Iran warns the West to keep its end of the bargain in last year’s nuclear agreement, saying any failure could prompt Tehran to radically reverse the steps it has taken under the deal.
“Should the West fail to live up to its promises, our reversion would not be one to the previous state, but to a state which would be much different from how we used to be prior to the JCPOA,” said head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi.
The JCPOA stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear accord signed between Iran and the six major world powers, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany, in July 2015.
The deal, which took effect in January, calls for an end to decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
However, months after the lifting of anti-Iran bans on paper, major foreign banks are wary of doing business with Iran, fearing they would violate restrictions on US banks and face penalties.
Tehran has criticized Washington and its allies for refusing to translate their words into action and assure the banks that they would not be punished for resuming ties with Iran.
“On the surface, the US says that it is acting commensurate with the JCPOA but behind the scenes, it scares banks by telling them that the slightest mistake would result in this or that consequence,” Salehi said in a Thursday televised interview.
Likewise, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani criticized obstructive US measures in the implementation of JCPOA.
“If we are to witness obstruction and disruption on the part of the US even in small matters such as the purchase of passenger planes, then we will take more serious decisions to restore our rights,” he said.
Shamkhani further said experience proves that trusting the US in any matter, from the lifting of sanctions to regional developments, is in fact “chasing a mirage.”
Iran’s top banker says the United States has failed to do its share of lifting economic sanctions against Iran as per a deal that was signed over the country’s nuclear energy activities last summer.
Valiollah Seif, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), said the behavior of the US toward its commitments as per the deal – that was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – is not transparent.
Seif added that the US is even scaring banks from doing business with Iran whereas it should have done the opposite based on what it signed with Iran together with four other fellow Security Council members plus Germany.
He was commenting in reaction to remarks by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz who earlier said that Washington had met its dies of the deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – that envisaged the removal of certain economic sanctions against Iran in return for measures by the country to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities.
“The truth is that this claim … is not correct,” Seif emphasized. “The commitments that the US accepted as per the JCPOA are yet to be implemented and the behavior of the American side to this effect is not transparent,” he told IRIB News during a visit to Vienna.
Iran’s CBI chief further said that the US claims that it is encouraging banks to do business with Iran but at the same time scares them away by threatening them with punitive measures if they approach the Iranian market.
“Before the sanctions, the representatives of the US Treasury visited countries and threatened banks with punitive measures if they cooperated with Iran,” Seif said.
“Now they expect to put everything back in place through a simple statement. They even don’t do that and instead raise threats against doing business with Iran.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has censured certain governments in the Middle East and the West for taking advantage of the humanitarian sufferings of Syrians to reach their political objectives.
In an address to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Muallem said Syria was being constantly blamed for the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country, especially in the war-ravaged northern part, regardless of the fact that certain states favored the continued humanitarian catastrophe to advance their own objectives.
The Syrian foreign minister said Western governments continued to accuse the Syrian military of resorting to siege and starvation as a tactic of war, but at the same time supported militants to use people most affected by the conflict as human shields.
Muallem said Syria would spare no effort to put an end to the sufferings of Syrians and give them back their dignity. He also stated that the country faced a tough task of coping with systematic destruction by foreign-backed militants.
Israeli regime supporting terrorists
Elsewhere in his remarks, Muallem said Syria’s confrontation with mercenary terrorism was not new as the country had long confronted the terrorism of Israel, which occupied the Golan Heights in 1967.
He said Israel was intervening militarily and directly in Syria to assist terrorists operating in the Golan Heights.
The top Syrian diplomat called on the international community to pressure Israel to conform to UN resolutions that guarantee Syria’s sovereignty over Golan.
“We hope that the UN could regain the trust of the people through upholding its Charter, which guarantees the protection of the country’s sovereignty,” Muallem stated.
‘Recent US airstrike was intentional’
Muallem rejected claims by the United States that an airstrike a week ago on a Syrian army base in the east of the country was a mistake, saying the strike, which killed over 80 Syrian soldiers, was “intentional.”
“The Syrian government holds the United States fully responsible for this aggression, because facts show that it was an intentional attack, and not an error, even if the United States claims otherwise,” the Syrian foreign minister said.
Muallem reiterated Syria’s commitment to moving forward with the UN-led peace process, saying, however, that the complicity of the US and its allies with the Takfiri Daesh terrorists and other militants was a major obstacle to honoring pledges on the cessation of hostilities.
On September 9, Russia and the United States agreed on a milestone deal on the crisis in Syria after some 13 hours of marathon talks in the Swiss city of Geneva. The deal, which went into effect on September 12 and was initially agreed to last seven days, called for increased humanitarian aid for those trapped inside the northwestern city of Aleppo.
The Syrian army announced an end to the week-long ceasefire on September 19, when US-led coalition warplanes attacked a Syrian army base and an aid convoy was hit near the city.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has retained the leadership of the opposition political party after a bruising campaign.
Corbyn, who was initially elected last year, took 62 percent of the vote, beating challenger Owen Smith on Saturday.
Surveys had indicated that Corbyn would easily defeat his challenger as he maintained widespread support of party members attracted by his socialist anti-austerity policies and “authentic” image.
On Wednesday, Corbyn urged for the party to unite behind his leadership. He reminded lawmakers that he has the support of rank-and-file members of the party and warned them not to challenge him again.
“We owe it to the millions of people Labour exists to represent to end the sniping and personal attacks, and work together for all those who depend on the election of a Labour government. Anything else would be destructive self-indulgence,” Corbyn said in a statement.
“All Labour Party members and MPs have a responsibility to work within the democracy of our party and respect the leadership of whoever is elected.”
The 67-year-old socialist and peace campaigner has shown little interest for Britain’s special relationship with the US and is opposed to nuclear weapons, including the costly Trident nuclear missile system that is maintained by the US.
Corbyn also is a critic of Israel and NATO. As member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, he invited members of the Hezbollah and Hamas resistance movements in 2009 to parliament where he called them “friends.”
By Jon Vale | The Independent | September 23, 2016
The Campaign Against Anti-semitism (CAA) has filed a formal complaint against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The group has taken action over a video posted on Mr Corbyn’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In the video, Mr Corbyn’s supporters answer questions on topics they are “tired of hearing” about, which includes whether they promote anti-semitism.
The video has subsequently been deleted from social media.
The CAA said this is the latest in a long of line of incidents where Mr Corbyn and his supporters have failed to address anti-semitism. […]
The letter accuses Mr Corbyn of “committing acts that are grossly detrimental to the party, namely characterising Jewish people as dissembling and dishonest in their reporting of anti-semitism, and by using the influence and prestige of his office to disseminate and normalise that lie”.
It continues: “The allegation that Jews lie and deceive in order to further hidden agendas is an age-old anti-semitic trope.
“It has now been manifestly deployed by Mr Corbyn in his leadership campaign video.” … Full article
The Syria Solidarity Movement unequivocally condemns and denounces the vicious US bombing attack on the Syrian army defending Deir ez-Zour, and we wish to make the following observations.
- The attack killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and wounded more than 100. This is larger than the number of casualties inflicted in any US bombing on any terrorist target in Syria since the US announced its “war on ISIS”.
- The bombing inflicted no known casualties on ISIS, which the US says was its intended target.
- The US has produced no evidence that it notified its Russian counterparts, as required by agreement. In fact, joint action against ISIS was not expected for another two days. This leads to suspicions that the US attack was intended to preempt the provisions of the agreement.
- Syrian soldiers report seeing reconnaissance drones the previous day.
- ISIS fighters were poised to begin fighting the Syrian army units as soon as the US bombing raids ended. How did they know what constituted the end of the bombing?
- Although the Russian military presence in Syria is legal because it came at the invitation of the sovereign Syrian state, the US presence is illegal and was never approved, either by the Syrian government or by the United Nations. All US military actions in Syria therefore constitute an illegal invasion of Syrian territory, and must end now.
We find the US explanation of “unintended” targets, and especially the belligerent performance of Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations Security Council, to be false, disingenuous and counterproductive. The only credible explanation is that the US attack on Deir ez-Zour was intentional. The US has never seriously tried to fight ISIS other than to defend Kurdish fighters, with rare and largely ineffectual attacks against ISIS fighters in their strongholds, and none during the ISIS campaign against Palmyra, when they were very vulnerable by air.
We believe that the US intention is to dismember the sovereign Syrian state, and that the Syrian army base at Deir ez-Zour constitutes an obstacle to this plan, and is therefore a US target. In accordance with this plan, the US does not mind if ISIS continues to occupy a large portion of the Syrian Euphrates valley, and, in fact, prefers to maintain ISIS as a destructive force that weakens Syria and is available as a proxy fighting force for other US regional designs, in partnership with their Israeli allies.
We are doubtful that the US intends to honor its agreement with Russia, and implicitly with Syria. US strategists are seeking to weaken and threaten Russia and not to form cooperative and mutually beneficial agreements. Accordingly, the only option may unfortunately be to make the cost to the US too high to be acceptable, and thereby to force a change in its priorities.
There is another and more constructive alternative, as follows.
- The US should immediately issue a formal apology to the government of Syria and offer restitution for damages, both to the Syrian government and to the families of the dead and wounded.
- The US should withdraw completely from all Syrian territory and end its support for all fighting forces there.
- The US should enforce its end user agreements on the use of its arms supplied to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries, to prevent their use in non-defensive roles outside their territories, and in particular to prevent supplying them to subversive forces in Syria.
- The US should use its influence in international banking and commerce to prevent the transfer of funds to terrorist forces in Syria and to prevent illegal trafficking by terrorists of oil and other Syrian assets from terrorist-held territory.
- The US should try to develop a new and cooperative relationship with Russia, and to stop threatening Russia through its subversive actions in Syria, Ukraine and other places, including the stationing of bases and troops in countries on Russia’s borders. The US should end its commercial and financial sanctions against Russia and Syria.
- The US needs to take action to end the internal bickering within its own government. International diplomacy is impossible when agreements negotiated by diplomats are undermined by other governmental agencies. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other US government figures should be fired for insubordination and replaced with figures that allow the administration to speak with a single voice and so that negotiated agreements can be assured of implementation.
The Syria Solidarity Movement advocates respect for and compliance with all international law, prosecution of international outlaws, an end to attempts to strengthen one country by destroying others, the use of diplomacy to settle international disputes, and the development of peaceful and constructive relationships among all nations. We hold these goals to be of the utmost priority at the present moment because, given the level of escalation to which the USA has pushed a confrontation with Russia (and China) over Syria, Ukraine, and the South China Sea, the threat to world peace has never been higher since 1939.
Syria Solidarity Movement was founded in 2013 to counter misinformation about Syria and to promote peace, reconciliation and justice.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says conflicts in the Middle East are not only devastating economies in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, but they have also erased “development gains for a whole generation.”
The fund issued a report titled the Economic Impact of Conflicts and the Refugee Crisis in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) on Friday, where it said conflicts were killing economies in the countries gripped by war and sapping growth in neighboring countries and those hosting millions of refugees.
Middle Eastern and North African countries battered by fighting have suffered average losses of 6-15 percentage points in the gross domestic product (GDP) in three years, compared to a 4-9 percentage-point average worldwide, according to the report.
The IMF report showed that the drops in economic output in Syria, Libya and Yemen in recent years have far exceeded the worldwide average.
Syria’s gross domestic product level is currently less than half the level it was five years ago before the start of the conflict, the IMF stated.
The report showed Yemen lost 25-35 percent of its GDP in 2015 alone, in the wake of the deadly Saudi campaign.
Oil-dependent Libya saw its GDP fall 24 percent in 2014, the IMF said.
Physical infrastructure damage, now estimated at $137.8 billion in Syria and more than $20 billion in Yemen, has reduced trade and output in neighboring countries, according to the report.
Countries bordering high-intensity conflict zone showed an average annual GDP decline of 1.4 percentage points worldwide, with a bigger drop of 1.9 percentage points in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The fleeing of more than half of Syria’s 22 million population, 6.6 million internally and more than five million to other countries, has magnified economic losses, dramatically escalating poverty, unemployment and school dropouts in countries that were already struggling, the IMF said.
Many of the refugees seeking asylum in other countries are skilled workers and professionals forced by war and persecution to leave the conflict zones in hope of better lives.
However, according to the IMF, because refugees often have fewer rights than local populations, those landing in developing countries are often absorbed into already disadvantaged local communities forming a new underclass comprising refugees and the existing poor in the host country, which in turn leads to a detrimental effect on the host countries.
For those refugees that land in Europe, where the influx of refugees has only had a small impact on economy, there have been some positive effects on the host countries, according to the report.
More funds needed
The IMF report has revealed the huge scale of the refugee crisis and the pressure it put on several United Nations institutions, especially the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme.
The two UN organizations have been playing a leading role in the provision of humanitarian assistance, both to internally displaced people and refugees.
However, the IMF report says funding has not kept up with the sharp increase in needs.
For instance, the World Food Programme and the UNHCR have had to cut their services to refugees in Jordan due to funding constraints, which may have contributed to the acceleration of refugee flows to Europe from late 2014, according to the report.
The IMF report urged policymakers to scale up humanitarian aid in conflict zones and neighboring countries hosting refugees and prioritize fiscal spending to protect human life and serve basic public needs.
The report comes as the UN General Assembly is preparing to host a summit on refugees in New York next week.
The UN plans to use the summit as a platform to urge governments, private donors, and humanitarian agencies to support the organization in its efforts to ease suffering of the victims of world conflicts.
Analysts believe the MENA conflicts and the following refugee crisis are the outcome of the West’s policies in the Middle East and North Africa.
Donald Trump named former CIA director and extremist neoconservative James Woolsey his senior adviser on national security issues on Monday. Woolsey, who left the CIA in 1995, went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken promoters of U.S. war in Iraq and the Middle East.
As such, Woolsey’s selection either clashes with Trump’s noninterventionist rhetoric — or represents a pivot towards a more muscular, neoconservative approach to resolving international conflicts.
Trump has called the Iraq War “a disaster.”
Woolsey, by contrast, was a key member of the Project for the New American Century — a neoconservative think tank largely founded to encourage a second war with Iraq. Woolsey signed a letter in 1998 calling on Clinton to depose Saddam Hussein and only hours after the 9/11 attacks appeared on CNN and blamed the attacks on Iraq. Woolsey has continued to insist on such a connection despite the complete lack of evidence to support his argument. He also blames Iran.
Weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Woolsey called for broader war in the Middle East, saying “World War IV” was already underway.
Woolsey has also put himself in a position to profit from the wars he has promoted. He has served as vice president of Pentagon contracting giant Booz Allen, and as chairman of Paladin Capital Group, a private equity fund that invests in national security and cybersecurity.
He chairs the leadership council at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a hawkish national security nonprofit, and is a venture partner with Lux Capital Management, which invests in emerging technologies like drones, satellite imaging, and artificial intelligence.
Woolsey went on CNN on Monday and said that he was principally motivated to support Trump because of his plans to expand U.S. military spending.
Trump gave a speech last week in which he proposed dramatic expansions of the Army and Marines, and hundred-billion-dollar weapons systems for the Navy and Air Force. He offered no justification — aside from citing a few officials who claimed they wanted more firepower.
Woolsey stood by Trump’s proposal on Monday.
“I think the problem is her budget,” Woolsey said of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. “She is spending so much money on domestic programs — including ones that we don’t even have now, and the ones we have now are underfunded — I think there can be very little room for the improvements in defense and intelligence that have to be made.”
Woolsey has previously called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.”
In the past, Woolsey has publicly disagreed with Trump on a number of national security issues — including Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigration. On Monday, Woolsey told CNN that such a plan would raise First Amendment issues, but that he supported a temporary immigration block from certain Muslim countries.
Thus far, at least, most prominent war hawks have found they had more in common with Clinton than Trump. “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group in July.
It doesn’t matter who is ‘elected’
There is considerable chatter about who will win in some of the hotly contested congressional races around the country, but one thing is certain: whoever triumphs will soon be receiving a nice all expenses paid luxury trip to Israel to learn all about Benjamin Netanyahu’s views regarding what more Washington can do to support him and his government. The “educational seminars” are organized by the Israel Lobby, more specifically by a tax exempt entity referred to as the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which is a part of the hardline American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Participation in the journey by all freshman congressman is not mandatory but is advisable if one wants to stay on the right side of the Lobby. In August 2015 the class of 2014 only had three abstentions out of 53 new congressmen when it traveled to Israel along partisan lines with a Democratic group followed shortly thereafter by a GOP contingent.
