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In Continued Targeting of Only Africans, ICC Calls for Arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

teleSUR | June 14, 2017

Just shortly after Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was released from prison Saturday, the International Criminal Court on Wednesday called for his arrest.

“Libya is obliged to immediately arrest and surrender Mr. Gaddafi to the ICC, regardless of any purported amnesty law in Libya,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

The body — which in its history has only prosecuted Africans — alleges that Gaddafi suppressed opposition to his father’s rule during uprisings in 2011, accusing him of crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi often spoke out defiantly against attempts to topple the government his father led, having gained prominence as a high-ranking official and spokesman during the NATO-backed campaign against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

That campaign soon became a “regime change” effort that led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and Libya’s plunge into all-out civil war.

The North African country has since become a base for various transnational extremist factions such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and the Libyan Islamic Fighting group.

The ICC, on the other hand, has largely been discredited in Africa, with Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang noting last October that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”

Earlier this year, leaders from the African Union adopted a non-binding decision to withdraw from the court.

In addition to the ICC’s calls for arrest, a Tripoli court in 2015 sentenced Saif to death in absentia for alleged war crimes as well.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Putin, Ukraine and What Americans Know

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

A prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.

As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.

So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.

A Nuanced Perspective

In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”

Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.

When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.

“Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.

Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.

“We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”

Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”

After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.

Ignoring a Political Deal

But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.

“That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?

“The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.

“Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”

Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.

Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.

“But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”

However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.

The Crimea Case

As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.

When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.

“The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.

“According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.

“The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.

“Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”

Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.

Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:

”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”

A Dangerous Standoff

Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.

Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.

Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …

“I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.

“Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes, certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …

“Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.

“The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

How Vladimir Putin Sees the World

Oliver Stone interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Showtime’s “The Putin Interviews.”
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 13, 2017

There was a time when I thought that it was the responsibility of an American journalist to hear all sides of a dispute and then explain the issue as fairly as possible to the American people, so they would be armed with enough facts to make their own judgments and act as the true sovereigns in a democracy.

I realize how naïve that must sound today as American journalism has shifted to a new paradigm in which the major news outlets view it as their duty to reinforce whatever the establishment narrative is and to dismiss or discredit any inconvenient facts or alternative analyses.

Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media permit only the narrowest of alternative views to be expressed or they just pile into the latest groupthink whole hog.

So, that is why director Oliver Stone’s four-part series of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “Showtime” will surely draw near-universal outrage and ridicule from the big U.S. media. How dare anyone let Putin explain how he views the challenges facing the world? Can you believe that any right-thinking American would treat the Russian leader with civility and – god forbid – respect?

The new American media paradigm requires either endlessly insulting Putin to his face or aggressively blacking out his explanations, especially if they are based on information that puts the U.S. government in a negative light. The American people must be protected from this “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

In other words, with the mainstream “guardians of truth” forewarning the American people not to watch Stone’s “The Putin Interviews,” the series will probably draw a relatively small viewership and the demonizing of Putin and Russia will continue unabated.

The American public can thus be spared some disturbing historical revelations and the unsettling vertigo that comes from hearing information that disrupts “what everyone knows to be true.”

In the “director’s cut” or long-form version of the four-part series that I watched, Stone does allow Putin to offer detailed explanations of his thinking on current crises, but also draws from Putin acknowledgements that might be surprising coming from a Russian leader. He also puts Putin in some uncomfortable binds.

–Regarding the Soviet Union’s development of the nuclear bomb in the late 1940s, Putin said Russian and German scientists were working on the project but got help from participants in the U.S. nuclear program:

“Our intelligence also received a lot of information from the United States. Suffice it to remember the Rosenberg spouses who were electrocuted. They didn’t acquire that information, they were just transferring that information. But who acquired it? The scientists themselves – those who developed the atomic bomb.

“Why did they do that? Because they understood the dangers. They let the genie out of the bottle. And now the genie cannot be put back. And this international team of scientists, I think they were more intelligent than the politicians. They provided this information to the Soviet Union of their own volition to restore the nuclear balance in the world. And what are we doing right now [with the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty]? We’re trying to destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”

–Regarding the origins of modern Islamist terrorism, Putin said: “Al Qaeda is not the result of our activities. It’s the result of the activities of our American friends. It all started during the Soviet war in Afghanistan [in the 1980s] when the American intelligence officers provided support to different forms of Islamic fundamentalism, helping them to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

“So the Americans themselves nurtured both Al Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden. But it all spun out of control. And it always happens. And our partners in the United States should have known about that. So they’re to blame.”

Stone noted how President Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey sought to exploit Islamic fundamentalism to destabilize Muslim parts of the Soviet Union and to achieve regime change in Moscow.

Putin added: “Those ideas are still alive. And when those problems in Chechnya and the Caucasus emerged [after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991], the Americans, unfortunately, supported those processes. We [Russians] assumed the Cold War was over, that we had transparent relations, with the rest of the world, with Europe and the U.S. And we certainly counted on support, but instead, we witnessed that the American Intelligence services supported terrorists.

“I’m going to say something very important, I believe. We had a very confident opinion back then, that our American partners in words were talking about support to Russia, the need to cooperate, including fighting terrorism, but in reality they were using those terrorists to destabilize the internal political situation in Russia.”

–Regarding NATO expansion into Eastern Europe,” Putin said, “There was a deal not to expand NATO eastward. [But] this deal was not enshrined in paper. It was a mistake made by Mr. Gorbachev [the last president of the Soviet Union]. In politics, everything must be enshrined in paper.

“My impression is that in order to justify its existence, NATO has a need of an external foe, there is a constant search for the foe, or some acts of provocation to name someone as an adversary.”

–Regarding NATO missile bases being installed in Eastern Europe, Putin said: “And what are we supposed to do. In this case we have to take countermeasures. We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense. …

“There are two threats for Russia. The first threat, the placement of these anti-ballistic missiles in the vicinity of our border in the Eastern European countries. The second threat is that the launching pads of these anti-ballistic missiles can be transformed within a few hours into offensive missile launching pads. Look, if these anti-ballistic missiles are placed in Eastern Europe, if those missiles are placed on water, patrolling the Mediterranean and Northern Seas, and in Alaska, almost the whole Russian territory would be encircled by these systems.

“As you can see, that is another great strategic mistake made by our partners [a word that Putin uses to refer to the United States]. Because all these actions are going to be adequately answered by Russia. And this means nothing else but a new cycle of an arms race. …

“When the Soviet Union collapsed, they [American leaders] were under the illusion that the U.S. was capable of anything, and they could [act] with impunity. That’s always a trap, because in this situation the person or the country begins to commit mistakes. There is no need to analyze the situations, or think about the consequences. And the country becomes inefficient. One mistake follows another. And I think that is the trap the U.S. has found itself in.”

–Regarding the prospect of nuclear war, Putin said, “I don’t think anyone would survive such a conflict.” Regarding U.S. plans for creating a missile shield, he said, “There is a threat deriving from the illusion of being protected, and this might lead to more aggressive behavior. That is why it is so important to prevent unilateral actions. That is why we propose to work jointly on the anti-ballistic missile system.”

–Regarding the American neoconservatives who now dominate the U.S. foreign policy establishment and the major news media, Stone described “the neoconservative element as being so hungry to make their point, to win their case that it’s dangerous.” Putin responded, “I fear them too.”

–In an interview on Feb. 16, 2016, Stone asked about the U.S. presidential campaign to which Putin replied, “We are going to be ready to work with whoever gets elected by the people of the United States. I said that on several occasions and that’s the truth. I believe nothing is going to change no matter who gets elected. … The force of the United States bureaucracy is very great. And there are many facts that are not visible to the candidates until they become President. And the moment one gets to real work, he or she feels the burden. …

“My colleague, Barack Obama, promised to close Guantanamo. He’s failed to do that. But I’m convinced that he sincerely wanted to do that. … Unlike many partners of ours, we never interfere within the domestic affairs of other countries. That is one of the principles we stick to in our work.”

–In a February 2017 interview, which was added amid the escalation of charges that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, Stone noted that Donald Trump is “your fourth president” and asked, “what changes?”

“Almost nothing,” Putin said with a wry smile. “Life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.”

Asked about alleged Russian interference to help Trump, Putin responded: “You know, this is a very silly statement. Certainly, we liked President Trump and we still like him because he publicly announced that he was ready to restore American-Russian relations. … Certainly, we’ve got to wait and see how, in reality, in practice, the relations between our two countries are going to develop. …”

Stone: “So why did you bother to hack the election then?”

Putin: “We did not hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any other country – even a country such as Russia would be capable of seriously influencing the electoral campaign or the outcome of an election. … any talk about our influencing the outcome of the U.S. election is all lies. They are doing it for a number of reasons.

“First, they are trying to undermine the legitimacy of President Trump, create conditions that must preclude us from normalizing our relations, and they want to create additional instruments to wage an internal political war. And Russia-U.S. relations in this context are just a mere instrument in the internal political fight in the U.S. … We know all their tricks.”

–Regarding cyber-war and the possibility that U.S. intelligence planted malware and back-doors in software sold to Russia, Putin said, “Well, you will probably not believe me, but I’m going to say something strange. Since the early 1990s, we have assumed that the Cold War is over. We thought there was no need to take any additional protective measures because we viewed ourselves as an integral part of the world community.

“We didn’t have any equipment of our own. Our companies, our state institutions and administrative departments, they were buying everything – hardware and software. And we’ve got much equipment from the U.S., from Europe, and equipment is used by the Intelligence Services and by the Defense Ministry. But recently we certainly have become aware of the threat that all of that poses.

“Only during recent years, have we started to think about how we can ensure technological independence, as well as security. Certainly we give it much thought, and we take appropriate measures. … We had to catch up with others.”

In an aside to Putin’s translator within earshot of Putin, Stone remarked: “He’s acting funny about this story, like he’s guilty a bit.”

–Regarding the dangers to Russia from U.S. cyber-warfare, Putin said: “It is almost impossible to sow fear among the Russian citizens. … And secondly, the economies that are more sophisticated, in technological terms, they are more vulnerable to this type of attack. But in any case, this is a very dangerous trend. A very dangerous avenue for competition to pursue and we need some rules to be guided by.”

When Stone raised the possibility of a treaty, Putin said, “I don’t want to say that, but you are simply drawing this information from me. You make me say that. One and a half years ago, in Autumn 2015, we came up with a proposal that was submitted to our American counterparts. We suggested that we should work these issues through and arrive at a treaty, an agreement on the rules to be guided by in this field. The Americans didn’t respond, they kept silence, they didn’t give us any reply.”

–Regarding allegations of Putin’s wealth, Stone asked, “Is there someway you could make your personal wealth clearer?”

Putin responded indirectly: “I remember when I moved to Moscow from St. Petersburg [in the 1990s], I was astounded and shocked by how many crooks had gathered here in Moscow and their behavior was so astounding, I couldn’t get used to it for a very long time. Those people didn’t have any scruples at all. … My task was to differentiate between power and money.”

Stone: “So there are no bank accounts in Cyprus?”

Putin: “No, and never have been. That’s just nonsense, and if that were the case we would have had to face it a long time ago.”

–Although Putin remained disciplined and controlled during the long sit-downs with Stone, the Russian president appeared most uncomfortable when Stone pressed him about his future plans and the risk of a leader viewing himself as indispensable to a nation.

Citing the possibility that Putin would have been in power – as either prime minister or president – for 24 years if he were to run for president again and win, Stone asked, “Do you feel that Russia needs you that badly?”

Putin: “The question you have asked whether Russia needs anyone that bad – Russia itself will decide. An alteration in power certainly has to exist. … In the end, let me reiterate – the citizens of Russia are going to make the final decision. Concerning the 2018 elections, I’d like to say there are things, things that should have some intrigue and mystery. So I am not going to answer that part of the question.”

Stone: “I said if…”

Putin: “We shouldn’t speak in the subjunctive mood.”

Stone then suggested more transparency in the next election.

A stern Putin responded: “Do you think our goal is to prove anything to anyone? Our goal is to reinforce our country.”

Stone: “That is a dangerous argument. It works both ways. Those who abuse power always say it’s a question of survival.”

Putin: “We are not talking about survival and we are not trying to justify ourselves. Certainly taking into account all the negative tendencies you’ve been talking about – the Soviet legacy, the Imperialist legacy, it’s something in the past. But we also have to think about the positive legacy. Russia has been built for a thousand years; it has its own traditions. We have our notions of what is just and unjust, we have our own understanding of what defines an efficient government.

“This is not a question of helping someone cling to power or to claim it for myself. This is about ensuring economic growth and sustaining it, improving our defense capabilities, and not just during periods of crisis and difficulties.”

Stone: “Mr. Putin, I don’t doubt for one moment your pride in serving Russia or that you are a son of Russia to me, and you have done very well by her. We all know the price of power. When we’re in power too long no matter what, the people need us but at the same time we’ve changed and we don’t even know it.”

Putin: “Indeed, this is a very dangerous state. If a person in power feels that they have lost it, this bond connecting this person to the country and to the rank-and-file citizens of the country, then it’s time for them to go.”

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

‘Up to 15 tons of depleted uranium used in 1999 Serbia bombing’ – lead lawyer in suit against NATO

RT | June 13, 2017

An international legal team is preparing a lawsuit against NATO over the alliance’s alleged use of depleted uranium munitions during its bombing of Yugoslavia. These have allegedly caused a rise in cancer-related illnesses across the region over the years.

“The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 used between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster,” said Srdjan Aleksic, a Serbian lawyer who leads the legal team, which includes lawyers from the EU, Russia, China and India.

“In Serbia, 33,000 people fall sick because of this every year. That is one child every day,” he claimed.

NATO’s press office says it’s now aware of Serbia’s allegations, but gave no further comment.

When asked as of why Serbia has decided to sue NATO 19 years after the attacks, the lawyer said “considering the horrific consequences for our population… it is never too late to sue someone who has caused an environmental catastrophe, someone [who] bombed Serbia with a quasi-nuclear weapon, i.e. depleted uranium.”

The Serbian lawyer says 19 countries that were part of NATO at the time need to pay compensation for “for the financial and non-financial damages… to all the citizens who died or fell sick as a proven result of the NATO bombing.”

“We expect the members of NATO to provide treatment to our citizens who are suffering from cancer,” Aleksic said, adding that the bloc “must also provide the necessary technology and equipment to remove all traces of the depleted uranium” from Serbia.

“The use of banned weapons” by the US-led military alliance in the Balkans “was a violation of all the international conventions and rules that protect people” from such kind of weapons, the lawyer claimed, adding that NATO also used depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991.

“The alliance has not been put on trial for this act, but the consequences are disastrous,” he said.

In its 2000 report on depleted uranium, NATO confirmed the use of the munitions both in Iraq and in the Balkans.

“In Iraq, about 300 metric tons of DU [depleted uranium] ammunition were fired by American and British troops. Recently, NATO confirmed the use of DU ammunition in Kosovo battlefields, where approximately 10 metric tons of DU were used,” the report says.

The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has also admitted “there is evidence of use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles by NATO aircraft during the bombing campaign.” However, the UN tribunal has pointed out that “there is no specific treaty ban on the use of DU projectiles.”

Reporting on the consequences of the use of such munitions for civil population and the environment, a NATO report said that “in the vicinity of the impact point of DU ammunitions, it is not excluded that individuals unaware of the contamination… could have accumulated radiation doses and/or could have incorporated uranium quantities exceeding the internationally recognized limits.”

In May, Balkan Insight reported that around 50 people from the Serbian city of Nis, who have been suffering from cancer and have “seemingly relevant medical documentation” have asked the legal team of 26 lawyers and professors to represent them in the case against NATO.

NATO launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia in March 1999, having interfered in a sectarian conflict between Serbians and Kosovan Albanians. As clashes between the local population turned violent, the US-led military alliance made a decision to respond to what the it said was ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of Kosovo, without the backing of the UN Security Council.

With no UN mandate, NATO bombing of Serbia lasted for three months, having resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Britain’s Real Terror Apologists

By Finian Cunningham | Sputnik | June 11, 2017

Despite a vicious smear campaign to denigrate Britain’s Labour leader as a “terrorist sympathizer,” Jeremy Corbyn still pulled off an amazing achievement in the general election.

Hardly has a politician in any Western state been so vilified with character assassination, and yet he has proven to be most popular Labour leader in Britain since the Second World War.

After weeks of trailing his Conservative rival Theresa May in the polls, Corbyn’s socialist manifesto appealed to a record number of voters – closing the gap between the parties to only two percentage points behind the Tories.

This was in spite of a concerted media campaign to destroy Corbyn in the eyes of the British public as a “terrorist stooge.” The irony here is that the Conservative party is forming a governing coalition with a little-known Northern Ireland party whose history is steeped in British state terrorism. (More on that in a moment.)

For Corbyn, the election outcome was a stunning moral victory. For Prime Minister May it was a humiliating defeat. The Conservatives lost their overall majority in the British parliament and now they have to rely on this reactionary fringe party from Northern Ireland to form a government.

May called the snap election because she thought her party would increase its majority and also because she calculated that Corbyn’s socialist direction of Labour would be wiped out. Many Blairite naysayers in his own party thought so too.

The opposite happened. The British public largely rejected May and her neoliberal capitalist, pro-austerity, pro-NATO policies. They instead rallied behind Corbyn. Granted, the Tories still won the election – only narrowly – but the surge in support for Labour under Corbyn means that he has galvanized a party that stands a strong chance of winning if another election is called. And that could be soon, perhaps in the coming months owing May’s shaky ad hoc government collapsing.

Another riveting factor in all this is that Corbyn’s success came amid a torrential Tory and right-wing media campaign to denigrate him as a terrorist sympathizer. The propaganda onslaught was conducted for months since May called the election back in April. And it grew to a frenzy as election day approached last Thursday, especially when the opinion polls showed Labour steadily whittling away the earlier Conservative support.

The day before the public went to the polling booths, the Daily Mail ran the front page headline: “Apologist for terror,” with Jeremy Corbyn’s photo below. It looked like a “wanted poster” from the Wild West. The only thing missing was the subhead with the words: “Wanted dead or alive.”

The scurrilous allegation pounded over and over by the largely pro-Conservative British media that Corbyn is “soft on terrorism” stems from his otherwise principled history of campaigning on international justice and peace.

Over his 35 years as an MP, he has voiced consistent support for Palestinian rights under illegal Zionist occupation; he has supported Hezbollah resistance against Israeli and American aggression; and during the conflict in Northern Ireland, Corbyn gave a voice to Irish Republicans who were being assailed by British military violence.

Many other international causes could be mentioned, such as Corbyn opposing British government weapons dealing with the despotic Saudi regime which is propagating terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

He has also campaigned to abandon nuclear weapons and is critical of NATO’s reckless expansion in Europe, which have earned him the jingoistic pillorying by the British establishment of “being soft on Russia.”

Corbyn has never condoned terrorism. Rather he has always sought to properly put it in a wider context of other parties also, unaccountably, using terrorism and thus fueling conflict.

This brings us to so-called Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland whose 10 MPs Theresa May’s Tories are now relying on to form a government. This party was formed in the early 1970s by the firebrand Protestant preacher Ian Paisley. While Paisley mellowed in later years before his death in 2014, he spent most of his career preaching vile hatred against Catholics and Irish Republicans, whom he saw as a threat to the political union between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain. In British-run Northern Ireland, it wasn’t acceptable to have a democratic aspiration for an independent Ireland. You were either a pro-British unionist or a “threat.” So much for British democracy.

Senior members of Paisley’s pro-British party played a crucial role in smuggling massive caches of weapons into Northern Ireland during the 1980s to illegally arm unionist paramilitaries. These paramilitaries went on to murder hundreds of innocent people simply because they were Catholics, who tended to be Republican. A favored tactic of these paramilitaries was to storm into pubs and homes and indiscriminately mow people down with assault rifles.

One notorious pro-British killer was Gusty Spence who belonged to the Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary. He later expressed remorse and deplored Ian Paisley, the DUP founder, as the person who incited him to murder innocent Catholics due to his sectarian hate speech.

The paramilitary murder gangs were not just supported covertly by members of the DUP. The British government of Margaret Thatcher – Theresa May’s predecessor and political heroine – orchestrated these same death squads in a covert policy of “dirty war.”

British military intelligence colluded with the pro-unionist militants to assassinate Republican politicians and ordinary Catholics alike in a covert policy of state-sponsored terrorism. The objective was to terrorize people in submitting to British rule over Northern Ireland, rather than allowing the island country to become united and independent.

The British government provided intelligence and cover for the death squads and the unionist politicians had helped supply the AK-47 assault rifles and Browning handguns smuggled from Apartheid South Africa.

This secret dirty war policy of the British government and their unionist proxies in Northern Ireland has been uncovered by investigative journalists such as Paul Larkin (see his groundbreaking book “A Very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy and Cover-up in Northern Ireland”); as well as human rights campaign groups like Belfast-based Relatives for Justice and Pat Finucane Centre.

Not even the present government of Theresa May can deny this murderous legacy in Ireland, although there is a determined silence now as she fights for her political survival in the wake of the British election disaster.

It is a proven fact that May’s Conservative party and the unionist politicians whom she is now partnering with to govern Britain were complicit in terrorism.

Northern Ireland has since gained a peace settlement in which unionist and republican politicians have been able to work together to form a local governing administration. The Irish peace process was possible partly because of the courageous and principled intervention by British politicians like Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn has never apologized for terrorism. He has sought to overcome it by making politics work. The same cannot be said for Theresa May’s Conservative party. It was an accomplice and an apologist for a covert policy of state-sponsored terrorism during Northern Ireland’s recent 30-year conflict.

The very party whom she is now allied with for governing Britain – the DUP – were also apologists for paramilitaries who routinely smashed their way into family homes and slaughtered victims in cold blood in front of their loved ones.

The ongoing muted policy of May’s government and her unionist proxies about their murderous legacy in Ireland is a testimony to who the real apologists for terror are.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Evidence-Free Claims Against Trump and Syria

Undermining Peace Efforts and Threatening More War

By Robert Roth • Unz Review • June 12, 2017

Disinformation and lies have been used to justify the wars on Syria that started in 2011.[1] But lately I’ve been amazed at the extent to which our entire public discourse now rests on disinformation and lies. This is a broader problem, but it also affects the prospects for peace in Syria, one of several places where U.S./NATO activities heighten the risk of nuclear war.[2]

I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all lately, capped (most recently) by the third U.S. attack on Syria. As I put that together with President Trump’s giving the military free rein over “tactics,” it sank in that, with this delegation of authority, war-making power has now devolved from the Congress through the President to the military itself, in areas where not only Syrians but Russians, Iranians and others operate.

In the apparent absence of an organized peace movement, the concentration of so many people on opposing Trump, rather than on opposing U.S. wars, distracts attention from this problem. Otherwise under fire from all directions, Mr. Trump gets approval – across the spectrum – when he does something awful but military, like launching cruise missiles at Syria or dropping that horrific bomb in Afghanistan. Meanwhile his attempt to reset U.S. relations and reduce tension with Russia is being used to lay the groundwork for impeachment and/or charges of treason.

The lies about Syria have of course continued. First, Amnesty International issued “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison Syria,” claiming that the Syrian government executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people over a five-year period. Then another chemical weapons incident, blamed without evidence on the government, was used as the excuse for a second U.S. attack on Syria. Both of these charges were widely and uncritically reported in the major media, though neither of them is credible.[3]

But the use of disinformation has been expanded in what I now see as an attempt to destabilize the U.S. government itself, to achieve “regime change” at home as it has been practiced in many foreign countries over the last 70 years.[4] It started right after the election with the attacks on General Mike Flynn. And as it has continued, the campaign to demonize Russia and Russian president Vladimir Putin has also intensified.

Bottom line: It seems clear there is no evidence, let alone proof, that computers at the DNC were hacked at all, let alone by Russia, or that Russia tried in any way to “meddle” in the U.S. election. It has thus far made no difference that, soon after the charge of Russian interference in the last election was first made, an organization of intelligence veterans who have the expertise to know pointed out that U.S. intelligence has the capability of presenting hard evidence of any such hacking and had not done so (and, I would add, still hasn’t). Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity stated bluntly: “We have gone through the various claims about hacking. For us, it is child’s play to dismiss them. The email disclosures in question are the result of a leak, not a hack.” They then explained the difference between leaking and hacking.[5]

There was ample justification for President Trump’s firing of FBI director Comey. Ray McGovern and William Binney observed:

The Washington establishment rejoiced last week over what seemed to be a windfall “gotcha” moment, as President Donald Trump said he had fired FBI Director James Comey over “this Russia thing, with Trump and Russia.” The president labeled it a “made-up story” and, by all appearances, he is mostly correct.

That’s because Mr. Trump

had ample reason to be fed up with Mr. Comey, in part for his lack of enthusiasm to investigate actual, provable crimes related to “Russia-gate” – like leaking information from highly sensitive intercepted communications to precipitate the demise of Trump aide Michael Flynn.[6]

And there was nothing unlawful, or even wrong, in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak at the White House. This is, after all, what foreign ministers and ambassadors do – confer with leaders of other nations – but that didn’t stop the media and what James Howard Kunstler called “the Lindsey Graham wing of the DeepState” from acting “as if Trump had entertained Focalor and Vepar, the Dukes of Hell, in the Oval Office.”[7]

Regarding the continuing investigations by the FBI, several Congressional committees, and others looking for, if not proof, at least evidence of pre-election “collusion” by Trump or his people with Russians supposedly hacking computers to influence the U.S. election, these are thus far based on no – as in zero – evidence, and it’s hard to know what might be made of anything they eventually claim to find, in light of this:

On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents — ignored by mainstream media — showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, for example.[8]

Or as Mr. Putin himself points out,

today’s technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual [so] that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.[9]

Granted, this can be a costly enterprise, in that “The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the “Vault 7″ trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines.” But not to worry, “the DeepState has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for ‘proving’ the Russians hacked.”[10]

Put it all together and you now have “an extraordinary proportion of our public discourse [resting] on nothing but ideologically inspired disinformation.”[11] A glaring example is the most recent baseless charge against the Assad government. Of this Patrick Lawrence writes, in part quoting Nation magazine contributing editor and Princeton University professor emeritus Stephen F. Cohen:

The May 16 editions of the government-supervised New York Times carried a report that we—we Americans, this is all done in our names—now accuse the Assad government of running a crematory at one of its prisons to dispose of the corpses of murdered political prisoners so as to eliminate evidence of war crimes. This is based on satellite photographs in the possession of American spooks for the past three or four years … released a few days prior to the next round of peace talks co-sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Trump, a day after meeting Lavrov, sent a fairly senior State Department diplomat to the talks in Astana, the Kazakstan capital. …

I note this latest on Syria only in part because it is a here-and-now adjunct of the Russiagate insanity in Washington. It also marks a new low, and I do not say this for mere rhetorical effect, in what now passes for credible assertion in our nation’s capital. Here’s my favorite passage in the piece—which, had a student in one of my courses submitted it to fulfill an assignment, would have merited an ‘F’ and a private discussion in my office:

“Mr. Jones acknowledged that the satellite photographs, taken over the last four years, were not definitive. But in one from 2015, he said, the buildings were covered in snow— except for one, suggesting a significant internal heat source. ‘That would be consistent with a crematorium,’ he said. Officials added that a discharge stack and architectural elements thought to be a firewall and air intake were also suggestive of a place to burn bodies. ‘That would be consistent of a crematorium,’ he said.”

Most certainly it would. And also a bakery, a heated basketball court, a machine shop, and… I think you will understand: The assertion means bananas. Even the Times, to my surprise, took a step back from this silliness. The next paragraph:

“The United Nations is scheduled to begin another round of Syria peace talks in Geneva on May 23. The timing of the accusations seemed intended to pressure Russia, Mr. Assad’s principal foreign ally, into backing away from him.”

Well, half a step in the direction of reality—which is half a step more than our Pravda on the Hudson typically takes.

[As Professor Cohen said on the evening of May 16 to Tucker Carlson on the latter’s daily Fox News program:]

“The preposterous nonsense about the Syria crematorium pushes me into positing a kind of meta-phenomenon. The Russia case is a problem, the Syria case, the Ukraine case: There is a far larger and more consequential problem running through all of these matters. It is the frightening extent to which we are succumbing to fabrication. An extraordinary proportion of our public discourse now rests on nothing but ideologically inspired disinformation.”

As Prof. Cohen has said, we’re thus creating our own new national security “threat,” in that, as Mr. Lawrence put it, we are watching as our 45th president is deposed.[12]

There are many sound and urgent reasons to oppose many of Mr. Trump’s policies – and I do. But a constitutionally elected sitting president should not be removed from office by an orchestrated campaign of disinformation and lies. Nor should “ideologically inspired disinformation” dominate our public discourse on critical issues – in any case, but especially when the result is a heightened risk of nuclear war.[13]

Prof. Cohen, frozen out by the mainstream media, summarizes the risks we confront:

[W]e’re at, maybe, the most dangerous moment in U.S.-Russian relations, in my lifetime, and, maybe, ever. The reason is, that we’re in the new Cold War, by whatever name. We have three Cold War fronts that are fought with the possibility of hot war – in the Baltic region, where NATO is carrying out an unprecedented military buildup on Russia’s border, in Ukraine, where there’s a civil and proxy war between Russia and the West, and, of course, in Syria, where Russian aircraft and American warplanes are flying in the same territory. Anything could happen.[14]

Looking for a little light in this deepening darkness, I find some comfort in former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin’s book Return to Moscow (University of Western Australia, 2017). Mr. Kevin examines past and present attitudes toward the people of Russia and to its leaders with sympathetic eyes, and a deep understanding of Russian history and culture. Regarding the treatment of Russian president Putin in Western media, for example, Mr. Kevin observes:

Not since Britain’s concentrated personal loathing of their great strategic enemy Napoleon in the Napoleonic wars was so much animosity brought to bear on one leader. Propaganda and demeaning language against Putin became more systemic, sustained and near universal in Western foreign policy and media communities than had ever been directed against any Soviet communist leader at the height of the Cold War. This hostile campaign evoked an effective defensive global media strategy by Russia. […] A new kind of information Cold War took shape, with – paradoxically – Western media voices more and more speaking with one disciplined Soviet-style voice, and Russian counter voices fresher, more diverse and more agile.[15]

I have been watching in some dismay as those disciplined Soviet-style voices do their best to, among other things, discredit and thwart Mr. Trump’s efforts to normalize relations with Russia. This is especially troubling in the case of The New York Times, whose relentless summaries of the various investigations are routinely reprinted in local newspapers all over the country, which can’t afford to follow such “news” with their own reporters. The Times’ mantra-like repetition and characterization of the activities ostensibly under serious investigation is a subtle, but effective, form of brain-washing – or as Vanessa Beeley puts it, gaslighting.

In an insightful exploration of the psychological issues we confront in criticizing U.S. foreign policy and countering the media that support it, which I think helps explain the ease with which the current batch of lies is being successfully promulgated, Caitlin Johnstone opens with this powerful combination:

“What we’ve been undergoing to a large extent is a form of psychological abuse, actually, by very narcissistic, hegemonic governments and officials for a very long time. It’s a form of gaslighting where actually our own faith in our ability to judge a situation, and to some extent even our own identity, has been eroded and damaged to the point where we’re effectively accepting their version of reality.” ~ Vanessa Beeley

The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer … sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.[16]

Unless we can penetrate the resulting fog, we confront the situation described by Tony Kevin:

Under the false and demonizing imagery of “Putin’s Russia” which has now taken hold in the United States and NATO world, the West is truly “sleepwalking”, as Kissinger, Gorbachev, Sakwa, Cohen and others have urgently warned, into a potential nuclear war with Russia. It is the Cuban missile crisis all over again, but actually worse now, because there are so many irresponsible minor European actors crowding onto the policy stage, and because American policy under recent U.S. presidents has been so lacking in statesmanship, consistency or historical perspective where Russia is concerned.[17]

Hopefully, the efforts of activists and analysts to make the real facts known, combined with the escalating preposterousness of what we are told to believe, will produce enough cognitive dissonance to wake us up before we sleepwalk into the end of the world. Meanwhile, if you share these concerns, stay tuned to each of the dedicated and courageous authors I’ve mentioned, and the sites that have posted their work, express your concerns to your federal legislators – and tell your friends!

Robert Roth is a retired public interest lawyer. He received his law degree from Yale in 1971 and prosecuted false advertising for the attorneys general of New York (1981-1991) and Oregon (1993-2007).

References

[1] I explored these in “What’s Really Happening in Syria: A Consumer Fraud Lawyer’s Mini-Primer” – “the primer” for short – which may be downloaded at http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org/2017/01/21/mini-primer-on-syria-by-former-assist-attorney-general-ny-oregon/ )

[2] I first became aware of that heightened risk in following US/NATO activities in Ukraine, also widely misrepresented by the media; my work on that matter is posted at https://www.newcoldwar.org/how-obamas-aggression-in-ukraine-risks-nuclear-war/ .

[3] Regarding the first, as Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report pointed out, the AI report “is based on anonymous sources outside of Syria, hearsay, and the dubious use of satellite photos reminiscent of Colin Powell’s performance at the United Nations in 2003.” http://www.blackagendareport.com/shamnest-international-human-slaughterhouse . See further Tony Cartalucci, US Revives Discredited Syria “Slaughterhouse” Story (Global Research, May 16, 2017), Land Destroyer Report, http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-revives-discredited-syria-slaughterhouse-story/5590306 .)

The second charge seemed preposterous to me under all the circumstances, including its predictably negative results for the Syrian government, and its reliance on “reports” from outside Syria based on hearsay from such biased sources as anti-government fighters and their media. The analyses of others confirmed and reinforced my own impression, e.g., RayMcGovern, The Syrian-Sarin “False Flag” Lesson, (December 13, 2016), http://www.mintpressnews.com/syrian-sarin-false-flag-lesson/223106/ ; Daniel Lazare, Luring Trump into Mideast War (Consortium News, April 8, 2017), https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/08/luring-trump-into-mideast-wars/ ; Mike Whitney, The Impending Clash Between the U.S. and Russia (CounterPunch, April 7, 2017), http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/07/why-the-united-states-use-of-force-against-syria-violates-international-law/ (citing interview with former CIA officer Philip Giraldi); Robert Parry, Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria (Consortium News, April 5, 2017), https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/05/another-dangerous-rush-to-judgment-in-syria/ ; Patrick Henningsen,Reviving the ‘Chemical Weapons’ Lie: New US-UK Calls for Regime Change, Military Attack Against Syria (21st Century Wire, April 4, 2017), http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/04/04/reviving-the-chemical-weapons-lie-new-us-uk-calls-for-regime-change-military-attack-against-syria/ ; The Saker, A Multi-level Analysis of the US attack on Syria (April 11, 2017), http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46845.htm ; Theodore A. Postol, A Critique of ‘False and Misleading’ White House Claims About Syria’s Use of Lethal Gas (April 14, 2017), http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/critique_white_house_fabrications_syrias_alleged_use_of_lethal_gas_20170414/ (The third of MIT Prof. Postol’s reports; the first is at http://images.shoutwiki.com/acloserlookonsyria/f/f3/Postol_assessment_041117.pdf and the second, an addendum to the first, is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_Vs2rjE9TdwUE9tam16a3F0Wjg/view ); andTim Hayward, Chemical attacks in Syria: Is Assad responsible? (April 15, 2017), https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/chemical-attacks-in-syria-is-assad-responsible/ . (Prof. Hayward recommends Prof. Postol’s reports; says, “The premise of my post comes from the [UK] government’s position. I aim to show that even if one suspends disbelief and grants it, their claimed conclusion still needs to be properly demonstrated”; and says further that “a fuller and more formal statement of the question that I am introducing here is to be found at: http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/habakkuk-on-urgent-need-to-release-test-results-from-porton-down-on-samples-from-khan-sheikhoun-ghouta.html .”).

[4] See, for example, William Blum, Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List, Published February 2013, at http://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-list .

[5] U.S. Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims (December 12, 2016), https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ .

[6] Trumped-up claims against Trump (May 17, 2017), http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-trump-russia-phony-20170517-story.html . For a detailed discussion, see Kenneth W. Starr, “Rosenstein’s Compelling Case Against Comey,” The Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2017, p. A21.

[7] A Monster Eating the Nation, http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/monster-eating-nation/ (May 19, 2017). And see Ted Van Dyk, “Anti-Trump Democrats Invite Chaos,” The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2017, p. A21.

[8] McGovern and Binney, op cit. McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president’s daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials from 1981-85. Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

[9] Valdimir Putin’s televised interview on NBC (June 4, 2017), Interview with Vladimr Putin by NBC News propagandist Megyn Kelly, text published on the website of the President of Russia, June 5, 2017https://www.newcoldwar.org/valdimir-putins-televised-interview-on-nbc-june-5-2017/ .

[10] McGovern and Binney, op cit.

[11] Tipping over, By Patrick Lawrence, published by the American Committee for East-West Accord, May 17, 2017https://www.newcoldwar.org/tipping-over/ .

[12] Mike Whitney outlines the facts behind the entire Russiagate insanity and presents a detailed analysis connecting a great many dots with specificity in Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State (May 19, 2017), http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/ ; and see Norman Solomon and Paul Jay (Interview), Warfare State at War with Trump as He Plans Warfare Against Iran (May 22, 2017), http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19149:Warfare-State-at-War-with-Trump-as-he-Plans-Warfare-Against-Iran .

Andrew C. McCarthy, Fighting the Politicized, Evidence-Free ‘Collusion with Russia’ Narrative, The National Review (May 24, 2017), http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447915/trump-russia-collusion-john-brennan-testimony-how-fight-politicized-narrative , suggests steps to resolve the matter.

[13] James Howard Kunstler adds that “Trump, whatever you think of him – and I’ve never been a fan, to put it mildly – was elected for a reason: the ongoing economic collapse of the nation, and the suffering of a public without incomes or purposeful employment.” And though I’ve never been a fan, either, a discussion I found helpful to understanding the reasons for Trump’s election was posted by John Michael Greer, “When the Shouting Stops,” November 16, 2016, at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/11/when-shouting-stops.html ).

[14] Prof. Cohen discusses these issues with great clarity in an interview posted as Dems crippling Trump’s plans to cooperate with Russia out of own ambitions (May 19, 2017) at https://www.rt.com/shows/sophieco/388910-trump-scandal-russia-us/ .

[15] Cited from Return to Moscow. An interview with Mr. Kevin by Associate Professor Judith Armstrong, former head of European Languages Department at MelbourneUniversity, appears at https://www.youtube.com/embed/NtNjpXozRKY .

[16] You Only Hate Assad Because Your TV Told You To (May 27, 2017), http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47136.htm (first published by 21wire at http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/05/27/syria-you-only-hate-assad-because-your-tv-told-you-to/ ). I found it enormously helpful to read this piece in conjunction with Vanessa Beeley’s Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism (May 26, 2016), http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/05/26/gaslighting-state-mind-control-and-abusive-narcissism/ .

[17] Return to Moscow, page 255, citing The Slide Toward War with Russia, editorial in the Nation, 19 October 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-slide-toward-war-with-russia/ , and Richard Sakwa, West could sleepwalk into a Doomsday war with Russia – it’s time to wake up, The Conversation (UK), https://www.theconversation.com/west-could-sleepwalk-into-a-doomsday-war-with-russia-its-time-to-wake-up-59936 .

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The US Hand in the Libyan/Syrian Tragedies

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks at a United Nations Security Council Session on the situation in Syria at the U.N. in New York on Jan. 31, 2012. [State Dept. Photo]
By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | June 9, 2017

Police investigations and media reports have confirmed that two of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Western Europe — the coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people, and the May 2017 bombing of the arena in Manchester, England, which killed 23 — trace back to an Islamic State unit based in Libya known as Katibat al-Battar.

Since those attacks, a number of analysts, myself included, have characterized them as a form of “blowback” from NATO’s disastrous campaign to depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. By turning Libya into an anarchic staging ground for radical Islamist militants, that intervention set in motion the deadly export of terror back into Western Europe.

But such a Eurocentric critique of NATO’s intervention misses the far greater damage it wreaked on Syria, where nearly half a million people have died and at least 5 million refugees have had to flee their country since 2011. U.S., British and French leaders helped trigger one of the world’s great modern catastrophes through their act of hubris in seeking another “regime change” – the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad – in Syria.

A decade ago, Libya was a leading foe of radical jihadis, not a sanctuary for their international operations. A 2008 State Department memo noted that “Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism.” It gave the Gaddafi regime credit for “aggressively pursuing operations to disrupt foreign fighter flows,” particularly by veterans of jihadist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

All that came to an end in 2011, when armed rebels, including disciplined members of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, enlisted NATO’s help to topple Gaddafi’s regime.

Western leaders ignored the prescient warnings of Gaddafi’s son Seif that “Libya may become the Somalia of North Africa, of the Mediterranean. . . .You will see millions of illegal immigrants. The terror will be next door.” Gaddafi himself similarly predicted that once the jihadis “control the Mediterranean . . . then they will attack Europe.”

Subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe certainly vindicated those warnings, while discrediting the so-called “humanitarian” case for waging an illegal war in Libya. But the predicted jihadi efforts to “control the Mediterranean” have had far graver repercussions, at least in the case of Syria.

