Every year the French communist Party ( PCF) organizes the Fête de l’Humanité in Paris, a left-wing festival where concerts are held and communist parties from all over the world erect stands to exchange books, pamphlets and ideas. Many authors, journalists and intellectuals are invited every year to participate in debates on philosophy, culture, politics and current affairs.
But this year will probably be remembered for the important debates the attendees of the festival were not allowed to have. Two authors, Belgian theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont and French author Caroline Fourest, were forced to cancel their talks due to intimidation and threats from organisations calling themselves “Antifa” and “Indigènes de la République”, respectively.
Caroline Fourest is a pro-Israeli reactionary who masquerades as a “left-wing” feminist. Her invitation to the festival to discuss the rise of Islamic extremism and the French far right upset many on the left.
Reactionary and islamophobic Fourest most certainly is, but preventing her from speaking not only gives credence to her erroneous theories but violates her constitutional right to freedom of speech.
When Fourest was about to speak the dangers of Islamic extremism and the rise of the Front National, France’s far right party, a group calling themselves “lesIndigènes de la République” entered the tent where Fourest was speaking and began to throw objects on the stage. Some protestors even attempted to assault her.
Soon the tent was occupied by the protestors who shouted slogans against racism and islamophobia. The protestors proceeded to occupy the stage whereupon the audience shouted back “liberté d’expression!” (freedom of expression). The confrontation between the conference attendees and protestors continued for about 20 minutes with each side calling the other “fascist”.
The “Indigènes de la République” protestors won out, however, when the debate was cancelled and Caroline Fourest was escorted by bodyguards to a nearby vehicle.
The following day Belgian physicist, author and intellectual Jean Bricmont was due to give a far more important talk on the crisis in Syria and the specious discourse of “humanitarian intervention” propagated by the mainstream media to justify wars of aggression.
For many years, Bricmont has been a critic of the politics of military interventions undertaken under the pretext of protecting “human rights”. Bricmont’s heresy on this issue and his anti-Zionism has made him a pariah in the fashionable salons of France’s “respectable” intelligentsia.
The Belgian physicist’s unequivocal anti-imperialist stance has also made him the target of a vile defamation campaign on the internet and in the mainstream French media where he has been called a “rouge-brun” , a brown-shirt red, a “confusioniste” etc.
Furthermore, the more extremist fringes of the internet’s thought-police have singled out Bricmont for special attention. A few days prior to the fête de l’Humanité, an “anti-fascist” anarchist organization called Antifa launched a campaign on Indymedia against Bricmont’s attendance at the festival, where they threatened to assault him if he spoke about humanitarian intervention. In the insane world of Antifa activism, Bricmont’s opposition to NATO-fomented terrorism in Libya and Syria makes him a “fascist”.
Antifa is just one of the international anarchist groups currently being used by the intelligence agencies of imperialist states to sow confusion and chaos among the ranks of disaffected youth, inciting them to mindless, violent acts that serve the agenda of an ever- encroaching police state. This organization, in particular, targets intellectuals who denounce Zionism as well as alternative media outlets which expose the mechanisms and institutions that promote US imperialism throughout the world. It does all this under the guise of “anti-fascism”.
Due to the simple-mindedness of their beliefs and stupidity of their actions, Antifa tend to attract naïve and angry youths who turn up at demonstrations in black hoodies in order to provoke police crackdowns and sabotage any meaningful resistance to the current political order. In other words, Antifa are a group of useful idiots, whose real agenda is to promote fascism under the guise of “anti-fascism”.
Bricmont was informed of their campaign and asked the management of the festival to provide him with appropriate security. The festival managers assured the Belgian scientist that he would have protection. However, one hour before Bricmont was about to speak, he received notification that the talk was cancelled. The violent threats of the Antifa agents provocateurs provided Pierre Laurent, general secretary of the PCF with the perfect pretext to cancel Bricmont’s heretical lecture. Allowing Bricmont to speak would have shown up the PCF for the right-wing, imperialist sham that they are in the eyes of their ever dwindling supporters.
The festival management had decided they could not provide security for Belgian physicist in the event of an attack by the “Antifa” protestors. However, the pro-war, pro-Israeli pundit Caroline Fourest was provided with full protection by the festival management, in spite of similar threats having been made against her.
This was hardly surprising, considering that the l’Humanité newspaper was the organizer of the festival. L’Humanité has given full support to NATO’s destabilization of Syria since violence broke out there last year, publishing the same war propaganda as its “right-wing” competitors.
According to the PCF’s international affairs spokesman Jacques Fath, the only solution for peace is Syria is the fall of Assad. Fath, of course, made no mention of NATO’s death squads, who have been killing both innocent civilians and security forces since March 2011, facts that have even been verified by many independent journalists and admitted by the Arab league’s observer mission.
Neither of Syria’s communist parties was invited to the festival. Both the Communist Party of Syria(Bakdash) and the Communist Party of Syria (Faisal Aka Unified) won 11 seats in the parliamentary elections that followed the implementation of Syria’s new democratic constitution in May this year.
Both parties have consistently denounced NATO and Gulf-state fomented terrorism against their country since the outbreak of violence in Daraa in 2011. Neither party was allowed to erect a stand at the French communist festival. Instead representatives of the pro-war Syrian opposition were represented.
Those who believe that Jean Luc Melanchon’s Front de Gauche (the French “far left” party which one 11 percent of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections) represents some form of alternative to the status quo, would do well to remember that Melanchon and the Front de Gauche SUPPORTED NATO’s intervention in Libya last year. This is an organization which claims to oppose NATO. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The supporters of Melanchon- a demagogue who likes to prop up his left-wing credentials by pretending to support president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and other centre-left governments in Latin America- do not seem to realize that the ALBA countries all supported Libya’s colonel Gaddafi last year and now openly declare their support for President Bachar al-Assad in his struggle against NATO, and Gulf-state funded terrorism.
While President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela sought to mediate in the Libyan crisis in 2011 in order to prevent military aggression against the country, a mediation welcomed by the Libyan government- and which could have prevented war- they received absolutely no help from Jean Luc Melanchon, who now vaunts himself as an anti-imperialist. Melanchon is a dastardly liar and a political fraud of the highest order.
One would not have to be a physicist like Jean Bricmont to see and understand the horrible reality of NATO’s proxy war in Syria, but what an inconvenient interruption it would have been if the would-be communists of this year’s festival were to be confronted with the naked, mephitic truth about NATO’s humanitarian wars, and the left-wing dupes who support them. Bricmont had to be silenced.
France’s “extrême gauche” are nothing more than a contemptible, motley crew of cowards, liars and fools, whose inflated egos and vacuous slogans adequately reflect the all-pervasive cynicism of the corrupted petty-bourgeois class they represent.
But there is another reason for Bricmont’s ostracism from respectable French society; he is a scientist who is capable of applying critical thought to everyday issues that affect the common citizen. In other words, unlike his elitist and conformist colleagues in academia, for whom, peer –reviewed papers, tenure and social respectability count more than epistemic truth, Bricmont represents the type of scientist capable of applying his microscope to the laws that govern civil society; laws whose flagrant violation by Western governments the neo-scholastic monks of postmodern academia conveniently ignore.
In the days following the festival Caroline Fourest’s expulsion was widely bruited in the French mainstream media, who vociferously denounced the violation of her “freedom of expression”.
Fourest is one of the most prominent propagandists for the New World Order, and such is her ubiquity across the French media complex, that she has become a household name. The war-mongering Fourest has been presented as a martyr of human rights, feminism and free speech, thanks to the useful idiots of Antifa. Needless to say, the war-mongering harpies of France’s mainstream media made no mention of the violation of Jean Bricmont’s freedom of speech.
If Fourest, Antifa, the PCF, Front de Gauche and the entire pseudo-leftist French establishment had their way, Bricmont and his ilk would never again be allowed to speak in a public platform. For what he has to say would expose them for the fakers, imperialist collaborators and loud-mouthed nincompoops that they are.