These orientation trips are in addition to the frequent taxpayer funded visits made by congressmen to update themselves on Israel’s expanding list of “needs.” One such recent excursion involved Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who enthused that “in a region consumed by terrorism and oppression, Israel stands out as a shining beacon of hope and freedom.” Congressman David Rouzer, also from North Carolina, observed that “Any attack on Israel of any kind is an attack on the American people. It was an honor for us to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
My own congressman, Barbara Comstock, a Republican representing the 10th District of Virginia, made the freshman trip last year. Comstock is a supremely ambitious lawmaker who has proven herself to be a dedicated GOP apparatchik. Recently she supported the presidential candidacy of Senator Marco Rubio, the ultimate Republican establishment candidate, who has appropriately been described as an “empty suit” when it comes to any understanding of the serious issues confronting the American people.
Comstock has been involved in a number of unsavory enterprises as she climbed the GOP ladder. She once headed the defense fund for Scooter Libby, the White House aide who was eventually convicted of perjury and other crimes after outing deep cover CIA Officer Valerie Plame, a felony offense. Outing Plame not only destroyed the woman’s career, it also set back CIA efforts to find and neutralize nuclear proliferators, which is what Valerie was working on.
I do not want to appear to be picking on Comstock but she and I have had a bit of a go around on her Israel trip and regarding her statements upon returning to Virginia, which I would like to share. And I must note that she is far from unique. She in reality differs but little from the numerous other congressmen on the make who are short on principles and compassion and long on their commitment to remain on the good side of Israel. And it is completely bipartisan. If Comstock is replaced by Democratic congressional candidate LuAnn Bennett this November I am sure Bennett will make the AIPAC sponsored trip in 2017 and will grovel just as embarrassingly on the Israel-Palestine issue. After all, that is what politicians do.
Comstock commented on her travel experience in a local newspaper, the Loudoun Times-Mirror, saying that she had met with Israeli government leaders who unanimously opposed the then impending nuclear deal with Iran. She agreed, coming to the conclusion that Iran is “very much a threat, not just to Israel and the entire region, but to the United States.” She repeated the Israeli view that the agreement would make it likely that Iran would develop a nuclear weapon in 12 or 13 years. She also opposed weakening sanctions as an inducement for Iran to drop its program, observing that “I think if anything we should increase the sanctions.”
Exercising my First Amendment rights, I then wrote a letter to the newspaper:
“So Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has traveled to Israel on a trip paid for by the Israel Lobby. While there Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns her about the Iranians being a threat to America (and, of course, Israel) so she believes him rather than her own president and returns to regurgitate the propaganda she has been fed. It never occurs to Ms. Comstock that Netanyahu might be feeding her and the other congressmen a lot of rubbish. Neither Israel’s own generals nor the American ones at the Pentagon actually consider Iran to be a serious threat, no matter what it tries to do. Neither the CIA nor the Mossad believe that Iran has ever sought to build a nuclear weapon.
“Perhaps she should do her homework on this one. The Iran deal significantly reduces that country’s capability to produce a nuclear weapon and its research labs will be subject to intrusive inspection. Sure no deal is perfect, but there are plenty of safeguards built in and if Iran fails to keep its end of the bargain sanctions will be re-imposed. It is an agreement that is good for all parties involved, including for Israel.
“Ms. Comstock might also want to revisit her oath of office which pledges her to defend the Constitution of the United States, not to become an accomplice in what a foreign nation wants us to do. Our First President George Washington wisely urged Americans to maintain friendly relations with everyone, to avoid a ‘passionate attachment’ to another nation which just might be creating ‘the illusion of a common interest … where no common interest exists.’”
The newspaper would not print my letter, so I wrote directly to the congresswoman beginning with “The media is reporting that you have traveled to Israel on a trip paid for by the Israel Lobby” and then adding the points I had made in the newspaper letter.
Comstock responded, and I am quoting verbatim her first three paragraphs:
“The Obama Administration vowed this deal would dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program; provide anytime, anywhere inspections; and cut back Iran’s ballistic missile program. In March of this year, I and 367 of my colleagues signed a bipartisan letter to the president outlining what must be accomplished in the negotiations in order for Congress to support the deal, and that letter stated that the final accord must provide Iran with ‘no pathway to a bomb.’ None of the administration’s promises were kept and none of their goals were met. Therefore, this agreement is fatally flawed and I oppose this deal.
“The Obama Administration has committed to providing Iran sanctions relief from the U.S. in return for temporary, inadequate constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. It will permit Iran to launch an industrial-scale nuclear program after a little more than 10 years; to continue to block international inspectors from its secret nuclear facilities; to hide past work on its nuclear weapons program; and will allow Iran to essentially emerge from the deal as a legitimate player on the global scene with its past record of violence, oppression, and terrorism wiped clean.
“Rewarding the Iranian Regime with billions of dollars in sanctions relief and swiftly lifting the arms embargo provides Iran—a country that exports terrorism—with the means to spread violence around the region. Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, and this deal only emboldens the Ayatollah and the Mullahs to continue spreading instability throughout the world.”
The response is, of course, pretty much a canned argument incorporating “facts” that may have been in part drafted by AIPAC and which is completely in line with Israel Lobby and Israeli government thinking. It includes several errors, most particularly on the efficacy of the inspections routine, is confused about the source of the money due to Tehran, and considerably overstates Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism. It also errs in crediting Iran with “spreading instability around the world.” That honor belongs to the United States, ably assisted by Israel.
More to the point, the response ignores the thrust of my letter, which criticizes American legislators going off on paid trips to foreign countries and then coming back home to confuse those government’s interests with those of the United States. Making a trip where you are propagandized by one side and never speaking to representatives of those who are being belittled is a poor way to come up with a policy. Iran and the Palestinians do have legitimate points of view, believe it or not, and one has to wonder how many Arabs or even dissident Israelis Comstock spoke to when she was in Israel.
Contrary to Comstock’s response, even if Tehran’s government might not be very nice it does not in any way threaten the United States and is in fact directly fighting groups like ISIS. We should be working with Iran where we share interests, not against it. The nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries has been a success, with the inspection routine working, according to UN inspectors. If there is a fundamental problem in the Middle East it is not Iran but rather the unseemly relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which has unbalanced the region and gravely damaged genuine American interests in an important part of the world.
To appreciate the true impact of the AIEF funded trips to Israel multiply Comstock by fifty and repeat every year to make sure that everyone in congress has been subjected to the propaganda. I would bet that all Comstock’s 49 colleagues who also made the sponsored trip last year came back full of good things to say about Netanyahu and his government. One does not expect congressmen to do very much in return for their generous salaries and perks but there is something seriously wrong when they go around the world and uncritically accept what they are hearing from foreign liars and scoundrels who want the United States to do the heavy lifting after they generate regional crises that are beyond their capability to control. Unfortunately, whoever is elected, the pilgrimages to worship at the feet of Benjamin Netanyahu will continue, bringing to mind Patrick Buchanan’s apt description of a shameless and corrupted congress as “Israeli occupied territory.” Indeed.
“Containing the United States” is, of course, a ridiculous and self-contradictory idea in the U.S. and Western ideological and propaganda system. We all know that the United States had to “contain” the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991, and since then has had the task of containing Russia and China. Only they threaten, bully, aggress and worry countries like Poland and Vietnam. Obama has had to reassure them both of our steadfast stand against Russian and Chinese military attacks. NATO has, of course, expanded greatly over the past several decades, despite the deaths of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, but only to contain the renewed Russian — and Iranian, Libyan, Syrian and other — military threats; and we have “pivoted” to Asia, supported Japanese rearmament, bolstered our own forces in that area and jousted with the Chinese in their coastal waters solely to contain China. Earlier we had been obliged to contain North Vietnam, or was it the Soviet Union in Vietnam? Or China? Or “communism”? Or maybe all of them? Or none of them, but just needing an excuse to enlarge power?1
The parallel propaganda has taken many forms. One is accepting as a premise that the United States only acts defensively and has no internal forces and interests that drive it to enlarge its sphere of control. I noted in an earlier article how Paul Krugman claims that internal Russian problems may well be the explanation of Russian “aggression,” but how at the same time it never occurs to him that the huge U.S. transnational corporate interests and “defense” establishment, and the pro-Israel lobby’s activities, might possibly make for an expansionist dynamic here.2 This reflects the standard establishment perspective that we are good and only react to evil. This was the view sustaining and justifying the invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003. That attack was taken here as not evil but a response to evil, even if involving lies and mistakes, hence not describable as “aggression.”
This framing has a long historical record. A classic and enlightening case was the organization and support by the United States of a mercenary army in Somoza’s Nicaragua that, with U.S. help, invaded Guatemala in 1954, overthrew its elected social democratic government and replaced it with a durable, murderous (and U.S.-protected) military dictatorship. This was done based on the lies that the overthrown government was “communist” and that its very existence constituted Soviet “aggression”! The New York Times and its mainstream associates swallowed these lies.
Another key element of establishment propaganda that is always mobilized to make U.S. actions appear properly defensive is the demonization of targeted country leaders, whose villainy shows that they needed containing. We had Saddam Hussein in 2003, Jacobo Arbenz (Guatemala) in 1954, and Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) in 1964 and earlier, with Soviet and Chinese demons hovering behind the last two. In the present decade we have had Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, and standing behind these but also a major menace on his own, Vladimir Putin. He is a useful demon, but if he did not exist we would find somebody else to serve the function he performs.
The longstanding and incessant demonization of Putin and verbal and policy assaults on Russia (including the shaping of the sports doping scandal) long ago reached comic levels and shows the corruption of both the mainstream media and political system. Russian “aggression” is, of course, a favorite, resting largely on the zero-casualty reincorporation of Crimea into Russia, following a U.S. sponsored coup in Ukraine. In contrast, the million-plus-casualty Iraq invasion of choice by this country is never described as an “aggression” in the Free Press, just as the March 2014 coup in Kiev is never called a coup here. John Kerry and Paul Krugman also express regret and indignation that Putin’s Russia fails to adhere to “international law,” notably in Crimea but also in supporting the indigenous rebels in Eastern Ukraine (regularly referred to as “Russian-backed,” whereas the rebel-attacking Kiev government is never called “U.S.-backed” —but after all U.S. backing to the legal government is perfectly acceptable, although Russian backing of the legal Syrian government is not.
There is also the steady attempt to pin the July 2014 shootdown of Malaysian airliner MH-17 over Ukraine on Russian villainy. Immediately after the shootdown John Kerry declared that we had clear proof that the pro-Russian rebels shot down the plane. But he has never yet supplied proof of this claim, and his alleged evidence failed to show up in the inconclusive preliminary Dutch report on the event. Investigative reporter Robert Parry cites a U.S. intelligence report which failed to find that the Ukraine rebels had an anti-aircraft battery capable of reaching the height of MH-17, but the Kiev forces do have such capability.3 Still, based on Kerry’s and other official claims, the guilt of the “Russian-supported rebels” (and demon Putin) has been swallowed by the mainstream media. The shoot-down has been a propaganda windfall for the Kiev and U.S. governments, so the factor of ”who benefits” adds to the substantive case that we have here another serviceable “lie that wasn’t shot down.”
As the establishment’s devil-of-the-decade it was inevitable that Putin would be brought into the U.S. electoral contest of 2016 and tied in to the domestic devil-du-jour Donald Trump. WikiLeaks was the recipient and immediate source of a massive trove of documents taken from the files of the Democratic National Committee that revealed the extent to which the members of that committee worked to undermine the Bernie Sanders challenge to Hillary Clinton. The leading media, like the NYT, instead of featuring the evidence of bias and dirty tricks of the DNC insiders, focused on the source of the leak to WikiLeaks. The Clinton camp, Obama officials and media quickly claimed that the hacking and leaks came from “Russian intelligence,” aiming at discrediting Mrs. Clinton and damaging her electoral chances. So the dirty tricks could be virtually ignored and Putin once more shown to be an evil force.
The evidence for Russian, let alone Putin, involvement in this case was problematic. Would Russian intelligence use internet vehicles that could be easily traced by U.S. government-affiliated internet searchers? Could the source be Russians unaffiliated with the Russian government?4 Would the Russian government be so stupid as to risk exposure with a tactic that was extremely unlikely to influence any U.S. electoral outcome? It is reminiscent of the alleged Soviet attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, which would surely have had negative effects on Soviet interests if successful. This plot was non-existent, but was a wonderful propaganda coup for the U.S. war party, with the (once again) cooperation of the NYT and its associates.
A potentially severe problem for Mrs. Clinton is that her foreign policy record is abysmal, that she is an established hawk whose electoral victory will almost surely lead to a quick escalation of war in Syria and confrontation with Russia.5 The Neocons who helped engineer the Iraq war and supported George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are firmly in her corner. She is fortunate that the mainstream media have given her a free pass on these crucial matters. In one kindly headline the NYT says “Clinton Calls for ‘More Love’; Trump Sees ‘an Attack on Our Country ” (July 9, 2016). Despite his many repellent statements and proposals, whereas Mrs. Clinton has called Putin “another Hitler” and shows not the slightest interest in a new detente, Trump has expressed admiration for Putin, suggested that he could do business with him, and called for a reduced U.S. presence abroad and a greater focus on U.S.internal needs.
This altered priority system would actually fit more closely the public interest revealed in polls, but not the desires of the massive war party, including the Neocons, nor the drift of the real Hillary Clinton program. This may contribute to the mainstream fury at Trump and fondness for Mrs. Clinton as well as to the media’s refusal to allow a debate on these important foreign policy issues.
Instead the media have chosen to feature Trump as an admirer and agent of Putin, an alleged Manchurian Candidate, and Putin allegedly interfering in the U.S. election by trying to discredit Mrs. Clinton and pushing for a victory for his ally Donald Trump. The foolish Trump not only actually swallowed the claim that the Russians were guilty of producing the WikiLeaks hacked documents, he urged Putin publicly to do more of the same! This has allowed the mainstream liberals to denounce Trump as a traitor6 And Trump has allegedly allied himself with a “dictator” and “strongman,” and a man “who doesn’t worry about international law”.7 Gee, Paul, if Putin doesn’t worry about international law could he be taking Hillary, Obama, Bush, etc. as models? Your irony here is comical.
Does the United States intervene in foreign elections? It did so massively in getting Yeltsin reelected in Russia in 1996 and it has done this with great regularity. I even coined the phrase “demonstration elections” to describe the numerous cases where it organized elections to show the U.S. public that U.S. interventions were well received and honest (they weren’t).8
With Hillary Clinton about to be elected and some advanced cadres of the war party preparing to take charge, who is going to contain the United States? The U.S. political system has failed its populace and the world and has imposed no brakes on the war machine. The UN and EU are still too much under the U.S. thumb. Russia and China are too weak and with too flimsy an alliance system to threaten U.S. hegemony and do more than make direct U.S. aggression against themselves very costly. We can only hope that compelling internal problems and the rising costs of enlarging and even preserving imperial power will cause even leaders of the war party to follow that segment of the Trump program that calls for turning to internal problems.
Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.
The Kevin Barrett-Chomsky Dispute in Historical Perspective – Twelfth part of the series titled “9/11 and the Zionist Question” – Read the Eleventh part here
Jonathan Kay’s designation of “conspiracists” as victims of an “incurable disease” marks a dramatic low point in the history of North American journalism. This abuse of language and people with the aim of stoking up fear and hatred is on a par with Kay’s malicious characterization of 9/11 as a crime of Islam (p. 167). As discussed below, Kay made this astonishing slur of a major world religion and all its two billion adherents in the context of his condemnation of Muslim academic Kevin Barrett.
Obviously the crimes of 9/11 were not the crimes of any religion. They were crimes committed by many individuals whose actions were well orchestrated by a powerful directing hand. The intention was to achieve a complex array of immediate and long-term objectives. The immensely complex and sophisticated 9/11 operation could not have been achieved without the involvement of state, military and corporate protagonists.
Certainly the elaborate 9/11 crime could not be the work of a small band of Muslim extremists acting independently to cut through the most formidable national defense apparatus ever assembled with the quixotic hope of creating a worldwide Islamic caliphate. That interpretation is as absurd as it is insulting to the intelligence of rational human beings still capable of independent thought.
