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Iran to emerge as US rival in gas markets

Press TV – July 25, 2016

Forbes in a report has hailed Iran’s success in the development of its gas industry and says the country can soon become a main rival over market access to key players like the United States.

The world’s leading business magazine says Iran owes the progress it has made in its gas industry to its high exploration success rate which it says stands at a whopping 79 percent.

The rate, it says, is specifically high given that the world’s average is only 30 to 35 percent.

The Forbes report further emphasizes that the progress in Iran’s gas industry could soon enable it to exploit the promising markets in India, Pakistan, Kuwait, and UAE.

It adds that the country’s planned reductions in subsidized pricing, which will help reduce wasteful usage, will free up more of its gas for exports.

Forbes further stresses that Iran’s plans to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) will specifically have a prosperous future.

“Iran is currently working on several options to join the same ‘international LNG club’ that the US is also joining,” wrote Forbes in its report. “And Europe is the mid- and long-term target. Europe’s gas demand is projected to increase 15-20 percent by 2025. This means that Iran is competition for the US”.

The report emphasizes that Iran’s LNG plans are expected to become operational after 2020, adding that the country could benefit from the growing demand over the succeeding years particularly given that Europe’s gas demand, for example, is projected to increase 15-20% by 2025.

July 25, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Curfew extended for 16th day in Indian-administered Kashmir

Press TV – July 24, 2016

Indian authorities on Sunday extended a curfew for the 16th consecutive day in several parts of the Indian-administered Kashmir.

The move came more than two weeks after the killing of a popular rebel leader in the Himalayan region.

Media reports said a large number of paramilitary troops and thousands of armed police in riot gear patrolled the deserted streets of many towns and villages across the region, including the city of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

Almost all institutions and businesses remained closed and traffic stayed off the streets across major towns of the disputed valley. The authorities ordered restrictions on the movement of residents across the Muslim-majority region.

Mobile phones and broadband internet services have been blocked to prevent large-scale demonstrations.

Large parts of the Indian-administered Kashmir have been under a 24-hour curfew in recent weeks. The curfew has been lifted in four districts.

Deadly clashes erupted after Burhan Wani, a top figure in the pro-independence Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) group, was killed along with two others in a shootout with Indian forces on July 8. More than 45 civilians are now confirmed dead and over 3,500 others injured following several days of violent clashes.

Anti-riot police have used live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas to disperse the crowds over the past days.

Kashmir has been at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.

New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the region in full, but rule parts of it. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed territory.

The last bout of serious violence in the scenic valley was in the summer of 2010, when more than 100 people died in anti-India protests.

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Death toll from Kashmir clashes rises to 16

Press TV – July 10, 2016

Indian officials have updated the death toll from the ongoing unrest in the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir, saying that 16 people are now confirmed dead following the clashes between protesters and riot police over the killing of a popular rebel leader.

One protester was shot dead on Sunday after riot police fired on infuriated and stone-hurling demonstrators, who defied a curfew aimed at suppressing the public uproar in the southern area of Pulwama, and six others succumbed to their wounds overnight, AP quoted an unnamed security official as saying.

A police officer also lost his life in the southern area of Anantnag, where angry demonstrators pushed his armored vehicle into a river.

Indian authorities have for the second day extended the curfew to the whole Kashmir valley, including the major city of Srinagar.

The clashes came after residents of Kashmir held a funeral for separatist Burhan Wani, the young leader of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), who was killed on July 8 along with two other people during a brief gun battle with government forces.

During the past five years, Wani had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir, using social media to reach out to young people in the region.

Wani’s body was handed over to his family earlier on Saturday and the locals, who see the slain 22-year old as a hero, turned the mass funeral into a full-scale protest.

According to Indian police, anti-riot troops used live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas to disperse the crowds and calm down the outrage. Authorities have also suspended mobile networks and the internet to prevent massive demonstrations.

Reports say that at least 200 people, including 90 government forces, were injured during the clashes.

The death of Wani sparked street protests across Kashmir throughout the night Friday. In a rare incident, mosques’ loudspeakers blared with “Azadi” (freedom from Indian rule) in most areas, including Srinagar, where people were ordered to remain indoors.

Major groups known for their resistance against Indian rule have declared three days of mourning.

Kashmir, a Himalayan region known for its beautiful landscapes, lies at the heart of more than 69 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it. India controls two thirds of Kashmir while the remaining one third is under the Pakistani rule.

The neighbors agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire.

Thousands of people have been killed in the violence in Kashmir over the past two decades.

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

India, the US, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 08.07.2016

India has failed to achieve membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is a group of countries seeking «to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports». Given that members of the NSG already supply India with uranium, New Delhi’s campaign is intriguing, especially as one of the Group’s main requirements is that suppliers of nuclear-associated material may authorise such trade «only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons».

It could not be clearer that this international agreement forbids provision of nuclear expertise or material to a country that has not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the US State Department describes as «the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime».

But even cornerstones can be undermined, and that process began when President George W Bush started negotiations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 to produce a US-India nuclear cooperation agreement. It took considerable effort by both sides to come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement whereby India would have access to nuclear material and technology consistent with the primary US aim of entry to the potentially large Indian market for construction of nuclear power stations.

The commercially-based Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of India concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy of 2007 is known as the 123 Agreement because it was necessary to amend Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act 1954 which governs ‘Cooperation with Other Nations’.

India declined to abide by the Act’s specification that it «must have full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, essentially covering all major nuclear facilities», because this would involve inspection of defence-related establishments, and Washington promptly removed this inconvenient requirement.

The modified Act seemed to clear the way for nuclear collaboration on a major scale, but there has as yet been no commitment by US nuclear plant manufacturers, mainly because they do not want to be held financially responsible for a nuclear accident at a power station which they designed or built.

It is accepted worldwide that national nuclear plant operators are accountable in the event of accidents, but India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, and Rule 24 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011, provide for the right of recourse, pursuit of which could involve foreign enterprises, be they suppliers or operators, being held liable for damages. In spite of lobbying by US President Obama during his 2015 visit to India, which was much praised as having achieved a «breakthrough» in removing the liability barriers which India’s parliament strongly supported, there has been no radical change that would encourage US firms to seek major contracts. (The Westinghouse Electric Company, generally thought to be American, which is negotiating to build six nuclear plants in India, has been owned by Japan’s Toshiba since 2006.)

In February 2015 India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated that the Civil Liability Act «channels all legal liability for nuclear damage exclusively to the operator» – but Clause 17 of the Act specifies that operators are permitted to seek financial recourse from suppliers after paying compensation for «patent or latent defects or sub-standard services», which are, naturally, open to legal interpretation in the event of a disaster, which is no doubt being borne in mind by India’s legislators who have not forgotten the 1984 disaster at the Union Carbide chemical plant at Bhopal that killed and maimed many thousands of people.

While there have as yet been no commercial benefits to the US from its nuclear accord with India, there have been other effects, including some that are less than desirable in the context of «proliferation of nuclear weapons» which is condemned by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Arms Control Association records that «In September 2008, in a move led by the United States, the Nuclear Suppliers Group eased long-standing restrictions on nuclear trade with India by the group’s members. NSG rules generally forbid the sale of nuclear goods, such as reactors and fuel, to non-NPT countries». Before this ‘easing’ of international constraints, India had been unable to import uranium and was therefore entirely reliant on its own mines, which produce only low-grade ore but are in the long term capable of providing fuel to any number of nuclear facilities, civilian and military. The only drawback is that domestic processing would be enormously expensive. Importing uranium is very much cheaper.

As a result of being excused from the international stipulation requiring its adherence to the NPT before being permitted to import nuclear fuel and technology, India negotiated nuclear cooperation arrangements with eleven nations, including the holder of the world’s largest uranium deposits, Australia, whose government’s 1977 Uranium Export Policy had specified that «customer countries must at a minimum be a party to the NPT and have concluded a full-scope safeguards Agreement with the IAEA». But profit beats morality, and, as noted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, «Australia was the last domino to fall when it created an exception for India to its export policies in December 2011».

Countries involved in nuclear cooperation with India observe similar rules to those of Australia which specifies that its uranium «may only be exported for peaceful non-explosive purposes». And of course it cannot be claimed that foreign-supplied uranium could be used to produce nuclear weapons. These are manufactured at installations using India’s abundant (although process-expensive) indigenous ore which, thanks to the flexibility of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is no longer needed to fuel civilian nuclear power stations. Quantities, quality and details of application need not be revealed.

Following the US-India nuclear agreement the president of the Federation of American Scientists, Charles D Ferguson, wrote in Arms Control Today that «by granting India access to uranium, the deal allows India to divert its indigenously-mined uranium to military applications without detracting fuel from the civilian program» – and that is the crux of the entire affair.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group, at the urging of the United States, approved a measure that assists India to produce more nuclear weapons more economically. The «cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime» was dealt a massive blow. Although the US Hyde Act of 2006 requires the President to inform Congress of non-compliance with «the provision of nuclear fuel in such a manner as to facilitate the increased production by India of highly enriched uranium or plutonium in unsafeguarded nuclear facilities» it is impossible for the US to certify that this is not taking place because there is no provision for verification. Clever India.

Membership of the NSG remains a major foreign policy goal for India, and US support for its ambition was formally indicated in 2015 joint statement by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi which «committed [them] to continue to work towards India’s phased entry» to the Group. The US has made it clear that it will continue to support India’s efforts to achieve its objective, and that the requirement for «full compliance» with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or other «equivalent international nuclear nonproliferation agreement» is irrelevant so far as India is concerned.

It’s intriguing how international agreements can be reinterpreted, distorted, massaged or just plain ignored when it suits Washington’s policies – and, it seems, the pockets, prosperity and re-election prospects of America’s Legislators.

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Westinghouse to build 6 nuclear power plants in India spurring implementation of Paris climate pact

In US, Indian Premier Modi vows to improve ease of doing business

The BRICS Post | June 8, 2016

India and the US have signed an agreement to enhance cooperation on energy security, clean energy and climate change, and an MOU on cooperation in gas hydrates. In Washington on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister held extensive talks with US President Barack Obama, including climate change and nuclear energy.

A Reuters report quoted a Westinghouse Electric spokesperson as saying “negotiations continue” on building 6 nuclear reactors in India. A joint statement, after Modi-Obama talks, said India and the US Export-Import Bank were working to complete a financing package for the project.

The Indian Prime Minister also pushed for enlisting US support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc, APEC.

A New York Times editorial argued that India has yet merited a NSG berth.

India does not meet one of the major factors for membership of the NSG – being a party to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many countries including Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, among many others, are opposed to India’s NSG ascension.

Meanwhile, the US-India joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks does not mention the much hyped South China Sea dispute. The document does refer to “settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means”.

“The leaders reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means,” said the Indo-US joint statement on Tuesday.

The US has not signed the UN treaty, the UNCLOS.

A trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) statement earlier this year echoed Beijing’s position that the disputes must be resolved between “parties directly involved”.

“Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned,” the joint statement after the Russian, Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers meet said in April in Moscow.

At the Oval Office meeting between Obama and Modi on Tuesday, the two leaders also reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

New Delhi has vowed to join the Paris climate change deal this year, which would provide a “significant global momentum” towards implementation of the historic agreement, the White House said.

“We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris Agreement into force,” Obama said.

Modi, who also addressed the US-India Business Council, stressed that the Indian government would “continue to make progress on improving the investment climate and ease of doing business”.

“We are encouraging foreign and domestic investors to set up high quality and efficient manufacturing facilities,” Modi told the audience.

On Tuesday, Amazon Inc AMZN.O Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said his company would invest an additional $3 billion in India.

Two major American business bodies earlier this year, however, voiced disappointment with what they called “the glacial pace” of market reforms in India.

In a submission to the US commerce secretary, the US National Association of Manufacturers urged Washington to press for change during Modi’s visit.

“Despite statements made by Prime Minister Modi and other senior Indian officials over the past two years, there has been limited progress in many key areas that make it challenging to do business in India,” the group wrote.

US exporters to India have frequently complained about protectionist restrictions and high tariffs. India and the US have also dragged several trade disputes to the WTO.

The United States won a ruling against India at the WTO in February after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power program. In April, Indian Minister of State for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said the government intends to file 16 cases against the US for allegedly violating WTO treaties.

Modi is set to address the US Congress on Wednesday.


US to build 6 nuclear power plants in India: WH

Press TV – June 8, 2016

The United States and India have agreed to move ahead with a plan to build six nuclear reactors in India, according to the White House.

The plan was finalized during a meeting between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Tuesday.

It will be the first such construction since the two countries signed a landmark nuclear accord in 2008.

The price for the project is still under discussion, but officials said more difficult issues like liability have been worked out.

India passed a law in 2010 that would make US companies constructing nuclear power plants in the country liable for accidents.

Under the new deal, India’s Nuclear Power Corporation and Westinghouse Electric Co. of the US will begin engineering work for the reactors, though the final contract is not expected to be completed until June 2017, White House officials said.

“Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on-site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the US Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project,” the White House said in a statement.

“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind,” it added.

The deal is believed to be part of Washington’s drive to boost cooperation with India as a counterbalance to China.

Obama said at the meeting that the US and India intended to “cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people.”

The meeting will be followed by a speech Wednesday by the Indian prime minister to a joint session of the US Congress, where he is expected to be greeted warmly by American lawmakers.

Modi also announced his intention to formally join the international climate-change agreement reached in Paris in December.

The inclusion of India is significant as it could guarantee that the Paris climate agreement will go into effect before the next US president takes office. India is the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the US.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for US president, has vowed to “cancel” the pact if elected.

It is Modi’s fourth visit to the US as New Delhi intends to forge closer ties with Washington before President Obama leaves office next year.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Lies and the Koh I Noor Diamond

By Craig Murray | April 18, 2016

Quite extraordinarily, the Indian government has just claimed the Koh I Noor diamond was voluntarily gifted by the Sikh ruler Dulip Singh to the British government.

Now while I quite understand that the Indian government is seeking to avoid a confrontation with the British government over the diamond, that cannot justify the telling in court of such an outrageous lie.

My biography of Alexander Burnes will be out in August. It includes an extremely vivid account of a party hosted by the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at which the British officers and their Sikh hosts got uproariously drunk and played catch with the Koh I Noor. The recipient of Burnes’ letter, Major General Ramsay, was the same man who as Lord Dalhousie was to take the Koh I Noor from Dulip Singh – a child prisoner just ten years old – after the Sikhs were defeated by the British in a bloody war of conquest. To describe this as a “gift” is absolutely preposterous.

Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.

It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.

April 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Russia’s ACRA to aim at breaking monopoly as Moody’s exits

The BRICS Post | March 19, 2016

Russia’s new national Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA), seen as a domestic competitor to global ratings agencies, plans to issue its first ratings this year, according to CEO, Ekaterina Trofimova.

ACRA applied for a license to operate in Russia on February 29.

On Friday, one of the “BIG Three” international ratings agencies, Moody’s, announced it has officially stopped issuing local credit ratings for Russian companies. This was widely expected after Russia said new regulations will force international rating agencies working in the country to issue local data through a Russia-regulated subsidiary and guarantee they won’t withdraw local credit ratings under outside political pressure.

“This decision was taken in light of legislative changes and other potential restrictions applicable to the business of providing national scale ratings (NSRs) in Russia,” a Moody’s statement said.

Earlier in February, Fitch Ratings also said they plan to stop issuing local ratings in Russia.

The new Russian regulations take effect in 2017.

The five BRICS heads of state during their annual summits in Brazil and Russia in the past two years have discussed the idea of establishing an independent ratings agency.

The “Big Three” global credit rating agencies, all based in the US – Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings have been criticized for their favorable pre-crisis ratings of insolvent financial institutions like Lehman Brothers.

DR Dogra, Managing Director and CEO of Indian credit ratings agency CARE, said Moscow’s homegrown credit-ratings firm is a positive step forward.

“The development in the credit rating space in Russia is interesting as it brings in local knowledge and experience while evaluating credit rating. The existence of such agencies does add value to the system and while the international rating agencies will have to take their own decision relating to the regulatory systems that have to be adhered to, the creation of ACRA in Russia is a good step,” Dogra told The BRICS Post.

“As Russia is part of the fast growing BRICS nations, we would see this very positively as we need to have more competition in the market which should also logically extend to the global space,” he added.

Russia’s ACRA, however, is not the first attempt to break the monopoly of the ratings market.

Rating agencies from China, Russia and the United States officially launched a new credit rating company in Hong Kong in 2013 to challenge the current industry leaders.

Brazil’s SR Rating, CARE Rating of India and GCR of South Africa also tied up with CPR of Portugal and MARC of Malaysia to form a new ratings agency in 2013.

Lia Baker Valls Pereira, senior researcher at Brazil’s premier, Getulio Vargas Foundation, warns that the criteria used by any new BRICS ratings agency must be well documented and transparent.

“A ratings agency must be independent to be reliable. A ratings agency controlled by the BRICS governments will face difficulties in proving its independence,” says Pereira.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

India Carries Out Another Successful Test of Nuclear-Capable Agni-I Missile

Sputnik – 14.03.2016

NEW DELHI – India conducted another successful test of the Agni-I medium range ballistic missile from Abdul Kalam Island off the country’s shores on Monday morning, the missile’s developer said.

“The missile [launch] test was held as a part of the exercise of the Strategic Forces Command and was successful,” the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said as cited by the Indian IANS news agency.

The 15-meter-long missile, capable of carrying a metric-ton conventional payload, is equipped with precise navigation systems and has a 700-kilometer (435-mile) range. The missile can be fired from mobile road or rail launch pads.

The rocket was first test fired in 2002. The last test launch took place in November.

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Dragging Our Feet Toward Disaster

By Ira Helfand | CounterPunch | February 29, 2016

A United Nations meeting in Geneva this week could have enormous implications for United States national security, but it is being ignored by most of the media and by America’s political leaders. It deserves serious attention.

A new policy-making body called the Open Ended Working Group will consider ways to break the current impasse in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war. The group expects to make formal recommendations to the UN this fall. The initiative is especially important given recent studies on the catastrophic effects that would follow even a limited use of nuclear weapons.

The group was established by an overwhelming majority at the UN. The U.S. and all of the other nuclear weapons states voted against and are boycotting the meeting. Why?

Robert Wood, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, recently defended the American decision in a tweet: “agenda ignores security dimension of nuclear weapons. Only practical and realistic efforts will lead to a world w/o nukes.” His claim would have more weight if the United States were pursuing “practical and realistic efforts” instead of planning to spend $1 trillion over the next three decades to maintain its nuclear arsenal indefinitely.

The real reason for the boycott is that this meeting will explore ways to make the nine nuclear weapons states, which include Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, live up to their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, which requires them to negotiate the abolition of their nuclear arsenals. It very well may recommend negotiation of a new treaty that will effectively ban nuclear weapons, defining their possession as a violation of international law.

Based on the medical evidence, the nonnuclear weapons states are right to call for the elimination of these weapons.

Over the last three years, a series of major global conferences have explored the medical consequences of nuclear war. The new scientific data presented at these meeting have demonstrated the unacceptable, existential threat to humanity posed by nuclear arsenals.

Representatives of the International Red Cross have testified that the world’s leading disaster relief organization can do nothing significant to mitigate the consequences of even a single nuclear explosion, let alone a nuclear war.

Climate scientists and medical experts have presented new data showing that even a very limited nuclear war would cause catastrophic effects worldwide. The fires caused by as few as 100 small nuclear weapons, less than one-half of one percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals, directed against urban targets, would cause global climate disruption. The resulting decline in food production would trigger a “nuclear famine” across the planet and put up to two billion people at risk. A famine on this scale would be unprecedented in human history. While it would not mean the extinction of our species, it would almost certainly mean the end of modern civilization.

A limited war between India and Pakistan, using less than half of their current arsenals, could cause that kind of famine, as could the use of the nuclear warheads on a single US Trident submarine. The US has 14 of them and an arsenal of nuclear bombers and land-based missiles as well.

A full-scale war between the US and Russia using all of these weapons would cause a “nuclear winter,” with ice-age conditions across the planet persisting for a decade or more. The collapse of food production under these circumstances would lead to the death of the vast majority of the human race. It might cause our extinction as a species.

The US and Russia are now engaged in a new game of nuclear chicken in Europe and the Middle East, with the ever-present danger that one side or the other will miscalculate, or that an accident will trigger a nuclear exchange. There have been at least five occasions since 1979 when either Moscow or Washington prepared to launch a nuclear war, in the mistaken belief that they were already under attack.

The determination to hold on to these weapons stems from a deeply held belief that they somehow make a nation more secure. For most of human history, having more powerful weapons did protect us. But as Albert Einstein observed at the beginning of the nuclear era, the splitting of the atom changed everything, except the way we think and thus we head for unprecedented disaster.

If the use of even a tiny fraction of our nuclear arsenal will cause a global holocaust that engulfs us as well as the rest of humanity, how can these weapons be seen as agents of our security? They are suicide bombs. By possessing them, we are a nation of suicide bombers.

Nuclear weapons, the evidence, is now clear, are the greatest threat to our national security. We need to make their elimination our highest national security priority. The U.S. should start by joining the working group in Geneva and, as the next step toward that goal, working for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Ira Helfand MD practices internal medicine at an urgent care center in Springfield, MA. He is a Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently the Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US dominates global weapons sale amid increasing imports

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Press TV – February 22, 2016

The United States has expanded its weapons business, increasing its global arms sales amid rising imports by Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

According to a new study published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of international transfers of major weapons, including sales and donations, was 14 percent higher in 2011-2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.

The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The report pointed to the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reinstate the country’s fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and undermine the Yemeni Ansarullah movement.

“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.

The report also said US arms went to more than 90 countries.

The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.

“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

“The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders,” including for over 600 F-35 combat aircraft, said Fleurant.

The biggest chunk of US major arms, 41 percent, went into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.

Now Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer, says the trend does not come as a surprise “because it indicates a pattern that we’ve long seen, but has really quickened since the September 11th wars were initiated by the United States.”

Bennett told Press TV on Monday that the US governments “simply followed a policy of igniting fires around the world and then selling the equipment to put them out.”

Meanwhile, the latest report adds that Russia remains in second place on the SIPRI exporters list, with its share of the total up three points to 25 percent, though the levels dropped in 2014 and 2015 — coinciding with Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

India took the largest chunk of Russian weaponry, AFP reported.

While the flows of weapons to Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East all increased between 2006-10 and 2011-15, there had been a sharp fall in the flow to Europe and a minor decrease in the volume heading to the Americas, according to SIPRI.

The overall transfer of arms has been upwards this century after a relative drop in the previous 20 years.

China leapfrogged both France and Germany over the past five years to become the third-largest source of major arms globally, with an 88-percent rise in exports. Most of the Chinese weapons went to other Asian countries, with Pakistan the main recipient.

India remains by far the biggest importer of major arms, accounting for 14 percent of the total; twice as much as second-placed Saudi Arabia and three times as much as China.

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Chinese Economy Really in Trouble?

Here Are the Lessons of History the Press Ignores

By Eamonn Fingleton • Unz Review • January 11, 2016

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist – thank God! – the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

So wrote the witty early twentieth century British man of letters Humbert Wolfe. His assessment of American journalists isn’t recorded but, where pivotal issues are concerned, they have probably proved even more naïve lately than their British counterparts.

American journalistic naïveté has rarely been more embarrassingly on display than in recent coverage of the Chinese economy.

Here is probably the most successful export economy in world history, yet American journalists have somehow been persuaded that it is in such terrible shape that it needs a devaluation. CNBC, for instance, reported the other day that “most experts” believe the yuan is overvalued by fully 10 percent. This despite the fact that the Chinese currency has already dropped more than 8 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last two years.

True China’s export performance has been lackluster lately – exports were down 3.7 percent in yuan in November, for instance, and the drop was considerably greater in dollars. What is rarely mentioned, however, is that China’s exports are one of the most volatile series in global economics. Short-term setbacks of as much as 20 percent or more are common and bespeak remarkably little about China’s underlying economic health. What matters is the long-term trend, a rate of growth in dollar-denominated export revenues that has averaged more than 17 percent a year in the last fifteen years. That is a truly sensational number and its accuracy is attested by other nations’ imports.

It hardly needs to be said that, pace what the press’s “expert” sources say, the case for devaluation does not stand up to even cursory examination. After all, the point of exchange rates is to ensure that trade is conducted on fair and mutually advantageous terms. Yet for a generation now the yuan has been so undervalued that it has wreaked havoc on what little has remained of America’s once superlative industrial base.

The result as of 2014 was that America’s bilateral trade deficit with China totalled $348 billion. This accounted for the vast bulk of the entire U.S. current account deficit with the world as a whole, which totalled $389 billion (the current account is the widest and most meaningful measure of a nation’s trade). Meanwhile China enjoyed a current account surplus of $220 billion.

Even in the face of figures like this, the press has often put a distinctly negative spin on Chinese economic news. Indeed many journalists have gone so far as to entertain suggestions – emanating ultimately from Sinology’s lunatic fringe – that the Chinese economic miracle is just smoke and mirrors and that in reality China is teetering on the brink of economic or political disaster, or both.

The political consequences are hard to exaggerate. Reports of economic trouble in China not only pander to wishful thinking among ordinary Americans but provide U.S. policymakers with an excuse to procrastinate on long-overdue measures to crack down on China’s trade cheating. Meanwhile the ground is cut from under economic hawks like Donald Trump who want to get tough with China.

In the circumstances the Beijing authorities could hardly be better served and it seems clear that for many years they have been quietly promoting a “bad news” propaganda agenda. (Japan does so as well, but that is a story for another day.)

The root of the press’s problem is a poor choice of sources. Instead of proactively seeking out trustworthy, independent sources, journalists too often sit around passively heeding whomsoever happens to be within earshot. Far too often this means listening to sources artfully placed in prominent positions by the China lobby.

What is clear is that many of the top academic Sinologists seem to be congenitally pro-Beijing. Others are merely ambitious, and know that to land a big job in a future presidential administration, they have to avoid saying things that might discomfit the China lobby. That lobby is largely funded by major U.S. corporations that do much of their manufacturing in China. One of the lobby’s most obvious objectives has been to keep the yuan low, with all that has implied for the future of America’s manufacturing base. As the lobby controls large tranches of China-studies money, it has had little difficulty ensuring that America’s most frequently quoted Sinologists are on message.

As for other key sources, China-watching securities analysts and bank economists are generally even less reliable than university-based Sinologists. They are clearly constrained by a need to please their most profitable and demanding customers, among whom various financial arms of the Chinese system have long taken pride of place. (China is now a vast exporter of capital, which is, of course, great news for those Wall Street firms who find favor in Beijing.)

Of course, some frequently quoted sources undoubtedly do believe what they are saying. In particular there is a minority of far-right China-watchers who love to preach textbook American laissez-faire to an apparently benighted Beijing. This is the “Tea Party” wing of American Sinology. Its members seem to be particularly lacking in the listening skills that are essential to understanding a place like China (basically you have to listen to the unsaid – something that Tea Party types probably consider an oxymoron). Of course, precisely because such Sinologists are so often wrong, they are viewed in Beijing as useful idiots who work wonders in keeping Americans confused and disunited.

While we can rarely say for sure whether any particular China watcher is in Beijing’s pocket, most undoubtedly are. Though they would be horrified to be so identified, their agenda is pretty obvious in the way they censor themselves. Instead of speaking out on China’s trade barriers, intellectual property theft, and the undervalued yuan, they typically tiptoe away from frank discussions of such matters.

Let’s take a closer look at some of Sinology’s more problematic figures. It takes no more than a cursory internet search to turn up countless China watchers who have vainly predicted the Middle Kingdom’s eclipse, if not collapse, over the years. In a moment we’ll look at Gordon Chang, who ranks as the king of the “collapsing China” crowd, but first let’s consider a few pretenders to the throne.

One often quoted source is the Beijing-based professor and analyst Michael Pettis. Though the tenor of Pettis’s comments varies, he has often come across as a super-bear.

Here, for instance, is how he described the Chinese economy to the Associated Press in 2007: “Right now, we’re in a sweet spot. Everything is as good as it can get…. You can make a very plausible case that we have all the conditions for a serious crisis when there’s an adverse shock. There’s a lot more debt out there than we think.”

Any U.S. policymaker who was persuaded by this would have been blindsided by subsequent events. China’s exports, for instance, multiplied more than three-fold in dollar terms in the next seven years.

Among China super-bears, few are more outspoken than Arthur Waldron, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As far back as 2002, he claimed that Chinese economic growth was make-believe. Writing in the Washington Post, he backed a madcap theory that instead of growing at about 6 percent, as officially stated, the Chinese economy had actually been contracting for the previous four years. He concluded that China’s industrial policy was “a recipe not for growth but for economic collapse.”

Another Sinologist who has played an outsize role in confusing American opinion is Susan Shirk. As the Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the University of California, San Diego, Shirk remains what she has long been: a notable “friend of China.” An early indication of her style came in 1994 when she published How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC’s Foreign Trade and Investment Reform. She went on as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration to play a key role in negotiations that led to China receiving Most Favored Nation trade status.

Her claim to fame as a China super-bear is based largely on her 2007 book, China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. The book postulated a supposedly serious risk that the Chinese regime would be overthrown in a popular revolution. The consequences, she suggested, could be devastating not only for China but for the West. She urged the West not only to accord Chinese leaders exaggerated respect but to adopt an explicit policy of keeping them in power. Among other measures that presumably meant holding back on complaints about China’s trade policies.

Virtually every aspect of her analysis can be debunked but a full rebuttal would require more space than I have here. The first thing to note is that she claimed her analysis was based on conversations with numerous top Chinese leaders. That may well be so – but she evidently didn’t ask herself what was in it for them. After all they have made a fine art of keeping things secret from their own people. Why would they pour their hearts out to a mere gweilo (and a gormless one, by the sound of it)?

For now let’s simply note that for millenia, Chinese leaders have generally shown themselves uncommonly adept at nipping in the bud any signs of incipient revolution. Supreme leader Deng Xiaoping perpetuated the tradition by so brutally breaking up the Tiananmen protests in 1989. Today’s leaders moreover seem more secure than their predecessors in that they are equipped with modern methods of electronic surveillance that can provide a much earlier warning of incipient trouble than in the past.

Now let’s consider David Shambaugh, a political scientist at George Washington University. Long noted for suggestions that the People’s Liberation Army is a paper tiger, he has become outspokenly pessimistic about China’s political system in recent years. One recent essay, published in the National Interest in 2014, was headed “The Illusion of Chinese Power.”

Then in March 2015 he persuaded the editors of the Wall Street Journal to publish a commentary headed “The Coming Chinese Crackup.”

He wrote: “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think.” Referring to Communist Party rule, he added: “Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état.”

His analysis was so melodramatically worded that it attracted considerable criticism, not least a point-by-point rebuttal from Forbes.com commentator Stephen Harner (who, unlike Shambaugh, can claim to have spent much of his career in China).

Shambaugh’s central point was a surmise that Chinese president Xi Jinping’s efforts to curb corruption had dangerously ruffled the feathers of power rivals.

As a measure of Xi’s allegedly weakening grip, Shambaugh mentioned that on a recent visit to a Chinese campus bookstore, he noticed that a pile of pamphlets by Xi didn’t seem to be moving. This, of course, is broadly as fatuous as an illiterate Chinese visitor judging Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects from the height of a pile of pamphlets at Columbia University.

Shambaugh also noted that an increasing number of Chinese students have been studying abroad lately. This, he suggested, stemmed mainly from a morbid fear of political instability at home. He did not seem to wonder whether less sensational explanations might suffice. After all, on the latest figures, Koreans are proportionately nearly seven times more likely than the Chinese to study in the United States – and the Taiwanese are more than four times more likely. Are we to believe that the danger of “crackup” is even greater in South Korea and Taiwan than in China? The truth is that East Asian students study abroad for a variety of rather mundane reasons, most notably the chance to improve their English. The trend has been powerfully stimulated not only by East Asia’s increasing wealth but by the same advances in air travel and communications that have been generally promoting globalization.

Perhaps Shambaugh’s most important point was that many super-rich Chinese families have been buying homes overseas. But, as Stephen Harner pointed out, this is hardly news. The Chinese have been doing  so for generations. The only difference these days is that they have so much more money to spend. This, of course, attracts notice and even gets written about in the press.

Probably the single most widely publicized member of the “collapsing China” club is Gordon Chang, a Chinese-American lawyer. Since he published The Coming Collapse of China in 2001, he hasn’t had a good word to say about China’s prospects. Yet between 2001 and 2014, China boosted its exports from $267 billion to $2,331 billion – a more than eight-fold rise and a compound annual growth rate of an almost unbelievable 18.1 percent. This signified a rate of sustained productivity growth that few, if any, other nations have ever matched.

Contacted recently, Chang professed to be still a convinced China super-bear. But if China managed to escape economic Armageddon in the wake of his book’s publication fourteen years ago, what’s different today? In its latest reformulation, Chang’s argument is that China is facing devastating new competition from India. Just as a rising China wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, a rising India supposedly poses a similar threat to the Chinese economy.

To a non-economist, especially one who is not familiar with Asia, this might not seem entirely implausible. In reality Chang’s argument is based on one of the most elementary fallacies in economics, the idea that success is a zero-sum game. His implicit assumption is that for some nations to win, others necessarily have to lose. This is Malthusianism and it overlooks the fact that in normal modern conditions economic growth is an expanding universe. Think, for instance, of the rise of Scandinavia. Though Norway, Sweden and Denmark now rank near or at the top of the world income league, this has hardly on balance posed a problem for a nation like Germany.

What Chang seems to be implying is that India will be accorded carte blanche to use the same super-aggressive methods on the Chinese industrial base that China has used on the American industrial base. He fails to note, however, that Washington has been asleep at the switch, with the result that China has been allowed to get away with the economic equivalent of murder. In particular China has extorted a cornucopia of advanced production technologies from America. U.S. corporations have been told that to sell their products in China they must manufacture there and bring their best technologies. To say the least, such diktats ride roughshod over China’s obligations under international trade agreements. India is unlikely to be permitted to use similar extortion techniques against China.

In truth about the only thing India and China have in common is an Asian address. In economic and political fundamentals, they are chalk and cheese. In trade, for instance, India remains a negligible force, despite many years of bullish econobabble in the West. At last count it was not only being out-exported nine to one by China but China seemed to be lengthening its lead. (Measured since 2006, India’s exports have hardly doubled, whereas China’s have more than quadrupled.)

Crucially the Indian savings rate runs little more than half of China’s. Worse, the Indian authorities seem to lack the authoritarian tools necessary to boost it. (In In the Jaws of the Dragon, a book I published in 2008, I showed how China uses authoritarian controls to suppress consumption, thereby automatically and powerfully boosting the savings rate.)

Another key distinction is that whereas China has run huge current account surpluses for decades, the Indian balance of payments remains stubbornly in the red.

A second strand in Chang’s argument is that capital flight threatens to destroy the Chinese economy. Though this again may impress a non-economist, there is again a lot less here than meets the eye. For a start, China is necessarily a huge capital exporter as a result of its current account surpluses (as a matter of simple arithmetic, every dollar of surplus represents a dollar of capital that will willy-nilly be exported).

To be sure Chinese leaders have often talked as if they are worried about capital flight. The point of such talk, however, would appear to be merely to deflect attention from the People’s Bank of China’s market interventions to keep the yuan undervalued.

What is clear is that if the Beijing authorities can control the internet and the press, a fortiori they can control capital flight (which requires mainly just a firm grip on a mere handful of major banks, most of which are, in China’s case, state-owned). What we know for sure is that historically other nations with a far more liberal tradition – the United Kingdom in the mid-twentieth century, for instance – have had little trouble maintaining effective capital controls. Moreover the investment case for the British getting their money out in those days was far greater than for the Chinese today. After all Britain’s economic performance was persistently anemic, whereas China’s current growth rate, at around 6 percent, remains one of the world’s highest. In the unlikely event that Chinese capital flight really becomes a problem, the authorities have a host of remedies available, not least an Orwellian system of electronic snooping far more intrusive than anything known in the West today, let alone in the United Kingdom of the 1960s.

So what are we left with? It is past time the American press remembered its traditional commitment to balance – and recovered its commonsense. Hearteningly, not all members of the press are incapable of learning from experience.

I will leave the last word to Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. He cut to the core of the matter in a well-balanced commentary in 2012.

He wrote:

It is clearly true that China has enormous political and economic challenges ahead. Yet future instability is highly unlikely to derail the rise of China. Whatever the wishful thinking of some in the west, we are not suddenly going to wake up and discover that the Chinese miracle was, in fact, a mirage.

“My own scepticism about China is tempered by the knowledge that analysts in the west have been predicting the end of the Chinese boom almost since it began. In the mid-1990s, as the Asia editor of The Economist, I was perpetually running stories about the inherent instability of China – whether it was dire predictions about the fragility of the banking system, or reports of savage infighting at the top of the Communist party. In 2003, I purchased a much-acclaimed book, Gordon Chang’s, The Coming Collapse of China – which predicted that the Chinese miracle had five years to run, at most. So now, when I read that China’s banks are near collapse, that the countryside is in a ferment of unrest, that the cities are on the brink of environmental disaster and that the middle-classes are in revolt, I am tempted to yawn and turn the page. I really have heard it all before.


Eamonn Fingleton reported on East Asian economics and finance from a base in Tokyo for 27 years. He met China’s supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in 1986 and predicted the Japanese stock market and real estate crashes in a major article in Euromoney in September 1987. He is the author of Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity (New York: Nation Books, 2003).

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

A People’s History of Churchillian Madness

By Elliot Murphy | CounterPunch | December 17, 2015

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which is almost universally seen in Britain as purely a war against the Nazis and their UK-bound warplanes. Unlike the First World War or the wars in Indochina and Iraq, the Second World War is somewhat unique in that it is likely the only modern war whose reputation has remained pristine throughout the decades, being regarded as the ‘Good War’. But the impetus behind Britain’s involvement was as much imperial as it was defensive. At the end of the 1930s, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden believed Germany to be a significant threat to their empire, and not Britain’s national security. Some of the ruling class entered the Second World War reluctantly, and contrary to many propaganda cartoons, British elites did nothing to aid the Poles; they did, however, evacuate a segment of the Polish army to deploy in their own objectives in 1940.

Even after the Battle of Britain, Whitehall still marginally favoured Hitler. Indeed, its objection to the Hitler-Stalin pact was merely that it gave Stalin too much power. Between the spring of 1940 (the fall of France) and 1943 (the Allied landing in southern Italy), the British army fought the majority of their battles in northern Africa. Churchill was deeply concerned about the safety of Suez Canal and the region’s oilfields, along with Saudi Arabia, which he sought to keep from Roosevelt’s influence.

The traditional view of the war, however, is a picture of democracy versus fascism, good versus evil. But this was not the motivation for the Allied leaders, as Chris Harman wrote in A People’s History of the World (Verso, 2008, p. 536):

The Churchill who demanded a no-holds-barred prosecution of the war was the same Churchill who has been present during the butchery at Omdurman, sent troops to shoot down striking miners in 1910, ordered the RAF to use poison gas against Kurdish rebels in British-ruled Iraq, and praised Mussolini. He had attacked a Conservative government in the 1930s for granting a minimal amount of local self government to India, and throughout the war he remained adamant that no concessions could be made to anti-colonial movements in Britain’s colonies, although this could have helped the war effort.

At the Yalta Conference, Churchill informed Roosevelt and Stalin that ‘While there is life in my body, no transfer of British sovereignty will be permitted’ in India. His stubbornness over the issue was so extreme that in 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, instead of pushing back the Nazis thousands of British troops were viciously suppressing demonstrations in India. Churchill’s inflexibility on the issue of sovereignty was so extreme that it led to a famine in Bengal which killed three million.

As historians like Harman and Danny Gluckstein (in A People’s History of the Second World War) have documented, the Second World War was comprised of two wars; one ‘from above’ and one ‘from below’. In a typically hypocritical act of pseudo-internationalist policy formation, during the war ‘from above’ in August 1941 Roosevelt and Churchill pledged to respect, in one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter, ‘the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live’. Applying different standards to his own actions, Churchill later stressed, when presenting the Charter to the House of Commons, that it did ‘not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made [regarding] the British Empire’, since it only applied to ‘the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke’ (The Times, 10 September 1941). The war was consequently a disagreement between the major world governments about who should dominate, and not a battle against domination itself.

As early as the fall of Singapore in 1942, plans were already being made in Whitehall to reclaim parts of the empire, with the examples of Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong and Nigeria being the most notable. Churchill even drew up a plan, vetoed by the US, of taking over Thailand (covered by P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins in their 1993 study British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction 1914-1990). He also issued a stern instruction to Eden towards the end of 1944: ‘[H]ands off the British empire is our maxim and it must not be weakened or smirched to please sob-stuff merchants at home or foreigners of any hue’. Labour had long confessed a principled opposition to imperialism, though had a change of heart after assuming office in 1945, supporting the renewal of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and the establishment of a managerial structure run by several generations of educated colonial subjects. As Ernest Bevin modestly put it, ‘our crime is no exploitation; it’s neglect’ – where ‘neglect’ should be understood in its proper sense of ‘more exploitation’ (for discussion, see Robert D. Pearce’s 1982 The Turning Point in Africa: British Colonial Policy 1938-1948).

In 1936, the Greek king appointed General Ioannis Metaxas as a fascist dictator, who sought to bring about a ‘Third Hellenic Civilisation’. A British liaison officer sent to wartime Greece, C.M. Woodhouse, believed Metaxas to be ‘benevolent’, having ‘high-minded motives for undertaking supreme power’ (The Apple of Discord: A Survey of Recent Greek Politics in their International Setting, Hutchinson, 1948, pp. 16-17). Britain supported Metaxas because, as a different liaison officer explained in 1944, three years after the dictator’s death, the Greeks ‘are a fundamentally hopeless and useless people with no future or prospect of settling down to any form of sensible life within any measurable time’. Any remnants of the Atlantic Charter had by now been long discarded from political consciousness. The Allies proceeded to bomb Athens in order to destroy the Greek resistance movement, EAM (the National Liberation Front) and its military arms, ELAS (the National Popular Liberation Army). During the war, zones controlled by EAM underwent large-scale self-government to a level of sophistication rivalling the Spanish anarchists. Residents voted for municipal councilors and judiciaries in mass assemblies, while expensive lawyers were dispensed with and regular justice prevailed.

‘Communist’ Russia also declined to support EAM/ELAS, and ordered the resistance to fuse with the government of the king. In an effort to dominate as much of the country as possible, Churchill’s coup later overthrew the Greek government while also suppressing the communists. Churchill informed General Scobie, in language to match that of any of the century’s great dictators, ‘Do not hesitate to fire at any armed male in Athens who assails the British authority or Greek authority … [A]ct as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress’. He later informed parliament of his view on EAM/ELAS, preferring collaborators to anti-fascists: ‘The security battalions came into existence … to protect the Greek villagers from the depredations of some of those who, under the guise of being saviours of their country, were living upon the inhabitants and doing very little fighting against the Germans’, unlike the ‘security battalions’ deployed by the Greek government who pledged loyalty to Hitler and who, according to Churchill, ‘did the best they could to shelter the Greek population from German oppression’.

Post-war Greek persecutors also worked alongside US counterinsurgency forces. Whereas Russia allowed the Nazis to crush the Polish communist resisters, the AK, Churchill actively sought the destruction of the Greek anti-fascists. In 1947 the American New Republic reported that ‘Churchill’s victory is complete – and neatly underwritten by hundreds of millions of American dollars. It could only be slightly more complete if Hitler himself had engineered it’ (15 September 1947). Like the US, Churchill also thoroughly approved of Mussolini. After visiting him in 1927, Churchill once again picked up his pen to confess how he ‘could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by his gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise’ (Extract from press statements made by Churchill, January 1927, Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/82 B). When Mussolini fell in 1943, Churchill promised that ‘Even when the issue of the war became certain, Mussolini would have been welcomed by the Allies’.

Earlier in the 1920s, Churchill had proclaimed his desire for justice when he confessed that poison gas would be an excellent weapon against ‘uncivilized tribesmen and recalcitrant Arabs’. This tactic was in clear violation of the Hague Declaration of 1899, calling on all adherents to refrain from ‘the use of projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases’, which Britain eventually agreed to sign in 1907. During the Good War, he added that ‘It is absurd to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course. It is simply a question of fashion changing as she does between long and short skirts for women’. Expressing his concern for the safety of the British public, he continued in a secret memo:

If the bombardment of London became a serious nuisance and great rockets with far-reaching and devastating effect fell on many centres of Government and labour, I should be prepared to do  anything that would hit the enemy in a murderous place. I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention. We could stop all work at the flying bomb starting points. I do not see why we should have the disadvantages of being the gentleman while they have all the advantages of being the cad. There are times when this may be so but not now.

Britain engaged in what Churchill called the ‘absolutely devastating’ tactic of ‘area bombing’ of German cities instead of hitting specific military targets. Because of the power of aerial bombing, as Prime Minister Baldwin had explained in 1932, ‘The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves’. During the later years of the war, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris took this message to heart more than any other RAF commander. He took pride in the fact that his Bomber Command has ‘virtually destroyed 45 out of the leading 60 German cities. In spite of invasion diversions we have so far managed to keep up and even exceed our average of two and a half cities a month’; that is, in spite of the existence of actual military targets to hit, Harris continued to wreak unnecessary and horrific damage on Germany.

On February 13th 1945, the Allies initiated the bombing of Dresden, an act which only hardened the resolve of the German military and encouraged it to step up its production of armaments. British and US bombers devastated Dresden’s cultural centre, the Altstadt, and destroyed 19 hospitals, 39 schools and residential areas. Meanwhile, core military and transport installation remained unscathed. Between 35,000 and 70,000 people died, and only 100 were soldiers; a civilian:soldier death ratio which would make even Benjamin Netanyahu blush. The only reason the bombing stopped was because Churchill realised that a completely demolished Dresden would leave no spoils, such as ‘housing materials … for our own needs’. Likewise, two years earlier, after the end of the Battle of Britain in May 1941, Churchill had wept over the ruins of the House of Commons, though not, strangely, over the deaths of thousands of Londoners.

After the Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911, in which Churchill, Home Secretary in the Liberal government, directed police to attack two jewelry robbers who had left three policemen dead the previous month in Houndsditch, the building the robbers were hiding in ended up in flames and all three were killed. Lindsey German and John Rees comment in A People’s History of London (Verso, 2012, p. 167).

Churchill reveled in such confrontations, and exploited the furore over the killing and the emerging popular press’s witch-hunt of anarchists to stoke up his own reputation and justify repressive methods overall. In fact the dead men were not anarchists but Latvian social democrats, engaged in what was called an ‘expropriation for the cause’.

Consequently, because of Churchill’s authoritarianism and the media’s assault on anarchists, Latvians, and Russians, one anarchist noted that ‘Anyone who walked along in a Russian blouse was considered a suspicious character and sometimes assaulted’. It’s against this cultural and political backdrop that any histories of Churchill and the Second World War should be assessed – and any judgements of the benevolent claims of present statesmen should be made.

Elliot Murphy teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

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