Those activists who admire and those who detest Caroline Fourest can scream “fascist” to one another to their heart’s content in their zany, infantile theatre of the absurd. But it is they who are opening the path for a seizure of power by the extreme right in this country, as the real fascists in Marine Le Pen’s Front National will easily capitalize on their buffoonery. For, who can blame a simple working class voter for being seduced by the mendacious arguments of Marine Le Pen when there are none but prattling fools to oppose her?
This is not the first time genuine anti-war activists were prevented from speaking in France. Michel Collon, a Belgian journalist, author and editor of a news and analysis website InvestigAction was prevented from speaking at the Bourse du Travail in Paris on November 9th 2011 by the Antifa agents provocateurs. These groups serve the imperialist state by preventing the public from engaging in serious debate about France’s foreign wars.
Other political organizations which have been attacked by the “Antifa” agents provocateurs are the URCF, l’Union de Révolutionaires -Communistes de France and the PRCF, Pole de la Renaissance Communiste en France.
These organizations have some former heroes of the French Resistance among their members, real fighters against fascism. The president of the PRCF is Léon Landini, a combatant in the French resistance during the Second World War, who was responsible for the killing of over 40 Nazi soldiers, the destruction of 300 Nazi vehicles and dozens of attacks against Nazi railway carriages. The URCF and PRCF are now the main political organizations in France militating for the construction of a real communist party.
Unlike the fakers in the Front de Gauche, PCF, NPA and other organizations, the URCF and PRCF have given their full support to the Syrian communist parties of Syria in their fight against fascist aggression by NATO and the Petro-monarchies of the Gulf states and have unequivocally denounced the lies and disinformation against Syria of the reactionary French press.
It is one of the most egregious propaganda achievements in recent history that those who expose the lies that trick the public into perceiving wars of aggression as humanitarian operations are denounced as “fascists”, while those who bang the drums of war are considered to be “left-wing” and “progressive”. This is the general pattern set by the French media complex and genuine anti-imperialist intellectuals have paid the price.
The censorship of Jean Bricmont by the left liberal establishment is deeply indicative of the perilous direction French society is currently taking. It is the road to a new form of totalitarianism, where critical thought is murdered by platitudes,empty, effete slogans, and the meaningless newspeak of the ruling group mind.
The unconscionable, dishonest and dastardly behavior of the petty bourgeois leftists, if unchecked, will inevitably lead to a grim dénouement in this tragic-comic farce that is contemporary France.
Gearóid Ó Colmáin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United States makes an improper division between surveillance conducted on residents of the United States and the surveillance that is conducted with almost no restraint upon the rest of the world. This double standard has proved poisonous to the rights of Americans and non-Americans alike. In theory, Americans enjoy better protections. In practice there are no magical sets of servers and Internet connections that carry only American conversations. To violate the privacy of everyone else in the world, the U.S. inevitably scoops up its own citizens’ data. Establishing nationality as a basis for discrimination also encourages intelligence agencies to make the obvious end-run: spying on each other’s citizens, and then sharing that data. Treating two sets of innocent targets differently is already a violation of international human rights law. In reality, it reduces everyone to the same, lower standard.
Now France’s government is about the make the same error as the U.S. practice with its new “Surveillance des communications électroniques internationales” bill, currently being rushed through the French Parliament. As an open letter led by France’s La Quadrature du Net and signed today by over thirty civil society groups including EFF, states, France’s legislators’ must reject this bill to protect the rights of individuals everywhere, including those in France.
By legalizing France’s own plans to spy on the rest of the world, France would take a step to establishing the NSA model as an acceptable global norm. Passing the law would undermine France’s already weak surveillance protections for its own citizens, including lawyers, journalists and judges. And it would make challenging the NSA’s practices far more difficult for France and other states.
The new bill comes as a result of France’s Constitutional Council review of the country’s last mass surveillance bill, which passed with little parliamentary opposition in July. The Council passed most of that bill on the basis of its minor concessions to oversight and proportionality, but rejected the sections on international surveillance, which contained no limits to what France might do.
France already spies on the world. In July, the French newsmagazine L’Obs revealed a secret decree dating from at least 2008, which funded a French intelligence service project to intercept and analyze international data traffic passing through through submarine cable intercepts. The decree authorized the interception of cable traffic from 40 countries including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, Sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, China, India and the United States. The report states that France’s intelligence agency, the General Directorate for External Security (DGCE), spent $775 million on the project.
Given that the Constitutional Council implied that such practices are almost certainly unlawful as is, the French government has now scrambled to create a framework that could excuse it.
Under the new proposed law, France’s intelligence agencies still have an incredibly broad remit. The law concentrates the power to grant wide-ranging surveillance permission in the office of the Prime Minister, who can sign off on mass surveillance of communications sent or received from overseas. Such surveillance can be conducted when in the “essential interests of foreign policy” or “[the] essential economic and scientific interests of France”, giving the executive the widest possible scope to conduct surveillance.
The original surveillance law included limits on data retention when spying on French nationals (30 days for the content of communications, four years for metadata, six years for encrypted data). The new international limits are much longer—one year, six years, and eight years respectively. The law’s authors do not justify this longer period, nor do they explain how the intelligence agencies will be able to separate data from each class of target without collecting, analyzing and filtering them all.
The collapsing divide between the lawful, warranted surveillance of ordinary citizens, and the wide-ranging capabilities of the intelligence services to collect signals intelligence on foreign powers and agents, has ended up corroding both domestic and global privacy rights. The U.S. has taken advantage of the lesser protections for non-U.S. persons to introduce the dragnet surveillance of everyone who uses the Internet outside the U.S. Because unprotected foreigners’ data is mixed up with somewhat more protected communications of Americans, the U.S. government believes that it can “incidentally” scoop up its own citizens’ data, and sort it out later under nobody’s oversight but its own.
If the French Parliament passes this bill, it will mean that France has decided to embody and excuse the same practices as the NSA in its own law. It is a short-sighted attempt to cover France’s existing secret practices, but the consequences are far-reaching. The limited protections that were included in the original surveillance bill—including assurances that French journalists, judges and lawyers would be protected from dragnet surveillance—will be undermined by their inevitable inclusion in the vacuuming up of all international traffic.
Any attempt by the EU countries to rein back the NSA’s surveillance plan by calls for the United States to respect international human rights standards, and data protection principles, will provoke the response that the U.S. is simply exercising the powers that an EU member has already granted itself.
By creating and excusing a double standard France’s government dooms everyone to a single, lower standard. It cannot simply shrug off its responsibilities to human rights, its partners in Europe, and the privacy rights of foreigners. If it does so, it will end up undermining the French people’s privacy and security as much as it undermines that of the rest of the world.
The trouble with arrogance is that it is intellectually blinding; and the trouble with being intellectually blind is that you fail to see your own contradictions – no matter how preposterous those contradictions may be.
The arrogant ones we are referring to here are the United States and its Western allies. In the past week, Washington has been up in arms about Russia’s decision to step up its military support for the government of Syria. The Americans are calling on Moscow for “clarification” and are getting all hot under the collar about what they say is unwarranted Russian support for the “regime” of Bashar al-Assad.
This finger-wagging from Washington comes at the same time that a US-led military coalition continues to bomb Syria for nearly 12 months.
This week, US warplanes striking Syria were joined by fighter jets from Australia for the first time in those operations, which are allegedly aimed at hitting the Islamic State terror group within the country. France and Britain are also expected to soon join the bombing runs inside Syrian territory.
Now hold on a moment. Let’s get this straight. The US and its allies have appointed themselves to carry out air strikes on a sovereign country – Syria – without having approval from the government of that country, or without a mandate from the UN Security Council.
Thus, the legality of these US-led air strikes – which have resulted in numerous civilian casualties – is therefore of highly dubious status, if not constituting flagrant violation of international law.
Yet the arrogant Western powers, led by the US, have the temerity to lecture Russia about its decision to supply weapons to the government of Syria.
As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out, the military equipment being sent to Syria is consistent with long-standing and legal bilateral agreements between the two allied countries. Russia and Syria have been allies for nearly 40 years.
There is nothing untoward going on – unlike the Western aerial bombing campaign.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin went further in defending the military aid to Syria by saying that it was necessary to help its ally “fight against terrorist aggression”.
For the past four years, the Syrian national army has been battling against an array of foreign mercenaries whose main formations comprise al Qaeda-linked terror groups, such as Al Nusra Front and Islamic State. Putin is correct when he says that the Syrian government forces are the primary fighting front against the jihadist terror networks.
If Western countries are serious about defeating these same terror groups – as they claim to be – then they should be supportive of the Syrian government, as Russia is.
America’s top diplomat John Kerry says that Russia’s support for Syria will “exacerbate and extend the conflict” and will “undermine our shared goal of fighting extremism”. His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov rightly dismissed Kerry’s objection as “upside-down logic”.
Arrogance not only blinds to contradictions; it evidently leads sufferers of the condition to speak nonsense.
Here’s how the New York Times this week reported the Russia-Syria development:
“The move by Russia to bolster the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who has resisted Mr. Obama’s demand to step down for years, underscored the conflicting approaches to fighting the Islamic State terrorist organisation. While Mr. Obama supports a rival rebel group to take on the Islamic State even as he opposes Mr. Assad, Russia contends that the government is the only force that can defeat the Islamic extremists.”
Note the arrogance laden in those words. With breezy casualness, the Western view is that the Syrian leader has “resisted Mr. Obama’s demand to step down for years”.
Again, just like the presumed “right” to bomb a sovereign country, it is an American presumed right to decide whether a leader of another state should stand down.
Who are the Americans or any other government to decide something that is the prerogative of the Syrian people? At this point, it should be mentioned by the way that the Syrian people voted to re-elect President Assad by a huge majority – nearly 80 per cent – in the country’s last election in 2012.
But here is the fatal contradiction in the logic of the US and its Western allies. According to the New York Times, Obama “supports a rival rebel group to take on the Islamic State even as he opposes Mr. Assad”.
That proposition is simply not true. In fact, it is delusional. Even the Americans have elsewhere admitted that there is no “rival rebel group” in Syria. After years of pretending that the West was supporting “moderate rebels” in Syria, the reality is that the war against the Syrian state has been waged by jihadist extremists covertly armed and bankrolled by the US and its allies, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Former director of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, in an interview with the Al Jazeera news channel back in July, candidly admitted that Washington was well aware that it was supporting the Islamic State and other terror groups as the main anti-government forces. It was a “willful decision” said Flynn because Washington wanted regime change in Syria.
Regime change, it needs to be emphasized, amounts to criminal interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. And regime change is something that Washington and its European allies are all too habitually complicit in, as with Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014, to mention just a few.
From that “willful decision” by Washington, Syria has been plunged into four years of unrelenting war with a death toll of some 240,000 people. Over half its 24 million population has been displaced, with hundreds of thousands surging towards Europe in desperation. Terrorism has now become an even greater regional security problem threatening to tear other countries asunder through sectarian violence.
So, when Washington and its Western allies pontificate to Russia about terrorism and what to do or not to do in Syria, they are best ignored with the contempt they deserve. Arrogant, blind and criminal are not qualifications for international leadership.
Last week Europe saw one of its worst crises in decades. Tens of thousands of migrants entered the European Union via Hungary, demanding passage to their hoped-for final destination, Germany.
While the media focuses on the human tragedy of so many people uprooted and traveling in dangerous circumstances, there is very little attention given to the events that led them to leave their countries. Certainly we all feel for the displaced people, especially the children, but let’s not forget that this is a man-made crisis and it is a government-made crisis.
The reason so many are fleeing places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that US and European interventionist foreign policy has left these countries destabilized with no hopes of economic recovery. This mass migration from the Middle East and beyond is a direct result of the neocon foreign policy of regime change, invasion, and pushing “democracy” at the barrel of a gun.
Even when they successfully change the regime, as in Iraq, what is left behind is an almost uninhabitable country. It reminds me of the saying attributed to a US major in the Vietnam War, discussing the bombing of Ben Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.”
The Europeans share a good deal of blame as well. France and the UK were enthusiastic supporters of the attack on Libya and they were early backers of the “Assad must go” policy. Assad may not be a nice guy, but the forces that have been unleashed to overthrow him seem to be much worse and far more dangerous. No wonder people are so desperate to leave Syria.
Most of us have seen the heartbreaking photo of the young Syrian boy lying drowned on a Turkish beach. While the interventionists are exploiting this tragedy to call for direct US attacks on the Syrian government, in fact the little boy was from a Kurdish family fleeing ISIS in Kobane. And as we know there was no ISIS in either Iraq or Syria before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
As often happens when there is blowback from bad foreign policy, the same people who created the problem think they have a right to tell us how to fix it – while never admitting their fault in the first place.
Thus we see the disgraced General David Petraeus in the news last week offering his solution to the problem in Syria: make an alliance with al-Qaeda against ISIS! Petraeus was head of the CIA when the US launched its covert regime-change policy in Syria, and he was in charge of the “surge” in Iraq that contributed to the creation of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The idea that the US can salvage its disastrous Syria policy by making an alliance with al-Qaeda is horrific. Does anyone think the refugee problem in Syria will not be worse if either al-Qaeda or ISIS takes over the country?
Here is the real solution to the refugee problem: stop meddling in the affairs of other countries. Embrace the prosperity that comes with a peaceful foreign policy, not the poverty that goes with running an empire. End the Empire!
It is everyone’s duty to expose as much as possible this new Occupation of Paris by an entity if not hostile, at least foreign, colonial and terrorist, whose most characteristic seal is infanticide.
On August 13th, 2015, Paris-plages (Paris-beaches) will become, for 12 hours, Tel Aviv-sur-Seine. A brilliant idea, and, let us not doubt, a very brave one on the part of the Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. It is especially timely in that it commemorates the Israeli massacre in Gaza in the summer of 2014, in which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and while the ashes of the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabcheh, burned alive by Israeli settlers, are still smouldering. It is true that this time, it was not white phosphorus, but simple Molotov cocktails, and they caused only two victims: one must definitely be blind not to see that Israel is really committed to a sane process of moderation in its Palestinian policy.
According to official voices, it is not a case of whitewashing the Israeli regime or becoming a mouthpiece for its propaganda, on the contrary : Bruno Julliard, the glorious Deputy Mayor of Paris, warned against “amalgams between the brutal settlement policy of the Israeli government and the city of Tel Aviv which is a progressive city, a symbol of peace and tolerance.” Indeed, this project would be nothing short of an initiative for peace, highlighting Tel Aviv not as the internationally recognized capital of Israel, and thus archetypal symbol of its policy, but rather, according to the words of Anne Hidalgo, as “a city open to all minorities, including sexual” (yes, the Palestinians who are not shot down or incinerated are expropriated daily, but homosexuals around the world do come there to celebrate the Gay Pride, is it not so? …), and even nothing less than “the first opposition city in Israel… hated in Israel itself as such by all intolerants”, a statement as meaningless as it is grotesque. And it would be unfair, says Ms Hidalgo, to “make a city or population accountable to the policy of its government. It would be to scorn local democracy and thus democracy itself” – let us not mention the fact that more than 90% of the Israeli public supported the last operation against Gaza, or, in strictly rational terms, the very principle of international sanctions against a country, a supposedly democratic one to boot. Faced with such falsifications, such impudence, such contortionism and such abjection, words fail and nausea stirs in the heart. And from the elected officials, we can only find a semblance of refuge in this statement from Danielle Simonnet, Paris Councillor (Left Party), who denounced “the cynicism of the organization of such a day [that] reaches the heights of indecency”, calling for its cancellation or a radical modification of its program.
Apart from the appalling political sphere, a storm of voices in France have arisen to condemn this event, and social networks are running riot so that the day promises to be incredibly tense, and will certainly bring to Parisians an impression that is a little more faithful to the reality of life in occupied Palestine than the originally scheduled “festive atmosphere”. Because democracy requires it, no question of modifying a program meant to meet the desiderata of a tiny minority of the population at the expense of the vast majority of French who legitimately say they are shocked by such an event (over 90% according to a survey by RMC / BFM).
Everything has been said elsewhere about the ins and outs of this ignominious day, so for our part, we will ask this: does France disown itself by arbitrarily making its capital an auxiliary in the service of propaganda for Israel’s Zionist and terrorist regime, so as to polish up its bloodied image and to promote its sluggish tourism? Does France violate its traditions by becoming a vassal of the all-powerful Zionist lobby, not to say the gay lobby, two infinitesimal cliques who now dictate their most extravagant wishes to the “mother of arms, arts and laws” of yesteryear and see it invariably bow to them? Certainly not. Two telling examples are enough to indicate that collaborationism is deeply rooted in a certain “republican” French elite, and that there would be room for talk of, beyond the famous Stockholm Syndrome, a veritable “Paris Syndrome” to describe this historical “French fin’amor” for foreign Occupants.
You want to see the sea? Hear the sound of waves?
Play on the beach? Admire my beautiful wall! #TelAvivSurSeine
In 1870, after the debacle of Sedan and the fall of the Second Empire, the Third Republic was proclaimed in Paris, to the great fear of the propertied. Despite the state of war and the presence of Prussian troops on national soil, the French political and economic elite did not fear the outside enemy as much as the inside, fearing with a holy terror a victory of the French people in arms which could cause a disruption of economic and social structures. Thus the effort of the “Governmentof National Defence” which was formed by the Jules brotherhood – Favre, Simon, Ferry, capped by Trochu and (Adolphe) Thiers – consisted mainly of sabotaging all impulses of popular resistance and of seeking an armistice with Bismarck as quickly as possible and at any price. The loss of Alsace and Lorraine seemed very insignificant in comparison with “Social Defence”, of preservation of the privileges of the established order, and after the treason of Bazaine and the simulacrum of the Siege of Paris, it could finally be imposed on the Nation. It was then time, finally, to turn the French cannons against the real enemy, namely the suburbs of Paris, under the approving eye of Bismarck. The historian Henri Guillemin, has demonstrated this in minute detail in his trilogy The Origins of the Commune (This curious war of 1870, The Heroic Defence of Paris and The Surrender), synthesized in his series of eponymous conferences .
In 1940, it more or less went the same way. The French political and economic elites saw in Nazi Germany a danger infinitely less great than the socialist threat (at that time this doctrine had not been perverted and carried genuinely progressive values), and, more importantly, considered that a military “disaster” might enable France to reconnect with its reactionary traditions and repeal many heresies introduced by the Popular Front. This was in particular a special effort of Petain, who worked in that direction at least from 1936. And around him, many are they who opted for The choice of defeat, in the words of the historian Annie Lacroix-Riz. Again, Henri Guillemin has established these facts in his works Nationalists and Nationals (1870 – 1940) and The Truth About the Petain Case, condensed into his corresponding series of conferences .
In one case as in the other, Paris was occupied by the enemy, Bismarckian Prussia in 1871, Nazi Germany in 1940. It is difficult to talk about anything other than high treason by the French elites, although the political and historiographical tradition continues to praise most of its protagonists to the skies – except Petain, who some would like to rehabilitate: they are right in the sense that Petain only perpetuated a tradition of collaborationism firmly rooted in the Republic, but by targeting the republican regime itself and the Jews, and not only the French proletariat. It cannot be otherwise, as our elites remain deeply engaged in these infamous ways.
But if it is established that the French elites, corrupt and stateless, have been constantly trampling the interests of the people and of the Nation at least since the Third Republic, then what about the French people? How did it welcome foreign Occupation in 1871 and in 1940?
Henri Guillemin reports that “The Prussians entered Paris on March 1st , and Paris behaved in a very noble way. We must remember what happened at the entrance of the Allies – particularly the Cossacks – in Paris in 1815. There had been hideous scenes. When they had entered the working-class neighbourhoods, nothing moved, but when they arrived in the rich neighbourhoods, on major boulevards, there were ovations. Socialite women rode on the horses behind the Cossacks, who were the ‘Liberators’, the foreigners who came to bring back the King. On 1st March 1871, we see nothing of the kind, while this time, the Germans came through the chic districts of Paris – they came by Neuilly, the 16th and the 8th arrondissements, the Champs-Elysées. Everybody had closed the windows, all the shops were closed: they entered in a deathly silence.” Then, when the mystification of the pseudo-starvation – that would have imposed an armistice – and high treason of the elites were revealed to the people of Paris, there was a general outburst of indignation which culminated with the Commune, to which Parisians of all social classes committed themselves on the 26th of March 1871 by voting overwhelmingly for the “reds”: these had been crushed in the 1870 elections, but now triumphed as the only genuine defenders of the Fatherland.
In 1940, when even a small country like Holland, conquered and occupied by the Nazis, could boast of the appointment of the German Seyss-Inquart to lead them (Queen Wilhelmina proclaimed that “the red of shame would have come to our faces if the invader had chosen for this position someone of our nationality. At least we have been spared this ignominy.”), France did not have that luck. It was the only country to engage in the path of the most disgraceful surrender, collaboration and even frenzied collaborationism with the Occupation through its highest legal representative, what’s more a Marshal of France, crowned with a (false) aura as a hero of the First World War. He was followed by the great majority of the French, who cheered him until April 26th, 1944, during his last visit to Paris, while De Gaulle was long a marginal figure. Only a tiny minority of the French engaged in the fight against the Nazis. Two million French fled Paris before the Germans arrived, but the remaining million coexisted peacefully with the Occupying forces.
If Paris is, as coined by Louis Veuillot, “the cancer of France and the scandal of the world” in the eyes of “worthy people”, that is the propertied (Veuillot was then expressing his hatred for the Commune), it is for Parisians to return the title against their unworthy and corrupt elites who flout democracy and “ride” on the Zionist tanks, giving an “ovation” to the massacres of the Israeli Occupier. Will we go the way of De Gaulle, of Petain or of the majority of the wait-and-sees? It is everyone’s duty to expose as much as possible this new Occupation of Paris by an entity if not hostile, at least foreign, colonial and terrorist, whose most characteristic seal is infanticide. Today’s resistance certainly will not express itself using force or violence as was required in 1940, but if not by protest and civil disobedience, at least by withdrawal. Parisians must at the least, rather than answer to the call from Anna Hidalgo-Collabo to “come in great numbers”, boycott Paris-plages that day and meet this outrage with a “deathly silence”. And for those in whom the flame of resistance and dignity is still burning, may they infiltrate and disrupt this event as much as possible, individually or in groups, at any time, from all sides, by any peaceful demonstration, making the voice of the French people and that of the Palestinian people heard – shouting, slogans (Israel Terrorist! Hidalgo Collabo! Gaza, Warsaw Ghetto, innocent children facing barbarism!…), leaflets and pictures, flags, banners, burned dolls in memory of Ali Dawabcheh, the Bakr children and the 547 other children killed in Gaza last summer, etc. Let them show inventiveness: the French people, and Paris in particular, have always had enough to spare. This has been shown again during summer 2014, when tens of thousands of Parisians defied the ban of the Paris Prefect of Police (the only one in the world!) to demonstrate in solidarity with Gaza.
I am Ali, 18 months, burned alive by a Jewish Israeli settler
Indeed, in this Charlie-pseudo-democracy, a little courage is also required, because we should expect to be bluntly arraigned by police – even beaten by the militiamen of the Jewish Defense League, considered as terrorist and banned in Israel and the United States, but having a storefront in France along with total impunity; anyone who wants to strike back for honour’s sake must make sure not to be dealing with police officers in civilian clothes, which won’t be easy – and then suffer up to 48 hours of police custody. These can even be embellished with false charges of outrages, violence, etc., which will nevertheless be solemnly attested by sworn-in liars – I speak with experience: I have not been in prison or appeared before a judge because the lies were too big and contradictory, but I could well have done; we must know that we are dealing with unscrupulous people without honour (they handed over the Jews and hunted and tortured the Resistance fighters with zeal to please the occupier, and if needed will do it again), but hardly shining lights… But Gaza does deserve that, and this is the price of dignity. I’ll be there, and I hope that many of us will make our voices heard.
Translated from French by Jenny Bright
Zionists provocatively dance over corpses in Paris:
“We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo! Free Thinkers Question the French 9/11” is a new book edited by Dr. Kevin Barrett, in which leading authors and activist challenge the official account of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, France on January 7, 2015.
Dr. Barrett spoke in Denver about this book on Sunday, July 19th, 2015. This is the talk.
Only one version of the Charlie Hebdo affair made the mainstream media: “Muslim extremists kill cartoonists and Jews.” An officially-orchestrated response – “je suis Charlie” – immediately followed.
But is there another side to the story?
Disturbing facts quickly emerged. Politicians, big media, the security industry, and arms manufacturers all rushed to cash in. And freedom of speech in France – the supposed target of the terrorists – was rolled back by the French government. Even as millions marched for Charlie, millions more sensed that something was very, very wrong.
In We Are Not Charlie Hebdo, twenty leading public intellectuals refuse the invitation to identify with “Je Suis Charlie.” Jews, Muslims, Christians, Protestants, Catholics, atheists, people of the left and right, progressives and traditionalists, people from many different countries and ethnicities – all have united to say “we are NOT Charlie Hebdo.” Most suspect the whole affair was a false flag operation or psy-op. (Evidence for that interpretation is presented in the book.) Others merely dissent from the official, mythic false consensus.
If you question what governments tell you… if you doubt the mainstream media version of events… if you are NOT Charlie Hebdo… then this talk is for you.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, an Islamic Studies expert, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. His website is http://www.TruthJihad.com
A senior Iranian lawmaker has called on French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to officially apologize to the Iranian nation over his role in the export of infected blood.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who serves as the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, said Tuesday that Fabius must apologize over involvement in the selling of infected blood products to Iranian companies in the 1980s.
The controversial case dates back to 1984 and 1985, when Fabius served as the prime minister of France. He was, at the time, accused of having a hand in a French company’s deliberate selling of blood products contaminated with HIV to a number of countries, including Iran. The blood products were used for the treatment of haemophiliacs in the target countries. Fabius and two of his ministers were charged with manslaughter but the then French premier was later acquitted.
Boroujerdi said most of the countries that received the bloods were compensated by Paris over the years, but the French government has yet to pay redress to Iranians.
“The relevant bodies, especially the [Iranian] Foreign Ministry, should take action” to get reparations from the French government, Boroujerdi said.
Fabius is due in Tehran on Wednesday for talks with senior Iranian officials.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Saleh Jowkar, another member of the Iranian parliament (Majlis), highlighted the role of Fabius in the controversial case, saying the people of Iran cannot forget his antagonistic actions toward the Iranian nation.
Jowkar also criticized Fabius for adopting an “arrogant” stance toward Iran during the nuclear negotiations in Vienna.
“We will not forget his oppositions, distractions and his advocacy for the Zionist regime during the negotiations,” Jowkar said, adding that the Wednesday visit by Fabius to Tehran is in line with France’s business and economic objectives.
Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the US, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany – finalized the text of an agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in Vienna on July 14 after 18 days of intense talks.
France’s highest constitutional authority on Thursday approved a sweeping, controversial new surveillance law that greatly expands the government’s spying powers, despite widespread human rights concerns.
Making only minor changes to the legislation, which was approved by Parliament in May, the Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that the bill generally aligns with the French constitution—even as privacy and civil liberties groups continue to call attention to its egregious rights violations.
“By validating almost all surveillance measures provided in the Surveillance Law adopted on 25 June, the French Constitutional Council legalizes mass surveillance and endorses a historical decline in fundamental rights,” said La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based digital rights and civil liberties organization. “Only international surveillance has been deemed to be non compliant to the Constitution.”
The law gives French intelligence agencies power to tap phones and hack into computers; sweep up and analyze metadata of millions of civilians; and plant secret microphones, cameras, and ‘keystroke loggers’ in the homes of “suspected terrorists”—all without approval from a judge.
It also gives the government the power to authorize surveillance for reasons as vague as “major foreign policy interests” and preventing “organized delinquency.”
The government justified the bill by invoking recent attacks in Paris, which saw 17 people killed by gunmen in January at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher deli. President Francois Hollande’s move to have the law approved by the Constitutional Council is “unusual,” the Guardian writes. But while it is rare, Hollande’s motives are clear—the decision by the Council ensures that the law will not be challenged as illegal in the future.
By approving the bill, the Council “has disavowed its role as protector of fundamental rights and liberties,” La Quadrature continued. “By refusing to implement effective control over the intelligence services, it is rubber-stamping a historic step back for privacy and freedom of communication, thus undermining the very foundations of democracy. This evening the reason of state was brutally imposed over the rule of law.”
One of the most controversial provisions in the bill requires internet service providers and telecommunications companies to install equipment, referred to in previous debates as “algorithmic black boxes,” that sift through internet traffic and metadata for so-called “terrorist” activity and alert authorities when flagged. Opponents have warned that portion of the bill will “create permanent surveillance,” as Communist Senator Cécile Cukierman said during a June debate—a charge which officials deny.
The law comes into effect just two days after the United Nations Committee for Human Rights released a report warning that the bill “grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and badly defined objectives” and calling on France to “guarantee that any interference in private life must conform to principles of legality, proportionality and necessity.”
[…] Privacy International, which submitted recommendations this month to the UNHCR on the right to privacy in France, said the bill legalized hacking. “Its use by any state authorities, particularly intelligence agencies, must be highly regulated to protect against abuses of power. Yet the bill makes no provision for judicial authorisation or oversight of hacking powers,” the organization wrote.
U.S. Central Command’s latest figures on its aerial bombardment of Iraq and Syria reveal that this is the heaviest U.S. bombing campaign since President George W. Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign against Iraq in 2003. In the campaign’s first ten months from August 2014 to May 2015, the U.S. and its allies conducted 15,245 air strikes, or an average of 51 air strikes per day.
This is only the latest campaign in a 15-year global air war, largely ignored by U.S. media, in which the United States and its allies have conducted at least 118,000 air strikes against other countries since 2000. The 47,000 air strikes conducted in the 6 ½ years since President Barack Obama took office are only a small reduction from the 70,000 in eight years of the Bush administration, and the current campaign will easily make up that deficit if it continues at this intensity until Obama leaves office.
Afghanistan has been the most heavily bombed country, with at least 61,000 air strikes since 2001. That includes 24,000 bombs and missiles in the first year of the war and a relentless bombing campaign that struck Afghanistan with another 29,000 bombs and missiles between 2007 and 2012, a slow motion version of “Shock and Awe.” That was an average of 13 air strikes per day for six full years, two years under Bush and four under Obama. The heaviest bombardment was in October 2010, with 1,043 air strikes that month, but that total is now eclipsed every month by the new campaign in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq had already suffered about 34,000 air strikes since 2000 before the latest campaign began. There were at least 800 air strikes in the “No Fly Zone” bombing campaign to destroy Iraq’s air defenses between 2000 and 2002; 29,200 air strikes in “Shock and Awe” in 2003, a campaign whose planners compared it to a nuclear attack; and another 3,900 during the U.S. occupation, peaking with 400 strikes in January 2008 as remaining centers of armed resistance were obliterated by air strikes, Spectre gunships and heavy artillery in the climax of the “Surge.”
But until the new campaign in Iraq and Syria, the seven-month NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council bombing of Libya was the heaviest bombardment since “Shock and Awe”, with 7,700 air strikes in seven months, or 36 air strikes per day. NATO and its Arab monarchist allies plunged Libya into intractable chaos and violence, exposing “regime change” as a euphemism for “regime destruction.”
NATO’s destruction of Libya spurred Russia to finally draw the line on its 20-year acquiescence to Western aggression and military expansion. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have persisted in their “regime destruction” policy in Syria and Ukraine, threatening strategically important Russian naval bases in Tartus and Sevastopol, what has evolved from an asymmetric war on a series of relatively defenseless countries into full-blown 1950s-era nuclear brinksmanship.
None of these figures include Israeli air strikes against Palestine, the current Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, or French operations in West Africa, as I haven’t found comparable figures for those campaigns, but they must add many thousand more air strikes to the real total.
Keeping the People in the Dark
In a recent article, Gareth Porter reported that the Pentagon is seriously opposed to putting more “boots on the ground” in Iraq or Syria, but that the generals and admirals are prepared to keep bombing them more or less indefinitely as the political path of least resistance for themselves and the White House. This may indeed be the “safe” course for a politically-driven administration and a Pentagon that is always thinking of its public image and its future funding.
But it depends on keeping the public in the dark about several critical aspects of this policy. First, there is little public resistance to this policy mainly because few Americans know that it’s happening, let alone understand the full scale of the bloodshed and devastation perpetrated in our names for the past 15 years.
The second thing the Pentagon doesn’t want you to think about is the deceptive role of “precision” weapons in U.S. propaganda. Considering how accurate these weapons really are in relation to the huge numbers of them raining down on country after country, it is not surprising that they have killed or wounded millions of civilians and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and civilian infrastructure, as we see in photographs and video of the ruins of Fallujah, Sirte or Kobani.
A direct hit with a single 500- or 1,000-pound bomb will cause death, injury and destruction up to hundreds of feet from its point of impact, so even accurate air strikes inevitably kill and maim civilians and destroy their homes. But whatever proportion of these 118,000 bombs and missiles have actually missed their targets have wreaked completely indiscriminate death, injury and destruction.
Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, estimated that 20 to 25 percent of the “precision” weapons used in “Shock and Awe” in 2003 missed their targets. Another one third of the bombs and missiles used in “Shock and Awe” were not “precision” weapons to begin with.
Even the Pentagon has not claimed a quantum leap in its “precision” weapons technology since 2003, so it is likely that at least 15 percent are still missing their targets, adding daily to a massive and mounting toll on innocent civilians.
As Hewson told the Associated Press in 2003, “In a war that’s being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi people, you can’t afford to kill any of them. But you can’t drop bombs and not kill people. There’s a real dichotomy in all of this.”
Body Count, a recent report published by Physicians for Social Responsibility, confirmed previous estimates of well over a million people killed in America’s wars since 2000. This and previous studies document the horrific results of what Hewson and other experts understand only too well, that “you can’t drop (100,000) bombs and not kill (hundreds of thousands of) people.”
Another element in the Pentagon’s shaky propaganda house of cards is its effort to obscure what bombs and missiles actually do to their victims. Americans watch the Islamic State beheading videos on TV or YouTube but we never see videos of people decapitated or children dismembered by the bombs our taxes are paying for. But our bombs behead people too.
Apologists claim that U.S. bombing is morally superior to the “terrorism” of America’s enemies, because the U.S. killing and beheading of civilians is “unintentional” rather than “deliberate.” The late Howard Zinn, a former U.S. Air Force bombardier and later a history professor, responded to this claim in a letter to the New York Times in 2007:
“These words are misleading because they assume that an action is either ‘deliberate’ or ‘’unintentional.’ There is something in between, for which the word is ‘inevitable.’ If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not ‘intentional.’
“Does that difference exonerate you morally? The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”
Millions of ‘Enemies’
In fact, U.S. armed forces are waging war on millions of people for whom becoming combatants in a war would be the last thing they would ever consider if we had not brought our war to their doorsteps. The Center for Civilians in Conflict recently interviewed hundreds of local people who have participated as combatants in conflicts in Bosnia, Libya, Gaza or Somalia. It found that their motivations were almost entirely defensive, to protect themselves, their families, their communities or their countries.
When military forces attack or invade a country, many ordinary people feel compelled to take up arms to defend themselves and their homes. When the forces that put them in this unbearable predicament in the first place treat their efforts to defend themselves as a legal “green light” to target them with force and call them “terrorists,” they are driven to join better organized armed resistance movements that offer them protection in numbers and an effective way to fight back.
The essential first step to breaking the escalating spiral of violence is to force the aggressors, in this case the United States and its allies, to cease their aggression, including their state sponsorship of armed groups or “terrorists” in the affected countries. Then legitimate diplomatic initiatives can begin the difficult work of resolving the complex political and humanitarian problems caused by U.S.-led aggression and beginning to restore peace and security.
In his 1994 masterpiece, Century of War, the late Gabriel Kolko documented that war was the catalyst for all the major political revolutions of the Twentieth Century. While the working people of the world have otherwise failed to “rise up” as Marx predicted, the one thing that has reliably driven them to do so is the horror of war.
The war that the United States is waging today is proving no different. Armed resistance is spreading throughout the affected countries, spawning new ideologies and movements that defy the conceptual frameworks and limited imagination of the U.S. officials whose actions gave birth to them.
U.S. leaders of all stripes, military or civilian, Democrat or Republican, still fail to grasp what Richard Barnet concluded in 1973 as he studied the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, “at the very moment the number one nation has perfected the science of killing, it has become an impractical instrument of political domination.”
The last 15 years of war have served to confirm Barnet’s conclusion. After 118,000 air strikes, millions of casualties, trillions of dollars squandered, and country after country plunged into chaos, the U.S. has failed to gain political control over any of them.
But our complacent leaders and their self-satisfied advisers blunder on, debating who to threaten or attack next: Russia? China? Iran? Which “threat” provides the best pretext for further U.S. military expansion?
As Gabriel Kolko observed, because of “inherent, even unavoidable institutional myopia, … options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles.”
But U.S. war-making is not just dangerous and irrational. It is also a crime. The judges at Nuremberg defined aggression, attacking or invading other countries, as the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” The UN Charter goes one step further and prohibits the threat as well as the use of force.
Benjamin Ferencz, the only surviving member of the prosecution team at Nuremberg, is a fierce critic of illegal U.S. war-making. In response to U.S. war crimes in Vietnam, he dedicated the rest of his life to establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC) that could prosecute senior officials of any government who commit aggression and other war crimes.
Ferencz is hailed as the founding father of the ICC, but his vision of “Law Not War” remains unfulfilled as long as his own country, the United States, refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of either the ICC or the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
By rejecting the jurisdiction of international courts, the U.S. has carved out what Amnesty International has called an “accountability-free zone,” from which it can threaten, attack and invade other countries, torture prisoners, kill civilians and commit other war crimes with impunity.
U.S. government lawyers enjoy the privilege, unique in their profession, of issuing legally indefensible but politically creative legal cover for war crimes, secure in the knowledge that they will never be forced to defend their opinions before an impartial court.
Ben Ferencz very graciously wrote a preface to my book, Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, and he spoke at an event with me and David Swanson in 2011, just before his 91st birthday. Ben talked about Nuremberg and the ICC, and he compared U.S. justifications for its “preemptive” illegal war-making to the defense offered by SS Gruppenfuhrer Otto Ohlendorf at Nuremberg.
As Ben explained, “That Ohlendorf argument was considered by three American judges at Nuremberg, and they sentenced him and twelve others to death by hanging. So it’s very disappointing to find that my government today is prepared to do something for which we hanged Germans as war criminals.”
If we do not hold American war criminals accountable for their crimes, and accept the jurisdiction of international courts to do so if we do not, how else can we serve notice on those who come after them that they must never do this again?
Argentina, Guatemala and other countries in Latin America are prosecuting and jailing mass murderers like Videla and Rios Montt who once took for granted that they could kill with impunity. America’s masters of war should not assume that we will fail to bring them to justice.
As for the collective responsibility we all share for the crimes committed by our country and our armed forces, we must be prepared to pay substantial war reparations to our millions of victims and the countries we have destroyed. We could start by paying the reparations ordered by the International Court of Justice when it convicted the United States of aggression against Nicaragua in 1986, and the $3.3 billion promised by President Nixon to repair at least some of the U.S. bomb damage in Vietnam.
These would be concrete steps to tell the rest of the world that the United States was finally ready to abandon its failed experiment in “the science of killing,” to be bound by the rule of law, and to start cooperating in good faith with the rest of humanity to solve our common problems.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1)
“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2)
With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicaly recognized as such.
Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear program represents a serious impediment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and, with India and Pakistan, is a potential nuclear flashpoint. (prospects of meaningful non-proliferation are a delusion so long as the nuclear weapons states insist on maintaining their arsenals,) Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iraq, peace with justice in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli nuclear program.
Birth of the Israeli Bomb
The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104.(3)
There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria.(4) By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.(5)
Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide).(6) These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.
Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred(7)(8). In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.
South Africa and the United States
In 1977, the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that satellite photos indicated South Africa was planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Desert but the Apartheid regime backed down under pressure. On September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite detected an atmospheric test of a small thermonuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa but, because of Israel’s apparent involvement, the report was quickly “whitewashed” by a carefully selected scientific panel kept in the dark about important details. Later it was learned through Israeli sources that there were actually three carefully guarded tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells. The Israeli/South African collaboration did not end with the bomb testing, but continued until the fall of Apartheid, especially with the developing and testing of medium range missiles and advanced artillery. In addition to uranium and test facilities, South Africa provided Israel with large amounts of investment capital, while Israel provided a major trade outlet to enable the Apartheid state avoid international economic sanctions.(9)
Although the French and South Africans were primarily responsible for the Israeli nuclear program, the U.S. shares and deserves a large part of the blame. Mark Gaffney wrote (the Israeli nuclear program) “was possible only because (emphasis in original) of calculated deception on the part of Israel, and willing complicity on the part of the U.S..”(10)
From the very beginning, the U.S. was heavily involved in the Israeli nuclear program, providing nuclear related technology such as a small research reactor in 1955 under the “Atoms for Peace Program.” Israeli scientists were largely trained at U.S. universities and were generally welcomed at the nuclear weapons labs. In the early 1960s, the controls for the Dimona reactor were obtained clandestinely from a company called Tracer Lab, the main supplier of U.S. military reactor control panels, purchased through a Belgian subsidiary, apparently with the acquiescence of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.(11) In 1971, the Nixon administration approved the sale of hundreds of krytons(a type of high speed switch necessary to the development of sophisticated nuclear bombs) to Israel.(12) And, in 1979, Carter provided ultra high resolution photos from a KH-11 spy satellite, used 2 years later to bomb the Iraqi Osirak Reactor.(13) Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, and accelerating dramatically under Reagan, U.S. advanced technology transfers to Israel have continued unabated to the present.
The Vanunu Revelations
Following the 1973 war, Israel intensified its nuclear program while continuing its policy of deliberate “nuclear opaqueness.” Until the mid-1980s, most intelligence estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal were on the order of two dozen but the explosive revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician working in the Dimona plutonium reprocessing plant, changed everything overnight. A leftist supporter of Palestine, Vanunu believed that it was his duty to humanity to expose Israel’s nuclear program to the world. He smuggled dozens of photos and valuable scientific data out of Israel and in 1986 his story was published in the London Sunday Times. Rigorous scientific scrutiny of the Vanunu revelations led to the disclosure that Israel possessed as many as 200 highly sophisticated, miniaturized thermonuclear bombs. His information indicated that the Dimona reactor’s capacity had been expanded several fold and that Israel was producing enough plutonium to make ten to twelve bombs per year. A senior U.S. intelligence analyst said of the Vanunu data,”The scope of this is much more extensive than we thought. This is an enormous operation.”(14)
Just prior to publication of his information Vanunu was lured to Rome by a Mossad “Mata Hari,” was beaten, drugged and kidnapped to Israel and, following a campaign of disinformation and vilification in the Israeli press, convicted of “treason” by a secret security court and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served over 11 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 foot cell. After a year of modified release into the general population(he was not permitted contact with Arabs), Vanunu recently has been returned to solitary and faces more than 3 years further imprisonment. Predictably, The Vanunu revelations were largely ignored by the world press, especially in the United States, and Israel continues to enjoy a relatively free ride regarding its nuclear status. (15)
Israel’s Arsenal of Mass Destruction
Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, cruise missiles, land mines (In the 1980s Israel planted nuclear land mines along the Golan Heights(17)), and artillery shells with a range of 45 miles(18).
In June, 2000 an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile which hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation after the U.S. and Russia with that capability. Israel will deploy 3 of these virtually impregnable submarines, each carrying 4 cruise missiles.(19)
The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”
Israel also possesses a comprehensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a sophisticated delivery system, quoting a senior Israeli intelligence official,
“There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . . which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.”)(20)
The same report described F-16 fighter jets specially designed for chemical and biological payloads, with crews trained to load the weapons on a moments notice. In 1998, the Sunday Times reported that Israel, using research obtained from South Africa, was developing an “ethno bomb; “In developing their “ethno-bomb”, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive a gene carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus… The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.” Dedi Zucker, a leftist Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, denounced the research saying, “Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied.”(21)
Israeli Nuclear Strategy
In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy. As Seymour Hersh says in classic understatement ; “The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.”(22) Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union(and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister,
“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”(23)
(In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”)
In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992,
“…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”(24)
According to Israel Shahak,
“The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is.”
“Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states…. Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”(25)
Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage, such as to protect the so called moderate Arab states from internal insurrection, or to intervene in inter-Arab warfare.(26)
In Israeli strategic jargon this concept is called “nonconventional compellence” and is exemplified by a quote from Shimon Peres; “acquiring a superior weapons system(read nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”(27)
From a slightly different perspective, Robert Tuckerr asked in a Commentary magazine article in defense of Israeli nukes, “What would prevent Israel… from pursuing a hawkish policy employing a nuclear deterrent to freeze the status quo?”(28) Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face world wide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, most civilian. Despite the annihilation of a neighboring Arab state, not to mention the utter destruction of the Syrian Air Force, Israel was able to carry out the war for months at least partially due to its nuclear threat.
Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.’”(29) During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel.
The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time,
“If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…”(30)
Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said
“If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”(31)
Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. money spigots remain wide open.
Regional and International Implications
Largely unknown to the world, the Middle East nearly exploded in all out war on February 22, 2001. According to the London Sunday Times and DEBKAfile, Israel went on high missile alert after receiving news from the U.S. of movement by 6 Iraqi armored divisions stationed along the Syrian border, and of launch preparations of surface to surface missiles. DEBKAfile, an Israeli based “counter-terrorism” information service, claims that the Iraqi missiles were deliberately taken to the highest alert level in order to test the U.S. and Israeli response. Despite an immediate attack by 42 U.S. and British war planes, the Iraqis suffered little apparent damage.(32) The Israelis have warned Iraq that they are prepared to use neutron bombs in a preemptive attack against Iraqi missiles.
The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East,”Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy rests.”(34) According to Seymour Hersh, “the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force.”(35) General Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, former Israeli Chief of Staff is quoted “It is never possible to talk to Iraq about no matter what; It is never possible to talk to Iran about no matter what. Certainly about nuclearization. With Syria we cannot really talk either.”(36) Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretz said, “Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,”(37) and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”(38)
As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, the influence of the radical right becomes stronger. According to Shahak, “The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some some of the delerious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. … while israeli jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”(39) The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond) the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted. According to Shahak, “In Israeli terminology, the launching of missiles on to Israeli territory is regarded as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.”(40) (Which requires a “nonconventional” response, a perhaps unique exception being the Iraqi SCUD attacks during the Gulf War.)
Meanwhile, the existence of an arsenal of mass destruction in such an unstable region in turn has serious implications for future arms control and disarmament negotiations, and even the threat of nuclear war. Seymour Hersh warns,
“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”(41) and Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum(and the) next war will not be conventional.”(42)
Russia and before it the Soviet Union has long been a major (if not the major) target of Israeli nukes. It is widely reported that the principal purpose of Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel was to furnish satellite images of Soviet targets and other super sensitive data relating to U.S. nuclear targeting strategy. (43) (Since launching its own satellite in 1988, Israel no longer needs U.S. spy secrets.) Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney, “… if the familar pattern (Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.” (44)
Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies.
Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.
1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, New York,1991, Random House, p. 319 (A brilliant and prophetic work with much original research)2
2. Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, Amana Books, p. 165 (Excellent progressive analysis of the Israeli nuclear program)
3. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Warner D. Farr, The Third Temple Holy of Holies; Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College Sept 1999 <www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/farr,htm (Perhaps the best single condensed history of the Israeli nuclear program)
4. Hersch, op.cit., p. 131
5. Gaffney, op.cit., p. 63
6. Gaffney, op. cit. pp 68 – 69
7. Hersh, op.cit., pp. 242-257
8. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, pps. 65-66 (An alternative discussion of the NUMEC affair)
9. Barbara Rogers & Zdenek Cervenka, The Nuclear Axis: The Secret Collaboration Between West Germany and South Africa, New York, 1978, Times Books, p. 325-328 (the definitive history of the Apartheid Bomb)
10. Gaffney, op. cit., 1989, p. 34
11. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, London, 1999, Vision Paperbacks, pp. 155-168 (The most complete and up to date account of the Vanunu story, it includes fascenating speculation that Israel may have a second hidden Dimona type reactor)
12. Hersh, op. cit., 1989, p. 213
13. ibid, p.198-200
14. ibid, pp. 3-17
15. Hounman, op. cit. 1999, pp 189-203
16. Hersh, 1989. pp.199-200
17. ibid, p. 312
18. John Pike and Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide Website, 2001, Web Address http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/index.html (An invaluable internet resource)
19. Usi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi, Fears of New Arms Race as Israel Tests Cruise Missiles, June 18, 2000, London Sunday Times
20. Usi Mahnaimi, Israeli Jets Equipped for Chemical Warfare October 4, 1998, London Sunday Times
21. Usi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, Israel Planning “Ethnic” bomb as Saddam Caves In, November 15, 1998, London Sunday Times
22. Hersh, op.cit., 1991, p. 319
23. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p. 163
24. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, London, 1997,Pluto Press, p. 40 (An absolute “must read” for any Middle East or anti-nuclear activist)
25 ibid, p.2
26. ibid, p.43
27. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p 131
28. “Israel & the US: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?” Robert W. Tucker, Novenber 1975 pp41-42
29. London Sunday Times, October 12, 1986
30. Gaffney, op. cit. 1989. p. 147
31. ibid, p. 153
32. DEBKAfile, February 23, 2001 WWW.debka.com
33. Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, London Sunday Times, February 25, 2001
34. Shahak, op. cit., p150
35. Hersh, op.cit., p. 319
36. Shahak, op. cit., p34
37. ibid, p. 149
38. ibid, p. 153
39. ibid, pp. 37-38
40. ibid, pp 39-40
41. Hersh, op. cit., p. 19
42. Aronson, Geoffrey, “Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question,” Middle East Journal, (Autumn 1992), 619-630.
43 . Hersh, op. cit., pp. 285-305
44. Gaffney, op. cit., p194
The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) published a monograph clarifying the projected short and long-term costs of anti-Russian sanctions to the EU 28 plus Switzerland. A summary of the report published Friday has confirmed that Europe as a whole expects €92.34 billion in long-term losses, along with over 2.2 million lost jobs.
While the report attempts to downplay somewhat the losses attributed to sanctions, noting that politicized export restrictions must be considered together with the ongoing Russian recession and other factors, the figures speak for themselves.
The report projects an “observed decline in exports and tourism expenditures of €34 billion value added in the short run, with employment effects on up to 0.9 million people.” Switching to a longer-term perspective, the report estimates “the economic effects increas[ing] to up to 2.2 million jobs (around 1 percent of total employment) and €92 billion (0.8 percent of total value added), respectively.”
Commenting on the geographical disbursement of the economic and jobs losses, WIFO’s report shows that “geographical closeness highly correlates with the relative size of the effects at the national level, with the Baltic countries, Finland and the Eastern European countries being hit above the EU average of 0.3 percent of GDP in the short and 0.8 percent in the long run.” The report also notes that Germany, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all EU 27 exports to Russia, has been hit the hardest in absolute terms, and is projected to lose €23.38 billion in losses in the long term. Italy is second, with €10.93 billion in projected losses. France rounds out the top three with €7.92 billion in losses.
The study’s figures also show that Estonia is the single most heavily affected country in both the short and the long term, with the country suffering a €800 million (4.91 percent) and €2.1 billion (13.24 percent) decline, respectively. Estonia is followed by Lithuania (-6.37 percent long term), Cyprus (-3.25 percent), Latvia (-1.87 percent), and the Czech Republic (-1.53 percent).
In employment terms, Estonia, Lithuania and Cyprus are also the hardest hit in percentage terms, and are projected to suffer 16.3 percent, 10.84 percent and 4.21 percent losses, respectively. In absolute terms, Germany (losing 395,000 jobs) Poland (300,000), and Italy (200,000) have been the hardest hit; Spain, Lithuania and Estonia are projected to lose between 100,000 and 190,000 jobs.
As for the economic sectors most heavily impacted, the WIFO study found that agriculture and food products, metal products, machine-building, vehicles, and manufacturing-related services are hardest hit in the short term, with construction, business services, and wholesale and retail trade services also projected to suffer disproportionately in the long-term.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik about the report, WIFO economist Oliver Fritz noted that while EU politicians still hope that the sanctions will have some effect on Russian policy, pressure is building on them to change their policy, since the economic consequences are rapidly beginning to add up.
While the economist noted that he does not see the sanctions being lifted in the short term, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully keeping other EU nations in line, Fritz noted that as losses mount, EU politicians may eventually decide to consider rethinking their decisions.
Last month, WIFO conducted research for Europe’s ‘Leading European Newspaper Alliance’, estimating up to €100 billion in losses if anti-Russian sanctions remain in place.
Since March 2014, the United States, European Union, and other Western countries have placed sanctions on Russia’s banking, defense and energy sectors over Moscow’s alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis. In August, Moscow imposed a year-long food embargo on the countries that had sanctioned it. Last month, the EU’s foreign ministers agreed to extend sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2016.
June 29, 2015
The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has flown from Vienna to Tehran for consultations after holding tough negotiations with his Western counterparts on the Iranian Nuclear program. The negotiations on the final bargaining conditions of Tehran’s nuclear program have ended with no result and it’s become evident that they will pass over the Tuesday deadline. RT is joined by political commentator Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.