An often-used tactic to squelch criticism of Israeli state policies toward the Palestinians is to call the criticism anti-Semitic. The sponsors of the event become afraid of the label, anti-Semitism, false as it is, and cancel the event to avoid any controversy. The tactic is used widely across Europe and the United States.
This week, the talk that I was to give in a room at the Rome City Hall about the Women’s Boat to Gaza and the conditions in Gaza was cancelled 24 hours before the event by the council member who had agreed to arrange for the room. His staff revealed that he had gotten intense pressure from the Israeli Embassy and Rome’s Jewish Community Association to stop the presentation.
But that was not the end of the story. In a fast-moving media blitz, organized by Italy’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions program, two of Rome’s newspapers wrote of the cancellation and several radio stations reported on it. BDS Italy scheduled a press conference about the cancellation in the plaza in front of the City Hall at the time the talk was scheduled. About 20 representatives of the news media attended, a much larger number than would have attended the talk itself.
Due to the number of media and the questions concerning the cancellation, Marcello de Vito, President of the Rome City Council, invited three of us to come into the City Hall to discuss the cancellation. This invitation provided us with the opportunity to discuss the conditions in Gaza and the West Bank and the nonviolent tactics such as BDS and Boats to Gaza to bring international attention to the harmful policies of the State of Israel.
From the questions, it was apparent that the President, another City Council member and their staff knew little about the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the illegal settlements, the apartheid wall, the numbers of Palestinian children and youth held in Israeli jails, and the theft of Palestinian resources by Israeli companies.
Something similar happened last year in Bayreuth, Germany, when the prize for Tolerance and Peace, which had been awarded to CODEPINK: Women for Peace, was cancelled by the Mayor after two reporters, known for writing spurious articles, alleged that CODEPINK was an anti-Semitic organization. Following an extensive letter-writing campaign from members of the German Parliament and others who know that CODEPINK’s actions challenging the policies of the State of Israel are not anti-Semitic, the Bayreuth City Council voted to reinstate the award amid much publicity.
Also, last year, a conference in which grandmothers who had been through World War II were to speak was cancelled because of similar allegations. Defenders of Israeli policies targeted 90-year old Hedie Esptein, a vocal critic of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, although her parents had been killed in the Holocaust and she had survived by being sent to England as a part of the Kindertransport,
Responding quickly to false allegations of anti-Semitism is key to blunting the Israeli government’s offensive toward those who challenge the illegal and inhumane policies toward Palestinians. In the case of the Rome cancellation, the pushback from BDS Italy created more publicity about the plight of the Palestinians than the event itself would have.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a U.S. diplomat and served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in March, 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.
Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.
The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’
“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.
A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.
Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.
Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.
Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.
Italy’s Five Star Movement party has proposed a way of altering how the country participates in NATO, party member Manlio Di Stefano told Sputnik Italy.
In an interview with Sputnik Italy, Manlio Di Stefano, a parliamentary deputy from the country’s populist Five Star Movement, said that the party has proposed a bill which would alter the way in which Italy participates in NATO. The interview came amid the Italian government efforts to prevent the country’s parliament from altering Italy’s relationship with NATO.
In 2008, 600,000 people signed a petition to review Rome’s stance on the alliance, but the government still refuses to heed their demands.
Di Stefano said that the Five Star Movement’s proposal urges the parliament to once again vote on all decisions related to the use of military bases or transportation of weapons within Italy.
“We want all this regulated by parliament, not just the government alone. It is very important to move in this direction in order to ensure the protection of the environment and the health of citizens, first of all in areas where a NATO contingent is based. They include Sardinia, Sicily, Dal Molin base, Camp Darby and others,” he said.
Apart from risks related to health and the environment, there is also a nuclear threat, Di Stefano said, adding that many non-NATO members have already sent their response systems to the Aviano and Ghedi bases, where 90 nuclear bombs are deployed.
“It seems obvious that Russia may also have a similar response system aimed at Italy, and I think that it is normal. But we do not need these risks. Even one B61-12 bomb dropped on our territory will be enough to destroy the whole country,” he added.
Di Stefano said that it’s necessary to clarify that Italy withdrawing from NATO is out of question because it could “destabilize the entire European system.”
“We only call for a change in the format of our participation in NATO, and it is quite another thing. Article 12 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization stipulates that any NATO member can demand the review of the contract,” he said.
He added that the Five Star Movement’s bill would “normalize the decision-making procedures, as well as to introduce a vote on these decisions.”
Late last month, about 1,000 protesters participated in a demonstration against NATO bases in the Italian city of Vicenza.
“We are standing against the continued existence of the Dal Molin NATO base, we want to use the territory for the construction of the so-called Peace Park,” one of the organizers said.
The march was headed by the No Dal Molin Movement, which opposes US airbases located in the north of the city. The protesters carried a huge banner, saying “Protection of land for a future without military bases.”
The demonstration was sanctioned by local authorities and was accompanied by a police escort. Italy has been a member of NATO since April 4, 1949.
Italy’s attitude toward NATO airbases soured in 1998, when a US Marine Corps prowler aircraft clipped the cable of a cable car at a ski resort in the Italian Alps, resulting in 20 deaths. Although Italian prosecutors initially demanded that the four crew members stand trial for involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide in Italy, an Italian court recognized that NATO treaties gave jurisdiction to US military courts.
The four were acquitted after a brief trial in North Carolina, according to The Independent, outraging the European public.
VICENZA – About 1,000 protesters participated on Saturday in a demonstration against NATO bases and major infrastructure projects of the local authorities, such as construction of a motorway and a railway for high-speed trains, in the city of Vicenza, located in northeastern Italy.
According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, the march was headed by the No Dal Molin Movement, opposing a US airbase located in the north of the city. The protesters carried a huge banner, saying “Protection of land for the future without military bases.”
“Until the people do not mobilize, until they put pressure on the government to expel the US military from our territory, politicians will do nothing as they are not interested in it. Politicians should be forced to give us an answer, and now they do not want to do this at the moment,” one of the march’s organizers Francesco Pavin told RIA Novosti.
The demonstration was sanctioned by local authorities and was accompanied by a police escort.
There are a total of four NATO bases in the Vicenza area.
During his presidential campaign, US President Donald Trump repeatedly stated that the United States should decrease the support of other NATO member states and protect only those members of the alliance, who “fulfill their obligations” in respect to Washington.
Few in Europe expected Donald Trump to win the U.S. Presidential elections last November. The picture painted by the media and political class was convincing: despite the pent-up anger being expressed through protest candidates, Hillary Clinton was headed towards a decisive victory, as the majority of Americans couldn’t stomach someone as outrageous and unconventional as the reality TV star turned politician.
That’s not what happened, of course, as Trump earned an Electoral College victory by winning enough votes in key Midwestern states that have suffered from a loss of manufacturing jobs in recent decades. His victory has shaken the Western world to its core, making it clear that business as usual is no longer possible in terms of both economic and foreign policy.
In Europe the signs of the anti-establishment sentiment that dominated the U.S. election campaign have been present for some time. The most obvious example was the Brexit vote in June 2016, in which the population of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. But protest movements have actually been on the rise for several years now, driven by the same basic issues as in the United States: a sense of economic and social insecurity – accompanied by a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment – driven by an economic policy that has made life harder for the middle class while enriching those at the top.
The growing anger against the institutions of the European Union, considered the main culprit for the failed economic policies, has made the élites desperate for some sense of stability, to help them weather the storm. As a result, a potential Clinton victory was openly welcomed by most political leaders.
After Trump’s victory, there were numerous press reports of worries among European governments regarding the incoming Administration’s foreign policy. Trump is understandably seen as unpredictable, but the key point revolves around his attitude towards Russia, the same issue that is currently dominating the institutional fight in the United States right now.
Just after the election The New York Times ran a story entitled “For Europe, Trump’s Election is a Terrifying Disaster,” suggesting that under the new President, the United States may embrace authoritarianism and no longer defend democracy. It was a theme that other mainstream news outlets also pushed.
On Nov. 17, The Associated Press wrote: “NATO members and other European countries are worried that under Trump, the U.S. will stop trying to police Russia’s behavior the way it has under Obama. Most concerning to U.S. allies are Trump’s effusive comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the first world leaders he spoke to after winning the election.”
While it is true that former Soviet bloc countries such as Poland and Latvia would prefer to maintain the current hardline position towards Russia, the reality is that the largest E.U. members – France, Italy and Germany – actually stand to benefit from the diplomatic approach promised by President-elect Trump.
This doesn’t mean they supported his candidacy, though. First of all, they were told that he couldn’t win; and second, a Trump victory would seem to encourage the anti-establishment movements already on the rise in Europe, which threaten both the E.U.’s status quo and the jobs of key leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Hillary Clinton was seen as representing continuity, and for the many politicians who seek to curry favor with the transatlantic elites, it was best to show their Clinton bona fides in view of the upcoming change in power. For example, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi – now out of office due to a stinging anti-establishment vote in a referendum on proposed constitutional reforms – repeatedly broke diplomatic protocol and publicly criticized Trump during the election campaign.
However, over the course of 2016 it became clear that Clinton’s foreign policy was far more aggressive than Barack Obama’s, as the President had actually been seeking collaboration with Russia for several years on issues, such as constraining Iran’s nuclear program and negotiating an end to the Syrian conflict, despite heavy opposition from within his own administration.
Indeed Trump’s openness towards Vladimir Putin seems even more heretical now because most have chosen to forget that Obama himself had sought close cooperation with Putin on several key issues. For instance, Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomacy last year on Syria almost succeeded in implementing intelligence sharing and joint airstrikes by the two powers, before being effectively thwarted by the Pentagon and other U.S. institutional opposition in September 2016.
Now Obama seems to have forgotten his former position, and decided to fully toe the anti-Russian line, apparently convinced that he must do his part in the campaign to weaken Trump and prevent him from being an effective president, even in areas where their positions are not far apart.
It is possible that Trump will accelerate the timid attempts of his predecessor to abandon the “regime change” policies that have led to numerous disasters in the Middle East, and heightened tensions with Russia. The President-elect seems determined to pursue this path more openly than Obama, who worked slowly towards this goal while seeking to placate his critics with more bellicose language in his public statements.
Doubts About the U.S. Hardline
Although European nations have been heavily involved in recent regime change adventures (the U.K. in Iraq and France in Libya, for example), there is a widespread preference in Western Europe for avoiding further conflict with Russia. The U.S. position on the events in Ukraine, for example, is often seen as one-sided, and the notion of NATO expansion to Russia’s borders seems like an unnecessary and dangerous provocation that can only makes things worse.
Western sanctions against Russia, and Russia’s retaliatory sanctions on food imports, have cost European economies over $100 billion in trade, according to some estimates, hitting the agricultural sector especially hard. In addition, Russia has been concluding more economic agreements with countries such as China, leading to fears of permanent consequences for Europe.
For this reason, France, Italy and Germany have all repeatedly stated their desire to reduce or remove the sanctions altogether. The hope is that an agreement can be reached to defuse tensions in Ukraine, based on support for the Kiev government but broad autonomy for the ethnic Russian areas in eastern Ukraine.
Despite this desire to head off further conflict, European governments are usually careful not to openly break with U.S. policy; they are key members of NATO and have no desire to distance themselves from the leader of the alliance. However, if Donald Trump follows through on his stated goal of working “together with Russia,” the countries of Western Europe in particular may welcome the opportunity to advance their own economic interests and avoid finding themselves in the middle of a new Cold War.
Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses. His book on the U.S. elections Perchè vince Trump (Why Trump is Winning) was published in June 2016.
12 dead, about 40 injured, is the result of the latest terror attack in Berlin, when on 19 December, a truck plouged into a Christmas market at Berlin’s Bretscheideplatz, near the lush Kurfuerstendamm.
Is it not a ‘déjà-vu’ of not even half a year ago, when in Nice, France, on 14th July a truck mowed down hordes of people celebrating Bastille Day?
In Berlin, the first ‘culprit’ was a Pakistani who apparently ‘escaped’. When later he turned up and explained with proof his innocence, they had to let him go. In the cabin of the truck they also found a dead man of Polish origin. He couldn’t be accused, since he was dead.
Then the chase was stalled, until miraculously, about a day later, they found in the truck identity papers of a Mr. Anis Amri (24) of Tunisian citizenship beneath the driver’s seat. As is usual with these terrorists, they like to leave their ID cards behind. It seems to be part of their strategy to be caught and killed.
Then, once more there was a ‘suspect’, who could be chased, throughout Europe.
At three in the morning of December 23, again miraculously, Anis Amri turned up on a plaza in Milan, got allegedly into a confrontation with two policemen, who claimed he pulled a gun, when one of them shot and killed him. No witness, no proof.
Two Italian policemen killed a young man, whom – they say – they didn’t even have a clue who he might be. They became heroes, literally overnight. Italy’s new PM, Paolo Gentiloni, thanked and congratulated them; and so did Mme. Merkel and her Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière.
The same pattern all over again.
DEAD MAN CAN’T TALK. It’s Paris (Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan); Nice; Brussels; Munich; Orlando, Florida; San Bernardino, California …… all over again- and again – and again.
The ‘plowing-through-a-celebrating-crowd’ is in many regards “a carbon copy” of the 14th July massacre in Nice (see image below). At the end, the designated ‘Muslim’ terrorist was killed. No witness. No testimony.
Don’t believe one minute that your respective governments didn’t and don’t know what’s going on.
Who are the real perpetrators?
The real perpetrators are not Muslims. They are your own spineless puppet governments, all of which (covertly) support the ISIS and al Qaeda. They obey orders to demonize the Muslim faith and society.
That’s what the west knows best – denigrating and discriminating, accusing the innocent, to serve their purpose, sanctions for those who do not submit.
In reality, no change for the last 800-some years, colonizing, exploiting, murdering the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Today’s ‘leaders’ are the descendants of the colonial era killers of times past. They form the core of our “western killer civilization”.
These western ‘leaders’ are mere puppets, because they have been put in ‘power’ by the the elusive elite, also called the “Deep State” – the Deep State gone global.
Democracy is dead. It’s become a useless defunct slogan. No so-called election over the past decade or so, in the western world has been democratic. They were all scams and manipulations of peoples’ minds and wills.
And if they didn’t conform to what the Washington masters and their supreme masters needed, Plan B of ‘regime change’ kicked in.
They have become experts of semi-clandestine ‘regime change’ through parliamentary coups – i.e. Paraguay, Ukraine, Brazil, Greece, Portugal, Spain and many others.
If these eventually ‘elected’ western leaders (sic-sic), from Obama, to Merkel, Hollande, May, Gentiloni – and the entire EU / OECD clan, don’t behave, they are ‘cooked’, the target of political destabilizaion. That’s the extent of impunity which drives this hegemonic and criminal process towards the New World Order, or the One World Order, led by the global finance and war industry.
The finance clan, the lords of money, the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, et al, the FED, BIS (Bank for International Settlements, the secretive central bank of all central banks) and Goldman Sachs, have to act fast; otherwise they might lose the key instrument of their power – the sham dollar pyramid economy – may fall apart, before they have actually reached their goal – a world under constant chaos, never-ending conflicts and wars.
A world under which a small elite, enslaves the 99.99% of ‘Us, the People’ — under ever worsening life conditions, unemployment, misery, disease, privatized social services, all contributing to a steady decline in life expectancy.
Among their instruments is permanent chaos. Economic dislocation and social crises.
Open borders forced by trade lobbies and WTO (World Trade Organization) will wipe out small farmers and manufacturers in developing countries, thus eventually handing monopolies to large, mostly US corporations, to the detriment of already impoverished nations, whose vulnerability will be further abused to extract their natural resources for a pittance, so they may repay their IMF / World Bank imposed and leveraged debt.
Floods of refugees from war zones to industrialized wealthy countries, currently happening from the war-torn Middle East to Europe, will disrupt the labor market, push down wages, create massive unemployment. These are all tools towards enslavement of populations. People who have to fend and fight for daily food and often for sheer survival, have no energy or time to take to the streets and protest. That’s the plan; already being enacted. Just look at Greece.
What does all that have to do with the Berlin massacre? – Everything. Berlin, like Paris, Brussels, Munich, Orlando… is just a cog in the wheel of the monster’s drive towards full world hegemony.
Unexpected, haphazard carnage and terror acts are spreading misery, poverty and fear.
People who are afraid will call for more police and military protection.
They will voluntarily give up their human and civil rights for what they hope will be more ‘protection’, being totally oblivious to the fact that the very governments from whom they are seeking more protection are those that commit these acts of treason and terror, those who are behind the killings. The Anglo-american controlled presstitute mainstream media is in permanent brainwashing mode. Unless you search the news and information for yourself on alternative media, they will never tell you the truth, but their lies, after lies, after more of the same lies will fabricate the public truth.
Peoples’ fear and absence of civil rights are easy steps towards increased militarization of the west, already happening – look at France – President (sic) Hollande was just able to extend the State of Emergency through July 2017. [The Paris November 2015 terror attacks played a key role in justifying the State of Emergency.]
The goal is to include it into the French Constitution, basically putting the French people under permanent actual or threat of Martial Law. Others might follow – Germany, Italy – all those whose constituents are ever warier of the EU and their ‘monopoly money’, the euro, and who may seek EUREXIT. This would break the camel’s back, so to speak, or at least put a wrench in the boundless onslaught of the hegemon.
Peoples’ fear may also re-strengthen the faltering justification of NATO. The fall of NATO must be halted. NATO is the Deep State’s warrior flagship, the military fear- and war monger vis-à-vis Russia and eventually China – the last vestiges to be conquered by the self-styled almighty empire, the invisible elite that pretends to rule the globe. Fortunately, they cannot stand up to the Russia-China chess duo which is gradually outsmarting the west’s ostentatious killer exploits.
Imagine, your own spineless governments, following orders of the globalized Deep State – in Berlin, Munich, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Orlando, and an almost endless list of false flags.
How can we respect our so-called leaders? They have zero esteem for us, who are their bread-earners. They kill us, no hesitation, if it pleases them and serves their purpose – and their greed.
In the case of Berlin, is the German government complicit? Blaming Muslims, finding a pre-identified victim, Mr. Anis Amri, who most likely had no clue that he was framed.
In Italy, the police catch him (or somebody who has been given the pre-identified Tunisian victim’s name), they kill him – and, bingo – case closed. Another fear-inflicting false flag was born and concluded, advancing the bulldozer of empire’s destruction a notch closer to Full Spectrum Dominance.
The MSM will do the rest – until the next fake exploit. Be prepared. But this can happen only if we let our governments get away with it, if we close our eyes to reality; if we keep believing the presstitute media.
People wake up! – Boycott the MSM. Take the time to seek the truth elsewhere, for example, on RT, TeleSur, Global Research, ICH, New Eastern Outlook (NEO), CounterPunch, The Saker, Voltairenet — and many more. The Deep State cannot win without your participation.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media, TeleSUR, TruePublica, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2016
The idea of conducting a referendum on exiting the European Union has become more popular in EU countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain ever since the Brexit vote, while large numbers of people in other states of the bloc would support holding such a referendum, IFop pollster revealed in a survey for Sputnik.
According to the poll, the number of people who would support such a referendum has increased by 7 percent in Italy since July and now stands at 53 percent. The number of supporters of a vote on EU membership has also increased in Spain and Poland by 5 percent, to 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
The Brexit-style referendum is also popular in other European countries. Almost half, or 47 percent, of French nationals polled backed such an idea. The number of supporters of holding a referendum on exiting the European Union in Germany stands at 43 percent. The survey was carried out by France’s IFop pollster on October 22-26. As many as 5,019 people took part in the poll. The maximum sample error stands at 3.1 percent.
On June 23, the United Kingdom voted on referendum to leave the European Union. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the country would trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, thus kick-starting withdrawal negotiations.
Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.
The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.
“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.
The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.
The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.
“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.
Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.
Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.
Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.
The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.
The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.
The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.
Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.
Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it’d be just fine.
Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn’t safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to not only compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.
Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that’d be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we’ll work with its flaws, won’t we?
Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminution of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn’t that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn’t at stake?
What if this product, even when working perfectly, was a leading destroyer of the earth’s natural environment?
What if this high-tech toy wasn’t even designed to do what was expected of it and wasn’t even able to do what it was designed for?
Amazingly, even those shortcomings do not matter as long as the intention is massive murder and destruction. Then, all is forgiven.
The tool I’m describing is called the F-35. At RootsAction.org you can find a new petition launched by locally-minded people acting globally in places where the F-35 is intended to be based. Also at that link you’ll find explanations of how the tool I’ve been describing is the F-35.
The petition is directed to the United States Congress and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan and South Korea from the world and from the people of Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, where the F-35 is to be based. This effort is being initiated by Vermont Stop the F35 Coalition, Save Our Skies Vermont, Western Maine Matters, Alaska Peace Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks Peace Club, North Star Chapter 146 Veterans For Peace, World Beyond War, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, and Ben Cohen.
The petition reads:
The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose. It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. Military spending, contrary to popular misconception, also hurts the U.S. economy (see here) and other economies. The F-35 causes negative health impacts and cognitive impairment in children living near its bases. It renders housing near airports unsuitable for residential use. It has a high crash rate and horrible consequences to those living in the area of its crashes. Its emissions are a major environmental polluter.
Wars are endangering the United States and other participating nations rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas. We oppose replacing the F-35 with any other weapon or basing the F-35 in any other locations. We further demand redirection of the money for the F-35 back into taxpayers’ pockets, and into environmental and human needs in the U.S., other F-35 customer nations, and around the world, including to fight climate change, pay off student debt, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and improve education, healthcare, and housing.
Review of Paolo Sensini’s book, Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention
It is rare for a historian to write a history of a significant issue and bring it into the present time; even rarer when the work coincides with the reemergence of that issue on the world stage. Paolo Sensini has done just that with Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention (Clarity Press, 2016). It is a revelatory historical analysis of the exploitation and invasion of Libya by colonial and imperialistic powers for more than a century.
It is also timely since the western powers, led by the United States, have once again invaded Libya (2011), overthrown its government, and are in the process (2016) of creating further chaos and destruction by bombing the country for the benefit of western elites under the pretext of humanitarian concern.
As with the history of many countries off the radar of western consciousness, Libyan history is a tragic tale of what happens when a country dares assert its right to independence – it is destroyed by violent attack, financial subterfuge, or both.
Although an Italian and Italy has a long history of exploiting Libya, a close neighbor, Sensini stands with the victims of colonial and imperial savagery. Not an armchair historian, he traveled to Libya during the 2011 war to see for himself what was true. Despite his moral stand against western aggression, his historical accuracy is unerring and his sourcing impeccable. For 234 pages of text, he provides 481 endnotes, including such fine sources as Peter Dale Scott, Patrick Cockburn, Michel Chossudovsky, Pepe Escobar, and Robert Parry, to name but a few better known names.
His account begins with Italy’s 1911 war against Libya that “Francesco Saverio Nitti charmingly described …. as the taking of a ‘sandbox’.” The war was accompanied by a popular song, “Tripoli, bel suol d’amore” (Tripoli, beauteous land of love). Even in those days war and love were synonymous in the eyes of aggressors.
This war went on until 1932 when the Sanusis’s resistance was finally crushed by Mussolini. First Italy conquered the Ottoman Turks, who controlled western Libya (Tripolitania); then the Sanusis, a Sunni Islamic mystical militant brotherhood, who controlled eastern Libya (Cyrenaica). This Italian war of imperial aggression lasted 19 years, and, as Sensini writes, “was hardly noticed in Italy.”
I cannot help but think of the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iraq that are in their 15th and 13th years respectively, and counting; they are not making a ripple on the placid indifference of the American people.
Sensini presents this history clearly and succinctly. Most of the book is devoted to the period following the 1968 overthrow of King Idris by the Free Unionist Officers, led by the 27 year old captain Mu’ammar Gaddafi. This bloodless coup d’état by military officers, who had all risen from the poorer classes, was called “Operation Jerusalem” to honor the Palestinian liberation movement. The new government, The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), had “three key themes …. ‘freedom, socialism, and unity,’ to which we can add the struggle against western influences within the Arab world, and, in particular, the struggle against Israel (whose very existence was, according to Gaddafi, a confirmation of colonialization and subjugation).”
Sensini explains the Libyan government under Gaddafi, including his world theory that was encapsulated in his “Green Book” and the birth of what was called “Jamahiriyya” (State of the Masses). Gaddafi called Libya the “Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya.”
Under Gaddafi there was dialogue between Christians and Muslims, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and visits from Eastern Orthodox and Anglican religious leaders. Fundamentalist Islamic groups criticized Gaddafi as a heretic for these moves. Gaddafi described Islamists as “reactionaries in the name of Islam.” His animus toward Israel remained, however, due to the Palestinian issue. He promoted women’s rights, and in 1996 Libya “was the first country to issue an international arrest warrant with Osama bin Laden’s name on it.”
He had a lot of enemies: Israel, Islamists, al Qaeda, the western imperial countries, etc. But he had friends as well, especially among the developing countries.
A large portion of the book concerns the U.S./NATO 2011 attack on Libya and its aftermath. This attack was justified and sanctioned by UN Resolutions 1970 (2/26/11) and 1973 (3/17/11). These resolutions were prepared by the work of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) that in 2000-2001 produced a justification for powerful nations to intervene in the internal affairs of any nation they chose. Termed the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), it justified the illegal and immoral “humanitarian” attack on Libya in 2011. The ICISS, based in NYC, was founded by, among others, the Carnegie Corporation, the Simons, Rockefeller, William and Flora Hewitt, and John D. and Catherine MacArthur foundations, elite moneyed institutions devoted to American interventions throughout the world.
When the US/NATO attacked Libya, they did so despite the illegality of the intervention (an Orwellian term) under the UN Resolutions that prohibit arming of ‘rebels’ who do not represent the legal government of a country. On March 30, 2011 the Washington Post, a staunch supporter of US aggression, reported an anonymous government source as saying that “President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.” None of the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, noted the hypocrisy of reporting illegal activities as if they were legal. The law had become irrelevant.
The Obama administration had become the opposite of the Kennedy administration. Whereas JFK, together with Dag Hammarskjold the assassinated U.N. Secretary General, had used the UN to defend the growing third world independence movements throughout the world, Obama has chosen to use the UN to justify his wars of aggression against them. Libya is a prime example.
Sensini shows in great detail which groups were armed, where they operated, and who they represented. The US/NATO forces armed and supported all sorts of Islamist terrorists, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), led by Abu al-Laith al Libby, a close Afghan associate of Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda’s third in command.
“These fanatical criminals (acclaimed as liberators by the mainstream media worldwide) were to form Libya’s emerging ruling class. These were people tasked to ensure a democratic future for Libya. However, the ‘rebel’ council of Benghazi did what it does best – ensuring chaos for the country as a whole, under a phantom government and a system of local fiefdoms (each with a warlord or tribal chief). This appears to be the desired outcome all along, and not just in Libya.”
Sensini is especially strong in his critical analysis of the behavior of the corporate mass media worldwide in propagandizing public opinion for war. Outright lies – “aligning its actions with Goebbels’ famous principle of perception management” and the Big Lie (thanks to Edward Bernays, the American father of Public Relations) – were told by Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and repeated by the western media, about Gaddafi allegedly slaughtering and raping thousands of Libyans. Sensini argues persuasively that Libya was a game-changer in this regard.
Here, the mass media played the part of a military vanguard. The cart, as it were, had been put before the horse. Rather than obediently repackaging and relaying the news that had been spoon fed to them by military commanders and Secretaries of State, the media were called upon actually to provide legitimation for armed actors. The media’s function was military. The material aggression on the ground and in the sky was paralleled and anticipated by virtual and symbolic aggression. Worldwide, we have witnessed the affirmation of a Soviet approach to information, enhanced to the nth degree. It effectively produces a ‘deafening silence’ – an information deficit. The trade unions, the parties of the left and the ‘love-thy-neighbor’ pacifists did not rise to this challenge and demonstrate against the rape of Libya.
The US/NATO attack on Libya, involving tens of thousands of bombing raids and cruise missile, killed thousands of innocent civilians. This was, as usual, explained away as unfortunate “collateral damage,” when it was admitted at all. The media did their part to downplay it. Sensini rightly claims that the U.S./NATO and the UN are basically uninterested in the question of the human toll. “The most widely cited press report on the effects of the NATO sorties and missile attacks on the civilian population is most surely that of The New York Times. In ‘Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll’, conveniently published after NATO’s direct intervention had ceased. The article is truly a fine example of ‘embeddedness’:”
While the overwhelming preponderance of strikes seemed to hit their targets without killing noncombatants, many factors contributed to a run of fatal mistakes. These included a technically faulty bomb, poor or dated intelligence and the near absence of experience military personnel on the ground who could direct air strikes. The alliances apparent presumption that residences thought to harbor pro Gaddafi forces were not occupied by civilians repeatedly proved mistaken, the evidence suggests, posing a reminder to advocates of air power that no war is cost or error free.
The use of words like “seemed” and “apparent,” together with the oft used technical excuse and the ex post facto reminder are classic stratagems of the New York Times’ misuse of the English language for propaganda purposes.
Justifying the killing, President Obama “explained the entire campaign away with a lie. Gaddafi, he said, was planning a massacre of his own people.”
Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, was aware from the start, as an FOIA document reveals, that the rebel militias the U.S. was arming and backing were summarily executing anyone they captured: “The State Department and Obama were fully aware that the U.S.-backed ‘rebel’ forces had no such regard for the lives of the innocent.”
Clinton also knew that France’s involvement was because of the threat Gaddafi’s single African currency plan posed to French financial interests in Francophone Africa. Her joyous ejaculation about Gaddafi’s brutal death – “We came, we saw, he died” – sick in human terms, was no doubt also an expression of relief that the interests of western elites, her backers, had been served.
It is true that Gaddafi did represent a threat to western financial interests. As Sensini writes, “Gaddafi had successfully achieved Libya’s economic independence, and was on the point of concluding agreements with the African Union that might have contributed decisively to the economic independence of the entire continent of Africa.”
Thus, following the NATO attack, Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank. Sensini references Ellen Brown, the astute founder of the Public Banking Institute in the U.S., who explains how a state owned Central Bank, as in Libya, contributes to the public’s well-being. Brown in turn refers to the comment of Erica Encina, posted on Market Oracle, which explains how Libya’s 100% state owned Central Bank allowed it to sustain its own economic destiny. Encina concludes, “Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy [and Clinton] but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations.”
In five pages Sensini tells more truth about the infamous events in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American colleagues than the MSM has done in five years. After the overthrow of Gaddafi, in 2012 Stevens was sharing the American “Consulate” quarters with the CIA. Benghazi was the center of Sanusi jihadi fundamentalism, those who the US/NATO had armed to attack Gaddafi’s government. These terrorists were allied with the US. “Stevens’s task in Benghazi,” writes Sensini, “now was to oversee shipments of Gaddafi’s arms to Turkish ports. The arms were then transferred to jihadi forces engaged in terrorist actions against the government of Syria under Bashar al-Assad.” Contrary to the Western media, Sensini says that Stevens and the others were killed, not by the jihadi extremists supported by the US, but by Gaddafi loyalists who had tried to kill Stevens previously. These loyalists disappeared from the Libyan and international press afterwards. “The reports now focused on al-Qaida, Islamists, terrorists and protesters. No one was to mention either Gaddafi … or his ghosts.”
The stage for a long-term Western intervention against terrorists, who were armed by the US/NATO, was now set. The insoluble disorder of a vicious circle game meant to perpetuate chaos was set in motion. Sensini’s disgust manifests itself when he says, “Given its record of lavish distribution of arms to all and sundry in Syria, the USA’s warning that, in Libya, arms might reach ‘armed groups outside the government’s control’ is beneath contempt.”
Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention is a superb book. If you wish to understand the ongoing Libyan tragedy, and learn where responsibility lies, read it. If the tale it tells doesn’t disgust you, I’d be surprised.
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a stalwart and courageous truth teller, has written a fine forward where she puts Libya and Sensini’s analysis into a larger global perspective. As usual, she pulls no punches.
Copyright © Edward Curtin, Global Research, 2016
Italy has been packed full of NATO and US military bases across the country, which serve as testing grounds for the US and the alliance; Sputnik Italy talked to Fulvio Grimaldi, Italian journalist, war correspondent and documentarian on the everyday damage these military facilities cause to the country.
“We fell victim to the self-restrictions contrary to our own interests. Europe is tormenting itself,” Grimaldi told Sputnik while commenting on the issue.
“It is in the interests of the US that Italy has imposed sanctions on Russia which have harmed Moscow less than Italian farmers and the country’s industry, which have subsequently found themselves in grave economic conditions,” he noted.
The journalist further acknowledged that his home country has been forcefully militarized. There are around 90 US bases in the country, let alone a lot more NATO bases on its territory, which are at the US disposal.
“We are a country overflowing with military bases, and this is a serious burden for our economy to the detriment of construction, maintenance of medical facilities, schools and land improvement,” the journalist said. These military facilities also put Italy at risk of becoming a potential target for those countries who will decide one day to stand up to NATO aggression.
The correspondent cites as an example the American Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), a modern satellite communications system located in Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, which is capable of reaching out to Africa and the Middle East.
“It is a huge social and industrial burden for the island,” he said.
Another example is the US military facility on another large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia, which serves as a testing range for the newly released weaponry which pollutes the environment and threatens the health of local residents.
The economic damage is also substantial. NATO military operations around the globe cost the Italian defense ministry 55 million euro ($61.7mln) per day. If you take into account the expenses of other related ministries, the daily cost rises to 80 million ($89.7mln).
“This is the contribution of the country which has no interest in the military operation in any country of the world, because it is facing no threats,” Grimaldi said.
The US military and political control over the Italian territory comes as the aftermath of the Second World War which deprived Italy of its sovereignty. “I see no reasons for optimism in such a situation.
What I actually see is the acknowledgment of similar subordination in other countries of the EU, and this aggressive strategy of NATO is leading us towards an epic failure,” the journalist said.
However he added that he is certain that one day the authorities will finally come to their senses and change their stance towards the alliance.
The imam of Florence has posted a picture of habit-wearing nuns splashing along the seashore on Facebook, calling for dialogue about burqini bans… but got his account blocked instead.
The post by Izzedin Elzir got some 2,700 shares, and came in response to the French southern cities – like Cannes and Nice – prohibiting the wearing of burqinis on the beach.
The day after the imam published his post, he awoke to find his account blocked.
“It’s incomprehensible. I have to send them an ID document to reactivate it. They wanted to make sure it’s my account – it’s a very strange procedure,” the indignant imam told La Repubblica.
On Friday, his account was back in, and the imam said he hopes it wasn’t blocked because of the picture, as it urges dialogue, and “we live in a society of law and freedom.”
He also noted that the burqini had only come into fashion among Muslim women over the past few years, and he expressed regret that “some politicians in France, instead of responding to the political and economic needs of their citizens, are focusing on how Muslims dress.”
Many online commenters tended to agree with the imam, saying that “The sea is for everyone,” and describing the ban as “a psychological tool against Muslims.”
However, others disagreed, “Don’t confuse the two different situations: these are women who have CHOSEN to religious life with the rules that it imposes, the ‘others’ are FORCED to dress even on the beach,” a comment read.
It’s not the first burqini-linked scandal this week. On Thursday, Austrian politician Ahmet Demir caused uproar after publishing a photo of two nuns and joking that they were “oppressed women” in burqas. Later, he took the post down and apologized, but defended his post saying that he was attempting to convey the message that “every woman should be able to wear what they want as long as they chose the clothes themselves.”
On Tuesday, Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Corriere Della Serra that Italy wouldn’t follow France’s suit and ban the burqini, but will step up regulations of imams and mosques.
Two days later, Italian authorities expelled the Tunisian imam Khairredine Romdhane Ben Chedli. The 35-year-old imam was lately absolved of terrorism-related charges, but still deemed unfit to remain in his post, the ANSA news agency said.