Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israel's Genocide and America's Choice to Watch It Happen

American choice: genocide or justice?

by Finian Cunningham - PressTV

US top diplomat John Kerry says a ceasefire deal in Gaza is close but there is still a way to go for one to be implemented.

What's the hold-up? Men, women and children are being slaughtered in their hundreds. Hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, the wounded are being attacked against all norms of international law and morality.

The main Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, says that any truce must be the basis for further talks on the underlying issues of Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and by extension on other parts of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. That is inarguably reasonable and common sense.

But the Israeli regime doesn't want to engage in discussions about the bigger issues. It says that a ceasefire should be negotiated first and then, at some unspecified later time, talks about underlying issues can be held. Of course, this seemingly two-part deal from the Israeli side is but a cruel, cynical joke. It will never talk to Hamas. Indeed, the Israeli regime will never seriously talk to any Palestinian faction about the wider issues. A ceasefire for them is just a punctuation mark in a long story of ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their historic homeland.

This is where the American government and the European allies are exposed as being on the side of the Israeli aggressor and genocidal regime. Apparent expressions of concern and huffing and puffing about "trying to pursue a ceasefire" are contemptible in the present abominable context.

There is a genocide going on. Simple as that. A genocide. It has been going on for the past 66 years with sporadic gear changes that accelerate and decelerate that genocide. The Western media talk disingenuously about the present Israeli military onslaught in Gaza as being the fourth major operation over the past seven years, when Hamas was elected as the government in that enclave and Tel Aviv began its collective punishment blockade on the 1.8 million civilians there. That blockade is a crime against humanity. Full stop.

The truth is that Israeli military aggression against the people of Palestine has been an ongoing, non-stop campaign since 1948. Palestinian land and sea territories have been gradually whittled away with relentless, punishing oppression - all under the benign watchful eye of Washington, London and other European allies.

The 20-year so-called peace process is just another sick joke whereby the Western-backed genocidal regime in Tel Aviv gets away with more mass murder and other crimes against humanity, while giving nothing back to the Palestinians except heaps more of misery and suffering.

Just days before Operation Protective Edge opened on July 8 under the cynical pretext of three Israeli teenagers being kidnapped and killed by unknown parties, US President Barack Obama announced an extra $430 million in aid to Washington's most indulged foreign regime - in Tel Aviv. This is on top of the $3 billion that Israel receives every year for the past decades from the American government siphon of its taxpayers. Hard-pressed American households are getting their drinking water supplies cut off for unpaid utility bills in Detroit and other US cities, but the benevolence of Washington to Israel is like a wellspring that never runs dry.

This week US Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled $47 million in "humanitarian aid" to Gaza. Are US taxpayers so stupid? They are paying millions of dollars in so-called humanitarian aid for a crisis that billions of their dollars have created and is prolonging.

A fundamental debate on the underlying issues of a peace deal in Palestine is long overdue. Indeed, 66 years overdue. Any end to this conflict and future basis for peace must be based on justice. The oppression of Palestinians cannot be fixed with a sticking plaster of some truce to be discarded in six months or a year. There is a haemorrhage of human life that requires deep intervention.

There must be a full negotiation about how land was dispossessed in the very beginning going back to 1948 and the treachery of Western governments in setting up the present situation; there must be redress for all the land that was usurped over the decades; the millions of people that were forced into refugee exile; the ongoing dispossession of land and illegal settlement building; the ongoing incarceration of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

But herein lies the root problem. If such fundamental discussions are allowed to take place, it will very quickly transpire that the Israeli regime is wholly illegitimate and illegal. It has no right to exist under any legal or moral precept. It has no right to continue. Palestine should be one land for all of those people who want to coexist peacefully in that land, as they did before Western imperialist governments started the Zionist occupation. Apartheid division and oppression, including the so-called two-state solution - which is an illusion anyway - is an alien construct that has no historical mandate in Palestine, except for the British self-imposed imperialist one.

America today is the main sponsor of the Israeli regime and all its decades-old crimes against humanity. These crimes are once again on display in the most despicable and barbaric way. American citizens therefore have a heavy responsibility to bear. They must decide which side they are on: that of genocide or human rights.

To clarify the choice that Americans must make, they first of all have to dispel a lot of the propaganda fog that their mainstream media churn out. Their government is not "pursuing peace plans" or "staying up all night working the phones between fractious Middle East parties." American government is a central instigator and perpetrator to the genocide in Palestine. John Kerry, Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton and other American leaders are complicit in one of the great historical genocides of modern times. It couldn't be more simple, or clearer. Israeli genocide is American-sponsored genocide.

Deal with it.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation. More articles by Finian Cunningham

Fish Farm Die-Off Reported in Gold River: A Letter of Concern to the CEO of Grieg Seafoods, Norway

Dear CEO of Grieg Seafoods

by Alexandra Morton

Morton Vike
CEO Grieg Seafood
Bergen, Norway
July 24, 2014

Dear Morten Vike:

Over the past few weeks I have received reports of large numbers of dying salmon in your farms in the beautiful Nootka Sound, Gold River region of British Columbia, Canada. So I visited the area, and indeed your farms, Williamson and Concepcion have dying fish floating on the surface.

The stench around your farms is overwhelming and may have prompted the many reports to me. This is an area of pristine wilderness where many enjoy their summers. Your mort bins are heaped full and sinking the float low in the water and this has apparently been going on for weeks.

We did a plankton tow for 10 minutes just outside your anchor lines. The water was quite clear, no sign of a heavy algae bloom.

You have oxygen machines lined up at every farm, but they are not running.

The Atlantic salmon in your pens have red speckles and welts on them. These can be sign of disease. These are not sea lice, the shape and placement is wrong.

The Atlantic salmon in your pens are finning on the surface - never a good sign.

Every few minutes more Atlantic salmon were seen dying inside your pens.

Just around the corner from your farms full of dying salmon, sport fishermen are catching large beautiful wild Chinook salmon. Wild salmon from other regions are likely in the area as well.

As you are aware, salmon farms amplify pathogens such as sea lice, viruses and bacteria. Thus your two salmon farms with a combined total of over 1,200,000 fish, sited in the narrow channels of a region enjoying an extremely valuable wild salmon return represent a serious threat to wild salmon from industrial pathogen exposure.

Please reply as soon as possible to inform us on what the Atlantic salmon in your pens are dying of. As you know, in Canada, it is unclear whether you own the salmon in your pens or not and thus these dying fish are likely a public resource, and they are situated in public waters in the territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht Nation.

I am requesting:

  • a report on why the salmon in your pens are dying, which BC registered veterinarian made the diagnosis
  • what records are available to review of this diagnosis so that we can take confidence and repeat the tests to confirm your results.
  • And finally are the fish that are still alive being transported by truck across Vancouver Island and processed at the Walcan plant on Quadra Island for human consumption. 

We have seen the blood water pouring from this plant into the major migration route of the wild salmon of the Fraser River, which is currently underway. I co-authored a paper on the threat of pathogen transfer from this processing plant to Canada's wild salmon.

This situation is extremely time-sensitive because the wild returning salmon runs are already in the immediate vicinity of your farms and the Quadra Island processing plant that you use. Testimony at the Cohen Commission by DFO scientist Kyle Garver states a salmon farm experiencing high mortality can shed 65 billion viral particles per hour. If your fish are infectious, the impact could be devastating to Canadians. Your staff onsite were very professional.

You plan an “aggressive North American push” (Intrafish Jul 9, 2014). These dying salmon are your “Skuna Bay” product demanding a premium price. You have made the promise that you are saving wild salmon, but one of your managers was given a prison sentence of 60 days on July 10, 2014 for providing misleading sea lice reports. The situation at hand is a test of your corporate social licence to operate in Canada.

Please provide the above information that I have requested.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. I am copying this letter to government, First Nation and other members of the Canadian public. To all whom receive this you have my permission to circulate it.

I await your response, respectfully,

Alexandra Morton
Independent Biologist

- See more at:

The Artillary Shelling of Luhansk, Ukraine: "Ukraine Army" Killing Ukrainians

The Shelling of Luhansk, Eastern Ukraine, by the Ukraine Army

by Roger Annis - A Socialist in Canada (also published on

The following is a 12-minute video recording of the aftermath of the shelling of the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine by Ukraine armed forces on July 18, 2014. There are many videos being broadcast describing the destruction and killings of the Kyiv government in its now months-long military offensive against southeast Ukraine. This video is unique because it is comprehensive and because it is subtitled in English. 
WARNING: the images of the citizen victims of shelling, including children, are very disturbing.

