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Russia Slams US Threat of Military Action Against Venezuela

teleSUR | September 21, 2017

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the U.S. for threatening the option of military intervention in Venezuela.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lavrov criticized the illegitimate application of “unilateral sanctions” by certain Western countries, in reference to the restrictions imposed by the U.S. against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

Lavrov said it is unacceptable to instigate unrest and launch military threats in order to ‘democratize’ Venezuela, as are actions aimed at undermining the country’s legitimate authorities.

He insisted that in any internal conflict, the international community must urge all parties to commit to reconciliation.

“The policies of the West are based on the principle of ‘who is not with us, is against us,” said the Russian foreign minister, referring to the threats made by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

He also made reference to Cuba and said the blockade should be lifted, “Almost all UN member states have called for the immediate lifting of the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Havana for several decades.”

On the subject of North Korea, Lavrov said he did not support Pyongyang’s position but he objected to the “military hysteria” which could lead to “disaster.”

He urged the UN to consider the roadmap for talks with the North put forward by Russia and China to defuse the crisis on the Korean peninsula by diplomatic and peaceful means.

Both Moscow and Beijing are proposing the suspension of Washington’s joint military maneuvers with South Korea but the White House has rejected the plan.

Lavrov also condemned U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran – he said they would undermine the nuclear deal with Tehran

“Using unilateral sanctions … is illegitimate and undermines the collective nature of international efforts. Everyone is witnessing with alarm today the newer and newer restrictions by the U.S. against Iran.”

“They threaten the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he added, referring to the 2015 international accord between Iran and six world powers.

Trump has suggested he is leaning towards withdrawing from the deal, but several international allies are trying to dissuade him.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

NATO is seeking to revive Сold War climate – Lavrov at UNGA

RT | September 21, 2017

NATO is currently seeking to revive the Cold War climate instead of building a dialogue with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Russia has honestly walked along a long path of getting rid of the legacy of the Cold War but received no support in its efforts from its partners in the West, the minister said, expressing his regret over the fact that “some countries still prefer force to dialogue.”

“The West constructed its policy on the basis of a principle, ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’ and proceeded with hideous expansion of NATO to the east,” the Russian diplomat said, adding that such policy ultimately led only to “instability” in the post-Soviet republics and increased tensions in the region.

At the same time, the minister said that Russia is ready to cooperate with its western partners and work together in a constructive way to find mutually acceptable solutions of the pressing issues, including the Ukrainian crisis in particular.

He also expressed his hope that the Russian initiative that involves sending a UN peacekeeping mission to Eastern Ukraine would ultimately help to resolve the crisis, adding that the relevant draft resolution had been already submitted to the UN Security Council.

‘Unilateral sanctions – illegitimate’

“Centuries of history have shown that a lasting settlement of difference can only be [achieved] through dialog and balancing of the core interests of the conflicting parties,” the minister said, adding that, “unfortunately, the arsenal of many western states does not include diplomacy but only rough pressure.”

“Any unilateral sanctions imposed aside from the sanctions approved by the UN Security Council are illegitimate and undermine the collective nature of the international efforts,” Lavrov said.

He then expressed concern over the new rounds of sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and warned that they threaten the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which earlier greatly contributed to the restoration of the regional and global stability.

‘War hysteria around North Korea could lead to disaster’

Lavrov denounced the escalation of tensions around the Korean Peninsula by calling it a “very dangerous confrontational spiral.” The minister stressed that Russia condemns the North Korean nuclear tests conducted in violation of the UN resolutions, but added that war hysteria stirred up by the West around Pyongyang’s actions could end up in a “disaster.”

The minister then called on all the parties to the Korean crisis to start a dialogue, and said that there is “no alternative to the political and diplomatic settlement of the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.”

He also urged the international community to support the joint Russian-Chinese roadmap of resolving the crisis that involves the “double freeze” initiative, envisaging Pyongyang stopping its nuclear and missile program in exchange for the US and South Korea abandoning their joint military exercises near the peninsula.

At the same time, Lavrov praised Tuesday’s statement by US President Donald Trump, in which he stressed the importance of respecting the principle of sovereignty in international relations. “We are pleased to see that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, … unilaterally stated that it is important to abide by the principle of sovereignty in the international affairs, that it is more important to lead by an example than dictate to other peoples,” the minister said.

‘Attempts to topple undesirable regimes only open way to terrorists’

It is unacceptable to incite riots and to threaten to use force to enforce “democratization” or undermine legitimate authorities in any country, Lavrov said. The attempts to ignore the opinions of others and to issue ultimatums without the UN approval “never led to anything good,” he added.

“The upsurge of international terrorism, millions of refugees and waves of illegal immigrants have come to a significant extent as a result of reckless attempts to remove some undesirable regimes, particularly through military intervention,” the minister said, adding that such actions brought only “chaos and destruction” to the Middle East and North Africa as well as “opened a way for terrorists.”

He then urged the international community to make additional efforts aimed at restoring stability in Syria and Iraq, adding that what has been done so far is still not enough, despite the success achieved in fighting Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) in the region.

“A string of bloody terrorist acts in the world shows that it is an illusion to try and create separate islands of security. Extremism and terrorism is something that we need to combat together, without using double standards and hidden agendas,” Lavrov said as he once again drew attention to what he called an “ambiguous” situation in Syria, where the US-led coalition seems to be sparing Al Nusra terrorists in its airstrikes while fighting another terrorist group, Islamic State.

‘No militarization of cyberspace’

Russia rejects the idea of militarization of cyberspace, Lavrov said, adding that this field should not be allowed to become “an area of military confrontation.” He went on to say that cyberspace should be prevented from being used to inflict economic damage or spread extremist propaganda.

He called on the international community to work out rules of “responsible behavior” in cyberspace that would be in the interests of all states. The diplomat also said that Russia drafted a universal convention on prevention of cybercrimes, including hacking attacks, and urged the General Assembly to discuss it during this year’s session.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

200,000 Israelis expected in “Kurdistan” once independence is declared

Voltaire Network | 20 September 2017

According to the magazine Israel-Kurd based in Erbil, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Massoud Barzani, the self-appointed President of the future independent Kurdistan, have reached a secret agreement.

Tel-Aviv is committed to installing 200 000 Israelis of Kurdish origin in Kurdistan.

The announcement has been widely repeated in the Turkish, Iranian and Arab press. The plan to create a South Sudan and a Kurdistan has been an Israeli military objective following missile development at the end of the nineties. These territories, largely administered by the Israelis, have enabled a rear attack on Egypt and Syria.

Out of the 8.5 million Israelis living in Israel, around 200,000 are of Kurdish origin. In March 1951, “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” (named after the biblical persons that organized the flight of the Jewish people from Babylon) permitted 11,000 Jewish Kurds to emigrate from Iraq to Israel. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee of New York funded this operation. The planes used for this air lift were made available by the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

The Barzani family that governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist, is historically connected to Israel. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, father of the current president Massoud Barzani, was one of Mossad’s high official.

The Israeli Prime Minister is the only head of government to have publicly declared his support of the creation of an independent Kurdistan outside the historic Kurdish territory (which would also be to the detriment of the indigenous populations).

Despite the prohibition declared by the Iraqi Constitutional Court, a referendum will take place on 25 September 2017 with a view to declaring this new State.

Translation
Anoosha Boralessa

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Simon Wood | September 20, 2017

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by an aggressive hostile force with nuclear weapons. The DPRK will faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for global denuclearization.” – Kim Jong Un, May 8, 2016

Attention: António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Sir,

I am writing in regard to a speech given by US President Donald Trump to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) earlier this week, in particular the following excerpt:

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

As Secretary-General you are sworn to uphold the principles enshrined in the United Nations charter.

Article 1:

[The Purposes of the United Nations are:] [1.] To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.

Article 2, paragraph 4:

All Members 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.

Article 33:

The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of 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.

[Emphasis in bold and capitals added]

I refer you to a statement made by President Kim of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on July 4th:

“[T]he DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.”

[Emphasis added]

As Mr. Kim’s statement clearly demonstrates a road forward for negotiation, as well as the perfectly reasonable pre-condition that hostile statements, actions and overall policy towards his nation cease, and given further that the US party is well aware of this position, Mr. Trump’s statement at the United Nations is in clear violation of the principles of the UN charter. I further add that the DPRK has ample cause for fear of the capabilities and will of the United States after the complete destruction of Pyongyang in the early 1950s.

I am writing therefore to inquire as to the date upon which you will hold an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss punitive sanctions upon the United States for the reckless and illegal statement of its highest representative. For context, I invite you to imagine the international response to, say, Russian President Vladimir Putin making an identical statement with regard to the United Kingdom. [We would have no choice but to destroy it if we perceive a threat]. Given recent tragic history, of which you will surely be aware, ‘threats’ can easily be invented via unnamed intelligence sources, amplified globally in major media organs, then later justified as ‘intelligence failures’ down the road once the damage is done.

Failure to censure the United States for this threat of force against a nation which – as all do – has the right to defend itself from clearly stated intentions of attack will only increase the suspicion held by many world citizens that the United Nations is powerless to impede or control powerful nations.

Faithfully,

Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

After the Caliphate, Rojava

One war can hide another

JPEG - 34.1 kb

This map was published by Robin Wright nine months before the offensive by Daesh into Iraq and Syria. According to this Pentagon researcher, it rectifies the map published in 2005 by Ralf Peters for the reshaping of the Greater Middle East.

By Thierry Meyssan | Voltairenet | September 19, 2017

While the Syrian Arab Army, the Russian aviation and Hezbollah are preparing to finish off Daesh, the Pentagon is planning a new war against Syria, this time with Kurdish troops. Just as the mission of the Caliphate was to create a Sunnistan straddling Iraq and Syria, so the mission of « Rojava » is to create a Kurdistan straddling the two states, as the Pentagon has been publicly stating for the last four years.

According to US grand strategy, as defined by Admiral Cebrowski in 2001, and published in 2004 by his assistant Thomas Barnett, all of the Greater Middle East must be destroyed except for Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.

Consequently, the imminent victory against Daesh will change nothing of the Pentagon’s intentions.

President Trump is against the manipulation of the jihadists. He has stopped the financial and military support that his country was giving them, and has managed to convince Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to do the same. He has modified NATO policies in the matter. However, nothing yet hints as to whether or not he will also oppose the Pentagon’s grand strategy. As far as the US Interior is concerned, the whole of Congress is in league against him, and he has no possibility of preventing a procedure for destitution other than negotiating with the Democratic Party.

Donald Trump has composed his administration of ex-senior civil servants from the Obama administration, a number of opportunistic politicians, many improvised representatives, and very very few trustworthy personalities.

His special representative against Daesh, Brett McGurk, is an ex-collaborator of President Obama, and is supposed to serve Trump’s new policy. On 18 August, he organised a meeting with the tribal leaders to « fight Daesh ». However, the photographs he published attest to the fact that, on the contrary, several of Daesh’s leaders also participated in the meeting.

In the same vein, helicopters of the US Special Forces exfiltrated two European leaders of Daesh and their families from the outskirts of Deiz ez-Zor, before they could be taken prisoner by the Syrian Arab Army on 26 August. Two days later, they also exfiltrated about twenty more Daesh officers.

Everything looks as though the Pentagon were storing away its jihadist structure and conserving it for other operations elsewhere. Simultaneously, it is preparing a new episode against Syria with a new army, which, this time, will be composed around Kurdish forces.

This war, like the war against the Caliphate,was announced four years ago in the New York Times, by Robin Wright, a researcher at the US Institute of Peace (equivalent to the NED for the Pentagon). It also planned to divide the Yemen into two states, potentially shared between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – and finally, last but not least, to dismember Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the « Rojava » project corresponds to Israëli strategy, which, since the end of the 1990’s and the development of missiles, is no longer concentrated on controlling its border regions (the Sinaï, the Golan and South Lebanon), but on taking its neighbours from behind (hence the creation of South Sudan and eventually, Greater Kurdistan).

The recruiting drive for European soldiers for the « Rojava » project has only just begun. A priori, it could assemble as many combatants as there were for the jihad, insofar as the members of the anarchist groups which provide manpower are as numerous in Europe as common law prisoners.

Indeed, the jihadist network began in French prisons before becoming a generalised « crusade ». It is probable that the recruitment within the anarchist movement will also spread as the conflict goes on. Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, who organised this recruitment, planned in the long term. I use the word « crusade » deliberately, because these wars in the Middle Ages, like the one we have just experienced, were in fact European imperialist operations against the people of the Greater Middle East. It is just as grotesque to claim that there is a link between the message of Christ and the crusades as to claim a link between the Prophet and jihadism. In both cases, the commanders were « Westerners »[1], and these conflicts exclusively served Western imperialism. The successive crusades bled across two centuries, and the majority of Christians in the Levant fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against the invaders.

Not long ago, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, publicly declared that President Assad « did not deserve to be on Earth », and confirmed that the jihadists were doing a « good job ». Many young people answered his call by joining Al-Nusra (Al-Qaïda), then Daesh. Today, the French ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, publicly announced that France would support the creation of state which would include Iraqi Kurdistan and the corridor to the Mediterranean via Syria. A few young Europeans have already answered this call, and many others will follow.

Today, as in 2011-12, the Western Press has taken the side of this new anti-Syrian army, supported by their governments. It will never question the treachery of Abdullah Öcalan, who renounced Marxist-Leninism for anarchy. It will repeat that Kurdistan has already been recognised by the Sèvres Conference, in 1920, but it will avoid looking at the documents which specify its boundaries. It will believe it to be legitimate in Iraq and Syria, although it is currently situated in Turkey. It will ignore the fact that the frontiers in fact correspond to nothing other than the plans developed by the Pentagon.

The referendum for the independence of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and the territories annexed with the help of Daesh will launch the beginning of this operation, on 25 September. As in 2014, it will be intended to simultaneously destroy Iraq and Syria, this time without creating a « Sunnistan » from Rakka to Mossul, but a « Kurdistan », on a territory linking Erbil and Kirkuk to the Mediterranean.

Translation Pete Kimberley

[1] This term is poorly chosen insofar as « Westerner » is not opposed to « Oriental », but to « Soviet ». I could find no other term to describe collectively the Europeans, the North-Americans and the Israelis. Author’s note.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Hué Back When: Vietnam’s Pivotal Battle Reconsidered

Photo by Raymond Depardon | CC BY 2.0
By Michael Uhl | CounterPunch | September 20, 2017

For Mark Bowden, author of Hué 1968, the pivotal battle of the War in Vietnam did not follow the script most Americans were used to scanning in their newspapers or visualizing on the evening news.  The war Americans followed at home was like a humongous hunting expedition. U.S. forces seemed engaged in an endless chase over a lush boondocks inhabited by peasants and dotted with rice paddies or trailing the rugged forested highlands in search of the Viet Cong, a cunning and elusive enemy whose tactics were hit and run, not stand and fight.

When an atypical fixed battle developed, it was typically well-removed from the population centers that hugged the coastline off the South China Sea. Vietnam was, after all, a guerrilla war, or more broadly understood, a people’s war fought to reunite a nation, artificially divided into North and South by fiat of the United States in the service of geopolitical brinksmanship. Accused of fermenting the southern insurgency, North Vietnam was mercilessly bombed, but spared the carnage of a ground war. Not so the south where, by whatever foul means, the idea was “to isolate the population from the Viet Cong,” notwithstanding that, as Mark Bowden readily concedes, “in most instances they were one in the same.” The resistance was popular and widespread, and its idea was to drive the American invader out, and overthrow a despised ruling clique of Vietnamese compradors which survived only because the invader had committed hundreds of thousands of its own troops and billions of its taxpayers’ dollars to sustain it.

Americans were consistently assured that bit by bit the tumultuous countryside was being pacified, and the guerillas attrited, both politically and as a fighting force.  In late 1967 Americans were told they were winning the war. When Tet – the Luna New Year – dawned on January 31, 1968, that illusion was irreparably shattered.  The vastly superior forces of the United States and its southern catspaw, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), were caught virtually flat footed when thousands of regular troops of the People’s Army of North Vietnam seemingly materialized from thin air, and in coordination with local units of the southern resistance, launched up and down the length and breath of South Vietnam what was quickly branded the Tet Offensive. The most stunning blow for Americans, war managers and citizens alike, was an assault on the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon taken right to the walls of the American Embassy.

For several weeks thereafter, media attention in the U.S. and throughout the world focused primarily on the shock of Saigon’s vulnerability, overplaying its significance. A thousand kilometers north, at first scarcely noticed, even by the Commander of U.S. forces, General William Westmoreland, a battle had commenced that would become the “longest and bloodiest” of the war, not waged over the – till then – familiar rural topography, but house to house, street by street, culminating in one of the most intense chapters of urban warfare in the annals of American military history. Observers today might liken it to a more recent urban free-for-all entangling American troops in Fallujah, Iraq. Or, better yet, recall a U.S. military fiasco in downtown Mogadishu that Mark Bowden had crafted into an earlier best seller. To the extent comparisons hold, the Battle of Hue was like Black Hawk Down on steroids.

Hue 1968 is a comprehensive account of that battle written in the page-turning style of popular narrative non-fiction. The author has assembled a cast of eyewitnesses who participated in the action, Vietnamese and Americans, and the battle unfolds in recollections mined from their interviews, and, for the departed, from other primary sources at his disposal, such as lengthy wartime correspondences. Bowden has properly set the strategic stage for his action in the context of the war’s two most relevant contemporaneous developments.  There was the very fact of Tet, simultaneous attacks with varying degrees of effectiveness on virtually every population center and military base in the South. The Year of the Monkey came in like Armageddon, catching General Westmoreland, for one, completely off guard even though he later claimed he knew those crafty commies were planning something.

To draw attention away from their true intentions, the North Vietnamese had executed a feint, keeping a remote Marine encampment under heavy bombardment at Khe Sanh near the border with Laos, and just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  Taking the bait, and just two weeks before Tet, Westmoreland weakened his coastal enclaves by detaching troops to reinforce the beleaguered camp. The American general believed he was luring the North Vietnamese into a repeat of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which in 1954 brought French colonial control of Vietnam to an end but inadvertently opened the door to an American invasion. This time, Westmoreland fantasized, “he was determined to prevent history from repeating itself.” That battle never developed, and several months later, Khe Sanh was abandoned by the Americans.

Westmoreland’s obsession with Khe Sanh apparently prevented him from fully grasping that Hue, South Vietnam’s third largest city, and former Imperial capital, had fallen to the Liberation Front in less than twenty-four hours. This pattern of disbelief was moreover pervasive up and down the American chain of command. At Phu Bai, a Marine base less than fifteen miles south of Hue, the commanding general, with improbable symmetry named Forster LaHue, repeatedly ignored reports on the size of the force his counterattack would face, and insisted that, instead of thousands, their number couldn’t possibly exceed more than a few hundred. Could a force as large as the one being reported enter and occupy the entire city that quickly and virtually undetected? Through some of his most original reporting Bowden reconstructs exactly how that occurred.

Shifting the action in his account from one adversary to the other, Bowden begins with the attack, describing how four regiments totaling roughly four thousand uniformed NVA soldiers managed to infiltrate the border between North and South Vietnam, rendezvous with local guerrillas in a force of equal size, and ultimately bivouac on the outskirts of Hue. “It was the kind of troop movement,” comments Bowden, “that could remain secret only if the citizenry supported it, or didn’t care enough to sound the alarm.”

Certainly in Hue there were many Catholics who, in general, were partisans of the Saigon regime, not to mention a contingent of elite ARVN soldiers stationed there, who would have sounded the alarm if they’d been aware of any imminent threat. On another side was a strong current of anti-Americanism among the Buddhists and the student body at Vietnam’s prestigious Hue University, who two years earlier had combined and rioted against the repressive South Vietnamese government, and burned the library of the United States Information Service. But by early 1968, Hue was being little frequented by the war’s violence, and hopes were stoked that the city’s rich stock of architectural treasures, not least the palace of Vietnam’s last royal dynasty, might avoid destruction. Compared with the rest of the country, life in Hue was reasonably good, and reasonably safe. A degree of political complacency had set into what remained a functional commercial entrepot where trade and traffic on Hue’s iconic Perfume River remained brisk.

Even though a majority of Hue’s population of 140,000 could not be considered pillars of the revolution, an underground resistance network was well-entrenched in the city and highly motivated.  And Bowden, having tracked down a small cast of survivors, gives us affecting  sketches of, among others, the Village Girl who guided the troops through the darkness and pointed them toward their targets; the VC commander who stood up to the hero of Dien Bien Phu, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and revised the battle plan; the college boy who worked with his fisherman landlord to smuggle arms into the city by sampan; the Buddhist poet turned what we would call ‘information officer,’ and Bowden – who holds many conventional opinions– calls “propagandist;” but my favorite was the balsy little guy who was given the task to create a giant new flag for the victors to raise once they’d taken the city.

The flag detail merits a special nod to illustrate the contrast between the high tech m.o. of the Empire’s war machine, and the endless improvisation of those in the Front who used gumption, imagination and stealth to their advantage in the face of overwhelming fire power from air, land and sea. The task to create a flag to be seen, not as “an invasion or occupation, but rather as a liberation,” fell to Sargent Cao Van Sen, an old war horse who’d fought with the Viet Minh against the French, joined the northern Army, and was then ordered back to his native Hue to organize among the Viet Cong. The idea of the flag, Bowden says “was to recognize real political differences between North and South,” with a design that represented, not only the liberation forces, but also “the intelligentsia and the city’s religious factions – Buddhists and Catholics.” Hanoi’s political objective at that stage was transitional, “to establish a neutral, independent South Vietnam,” leaving reunification to future negotiations.” Sgt. Sen’s job was to line up the material, a sewing machine and a seamstress to produce a single flag, which, when completed, required two men to carry it.  After being “run up the 123-foot flagpole… that stood just outside the royal palace before the Citadel’s southern wall… it was visible all over Hue” when the city’s denizens awoke January 31st on the first morning of Tet.

Metropolitan Hue spread over both sides of the Perfume River, and the Front’s objective was to occupy the zone on the south bank called the Triangle, and, on the north, the Citadel, an “enormous fortress that enclosed nearly two square miles… its walls twenty-six feet high and impenetrably thick,” and enclosing the neighborhoods of Hue’s most affluent residents. Primary targets, included the air strip inside the Citadel, the province headquarters, the treasury, the post office, the prison, the radio station and “the sole American base, the [Military Assistance Command, Vietnam] MACV compound.”

The Commander of the Front, General Dang Kinh watched from high ground to the west, anxiously awaiting the assault to begin. Finally, “throughout the city arose the sound of gunfire… scattered at first, and then as if touched off by a fuse, it rose rapidly to a din.” By the time the shooting stopped, the attacking force, having “suffered only a few casualties, had dealt Hue’s defenders a crushing surprise blow.” The only major targets not overrun were a fortified redoubt occupied by the 1st ARVN Division inside the Citadel, and the MACV compound on the opposite side of the river, both heavily under siege.

Notwithstanding the loud cheerleading from Hanoi for Tet to unleash a “popular uprising,” it was General Kinh’s opinion, according to Bowden, that no such uprising would occur, not even in subdued and occupied Hue, given the certainty of an overpowering American counter-attack.  Kinh knew his forces “could take the city, but… not hold it for long. Achievable goals… were to destroy the ARVN division, and… round up… those who represented the Saigon regime… who were marked for arrest and punishment.”

The subsequent executions of many of these Saigon officials is thematic in Bowden’s text, an overly eager retailing of the ex post facto justification among the war’s apologists for the American decision to rescue their allies by destroying their city.  More informed observers might counter that for an American writer of Bowden’s stature to lay charges of mass murder at the Vietnamese resistance– in this instance taking blood retaliation on enemies considered legitimate military targets – demonstrates a highly hometown cast of mind, and a failure to do the math on the infinitely less selective assassination orgy of the U.S. Phoenix Program, not to mention the war’s vastly unbalanced human death toll perpetrated upon the Vietnamese population by the invader.

Kinh’s prediction proved correct. And much of what Bowden encapsulates in Hue 1968 is devoted to a ground level view on just how the city was retaken. Bowden fully examines first January 31st, the day Hue fell, from a variety of vantage points including civilians and combatants on both sides, then moves the battle forward in week long blocks until the Front, faced with annihilation, is forced to withdraw. Had the U.S. command acted more swiftly, the lives of many marines might have been spared, but the city faced devastation in every scenario as long as the occupiers remained. The initial counter-thrust came from the nearby Marine base at Phu Bai when General LaHue, still doubting his adversary’s vast numerical superiority, initially dispatched so few marines that, on one of few occasions during the war, the U.S. was seriously out-gunned. When a marine captain already in Hue called for air and artillery strikes to dislodge the entrenched enemy, General LaHue told him “rather strikingly that he was overreacting.“ LaHue “saw no reason on earth why the more than four hundred men in the [MACV] compound, reinforced with well over three hundred U.S. marines,” assorted tanks and heavy weaponized vehicles, “should not be able to flatten anything between them and the fucking Citadel.”  Bowden aptly titles this episode An Idiotic Mission.

Three hundred men represented one understrength marine battalion, but only a single unit, Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion of the 1st Marine Division was dispatched at first to test the enemy strength. This proved a disaster, and the best account of the action on the ground I’ve found was not Bowden’s, but in Vietnam-Perkasie, a memoir by W.D. (Bill) Ehrhart. When Alpha Company left Phu Bai just as the sun was coming up, Bill Ehrhart was given the option of staying behind. He was short, meaning only a few days remained on what had already been a harrowing thirteen month tour.  But since the unit was just going to check things out, and were told they’d be back by evening, Bill threw caution to the wind.

Alpha Company, moving to relieve the assault on the MACV compound passed a gas station on the city outskirts, and then, Ehrhart writes, “all hell broke loose… The shock of the ambush caught the whole column completely by surprise… We knew the compound lay straight up the road… seven blocks ahead… We fought our way up the [first] block. And the one after that. All day long we inched up the street. Casualties were appalling.  Wounded and dead Marines lay everywhere.”  Ehrhart, wounded in action, was in the thick of it the whole time. His memoir is a compelling, heart wrenching read.

From there Bowden covers the fighting chapter and verse. And if battle action is your genre, it’s a read that’s hair raising enough to fix your attention. The killing went on for 26 days, and by the end, 80% of the city lay in rubble. Bowden devotes a last chapter to Hue’s human toll. “Two-hundred and fifty American marines and soldiers were killed, and 1,554 wounded… The Front’s losses are estimated at between 2,400 and 5000…. A conservative guess at those executed would be two thousand… [which] brings us to a combined civilian death toll of about eight thousand… not an exact figure, but to the degree it’s off, it’s off by being too low.”

That the civilian death toll was enormous, cannot be doubted, and is by most accounts I’ve read over the years attributed to the terrible pounding the city took from naval off-shore guns, and from American and ARVN air power and artillery intent on expelling the Front whatever the human cost. As for “those executed,” it appears as if Bowden may have that figure “off” by a factor of ten. Writing in The New York Times in October 1972, Richard Barnet, a former State Department official and co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, quotes what the Hué Police Chief told a correspondent of The Times of London in March 1968 just days after the battle. The Chief, “Doan Cong Lap estimated the total number of executions at 200.“ Moreover, “the local Catholic priest reported that none of his clergy or parishioners were harmed by the N.L.F. [National Liberation Front],” who had been given instructions to be on their best behavior.  Even if these two eyewitnesses under-counted the reprisal deaths, it’s still unlikely that Bowden’s figure holds water, given his reliance on official U.S. sources.

Richard Barnet took up this topic at a time when voices in the Nixon administration were claiming that mass executions at Hué were proof there would be a bloodbath if the U.S. withdrew and the communists came to power. When questioned on this in Hanoi, Premier Pham Van Dong retorted, “There is nothing in recent Vietnamese history to suggest that a government bent on killing hundreds of thousands of people in South Vietnam can keep peace.” In any case the bloodbath was us. As Barnet dryly quipped, “In the Orwellian age, the daily saturation bombings of Indochina are defended as missions of mercy.”

Mark Bowden seems to bend over backwards throughout this voluminous and valuable book to provide a two-sided perspective on a particularly tragic moment in the Vietnam War. But there’s something distastefully familiar in his throwaway rhetoric of the Cold War bias that got us into Vietnam in the first place. Bowden demonstrates how truth is betrayed by the words he chooses, for example, that “antiwar activists in the States romanticized Ho Chi Minh, and his cause, emphasizing his nationalist character… [but] Hanoi was Communist, authoritarian to the core… ruthless and doctrinaire.” Yet even this phobic reflex to honor the thought police in the mainstream where he prospers doesn’t cause Bowden to ignore that it was the Stalinists who hoped to come to power though the ballot box and the Americans who made war to prevent that.

By consensus in the school of conventional wisdom the Tet Offensive of 1968 was the turning point of the Vietnam War, after which the American war aim was not to win, but how to get out. Mark Bowden makes an excellent case that the fulcrum of that turning point was the Battle of Hue. But what if there was no turning point?  In Vietnam the protracted war to expel a powerful foreign invader had its roots in millennia past; the American invasion was just another bump in the road.

Michael Uhl is the author of  Vietnam Awakening

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Singapore resets China ties

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | September 20, 2017

The visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to China (Sept 19-21) will be keenly watched in Delhi. It is no secret that over the years Singapore has significantly influenced the Indian discourses regarding China. Although the bamboo curtain lifted a long time ago, India’s ‘China watchers’, aside a clutch of noble exceptions, rely largely on second-hand knowledge, and Singapore being the West’s outpost, became a watering hole for think tankers speculating on the ‘takeaways’ from China’s rise.

Coincidence or not, Singapore-China relations also went downhill through the past 3-year period – similar to the trajectory of Sino-Indian ties under Modi government. The common factors were rather striking: Singapore was the only ASEAN country – like India in the South Asian region – to urge that China should “fully respect” the South China Sea arbitration award in June last year (although the island state, like India, was not party to the territorial dispute); Singapore too has been disdainful toward China’s Belt and Road Initiative; Singapore cozied up to Taiwan; and, Lee departed from the wise policy of striking a careful balance between China and the US laid down by Lee Kuan Yew, to embrace the US as geopolitical ally.

Thus, Lee’s visit to China signals a significant adjustment in Singapore’s strategic posturing, riveted in the recent years on the US’ ‘pivot to Asia’. While receiving him in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the strengthening of political trust and the consolidation of bilateral relations are not only in mutual interests but also will benefit peace, stability and prosperity of the region and globally.

All this may come as disappointment to pundits in India who are wedded to the belief that Singapore shares their adversarial mindset toward China. On the contrary, Singapore realizes that the containment strategy against China has become a relic of history and the smart thing to do is to re-engage China. In some ways, it’s the old political adage, If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’  In an exclusive interview with Xinhua news agency on Friday Lee expressed willingness to see Singapore as a hub for Chinese business and headquarters of some Belt and Road projects, based on its advantages in finance, transportation, trade and services.

Through the past 3-year period, China began engaging with Malaysia as a key interlocutor for the BRI in the ASEAN region. The message was loud and clear in the Chinese investment ($7.2 billion) to develop Malacca as a new deep-sea port rivalling Singapore. China also unfolded big plans to expand relations with Malaysia. It has committed to import goods worth $2 trillion from Malaysia over the next five years (a nearly eight-fold jump from 2016 imports over that period), invest up to $150 billion in the country and offer 10,000 places for training in China. During Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to China last December, deals worth $33.6 billion crystallized.

China hopes that Lee’s visit provides an opportunity to canvass its bid for the prestigious 360 kilometere long high-speed railway project connecting Singapore with Kuala Lumpur (which will cut travel time to about 45 minutes.) Premier Li Keqiang raised the topic upfront with Lee on Tuesday at their meeting in Beijing. From Lee’s initial remarks, Singapore takes a positive view of the Chinese bid.

Another point of interest for China will be that Singapore is assuming the chairmanship of the ASEAN next year. Beijing appreciated that last month at the ASEAN conclaves, Singapore played a lead role to promote the finalization of a code of conduct between the grouping and China regarding the South China Sea. Conceivably, China sees Singapore as a bellwether within the ASEAN.

Lee’s visit to China comes before the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (October 18) and Trump’s state visit to China in November. Lee is due to visit the US in October. From all appearances, Singapore appears to be inserting itself into the ‘new type of big-power relations’ reshaping the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific while also positioning itself at a crucial juncture of political transition in the Chinese leadership.

Singapore is well clued in traditionally on the alignments within the Chinese leadership. Interestingly, amongst other top Chinese leaders, Lee is meeting the Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Wang Qishan. Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visited China in June after which he disclosed that the two countries have agreed to work together on the Belt and Road Initiative. This was followed by a meeting between Lee and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg on the sidelines of the G20 summit during which cooperation within the framework of BRI figured. Clearly, there has been a build-up toward Lee’s visit to China, which is taking place after an unusual hiatus of 3 years.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivers clear and calm rebuttal of Trump’s hostile remarks at UN

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | September 20, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has addressed the General Assembly in a short speech that primarily covered Iran’s foreign policy outlook, its specific goals for peace and an unambiguous warning against anyone who seeks to undermine the 2013 JCPOA (aka the Iran nuclear deal).

President Rouhani used the word ‘moderation’ throughout the speech. He characterised Iran’s history, contemporary outlook and policy positions as quintessentially moderate.

After paying tribute to Iranian voters who recently re-elected him as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he then set out to define Iran’s definition of moderation in the following way.

“Moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people. Moderation seeks neither isolation nor hegemony. It implies neither indifference nor intransigence. The path of moderation is the path of peace, but a just a inclusive peace; not peace for one nation and war and turmoil for others. Moderation is freedom and democracy, but in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, not purporting to promote freedom in one place while supporting dictators elsewhere. Moderation is the synergy of ideas and not the dance of swords. Finally, the path of moderation nurtures beauty. Deadly weapons exports are not  beautiful, rather peace is beautiful.

We in Iran strive to promote peace…. we never condone tyranny and always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone  but we do not tolerate threats from anyone. Our discourse is one of dignity and respect. We are unmoved by threats and intimidation. We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect”.

Rouhani then briefly turned to the issue of Palestine. He stated that a “rogue and racist state” (Israel) cannot trample on the rights of Palestinians in the 21st century. He continued, citing Iran’s historic record of helping minorities and the oppressed.

Rouhani stated,

“Iran is a bastion of tolerance… we are the same people who rescued Jews from Babylonian servitude… open our arms to receive Armenian Christians in our midst”.

He explained further, that just as Iran fought for Jews in the past, today Iran fights for the rights of oppressed Palestinians. He stated, “We support justice and seek tranquillity”.

Rouhani then described Iran’s fight against Takriri/Salafist terrorism as a fight based on ethics and humanity rather than one of conquest. The Iranian President said that Iran does not seek to restore its empire nor export revolution through the force of arms. He contrasted this with the ‘boots on the ground’ approach of “neo-colonialists”.

Turning once again to the theme of moderation, Rouhani said that Iran does not merely preach moderation but practices it. He said that the JCPOA is a primary example of moderate geo-political behaviour.

Rouhani then said that the JCPOA which has been applauded by the wider international community, both in the east and west, can become a new model of interaction between nations. The clear inference here was to North Korea. Even German leader Angela Merkel who supports the JCPOA along with her EU colleagues are suggesting using it as a model for bringing about de-escalation on the Korean peninsula.

Hassan Rouhani then stated that Iran never sought nuclear weapons and does not now. He remarked that it is “ridiculous” for a country, Israel,  which has nuclear weapons and has signed not a single international protocol for nuclear safety has the “audacity” to preach to peaceful nations.

He then stated,

“Iran will not be the first country to violate the JCPOA but will respond resolutely to its violation by any party”.

While he did not name Donald Trump or the United States, Rouhani said that yesterday, words were spoken in the General Assembly that were “hateful” and “unfit to be heard in the UN which was established to promote peace…”.

He went on to say that Iran’s missiles are for defensive purposes and to prevent against the “adventurous tendencies” of others, before stating

“The US should explain why after spending the assets of its own people, why instead of contribution to peace, it has only brought war, misery poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region”.

Rouhani concluded by praising Iran’s economic reforms and subtly alluded to Iran’s increased participation in joint economic ventures, the clear reference being to China’s One Belt–One Road initiative.

The Iranian President concluded by inviting all those who seek peace to visit Iran which has been historically hospitable to such individuals.

Rouhani’s speech did exactly what it should have done given the circumstances. It was a calm and clear articulation of Iran’s position in the region and the wider world. By citing the wide international support for the JCPOA, including among NATO members and other US allies, Rouhani has made it clear that the US and Israel are isolated in their anger towards the deal.

Rouhani also highlighted US hypocrisy in supporting Israel’s technically non-disclosed nuclear arsenal while accusing Iran of wanting nuclear weapons without evidence and contrary to the clear statements from Iran.

Rather than reacting aggressively to Donald Trump’s provocative speech, Rouhani’s calm and at times poetic approach to the issues, put the ball squarely in the US court. As it stands, the US is currently sending mixed signals in respect of whether Trump seeks to formally pull out of the JCPOA.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Listening to the Donald at the UN

The Saker • Unz Review • September 19, 2017

Late this morning, outraged emails started pouring in. My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”. The cause of all that? They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN. I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself. Yeah, it was painful.

You can read the full (rush, not official) text here or watch the video here. Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing. But there are a few interesting moments including these:

“We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been”

This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars. Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military. This is completely false, of course. If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over. In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.

Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important. This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the US that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war. Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.

[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is. There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory. But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies. Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at? Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this? If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay. But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?! Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium? Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices. My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”. This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then. It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the US of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Wow! Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all). Totally destroy North Korea. I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan. No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people. Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified. I bet for the former reaction. It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat. And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea. For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeated that today. That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK. There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah). The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close. In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul. At the very least, they can totally destroy it. Along with much of Japan. I wonder if the US decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?

Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection. Why do I say that? Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy. In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really. What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking. Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved? No? Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything. They really don’t have it. The amazing reality is that they don’t even have a goal defined. How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.

[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia. Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan. This may not be what the US would want, but this is the reality. Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump. First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories which the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA! The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years. The US also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination. And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the US in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?! Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement. And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack. Wow! For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions. The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…

Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway? Who does he think he is lecturing? Yet another US middle school classroom?! Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?! Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet. Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the US, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.

I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect. Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world. The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this). Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness. Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense? Probably not. My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously. Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.

[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama. This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya. The reason why this is a joke is that when Dubya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him. Oh boy where we wrong! Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya. I do. I really do. Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was. Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].

In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the US. Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill. Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing. That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done. Because, and make no mistake here, if the US cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like. But for as long as the US remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary as President would have been infinitely worse!). However, the US themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindictive and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC. Step by step the US is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being. It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war. The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead. As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Fact checking Benjamin Netanyahu’s General Assembly speech

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | September 20, 2017

Yesterday, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United Nations in a speech that served as a kind of appendix to Donald Trump’s controversial, bellicose declaration that was delivered hours earlier.

Both speeches predictably focused on Iran and both leaders told a great deal of untruths and half-truths about the situation. Here are some of the most glaring untruths, followed by a factual explanation of the situation.

1. Iran is “devouring nations”. 

The full quote from Netanyahu is as follows:

“Well as you know, I strongly disagreed. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations, one after the other. And that’s precisely what Iran is doing today.

From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel”.

In reality, Iran occupies zero countries and has not occupied any country in its modern history. By contrast, Israel has occupied part of Syria, the Golan Heights, since 1967. This occupation is condemned by the United Nations and all five permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States.

The other country on Netanyahu’s list that has been occupied by Israel and not Iran is Lebanon. After invading Lebanon in 1982, Israel set up a permanent occupying force in southern Lebanon between 1985 and the year 2000. Israel maintained a presence in the country until 2006, when Israeli forces retreated in the face of strong Hezbollah defences.

Israel continues to occupy Palestine according to the UN and most impartial observers. It previously occupied Egypt, the Jordanian West Bank and in 1981, illegally bombed Iraq.

Iran by contrast has done no such things. The Iranian assistance provided to Syria during the conflict in the country has been done under a legal agreement with Damascus based on mutual friendship and a common cause against Salafist terrorism. Iran’s training of some Iraqi volunteers has been conducted on a similar basis.

By no logical stretch of the English language, could this been seen as “devouring nations”.

2. “We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces”

This statement while designed to sound like a defensive measure is actually an admission of a premeditated war crime. No foreign country can use the threat of force to blackmail its neighbours or anyone else when it comes to internal affairs.

If Syria invites Iran to establish some sort of permanent presence in the country, that is a matter which is strictly between Syria and Iran. To use this as a pretext for an act of war, is put simply, a war crime.

3. “Syria has barrel-bombed, starved, gassed and murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and wounded millions more, while Israel has provided lifesaving medical care to thousands of Syrian victims of that very same carnage. Yet who does the World Health Organization criticize? Israel”.

This one is full of outright lies. First of all, prior to the conflict, not only were all Syrians fed, but food prices were subsidised by the government, making nutritious foodstuffs more affordable in Syria than in most parts of the region.

Even today, Syrians are not starving, but due to western backed sanctions, food is more expensive and medicine is both more expensive and more scarce than they were prior to the conflict with Salafist terrorism. None of this has to do with the Syrian government nor its partners who continue to deliver aid.

Syria has not possessed any chemical weapons since 2013. In a joint effort by both Russia and the US, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons certified that by early 2014, there were no chemical weapons left in the Syrian governments hands.

Syria did develop a chemical weapons program in the 1970s in response to intelligence about Israel’s secretive nuclear weapons program.

In spite of this, Syria has never used chemical weapons, not on a foreign power and not internally.

The only chemical weapons in Syria today, are those in the hands of terrorists who are fighting Syria.

In respect of the Israeli hospital program. These hospitals have not been open to ordinary Syrians, let alone to the Syrian soldiers fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Instead, the hospitals have perversely been used to give medical treatment to al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters who are known as some of the most violent terrorists in the world.

4. “Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, Iran’s nuclear program has what’s called a sunset clause”.

Not only does the JCPOA (aka Iran nuclear deal) prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but Barack Obama’s administration admitted this openly. The EU and Russia continue to express their support of the deal and the US State Department, EU and UN have all agreed that Iran is in full compliance with the deal.

The only country in the Middle East to develop and maintain nuclear weapons is Israel. Furthermore, Israel obtained its nuclear weapons without international sanction and to this day, refuses to admit to having nuclear weapons. Israel is not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Israel is one of only four nations in the world to have never signed the treaty.

Israeli historian Avner Cohen as well as the award-winning US journalist Seymour Hersh have confirmed the existence of the so-called ‘Samson Option’, wherein Israel will deploy its nuclear weapons if it feels its security is threatened.

During his speech at the UN, Netanyahu alluded to the ‘Samson Option’ in saying,

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions”.

In this sense, Iran has much more to fear form Israel than Israel has to fear from Iran, yet ironically it is Israel that continually protests about its own fears.

CONCLUSION

While Iran hasn’t invaded another country in its modern history, nor has it occupied a single country, Israel has occupied five: Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Unlike Iran, Israel has nuclear bombs, unlike every other country in the Middle East.

With this record, it becomes clear who should be afraid of whom.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 19, 2017

In discussing President Trump, there is always the soft prejudice of low expectations – people praise him for reading from a Teleprompter even if his words make little sense – but there is no getting around the reality that his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly must rank as  one of the most embarrassing moments in America’s relations with the global community.

Trump offered a crude patchwork of propaganda and bluster, partly delivered as a campaign speech praising his own leadership – boasting about the relatively strong U.S. economy that he mostly inherited from President Obama – and partly reflecting his continued subservience to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, perhaps most importantly, Trump’s speech may have extinguished any flickering hope that his presidency might achieve some valuable course corrections in how the United States deals with the world, i.e., shifting away from the disastrous war/interventionist policies of his two predecessors.

Before the speech, there was at least some thinking that his visceral disdain for the neoconservatives, who mostly opposed his nomination and election, might lead him to a realization that their policies toward Iran, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere were at the core of America’s repeated and costly failures in recent decades.

Instead, apparently after a bracing lecture from Netanyahu on Monday, Trump bared himself in a kind of neocon Full Monte:

–He repeated the Israeli/neocon tripe about Iran destabilizing the Middle East when Shiite-ruled Iran actually has helped stabilize Iraq and Syria against Sunni terrorist groups and other militants supported by Saudi Arabia and – to a degree – Israel;

–He again denounced the Iranian nuclear agreement whose main flaw in the eyes of the Israelis and the neocons is that it disrupted their plans to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran, and he called for “regime change” in Iran, a long beloved dream of the Israelis and the neocons;

–He repeated the Israeli/neocon propaganda about Hezbollah as a terrorist organization when Hezbollah’s real crime was driving the Israeli military out of southern Lebanon in 2000, ending an Israeli occupation that began with Israel’s 1982 invasion;

–He praised his rush-to-judgment decision to bomb Syria last April, in line with Israeli/neocon propaganda against President Bashar al-Assad and partly out of a desire to please the same Washington establishment that is still scheming how to impeach him;

–He spoke with the crass hypocrisy that the neocons and many Israeli leaders have perfected, particularly his demand that “all nations … respect … the rights of every other sovereign nation” — when he made clear that he, like his White House predecessors, is ready to violate the sovereignty of other nations that get in Official Washington’s way.

A Litany of Wars

Just this century, the United States has invaded multiple nations without U.N. authorization, based on various “coalitions of the willing” and other subterfuges for wars of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed the “supreme international crime” and which the U.N. was specifically created to prevent.

Barack Obama and George W. Bush

Not only did President George W. Bush invade both Afghanistan and Iraq – while also sponsoring “anti-terror” operations in many other countries – but President Barack Obama acknowledged ordering military attacks in seven countries, including against the will of sovereign states, such as Libya and Syria. Obama also supported a violent coup against the elected government of Ukraine.

For his part, Trump already has shown disdain for international law by authorizing military strikes inside Yemen and Syria. In other words, if not for the fear of provoking American anger, many of the world’s diplomats might have responded with a barrage of catcalls toward Trump for his blatant hypocrisy. Without doubt, the United States is the preeminent violator of sovereignty and international law in the world today, yet Trump wagged his finger at others, including Russia (over Ukraine) and China (over the South China Sea).

He declared: “We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.”

Then, with a seeming blindness to how much of the world sees the United States as a law onto itself, Trump added: “The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.”

Of course, in the U.S. mainstream media’s commentary that followed, Trump’s hypocrisy went undetected. That’s because across the American political/media establishment, the U.S. right to act violently around the world is simply accepted as the way things are supposed to be. International law is for the other guy; not for the “indispensible nation,” not for the “sole remaining superpower.”

On Bibi’s Leash

Despite some of his “America First” rhetoric – tossed in as red meat to his “base” – Trump revealed a global outlook that differed from the Bush-Obama neoconservative/liberal-interventionist approach in words only. In substance, Trump appears to be just the latest American poodle on Bibi Netanyahu’s leash.

For instance, Trump bragged about attacking Syria over a dubious chemical-weapons claim while ignoring the role of the Saudi/Israeli tandem in assisting Al Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate; Trump threatened the international nuclear agreement with Iran while calling for regime change in Tehran, two of Netanyahu’s top priorities; and Trump warned that he would “totally destroy North Korea” over its nuclear and missile programs while making no mention of Israel’s rogue nuclear arsenal and sophisticated delivery capabilities.

Ignoring Saudi Arabia’s ties to terrorism, Trump touted his ludicrous summit in Riyadh in which he danced with swords and let King Salman and other corrupt Persian Gulf monarchs, who have long winked and nodded at ideological and logistical support going to Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups, pretend their governments were joining an anti-terror coalition.

Exploding the myth that he is at least a street-smart operator who can’t be easily conned, Trump added, “In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.”

No wonder Netanyahu seemed so pleased with Trump’s speech. The Israeli prime minister could have written it himself while allowing Trump to add a few crude flourishes, like calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man … on a suicide mission”; referring to “the loser terrorists”; and declaring that many parts of the world are “going to hell.”

Trump also tossed in a plug for his “new strategy for victory” in Afghanistan and threw in some interventionist talk regarding the Western Hemisphere with more threats to Cuba and Venezuela about escalating sanctions and other activities to achieve more “regime change” solutions.

So, what Trump made clear in his U.N. address is that his “America First” and “pro-sovereignty” rhetoric is simply cover for a set of policies that are indistinguishable from those pushed by the neocons of the Bush administration or the liberal interventionists of the Obama administration. The rationalizations may change but the endless wars and “regime change” machinations continue.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars

Shouldn’t they recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East?

Kristol

Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 19, 2017

I spoke recently at a conference on America’s war party where afterwards an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “Why doesn’t anyone ever speak honestly about the six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room? Nobody has mentioned Israel in this conference and we all know it’s American Jews with all their money and power who are supporting every war in the Middle East for Netanyahu? Shouldn’t we start calling them out and not letting them get away with it?”

It was a question combined with a comment that I have heard many times before and my answer is always the same: any organization that aspires to be heard on foreign policy knows that to touch the live wire of Israel and American Jews guarantees a quick trip to obscurity. Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again. They are particularly sensitive on the issue of so-called “dual loyalty,” particularly as the expression itself is a bit of a sham since it is pretty clear that some of them only have real loyalty to Israel.

Most recently, some pundits, including myself, have been warning of an impending war with Iran. To be sure, the urging to strike Iran comes from many quarters, to include generals in the Administration who always think first in terms of settling problems through force, from a Saudi government obsessed with fear over Iranian hegemony, and, of course, from Israel itself. But what makes the war engine run is provided by American Jews who have taken upon themselves the onerous task of starting a war with a country that does not conceivably threaten the United States. They have been very successful at faking the Iranian threat, so much so that nearly all Republican and most Democratic congressmen as well as much of the media seem to be convinced that Iran needs to be dealt with firmly, most definitely by using the U.S. military, and the sooner the better.

And while they are doing it, the issue that nearly all the Iran haters are Jewish has somehow fallen out of sight, as if it does not matter. But it should matter. A recent article in the New Yorker on stopping the impending war with Iran strangely suggests that the current generation “Iran hawks” might be a force of moderation regarding policy options given the lessons learned from Iraq. The article cites as hardliners on Iran David Frum, Max Boot, Bill Kristol and Bret Stephens.

Daniel Larison over at The American Conservative has a good review of the New Yorker piece entitled “Yes, Iran Hawks Want Conflict with Iran,” which identifies the four above cited hawks by name before describing them as “… a Who’s Who of consistently lousy foreign policy thinking. If they have been right about any major foreign policy issue in the last twenty years, it would be news to the entire world. Every single one of them hates the nuclear deal with Iran with a passion, and they have argued in favor of military action against Iran at one point or another. There is zero evidence that any of them would oppose attacking Iran.”

And I would add a few more names, Mark Dubowitz, Michael Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine; Elliot Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations; Meyrav Wurmser of the Middle East Media Research Institute; Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War; and Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka and David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute. And you can also throw into the hopper entire organizations like The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Hudson Institute. And yep, they’re all Jewish, plus most of them would self-describe as neo-conservatives. And I might add that only one of the named individuals has ever served in any branch of the American military – David Wurmser was once in the Navy reserve. These individuals largely constitute a cabal of sanctimonious chairborne warriors who prefer to do the heavy thinking while they let others do the fighting and dying.

So it is safe to say that much of the agitation to do something about Iran comes from Israel and from American Jews. Indeed, I would opine that most of the fury from Congress re Iran comes from the same source, with AIPAC showering our Solons on the Potomac with “fact sheets” explaining how Iran is worthy of annihilation because it has pledged to “destroy Israel,” which is both a lie and an impossibility as Tehran does not have the resources to carry out such a task. The AIPAC lies are then picked up and replayed by an obliging media, where nearly every “expert” who speaks about the Middle East on television and radio or who is interviewed for newspaper stories is Jewish.

One might also add that neocons as a group were founded by Jews and are largely Jewish, hence their universal attachment to the state of Israel. They first rose into prominence when they obtained a number of national security positions during the Reagan Administration and their ascendancy was completed when they staffed senior positions in the Pentagon and White House under George W. Bush. Recall for a moment Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Scooter Libby. Yes, all Jewish and all conduits for the false information that led to a war that has spread and effectively destroyed much of the Middle East. Except for Israel, of course. Philip Zelikow, also Jewish, in a moment of candor, admitted that the Iraq War, in his opinion, was fought for Israel.

Add to the folly a Jewish U.S. Ambassador to Israel who identifies with the most right-wing Israeli settler elements, a White House appointed chief negotiator who is Jewish and a Jewish son-in-law who is also involved in formulating Middle East policy. Is anyone providing an alternative viewpoint to eternal and uncritical support for Benjamin Netanyahu and his kleptocratic regime of racist thugs? I think not.

There are a couple of simple fixes for the dominant involvement of American Jews in foreign policy issues where they have a personal interest due to their ethnicity or family ties. First of all, don’t put them into national security positions involving the Middle East, where they will potentially be conflicted. Let them worry instead about North Korea, which does not have a Jewish minority and which was not involved in the holocaust. This type of solution was, in fact, somewhat of a policy regarding the U.S. Ambassador position in Israel. No Jew was appointed to avoid any conflict of interest prior to 1995, an understanding that was violated by Bill Clinton (wouldn’t you know it!) who named Martin Indyk to the post. Indyk was not even an American citizen at the time and had to be naturalized quickly prior to being approved by congress.

Those American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and somehow find themselves in senior policy making positions involving the Middle East and who actually possess any integrity on the issue should recuse themselves, just as any judge would do if he were presiding over a case in which he had a personal interest. Any American should be free to exercise first amendment rights to debate possible options regarding policy, up to and including embracing positions that damage the United States and benefit a foreign nation. But if he or she is in a position to actually create those policies, he or she should butt out and leave the policy generation to those who have no personal baggage.

For those American Jews who lack any shred of integrity, the media should be required to label them at the bottom of the television screen whenever they pop up, e.g. Bill Kristol is “Jewish and an outspoken supporter of the state of Israel.” That would be kind-of-like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison – translating roughly as “ingest even the tiniest little dosage of the nonsense spewed by Bill Kristol at your own peril.”

As none of the above is likely to happen, the only alternative is for American citizens who are tired of having their country’s national security interests hijacked by a group that is in thrall to a foreign government to become more assertive about what is happening. Shine a little light into the darkness and recognize who is being diddled and by whom. Call it like it is. And if someone’s feelings are hurt, too bad. We don’t need a war with Iran because Israel wants one and some rich and powerful American Jews are happy to deliver. Seriously, we don’t need it.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments