Nearly every western country has an Israel lobby
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently suggested an inquiry into a surge in Israel’s reported extra-judicial killing of Palestinian demonstrators after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a harsh response and told his police and soldiers that those opposed to the continued occupation of the West Bank were “terrorists.” Almost immediately, the Israeli government denounced Wallstrom as engaging in “political stupidity,” banning her from travel to Israel, while one newspaper close to the government suggested that she might be assassinated, as fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte was by Jewish militants in 1948, because anti-Semitism appears to be in the Swedish DNA.
All of that outrage and personal ridicule is pro forma for an Israeli government that reflexively smears and denigrates any and all critics, but the more interesting epilogue was the unanticipated discovery by the Swedish and international media that Wallstrom has not been paying the full rent on the subsidized government apartment that she occupies. The revelation follows a familiar pattern, where critics of Israel suddenly find themselves being discredited for something completely unrelated to the Middle East. President George H. W. Bush (the good Bush) suffered a similar come to Jesus moment in 1991 when he went on national television to denounce the pressure tactics of the Israel lobby. The Israeli government was demanding U.S. Treasury backed loans to construct illegal settlements. President Bush, who was running for reelection and far ahead in the opinion polls, suddenly was confronted by a well-funded and organized opposition raising doubts about him and his record. And President Bush was not reelected, presumably learning along the way that one does not trifle with the Israel Lobby, to be replaced by the enthusiastically Zionist Bill Clinton.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also wondering about Israel’s alleged commitment to peace. On Tuesday he said “it was human nature to react to occupation,” following up with a comment on Wednesday regarding Israel’s “stifling” occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu reacted with his usual over the top rhetoric, stating that Ban “was encouraging terror.” One might also anticipate, as in the case of Wallstrom, a well-orchestrated media blitz questioning Ban’s motives or explaining how he has always been a closet anti-Semite. It is par for the course and fully expected when one criticizes Israel.
Indeed, it is a global phenomenon. Wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded lobby ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.
Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.
The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information process in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.
In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries Israel’s advocates work right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.
Recent Israel Lobby activity in the United States has included legislation at state levels to make illegal divestment from Israel or to promote boycott of Israeli products. A trade pact with Europe will reportedly include language requiring the United States to take retaliatory action if any European country tries to boycott Israel, to include the West Bank settlements, which the empowering legislation regards as part of Israel proper.
Israel is also working to create a mechanism for global censorship of the internet to ban “incitement,” which clearly is a euphemism for material that is critical of its policies. Recently Facebook has begun to delete from its site any “hate speech” and “terrorism” related material but what has not been widely noted is that the apparent restrictions also have involved sites critical of Israel including Christians United for Peace.
Many prominent critics of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) are unaware that AIPAC exists in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is located in London. The French equivalent is the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). In Canada there is a Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) , in Australia a Zionist Federation of Australia and in New Zealand a Zionist Federation of New Zealand .
While AIPAC is specifically focused on the U.S.-Israel relationship, its counterparts in Europe often deal with a whole range of issues that they define as Jewish, but protecting Israel is always part of their agenda, particularly for those groups that label themselves as Zionist. The political power and financial muscle of the groups gives them access to government far beyond the actual numbers of their supporters. In France this has led to the legislation of hate crimes that de facto exist to protect Jews that have also been interpreted as limitations on one’s ability to criticize Israel. In its most recent test, a French court declared that a peaceful protest promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed against Israel was illegal.
Many believe that France now has less free speech than any other European country. Recently, the alleged humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, ran a revolting cartoon showing the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned in Turkey last summer as all grown up and sexually assaulting a woman in Germany. There was considerable outrage throughout the world but no sign that the French government will do anything to prosecute the magazines since it was Muslims who were being ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo frequently insults Muslims (and also Christians) but rarely lampoons Jews.
In Britain, Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which is responsive to a Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, has also done its part to create official barriers to any spread of the BDS movement. It is proposing legislation that will enable it to overrule decisions by local government councils that seek to cut business or investment ties with Israel and, more particularly, Israeli settlements, under the pretext that such action interferes with the conduct of foreign affairs. The British government is also considering its own brand of hate speech legislation, banning from social media any commentary that is considered to be anti-Semitic, which will almost certainly extend to criticism of Israel.
Canada’s government has also threatened to use hate speech laws to block criticism of Israel and forbid BDS related activity. Australia meanwhile, has ceased referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied” and is apparently leaning towards similar “non-pejorative” language relating to the militarized occupation of the West Bank, preferring the neocon favored dodge “disputed.” New Zealand has proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that specifically demand that participants “refrain from referring a situation… to the International Criminal Court,” which would effectively decriminalize war crimes committed by both sides during the two recent invasions of Gaza. As a United Nations investigation determined that Israel was disproportionately responsible for what did occur, the proposal eliminates accountability and is effectively a get out of jail free card for some Israeli government officials.
