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Syria slams US military presence as ‘act of aggression’

Press TV – January 18, 2018

Syria has strongly condemned a US plan to maintain its military presence in the Arab country as interference in its internal affairs and a blatant violation of international law.

“The internal affairs in any country in the world is an exclusive right of the people of this country, thus nobody has the right to only give his opinion in that because this violates the international law and contradicts the most important theories of the constitutional law,” Syria’s state news agency, SANA, quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying in a statement on Thursday.

The statement comes after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said US troops would stay in Syria for the foreseeable future to defeat terrorists, and added that the US would not fund the reconstruction of any part of Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is in power.

According to figures the Pentagon released in December, there are at least 2,000 troops in Syria as well as a diplomatic presence in cities such as Kobani.

The Syrian statement further said US presence and all of Washington’s actions in the Arab country are aimed at protecting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which was created by the former American administration.

The Damascus government “does not need a single dollar from the United States for reconstruction because this dollar is stained with the blood of the Syrians,” the statement added.

Turkey reacts to Tillerson denial

Meanwhile, Turkey said on Thursday that Washington’s denial that it intended to build a border force in Syria was “important,” but added that Ankara would not remain silent in the face of any force that threatened its borders.

Tillerson on Wednesday denied that the United States had any intention to build a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue, which has incensed Ankara, had been “misportrayed, misdescribed. Some people misspoke.”

“This statement is important but Turkey cannot remain silent in the face of any formation which will threaten its borders,” Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told broadcaster NTV.

On Sunday, the US announced that it will work, along with a coalition of its allies purportedly fighting Daesh, with US-backed militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to set up a new 30,000-strong “border security” force that includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

The force would operate along the Turkish border with Iraq and within Syria along the Euphrates River.

Washington’s plan has drawn angry reactions from Syria, Turkey and Russia. Syria views the formation of such a border force as an assault on its sovereignty.

The US and its allies back militants fighting to topple the Syrian government. American warplanes have also been bombing Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

The airstrikes have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties, seriously damaged Syria’s infrastructure and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terror.

Turkey reacted angrily to Washington’s plan and warned it would not hesitate to take action in Afrin district and other regions across the border in Syria unless the United States withdrew support for YPG.

In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield. Ankara said the campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh terrorists from Turkey’s border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces.

Turkey ended its Syria offensive in March 2017, but has kept its military presence there.

Syria has voiced strong opposition to both Turkish and American military actions on its soil, repeatedly calling on the two NATO allies to pull their forces out.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March

By Cindy Sheehan & Rick Sterling | American Herald Tribune | January 18, 2018

There is one thing missing from the upcoming Women’s March publicity and philosophy: the urgent need for Peace Not War!

The March will speak out against hate, discrimination and exploitation. That’s good.

The March will also speak out strongly in favor of equality, women’s reproductive choice and respect for all people regardless to disability, gender, orientation, etc… That’s also good.

But the subject of US military aggression and war is essential. We hope that many marchers will include this in their signage and discussions. Despite many antiwar groups and individuals actively advocating for “peace” to be in the platform/demands of the March, this is the second year peace is being minimized or ignored by the organizers.

For the past century the US has intervened aggressively against governments the Washington establishment does not like. A partial list includes Philippines, Korea, Guatemala, Iran, Cuba, Chile, Vietnam, Angola, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Lebanon, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Honduras, Libya and Syria!

These acts of “regime change” have killed millions of people including many thousands of our own youth, both women and men. They have resulted in hundreds of thousands returning home injured physically or psychologically. Mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, and other family and friends have been profoundly, permanently, and unnecessarily handed a lifetime of pain and sorrow because of the US war machine.

Shouldn’t it be a priority to change the policies and acts of economic aggression and military intervention that result in violence, war and destruction?

Shouldn’t we address the causes of the refugee crisis as well as the symptom? After all, most refugees never wanted to leave their homelands.

We are sure that most of the women and allies who will be attending the Women’s March agree with us on the need for action and protest against our ongoing wars.

The escalating military budget is driving our country further and further into debt. Meanwhile infrastructure is decaying, health care and housing is diminishing and education is underfunded. College students now graduate with astronomical student debt. Meanwhile there is growing police oppression.

We must include PEACE in our march because unless we can stop the trend, a nuclear war is going to destroy civilization. There is no such thing as a winnable nuclear war and dismantling ALL nukes should be at the forefront of any of our activism. The continuity of human life on our planet is at stake. These are Women’s issues.

As we demand a change in tone and behavior in the White House, we must also demand a change in US international foreign policy away from militarism and aggression.

The demand for peace not war should be integral to the Women’s March.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Did Donald Trump Change His Mind on Domestic Spying?

By Andrew Napolitano • Unz Review • January 18, 2018

Late last week, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, repeated his public observations that members of the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence division of the FBI — are not trustworthy with the nation’s intelligence secrets. Because he has a security clearance at the “top secret” level and knows how others who have access to secrets have used and abused them, his allegations are extraordinary.

He pointed to the high-ranking members of the Obama administration who engaged in unmasking the names of some people whose communications had been captured by the country’s domestic spies and the revelation of those names for political purposes. The most notable victim of this lawlessness is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, a transcript of whose surveilled conversation with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak found its way into print in The Washington Post.

During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years, captured communications — digital recordings of telephone conversations and copies of emails and text messages — did not bear the names of those who sent or received them. Those names were stored in a secret file. The revelation of those names is called unmasking.

Nunes also condemned the overt pro-Hillary Clinton bias and anti-Trump prejudice manifested by former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey and their agents in the field, some of whose texts and emails we have seen. The secrets that he argued were used for political purposes had been obtained by the National Security Agency pursuant to warrants issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Yet Nunes voted to enhance federal bulk surveillance powers.

Bulk surveillance — which is prohibited by the Constitution — is the acquisition of digital versions of telephone, email and text communications based not on suspicion or probable cause but rather on geography or customer status. As I have written before, one publicly available bulk surveillance warrant was for all Verizon customers in the United States; that’s 115 million people, many of whom have more than one phone and at least one computer. And it is surveillance of Americans, not foreigners as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act contemplates.

How did this happen?