The reason for the intensity of the shelling by the Ukraine army is that its ground forces cannot easily conquer the cities in eastern Ukraine. These are defended by determined and motivated self-defense forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics. Ukraine’s army is poorly trained and equipped. It is a conscript army whose foot soldiers have proven reluctant to follow orders to shoot their fellow citizens. The fighting capacities of the extreme right and fascist militias (including the so-called ‘National Guard’) that are allied with the army, meanwhile, are significant, but so far not decisive.

Ukraine is also using fighter aircraft to bomb towns and cities. Today, CBC news reports that two of those aircraft have been shot down by self-defense forces. This is being used by mainstream media as more grist for their mill in urging foreign intervention that would assist Kyiv in putting down the rebellious population in the east. There is concern about two aircraft–and none at all about the people they were bombing. So goes the news cycle about Ukraine.

To gain an idea of the scale of the rampaging of the Ukraine army and militias in the past three months (focused, initially, on the city of Slavyansk), more than three times as many people have died in from its attacks than have died during Israel’s current war against the people of Gaza. We have learned from doctors in Luhansk, via the OSCE special mission in southeast Ukraine, that 250 people have been killed in Luhansk region in June and July from shelling and other attacks. 850 have been injured.

The OSCE also reports that on July 18 and 19 alone, that is, during the two days following the crash of Flight MH 17, dozens of civilians were killed and more than one hundred injured in a “massive shelling” of Luhansk city.

Several hundred thousand people have been displaced by the attacks. The majority have taken refuge in Russia, where they are receiving aid. Many have moved to other regions in Russia and been offered jobs. (Eastern Ukraine is a highly industrial area and many of the victims of Kyiv’s war are skilled workers.) For the tens of thousands of displaced that have taken refuge in Ukraine proper, there are few formal programs of assistance available to them. They are dependent on the generosity of friends, families and other ordinary citizens.

In Ukraine, a sharp clampdown on democratic rights has escalated since the overthrow of the elected President Victor Yanukovych in February. Several thousand political prisoners are in jail. The government is moving to ban one of the remaining opposition parties, the Communist Party. And vigilante attacks on leftists of all description are common. Yesterday, for example, the secretary of the Communist Party committee in the village of Glinki (Donetsk region), was tortured and murdered at a checkpoint of the National Guard (news report in Russian language here). The National Guard is the militia institution that was revived in Ukraine following the overthrow of Yanukovych by neo-conservative and fascist forces. The Guard is largely staffed by the cadre of the fascist and other extreme-right parties and movements in Ukraine.

An intense and near-hysterical campaign has been waged by western governments and much of western media to ‘blame Russia’ for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17. Today, July 23, we read the following in an Associated Press news dispatch:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement…

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

The same AP report cites the same, anonymous U.S. government source as saying Flight MH17 was “likely” shot down by a missile and it is “likely” that it was fired by “Russian-backed separatists”.

A skeptical world is recalling how it was “likely” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in 2003, except it didn’t. Older generations are recalling that it was “likely” that the armed forces of the Peoples Republic of Vietnam (‘North Vietnam’) attacked a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam in 1964, except that event was later proven to be a fiction. It nonetheless served as a convenient pretext for the U.S. government to massively escalate its war against the people of Vietnam.

Back in 1898, the United States was looking for a pretext to invade and seize Cuba, which was then a colony of Spain. The warship USS Maine exploded mysteriously in Havana Harbour on Feb. 15, 1898. The cause of the explosion was never determined, but it was “likely” that it was perpetrated by Spain, and so the U.S. invaded and seized Cuba later that year. The invasion was waged under the phrase trumpeted by the yellow press in the United States, “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”

Breaking news on July 23:
Russia Today contributor and UK journalist Graham Phillips is among four people taken hostage by Ukrainian troops early on July 23, ANNA news agency reports. Phillips has been missing since he went to Donetsk airport on his own while a firefight was taking place.

The other three people in the group are reportedly ANNA news agency’s cameraman, an employee of the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and possibly an acquaintance of Phillips, who accompanied the journalist to the airport.

Seven journalists have been killed by the Ukraine army offensive in eastern Ukraine since it began more than three months ago. A Guardian blog on press freedom in Ukraine in late July makes a very fleet reference to killed journalists but provides no hint that Ukraine government forces are responsible. Instead, the blog focuses almost exclusively on alleged harassment of journalists by “pro-Russia separatists”.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rovics: Gaza


by David Rovics

The Defector: Mystery Ukranian and the Downing of MH17

The Mystery of a Ukrainian Army ‘Defector’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

As the U.S. government seeks to build its case blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the evidence seems to be getting twisted to fit the preordained conclusion, including a curious explanation for why the troops suspected of firing the fateful missile may have been wearing Ukrainian army uniforms.

On Tuesday, mainstream journalists, including for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, were given a briefing about the U.S. intelligence information that supposedly points the finger of blame at the rebels and Russia.

While much of this circumstantial case was derived from postings on “social media,” the briefings also addressed the key issue of who fired the Buk anti-aircraft missile that is believed to have downed the airliner killing all 298 people onboard.

After last Thursday’s shoot-down, I was told that U.S. intelligence analysts were examining satellite imagery that showed the crew manning the suspected missile battery wearing what looked like Ukrainian army uniforms, but my source said the analysts were still struggling with whether that essentially destroyed the U.S. government’s case blaming the rebels.

The Los Angeles Times article on Tuesday’s briefing seemed to address the same information this way: “U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [anti-aircraft missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.”

That statement about a possible “defector” might explain why some analysts thought they saw soldiers in Ukrainian army uniforms tending to the missile battery in eastern Ukraine. But there is another obvious explanation that the U.S. intelligence community seems unwilling to accept: that the missile may have been launched by someone working for the Ukrainian military.

In other words, we may be seeing another case of the U.S. government “fixing the intelligence” around a desired policy outcome, as occurred in the run-up to war with Iraq.

The Los Angeles Times also reported: “U.S. officials have not released evidence proving that Russia’s military played a direct role in the downing of the jet or in training separatists to use the SA-11 missile system. But they said Tuesday that the Russian military has been training Ukrainian separatists to operate antiaircraft batteries at a base in southwestern Russia.”

Though that last charge also has lacked verifiable proof – and could refer to training on less powerful anti-aircraft weapons like so-called Manpads – the key question is whether the Russian government trained the rebels in handling a sophisticated anti-aircraft system, like the SA-11, and then was reckless enough to supply one or more of those missile batteries to the rebels — knowing that these rockets could reach above 30,000 feet where passenger airlines travel.

The Russian government has denied doing anything that dangerous, if not crazy, and the eastern Ukrainian rebels also deny ever possessing such a missile battery. But the question that needs answering is: Are the Russians and the rebels lying?

That requires a serious and impartial investigation, but what the Obama administration and most of the mainstream U.S. news media have delivered so far is another example of “information warfare,” assembling a case to make an adversary look bad regardless of the actual evidence — and then marginalizing any dissents to the desired conclusion.

That was exactly the “group think” that led the United States into the disastrous invasion of Iraq – and it appears that few if any lesson were learned. [For more on this topic of prejudging who’s to blame for the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, see’s “Kerry’s Latest Reckless Rush to Judgment.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Seeing? No. America's Role in Gaza Attack

US plays decisive role in Israel's attack on Gaza

by Jonathan Cook

Two reporters for major US TV channels were summarily “removed” last week from covering Israel’s attack on Gaza, moments before Israel launched a ground invasion.

NBC pulled out Ayman Mohyeldin, who has been widely praised for the even-handedness of his reporting from Gaza, just as he landed a harrowing scoop. He had kicked a football with four boys who were killed moments later by an Israeli missile.

Mohyeldin managed a few tweets before being removed, allegedly on “security” grounds. But why then did NBC immediately send in a replacement? After a public outcry, Mohyeldin was reinstated, but no proper explanation of the decision has been provided.

Shortly afterwards, CNN “reassigned” its reporter in Israel, Diana Magnay, after a tweet in which she labelled as “scum” an Israeli mob that threatened her with violence as she filmed them celebrating missile explosions in Gaza. The tweet was deleted within minutes, followed by her rapid departure.

The impression left by these incidents and the generally deferential tone towards Israel in US coverage is that, faced with huge pressure from the Israel lobby, media executives are frantically policing their correspondents’ output, including on social media.

That view was confirmed to Max Blumenthal by an NBC producer after the channel axed Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian contributor, following her on-air complaints about the massive over-representation of Israeli officials in US coverage. The producer said there was a “witch-hunt” being conducted by NBC executives, led by the media corporation’s president, Phil Griffin.

The obvious shortcomings in US coverage of a story in which Washington itself is a key player deprive us of a vital piece of the puzzle about what is going on in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region on Monday to intensify ceasefire efforts, the day after a studio microphone captured his sarcastic comment that it was “a hell of a pin-point operation” by Israel. He had just been informed of a horrifying assault on the Shujaiiya neighbourhood, which left dozens of dead, taking Palestinian casualties so far to more than 650 killed and thousands wounded.

Washington’s good faith as honest broker goes largely unquestioned in the US, even though the country annually provides Israel with billions of dollars in aid and military support of the kind that enables these repeated attacks on Gaza.

The claim is only tenable because Washington’s actual behaviour is rarely scrutinised in detail.

Two recent investigations by the Israeli media illustrate the profoundly unhelpful role played by the US. They suggest that, whatever its public statements, the US is assisting Israel not only in what President Barack Obama called its right to “self-defence” but in actively damaging Palestinian interests.

And it seems not to matter whether the Palestinians in question are Hamas or the preferred negotiating partner, Mahmoud Abbas.

The first disclosure concerns the offer of an Egyptian ceasefire last week. This was presented as a crucial chance to end the bloodshed, one generously seized by Israel and shunned by Hamas. Only footnoted in some reports were Hamas “claims” that it had not been consulted.

Israel’s liberal daily Haaretz soon confirmed Hamas’ account with Israeli officials and western diplomats.

The reality, according to Haaretz, is that Kerry secretly dispatched to Cairo peace envoy Tony Blair, who in turn lobbied the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to coordinate the ceasefire’s terms with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sisi is currently waging an all-out war against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ ideological ally. He has harshly punished Hamas too by tightening the siege on the shared border with Gaza. Like Israel, Sisi’s Egypt is a major beneficiary of US aid.

In short, Sisi and Netanyahu share a keen interest to weaken and humiliate Hamas. And yet, the US encouraged them to negotiate a ceasefire over Hamas’ head. Since then, Washington has rebuffed an alternative proposal from Qatar and Turkey, who are more sympathetic to Hamas.

It was a foregone conclusion that Hamas would reject the Egyptian offer. It failed to address key concerns, not least that the suffocating siege be ended and that Israel honour earlier agreements, particularly on prisoners.

The ceasefire proposal was nothing more than a trap – one whose purpose was to elicit a Hamas rejection and thereby provide Israel with a pretext to launch its ground invasion.

Netanyahu, backed by the US, is using the current attack to terrorise Gaza’s civilian population, deplete Hamas’ rocket stockpile, and then force it to accept terms of surrender.

The second investigation comes from journalist Raviv Drucker, this time concerning the peace talks that collapsed in April. Washington officials have told him that US negotiators spent the talks’ key phase coordinating positions exclusively with Netanyahu. Abbas was then presented with a fait accompli of hardline Israeli demands.

Despite its public pronouncements, Washington was also secretly conspiring with Israel on a huge expansion of settlement projects. These were announced – to loud condemnation by Kerry – each time a batch of Palestinian prisoners was released, a condition Abbas had set for his participation.

But US opposition was feigned, writes Drucker. In reality, Washington was “informed of the [settlement] tenders in advance”.

It is no surprise that Netanyahu has been acting in bad faith, and that his military campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza are designed to disrupt the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah.

As Israeli analyst Noam Sheizaf points out, Netanyahu is opposed to a peace deal of any kind. For him, “Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are pretty much the same. Any gain by either one of them is a loss to Israel.”

But of far greater concern should be the Obama administration’s decision to back Israel to the hilt and the US media’s silence on the matter. There can be no hope of a peaceful solution ever gaining traction – or these bouts of blood-letting in Gaza coming to end – unless Washington is finally unmasked as Israel’s abettor-in-chief.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WAW Ghetto: Gaza BBQ

Once it was Nazis Leveling the Warsaw Ghetto, Now it’s Israel’s IDF Leveling Gaza Barbecuing the Palestinians

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

About six years ago, as part of his Bar Mitzvah, my son Jed did a project on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, producing his own graphic novel about the underground fighters who used courage, creativity and the city’s sewer system to, in some small way, offer resistance to the murderous program of the Nazis to exterminate Poland’s Jews.

In the course of his research, Jed interviewed a friend of my father’s, a Polish man who had been a teenager in Warsaw during World War II. He told my son how one day, as he was riding the streetcar to a job, the tram came to a halt near the wall of the ghetto. Everyone was told they had to get out. Standing there in a crowd outside the wall, he saw vast amounts of smoke and heard and enormous gun and cannon fire, and bombs exploding. Asking what was happening, he said he was told by a Polish woman near him, “They’re barbecuing the Jews!”

It was, it turned out, the final catastrophic leveling of the Warsaw Ghetto that he was witnessing, and this man recalled, still in horror at the memory, that people had gathered from all over the city to watch it happen, like going to a fireworks display.

Now we’re seeing the same phenomenon in Israel, as the Israeli Defense Force enters its second week of bombing and invading the walled-in ghetto of Gaza, where some 1.8 million Palestinian men, women and children have been trapped for years with nowhere to go to escape the bombs, rockets, cannon fire and IDF snipers.

And like the horrific case of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, here too we have a small-scale, improbable, resistance being put up by fighters who use home-made rockets, small arms and a network of tunnels to challenge their much better armed attackers. We also have people -- ironically this time it’s Jewish citizens of Israel -- dragging lounge chairs and refreshments out to hillsides in the evening to watch the fireworks as the IDF’s tanks, bombers and ships off the coast of Gaza pulverize this huge ghetto that is fully under Israeli control.

As the New York Times reported in an article about the Israeli spectator sport of watching the leveling of Gaza [1], where by July 22 nearly 600 Palestinian, including over 100 children, had been killed by Israeli weapons, this was nothing new. Similar crowds gathered, equipped with comfortable seating and refreshments, during the prior bloody assault on Gaza in 2008-9 in which between 1160 and 1400 Palestinians were reportedly killed.

Israelis as spectators, enjoy the IDF assault on the Gaza ghetto(l), 
and a view of the damage from one IDF attack(r)

As in the prior Gaza assault, the IDF has been found to have targeted children, hospitals, mosques and populated residential areas. The Times reports that Danish reporter Allan Sorensen said at 9 pm local time, when he took his photo of the Israeli spectators, who were cheering each explosion in Gaza, the IDF had just fired what it called a “precision strike,” that by either error or design hit a beachside cafe in Gaza where people had assembled to watch the Soccer World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Netherlands. At least eight people died in that bombing.

I know war is always vicious and ugly. But at least, by International Law, it is supposed to be fought between combatants, not by slaughtering innocents and terrorizing an entire population. According to the UN, at least 75 percent of those killed by the IDF in this latest war on Gaza have been civilians, a large percentage of those being children. That compares to two Israeli civilians killed by Hamas fighters, who have also reportedly killed over 30 IDF soldiers.

[I omitted a particularly gruesome photo originally placed here. Link. Of course, it's fucking awful. - ape]
Popcorn anyone? What Israelis and the Americans who back them are really supporting when they cheer on the IDF in Gaza

Sadly, the hatred against Palestinians that has been stoked by politicians in Israel has been so vicious that seemingly civilized people can sit munching popcorn while cheering explosions and gunfire that are slaughtering little kids just a short distance away over a wall. That’s not to say that Palestinians don’t also cheer when they learn that an Israeli has been killed. I’m sure they do. But let’s be real here: the Palestinians trapped in their exploding ghetto hell are in no position to be sitting on couches munching popcorn while watching Hamas’s pathetic homemade rockets whiz off into Israel only to be, for the most part, knocked down harmlessly by the IDF’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

Years ago, when President Nixon ordered the criminal “Christmas Bombing” of Hanoi and Haiphong, including hospitals, schools and dikes along the Red River, I wrote an editorial in the Middletown Press, where I was a reporter, saying that to the Vietnamese under the bombing onslaught, delivered by giant planes flying almost too high to see, it was like living near an erupting volcano, but I pointed out that we, the Americans, controlled that volcano, and had the power to stop it from erupting.

This one-sided bloody-minded slaughter by the Israeli Defense Force has to stop. Once again, as with Nixon’s carpet bombing of North Vietnam, as the major supplier of Israel’s arms, the US is in a position to make that happen, but so far, as in prior assaults on Gaza, Washington is not demanding a halt to the killing. Neither, sadly, are most American citizens.

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What Vladimir Putin Isn't Saying About MH17

What Putin Knows

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

We have repeatedly called on all parties to immediately stop the bloodshed and sit down at the negotiating table. We strongly believe that if military action in the East of Ukraine had not been renewed on the 28th of June, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened. However, no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political aims. Such events should unite and not divide people.”  - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Official statement on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17
“Lets be clear, both Russia and the US know what happened. They’d have to. Their intelligence and orbital systems saw it all…. They’d have to know.”  - Omen 4, comments line Zero Hedge

Washington’s plan to “pivot” to Asia by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine and sabotaging trade relations between Europe and Russia, entered a new phase last Thursday when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from east Ukraine. Since then, the western media and prominent members of the US political establishment have used the incident to attack Russia mercilessly and to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the deaths of the 295 passengers.

On Sunday, the Obama administration launched its most impressive propaganda blitz to date, scheduling appearances for US Secretary of State John Kerry on all five Sunday morning talk shows where he made unsubstantiated claims that MH17 was shot down by Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine. According to Kerry, Russia has not only “supported, armed and trained” the separatists, but also provided them with the missile system (BUK) which was used to bring down the jetliner.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation”, Kerry said:

“We know for certain that the separatists have a proficiency that they’ve gained by training from Russians as to how to use these sophisticated SA-11 systems….. there’s enormous amount of evidence, even more evidence than I just documented, that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these system, training the people on them.” (“Kerry Says Russia Trained Separatists to Use Antiaircraft Missiles”, New York Times)
Amazingly, Kerry’s claims don’t square with those of his boss, President Barack Obama who admitted on Friday that he didn’t know who shot down MH17 or why.

He said, “I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what intentions those who might have launched the surface-to-air missile might have had… In terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals, you know, personnel ordered the strike, how it came about—those are things that I think are going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.”  

The fact that neither the contents of the black boxes or the cockpit recordings have yet been revealed didn’t deter Kerry from making accusations and possibly tainting the investigation. Nor did Kerry mention the fact that the Ukrainian military –who also had BUK missile systems in the area–may have mistakenly taken down the airliner. None of the five hosts challenged Kerry on any of his claims. He was able to provide the state’s view of the incident without challenge or debate, just as one would expect in a dictatorship where information is carefully monitored.

And Kerry didn’t stop there either. He went on to claim that Moscow had sent “a convoy several weeks ago of about 150 vehicles with armored personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, all of which crossed over from Russia into the eastern part of Ukraine and was turned over to the separatists.”

Needless to say, none of the major media or respective Intel agencies (who closely follow activities on the border) have uttered a word about Kerry’s phantom convoy. Without satellite imagery or some other proof, we must assume that Kerry’s claim is about as reliable as his bogus 4-page “White Paper” that pinned the use of sarin gas on the Syrian government, a charge that was designed to escalate US involvement in the Syrian war and–as journalist Robert Parry says, “spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets.”

It’s also worth noting that the journalist who co-authored Sunday’s piece on Kerry in the New York Times was none other than Michael R. Gordon. In 2002 Gordon co-wrote a piece about aluminum tubes with Judith Miller which was intended to scare readers “with images of mushroom clouds” into supporting the war in Iraq. The story turned out to be complete baloney, but it helped to pave the way for the US invasion as it was intended to do. Gordon escaped blame for the article, while the discredited Miller was released.

Now the politicians and the media are at it again; trying to whip up war fever to get the public on board for another bloody intervention. Only this time, the target audience is not really the American people as much as it is Europeans. The real objective here, is to build support for additional economic sanctions as well as a deployment of NATO troops to Russia’s western border.

Washington want to sabotage further economic integration between the EU and Russia so that it can control the flow of vital resources to the EU, crash the Russian economy, and establish a tollbooth between the continents. It’s all part of Washington’s “pivot” strategy that is critical to maintaining global hegemony throughout the 21st century. This is from the NY Times:

“If investigators are able to confirm suspicions that the Malaysia Airlines jet was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian rebels who mistook it for a military aircraft, American officials expressed hope that the tragedy will underscore their case that Moscow has been violating Ukrainian sovereignty. While Mr. Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia just a day before, Europeans refused to adopt measures as stringent out of fear of jeopardizing their own economic ties….

The Obama administration already has additional sanctions prepared that could be put into effect quickly if Mr. Obama so chooses. “The question is does this finally move the Europeans across that threshold,” said a senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to speak more candidly. “I don’t know, but how could it not?”

European officials were cautious in their initial reactions, seeking time and information before jumping to possible consequences, and were reluctant to assign blame. But most of the passengers were Europeans. The majority of them, 154 in all, were from the Netherlands, where the flight originated, which could increase pressure on European governments to respond….Some analysts said the disaster would invariably lead to a re-evaluation of Europe’s approach to Russia.
“Ultimately this is going to ratchet up pressure within Europe to do what they should have done a long time ago,” said John E. Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine now at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “The strength of the opposition to firm steps remains strong, and so it’s not going to go away. It’s just that their position just took a serious hit and it should lead to a stronger set of European sanctions.”…

While Mr. Obama did not articulate such a position, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave voice publicly to what administration officials were saying privately….“Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this. It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over European territory. There should be outrage in European capitals.”

Can you see what’s going on? Washington doesn’t care about the facts. What matters to Obama and Co. is getting the Europeans on board (“ratcheting up pressure within Europe”) so they can gin up the sanctions, shut off Russian gas, deprive Putin of a vital source of revenue, and set up shop (NATO bases) in Eurasia.” Whether US Intel agencies were involved in the missile attack or not doesn’t change the fact that Washington clearly benefits from the tragedy.

Keep in mind, that the reason Putin hasn’t deployed Russian troops to stop the violence in east Ukraine is because the EU is his biggest trading partner and he doesn’t want to do anything that will put the kibosh on their business dealings. Russia needs Europe just like Europe needs Russia. They’re a perfect fit, which is why Washington has concocted this goofy plan to throw a wrench in the works. It’s because Washington wants to be the Kingfish in Eurasia and control the continents’ resources as well as the growth of regional economies. To achieve that objective, they need to convince EU leaders and people that Putin is a reckless aggressor who can’t be trusted. That’s why Kiev has launched one provocation after another since the legitimate Ukrainian government (Viktor Yanukovych) was ousted in late February and replaced with by a US-backed junta government.

Most of the provocations have gone unreported in the western media, although they have regularly involved violations of international law and crimes against humanity, like the use of incendiary “phosphorous” ordnance on June, 12 in Slavyansk, or the bombing of a kindergarten in Slavyansk or the deliberate bombing of hospitals in east Ukraine, or the killing of journalists or the firing of mortar rounds across the border into Russia or the massacre at Odessa where 42 people were burned to death in a fire at the Trade Unions Building that was started by pro-junta hooligans and neo Nazis. None of these were reported in the western media where the coverage is tailored to advance the corporate-state agenda.

All of these incidents were concocted with one goal in mind; to provoke Putin into sending in the tanks thus providing the media with the opportunity to demonize him as the new Hitler. Putin has wisely avoided that trap deciding instead to work collaboratively with EU leaders Merkel and Hollande to try to persuade Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to stop the bombardment in the east and agree to an immediate ceasefire.

Poroshenko, however, who takes his orders from Washington, has refused to end the violence. In fact, on Monday the “chocolate king” launched a massive attack on the city of Donetsk, home to nearly one million civilians. Here’s a clip from a report from RT on Monday July 21:

“A heavy firefight is underway in a section of the city of Donetsk, with cannonade heard downtown. Self-defense reports of pro-Kiev armored vehicles and infantry trying to cut through defenses next to the central railway terminal.

Ukrainian troops equipped with tanks and armored vehicles are making an attempt to break into Donetsk, a city of approximately 950,000 people, an official of the rebels’ self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Sergey Kavtaradze, informed Reuters.” (“Kiev forces attack city of Donetsk, civilian casualties reported“, RT)

Poroshenko has no intention of complying with a ceasefire, because a ceasefire does not achieve the Obama administration’s objective, which is to lure Putin into a bloody and protracted guerilla war. This is what makes the downing of MH17 so suspicious, because it could very well be a false flag operation intended to hurl more mud on Putin.

In any event, the fate of MH17 isn’t going to be a secret for long. As journalist Pepe Escobar points out in a recent piece in the Asia Times, Russian intelligence has collected tons of data that will help connect the dots. Here’s a clip from Escobar’s latest titled “It was Putin’s missile?”:

“Russian intelligence (has) been surveilling/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, from where, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.” (“It was Putin’s missile?” Pepe Escobar, Asia Times)

So, one way or another, we’re going to know what happened. The US and Russia have the data they need to figure out where the missile was launched and who launched it. They probably even have recordings of communications between Air Traffic Tower and the airliner. They know it all, but they’ll probably be cautious about what they reveal and when they reveal it.

My guess, is that Putin will drag his feet to see whether the investigation is thorough, transparent and even-handed or an elaborate hoax used to discredit him in the eyes of his trading partners.

Clearly, the Obama team see this as an opportunity to do a number on Putin, so they could be tempted to use fake evidence like the grainy photos that popped up in the New York Times some months ago that were supposed to prove that Russian military experts were secretly directing the rebellion in east Ukraine. (The photos were fake.) If they try a stunt like that this time around, Putin will be ready for them. And, of course, if he has solid proof that the plane was blown up by Poroshenko’s henchmen, then there could be hell to pay. In fact, it might just bring Obama’s proxy war to a screeching halt.