And so it goes. Criticize Israel and there will be a comeuppance by virtue of a highly developed international system that relies on government direction as well as volunteer supporters who are able to shape both the media message and the political response. Accepting that as a given, I suppose one should be proud of being called an anti-Semite every time the label is misapplied to stifle dissent, but it all sadly reflects a lowering of the discussion to a dirt level. This might just be because there is no justification for Israeli behavior. The fact is that in terms of systematic human rights violations Israel is something beyond an apartheid state, frequently engaging in open racism and, in the opinion of many observers, crimes against humanity. It is furthermore a persistent source of instability in the Middle East and even beyond.
Israel is a liability to the United States and to the European nations that it has successfully manipulated into acquiescence regarding its bad behavior. When AIPAC and its overseas clones act for Israel the host nations in which these organizations exist should recognize exactly what is taking place. … Full article
TV Channel France 2 showed footage of Russian airstrikes in Syria as the work of the US-led international coalition in a fight against Daesh (Islamic State).
While covering news from Syria and reporting about airstrikes against Daesh militants, France 2 showed footage first released by the Russian Defense Ministry.
According to Russian blogger Timofei Vasiliev, the news story said that Russian airstrikes hit civilian targets, as the Russians allegedly don’t use precision bombs, instead indiscriminately bombing everything in the area. Unlike the Russians, the French Air Force, which works as part of the US-led coalition, “successfully” bombed Daesh targets, France 2 said.
The French TV channel, however, couldn’t find any footage to prove their point, so it just used footage of Russian airstrikes to demonstrate the precision of Western missiles. No big deal, right?
First, the channel claimed the Russians were off target, while the Western coalition bombed the terrorists; then France 2 showed footage filmed by the Russian Air Force as the work of the US-led coalition. Awkward.
The use of the Russian Defense Ministry’s videos wasn’t a mistake as one might think, but a deliberate lie — the Russian text underneath the footage was deleted, while the video itself is identical to that of Russian airstrikes. Below are original footage provided by the Russian Defense Ministry:
A similar thing happened on November 19, 2015, when PBS NewsHour, a daily US-television news program, used the footage of Russian airstrikes in Syria, passing them off as US airstrikes.
Unlike the US-led airstrikes campaign, which doesn’t provide footage from their operations, the Russian Defense Ministry is always prompt to release video evidence showing what exactly happened to terrorists and how their operations unfolded. Instead of accusing the Russian Air Force of not being “precise” enough and not bombing Daesh, the Western-coalition should simply shoot its own videos. It can’t be that hard.
Citizens of the world are being asked to dig deep for humanitarian aid to Syria. After five years of war and millions displaced there is an urgent need for the world to lend a hand, we are told.
At a so-called “donor conference” in London this week, British prime minister David Cameron appealed to the rest of the world to stump up $8 billion to help war-torn Syria.
Among the 60 nations attending the confab were the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Senior figures from these countries were wringing their hands in anguish over the plight of Syrian refugees.
Washington’s top diplomat John Kerry told delegates: “With people reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive on a day-to-day basis, that is something that should tear at the conscience of all civilized people and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.”
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon adjured nations to “take responsibility to end the crisis in Syria”.
Take responsibility for ending the crisis? How about taking responsibility for beginning it?
Cameron, Kerry and the rest of these charlatans should spare us the emotional blackmail. Most of the governments represented at the London conference are the very instigators and perpetrators of Syria’s destruction.
Why should the rest of the world pay for their crimes?
This is not to suggest that people should simply turn their backs on fellow humans in dire need. But let’s get some straight-thinking here.
Those governments and individual politicians who oversaw regime change in Syria should be paying for their violations, either through massive financial reparations or in jail time. And why not both.
The case is irrefutable. The US-led regime-change plot to subjugate Syria goes back several years, according to numerous sources, such as American diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, former French foreign minister Roland Dumas and ex-NATO supreme commander US General Wesley Clark.
It is only largely due to the dutiful dissembling by the Western news media that such criminality might seem rather outlandish. But it is not outlandish. It is documented and provable. Western governments are culpable in a criminal scheme of regime change in Syria, as they have been in countless other unfortunate countries.
From the outbreak of violence in mid-March 2011, the Arab country has been a charnel house of covert war involving the most vile terrorist mercenaries. Those who take ultimate responsibility for the violence are the authors of the regime-change plot in Syria. Top of the list are Washington, London, Paris, as well as their regional client regimes.
With an estimated 250,000 dead and nearly half of the 23 million population turned into refugees, the total war damage to Syria has been estimated to be at least $100 billion. This is what Washington and its allies owe Syria — and no doubt far, far more — and yet these country-destroying rogue states are trying to wheedle money out of world citizens to pay for their criminal excesses, with the emotional plea of “humanitarian aid”.