It happened in the dark. The NSA has persuaded the FISC, which meets in secret and only hears the government’s arguments, to permit it to spy on any American it wishes on the theory that all Americans know someone who knows someone else who knows someone who could have spoken to a foreign person working for a foreign government that could wish us ill.

This is the so-called judicial logic used to justify the search warrant on all of Verizon’s customers. This is what happens when judges hear only one side of a dispute and do so in secret.

The FISA amendments for which Nunes and other House members voted, which are likely to pass in the Senate, would purport to make bulk surveillance on all Americans lawful. At present, it is lawful only because the FISC has authorized it. The FISA amendments would write this into federal legislation for the next six years.

And these amendments would permit the FBI and any American prosecutor or law enforcement agency — federal, state or local — to sweep into the NSA’s databases, ostensibly looking for evidence of crime. If this were to become law, there would no longer be any unmasking scandals, because the stored data contains the names of the participants in the communications and would be readily available for harassment, blackmail or political use.

It would also mean that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution — which guarantees privacy in our persons, houses, papers and effects — would have been gutted by the very officeholders who swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend it.

Does the American public know this? Does the president?

Last week, I made an impassioned plea on Fox News Channel directly to the president. I reminded him that he personally has been victimized by unlawful surveillance and the political use of sensitive surveillance-captured data; that the Constitution requires warrants for surveillance and they must specifically describe the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized; that warrants must be based on probable cause of individual behavior, not an area code or customer list; that the purpose of these requirements is to preserve personal privacy and prohibit bulk surveillance; and that he took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

About an hour later, the president issued a tweet blasting bulk surveillance and unmasking. Two hours after that, he issued another tweet supporting the enactment of the FISA amendments.
What’s going on here?

I suspect that leaders in the intelligence community hurriedly convinced the president that if he sets aside his personal unhappy experiences with them and any constitutional qualms, they will use the carte blanche in the FISA amendments to keep us safe. This is a sad state of affairs. It means that Donald Trump changed his mind 180 degrees on the primacy of personal liberty in our once-free society.

The elites in the federal government and the deep state — the parts of the government that are unauthorized by the Constitution and that operate in the dark, what candidate Trump called “the swamp” — have formed a consensus that marches the might of the government toward total Orwellian surveillance.

This is a march that will be nearly impossible to stop. This is the permanent destruction of the right to privacy. This is the exaltation of safety over liberty, and it will lead to neither. This is the undoing of limited government, right before our eyes.

Copyright 2018 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by Creators.com.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘When US sidelined, Koreas can work towards peace & stability, talks suggest’

RT | January 18, 2018

US policy is a distraction from the ongoing Korean talks, which Seoul hopes will eventually lead to the denuclearization of the entire peninsula, security analyst Charles Shoebridge told RT.

The third session of inter-Korean talks in a week signalled a significant breakthrough in the frosty ties between the two Koreas. And while the thaw in relations was welcomed by Seoul, the recent rapprochement was greeted with skepticism by 20 foreign ministers of the so-called “Vancouver Group,” which defended South Korea during the Korean War more than five decades ago.

“It is particularly ironic… That while this… Thawing of tensions is going on between North and South… It’s happening… In Vancouver, the former allies of South Korea are tightening the noose, increasing the rhetoric, raising the temperature,” Shoebridge told RT after the US-led group decided to consider unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang Tuesday.

The US is adamant that it will apply not only economic and diplomatic pressure, but also issue military threats to force N. Korea to disarm. On Wednesday, Seoul and Washington “reaffirmed its security commitment to the defense of South Korea using all categories of its military capabilities,” the Ministry of National Defense said. The allies also “agreed to continue the rotational deployment of US strategic assets to South Korea and nearby areas as long as North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats persist.”

The decision to keep up with military threats comes the same day as Donald Trump expressed doubt that the intra-Korean talks will lead to “anything meaningful.” The US president also warned that it is “very possible” that the standoff with North Korea might not be resolved peacefully. Charles Shoebridge criticized Washington’s foreign policy, pointing out that Seoul and Pyongyang can achieve much more if the US stops interfering in their “considerable diplomatic achievement.”

“These talks themselves started on the back of South Korea agreeing to persuade America to at least pause its military exercises,” Shoebridge told RT. “It appears to be the case when the interests and the foreign policy, and the actions of the United States are put to one side, local players are, to some degree at least, able to start finding local solutions, [and] make some progress towards securing their local interests, which are usually peace and stability.”

China and Russia – two major regional players who were not invited to participate in the Vancouver summit this week – criticized Washington’s pessimistic outlook of the Korean diplomatic process. Participants that gathered in Canada, while rejecting the Chinese-Russian ‘double freeze’ roadmap for easing Korean tensions, failed to provide any alternative, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In July 2017, Moscow and Beijing proposed the initiative that would see the US and its allies halting all major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program. The ‘double freeze’ initiative, however, was once again rebuffed by Washington Tuesday during the Vancouver summit.

Beijing also slammed the meeting, saying it was driven by a Cold War mentality. “When major parties to the Korean Peninsula issue are not present, such a meeting will not contribute to properly resolving the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang pointed out Wednesday. “All parties should cherish the hard-won momentum of easing tension on the peninsula, support the efforts made by the DPRK and the ROK in improving ties, and double their commitment in alleviating the situation and promoting dialogues.”

On Wednesday, North Korea agreed to allow a joint women’s ice hockey team to participate at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics (February 9-25) and march together as one with their southern neighbor under a “unified Korea” flag at the opening ceremony.

The North also consented to send a 150-member delegation of athletes and cheerleaders to the Paralympic games in March. South Korean President Moon Jae-in once again expressed hope Wednesday that the inter-Korean talks will pave the way for broader dialogue between the United States and the North which could eventually lead to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear standoff.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

US administration approves $500mn missile system deal with Saudi Arabia

Press TV – January 18, 2018

The US State Department has approved a possible $500-million sale of missile system support services to Saudi Arabia in defiance of global calls for Washington to stop providing Riyadh with military support due to the regime’s war crimes in Yemen.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday, saying Congress had been notified of the decision.

Congress now has 30 days to review the proposed sale, but it is not required to take any action.

The potential sale follows a request by Saudi Arabia for continued technical assistance for Patriot Legacy Field Surveillance Program (FSP), the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) and the Patriot Engineering Services Program (ESP).

The package also includes spare parts and logistical support for Patriot and Hawk missile systems.

Last week, the US Army awarded Sikorsky, a leading American aircraft manufacturer, a contract worth nearly $200 million to supply 17 Black Hawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia.

The deals come as the US is under pressure to suspend its arms sales to the Saudi regime, which has been waging a deadly military aggression against Yemen since 2015.

At least 13,600 people have been killed since the start of the war.

During his first trip to Saudi Arabia last year, President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis, with options to sell up to $350 billion over a decade.

Facilitated by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the massive package includes missiles, bombs, armored personnel carriers, combat ships, terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missile systems and munitions.

The announcement generated backlash in Congress, with Republican Senator Rand Paul promising to work to block at least parts of the package.

The Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions on American arms sales to boost the country’s weapons industry.

The move seeks to ease export rules for military equipment “from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery,” according to officials familiar with the plan.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science

By Martha Rosenberg | CounterPunch | January 17, 2018

Do you overeat? Did your boyfriend just break up with you? Does no one return your emails? Do you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning? If so, you may be suffering from mental illness! Mental illness is a highly stigmatized, life-long condition, that millions do not even realize they have and only a pharmaceutical drug can fix says Pharma and its operatives.

Few marketing gambits have been as successful as Pharma’s elevation of everyday symptoms into “mental illness.” It has enabled it to aggregate “patient” groups to petition lawmakers, insurers and Medicaid and Medicare for payment of high-priced psychiatric drugs. It has allowed groups like the Pharma-funded Active Minds and NAMI to infiltrate college campuses and proclaim the ups and downs of growing up and college life “mental illness”––growing the market. And now it has allowed it to infiltrate Boston’s Museum of Science.

Last spring an exhibit called Many Faces of Our Mental Health debuted at the museum, taking Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill message to museum goers and the general public. Visitors to the  exhibit “might gain new insights and better understand the complex nature of mental health,” said the press release. They might “reflect on how mental health affects their own lives or the lives of friends and family.” Hey, they might have “mental illness” too!

Funders of the exhibit included the Pharma-backed NAMI and the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. and Sidney A. Swensrud foundations both of which stress screening and early intervention for childhood “mental illness.” Both mechanisms are widely seen as a way to grow the market for psychiatric drugs. In fact, the Baer Foundation funds the Pharma-funded Joan Luby who not only finds mental abnormalities in toddlers, she thinks they are present in “late preterm” babies!

There is no biological test for “mental illness”––whether depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder––and until recently, depression and anxiety were not even considered “mental illness.” Now, television drug ads, faux patient groups and faux public service announcements and online quizzes have produced a groundswell of self-diagnosed “mentally ill” people. Pharma funded patient groups like Active Minds and NAMI have even made the badge of mental illness “cool” on high school and college campuses.

“When insurers balk at reimbursing patients for new prescription medications,” says the Los Angeles Times, these groups “typically swing into action, rallying sufferers to appear before public and consumer panels [and] contact lawmakers.”

With an estimated one quarter of the population now taking expensive psychiatric drugs, Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill ploy enriches Wall Street and raises our health care costs. Gone are the days when bad moods were attributed to problems with finance, romance, debt, jobs, housing, careers, family, marriages and health. Worse, Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill ruse siphons off legitimate, activist anger at a government system that keeps people poor and powerless by suggesting they have a personal problem and the answer is a happy pill. Also known as––retreat into individualism.

“People living with mental illness can lead very productive lives and this exhibition highlights this important concept,” said Christine Reich, vice president of exhibit development and conservation, about the Museum of Science exhibit adding this commercial for expensive Pharma drugs: “Mental illness is greatly affect[ed] by the treatment options that are available.”

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Vancouver summit on N. Korea failed to provide alternative to Russian & Chinese proposals – Moscow

RT | January 17, 2018

The joint US-Canada summit is just a “heavy-handed attempt” to undermine the decisions of the UNSC, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said. It added that the meeting failed to provide an alternative to the Russian-Chinese initiative.

Participants at the Vancouver summit failed to provide any alternative to the existing Chinese-Russian roadmap for easing the Korean knot, the ministry said in statement. It noted that instead of coming up with any “constructive” results, the gathering demonstrated “absolute disrespect” for the authority of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

What’s more, the decision to consider imposing unilateral sanctions against North Korea that overstep the demands outlined by the UNSC resolutions are “absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive,” the statement added. The ministry said further that a situation, in which some countries adopt roles as interpreters of UNSC resolutions without any permission or mandate – thus undermining the role of the UN – is “absolutely inadmissible.”

Back in July 2017, Moscow and Beijing put forward a proposal known as the ‘double-freeze’ initiative that envisaged the US and its allies halting all major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program. The initiative was, however, turned down by Washington – which was reiterated on Tuesday during the Vancouver summit.

The same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry again drew attention to the fact that the initiative is aimed at “resolving the entire range of problems [around the Korean Peninsula] solely through the political and diplomatic means.”

The Vancouver meeting, on the contrary, did not contribute to the normalization of the situation on the peninsula and only exacerbated existing tensions, the ministry said. Notably, neither Russia nor China was invited to the gathering despite being major players in the region as well as immediate neighbors of North Korea.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he was told Russia and China would only be “briefed” on the results of the meeting, calling such an attitude “unacceptable.” He also said that it would be a “great result already” if the meeting merely avoided leading to anything “counterproductive.”

Beijing also slammed the summit by saying that it had “not the slightest legality and representativeness.” It also accused the meeting participants of evoking Cold War ghosts. Pyongyang denounced the Vancouver summit as a “provocation” which is not helping the talks between North and South Korea.

In the meantime, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard noted that it was the US regime change policy that prompted Pyongyang to develop its nuclear and missile arsenal in the first place. She turned to Twitter to call on Washington to put an end to such practices as well as to cast away “unrealistic preconditions” that the US government has been setting for decades to negotiate with North Korea.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Press TV – January 17, 2018

The United States has withheld tens of millions of dollars in money for a United Nations agency tasked with providing services for Palestinian refugees.

The administration of US President Donald Trump held back 65 million dollars of a planned 125-million-dollar funding installment meant for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Tuesday, two weeks after US President Donald Trump warned to cut off future payments if Palestinians rejected negotiations with Israel.

The US State Department claimed that the decision was not taken to pressure Palestinian leaders and served as a call on other countries to step forward and do more to help the Palestinian refugees.

“This is not aimed at punishing anyone,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters. “The United States government and the Trump administration believe that there should be more so-called burden-sharing to go around.”

The department also sent a letter to UNRWA, demanding that the agency undergo major changes and describing the reforms as a condition of releasing more money.

Earlier in the day, the UNRWA had announced a forced lay-off of more than 100 employees in Jordan because of the US’s refusal to allow the transfer of financial aid to the agency.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official, immediately denounced the Tuesday move as a deliberate US effort to deny the Palestinians their rights.

Israel created a wave of Palestinian refugees numbering in the hundreds of thousands after it overran huge swathes of Arab territories in the Middle East to proclaim existence in 1948. Ever since, many refugees have been scattered across densely-crowded camps in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon.

Relations between the US and Palestine have also been stained over the past weeks since Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and vowed to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is currently under Israel’s control, while the regime also claims the city’s eastern part, which hosts the third holiest Muslim site.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Quit Lying To Us About The ‘Peace Process’: Israel Won’t Willingly Return the Lands and Resources It Has Stolen

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | January 17, 2018

Face the truth: Israel won’t willingly return the lands and resources it has stolen unless slapped with tough, sustained sanctions. Civil society in the US and UK must end the conspiracy among their warped government ‘élites’ that makes a mockery of international law.

It goes something like this:

“Listen up, you wretched Palestinians. There’s no way you’re getting your lands back, or a state of your own, because that would make our Zionist buddies feel upset and insecure. And you know how their security matters above everyone else’s. Besides, God told them they could grab your land and kick you out even if they don’t really have any ancestral connection to it. So you rabble don’t belong here. And you might as well know that we support them 100 percent in their efforts to make life so f*cking unbearable that you all piss off somewhere else – and we don’t care where just as long as our beloved friends get their hands on your farms and homes and resources. Naturally we’ve suspended your human rights, and international law simply isn’t available to you.

“You don’t like being shafted? Tough. Learn to accept it. Bow down to those who are favoured by God, as we have done.”

signed: US and UK, adoring sponsors of God’s Rogue Regime

 That, essentially, has been the West’s attitude for the last 50 years. And, if we don’t change it, that’s how it will for another 50, by which time Israel will rule the Middle East and possibly beyond.

Life for the Palestinians hasn’t improved. It has only got worse under the tyrrany of Israel’s military occupation. And throughout that time the performance of their representatives to the outside world, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), has been chronic verging on useless.  Thanks in part to the Palestinian leadership’s diplomatic ineptitude and quisling tendencies Israel has been able to expand its frontiers and flourish far more than it had any right to.

By 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu felt untouchable enough to say that if he was returned to power, a Palestinian state would not be established because handing back territory would threaten Israel’s security.

And in August 2017 he announced that Israel would keep the West Bank permanently and there would be no more uprooting of settlements: “We are here to stay forever…. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land.”

Netanyahu’s ancestors, by the way, are from… where? And the rest of the thugs in his administration… where do their roots lie? Few if any can show ancestral links to the Biblical lands they claim are theirs. The true inheritors, of course, are the Palestinian peoples who have been there since the days when Jerusalem was a Canaanite city.

Netanyahu’s position echoes his Likud Party’s stance back in 1999 and 2009, so western politicians should be well acquainted with it. To remind them, David Morrison has produced a neat analysis of Israel’s unchanging position:

  • “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”
  • “The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”
  • “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem”
  • “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values [written before Israel removed its troops]. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

Likud’s message still stands. Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister and second only in ranking to Netanyahu, told  Israeli diplomats in 2015 that “we need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country….  This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.” She rattled on about God having promised the land of Israel to the Jews and how she was going to get the international community to “recognise Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere”.

Zionist leaders before Netanyahu broadcast their fraudulent claims to the land and bragged about their plan to seize it. Their evil intent has been well advertised. Even if Netanyahu wanted a two-state solution he would be opposed by his own party and the five others making up his ruling coalition, virtually all of which stand against Palestinians having a state of their own.

Israel’s bad behaviour richly rewarded

As David Morrison and others have repeatedly pointed out, the UN Security Council has never applied sanctions against Israel to force a reversal of its illegal land grab. Instead of punishing the regime for its 50 years of terror, the US, UK and EU have showered it with privileges.

Since 1967, the US has handed Israel well over $100 billion in mostly military aid and provided political and diplomatic cover by vetoing resolutions critical of it in the UN Security Council. Obama before he left office guaranteed Israel a further $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years.

Hard-pressed American taxpayers still don’t seem to have grasped this misappropriation of their funds or they’d surely be angry enough to stop it.

The EU for its part allowed Israel to sign up to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in 1995 and gave it privileged access to EU markets under the EU-Israel Association Agreement of 2000, even though it breached the basic terms of membership from the start and continues to do so.So there are no painful consequences for Israel’s bad behaviour, just rich rewards.

Maintaining the illusion of a peace process

The peace process is, of course, a sham. Anyone who believes in it is hallucinating. But to perpetuate the cruel illusion Netanyahu offers an occasional glimmer of hope for a ‘negotiated’ settlement provided there are no awkward preconditions. In any event he will ensure the talks go nowhere, just as he has done many times before, aided and abetted by discredited ‘peace broker’ America and always blaming the Palestinians. It is patently obvious that Israel and the US (and indeed the UK) conspire to keep the idea of a peace process alive in order to provide a smoke-screen while Israel continues its expansionist policy and establishes more ‘facts on the ground’ designed to make its occupation irreversible.

Ban Ki-moon said two years ago: “The United Nations is committed to working to create the conditions for the parties to return to meaningful negotiations. That is the one and only path to a just and lasting solution — an end to the occupation that began in 1967…”

First, “meaningful negotiations” simply aren’t going to happen; and if they do they’ll lead nowhere as before. Besides, negotiations between a strong party backed by mighty powers and a weak demoralised party are unlikely to produce a “just” solution. Second, it is not “the only path”. There’s law and sanctions. And the law has already spoken. All that’s needed is the integrity and guts to enforce it. Nothing will change until the UN — or a significant section of the international community — rises to the moral challenge and enforces international law and the many resolutions relating to Israel’s crimes, and slaps Israel with severe sanctions until it complies. As long as it does nothing the UN is seen to be in on the conspiracy too.

The British government knows the facts. So what on earth was Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, thinking when he recently addressed the Security Council briefing on the Middle East Peace Process?

“Support for a two-state solution is the only way to ensure a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…. The United Kingdom’s longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process remains clear and unchanged: we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.

Theresa May has all her ministers and MPs mouthing and writing the same tosh, as did her predecessors. It isn’t difficult given that 80 percent of them are reported to be signed-up Friends of Israel. We watched their grovelling worship of the rogue regime — and of the arch-criminal Netanyahu — at the Balfour centenary celebrations in London. Wilson added:

“The leadership and engagement that President Trump and his administration have demonstrated in reinvigorating the Middle East Peace Process must have our support. We call on the region, Israelis, and Palestinians to seize the opportunity that this presents and turn 2017 not just into another anniversary of occupation, but a new anniversary of peace.”

Well, we’ve seen Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop leadership at work, gifting Jerusalem to Israel, and what that did for peace.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, an organisation not given to exaggeration, reacted by reminding everybody that acquiring or annexing territory is prohibited under international law, and the US is disregarding the international community’s long-standing position of not recognising Israel’s unlawful annexation of East Jerusalem. Recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is tantamount to condoning annexation and the occupation. Furthermore Israel, as the occupying power, is prohibited from forcibly transferring Palestinians out of their homes in Jerusalem. Israel disregards this with its programme of evictions, home demolitions and residency revocations. “The US administration’s declaration risks condoning these practices and other violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory that NRC witnesses daily….  The international community should insist on respect for international law and the enforcement of existing UN resolutions, while governments should use their influence to hold those responsible for violations to account.”

Unfortunately respect for international law, enforcing UN resolutions and applying sanctions are not part of the US-UK tool kit unless directed against Iran and Israel’s other enemies.

So, as David Morrison warns, it looks as if “today’s Palestinian children will still be living under occupation when they are grandparents”.

And we as a nation will never be able to hold our heads up on account of the humiliation we heaped on them.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

CIA False Flag Likely in Drone Attack on Russia’s Syrian Bases

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.01.2018

The audacious multiple-drone attack on Russia’s military bases in Syria is increasingly looking like a false flag carried out by the American Central Intelligence Agency. Sophisticated technology and a Ukrainian connection indicate that the swarm attack with 13 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was not the work solely of Syrian anti-government militants.

What’s more the Russian government appears to have the incriminating evidence on who sanctioned the drone attacks against the Russian air base at Hmeimim and its naval port at Tartus on January 6.

The weapons failed to execute their deadly mission. Of the 13 drones used, seven were shot down by Russian Pantsir S-1 air defenses and six were safely landed by Russian electronic jamming technology. Those captured intact UAVs will have provided forensic information about what agency authored the plot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said coyly, “We know who did it”, without as of yet specifying the culprit.

Images of the UAVs released by the Russian Ministry of Defense showed rudimentary construction from what appeared to be plywood.

However, the navigation technology and explosives onboard were sophisticated and professionally made. This was no amateurish mission, as might have been expected if militants alone had carried it out.

Furthermore, the drones were unlikely to have been made by Syrian militants. Russian analysis of the explosive PENT substance indicates that Ukraine was the source. That points to the Americans as the bridging agency between Ukraine and Syria.

Another key factor is that at the time of the attacks, Russian military detected a US Poseidon surveillance aircraft in proximity over the Syrian coastal area. The Poseidon would have the ability to guide the drones to the precise location of the Russian bases. Although the plane is commonly thought of as part of the US Navy fleet, that does not preclude the CIA having their own Poseidon aircraft.

It is also significant that Crimean lawmaker Ruslan Balbek has recently claimed that American Poseidon aircraft are being used to mount drone attacks by the US-backed Kiev regime. Balbek went further and said be believes the objective is to conduct a false flag attack on the minority Tatar community in Crimea. The “atrocity” would then be pinned on the Crimean authorities which the Western media would in turn amplify as condemnation of Russia.

On the Syrian attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week at a meeting with senior Russian media executives that the culprit was not Turkey even though the drones were initiated from the northern Syrian province of Idlib where Turkish military forces are associated with militant groups.

“The attacks were provocations to destroy relations between Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were provocateurs, but they were not Turks,” said Putin.

Russia has yet to publicly attribute explicit blame for who was behind the drone operation. But the Kremlin appears to be confident in its incriminating information.

“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” Putin said.

The Russian president appeared to address the culprit with a cryptic remark: “You know that I know,” he said.

For its part, the Pentagon has categorically denied US involvement in the drone incidents. At a press conference in Washington DC last week, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie Jr said: “The United States was not involved in any way with the drone attack on Russian bases at any time.”

Another Pentagon spokesmen said accusations of American complicity were “ridiculous” and “reckless”.

The US military chiefs may be genuinely speaking honestly – as far as they know about the circumstances. In other words, it is plausible that the Pentagon was not involved in the drone attacks.

If so then that points to the other candidate being the CIA. After all, as US-based political analyst Randy Martin commented for this column, it is the CIA which has been the main driver behind the entire American drone weapon and surveillance program around the world, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to a swathe of African countries.

Given the routine clandestine and autonomous nature of the CIA, it is conceivable that neither the Pentagon nor even the Trump White House would be aware of all the agency’s operations. The agency is apt to go rogue at any time, and the lack of knowledge among other branches of government in Washington affords the all-important foil of “plausible denial”.

Here is a speculative, but credible scenario: CIA operatives on the ground in Syria launch a swarm of armed drones on the Russian bases. The rickety design of the UAVs is aimed at giving the appearance of Turkish-backed militants in Idlib province. As Putin remarked, the objective was to scapegoat Turkey as complicit. If that worked, then relations between Moscow and Ankara, as well as Tehran, would become acutely strained. Washington is known to be unhappy with the rapprochement between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The hi-tech navigation equipment and explosives onboard the drones, plus the telltale presence of an American Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the skies above suggest the involvement of a US state agency – the CIA.

Washington’s agenda in Syria has nothing to do with defeating terrorism. It is to propagate instability and chaos to undermine the Syrian government of President Assad and allied Russian achievement in overcoming the US regime-change plot. Nothing would please the American agenda more than for Russia, Turkey and Iran to bust up their detente in Syria.

The CIA has the expertise and technological capability to mount the sophisticated drone attack on the Russian bases. It also has the motivation to carry it out to further its regime-change intrigues. Who gains?

Still, there is another wild card in the pack, as analyst Randy Martin posits. He says: “The swarm drone attack was probably the first time that such a tactic was ever used in military records. It may have been carried out not only as a false flag to blame Turkey, but also as a way for the operatives to test Russian air defenses and signals intelligence.”

Martin added: “The danger is that we can expect more such attacks, perhaps with deadly consequences, against Russian forces in Syria as well as against Crimea and separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”

The implications are grave. If it is confirmed that the CIA were behind the drone attack on Russian bases in Syria, then that is tantamount to an act of war by the Americans – regardless of it being actioned by a rogue agency.

That might explain why the Kremlin is holding its cards very close to its chest on the matter. This is explosive.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

The Algiers Accords: Decades of Violations – And Silence

BY Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich | American Herald Tribune | January 17, 2018

This week marks the 37th anniversary of a pledge made by the United States in 1981:

“The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

This week also marks 37 continuous years of the United States failing to uphold its pledge: the 1981 Algiers Accords.

Just how many people have heard of the 1981 Algiers Accords, a bilateral treaty signed on January 19, 1981 between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Chances are, not many. Just as chances are that not many are fully aware of what actually led to the signing of this treaty.

Following the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah, America’s strongman in Iran, plans were made to topple the new government in Tehran. In 1980, under the Carter administration, the United States began clandestine radio broadcasts into Iran from Egypt. The broadcasts called for Khomeini’s overthrow and urged support for Shahpur Bakhtiar [1] , the last prime minister under the Shah. Other plans included the failed Nojeh coup plot as well as plans for a possible American invasion of Iran using Turkish bases [2].

The new Revolutionary government in Iran, with a look to the past and the 1953 British-CIA coup d’état that overthrew the Mossadegh government and reinstalled the Shah, had good reason to believe that the United States was planning to abort the revolution in its nascent stages. Fearful, enthusiastic students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats as hostages in order to prevent such plans from fruition.

These events led to the negotiation and conclusion the Algiers Accords, point 1 of which was the pledge by the United States not to intervene in Iran’s internal affairs in anyway. The Algiers Accords brought about the release of the American hostages and established the Iran–U.S. Claims Tribunal (“Tribunal”) at The Hague, the Netherlands. The Tribunal ruled consistently “the Declarations were to be interpreted in accordance with the process of interpretation set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.” (*)

A pledge is only as valid and worthy as the person making it. From the onset, the United States failed to uphold its own pledge. For instance, starting in 1982, the CIA provided $100,000 a month to a group in Paris called the Front for the Liberation of Iran. The group headed by Ali Amini who had presided over the reversion of Iranian oil to foreign control after the CIA-backed coup in 1953 [4]. Additionally, America provided support to two Iranian paramilitary groups based in Turkey, one of them headed by General Bahram Aryana, the former Shah’s army chief with close ties to Bakhtiar [5].

In 1986, the CIA went so far as to pirate Iran’s national television network frequency to transmit an address by the Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, over Iranian TV in which he vowed: “I will return,” [6]. The support did not end there. Pahlavi had C.LA. funding for a number of years in the eighties which stopped with the Iran-Contra affair. He was successful at soliciting funds from the emir of Kuwait, the emir of Bahrain, the king of Morocco, and the royal family of Saudi Arabia, all staunch U.S. allies [7].

In late 2002, Michael Ledeen joined Morris Amitay, vice-president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; ex-CIA head James Woolsey; former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney; former senator Paul Simon; and oil consultant Rob Sobhani to set up a group called the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) [8]. In spite of his lack of charisma as a leader, in May, 2003, Michael Ledeen wrote a policy brief for the American Enterprise Institute Web site arguing that Pahlavi would make a suitable leader for a transitional government, describing him as “widely admired inside Iran, despite his refreshing lack of avidity for power or wealth.” [9] In August 2003, the Pentagon issued new guidelines -All meetings with Iranian dissidents had to be cleared with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. Reza Pahlavis’ name was included in the list of contacts that had been meeting with Pentagon analysts [10].

Concurrent with this direct interference, and in the following decade, Washington concentrated its efforts into putting a chokehold on the Iranian economy. A provision of the Algiers Accords was that “the United States will revoke all trade sanctions which were directed against Iran in the period November 4, 1979, to date.” Embargoes and sanctions became the norm. Failing to interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs in order to topple the Islamic Republic through economic hardship, the United States once again turned up pressure through broadcasts and direct support for dissidents and terrorists – in conjunction with economic sanctions.

This stranglehold was taking place while concurrently, and in violation of the Algiers Accords, the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy was providing funds to various groups, namely “Iran Teachers Association” (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994,2001, 2002, 2003); The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI founded in 1995 by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Peter Rodman, Joshua Muravchik, and American intelligence officials advocating regime change in Iran), National Iranian American Council (NIAC) 2002, 2005, 2006), and others [11].

Funds from NED to interfere in Iran continued after the signing of the JCPOA. The 2016 funding stood at well over $1m.

In September 2000, Senators openly voiced support for the MEK Terror group Mojaheddin-e-khalgh. Writing for The New Yorker, Connie Bruck revealed that: “Israel is said to have had a relationship with the M.E.K at least since the late nineties, and to have supplied a satellite signal for N.C.RI. broadcasts from Paris into Iran.” [12]. Perhaps their relationship with Israel and their usefulness explains why President Bush accorded the group ‘special persons status’ [13].

During the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the terrorist group got protection from the U.S. troops in Iraq despite getting pressure from the Iraqi government to leave the country (CNN [14]). In 2005, “a Farsi-speaking former CIA officer says he was approached by neoconservatives in the Pentagon who asked him to go to Iran and oversee “MEK [Mujahedeen-e Khalq] cross-border operations” into Iran.”

Moreover, according to Pakistani Intelligence, the United States secretly used yet another terrorist group – the Jundallah, to stage a series of deadly attacks against Iran. The United States seems to have a soft spot for terrorists.

In addition to CIA funding and covert operations with help from terrorists, the United States actively used radio broadcasts into Iran to stir up unrest including Radio Farda and VOA Persian. It comes as no surprise then that the recipient of NED funds, NIAC, should encourage such broadcasts. Also, the BBC “received significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.”

It is crucial to note that while the United States was conducting secret negotiations with Iran which led to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the MEK were delisted as a foreign terror organization. This provides them with the legitimacy to write opinion pieces in leading American papers.

Also important to note that during the JCPOA negotiations in which the United States participated as a party to an agreement, it was busy flouting the Treaty with its broadcasts in to Iran – apparently, without objection. But the violation was not limited to broadcasts. Item B of the Treaty’s preamble states:

“Through the procedures provided in the declaration relating to the claims settlement agreement, the United States agrees to terminate all legal proceedings in United States courts involving claims of United States persons and institutions against Iran and its state enterprises, to nullify all attachments and judgments obtained therein, to prohibit all further litigation based on such claims, and to bring about the termination of such claims through binding arbitration.”

Unsurprisingly, the US again failed to keep its pledge and a partisan legislation allocated millions for the former hostages.

Clearly, the United States felt bound by the Treaty for it recognized Point 2. Of the Algiers Accords when in January 2016 Iran received its funds frozen by America in a settlement at the Hague. Perhaps for no other reason than to pacify Iran post JCPOA while finding the means to re-route Iran’s money back into American hands.

It would require a great deal of time and verse to cite every instance and detail of the United States of America’s violation of a Treaty, of its pledge, for the past 37 years. But never has its attitude been more brazen in refusing to uphold its pledge and its open violation of international law than when President Trump openly voiced his support for protests in Iran and called for regime change. The US then called an emergency UNSC meeting on January 5, 2018 to demand that the UN interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.

America’s history clearly demonstrates that it has no regard for international law and treaties. Its pledge is meaningless. International law is a tool for America that does not apply to itself. This is a well-documented fact – and perhaps none has realized this better than the North Korean leader – Kim Jong-un. But what is inexplicable is the failure of Iranians to address these violations.

Endnotes

[*] U.S. TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS

The Vienna Convention on theLaw of Treaties defines a treaty “as an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.”

Under United States law, however, there is a distinction made between the terms treaty and executive agreement. ” Generally, a treaty is a binding international agreement and an executive agreement applies in domestic law only. Under international law, however, both types of agreements are considered binding. Regardless of whether an international agreement is called a convention, agreement, protocol, accord, etc. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/dynamic/guide.php?id=65)

[1] David Binder, “U.S. Concedes It Is Behind Anti-Khomeini Broadcasts,” New York Times, 29 June 1980,

[2] Mehmet Akif Okur, “The American Geopolitical Interests and Turkey on the Eve of the September 12, 1980 Coup”CTAD, Vol.11, No.21, p. 210-211

[3] Malintoppi, Loretta.  World Arbitration Reporter (WAR) – 2nd edition, December 2010

https://arbitrationlaw.com/library/algiers-accord-and-iran-united-states-claims-tribunal-1981-algiers-world-arbitration.  Downloaded January 14, 2018

https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%201155/volume-1155-i-18232-english.pdf

[4] Bob Woodward, “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987”, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 480.  (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).

[5]Leslie H. Gelb, “U.S. Said to Aid Iranian Exiles in Combat and Political Units,” New York Times, 7 Mar. 1982, pp. A1, A12.

[6]Tower Commission, p. 398; Farhang, “Iran-Israel Connection,” p. 95. (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).

[7] Connie Bruck, ibid

[8] Andrew I KillgoreThe Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  Washington:Dec 2003.  Vol. 22,  Iss. 10,  p. 17

[9] Connie Bruck, ibid

[10] Eli Lake,  New York Sun , Dec. 2, 2003

http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:ArticleToMail&Type=text/html&Path=NYS/2003/12/02&ID=Ar00100

[11] International Democracy Development, Google Books, p. 59 https://books.google.com/books?id=ReTtEj6_myAC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

[12] Connie Bruck, “A reporter at large: Exiles; How Iran’s expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat”.  The New Yorker, March 6, 2006

[13] US State Department Daily Briefing http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/34680.htm

[14] Michael Ware, “U.S. protects Iranian Opposition Group in Iraq” 6, April 2007 http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/04/05/protected.terrorists/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why “Coercive Diplomacy” is a Dangerous Farce

By Gareth Porter | Dissident Voice | January 16, 2018

With his recent “my (nuclear) button is bigger than yours” taunt, Donald Trump’s rhetoric has fully descended into school yard braggadocio, with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as a convenient foil. But his administration’s overwhelming reliance on military and economic pressure rather than on negotiations to influence North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ICBM programs is hardly new. It is merely a continuation of a well-established tradition of carrying out what the national security elite call “coercive diplomacy”.

As Alexander George, the academic specialist on international relations who popularized the concept, wrote:

The general idea of coercive diplomacy is to back one’s demand on an adversary with a threat of punishment for noncompliance that he will consider credible and potent enough to persuade him to comply with the demand.

The converse of that fixation on coercion, of course, is rejection of genuine diplomatic negotiations, which would have required the United States to agree to changes in its own military and diplomatic policies.

It is no accident that the doctrine of coercive diplomacy acquired much of its appeal on the basis of a false narrative surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962—that John F. Kennedy’s readiness to go to war was what forced Khrushchev’s retreat from Cuba. In fact, a crucial factor in ending the crisis was JFK’s back-channel offer to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey, which were useful only as first strike weapons and which Khrushchev had been demanding. As George later observed, enthusiasts of coercive diplomacy had ignored the fact that success in resolving a crisis may “require genuine concessions to the opponent as part of a quid pro quo that secures one’s essential demands.”

The missile crisis occurred, of course, at a time when the United States had overwhelming strategic dominance over the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War period has presented an entirely different setting for its practice, in which both Iran and North Korea have acquired conventional weapons systems that could deter a U.S. air attack on either one.