One can only hope.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

Alison Weir tours Vancouver Island July 28 and July 29

Journalist and author Alison Weir tours Vancouver Island July 28 and July 29

by Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation/ CAIA

Author, journalist and public affairs campaigner Alison Weir will speak on Vancouver Island July 28 and 29 about the origins of the pro-Israeli bias among Western governments and media.

In her Vancouver Island tour, Weir will speak at the following locations:

Victoria on Monday July 28 at 7:00pm in the Fernwood Community Association, 1923
Fernwood Road 

Courtenay on Tuesday July 29 at 2:00pm at the Zocalo Café, 208 5th Street

Duncan on Tuesday July 29 at 7:00pm at the Duncan United Church, 246 Ingram Street


Her new book, Against Our Better Judgment: How the US was used to create Israel, uses meticulously sourced evidence to show how the US was manipulated into backing the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Weir is the founder and executive director of If Americans Knew, an organization that focuses on the Middle East and US foreign policy towards it. The organization documents how US policy consistently favours Israel, resulting in considerable financial and military aid to the state of Israel, at great cost to Americans.

Against Our Better Judgment brings to light startling new evidence to show how a small group of Zionists intent on creating a Jewish state after World War One transformed US foreign policy.

Alison Weir’s tour is sponsored by
Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, Victoria
Independent Jewish Voices, Victoria

For further information contact Larry Hannant

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evil Axes to Grind: Foundation of the US Empire

Foundation of the US Empire: Axes of Evil

by James Petras


Empires are not easy to sustain given the multiple enemies that they provoke: at the international level (imperial rivals and emerging new powers), at the national level (national resistance movements, unreliable clients and untrustworthy ‘Sepoy’ armies) and at the local level (boycotts, sabotage and strikes). Imperial difficulties are multiplied when an empire is in economic decline, (loss of market shares with growing debt), facing domestic unrest as the economic costs to the taxpayers exceed the returns by a substantial margin; and when the political elite is internally divided between ‘militarists’ and ‘free market’ advocates.

The US Empire today is in the midst of a long-term decline, during which it has suffered a series of costly defeats. In addition, Washington has assumed long-term burdensome commitments to allies who have imposed their own ambitions of seeking ‘mini empires’ (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The US White House has increasingly adopted a military definition of ‘imperial leadership’ at the expense of reconfiguring imperial relations to accommodate potential new political and economic partners.

As the empire slides, the political elite, operating with a highly militarized mind set, has expanded its intrusive global intelligence networks to spy on allies, adversaries and its own citizens. Washington has risked deepening hostilities among key allies (Germany and Brazil), and exacerbating conflicts with conciliatory competitors (Russia), by refusing to curtail its massive espionage. Spying is a clear hostile act and part of the policy of military-driven empire building.

Empires Depend on Alliances

The entire edifice of the US Empire, like the earlier British Empire, is sustained through a series of complex alliances.

US military forces are injected into a country to orient and ensure that local military and police forces efficiently control their population and become available as mercenaries to fight overseas wars for the US Empire.

In the past two centuries, European colonial empires, especially the French and English, invaded and subjugated nations using colonial solders of color under the command of European imperial officers.

Today, the US empire builders are making their transition back to the 19th century colonial model. The Pentagon has been moving from reliance on US ground troops to recruiting colonial troops under US military command.

To that end, Washington’s empire has turned toward creating alliances with regional powers to sustain imperial pre-eminence. These ‘alliances’ are in place in Africa, Latin America, Asia and, in particular, in the Middle East. The Empire’s Middle East alliances have been operative for decades, but in recent years, they have absorbed the greatest resources with devastating consequences to the Empire as we shall see.

The Empire today operates and can only be sustained by these alliances or ‘axes of regional power’, which are therefore worth analyzing in greater detail.

The Axes of Power: The Middle East

The US Empire builders have constructed three regional axes of power in the Middle East. In order of importance, they are: the US-Israeli axis of power, the US-Saudi axis and the US-Turkey axis of power.

The US-Israel axis of power is based on a longstanding agreement. The US militarily and financially supports Israel’s colonial expansion into Palestine and Syria, while Israel backs US projections of military and political power throughout the region. Thanks to US military and financial aid, Israel has become the dominant military power in the Middle East and the only nuclear power in the region. The US has used Israel’s wars and invasions of its neighbors to secure several Arab collaborator client states (notably Jordan and Egypt). More recently the US-Israeli power axis has been expanded to include the client regime in Kurdistan (northern Iraq). In addition, the US-Israeli axis has been deeply involved in financing and promoting collaborator opposition forces in Lebanon (currently the Hariri political formation), sectors of the armed mercenaries in Syria, Kurdish Peshmerga militias in Iraq and the so-called ‘Mujahedeen al Khalq’ terrorists in Iran. The US CIA and Israel’s Mossad engage in clandestine violent operations directly intervening to destabilize secular and Islamic nationalist regimes like Iran, to disrupt their communications and to assassinate Iranian scientists and leaders. Israel has secured political and intelligence agreements with Egypt and Jordan to isolate and dispossess the Palestinians. The US has secured military bases and operational platforms in Egypt and Jordan to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, President Bashar al Assad in Syria and the Iranian government.

However, while in the past each country benefited from the US-Israel axis of power, recently it has turned into a costly, asymmetrical relation, a zero-sum game, where Israel’s regional power increases as the US Empire deteriorates.

This turn of events is easily understood if one examines the way in which Middle East policy is formulated in the US. Over the past three decades, Israel has constructed the most formidable organized power configuration in the United States that has ever penetrated an imperial state in history. Linked by tribal loyalties and blind obedience, over a half-million Jewish Zionists have embraced Israel’s interests and pursued them with a zeal and single-mindedness that is unmatched by any other foreign-based lobby. Prominent Zionists have permeated key state institutions, from the US Treasury, Commerce and the Pentagon, to the White House and the National Security Council. They dominate the US Congress, the ‘two party’ system, especially the nomination and electoral process, ensuring that only candidates who swear allegiance to Israel are allowed to run and be elected. That way no political debate regarding Israel’s subversive influence is permitted. They dominate the mass media ensuring that all news and commentary is favorable to Israel and all criticism of the Jewish state is excluded.

Here we have the paradox of an imperial ally, Israel colonizing an imperial power and extracting tribute, with foreign aid to Tel Aviv exceeding $3.6 billion this year. More importantly the Zionist power configuration plays a key role in waging wars against Israel’s designated enemies and providing diplomatic cover for the Jewish state’s ethnic slaughter of the people of Palestine.

The Israel-US alliance has been set up wholly on Israel’s terms. Even as Israel rains thousands of tons of bombs on the captive people of Gaza, to the horror of world public opinion, the White House applauds and the US Congress unanimously approves resolutions supporting Israel’s war crimes at the behest of the powerful Zionists ensconced in Washington.

Whatever the US Empire has gained from Israel in the way of intimidating and humiliating Arab leaders in the region it has lost in economic terms. Major oil companies have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in trade and investment from the wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya and from sanctions against Iran. The US domestic economy has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in income and investment as a result of the high cost of oil imports resulting from the wars.

Strategically, the asymmetrical US-Israeli alliance has turned the US into an ‘empire’ dominated by militarists, and one exclusively focused on the Middle East. This transformation into a ‘military-driven’ Empire has resulted in neglect, decline and displacement of the imperial influence in the most dynamic growth sectors of the world economy – Asia, Latin America and Russia.

It is a paradox where the lop-sided strength of the US-Israeli axis in the Middle East has profoundly undermined the US global economic and domestic foundations of empire. Moreover, the brutal ‘colonial-style wars’ in the Middle East promoted by US Zionist strategists in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have destroyed any possibility of re-constructing viable client states and markets out of these conquered nations. Israeli military strategists have long wanted these regimes destroyed, their state institutions dismantled and their societies embroiled in sectarian, tribal strife. As a result, the US wars have not produced a single functioning client state: the US military invaded, occupied and destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan while losing the wars in political terms. This came at no cost to Israel, the unchallenged regional hegemon, while the US Treasury will struggle with a trillion dollar price tag and the US public will experience economic decline for generations.

The US-Saudi Axis of Power

The second most important axis of power in the Middle East is the US-Saudi alliance. From the perspective of the US Empire, the Saudi connection has many advantages, as well as costs. Saudi financing, in collaboration with the US, was instrumental in recruiting, arming and financing the Islamist guerrillas, which overthrew the secular pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan. Saudi links to the Pakistani intelligence services and military has ensured Pakistan will remain a client-state of the US Empire. Saudi intervention in Yemen and Bahrain propped-up the pro-empire, anti-democratic puppet regimes while ensuring US access to its strategic military bases.

Saudi Arabia is the principle backer of US sanctions and confrontation with Iran. It provides air bases, military intelligence operations and the funding of anti-Iranian terrorists, like ‘Mujahedeen al Khalq’. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for US military exports. Saudi increased its oil output to compensate for a decline of oil in world markets due to the US embargo against and the destruction of oil production following the US attacks and devastation of Iraq and Libya. In exchange Saudi Arabia’s absolutist monarchy obtains US protection, security and assistance in repressing its domestic unrest. Saudi billionaires, no matter how brutal and corrupt, have full access to lucrative financial markets in the US. The Saudi theocratic-monarchic dictatorship has clearly benefited from the US destruction of secular nationalist Arab regimes in the region. Indeed, secular nationalism has been the Saudi’s primary target since its monarchy was set up by the British.

Nevertheless, the Saudi-US axis is fraught with tensions. The Saudi regime actively promotes Sunni extremist jihadi movements in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon undermining Washington-backed neo-liberal clients. The Saudi-backed terrorists in Libya have destabilized the US proxies. The Saudis promoted and financed the bloody military coup in Egypt of General Sisi. The Saudi Royals support the brutal military overthrow of the elected President Morsi and the suppression of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood because of Morsi’s rapprochement with Iran. This has ruined Obama’s more ‘moderate’ goal of setting up a Muslim Brotherhood-Egyptian military power sharing arrangement in Cairo.

In other words, the US and Saudi axis converge in opposition to secular-nationalist regimes but diverge on the alternatives. The Saudis tend to choose the most retrograde Islamic extremist groups excluding and antagonizing all other tendencies, from conservative-secular neo-liberals to democratic, nationalist and socialist parties and movements. They end up with political polarizations unfavorable to US long-term imperial interests. The Saudi choice of political alternatives tends to be minorities incapable of sustaining or overtly hostile to the US imperial order. Moreover, Saudi Arabia opposes Israel on religious grounds, the principle US political partner in the region, even as it works with the Jewish state against the secular or nationalist governments Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

Like its alliance with Israel, the US-Saudi axis comes at a very high cost. Saudi financing of the Taliban and other Islamic groups has cost the US empire builders hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of military casualties and a humiliating retreat after a thirteen year war.

Saudi funding for Sunni terrorists in Syria has decimated US-backed neo-liberal armed groups. Equally damaging, the same Saudi-backed jihadi groups have severely destabilized the US-imposed Maliki regime in Iraq. Saudi attacks on the US-Iranian nuclear negotiations have strengthened the Zionist-led opposition in the US Congress.

In other words the US-Saudi axis has buttressed the US Empire in the short-run, but has become a strategic liability. Saudi’s overseas projection of its most reactionary internal politics undermines the US effort to create stable imperial clients. Not to be overlooked is the Saudi role in financing Al Queda and its operatives in the attack on the US on September 11, 2001.

The US Turkey Axis

Turkey has been a major US-NATO asset especially during the Cold War. The secular-military regimes in Ankara mobilized the largest number of combat troops on the USSR’s border and provided the US with numerous air bases and intelligence centers. In recent times, under an Islamist regime, Turkey has become the axis for the US and EU-backed mercenary invasion of Syria, providing military sanctuaries, training, arms and financing to overthrow the secular Baathist regime in Damascus.

The Erdogan regime has sought to regain a pivotal role within NATO by backing the Empire’s effort to topple nationalist leaders and movements in the region.

Turkey has worked closely with the US and Israel in building up the political, economic and military capacities of the Iraqi Kurds. They are seen as a counter-force to the Saudi-backed jihadis, the failed Shia regime in Baghdad and Iraqi petrol-nationalists.

While pursuing neo-liberal policies congruent with US imperial design and collaborating with Washington’s clients in ‘Kurdistan’, Turkey has its own regional ambitions. President Erdogan supported the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and opposed the military coup of General Sisi, fearing, perhaps, a similar coup by the Turkish military. Up until quite recently Turkey had its own ‘mini-imperial’ agenda via trade and investment in Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. The recent imperial conflicts and regional instability have undermined Erdogan’s dreams of a neo-Ottoman revival. 95% of Turkish public opinion supports the rights of the Palestinian people; this has forced Erdogan to pull away from the Israeli-US axis, at least temporarily. Likewise the Turkish regime, while not in opposition to the Saudi dictatorship, has refrained from overt collaboration apart from trade and Gulf investments.

With the US-EU in the process of isolating and demonizing Russia, it remains to be seen whether Turkey will once again become the military axis for NATO. Russia is an important energy supplier and market for Turkish goods. If Turkey decides to join the new US axis confronting Russia, it will lose out economically and will have to find alternative markets and energy sources in an increasingly unstable region. A weakened Turkey may be more submissive to empire but it will be more vulnerable to internal opposition.


The US Empire, like previous ones, depends on a host of alliances and axes of power to sustain it and compensate for military, political and economic limitations in resources and personnel. With regard to the main region of direct US involvement, the Middle East, Washington has embraced three sets of alliances with partners who have played a paradoxical role in both sustaining and eroding the US Empire.

Israel, the primary ally of the US, is largely a political and military construct of US policymakers over the past years. It was originally designed to serve and police the region for the US. Instead, over the years, the relationship has been totally reversed: US imperial power has been subordinated to serve Israel’s ambitions to impose unchallenged regional superiority over the Middle East. For the first time in the history of empires, a satrap of empire has systematically penetrated the principle imperial institutions. Decision-makers and elites loyal to Israeli interests have expended vast amounts of US military resources and American soldiers to wage wars with the goal of decimating Israel’s enemies. Five hundred thousand well organized and financed American Jewish-Zionist activists have directed the global empire into focusing on one region: the Middle East. The mass media, US Congress and the principle advisory bodies (dubbed ‘think tanks’) in Washington are engaged in formulating US policies in line with Israel’s colonial interests with disastrous consequences for the American people. In effect, the US state and society are ‘colonized’ by unconditional supporters of Israel. The Zionist power configuration’s influence finds its most macabre expression in the US Congress unanimous endorsement of the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped Palestinian civilians and children during the July 2014 terror bombing of Gaza. This repugnant act is the culmination of the forced servility of an ostensibly global imperial power subject to the dictates of its lawless, genocidal ally.

The Israeli-US axis has led the Empire into a blind ally: A totally one-sided relation has inflated the military dimensions of empire in Israel’s interests. Economically, this has become the most perverse of all imperial partnerships, where the satrap extracts billions of dollars a year in political tribute and advanced weaponry in return for nothing! Strategically, the global decline of the US Empire, its loss of market shares and political influence in the most dynamic regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa, can be wholly attributed to its sustained focus on the Middle East.

The disastrous ‘exclusive Middle East focus’ can be attributed to the leadership, organization and policies of the Empire.

The US political leadership, beholden to unconditional supporters of Israel, has committed the most damaging policies in US history. First and foremost, these elite-educated policymakers have degraded the entire economic dimensions of empire by pursuing a relentless military agenda – destroying oil producers, raising world prices, sowing instability and by bleeding the US Treasury of trillions of dollars - with few returns.

This self-proclaimed ‘best and brightest’, with advanced degrees from the most prestigious universities, includes policymakers who have committed the US to endless wars which only benefit Israel. Most of these key policymakers, including Wolfowitz, Emmanuel, Feith, Libby, Abrams, Greenspan, Levy, Cohen, Frohman, Lew, Fischer, Bernanke and Yellen have deliberately pillaged the US Treasury in order to sustain Middle East wars for Israel and Wall Street bankers. The ‘leading lights’ among the Zionist policy-makers, occupying influential positions in the imperial power structures, are responsible for an unmitigated disaster: they have initiated failed wars, dismantled whole societies, fomented financial crises and promoted a one-way ‘partnership’ with a genocidal state. If only they had pursued respectable and successful careers as dentists, doctors, investors, bankers or ivory tower academics – millions of precious lives would not have been destroyed....

However, it is not only the empire’s alliance with Israel which is driving the empire to crisis. The Saudi-US axis has given immense power to the most retrograde satraps and barbaric armed insurgents running amok in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. An empire, associated with the most parasitic Arab ‘rentiers’ who send their own fanatical offspring to self-immolate for a head-beheading new world order has scarce resonance in the modern world. An empire, organized around axes of evil and directed by political leaders loyal to satraps, has no material or moral foundations to justify its existence.

Russia and War in Eastern Ukraine

Russia and the War in Eastern Ukraine

by Roger Annis  - A Socialist in Canada

[The following article was written in the days before departing Moscow on July 17, 2014 following a two week visit.]
Moscow, Russia, July 17, 2014Bombardments of cities and towns in eastern Ukraine by the Ukraine army are not letting up.

Two days ago, Russia Today reported that 18 civilians had died in Luhansk city over the previous three days from the indiscriminate shelling of neighbourhoods.

Miners rally in Donetsk on June 18, 2014, 
sign reads ‘NATO out!’ 

Today, shelling has killed 20 and cut electricity, water service and communication in the city of 400,000 people. In a display of how the media is turning a blind eye to war crimes, the BBC called the attacks in Luhansk “fresh clashes”.

The number of dead is much higher in Donetsk region, including eleven people who died when missiles struck an apartment building in Snezhnoe July 15. It was 6:30 am. Most people were still in bed. Russia Today broadcast shocking images of dozens of people digging at rubble after the attack. A child is rescued and taken to a waiting ambulance. It’s not clear in the footage if he is alive. (Further video, subtitled, of the aftermath of the attack is here.)

One camp of Ukraine refugees along the Russian border has been moved inland by 20 kilometers out of concern it could be hit by Ukraine mortar fire.

[We have learned from doctors in Luhansk, via the OSCE special mission in southeast Ukraine, that 250 people have been killed in Luhansk region in June and July from shelling and other attacks. 850 have been injured.]

The Ukraine government has artillery, rockets and tanks at its disposition, but its conscript army is not motivated or trained to fight in defended urban areas. Even the more-motivated fascist militias that are operating in tandem with the Ukraine army lack fighting experience. The likely role of extreme right commanders in the units conducting artillery and mortar bombardments might explain the randomness and savagery of it all.

As this unfolds, the Russian government is issuing declarations of concern and it is taking care of the swelling numbers of refugees. But it’s not doing anything to stop the crazed shelling and missile strikes of the Ukraine army and militias, and that has growing number of Russians wondering why not. Of course, anything it does, such as impose a no-fly zone or threaten to knock out artillery batteries, will bring howls of rage from the NATO warmaking side.

Russian colleagues here in Moscow say the government was expecting that the popular resistance in southeast Ukraine would have been vanquished by now. That would suit its acute interest in preserving relations with capitalist Europe. But defeat of the rebellion is beginning to look unlikely, which will open a whole new stage of the anti-austerity and pro-democracy struggle in southeast Ukraine, including the appeal it symbolizes for people in other parts of Ukraine and Russia.

Russia’s cautious reactions to the war being waged by Kyiv disproves the claims by governments and some left wing voices in Europe and North America that Russia has territorial ambitions in eastern Ukraine or is deliberately provoking chaos and destabilization. It is NATO and the regime in Kyiv that is sowing chaos and destabilization, not to speak of perpetrating or abetting war crimes. The regime is refusing any talks with the pro-autonomy political forces in Ukraine’s southeast and it is raining artillery shells and rockets upon the population in an effort to terrorize it into submission. It won’t work; every bomb that falls creates legions of new opponents of Kyiv’s military course and the pro-Europe austerity economic agenda that lies behind it.

Impact of events in Russia

The right wing takeover in Kyiv last February and now the war that the regime is waging in the southeast have been an uncomfortable wake-up call for many Russians, something akin to a slap in the face. One Russian colleague explained to me that one year ago, when he would speak to university students of the importance of following and engaging in politics and world events, he would likely as not be dismissed as someone harkening back to Soviet times. It’s very different today. Many Russians feel threatened by events, as well they should. They are deeply aware of the key backing of Kyiv by the member countries of the NATO military alliance. NATO is not only supplying Kyiv with weapons and advisors, it is also slapping travel bans and economic sanctions on Russia’s leaders and it has begun to target its industries with sanctions.

Crimea is targeted by sanctions that are harming its agricultural production and its vitally important tourism industry. As I discovered when I traveled there recently, the major credit card companies are participating in the sanctions. Tourism is down sharply.

The turn of the Ukraine bourgeoisie to austerity Europe and to war against its own population is not surprising. This is a ruling elite that has no plan or interest in the nation. It is notorious for its rise to wealth and power during the past 25 years made possible by its privileged access to organs of political power when the frenzied privatization of the state-owned resources of Soviet Ukraine took place. They also employed every imaginable trick of graft and corruption.[1]

Similar political bankruptcy was a hallmark of this bourgeoisie’s historic predecessors 100 years ago in the divided territory of the future Ukraine, split between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires and Poland. Soviet Ukraine was born through the profound social revolution of 1917-20.

Ukraine’s revolution paralleled and intersected with the much better known Russian Revolution. With the defeat of the Russian and Ukraine revolutions and the rise of Stalinism in the 1920s and 1930s, the political axis of mainstream Ukraine nationalism shifted to the right, where has remained ever since. The new bourgeoisie of the 1990s never particularly bothered with Ukraine nationalism until now, since this wasn’t needed for their graft and nepotism. But now they drape themselves in the yellow and blue national colours.

The concern in Russia over Ukraine intersects with something of which not a lot of people outside of Russia are aware. That is the deep antipathy of many Russians towards the billionaires that have come to own and dominate Russia’s middle-power capitalist economy and its “managed democracy” (to use the succinct term of a colleague).

This antipathy to the wealthy intersects with popular resentment over the inadequacies and failings of Russia’s social services. The majority of people in Russia today have much more difficult access to health care, housing and other social safety nets compared to the days of the Soviet Union. This is not lost on Russian leaders. One of the things that keeps Vladimir Putin’s standing in polls high (at least until this war is eastern Ukraine) is his occasional railings against the greed and excesses of the wealthy elite, even if his government does nothing about it.

There is no uniform picture of how present-day Russians view the changes they and their children have lived for the past 25 years (since the collapse of the Soviet Union). A wealthy minority have done extremely well. An upper middle section has also done well. The center of Moscow and of some other large cities in Russia are fabulously attractive places of wealth and excess consumption. The city centers of Moscow and St. Petersburg, at least, are easily on par with the best of what imperialist capital cities have on offer.

But you don’t have to move too far out of the center of Moscow or other cities to move down the social ladder and encounter roads and sidewalks in disrepair, inadequate housing, and so on. For workers, on average, living standards are only just recovering to where they were 25 years ago. Compared to Soviet times, most Russians are working much longer hours, have poorer social services, fewer vacations and live with greater uncertainty over their future.

Russia’s economy is highly dependent on revenues from natural resources, notably oil and gas. One sees everywhere the heavy dependence on imports of food, consumer and other items. The country’s roads and telecommunication systems are not up to the standards required of a fully developed capitalist economy. Even the railroads are in decline as they became privatized and as the government and the new capitalists focus their attentions and decisions on short-term financial gains, not long term development of an economy and country.

All of this underlines the importance of studying the exact nature of the social and economic system that is modern-day Russia. An excellent source for researchers or just interested people is a new book by Moscow professor and researcher Ruslan Dzarasov, titled ‘The Conundrum of Russian Capitalism: The Post-Soviet Economy in the World System’ (Pluto Press, Dec. 2013). The author draws sharp attention to the degree in which globalized capitalism is focused on earning wealth in the short term and disdaining any long term concern or planning. The zeal for short-term plunder is one of the features of capitalist nihilism in the face of the climate crisis. This phenomenon is heightened in post-Soviet Russian capitalism.

Russia as imperialist?

An important part of economic study is to determine where, exactly, Russia fits into the world capitalist system. Is it an imperialist country and social order, as many argue? Or is the story more complicated than that? The answer to that question would tell us a lot about the interests and the actions of the country’s economic and political elites. It would help us a great deal to understand the crisis in Ukraine. My article on the subject of ‘Russia as imperialist or not’ published in June only scratches the surface. It uses traditional measures of what does and does not constitute an imperialist economy.

Much more analysis, beyond the scope of my limited, formal training in this area, is needed to update traditional measures and account for the globalized world of capitalism, the diminution, for now, of inter-imperialist conflict and the heightened place of inter-imperialist military alliances.

The left internationally has been slow or remiss in looking at this subject in any depth and drawing the appropriate conclusions. I can only surmise that the powerful and intimidating anti-Russia and anti-Vladimir Putin propaganda machines in the imperialist countries have played a role in this. We should not be intimidated or bamboozled away from serious study.

Although I am not an economist, I was driven to write my article in June because I am bothered that a simplistic portrayal of Russia as ‘imperialist’ is serving to confuse matters in Ukraine and delay much-needed solidarity. There is inexcusable inaction against the murderous war by the Kyiv regime and its NATO backers. Never mind that the claim of Russian territorial and other ‘imperialist’ designs on Ukraine is contrary to what events over the past six months clearly show. The underlying premise is also wrong—Russia is a capitalist power, yes, but is far from being the ruthless, aggressive power, coordinated with others through alliances, that characterizes the imperialist powers. It is a middle power with an uneven, underdeveloped capitalist economy that has more in common with Brazil and South Korea than with France or Canada.

Russian nationalists in southeast Ukraine

If the assertion that Russia is NOT imperialist is correct, then the pressuring moves and military assaults by NATO and its Kyiv regime junior partner are an attack not only against the Ukraine nation but also against the Russian nation. As a matter of fact, I argued this from the get-go earlier this year. At the time, I did not have a strong theoretical foundation to do so; I was acting on political perception and instinct. Events and further study have borne those out.

On the subject of the Russian nationalists who are volunteering to fight in eastern Ukraine and playing a role in politics there, Russian colleagues express very thoughtful and considered opinions. They argue it is wrong to view Russian nationalism as uniformly right wing. If you ask many nationalists of their vision for a future eastern Ukraine (and Russia), they are likely as not to answer with ‘nationalization of big enterprises’, ‘expansion of social services and welfare’, ‘development of the national economy’ and ‘greater democracy’. Many will speak with pride of the Russian Federation’s multinational and multicultural makeup. Elements of such a vision are echoed in the manifesto produced by the Ukrainian delegates who attended the July 6, 7 antiwar conference in Yalta, Crimea, which is an explicitly anti-capitalist document. (Read the manifesto here.)

Colleagues have great respect for the courage of the activists and fighters who are volunteering in eastern Ukraine. That has been my view as well, as I read the descriptive reports of the volunteers and why they are serving. Reports invariably explain that they are motivated by a determination to defend the population of eastern Ukraine from fascism and other forms of capitalist violence. Volunteers see an historic opening for this part of the world to break from the unequal, decrepit economic system that dominates in Russia and Ukraine and to inspire others to follow such a lead.

I read recently in The Guardian a translation of an interview with a volunteer who served in Donetsk, a man of Armenian origin. He talks of harrowing experiences in combat, including incompetent commanders during the seizure of the Donetsk airport at the end of May, from which he was lucky to escape with his life. He was asked at the end of the interview why he had volunteered (from Russia) to risk his life for a foreign country. He replied, “I don’t consider Russia a foreign country. I have the mentality of a Soviet person. My grandfathers fought for the Soviet Union and I am fighting for it.” (The man is clearly among those in southeastern Ukraine who view the goal there as some kind of political association with Russia. Given the ferocity of the Ukraine government military attacks, the number of people who view any kind of future in Ukraine is in sharp decline.)

Another recent video is an eight minute interview with a volunteer fighter of Afghan origin. He compares the Kyiv regime’s war with the decades-long war in Afghanistan. (Coincidentally, Ukraine still has a small numbers of soldiers serving in the ISAF foreign occupation army there.)

Given the scale of the assault that the people of the southeast are up against, their historic ties to Russia, including language, and the military experience and equipment that Russian volunteers bring, it’s no surprise that Russians spring into leading roles.

There are reports of ruthless treatment by some self defense units of opposing paramilitaries taken captive, including boasting by one unit that while it treats soldiers with dignity, it will kill fascist cadre it captures. This gives credence to the claims of human rights organizations that rights violations are occurring on both sides of the conflict in the southeast (though hardly in the same proportion).[2] Progressives in Russia and southeast Ukraine condemn such conduct. Part of the political struggle today in chaotic eastern Ukraine is to achieve dignified treatment of opposing enemy combatants.

Marxists have many points of political convergence with Russian nationalists. It is inaccurate and misleading to portray them as uniformly right wing. Russian nationalists are in the front lines of defending the people of southeast Ukraine against extreme violence. They are displaying great bravery and making great sacrifices.


My colleagues reminded me of the significant political blow that the imperialists received over Crimea. They lost a prize they lusted after deeply—the possibility of greatly diminishing the presence of Russia’s navy in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea by taking control of Crimea and Sevastopol. Their loss was quick and decisive; they were not able to fire a single shot. Moreover, the anti-imperialist masses in other parts of the world duly took note. That is not good news for empires.

My July 14 news article reports on the vote at the United Nations General Assembly on March 27, 2014 in which 11 countries voted against a resolution to condemn Russia over Crimea. The ‘no’ voted included Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia. Fifty eight countries abstained.

The imperialist ‘loss’ over Crimea explains the vengeful economic and political sanctions which they have slapped on the people of Crimea. It also explains, in part, the fury of the war in Ukraine’s southeast. NATO does not want to lose two prizes in a row. All proportions guarded, Crimea join the ranks of Haiti, China, Cuba, Vietnam and countries or peoples who have dared to defy the dictats of empires. Crimeans are paying an economic price for doing so, and they wish that could be otherwise. But they are also thankful to now be beyond the reach of Kyiv’s civil war policies.

Prospects of the war

There has been no letup in the bloody shelling and bombings of towns and cities by the Kyiv regime. Much of this is in retaliation for the rocket attack on the night of July 10/11 that destroyed a Ukraine army armoured column in Luhansk region. It was a harsh blow to Kyiv and the fascist militias with which it is allied.

The armoured mobility and firepower with which Kyiv expected it could ride to conquest in eastern Ukraine is beginning to look less overwhelming. The capacities of the self defense fighters are proving to be considerable. For example, Ukraine’s fleet of military helicopters has been reduced to ten, according to Ukraine government spokesperson Tatiana Chyornovol, cited in the July 17 Moscow Times. The Times also reports self defense fighters saying they have shot down 11 jet fighters and one (well publicized) military transport aircraft. Here is a recent video of a destroyed and abandoned Ukraine artillery base near Krasnodon.

Kyiv is also paying a growing political price over its savage attacks on civilian populations. Days ago, another journalist was killed, this time the editor of a Russian-language newspaper reportedly tortured and killed in Ukraine proper by government forces. According to previous figures gathered by the Committee to Protect Journalists, this latest killing brings to seven the number of journalists killed in Ukraine since February. I believe all these killings were committed by Kyiv forces.

People in Europe and North America have a duty to build a solidarity movement to help end the military attacks in the southeast and promote a political resolution of the conflict that respects the right of self-determination of the people of eastern Ukraine. We need to help create political space where the demands of the self-determination movement and self defense forces can be respected and heard. We also need to support people throughout Ukraine whose democratic rights are increasingly under attack.

Echoes of civil protest in western Ukraine have been expressed in recent days, especially of relatives of the young men being conscripted into the Ukraine army. A rally took place in Kyiv on July 16 where mothers, wives and fathers of young men voiced opposition to the dangers and harsh conditions of compulsory military service to which their loved ones are being subjected. Another such anti-conscription protest took place on July 15 at the entrance to an army base in Ternopil, western Ukraine and can be viewed in this seven minute video.

Solidarity will assist in creating much-needed unity throughout Ukraine, in opposition to the billionaires who are running the country into the ground with their dirty civil war and dead-end, Europe-inspired austerity.


1. From ‘Punishing Russia for the MH17 tragedy will not help Ukraine’, by Oliver Bullough, The Guardian, July 20, 2014:

Visitors [to Ukraine] can be forgiven for not realising quite how wrecked Ukraine is. Kiev has all the car showrooms, restaurants and elegant architecture of a European capital, but last year Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index rated Ukraine 144th in the world, level with the Central African Republic.

Ukraine’s orgy of kleptocracy reached its riotous peak under Viktor Yanukovych, leaving the country incapable of defending itself, or even of holding itself together. Tax officials trying to make sense of Yanukovych’s greed estimate that around £18bn a year was stolen from Ukraine’s coffers under his rule – almost a fifth of gross domestic product. No country can survive that.

2. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is issuing monthly reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine. Its latest report, dated June 15, is scandalously biased in favour of the government in Kyiv, describing Kyiv’s war in the southeast as a necessary ‘security’ operation. Thus, we read such obfuscation as the following: “Of particular concern is the continued erosion of the rule of law and the limited capacity of the Government to protect residents from the ever increasing acts of violence…” (point 176 of the report); and, “The recent evaluation of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) published on 23 May 2014, highlighted the positive steps of the Government in ratification of, or accession to, various human rights instruments.” (point 241).

There are, nonetheless, interesting observations in the report, including the poor reception and resources made available to Tatars who have chosen to leave Crimea and to refugees from the war zone in southeast Ukraine.

Roger Annis recently returned to Canada from a two-week visit to Crimea and Moscow. He attended the antiwar conference that took place in Yalta, Crimea on July 6, 7. He can be reached at You can sign onto the conference statement at this online petition website. Background of the conflict in Ukraine is contained in the July 16 article by Roger Annis, ‘It’s war in eastern Ukraine as Kyiv gov’t bombards cities and towns’.