Washington and its co-conspirators for covert war in Syria want the rest of the world to pay for their criminal scheming by cajoling the UN, the European Union and anyone else who will listen to fork out “humanitarian aid”. Make no mistake this will eventually translate into ordinary taxpayers, workers and families, paying the bill for their governments’ sanctimonious financial pledges.
In other words, Western powers like the US, Britain and France together with their regional client regimes in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, unleash mass murder and mayhem on a once peaceful, sovereign country — and instead of being held to account under international law for their criminal aggression, these rogue states are getting the rest of the world to subsidize their evil enterprise.
The “donor conference” in London this week was the fifth in a series going back to 2012. Last year, the fundraiser fell well short of its appeals. This year, British leader David Cameron went out of his way to give the appeal added urgency.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Cameron said: “Sufficient funding to guarantee the basics of life that these refugees need must be the bare minimum expected of us.”
The British premier emphasized the need for more aid given to refugee centers in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where nearly five million Syrians have been displaced and are languishing in squalid camps.
Cameron’s apparent concern belies his real worry. He doesn’t want any more refugees streaming into Europe and towards Britain. That’s why the British leader is now calling for more international donations and for the cash to be thrown at Syria’s immediate neighbors in order to keep refugees there.
Going back to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, he told the London conference:
“The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this Earth.”
Syria is indeed a hell on Earth. Made by people like Cameron and Kerry with whom Ban Ki-Moon was rubbing shoulders with in London this week.
Turkey was represented by prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu who tried to blame the humanitarian crisis on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s military intervention. Davutoglu’s lies are particularly nauseating given Ankara’s role in acting as a conduit for terror brigades infiltrating Syria and his country’s ongoing threats of outright military invasion.
NATO member Turkey’s role in fueling Syria’s refugee crisis through its regime-change machinations is acutely reprehensible. And yet Ankara is to receive $3.4 billion from European Union taxpayers, allegedly to help with stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.
This is just one aspect of the general trend that Washington and its allies are establishing with breath-taking audacity. They have all but destroyed Syria with their covert war using terrorist proxies, and yet they are getting the rest of the world to pay for their crimes.
The cost of war and imperialist crimes was always offloaded on to ordinary people by their rulers. In that regard, nothing much has changed. Except that the scam has become even more brazen.
FedEx staff at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris have complained about “irresponsible” security drills after finding explosives in a ripped package in transit from the US to Tunisia. After the bombs turned out to be fake, airport personnel were told they were part of US anti-terrorist exercises.
A pressure cooker with nuts and bolts was discovered by employees of FedEx, the American courier service, at the airport on January 22, French media reported Thursday, citing sources.
After further inspection, the company staff also found other packages with devices that resembled explosives and detonators, said Frederic Petit, FedEx employees’ representative for the CGT union.
The employees immediately called police, saying that there was “imminent danger” at the airport, Petit added. The officers arrived with dogs and X-ray machines to inspect the devices.
But a security source at the airport said the devices were decoys bound for the US embassy in Tunisia as a part of training exercise.
“This type of delivery is not common, but sometimes takes place,” the source told AFP. “This is just the first time that a package has been opened.”
However, this explanation didn’t satisfy FedEx employees in the wake of the recent deadly attacks in French capital in November.
“No one was aware of this cargo,” said Petit, adding that these drills are “irresponsible, especially in the very state of emergency” declared after the attacks in Paris when Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people.
FedEx workers have reportedly decided to call for a prohibition on sending such parcels without notice, due to the security situation in France.
There was an underwhelming sense when Pentagon boss Ashton Carter met this week in Paris with other members of the US-led military coalition supposedly fighting the ISIL terror group.
The US-led coalition was set up at the end of 2014 and in theory comprises 60 nations. The main military operation of the alliance is an aerial bombing campaign against terrorist units of IS (also known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh).
At the Paris meeting this week, Secretary of Defense Carter was joined by counterparts from just six countries: France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Australia. Where were the other 54 nations of the coalition?
Carter and French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian patted themselves on the back about “momentum”in their campaign against the terrorist network. However, platitudes aside, there was a noticeable crestfallen atmosphere at the meeting of the shrunken US-led coalition.
One telling point was Carter exhorting Arab countries to contribute more. As a headline in the Financial Times put it: “US urges Arab nations to boost ISIS fight”.
Carter didn’t mention specific names but it was clear he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
When the US initiated the anti-IS coalition in 2014, fighter jets from the Sunni Arab states participated in the aerial campaign. They quickly fell away from the operation and instead directed their military forces to Yemen, where the Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing that country non-stop since March 2015 to thwart an uprising by Houthi revolutionaries.
But there is an even deeper, more disturbing reason for the lack of Arab support for the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. That is because Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni monarchies are implicated in funding and arming the very terrorists that Washington’s coalition is supposedly combating.
Several senior US officials have at various times admitted this. Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton labelled Saudi Arabia as the main sponsor of “Sunni extremist groups”in diplomatic cables when she was Secretary of State back in 2009, as disclosed by Wikileaks.
Vice President Joe Biden, while addressing a Harvard University forum in late 2014, also spilled the beans on the Persian Gulf states and Turkey being behind the rise of terror groups in the Middle East.
So there is substantial reason why the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria has not delivered decisive results. It is the same reason why Carter was joined by only six other countries in Paris this week and why there was a glaring absence of Saudi Arabia and other Arab members. These despotic regimes –whom Washington claims as “allies”–are part of the terrorist problem.
Not that the US or its Western allies are blameless. Far from it. It was Washington after all that master-minded the regime-change operations in Iraq and Syria, which spawned the terror groups.
In fact, we can go further and point to evidence, such as the testimony of Lt General Michael Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which shows that the US enlisted the terror brigades as proxies to do its dirty work in Syria for regime change.
The US and its Western allies conceal this collusion by claiming that they are supporting “moderate rebels”–not extremists. But the so-called moderates have ended up joining the terrorists and sharing their US-supplied weapons. The distinction between these groups is thus meaningless, leaving the baleful conclusion that Washington, London and Paris are simply colluding with terrorism.
US Republican presidential contenders and media pundits berate the Obama administration for not doing enough militarily to defeat IS. Or as Donald Trump’s backer Sarah Palin would say to “kick ass”.
The unsettling truth is that the US cannot do more to defeat terrorism in the Middle East because Washington and its allies are the source of terrorism in the region. Through their meddling and machinations, Washington and its cohorts have created a veritable Frankenstein monster.
The “coalition”that is actually inflicting serious damage to IS and its various terror franchises is that of Russia working in strategic cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad. Since Russia began its aerial bombing campaign nearly four months ago, we have seen a near collapse of the terror network’s oil and weapons smuggling rackets and hundreds of their bases destroyed.
Yet Ashton Carter this week accused Russia of impeding the fight against terrorism in Syria because of its support for the Assad government. Talk about double think!
If we strip away the false rhetoric and mainstream media misinformation, Washington’s “anti-terror”coalition can be seen as not merely incompetently leading from behind.
The US, its Western allies and regional client regimes are in the front ranks of the terror problem.
France says the state of emergency put in place in Paris after last November’s deadly terror attacks by Daesh will be extended until the world could totally get rid of the Takfiri terror group.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with BBC Europe that France would seek to keep the state of emergency in place until the end of what he called the “global war” against Daesh terrorists.
“As long as the threat is there, we must use all the means,” he said, adding the state of emergency should stay in place “until we can get rid of Daesh.”
The French premier also called for a “total, global and ruthless” war against Daesh, which has swathes of land under control in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.
The state of emergency was imposed assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris on November 13, 2015. The terrorist attacks, claimed by Daesh, left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded.
The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites.
The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.
UN rights specialists have called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and instead ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.
A number of French nationals are fighting alongside terror groups in Syria.
Refugee crisis in Europe
Valls warned that the European Union faces a grave danger from the ongoing refugee crisis.
He said the EU could not take all refugees fleeing the “terrible wars in Iraq or Syria. otherwise,” he added, “our societies will be totally destabilized.”
Europe has been facing an unprecedented inflow of refugees fleeing wars and violence in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
According to Valls, Europe needed to take urgent action to control its external borders, emphasizing that “if Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned.”
“We cannot say or accept that all refugees … can be welcomed in Europe, “ Valls noted, criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called for her European partners to take on quotas of refugees.
He also said the EU needs to say in the strongest terms “that we will not welcome all the refugees in Europe.”
Last year, more than one million asylum seekers – the most since World War II – arrived in the European continent after making dangerous journeys by land and sea.
Everyday, about 2,000 refugees arrive in the European Union, according to official numbers.
United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern about new counter-terrorism measures adopted in France against the backdrop of the deadly 2015 Paris attacks, calling on the French government to protect fundamental freedoms in its anti-terror battle.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a group of four UN rights specialists said the current state of emergency in France and surveillance laws impose “excessive and disproportionate restrictions” on the basic rights of people.
The statement said the main concerns center on “the lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the … laws, related to the nature and scope of restrictions to the legitimate exercise of right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to privacy.”
On November 13, 2015, assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris. The terrorist attacks left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded. France introduced the state of emergency following the horrendous assaults, which were claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites. The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.
The UN rights specialists also called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.
Yasser Louati, a spokesman for the Collective against Islamophobia in France, an anti-racist group, said last month that the state of emergency has unfairly targeted Muslims in France.
Here media hysteria goes again. This is BBC.