The peddling of this concocted myth of Islamic culpability for the crimes of 9/11 represents a monumental case study in the systematic defrauding of the public. Those like Jonathan Kay who advance and defend the religious fable of 9/11 as a crime of Islam are deeply implicated in the work of a ruthless criminal cabal whose top priority seems to be to advance the imperialist agenda of Greater Israel, Eretz Israel. The great mass of evidence points to the engineering of the 9/11 crimes by partisans of Likudnik Israel. Since 2001, they seem to have succeeded in significantly expanding Zionist influence over the course of global geopolitics by manufacturing a new transnational enemy for the military-industrial complex of the post-Soviet West.
In my view there is no other logical way of viewing the 9/11 event in terms of the forensic evidence of whose fingerprints are most evident all over the 9/11crime scene. This 9/11 crime scene is ultimately global in extent, even as its antecedents stretch far back into history, but particularly the history of Israel’s current ruling party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The roots of Netanyahu’s Likud Party lie in Revisionist Zionism, the faction of Israel’s founders most intent on expanding Israel’s boundaries eastward to the Euphrates River. This plan of territorial expansion to create Greater Israel, Eretz Israel, remains integral to the aspirations of Israel’s current ruling coalition.
Through Irgun and the Stern Gang, the proponents of a Greater Israel mounted very calculated acts of heavily publicized terrorism, including at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946. The Jewish terrorists’ immediate goal was to push the British government to withdraw from its mandate to govern Palestine. Once the playing of the terrorism card proved successful in forcing the British out of Palestine, the way was opened for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel in 1947 and 1948. Drawing on the ideas of his father as one of the originators of Revisionist Zionism, Benjamin Netanyahu himself has been a major theorist on the subject of how to play the terrorism card in global geopolitics. Netanyahu’s basic approach is readily apparent from the title of his oft republished book, Terrorism: How the West Can Win. The book’s genesis goes back to the hosting by the Netanyahu family of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism in 1979.
If the true culprits of 9/11 are ever to be brought to trial, Jonathan Kay’s overzealous promotion of the 9/11 religious fable, like Netanyahu’s published work on terrorism, offers valuable evidence for the prosecution. So too can Chomsky’s interventions on 9/11 be pictured in a similar light.
Kay in particular violates all tenets of civil debate with his rhetorical extremes. Especially reprehensible are his equation of 9/11 skepticism with mental illness and his characterization of the horrific event as a crime of Islam. By invoking the specter of disease to smear those seeking to break through the massive deceptions embedded in the 9/11 cover up, Kay conspicuously violates the rationalist principles of the Enlightenment tradition, a tradition he demeans even as he claims to defend it (p. 315).
You will read “Does Kevin Barrett Seek to “Absolve Islam of a Terrible Crime”?” in the next part.
Dr. Hall is editor in chief of American Herald Tribune. He is currently Professor of Globalization Studies at University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. He has been a teacher in the Canadian university system since 1982. Dr. Hall, has recently finished a big two-volume publishing project at McGill-Queen’s University Press entitled “The Bowl with One Spoon”.
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has warned that the Israeli regime cannot trust her Republican rival Donald Trump, who has “no reason to his comments about Israel.”
“He has said that we should be neutral on Israel on Monday. Then on Tuesday he has said that, oh he’s really supportive of Israel. Wednesday he might say Israel should pay back the defense aid it’s received over the years,” Clinton said in an interview with the Israeli Channel 2 aired on Thursday.
The former first lady said that Trump has floated the idea of using nuclear weapons against the Daesh terrorist group in Syria, right next to Israel.
“Using nukes against ISIS, not knowing the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas. How does that in any way help Israel,” she asked.
The former secretary of state contended that there is a “compelling case” that Daesh is “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory.”
“His understanding of the broader dangers in the region should alarm any Israeli no matter where that person is on the political spectrum,” Clinton said.
“The best I can tell, his only experience is marching in the Fifth Avenue Israel Day parade,” she quipped.
The Democratic candidate said that if elected president she would work closely with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to safeguard Israel’s strategic military edge.
“Shortly after being inaugurated I would invite the prime minister to Washington for meetings, I would send my joint chiefs and intelligence experts to Israel to meet with their counterparts,” she stated.
Washington and Tel Aviv have been negotiating the terms of a new 10-year military aid deal to replace the current one, which expires in 2018 and costs American taxpayers some $3.1 billion a year.
Netanyahu demands the US increase the annual aid to Israel.
We normally think of colonizers as large countries, and the colonized as smaller and weaker nations. But this is not always the case. Colonization does not require occupation. It merely requires the subjugation of the colonized. With ambition, superior information and calculation, and the right mindset, smaller nations can (and have in the past) colonized and dominated larger and nominally more powerful countries.
India was successfully colonized by tiny Britain in the 18th century. The vehicle for colonization was the East India Company. It was only after the Indian mutiny that Britain acted directly and sent in troops to establish the British Raj. For the next 200 years India was drained of its wealth, its economy was restructured to support England’s needs and global ambitions, and its people militarized to fight and die on behalf of the British crown. The Indian leaders who remained were willing participants in this venture; those who felt otherwise were destroyed or marginalized.
In a similar vein, Israel today is in the process of colonizing the United States, which is vital to its global projection and exercise of power. The steps Israel is taking are visible to all (as was the case with British designs on India) and yet it is remarkably difficult to connect the dots while such a takeover is in process. Or, to do anything about it.
Colonization does not mean total control of everything
It means total control of what matters. The British were interested in Indian wealth, and a standing army of Indians willing to die for their wars. They couldn’t care less about India’s internal petty politics that did not directly or indirectly impact their mission. An effective “divide and conquer” strategy pit Indians against each other and discouraged any kind of coordinated response, or sedition. The British leveraged their “outsider advantage” to objectively collect data with which to calculate and coordinate which Indian princes to support in battles, and which to connive with. Like pieces on a chessboard, Indian leaders exhausted themselves through internal battles, and were prevailed to seek cover provided by the British. Small amounts of leverage can change outcomes (as the Israeli lobby AIPAC has shown, in its path to dominating Congress and regional/local US politics), and over the years the British were able control and align India to the British crown. Less than 10,000 English controlled colonial India, which at that time had a population of 300 million.
It is instructive to note that while there were relatively few white Englishmen, a class of local “brown sahibs” was developed, to actually run things. This elite class was educated in English ways, and rewarded monetarily and through social stature. Britain was too small a country to ultimately matter by itself, but by leveraging India the English could pursue their global ambitions. India was the “Jewel in the (British) Crown”.
Today, Israel has effective control of US policy in the Mideast, and similar goals. Much has already been written about Israel’s control of Congress. Israel is now edging towards control over the US Executive Branch, with both presidential candidates supported by billionaires whose #1 agenda is Israel (Saban and Adelson). The Supreme Court will be one-third Jewish, and justices have community ties and families. As Israel demonstrated through its successful intimidation of Judge Goldstone, jurists are human and everyone has their price.
Israel’s “occupation force” in the US has long included AIPAC as well as the dense network of community organizations at the State and local levels. Through relationships that have been developed over years and with unlimited funds at their disposal, the “Israel Lobby” ensures that votes go the right way, and that opponents are squashed when Israel demands unity. In 2003 at the onset of George Bush’s Iraq war this occupation force was multiplied through the inclusion of Christian Zionists.
Critics of the Israel Lobby are marginalized by whatever means available, including being called anti-Semitic. The Lobby has been effective in securing massive aid packages for Israel even though Israel’s per-capita GDP exceeds that of several European nations. Israeli insiders permeate the US government, and it is US policy that there be “no light” between the countries so that where Israel is concerned there is no debate. Israel’s top priorities are the top priorities of the US. There are of course instances where this does not happen (such as, Iran) but the direction points to a tighter colonial noose in the years ahead.
The media matters: establishing beliefs and narratives
The colonizer must be a “Sacred Object” above criticism or objective review, and dangerous critics must be either destroyed or marginalized. No Englishman in India spoke of the mother country and its ways with anything other than reverence, even though during periods of the British Raj England was in turmoil. Within England there was a free press and active debate; but this was not permitted in India, about Britain. The only acceptable posture was that of reverence.
Today Israel has a free press, and it is easy to read translations of the Hebrew language press. Israeli commentators compare Netanyahu to Hitler, Israel is called a racist apartheid state based on evidence, and the extreme violence against and ongoing abuse of Palestinians is well documented. But, these same conversations are forbidden in the US. No newspaper would report them, nor are they permitted in polite company. Transgressors are labeled anti-Semitic, whether Jewish or not.
In the US today, boycotts are seen as a permitted non-violent form of free speech. Citizens have the right to boycott whatever they want from wherever they want without risk of penalty. The sole exception is Israel.
The British conquests were “for God and country”, and therefore justified. The British were superior, the natives inferior. This setup the moral justification for the mayhem wrought by the British as they colonized Asia and the Mideast. At that time, all men were not born equal, and it took the US Constitution to establish that self-evident fact.
Israel is seeking to revert to those days, by acting as though Arab lives are inferior, and (more recently) promoting Islamophobia to serve their Christian Zionism wing. In 2003, uber Zionist Bernard Lewis posed as “Arab expert” and advised president Bush that the only language Arabs understood was force. This helped to justify the attack on Iraq, as part of a neocon plan to “creatively destroy” the sovereign Arab states in Israel’s neighborhood, to facilitate Israel’s dominance. The Nazis at Nuremberg were shown greater respect than Saddam and his Ba’at leadership, and the contempt for Arabs was in full display.
Today, Israeli Jews are in the process of destroying Palestinian society and erasing Palestinian culture, with impunity. Churches and mosques are both being destroyed, though Israel would prefer to keep the spotlight on mosques, to fan a religious war between Islam on one side, and Christians and Jews on the other.
While the Israeli press records and debates Israel’s bad behavior, Americans are forbidden to publicly debate Israeli behavior critically.
Three Recent Examples:
1/ During the Congressional debate around the Iran deal president Obama had negotiated, Senator Chuck Schumer said he would vote “against”… not because of any independent analysis, but because this is what Netanyahu wanted. In other words, he publicly said that he would follow the Israeli prime ministers’ direction, over that of his own president. Because, as he said, he was “guardian of Israel”.
A sitting US senator proclaimed allegiance to a foreign country, and nobody asked him to resign!
2/ The Israeli Prime Minister addresses the full US Congress to lobby against the Iran nuclear deal. When the deal does go through, Israel demands more US aid! And, is likely to get it. One can try various definitions of “blackmail” to see which one fits.
The US president is impotent in dealing with Israel. The so-called “pro Israel lobby” effectively functions like an agent of Israel. The Israel lobby is playing the role of the East India Company, in Britain’s colonization of India.
3/ The Israel Lobby interferes massively in US foreign policy in the region. The “mainstream” media such as NYT spins events to reflect Israel’s views (bureau chiefs are typically Jewish and resident in Israel). The Iraq war cost $1 trillion+ and cost thousands of US lives, created ISIS, and was pushed by the Lobby. Israel benefits from the distraction.
The colonization of the US by Israel is becoming increasingly explicit. It is now increasingly seen as “normal” to have a double standard: one for Israel, another for the rest of the world. The boycott-Israel movement is an example of that: you can boycott anything or anyone, but not Israel. This is true power, and the face of colonization.