A recent story in the New York Times on the genesis of recent terror attacks on France and Britain noted in passing that the Islamic State in Libya, composed of “seasoned veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan,” was “among the first foreign jihadist contingent to arrive in Syria in 2012, as the country’s popular revolt was sliding into a broader civil war and Islamist insurgency.”

A former British counter-terrorism analyst told the newspaper, “some of the baddest dudes in Al Qaeda were Libyan. When I looked at the Islamic State, the same thing was happening. They were the most hard-core, the most violent — the ones always willing to go to extremes when others were not. The Libyans represented the elite troops, and clearly ISIS capitalized on this.”

These Libyan jihadists leveraged their numbers, resources, and fanaticism to help escalate Syria’s conflict into the tragedy we know today. The mass murder we now take for granted was not inevitable.

Extremist Violence in Syria

Although Syria’s anti-government protests in the spring of 2011 turned violent almost from the start, many reformers and government officials strove to prevent an all-out civil war. In August 2011, leaders of Syria’s opposition wisely declared that calls to arms were “unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically. Militarizing the revolution would . . . undermine the gravity of the humanitarian catastrophe involved in a confrontation with the regime. Militarization would put the revolution in an arena where the regime has a distinct advantage and would erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”

Largely forgotten today, the Assad regime also took serious steps to deescalate the violence, including lifting the country’s state of emergency, disbanding the unpopular National Security Court, appointing a new government, and hosting a national dialogue with protest leaders.

But on August 18, 2011, the same Western leaders who were bombing Gaddafi announced to the world that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Further energizing Syrian militants, Libyan rebels were just then in the midst of conquering Tripoli with NATO’s help.

“That is an ominous sign for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “Already there are signs Libya is giving inspiration to the rebels trying to oust Mr. Assad. . . . Syrian protesters took to the streets chanting ‘Gadhafi tonight, Bashar tomorrow.’ . . . The Libyan episode may serve simply to sharpen the conflict in Syria: both spurring on the dissidents and strengthening Mr. Assad’s resolve to hold on.”

Stoking war in Syria was not an unintended consequence of the Libyan campaign, but a conscious part of the longstanding neoconservative ambition to “remake the map of the Middle East” by toppling radical, nationalist and anti-American regimes. The same Journal article described the grandiose aims of some Washington interventionists:

“Beyond Syria, a new dose of energy provided by Libya’s uprising could ripple out to other nations in the region. In particular, U.S. officials hope it will reinvigorate a protest movement that arose inside Iran in 2009 to challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. . . Syria has served for 30 years as Iran’s closest strategic ally in the region. U.S. officials believe the growing challenge to Mr. Assad’s regime could motivate Iran’s democratic forces.”

Instead of motivating Iran’s democrats, of course, the Syrian conflict motivated Iran’s hardliners to send Revolutionary Guard units and Hezbollah proxy forces into the country, further destabilizing the region.

Following the gruesome murder of Gaddafi in the fall of 2011, Libyan zealots quickly began fueling other terrorist conflicts, ranging from Mali to the Middle East, with arms looted from Gaddafi’s vast stocks.

“The weapons proliferation that we saw coming out of the Libyan conflict was of a scale greater than any previous conflict — probably 10 times more weapons than we saw going on the loose in places like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan,” observed an expert at Human Rights Watch.

A United Nations investigation determined that “Transfers of arms and ammunition from Libya were among the first batches of weapons and ammunition to reach the Syrian opposition.” It also stressed that Libyan weapons were arming primarily “extremist elements,” allowing them to gain territory and influence at the expense of more moderate rebel groups.

Spreading the War

As early as November 2011, Islamist warlords in Libya began offering “money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad,” according to the Daily Telegraph. Abdulhakim Belhadj, commander of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate, met secretly with Syrian rebel leaders in Turkey to discuss training their troops. (In 2004, he had been the victim of a CIA kidnap plot and rendition from Malaysia to Libya.)

The commander of one armed Libyan gang told the newspaper, “Everyone wants to go (to Syria). We have liberated our country, now we should help others. . . This is Arab unity.”

In April 2012, Lebanese authorities confiscated a ship carrying more than 150 tons of arms and ammunition originating in Misrata, Libya. A U.N.-authorized panel inspected the weapons and reported finding SA-24 and SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, and a variety of other light and heavy weapons.

By that August, according to Time magazine, “hundreds of Libyans” had flocked to Syria to “export their revolution,” bringing with them weapons, expertise in making bombs, and experience in battlefield tactics.

“Within weeks of the successful conclusion of their revolution, Libyan fighters began trickling into Syria,” the magazine noted. “But in recent months, that trickle has allegedly become a torrent, as many more have traveled to the mountains straddling Syria and Turkey, where the rebels have established their bases.”

A Syrian rebel told the newsweekly, “They have heavier weapons than we do,” including surface-to-air missiles. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.”

A month later, the London Times reported that a Libyan ship carrying more than 400 tons of weapons bound for Syria, including SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, had docked in Turkey. Such weapons particularly compounded the suffering of civilians caught up in the war. As France’s foreign minister told reporters that October, rebel-held anti-aircraft missiles were “forcing (Syrian government) planes to fly extremely high, and so the strikes are less accurate.”

According to later reporting by Seymour Hersh, most such Libyan weapons made their way to Syria via covert routes supervised by the CIA, under a program authorized by the Obama administration in early 2012. Funding and logistics support came from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The CIA supposedly avoided disclosing the program to Congress by classifying it as a liaison operation with a foreign intelligence partner, Britain’s MI6.

Word of the operation began leaking to the London media by December 2012. The CIA was said to be sending in more advisers to help ensure that the Libyan weapons did not reach radical Islamist forces.

Of course, their efforts came too late; U.S. intelligence officials knew by that time that “the Salafist(s), the Muslim Brotherhood, and (al-Qaeda)” were “the major forces driving the insurgency.” The influx of new arms simply compounded Syria’s suffering and raised its profile as a dangerous arena of international power competition.

Libya’s arms and fighters helped transform the Syrian conflict from a nasty struggle into a bloodbath. As Middle East scholar Omar Dahi noted, “the year 2012 was decisive in creating the present catastrophe. There were foreign elements embroiled in Syria before that date . . . but until early 2012 the dynamics of the Syrian conflict were largely internal. . . . Partly in . . . appropriation of weapons pumped in from the outside and partly in anticipation of still greater military assistance, namely from the West, the opposition decided to take up arms.

“The decision — militarization — had three main effects. First, it dramatically increased the rate of death and destruction throughout the country. . . . By mid-2012, the monthly casualties were almost in excess of the total in the entire first year of the uprising. Militarization gave the Syrian regime a free hand to unleash its full arsenal of indiscriminate weaponry. . . Perhaps most fatefully, the advent of armed rebellion placed much of the opposition’s chances in the hands of those who would fund and arm the fighters. . . . It was then that the jihadi groups were unleashed.”

The collateral victims of NATO’s intervention in Libya now include 6 million Libyans attempting to survive in a failed state, millions of people across North Africa afflicted by Islamist terrorism, 20 million Syrians yearning for an end to war, and millions of innocent Europeans who wonder when they might become targets of suicidal terrorists. There is nothing “humanitarian” about wars that unleash such killing and chaos, with no end in sight.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25,000 troops to take part in largest US-led Black Sea drills in July

RT | June 7, 2017

The largest US-led drills in the Black Sea area this year will see 25,000 American and allied troops gather in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania this July for the annual ‘Saber Guardian 2017’ exercises.

The fifth edition of the annual Saber Guardian war-games, scheduled for July 10-20, will be “larger in both scale and scope” compared to previous years, the US European Command said in a statement.

It will amass around 25,000 servicemen from the US and 23 other nations, making it “the largest of the 18 Black Sea region exercises this year.”

According to the US European Command, the drills will focus on “participant deterrence capabilities, specifically, the ability to mass forces at any given time anywhere in Europe.”

The participating forces will also engage in an array of live fire exercises, river crossings and a mass casualty exercise.

The European-based 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and 2nd Cavalry Regiment are to represent the US military during the drills.

The Saber Guardian drills will be preceded and followed by a number of smaller exercises, in what the Americans calls “deterrence in action.”

Also on Wednesday, the US European Command announced the arrival of “several” B-1B heavy bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to the Fairford Airbase in the UK.

The bombers will support the separate Saber Strike and BALTOPS exercises to take place in the Baltics, and elsewhere in Europe this June.

Saber Strike is an annual exercise which was first staged in 2010 to improve cooperation among allies, while promoting regional stability and security, the US European Command said.

The current chapter of the so-called BALTOPS multinational drills will involve 4,000 navy personnel, 50 ships and submarines and more than 50 aircraft.

On Tuesday, Russia scrambled jets to intercept a nuclear-capable US B-52 strategic bomber which was flying in neutral airspace over the Baltic Sea along the Russian border.

NATO used the Ukrainian conflict and Crimea’s reunion with Russia in 2014 as a pretext to boosting its military presence in Eastern Europe, which it says is necessary to reassure allies in the face of the “Russian threat.”

The US-led military alliance is regularly staging drills near Russia’s borders, involving troop numbers and hardware unseen since the Cold War.

Russia denies having any aggressive designs on Eastern Europe and believes that NATO is vilifying Moscow to justify increased defense spending among the nations in the military alliance.

Moscow sees NATO’s relentless military buildup in neighboring countries as a security threat, and has responded by strengthening its own forces in the western part of Russia.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, blamed NATO of returning to “the policy of dividing lines In Europe” as he commented on the inclusion of Montenegro as the bloc’s 29th member.

READ MORE: Montenegro’s accession to NATO a purely geopolitical project, won’t boost security – Lavrov

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Ending NATO, a Monstrous Institution

By Karel van Wolferen • Unz Review • June 5, 2017

Their anxiety about the future of NATO, recently on full display again when the American president was in Europe, could not be bettered as a measure of the incapacity of Europe’s top politicians to guide their continent and represent its populations. Through its provocations of Moscow, NATO systematically helps increase the risk of a military confrontation. By thus sabotaging its declared purpose of preserving collective security for the countries on either side of the Atlantic, it erases its fundamental reason for being and right to exist.

Grasping these facts ought be enough to fuel moves aimed at quickly doing away with NATO. But it is terrible for more and easily overlooked reasons.

NATO’s survival prevents the political entity that is the European Union from becoming a significant global presence for reasons other than its economic weight. If you cannot have a defence policy of your own you also deprive yourself of a foreign policy. Without a substantive foreign policy, Europe does not show anything that anyone might consider ‘a face’ to the world. Without such a face to the outside, the inside cannot come to terms about what it stands for, and substitutes meaningless platitudes for answers to the question as to why it should exist in the first place.

NATO is an example of an institution that has gotten completely out of hand through European complacency, intellectual laziness, and business opportunism. As a security alliance it requires a threat. When the one that was believed to exist during the Cold War disappeared, a new one had to be found. Forged for defence against what was once believed to be an existential threat, it only began actually deploying its military might after that threat had disappeared, for its illegal war against Serbia. Once it had jumped that hurdle, it was encouraged to continue jumping toward imagined global threats. Its history since the demise of its original adversary has been deplorable, as its European member states were made party to war crimes resulting from actions at Washington’s behest for objectives that have made a dead letter of international law. It has turned some European governments into liars when they told their populations that sending troops to Afghanistan was for the purpose of assorted humanitarian purposes like reconstructing that country, rather than fighting a war against Taleban forces intent on reclaiming their country from American occupation.

Afghanistan did not, as was predicted at the time, turn into a graveyard for NATO, next to that of the British Empire, the Soviet Union and – farther back – Alexander the Great. Having survived Afghanistan, NATO continued to play a significant role in the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libya, and in the destruction of parts of Syria through covertly organising, financing, and arming ISIS forces for the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government. And it continues to serve as a cover for the war making elements in Britain and France. America’s coup in the Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in a crisis in relations with Russia, gave NATO a new lease on life as it helped create an entirely uncalled for and hysterical fear of Russia in Poland and the Baltic states.

NATO repudiates things that we are said to hold dear. It is an agent of corruption of thought and action in both the United States and Europe. Through propaganda that distorts the reality of the situation in the areas where it operates, and perennial deceit about its true objectives, NATO has substituted a now widely shared false picture of geopolitical events and developments for one that, even if haphazard, used to be pieced together by independent reporters for mainstream media whose own tradition and editors encouraged discovery of facts. This propaganda relies to a large extent on incessant repetition for its success. It can generally not be traced to NATO as a source of origin because it is being outsourced to a well-funded network of public relations professionals.

The Atlantic Council is NATO’s primary PR organization. It is connected with a web of think tanks and NGO’s spread throughout Europe, and very generous to journalists who must cope with a shrinking and insecure job environment. This entity is well-versed in Orwellian language tricks, and for obvious reasons must mischaracterise NATO itself as an alliance instead of a system of vassalage. Alliance presupposes shared purposes, and it cannot be Europe’s purpose to be controlled by the United States, unless we now accept that a treasonous European financial elite must determine the last word on Europe’s future.

An influential policy deliberation NGO known as the International Crisis Group (ICG), is one of the organizations linked with the Atlantic Council. It operates as a serious and studious outfit, carrying an impressive list of relatively well-known names of associates, and studies areas of the world harbouring conflicts or about-to-be conflicts that could undermine world peace and stability. Sometimes this group does offer information that is germane to a situation, but its purpose has in effect become one of making the mainstream media audience view the situation on the ground in Syria, or the ins and outs of North Korea, or the alleged dictatorship in Venezuela, and so on, through the eyeballs of the consensus creators in American foreign policy.

NATO repudiates political civilisation. It is disastrous for European intellectual life as it condemns European politicians and the thinking segment of the populations in its member states to be locked up in what may be described as political kindergarten, where reality is taught in terms of the Manichean division between bad guys and superheroes. While Europe’s scholars, columnists, TV programmers and sophisticated business commentators rarely pay attention to NATO as an organization, and are generally oblivious to its propaganda function, what it produces condemns them to pay lip service to the silliest geopolitical fantasies.

NATO is not only terrible for Europe, it is very bad for the United States and the world in general, for it has handed to America’s elites important tools aiding its delusional aim of fully dominating the planet. This is because NATO provides the most solid external support for sets of assumptions that allegedly lend a crucial moral dimension to America’s warmaking. NATO does not exist for the sake of indispensable European military prowess, which hardly has not been impressive. It exists as legal justification for Washington to keep nuclear weapons and military bases in Europe. It obviously also exists as support for America’s military-industrial complex.

But its moral support ought to be considered its most significant contribution. Without NATO, the conceptual structure of a ‘West’ with shared principles and aims would collapse. NATO was once the organisation believed to ensure the continued viability of the Western part what used to be known as the ‘free world’. Such connotations linger, and lend themselves to political exploitation. The ‘free world’ has since the demise of the Soviet Union not been much invoked. But ‘the West’ is still going strong, along with the notion of Western values and shared principles, with ‘the good’ in the form of benevolent motives automatically assumed to be on its side. This gives the powers that be in Washington a terrific claim in the realm of widely imagined moral aspects of geopolitical reality. They have inherited the mantle of the leader of the ‘free world’ and ‘the West’, and since there has not been a peep of dissension about this from the other side of the Atlantic, the claim appears true and legitimate in the eyes of the world and the parties concerned.

In the meantime the earlier American claim to speak and act on behalf of the free world was broadened and seemingly depoliticised by a substitute claim of speaking and acting on behalf of the ‘international community’. There is of course no such thing, but that doesn’t bother editors who keep invoking it when some countries or the bad guys running them do things that are not to Washington’s liking. Doing away with NATO would pull the rug from under the ‘international community’. Such a development would then reveal the United States, with its current political system and priorities in international affairs, as a criminal power and the major threat to peace in the world.

I can hear an objection that without this resonance of moral claims the activities serving the ‘full spectrum dominance’ aim would have been carried out anyway. If you think so, and if you can stand reading again what the neocons were producing between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraqi in 2003, subtract all references to moral clarity and the necessity for the United States to serve as moral beacon for the world from that literature, and you will see that preciously little argument remains for American war-making that ensued.

The spinelessness of the average European politician has added up to huge encouragement of the United States in its post-Cold War military adventurism. With forceful reminders from Europe about what those much vaunted supposedly shared political principles actually stood for, American rhetoric could not have been the same. Strong European condemnation of the shredding of the UN Charter, and the jettisoning of the principles adopted at the Nuremberg trials, would have made it much more difficult for George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neocons to go where blind fanaticism and hubris, with imagined economic advantage, took them. Perhaps more importantly, it might have given a relatively weak American protest movement the necessary added energy to rise to the level of effectiveness once attained by the anti-Vietnam activists as they imprinted themselves on the political culture of the 60s and 70s. European dissent might not have halted but could have slowed the transformation of much of the mainstream media into neocon propaganda assets.

As it is, NATO exists today in a realm of discourse in which revered post-World War II liberal conditions and practices are still believed to exist. It is an apolitical and ahistorical realm determined by hubris and misplaced self-confidence, in which powers that have utterly altered these practices and negated its positive aspects are not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America’s pathological condition of requiring an enemy as a source of everlasting profit is not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America’s fatuous designs for complete control over the world is not acknowledged. It is a realm of foreign policy illusions.

NATO is supposed to guard putative Western values that in punditry observations have something to do with what the Enlightenment has bestowed on Western culture. But it deludes staunch NATO supporters, who cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility that what they have long trusted to be an agent of protection, has in fact become a major force that destroys those very qualities and principles.

There is a further more tangible political/legal reason why NATO is monstrous. It is steered by nonelected powers in Washington, but is not answerable to identifiable entities within the American military system. It is not answerable to any of the governing institutions of the European Union. Its centre in Brussels exists effectively outside the law. Its relations with ‘intelligence agencies’ and their secret operations remain opaque. Who is doing what and where are all questions to which no clear, legally actionable, information is made available.

NATO has thereby become a tool of intimidation lacking any compatibility with democratic political organisation. An autocrat aspiring to unfettered rule with which to operate anywhere in the world would find in NATO the ideal institutional arrangements. All this should be of our utmost concern. Because all this means that NATO is now one of the world’s most horrible organizations that at the same time has become so politically elusive, apparently, that there is no European agent with enough of a grip on it to make it disappear.

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

US deploying B-52 bombers to Europe for NATO exercise

Press TV – June 2, 2017

The US Air Force is deploying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and 800 airmen to Britain that will take part in NATO exercises in June in Eastern Europe near Russia’s border.

The long-range strategic Boeing B-52 Stratofortress will take part in a series of joint exercises that primarily take place in the Baltic Sea, the Arctic and along Russia’s border with several NATO member states.

“Training with allies and joint partners improves coordination between allies and enables the US Air Force to build enduring relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges,” the Air Force said in a press release.

In April, the US Air Force said it is deploying F-35 jets to Estonia, the service’s newest and most expensive fighter jets.

Western countries have moved to step up their military presence in Eastern Europe to deter what they call the Russian “aggression.”

Moscow is wary of NATO’s military build-up near its borders. In response, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.

The B-52 deployment comes following a NATO summit on May 25 in Brussels where US President Donald Trump accused members of the alliance of not contributing enough to the NATO budget and owing “massive amounts of money” to the US.

Trump was harshly critical of NATO as a presidential candidate, describing the 28-member Western military alliance as “obsolete.”

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Obama vs. Trump

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | May 31, 2017

Barack Obama presided over the sale of more than $100 billion in weaponry to Saudi Arabia during his presidency. These deals were transacted before, during and after the Saudis’ devastating attacks on Yemen. It is important to state these simple facts because there is now a concerted effort among the rulers to make us believe that these recent events never took place.

Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and announcement of yet another arms sale is the immediate cause of consternation. The continuity in foreign policy decision making from one president to another is a longstanding American tradition. But acknowledgement is problematic now that Trump is the one acting as his predecessors did.

The Saudi bombing and blockade of Yemen has resulted in starvation and a cholera epidemic. The corporate media and their talking heads ignored the crime as long as Barack Obama was in the White House. Now the same forces who hid the carnage beginning in 2015 behave as if the new president bears responsibility when Obama gave the green light.

A New York Times editorial is an example of the official propaganda scheme. Entitled “Will President Trump Help Save Yemen,” the editorial excoriated Trump for doing nothing more than what Obama had done. There was no mention of the former president’s support, in fact the Times gave the impression that he somehow opposed a policy he had carried out.

The New York Times is not alone in trying to make observant people disbelieve their lying eyes. Obama UN ambassador Samantha Power is also part of the amnesiac brigade. In a twitter post she responded to Trump administration boasting about the arms sale. “For a country whose attacks on civilians in Yemen — and inability to learn from mistakes — have been devastating to human life.” Fortunately, social media is a two way street and her obvious attempt at changing history was called into question by angry readers.

So concerned are the elites and their friends around the world that they won’t let Obama go. Defending the prerogatives of the ruling classes is a permanent position after all. That is why Obama was invited months ago to give a speech in Berlin with Angela Merkel by his side. The obvious goal of the photo opportunity was to help Merkel’s election campaign. Now an Obama visit may also undermine any foreign policy changes Trump may contemplate. Trump’s message of America first throws the imperial project into jeopardy and causes panic among current and former leaders.

The corporate media and foreign governments don’t care about the damage Trump is doing domestically. The ICE raids, emboldened racism, voter suppression and cuts to government programs don’t concern them. But Trump’s victory already killed the TPP trade deal. His white America first philosophy leaves less room for NATO machinations and imperial imperatives.

Trump literally shoved the president of Montenegro aside at the NATO summit. The juvenile alpha male move was ironic for several reasons. Tiny Montenegro has been pushed into NATO against the wishes of many of its people. But NATO is determined to expand because Russia is the last country capable of saying no to America’s whims and its determination to run the whole world.

Trump’s understanding of European foreign policy consists of worrying about how much America contributes towards NATO funding vis a vis other nations. He is a businessman after all and sees no reason to pay more than the next guy. This nationalistic impulse creates huge problems for the elites, who had no intention of giving up on their grand schemes of control backed by American muscle.

Trump’s non-commitment to NATO’s Article 5 may have done the world a huge favor. Article 5 makes every member nation responsible for the defense of the others. NATO assists in every act of aggression that the United States cooks up and that is one of the reasons the elites want Trump gone. The American/NATO effort to tear Yugoslavia apart included the bombing of Montenegro. Trump’s wrong headed impulse reveals some important truths about the state of the world.

And that is why Obama will keep showing up for his friends. He is still working for the western oligarchs who want the system to keep running as it has done. No one should worry about Merkel’s lament that Europe can’t count on the United States. Trump’s boorish behavior is a lot less dangerous than the trans Atlantic alliance of war making.

Of course Obama acolytes are lying about his relationship with Saudi Arabia. American presidents always genuflect to their partner in crime. The Saudis have aided in the destruction of much of that region but those facts are inconvenient. Obama’s second act won’t work unless some very big lies are served up.

Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vladimir Putin BLASTS the US deep state

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | May 31, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given an interview with France’s Le Figaro in which he said that Russia had “no special expectations” about the election of US President Donald Trump.

Putin then described how a US President can often have his ideals totally crushed by what is known as the deep state upon entering the White House. Putin likened Trump’s inability to implement his desire to change US policy towards Russia with Barack Obama’s failure to shut down the still operational Guantanamo Bay prison camp in spite of campaigning on the pledge to shut it down.

Putin stated,

“When a person is elected, they may have some ideas. Then people with briefcases arrive, well dressed, wearing dark suits… These people start explaining how things are done. And instantly, everything changes”.

Putin told the French media outlet that the situation of a President being constrained by the existing deep state power structure is uniquely American stating,

“Can you imagine France or Russia acting this way? This would have been a disaster. But it is possible in the United States and continues to this day”.

Of course, France doesn’t need a domestic deep state to constrain its elected leaders, that’s what NATO and the EU is for, something Putin implied during his press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

President Putin did however express continued signs of optimism when it comes to Trump the man, as opposed to Trump the leader compromised by the US deep state. Putin said that he appreciated Trump’s “pragmatic and understandable approach” to NATO and also stated that, “… I am cautiously optimistic, and I think that we can and should be able to reach agreements on key issues”.

Putin then turned to the continued Russiagate fiasco saying

“As President Trump once said, and I think that he was totally right when he said it could have been someone sitting on their bed or somebody intentionally inserted a flash drive with the name of a Russian national, or something like that”.

Putin then turned to Trump’s opponents, echoing Trump’s words that the entire ‘Russian hacking’ allegations stem from the Democrats’ inability to admit that they ran a disastrous campaign,

“They are absolutely reluctant to admit this, and prefer deluding themselves and others into thinking it was not their fault, that their policy was correct, they did all the right things, but someone from the outside thwarted them. But it was not so. They just lost and they have to admit it”.

Putin said the simple fact is that Trump was “closer to the people and better understood what ordinary voters want”, something Putin ought to understand as he has won many more elections than Hillary Clinton ever has done.

Putin lamented the fact that the Russiagate domestic scandal in the US has created a harmful international relations environment but ended on a more circumspect note, saying,

“But it will pass, everything passes and this will pass as well”.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments