‘enemy agent’.
The Democratic Party and the motley collection of right-left anti-Trump militants sought to blackmail members of the Electoral College to change their vote in violation of their own mandate as state electors. This was unsuccessful, but unprecedented.
Their overt attack on US electoral norms then turned into a bizarre and virulent anti-Russia campaign designed to paint the elected president (a billionaire New York real estate developer and US celebrity icon) as a ‘tool of Moscow.’ The mass media and powerful elements within the CIA, Congress and Obama Administration insisted that Trump’s overtures toward peaceful, diplomatic relations with Russia were acts of treason.
The outgoing President Obama mobilized the entire leadership of the security state to fabricate ‘dodgy dossiers’ linking Donald Trump to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that Trump was a stooge or ‘vulnerable to KGB blackmail’. The CIA’s phony documents (arriving via a former British intelligence operative-now free lance ’security’ contractor) were passed around among the major corporate media who declined to publish the leaked gossip. Months of attempts to get the US media to ‘take the bite’ on the ’smelly’ dossier were unsuccessful. The semi-senile US Senator John McCain (’war-hero’ and hysterical Trump opponent) then volunteered to plop the reeking gossip back onto the lap of the CIA Director Brennan and demand the government ‘act on these vital revelations’!
Under scrutiny by serious researchers, the ‘CIA dossier’ was proven to be a total fabrication by way of a former ‘British official – now – in – hiding…!’ Undaunted, despite being totally discredited, the CIA leadership continued to attack the President-elect. Trump likened the CIA’s ‘dirty pictures hatchet job’ to the thuggish behavior of the Nazis and clearly understood how the CIA leadership was involved in a domestic coup d’état.
CIA Director John Brennan, architect of numerous ‘regime changes’ overseas had brought his skills home – against the President-elect. For the first time in US history, a CIA director openly charged a President or President-elect with betraying the country and threatened the incoming Chief Executive. He coldly warned Trump to ‘just make sure he understands that the implications and impacts (of Trump’s policies) on the United States could be profound…”
Clearly CIA Director Brennan has not only turned the CIA into a sinister, unaccountable power dictating policy to an elected US president, by taking on the tone of a Mafia Capo, he threatens the physical security of the incoming leader.
From a Scratch to Gangrene
The worst catastrophe that could fall on the United States would be a conspiracy of leftist and rightist politicos, the corporate mass media and the ‘progressive’ websites and pundits providing ideological cover for a CIA-orchestrated ‘regime change’.
Whatever the limitations of our electoral norms – and there are many – they are now being degraded and discarded in a march toward an elite coup, involving elements of the militarist empire and ‘intelligence’ hierarchy.
Mass propaganda, a ‘red-brown alliance, salacious gossip and accusations of treason (’Trump, the Stooge of Moscow’) resemble the atmosphere leading to the rise of the Nazi state in Germany. A broad ‘coalition’ has joined hands with a most violent and murderous organization (the CIA) and imperial political leadership, which views overtures to peace to be high treason because it limits their drive for world power and a US dominated global political order.
In the end of October (2016) we learned from the British Jewish media that Police were called to University College London (UCL) amid claims of common assault and verbal intimidation by “pro-Palestinian protestors” at an event with an Israeli speaker.
We had to wait another three months for a single honest Jew (Jerry Lewis of Hampstead Synagogue) to admit in front of the notorious ultra Zionist BOD, that the event at UCL was actually provoked by Jewish groups that have nothing to do with the Jewish students community. At least one of those Jewish groups is funded by Israel according to Lewis. These groups invoke ‘hatred’ against Jews because this is how they justify their existence and sustain their funding.
Following the recent Al Jazeera expose, the foreign office must expel the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev. The police and the MI5 better look into Lewis’ claims.
For the full video: https://youtu.be/mBjprfGGJg4
Forget the empty posturing of world leaders in Paris yesterday. This photo tells us what the Israel-Palestine “conflict” is really about.
Imagine for a second that the little boy – how old is he, eight, nine? – is your son, trying to adjust his keffiyeh because it keeps falling over his eyes and he can’t see anything. Imagine your small son surrounded by masked Israeli “soldiers”, or what looks more like a Jewish militia than an army. Imagine that the boy is likely soon to be bundled into the back of a military van and taken for interrogation without his parents or a lawyer present, or even knowing where he is. That he could end up beaten and tortured, as human rights groups have regularly documented.
Maybe you can’t imagine any of that because you, a responsible parent living in Europe or the United States, would never let your child out to throw stones.
Then you need to know more about the story behind this picture.
This photo was taken in Kfar Qaddum last month. The boy and his friends aren’t there to bait Israeli soldiers or indulge a bout of anti-semitism. Jews from the violent – and illegal – settlement of Kedumim have taken over their farm lands. Kedumim’s expansion has been further used to justify the army closing the access road in and out of Qaddum. The village is being choked off at the throat. In short, these villagers are being ethnically cleansed.
Parents living in such circumstances do not have the privilege of concealing from their children what is happening. Everyone in the village knows their community and its way of life are being extinguished. Israel is determined that they will leave so that the Jewish settlers next door can grab their land. Israel expects these villagers to join the rest of the aid-dependent Palestinian population in one of the ghettoised towns and cities in the bantustans of the West Bank.
Even little boys understand the stakes. And unlike your child, this one knows that, if he doesn’t resist, he will lose everything he holds dear.
What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
For some, the ‘manslaughter’ conviction – following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif – is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.
Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier who is largely perceived among Israelis as the “child of us all.”
Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.
Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel’s supposed moral ascendency, took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order.
They seem to conveniently overlook palpable facts. Reporting on the verdict, The Times of Israel wrote that “last time an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter was in 2005, for the killing of British civilian Tom Hurndall two years earlier.”
Between these dates, and years prior, thousands of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, mostly in the Israeli wars of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Although thousands of children and civilians were killed and wounded in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories and, despite international outcries against Israel’s violations of international law, there is yet to be a single conviction in Israeli courts.
But why is it that some commentators suggest that the Azaria trial and the show of unity around his cause by Israeli society is an indication of some massive change underway in Israel?
Yoav Litvin, for example, argues in TeleSur that the “precedent set by this case will further solidify the complete dehumanization of Palestinians and pave the way for further ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
In an article, entitled: “Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria verdict exposes a moment of transition in Israel”, Jonathan Cook also eluded to a similar idea. “The soldier’s trial, far from proof of the rule of law, was the last gasp of a dying order,” he wrote.
Neither Litvin nor Cook are suggesting that the supposed change in Israel is substantive but an important change, nonetheless.
But if the past and the present are one and the same, where is the ‘transition’, then?
The creation of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing that made Israel’s ‘independence’ possible, the subsequent wars, occupation and sieges are all devoid of any morality.
Indeed, Israel was established with the idea in mind that a “Jewish state” is [im]possible without the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian Arabs.
In a letter to his son in 1937, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister after the country’s establishment in 1948, wrote: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal.”
In the year that Israel was established, the United Nations defined genocide in Article 2 of the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, as follows:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…
In other words, there is nothing new here since the ‘mainstreaming of genocide’ in Israel took place before and during the founding of the country, and ever since.
Fortunately, some Israeli leaders were quite candid about the crimes of that era.
“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist,” former Israeli leader, Moshe Dayan said while addressing the Technion as reported in Haaretz on April 4, 1969. “There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
But throughout these years, Israel has managed to sustain a balancing act, generating two alternate realities: a material one, in which violence is meted out against Palestinians on a regular basis, and a perceptual one, that of a media image through which Israel is presented to the world as a ‘villa in the jungle’, governed by democratic laws, which makes it superior to its neighbors in every possible way.
Former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, demonstrates the latter point best. “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies,” he was quoted in the Jerusalem Post on May 10. 2001. “They are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.”
In fact, Israeli commentators on the Left often reminisce about the ‘good old days’, before extremists ruled Israel and right wing parties reigned supreme.
A particular memory that is often invoked was the mass protest in Tel Aviv to the Israeli-engineered Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon in 1982.
Protesters demanded the resignations of then-Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, and his Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon. Both men were accused of allowing the massacres of Palestinians by Christian Phalange to take place. An Israeli commission of investigation found Israel guilty of ‘indirect responsibility’, further contributing to the myth that Israel’s guilt lies in the fact that it allowed Christians to kill Muslims, as Sharon complained in his biography, years later.
At the time, it did not occur to Israeli protesters as odd the fact that Begin, himself, was the wanted leader of a terrorist gang before Israel’s founding and that Sharon was accused of having orchestrated many other massacres.
Many in Israeli and western media spoke highly of the moral uprightness of Israeli society. Palestinians were baffled by Israel’s ability to carry out war crimes and to emerge in a positive light, regardless.
“Goyim kill Goyim and the Jews are blamed,” Begin had then complained with a subtle reference to what he perceived as a form of anti-Semitism. Aside from Sabra and Shatila, tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
Historical fact shows that Israel is not experiencing a real transition, but what is truly faltering is Israel’s balancing act: its ability to perpetrate individual and collective acts of violence and still paint an image of itself as law-abiding and democratic.
Zionist leaders of the past had played the game too well and for far too long, but things are finally being exposed for what they really are, thanks to the fact that Jewish settlers now rule the country, control the army, have growing influence over the media and, therefore, define the Israeli course and PR image.
“This new army (of settlers) is no longer even minimally restrained by concerns about the army’s ‘moral’ image or threats of international war crimes investigations,” wrote Cook.
And with that new-found ‘freedom’, the world is able to see Israel as it is. The balancing act is finally over.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud can be reached at email@example.com.
Since becoming the US Commander-in-Chief in 2008, Barack Obama charted a thinly veiled anti-Russia course that many failed to anticipate or appreciate due to the media-generated hype of “hope and change” that accompanied his rise to power.
Few modern leaders have entered the world stage with more fanfare than Barack Hussein Obama. After George W. Bush’s eight-year War on Terror tour, many were ready to believe America’s first black president would throw the US juggernaut into reverse. Indeed, so mesmerized was the global village with Obama, who never brokered so much as a used car deal, it nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize after less than two weeks in office.
To understand the source of our enchantment, we have to rewind to January 2007, shortly before Obama’s meteoric rise: The relationship between the US and Russia had just entered severe turbulence as the Bush administration, top heavy with vicious neocons, announced it would drop a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, with missile silos in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. The system, Washington explained, was to guard Europe from a rogue missile strike, ostensibly from Iran, despite the fact that such a reckless move on the part of Tehran would have meant quick US-assisted suicide.
Moscow was not fooled. This was made clear on February 12, 2007 when Vladimir Putin delivered his now famous speech at the Munich Security Conference. The Russian leader warned the stony-faced delegates assembled there: “Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defense system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do.”
Putin went on to slam the American “hyperpower” and its well-trained NATO attack dog for pursuing a “world of one master, one sovereign” that will spark an “inevitable arms race.”
Putin’s reality check came about three decades too late to break Europe’s heavy American chains, thereby proving the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ – the curious psychological condition when hostages develop a helpless attachment to their captors – can affect entire nations and even continents as well.
Suffice it to recall, later in Obama’s presidency, Europe’s muted reaction when an idealistic young American, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor turned whistleblower, handed over thousands of classified documents detailing a US surveillance program that spanned the entire planet. Even Angela Merkel’s private cell phone was considered fair game. Yet the astonishing revelations did little to dampen Europe’s commitment to the Obama administration’s policies.
But all that was in the future. In the meantime, the world held its breath at the abyss, placing its faith in the “hope and change” snake oil an Illinois Senator named Barack Obama was peddling via teleprompter to a war-weary world that was increasingly willing to believe just about anything.
Obama’s ‘Reset’ snow job
When Barack Obama emerged victorious in America’s 2008 game of thrones, there was a promising break in the storm clouds. Experts consulted their battered almanacs and predicted brighter days ahead in the US-Russia relationship. Unfortunately, the geopolitical weathermen got it wrong. Tragically wrong. And it all began with an innocuous sounding plan – the US-Russia “reset” – rolled out by the seemingly well-intentioned Obama administration.
In March 2009, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Geneva, where Clinton presented her counterpart with a cute “reset” button to signal in the much-anticipated dawn in bilateral relations. Although the largely symbolic gesture made for a great photo-op, the reset moment was beset with glitches from the very start.
Much to the apparent embarrassment of the attendees, the US State Department had misspelled the word ‘reset’ on the thingamajig in the Russian version; instead of “reset” it spelled – ominously and even prophetically – “overload.”
Lavrov and Clinton laughed off the technicality, cracked a few jokes, and pressed the plunger, thereby committing both sides to a tragic farce. Lavrov could not have predicted such a backfire, however, since it was difficult to expect nothing less than miracles from the affable black guy from Hawaii who spoke so eloquently about ridding the planet of nuclear weapons, heralding in an age of world peace, and all that.
In any case, Moscow had no other choice but to believe him.
A few months later, when Obama announced he was going to “shelve” the missile defense plans of his hawkish predecessor, it appeared the US leader was truly the real deal. The belligerent Bush years, it now appeared, was nothing but an historic anomaly, a forlorn figure in the rear-view mirror; America had conquered its aggressive neocon alter-ego after all.
Those happy sentiments lasted for about as long as it took to read that line. Yes, Obama would “shelve” Bush’s ambitious missile defense plans, but, with a sleight of hand and a lot of flip-flop, the deceptive Democrat unveiled his own jazzy surround system – the sea-based Aegis SM-3 interceptors and forward-based radar, which turned out to be – surprise, surprise – every bit as lethal as the Bush variant.
The Obama administration, however, apparently forgot that while the rest of the world played checkers, the Russians preferred chess. Robert Gates, then defense minister, acknowledged as much when he noted, “the Russians quickly concluded that the Obama plan was even worse from their perspective, as it eventually might have capabilities that could be used against Russian intercontinental missiles,” the Washington Post reported.
This admission blew the cover off of Obama’s greatest deception, the US-Russia reset hoax. So now the question was no longer: Would the United States shelve the missile defense system? But rather: Would it cooperate with Russia on the system, thus sparing Eastern Europe another arms race?
The answer to that question should have been obvious. After months of wild goose chases around negotiating tables, Moscow understood that the Obama administration was simply bluffing in order to buy time.
In November 2011, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the formal end of missile defense talks (and the implicit beginning of an arms race). In fact, the Obama administration – the very same nice people who introduced the reset idea – refused to even provide written assurances that the system would not pose a threat to Russia’s ballistic missile force, thereby upsetting the regional strategic apple cart.
Medvedev said Russia would, among other immediate errands, deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, equip Russia’s strategic ballistic missiles with advanced warheads that are impervious to the missile defense system, and deploy offensive weapon systems able to “take out any part of the US missile defense system in Europe.”
If any of these moves on the part of Russia could be considered “aggressive,” Washington had nobody but itself to blame.
Yet, the US has talked up the mythical threat of “Russian aggression” among its NATO client states to such a feverish pitch that these governments could not refute the groundless charges without appearing to be disloyal to Washington. In other words, NATO members are not allies of the United States by mutual consent, but rather allies by arm-twisting compulsion.
This brings us to the most dangerous part of the Obama administration’s double-dealing: Moscow itself is beginning to feel threatened by what it views – and rightly, I believe – to be American aggression on anabolic steroids.
Here is what Putin had to say about the US missile defense system, which has just gone live in Romania: “They say [the missile systems] are part of their defense capability, and are not offensive, that these systems are aimed at protecting them from aggression. It’s not true,” the Russian leader said. The “great danger” is that the launchers can be used to fire US Tomahawk missiles “in a matter of hours,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, technological advances will only make the system increasingly more versatile and powerful. And exactly where the magic tipping point is, when the ‘defense’ system shifts the global strategic balance, nobody can say with certainty. Putin acknowledged this, saying “technologies are developing, and we know around what year the Americans will get a new missile, which will have a range not of 500 kilometers, but 1,000, and then even more – and from that moment they will start threatening our nuclear capability.”
This deadly threat to Russia’s national security – a threat the United States would never accept if the situation were reversed – naturally places those nations hosting the US missile defense system square in Russia’s cross-hairs. It also makes it highly unlikely that Moscow will concede to further nuclear missile cuts. Only a fool would take a dagger over a sword while his opponent reaches for a bigger shield.
Indeed, not only did the double-dealing on the missile defense system trigger another arms race, it has threatened the New START Treaty – a nuclear arms reduction agreement signed into force by Medvedev and Obama on April 8, 2010 in Prague.
Here is where the deceitful nature of Obama’s ‘reset’ is clearly revealed: At the very same time the United States was building for itself a mighty shield in Eastern Europe, capable of neutralizing Russian ballistic missiles, it was also working to have Russia dramatically reduce its nuclear ‘sword’ through New START. Obviously, the United States can’t have it both ways, but that doesn’t mean it won’t stop trying.
It is interesting to note that US President-elect Donald Trump has just suggested that he would consider the possibility of ending the sanctions regime against Russia in return for “dramatically reducing” nuclear weapons.
“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially,” Trump told The Independent.
Trump may be many things, but a fool he is not. So he must certainly understand that those weapons are Russia’s only viable protection against the US missile defense, which, as we’ve said, could turn offensive in a matter of minutes. Moscow, it would appear, is hardly in a position to negotiate on these weapons.
What price reset?
The full implications of Barack Obama’s pure deception over the missile defense system proved that the so-called “reset” – or “overload” – had been nothing but a ploy, a smoke and mirrors diversionary tactic, in the hope of lulling Russia into believing that Washington was sincere about turning a new page in US-Russia relations. It was not.
A heavy footnote that needs mentioning is that the key architect of the US-Russia reset was Michael McFaul, whose research, according to his own webpage, focused on “Russian electoral trends, post-communist regime change, and American foreign policy.”
Little surprise, then, that Moscow expressed serious reservations when Obama broke with diplomatic protocol and named the non-career academic – the esteemed doctor of regime change, thank you very much – as US Ambassador to Russia in January 2012.
Would it surprise anyone that US diplomats have engaged in espionage in Russia and actively participated in the rallies staged by Russian opposition forces, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed this week.
“In addition to spying, US Embassy diplomats have repeatedly been seen taking part in the rallies of opposition, anti-government forces, unauthorized rallies, including times when they wore disguise. Do the math yourselves,” Lavrov stated.
Clearly, the reset was doomed to failure from the start, not because of any lack of will, but rather because the Obama administration was committed to it never succeeding in the first place.
Fast forward to 2016, and it is no coincidence that we see more than just the US missile defense system on Russia’s border. The New Year is barely underway and already we have dozens of US tanks, equipment and thousands of US soldiers fanning out across Poland and the Baltic States for what promises to be a continuous rotation of American military force – exactly the sort of provocation US planners need to keep the entire region believing in the myth of “Russian aggression” and NATO members cracking open their wallets to buy up more US-made military hardware.
So where is that promise of cooperation Barack Obama made to Russia when he first entered office? It’s in that same state of limbo where other famous Obama promises – like shuttering Guantanamo Bay detention facility and working to bring about global peace – are located: neither here nor there. A big part of the explanation is that the neocons are still calling the shots in Washington.
Meanwhile, the US mainstream media continues to serve up heavy helpings of fake news with regards to Russia, like this opening line from The Spectator, which says it all: “Is the Russian president really crazy enough to launch a new wave of invasions, or is it all a clever bluff?”
The intelligent, well-informed reader would immediately ask: “What Russian invasions?” After all, the only time Russia initiated a military operation against a sovereign state was in August 2008 after Georgian forces invaded Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia, killing 12 Russian peacekeepers that had been stationed there.
Although the Western media absolved then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili of any wrongdoing at the time, an independent European investigation quietly concluded a year later that Georgia was indeed responsible for the instigating the five-day conflict.
Who could have predicted eight years ago that Barack Obama, the ‘peace president,’ would turn out to be many times more belligerent than the ‘war president’ George W. Bush?
The warring peace president
As Obama’s final year winds down, some incredible statistics are beginning to emerge that show how militaristic the United States has become under Obama.
“From Albania to Uruguay, Algeria to Uzbekistan, America’s most elite forces – Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them – were deployed to 138 countries in 2016,” according to figures supplied to TomDispatch by US Special Operations Command. That figure is a surge of 130 percent since the gung-ho days of the Bush administration.
In the very same year, the Obama administration dropped an estimated 26,171 bombs, with most of them falling on the people of Syria and Iraq. US bombs also hit targets in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. That’s seven Muslim countries by the way.
Reset or not, there is no way Russia would have just sat back and watched as the Obama administration storm-trooped its way through the Middle East and beyond.
Considering these truly disturbing figures, it is clear that the US military – and its commander-in-chief – was out of control, drunk on absolute power, and wreaking mayhem around a punch-drunk planet for the past eight years. The data also goes far at explaining Washington’s marked hostility to Russian efforts to lend its military assistance in Syria against the terrorists of Islamic State. Although it was largely due to Russia’s air campaign that places like Aleppo and Palmyra were eventually liberated, today the Obama administration pretends Russia did nothing of significance in Syria.
On the weekend, Ash soon-to-be-relieved-of-his-imperial-command Carter, US Defense Secretary, actually had the gall to say that Russia forces have achieved “virtually nothing” in Syria. Nothing that could have been considered treacherous, he could have added.
The irony of the comment is so heavy it practically drips off the page: When Russia remained on the sidelines of the Ukrainian civil war, refusing to get involved in the affairs of its neighbor, it was falsely accused in Western media of actually invading that country. On the other hand, when Russia was invited to enter the territory of Syria by its president to fight against Islamic State, which it did with stunning results, it was said by Washington to have “contributed nothing” to the Syrian efforts.
All things considered, the reasons are obvious why the US-Russia reset never worked from the beginning. It was predetermined to fail from the outset because America – due to its supreme arrogance and exceptionalism – believes it has no need of allies or partnerships.
That conceit is the fatal flaw of every dying empire.
Robert Bridge, an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia, is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, released in 2013.
Reflections on the stabilization of Earth’s climate by life.
People frequently believe the claim that basic physics, established in the 19th Century, is sufficient to predict that Earth will warm in response to increasing CO2. However, I argue here that negative feedbacks due to life (‘Gaia’) may have stabilized the planet’s climate — on geological timescales and in recent decades. The biology of any such stabilization is far from settled, with a mechanistic understanding delayed by evolutionary debate. I conclude that even with such advanced biology we have little power to predict global climate changes.
There is a basic flaw in the basic physics argument of climate change: biology. Indeed, just one word should be enough to cast doubt on all models of the atmosphere: “oxygen”. No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms. Physics and chemistry therefore cannot explain atmospheric composition or properties. Basic chemistry would leave the planet a rusty ball (like Mars or Venus). So, as James Lovelock articulated in his Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, the properties of our atmosphere result from the tight coupling of living and non living components (biota and abiota). Earth’s obvious and massive departure from chemical equilibrium is unique in the solar system. So, if it’s easy to understand that life is central to atmospheric chemistry, why have many people found it much harder to understand life could be pivotal in atmospheric energy and climate? And if life is so intimately involved, predictive models would need to include it — which I’ll argue they can’t because the biology is too complex.
An initial response, I anticipate, will be that oxygen is not a climatically-active gas, because it is not radiatively active. However, that does not weaken the argument that life changes Earth far from the state which non-biological “basic” science would predict — an example of the planetary power of life. Moreover, few realise that oxygen could have major implications for the long-term temperature trajectory of the planet, if it is helping to keep Earth wet. This controversial idea was discussed in meetings on Gaia in Oxford in the 1990s, postulating that in the absence of life and oxygen, the splitting of water by sunlight would eventually lead to desiccation of the planet (as hydrogen bled away into space). Photo-dissociation might be offset by the presence of atmospheric oxygen, scavenging hydrogen and restoring water. If so, the dominant climatically-active gas in the atmosphere — water — also owes its abundance to life.
Whether the planet is wet due to life requires further study and discussion. Fortunately my argument — that life is largely missing from the models — does not depend on this. What is more important is that people who believe basic physics is sufficient to predict climate should consider cloud condensation.
It is very widely accepted that clouds are hard to model, yet central to understanding climate sensitivity to CO2. It is not even known if the overall cloud feedback effect in a warming world is positive or negative. Indeed, the IPCC (2013) state: “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget….some aspects of the overall cloud response vary substantially among models…”.
The basic physics of absorption and emission of infrared radiation have been combined with complex and uncertain physics to estimate that doubling of CO2 would warm the Earth by about one degree Celsius. Feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds are required to invoke larger climate changes from a doubling of CO2. Unsurprisingly, cloud feedbacks estimated from models vary substantially. Cloud-related feedbacks could be net positive (because condensed water emits infrared radiation). Cloud-related feedbacks could be net negative (because clouds reflect sunlight back into space). Further, cloud processes and convection induce and modify complex atmospheric motions, from very small scales to planetary scales. The uncertainty of cloud behaviour might eventually be tractable with complex physical models for a lifeless planet (which somehow retained water), but I think that the uncertainty is amplified to unmanageable levels on our biologically-active Earth.
It was James Lovelock who identified a potentially huge impact of life on the climate. No wonder, then, that he now argues that “anybody who tries to predict more than five to ten years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly”. Consider this: some unknown fraction of the cloud of this planet, of unknown type and altitude and climate activity, is produced for unknown reasons by unknown numbers of living species with unknowable population dynamics. If there are any modellers who think this is tractable, I hope they will indicate how in the Comments below.
How, how much, and why is life involved in cloud formation? Nobody knows. I’ll outline a few of these unsettled elements of the science of climate change.
The question “how” is life involved is the simplest: some species release chemicals that become cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), without which water remains a vapour. Some species secrete a gas, DMS (dimethyl sulphide), which seeds some clouds. Some plants secrete gases with similar properties, including Volatile Organic Compounds such as isoprene and pinene. Clouds are often observed rising over rainforest trees and other forests. It has been known for hundreds of years that some forests create rainfall (and I hypothesize that life in lakes similarly creates some of the clouds associated with them).
Unfortunately, “how much” cloud is created by life is unknown, a problem worsened by paucity of data on how much of each type of cloud cover there is and was (particularly before satellite observations). Some argue that life creates a substantive fraction of the global cloud cover, others less – and the fraction will vary through time.
“Why” does life create clouds remains unknown, but two fascinating evolutionary reasons have been proposed. Hamilton and Lenton (1998) suggested that “microbes fly with their clouds”. This is a proposal I expect many scientists will too-readily dismiss — even if they understand the track record of Hamilton as the biologist central to modern evolutionary theory (through his initially controversial ideas). However, the ‘selfish’ reason microbes of oceans, forests (and lakes?) secrete a cloud-forming gas (at metabolic cost) could be to generate latent heat of condensation, thence uplift of air — and thus dispersal of life to sites with more opportunities. And a plausible reason for plants to generate clouds is that they use rainfall. Predictions that clouds should increase when plankton become stressed (such as by nutrient deficiency or irradiance) will require long-term and large-scale observation.
I guess climate modellers will counter that they have performed sensitivity analyses, and that life and its interations with clouds, are not needed to predict the future climate accurately enough, or have small effects. Such arguments might have convinced me whilst models appeared to fit the unadjusted observations. However, several inexplicable (but biologically evident) warmer periods in the Holocene and Eemian damage climate model credibility. It’s not possible to do sensitivity analysis for an element of a system if there is no reliable benchline against which to measure the effects of manipulations.
Biology is very poorly represented in all of ‘climate science’, be it the mechanisms, ecological effects or policy response. Tellingly, the IPCC Assessment Report (2013) calls its first volume ‘The Physical Science Basis’. As one of the few scientists publishing on the evolutionary mechanisms of ‘Gaia,’ I know that very little attention has been paid to this topic. Perhaps if Bill Hamilton were still alive and researching the stability of the Earth system, things would be different. Because Lovelock’s original version of Gaia has an evolutionary flaw, I redefined Gaia as “planetary stability due to life”, and worked with Hamilton and Peter Henderson to seek mechanisms compatible with evolutionary biology. (Amongst the reasons few biologists have taken an interest in Gaia are that the original theory and models, such as ‘Daisyworld’, had an evolutionary bias, required ‘group-selection’, or implied natural selection amongst communities or planets). Instead, Hamilton, Henderson and I looked for negative feedbacks through two biological processes: i) ecology (density-dependent population growth); and 2) evolution (frequency-dependent selection – a mechanism also postulated by Richard Dawkins in The Extended Phenotype in 1982). The frequency of cloud-producing living organisms (abundance or biomass) is likely to be responsive to CO2, generating positive and/or negative biological feedbacks (Canney & Hambler, 2002, Biological Feedback, in: The Encyclopedia of Global Change).
At the risk of adding yet another failure to the litany of failed climate predictions, I predict climate models will struggle to include biology. No amount of physics, basic or complex, will overcome this deficiency. It is not possible to model population changes of even one species of organism several generations into the future. The unpredictability of complex systems is well known in ecosystems – as Robert May and colleagues demonstrated in the 1970s for multi-species fisheries. Populations of species that influence each other’s survival, reproduction or dispersal in ways related to abundance are likely often to demonstrate ‘deterministic chaos’, in which simple equations including time lags often generate superficially chaotic population changes. Even two species coupled through the Lotka-Volterra differential equations may show such behaviour. Imagine the problems, then, of modelling millions, billions or even trillions of microbial ‘species’ on Earth – when not even the number of species is known, let alone each of their requirements and climatic influences. Whether multi-species systems have more predictable emergent stability remains to be seen; this would make incorporation of ecology into climate models easier. Such stability is being investigated by Peter Henderson in the ‘Dam World’ model of Gaia he created with Bill Hamilton (Canney & Hambler, 2013, Conservation).
Modelling changes in plankton becomes even more implausible when one considers the responses to changing CO2: ‘ocean acidification’ might boost plankton through improved bicarbonate availability, and thence even cool the planet through DMS induced clouds. Or it might impact plankton through metabolic costs, thereby reducing calcification and a carbon sink and creating a positive feedback. The population and metabolic consequences of interactions (including those between warming water, CO2 outgassing, pH changes, thermoclines, nutrient and carbon dioxide availability for photosynthesis) are not known for any planktonic species, let alone entire hyper-complex marine ecosystems. Even if population changes could be predicted, we could not predict their cloud production behaviour — or the overall effect on albedo or convection.
It should come as no surprise to scientists and the public that wildlife has climate impacts – yet few realise how large these can be. When and if people accept that life can greatly change the chemistry of the atmosphere, they may be ready for another logical step. In this paradigm, temperature drives life drives CO2 levels. As Murry Salby (2012) deduced (Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate), CO2 lags temperature on a wide range of timescales (including glacial to interglacial oscillations, the last few hundred years, decades, and within a year). About 5% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year is from human activities, leaving ample scope for minor changes (perhaps in solar activity) to change the major biological sinks and sources of this gas and overwhelm human influences on radiative forcing. Perhaps the paradigm shift required to understand causality in climate is comparable to discovering the ancient nature of fossils, or plate tectonics, or neo-Darwinism, or the inhibitory models of plant succession. I’ve witnessed and taught through some of these shifts, so know how hard they are.
The ecology and evolution of negative feedbacks and Gaia might provide a framework to reconcile climate data and theory – but with very different theory to the basic physics of the climate. Instead, climate becomes — as many others have noted — a perhaps intractable and wicked problem. Prediction and attribution of useful climate detail may be beyond any science. If ‘the pause’ continues, or the world now cools or warms, we may never know why. It might be that negative biological and other feedbacks prevented runaway warming in the past, and have already begun to act. Or solar activity might be driving the carbon cycle, stifling CO2 increase. Or both. If extinction rates continue to rise such feedback may collapse — a perverse outcome of climate policy that destroys habitat. We hear a lot about high risk justifying high expenditure on reducing CO2 emissions, despite low probability of such risk. If we applied those expenditures to protecting the biological component of climate, we would conserve the climatically-active ecosystems — not, perversely, destroy them though renewable energy impacts and opportunity costs.
I anticipate many of the suggestions above will raise calls for publication in journals. Perhaps that’s the way physics works. Yet many key biological advances have been published in books or informal articles. Some of Hamilton’s ideas were published only in less formal articles and in a film on clouds (which very few people have watched). Moreover, conventional peer review demonstrably does not work well in some areas of climate science.
I thank Judith Curry for yet another brave move in hosting this entry. I hope policy makers will focus on no-regrets actions (such as protecting forests and marine life) which are relatively cheap and would work even if I’m wrong.
Link to essay published in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society: ‘Thank you for Gaia’, by Clive Hambler [hambler-bes-gaia-paper]
Biosketch. Clive has been an Oxford College Lecturer in biology at Merton, St Anne’s, Pembroke and Oriel. He joined Hertford in 1998 and is the college’s director of studies for Human Sciences. He works in Oxford’s faculties of Zoology, Geography and Anthropology. He is coauthor of the acclaimed book Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press (see reviews).
Friends, “fake news”, and censorship pays off big. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth jumps $5 billion in two weeks
Facebook has been coming under fire for promoting “fake news”.
The huge social network was pressured by the neo-liberal left deep state to censor news that harms the Soros “Open Society” globalist agenda, pushed heavily under the Barack Obama presidency.
Facebook folded to the neo-liberal agenda like origami, and decided to crack down on “fake news”.
It looks like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is reaping the rewards for decisions made to crack down on “fake news”.
In the first two weeks of 2017, Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped by nearly $5 billion. This is the biggest gain of any person in the world.
Climbing ad revenues and a series of bullish analyst reports, are credited for Facebook’s shares inching closer to October’s all-time high.
Forbes has the details of the Facebook founder’s two week, $5 billion good fortune…
Zuckerberg, who owns 410 million company shares, has more than recouped the losses he suffered in the weeks following Donald Trump’s election, when his net worth fell 7% to $49 billion. He is now worth an estimated $53.8 billion dollars, according to FORBES’ real-time rankings of the world’s billionaires, and clocks in as the planet’s fifth-richest person; Zuckerberg trails only Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Amancio Ortega of Spain, each of whom holds a fortune of more than $70 billion.
Zuckerberg’s $5 billion surge vastly outpaces the gains of any other individual on the FORBES billionaires list, based on data compiled between the start of normal trading hours on January 3 and the end of normal trading at 4:00 P.M. EST on Friday, January 13.
Of course, Facebook’s spiking share price cannot be attributed to any single event, but the company has received a string of positive press as of late for its efforts to tackle the proliferation of fake news content on its site. On Wednesday it unveiled a new “journalism project,” with the goal of improving its relationship with the media and increasing “news literacy.” The initiative follows a previously announced plan to “[disrupt] fake news economics” by preventing abusive media outlets from using Facebook’s ad-placing technology.
Zuckerberg, who famously founded the social media giant as a 19-year-old Harvard undergrad, has watched his personal fortune consistently rise year after year. In 2016 he cracked the top five on The Forbes 400 for the first time, placing fourth behind Gates, Buffett and Bezos. If Facebook maintains its current trajectory, he may soon place even higher.
We completely agree with Forbes… if Facebook continues to play nice with the globalist deep state, censoring any opposing voices, then expect more positive “buy” stock analysis to propel FB to the valuation stratosphere.
Users on the other hand are seemingly unimpressed with FB’s recent censorship business model, rating the social network as the sixth worst company in the United States.
Pissed off users, neo-liberal globalist darling… something has got to give.