It is very difficult to know what has happened. The media and many governments around the world immediately condemn this test. The EU says it is against UN Security Council resolutions – a council consisting exclusively of much stronger, nuclear powers.
Before we get carried away, it should be pointed out that North Korea’s military expenditures (US$ 7-10 bn and very complicated to calculate, but anyhow) is around 1% of those of the U.S., about 20% of South Korea’s and about 15% of Japan’s.
North Korea’s entire military costs a bit less than the newest single nuclear bomb the U.S. tested last year.
Nuclear weapons remain a huge problem to the world. However, countries that have nuclear weapons themselves focus on proliferation. Humanity focuses on the existence of nuclear weapons. Simply put, as long as there are some who have nuclear weapons, others will try to acquire them.
Mass media that blow this inferior nuclear power’s test of whatever it was up on the front pages but forget to tell their audiences much much more serious nuclear stories are – knowingly or not – part of a militarist propaganda machine. Thereby they promote what I have called MIMAC – the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex.
That should not be the role of any media. It would be to highlight all nuclear activities by any government, get some proportions, highlight how these weapons violate international law and inform the world about both the huge risks and what would happen if they are used and, finally, inform us about the activities for nuclear disarmament and abolition.
Just contributing to “fearology” about a nuclear dwarf and keeping us uninformed about the giants militates against objectivity, pluralism and freedom of the press. And it contributes indirectly to militarism.
What are the much more serious nuclear stories I mentioned above?
Well, it has just been revealed that 33,000 U.S. atomic factory workers have died over the last 70 years because of the dangerous environment.
Fact is that nuclear weapons cause many problems even without being used directly – such as the war on Iraq [depleted uranium munitions?], such as polluting the environment and making larges areas – like in Khazakstan – uninhabitable. There are constant nuclear accidents and the world could be more or less totally destroyed from a single technical or human failure.
And what does the U.S. do with a president who wanted to work for a nuclear-free world and received the Nobel Peace Prize?
It has decided to spend US$ 1 trillion – i.e. 1000 billion – the next 30 years on new nuclear weapons. Read more about this perverse ‘peace’ policy here.
British Special Forces have been deployed in Libya to wrest back control of more than a dozen oil fields seized by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, it has emerged.
Approximately 6,000 European and US soldiers, including 1,000 British troops, will be involved in a number of offensives set up to halt the advance of the jihadist terror group.
The operation will be led by Italian forces and supported mainly by Britain and France.
Special Forces, including military close observation experts from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, are spearheading the major coalition offensive against the jihadist group, according to the Daily Mirror.
IS has seized several revenue-boosting oil fields in Libya and is eager to win more control over the country, as the land could provide them with millions of dollars to fund terror attacks.
The terrorist network is now targeting the Marsa al Brega oil refinery, the biggest in North Africa.
If jihadists successfully capture the oil refinery, located between Sirte and Benghazi, they would gain full control of the country’s oil.
Britain’s SAS is working with Libyan commanders to advise them on key “battle-space management” tactics to control the battlefield using troops, tanks, warplanes and navy ships.
They will also send intelligence to Ministry of Defence (MoD) chiefs that could be used to determine whether airstrikes are needed.
A senior military source told the Mirror: “This coalition will provide a wide range of resources from surveillance, to strike operations against Islamic State who have made significant progress in Libya.
“We have an advance force on the ground who will make an assessment of the situation and identify where attacks should be made and highlight the threats to our forces.”
“Moreover, the ideologies of jihadism and of political Islam are alive and well. It is far too soon to write off Islamic State and organizations similar to it.”
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told IB Times : “In Libya, there is the perfect mix ready to explode and in case it explodes, it will explode just at the gates of Europe.”
The Libya intervention would mark the first time British troops have officially taken part in a direct ground assault against IS.
Libya has been in the throes of a chaotic civil war since the 2011 ousting of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Today, two rival governments and parliaments compete for dominance amid a deepening Islamist insurgency.
More than 5,000 IS extremists are active in the country, according to the Libyan Interior Ministry.
President Vladimir Putin has signed amendments to a bill that restricts foreign states’ right not to observe certain Russian legal procedures if these states themselves introduce measures restricting Russia’s legal immunity.
The amendments would change Russian civil and arbitration codes by introducing the principle of limited legal immunity for a foreign state. They detail the procedure of initiating a lawsuit against a foreign nation and serving court warrants to its representatives. The document also prescribes the role of various Russian state agencies in court cases against foreign states.
The amendments are a part of a law that was signed in early November and will come into force on January 1. It allows Russia to impound the property of foreign states, so long as Russian courts rule that these nations have damaged the economic or other interests of the Russian Federation. Before this act was introduced, such steps were only allowed on condition the government of the country in question agreed to them.
The new bill was drafted by the government as a reciprocal measure after several countries this year executed the rulings of international courts and impounded the assets belonging to the Russian state.
For example, in early July, the media reported that Belgium and France had frozen Russian state companies’ assets and curtailed their agencies in these countries. The move was in connection with the June 2014 ruling by the International Criminal Court in The Hague that ordered Russia to pay compensation of $39.9 billion, $1.85 billion and $8.2 billion, respectively, to three companies connected to the once-powerful oil giant Yukos, which was dissolved in 2007.
The Russian Foreign Ministry described these steps as blatant violation of international law and promised to contest these decisions. Vladimir Putin said that Russia would challenge the decision to seize its assets. The president added that the country didn’t recognize the ruling of the Hague court, as it doesn’t participate in the European Energy Charter.
In comments to the newly introduced law on reciprocal impounding of foreign states’ assets, the Justice Ministry wrote that the main idea behind it was to ensure a “jurisdiction balance” between Russia and foreign states. “The number of lawsuits against the Russian Federation is constantly growing and this happens without asking for our agreement for participation in these cases,” a government source told Kommersant daily. Therefore, recognizing rulings by foreign courts is equivalent to conceding national sovereignty, the source added.
Also in July, the Russian Constitutional Court decided that no international treaty or convention has precedence over national sovereignty, and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should be upheld only when they don’t contradict basic Russian law. In mid-December, President Putin signed into law a bill allowing the Constitutional Court to overrule the decisions of international courts if such decisions contradict the principle of supremacy of the Russian Constitution.
The IMF is the leading international monetary agency whose public purpose is to maintain the stability of the global financial system through loans linked to proposals designed to enhance economic recovery and growth.
In fact, the IMF has been under the control of the US and Western European states and its policies have been designed to further the expansion, domination and profits of their leading multi-national corporations and financial institutions.
The US and European states practice a division of powers: The executive directors of the IMF are Europeans; their counterparts in the World Bank (WB) are from the US.
The executive directors of the IMF and WB operate in close consultation with their governments and especially the Treasury Departments in deciding priorities, deciding what countries will receive loans, under what terms and how much.
The loans and terms set by the IMF are closely coordinated with the private banking system. Once the IMF signs an agreement with a debtor country, it is a signal for the big private banks to lend, invest and proceed with a multiplicity of favorable financial transactions. From the above it can be deduced that the IMF plays the role of general command for the global financial system.
The IMF lays the groundwork for the major banks’ conquest of the financial systems of the world’s vulnerable states.
The IMF assumes the burden of doing all the dirty work through its intervention. This includes the usurpation of sovereignty, the demand for privatization and reduction of social expenditures, salaries, wages and pensions, as well as ensuring the priority of debt payments. The IMF acts as the ‘blind’ for the big banks by deflecting political critics and social unrest.
Executive Directors as Hatchet Persons
What kind of persons do the banks support as executive directors of the IMF? Whom do they entrust with the task of violating the sovereign rights of a country, impoverishing its people and eroding its democratic institutions?
They have included a convicted financial swindler; the current director is facing prosecution on charges of mishandling public funds as a Finance minister; a rapist; an advocate of gunboat diplomacy and the promotor of the biggest financial collapse in a country’s history.
IMF Executive Directors on Trial
The current executive director of the IMF (July 2011-2015) Christine Lagarde is on trial in France for misappropriation of a $400-million-dollar payoff to tycoon Bernard Tapie while she was Finance Minister in the government of President Sarkozy.
The previous executive director (November 2007-May 2011), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign after he was charged with raping a chambermaid in a New York hotel and was later arrested and tried for pimping in the city of Lille, France.
His predecessor, Rodrigo Rato (June 2004-October 2007), was a Spanish banker who was arrested and charged with tax evasion, concealing 27 million euros in seventy overseas banks and swindling thousands of small investors whom he convinced to put their money in a Spanish bank, Bankia, that went bankrupt.
His predecessor a German, Horst Kohler, resigned after he stated an unlikely verity – namely that overseas military intervention was necessary to defend German economic interests, such as free trade routes. It’s one thing for the IMF to act as a tool for imperial interests; it is another for an IMF executive to speak about it publicly!
Michel Camdessus (January 1987-February 2000) was the author of the “Washington Consensus” the doctrine that underwrote the global neo-liberal counter-revolution. His term of office witnessed his embrace and financing of some of the worst dictators of the time, including his own photo-ops with Indonesian strongman and mass murderer, General Suharto.
Under Camdessus, the IMF collaborated with Argentine President Carlos Menem in liberalizing the economy, deregulating financial markets and privatizing over a thousand enterprises. The crises, which ensued, led to the worst depression in Argentine history, with over 20,000 bankruptcies, 25% unemployment and poverty rates exceeding 50% in working class districts . . . Camdessus later regretted his “policy mistakes” with regard to the Argentine’s collapse. He was never arrested or charged with crimes against humanity.
The criminal behavior of the IMF executives is not an anomaly or hindrance to their selection. On the contrary, they were selected because they reflect the values, interests and behavior of the global financial elite: Swindles, tax evasion, bribery, large-scale transfers of public wealth to private accounts are the norm for the financial establishment. These qualities fit the needs of bankers who have confidence in dealing with their ‘mirror-image’ counterparts in the IMF.
The international financial elite needs IMF executives who have no qualms in using double standards and who overlook gross violations of its standard procedures. For example, the current executive director, Christine Lagarde, lends $30 billion to the puppet regime in the Ukraine, even though the financial press describes in great detail how corrupt oligarchs have stolen billions with the complicity of the political class (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg. 7). The same Lagarde changes the rules on debt repayment allowing the Ukraine to default on its payment of its sovereign debt to Russia. The same Lagarde insists that the center-right Greek government further reduce pensions in Greece below the poverty level, provoking the otherwise accommodating regime of Alexis Tsipras to call for the IMF to stay out of the bailout (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg.1).
Clearly the savage cut in living standards, which the IMF executives decree everywhere is not unrelated to their felonious personal history. Rapists, swindlers, militarists, are just the right people to direct an institution as it impoverishes the 99% and enriches the 1% of the super-rich.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, recently visited Moscow to discuss the Syrian crisis with his colleague Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. Journalists observed handshakes, smiles, even hearty laughter, between Kerry and his Russian counterparts. Syrian President Bashar al Assad does not have to resign immediately, Kerry declared, and the United States is not trying to isolate Russia. What good news, and what a surprise for the Russians. The Moscow show seemed a great success. Kerry strolled along Stariy Arbat Street, met smiling Russian pedestrians and bought souvenirs to take home. A few days later the UN Security Council passed a resolution, calling for a ceasefire and negotiations. Russian and western journalists alike now say there is some hope to avoid the worst in Syria. And as you may already know, if the United States wants a ceasefire, it’s because their «moderate» Jihadist allies are getting beaten up now by the Syrian Arab Army backed by Russian air support.
Is cautious optimism warranted about a Syrian peace? It is hard to see how. Kerry may say whatever he wants in Moscow, but when he gets back to Washington, he sings a different song, or his colleagues do. His boss, President Obama, said «Assad has to go» only a few days after Kerry returned home. And then there is the new phantasmagorical story published by Seymour B Hersh, the muckraking US journalist, who has revealed that not everyone inside the US government is brain dead. It’s a remarkable discovery when you think about US foreign policy. Some military officials, and no less than the former Chief of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, were actually indirectly, and very secretly, passing military intelligence to the Syrian government to help it fight Daesh, Al-Qaeda and allied Jihadist forces operating in Syria. At the same time, the CIA, with Obama’s support, was sending arms hither and thither in Syria to help the Jihadists overthrow the Assad government.
General Dempsey left office in September 2015 and was replaced by General Joseph Dunford, a true blue Russophobe, who says Russia is an «existential threat» to the United States. It is a classic Washington response: the US aggressor accuses its intended victim of aggression. Just the other day (22 December), the United States slapped on gratuitous new sanctions against Russia. It’s the same old pretext: Russian «aggression» in the Ukraine.
Yet another US provocation, you might think, as Russia searches for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian war. The Russian government is taking a sensible position, but in the present circumstances, is a negotiated peace a real possibility? If the war in Syria were simply a civil war, as is often repeated in the media, you could encourage the belligerents to put on suits and ties and sit down at a table to negotiate a settlement. Unfortunately, the war in Syria is not a civil war: it is rather a proxy war of aggression led by the United States, Britain, and France (until the Paris massacre in November), and pursued vigorously in the region by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Apartheid Israel.
Turkey is playing a dirty, evil role. It provides arms and supplies across its borders for Daesh in Syria. Oil taken from Syrian wells by Daesh travels in the opposite direction, sold at cut rate prices, to provide revenue to the Jihadists for their war against Assad. It is estimated that Daesh was obtaining $40 millions a month from exported oil (before Russian intervention), but this is a bagatelle in terms of the money necessary for the Jihadists to wage war against Syria. Hundreds of millions are required. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important suppliers and financiers of the Salafi Jihadist movement. Jordan permits training of Jihadists on its territory and allows passage across its frontiers into Syria. Israel also provides support from the occupied Golan territory, even providing medical care to wounded Jihadists. A coalition of states, four of which are NATO members, is waging a war of aggression against Syria. Against this array of deadly enemies, the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, in a remarkable feat of arms, has been able to hold out for more than four years. President Assad has proven his courage and tenacity as a leader by refusing US summons to resign and by staying in Damascus to share the personal danger which all Syrians must endure simply to live in their country. No wonder Obama wants to get rid of Assad before talk about Syrian elections for he would almost certainly win them.
Sputnik in Moscow has estimated that there are as many as 70,000 foreign Jihadists fighting in Syria.
These forces appear for the most part are well motivated, supplied largely with US weapons and deeply entrenched in various parts of Syria. Since the Russian intervention on the side of the Syrian government, progress has been made in rooting out Jihadist forces, but as long as supply routes remain open across Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, even Lebanon, the war in Syria is not going to end.
Turkey’s role is particularly dangerous. It is a NATO member and it uses this privileged position to commit acts of aggression against Iraq and Syria. It shot down a Russian warplane in a well-planned ambush, likely with US connivance, and then ran to hide in NATO’s skirts. Apparently, the Turkish government hoped to sabotage budding European cooperation with Russia against Daesh, or to provoke a NATO-Russian war, as insane as that might seem. Other NATO members, the United States, France, and Britain, have also been deeply involved in the proxy war against Syria. Indeed, after the destruction of Libya, it has been reported that NATO planes were secretly used to transport Jihadists and Libyan arms to other Middle Eastern fronts. NATO members are effectively allied with Daesh and its Al-Qaeda derivatives against the Syrian government.
To be sure, the United States and its European vassals have attempted to cover up their links to the Jihadist war in Syria by launching make-believe air attacks on Daesh targets, occasionally bombing a caterpillar tractor here or there and blowing up a lot of sand in people’s eyes. Russian intervention exposed the double game of the United States and changed the balance of military forces in Syria.
Even now however, the US air force sends warning messages to Jihadist truck drivers to get away from their vehicles before it attacks them. Or it refuses altogether to attack trucks carrying Daesh oil, claiming it’s private civilian property. How preposterous! Since World War II, when has the United States hesitated to attack civilian targets? It is understandable that Obama and the CIA, having been caught red-handed in Syria, are furious with Putin for exposing them. Nevertheless, the Russian government has offered the United States, a porte de sortie, pushing for an anti-Jihadist alliance and peace talks to settle the war.
Peace is a marvelous idea and the US escape route, a practical gesture, but how is Foreign Minister Lavrov going to get Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and Israel, not to mention the United States and Britain, to stop supporting the Jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq? Talk about an impossible alliance: it’s like taking a writhing nest of asps to your breast and hoping they won’t bite you. Are such hopes realistic? «Maybe not but that’s diplomacy,» Lavrov might respond: «we have to try nevertheless». These days it takes infinite patience and great theatrical skills to be a Russian diplomat. Russia is trying to finesse the United States into dropping its support of «moderate» Jihadists. In fact, such moderates do not exist.
Neither does the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Jihadists decapitate a few hapless victims, and FSA volunteers run away in horror leaving their arms for Daesh. Or, they laugh at the infidels’ stupidity and go over, arms in hand, to the Jihadist side.
Even if Russia could get real commitments from the United States, which is as yet quite uncertain, what is to be done about Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states? And what is to be done with all the foreign Jihadists in Syria? Are these terrorists and war criminals going to be encouraged to return to the 40+ different countries whence they came to stir up violence there? And what is to be done about the Syrian Jihadists, though there is no open source information about their numbers? Will they be allowed to remain at large, or worse, will they be recognised as a legitimate Syrian opposition?
Even an anti-Jihadist coalition of willing members will have hard work rooting out Daesh and its allies. But the coalition of asps which Russia is trying to organise is composed of Daesh supporters. How is that going to work? One fears not at all well since the would-be alliance members, with the possible exception of France, have not abandoned their backing of Daesh, whatever one hears to the contrary notwithstanding. The United States remains the chief culprit continuing to pursue its two-faced, dangerous policies.
«The four core elements of Obama’s Syria policy remain intact today», Seymour Hersh says: «an insistence that Assad must go; that no anti-IS (Islamic State) coalition with Russia is possible; that Turkey is a steadfast ally in the war against terrorism; and that there really are significant moderate opposition forces for the US to support».
Policy based on false premises invariably leads to failure. Obama’s policy is no exception. Assad is a courageous leader of Syrian resistance against the Jihadist invasion. The only possible successful coalition against Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates is with Assad and with Russia. Turkey is a dangerous provocateur, playing with matches amongst open kegs of gunpowder, trying to drag NATO into a deeper de facto alliance with Daesh or even war with Russia. Finally, there are no «moderate» Jihadist forces in Syria. The Free Syrian Army barely exists at all, and the so-called moderates are no less murderous than their Daesh allies.
One cannot fault the Russians for trying to organise an anti-Jihadist alliance in Syria, but their potential allies, apart perhaps from the apparently repentant French, are all snakes in the grass. And Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the biggest snake of all. «Do you realise what you have done?» Putin asked at the UN in September. Not yet apparently, reports to the contrary notwithstanding. But then, as we know, there are none so blind as those who will not see.