Why Clinton and Bush Failed on North Korea

The great irony of the U.S. coercive diplomacy applied to Iran and North Korea is that it was all completely unnecessary. Both states were ready to negotiate agreements with the United States that would have provided assurances against nuclear weapons in return for U.S. concession to their own most vital security interests. North Korea began exploiting its nuclear program in the early 1990s in order to reach a broader security agreement with Washington. Iran, which was well aware of the North Korean negotiating strategy, began in private conversations in 2003 to cite the stockpile of enriched uranium it expected to acquire as bargaining chips to be used in negotiations with the United States and/or its European allies.

But those diplomatic strategies were frustrated by the long-standing attraction of the national security elite to the coercive diplomacy but also the bureaucratic interests of the Pentagon and CIA, newly bereft of the Soviet adversary that had kept their budgets afloat during the Cold War. In Disarming Strangers, the most authoritative account of Clinton administration policy, author and former State Department official Leon Sigal observes: “The North Korean threat was essential to the armed services’ rationale for holding the line on the budget,” which revolved around “a demanding and dubious requirement to meet two major contingencies, one shortly after the other, in the Persian Gulf and Korea.”

The Clinton administration briefly tried coercive diplomacy in mid-1994. Secretary of Defense William Perry prepared a plan for a U.S. air attack on the DPRK Plutonium reactor after North Korea had shut it down and removed the fuel rods, but would not agree to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine how many bombs- worth of Plutonium, if any, had been removed in the past. But before the strategy could be put into operation, former President Jimmy Carter informed the White House that Kim Il-sung had agreed to give up his plutonium program as part of a larger deal.

The Carter-Kim initiative, based on traditional diplomacy, led within a few months to the “Agreed Framework”, which could have transformed the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. But that agreement was much less than it may have seemed. In order to succeed in denuclearizing North Korea, the Clinton administration would have been required to deal seriously with North Korean demands for a fundamental change in bilateral relations between the two countries, ending the state of overt U.S. enmity toward Pyongyang.

U.S. diplomats knew, however, that the Pentagon was not willing to entertain any such fundamental change. They were expecting to be able to spin out the process of implementation for years, anticipating the Kim regime would collapse from mass starvation before the U.S. would be called upon to alter its policy toward North Korea.

The Bush administration, too, was unable to carry out a strategy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran and North Korea over their nuclear and missile programs because its priority was the occupation of Iraq, which bogged down the U.S. military and ruled out further adventures. Its only coercive effort was a huge March 2007 Persian Gulf naval exercise that involved two naval task forces, a dozen warships, and 100 aircraft. But it was aimed not at coercing Iran to abandon its nuclear program, but at gaining “leverage” over Iran in regard to Iran’s role in the Iraq War itself.

On nuclear and missile programs, the administration had to content itself with the highly subjective assumption that the regimes in both Iran and North Korea would both be overthrown within a relatively few years. Meanwhile, however, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose primary interest was funding and deploying a very expensive national missile defense system, killed the unfinished Clinton agreement with North Korea. And after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got Bush’s approval to negotiate a new agreement with Pyongyang, Cheney sabotaged that one as well. Significantly no one in the Bush administration made any effort to negotiate with North Korea on its missile program.

Obama Whiffs on Iran and North Korea

Unlike the Bush administration, the Obama administration pursued a carefully planned strategy of coercive diplomacy strategy toward Iran. Although Obama sent a message to Supreme Leader Khamenei of Iran offering talks “without preconditions,” he had earlier approved far-reaching new economic sanctions against Iran. And in his first days in office he had ordered history’s first state-sponsored cyber-attack targeting Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz.

Although Obama did not make any serious efforts to threaten Iran’s nuclear targets directly in a military attack, he did exploit the Netanyahu government’s threat to attack those facilities. That was the real objective of Obama’s adoption of a new “nuclear posture” that included the option of a first use of nuclear weapons against Iran if it were to use conventional force against an ally. In the clearest expression of Obama’s coercive strategy, in early 2012 Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that the Iranians could convince the U.S. that its nuclear program was for civilian purposes or face the threat of an Israeli attack or an escalation of covert U.S. actions against the Iranian nuclear program.

In his second term, Obama abandoned the elaborate multilayered coercive diplomacy strategy, which had proven a complete failure, and made significant U.S. diplomatic concessions to Iran’s interests to secure the final nuclear deal of July 2015. In keeping with coercive diplomacy, however, the conflict over fundamental U.S. and Iranian policies and interests in the Middle East remained outside the realm of bilateral negotiations.

On North Korea, the Obama administration was even more hostile to genuine diplomacy than Bush. In his account of Obama’s Asian policy, Obama’s special assistant, Jeffrey Bader, describes a meeting of the National Security Council in March 2009 at which Obama declared that he wanted to break “the cycle of provocation, extortion and reward” that previous administrations had tolerated over 15 years. That description, which could have come from the lips of Dick Cheney himself, not only misrepresented what little negotiation had taken place with Pyongyang, but implied that any concessions to North Korea in return for its sacrifice of nuclear or missile programs represented abject appeasement.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that Obama did nothing at all, to head off a nuclear-armed North Korean ICBM, even though former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last November, “We knew that it was a possibility six or seven years ago.” In fact, he admitted, the administration had not really tried to test North Korean intentions diplomatically, because “we’re not in a frame of mind to give much in the way or rewards.” The former Pentagon chief opined that no diplomatic concession could be made to North Korea’s security interests “as long as they have nuclear weapons.”

The Obama administration was thus demanding unilateral concession by North Korea on matters involving vital interests of the regime that Washington certainly understood by then could not be obtained without significant concessions to North Korea’s security interests. As Carter freely admits, they knew exactly what the consequences of that policy were in terms of North Korea’s likely achievement of an ICBM.

This brief overview of the role of coercive diplomacy in post-Cold War policy suggests that the concept has devolved into convenient political cover for maintaining the same old Cold War policies and military posture regarding Iran and North Korea, despite new and essentially unnecessary costs to U.S. security interests. The United States could have and should have reached new accommodations with its regional adversaries, just as it had with the Soviet Union and China during the Cold War. To do so, however, would have put at risk Pentagon and CIA budgetary interests worth potentially hundreds of billions of dollars as well as symbolic power and status.


Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare was published in 2014.

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment