Saturday, April 12, 2014

Listening to Ukrainians: From the Countryside to Kiev

Voices of Ukraine: “Kiev, people are not cattle!” 

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

I doubt where the official numbers come from, those that say that Ukraine is evenly divided between those who support the West, and those who feel their identity is closely linked with Russia.

Maybe this might be the case in western Ukraine, in Lvov, or even in the capital, Kiev. But western Ukraine has only a few key cities. The majority of people in this country of around 44 million are concentrated in the south, east and southeast, around the enormous industrial and mining centers of Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Krivoi Rog.

There is Odessa in the south, and Kharkov, “the second capital,” in the east. And people in all those parts of the country mainly speak Russian. And they see, what has recently happened in Kiev as an unceremonious coup, orchestrated and supported by the West.


The car is negotiating a bumpy four-lane highway between Kiev and Odessa. There are three of us on board – my translator, Dmitry from the site, a driver and me. Having left Kiev in the morning, we are literally flying at 160 kilometers an hour toward Odessa.

Earlier, the driver had told me: “We either keep to the speed limit, or just keep a stack of 100 hryvna notes (about $9), so we can bribe our way if the police stop us.”

The wide fields of Ukraine, formerly known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, look depressingly unkempt. Some are burned.

“What are they growing here?” I ask.

Nobody knows, but both of my friends agree that almost everything in Ukraine is now collapsing, after the decomposition of the USSR, and this includes both industry and agriculture. The roads are not an exception, either.

“They only built facades during the last decades,” explains Dmitry. “The core, the essence had been constructed in the Soviet era. And now everything is crumbling.”

Before reaching Odessa we leave the highway and drive northeast, toward Moldova and its small separatist enclave, called Transdnistria.

There, the river Kuchurgan separates the Ukrainian town of Kuchurgan and the Transnistrian city of Pervomaisc.

I see no Russian tanks at Pervomaisc, no artillery. There is absolutely no military movement whatsoever, despite the countless Western mass media reports testifying (in abstract terms) to the contrary.

I cross the bridge on foot and ask the Transnistrian border guard whether he has recently seen any foreign correspondents arriving from the United States or the European Union, attempting to cross the border and verify the facts. He gives me a bewildered look.

I watch beautiful white birds resting on the surface of the river, and then I return to Ukraine.

There, two ladies who run the ‘Camelot Bar’ served us the most delicious Russo/Ukrainian feast of an enormous borshch soup and pelmeni.

A Russian television station blasts away, and the two women cannot stop talking; they are frank, proud, and fearless. I turn on my film camera, but they don’t mind.
“Look what is happening in Kiev,” exclaims Alexandra Tsyganskaya, the owner of the restaurant.
“The US and the West were planning this; preparing this, for months, perhaps years! Now people in Ukraine are so scared, most of them are only whispering. They are petrified. There is such tension everywhere, that all it would take is to light a match and everything will explode.”
Her friend, Evgenia Chernova, agrees:
“In Odessa, Russian-speaking people get arrested, and they are taken all the way to Kiev. The same is happening in Kharkov, in Donetsk, and elsewhere. They call it freedom of speech! All Russian television channels are banned. What you see here is broadcast from across the border. They treat people like cattle. But our people are not used to this: they will rebel, they will resist! And if they push them to the edge, it will be terrible!”

Both women definitely agree on one thing: “We say, ‘Don’t provoke Russia!’ It is a great nation, our historical ally. It has been helping us for decades.”

And the same words in Odessa are even written on huge banners: “Kiev, people are not cattle!”

Odessa, that architectural jewel, an enormous southern port, is now relatively quiet, but tense. I speak to the manager of the historic and magnificently restored Hotel Bristol, but she is very careful in choosing her words. I mention Western involvement in the coup, or in the ‘revolution’ as many in Kiev and in the West call it, but she simply nods, neutrally.

The city is subdued, as well as those famous Potemkin Steps: Renowned for one of the most memorable scenes in world cinema that of, the silent film Battleship Potemkin directed in 1925 by Sergey Eisenstein.

As Helen Grace once wrote: “The Odessa steps massacre in the film condenses the suppression that actually occurred in the city into one dramatized incident, and this remains one of the most powerful images of political violence ever realized.”

One only hopes that Odessa never again falls victim to unbridled political cruelty, such as was visited on the people by the feudal, oppressive right-wing Tsarist regime, at the beginning of the 20th century!

Demographic disaster

A babushka looks exhausted and subdued. She is slowly digging into dark earth, all alone, clearly abandoned.

I spotted some dilapidated houses in the village that we had passed just a few minutes earlier, and I asked the driver to make a U-turn, but he clearly did not see any urgency and continued to drive on: “You will see many villages like this,” he explained. Dmitry confirmed:

“Such villages are all over Ukraine. There are thousands of them; literally, you see them whenever you leave the main roads.”

This one, this village, is called Efremovka, and the name of the grandmother is Lyubov Mikhailovna.

We are somewhere between the cities of Nikolayev and Krivoi Rog.

All around us are the ruins of agricultural estates, of small factories, and houses that used to belong to farmers. Wires are missing from electric poles, and everything appears to be static, like in a horror science-fiction film. Only Lyubov Mikhailovna is digging, stubbornly.

I ask her how she is managing to survive, and she replies that she is not managing at all.

“How could one survive here on only 1,000 hryvnas per month ($80)?” she laments. “We are enduring only on what we grow here: cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes…”

I ask her about the ruins of houses, all around this area, and she nods for a while, and only then begins speaking: 

“People abandoned their homes and their villages, because there are no jobs. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the entire Ukraine has been falling apart… People are leaving and they are dying. Young people try to go abroad…. The government is not even supplying us with gas and drinking water, anymore. We have to use the local well, but the water is contaminated by fertilizers – it is not clean…”

“Was it better before?” I ask.

“How can you even ask? During the Soviet Union everything was better, much better! We all had jobs and there were decent salaries, pensions… We had all that we needed,” she answers.

Looking around me, I quickly recall that Ukraine is an absolute demographic disaster: even according to official statistics and censuses, the number of people living in this country fell from 48,457,102 in 2001 to 44,573,205 in 2013. Years after its “independence,” and especially those between 1999 and 2001, are often described as one of the worst demographic crises in modern world history. In 1991 the population of Ukraine was over 51.6 million!

Only those countries that are devastated by brutal civil wars are experiencing similar population decline.

‘What are they fighting for?’

Krivoi Rog, or Kryvyi Rih as it is known in the Ukrainian language, is arguably the most important steel manufacturing city in Eastern Europe, and a large globally important, metallurgical center for what is known as the Kryvbas iron-ore mining region.

Here Krivorozhstal, one of the most important steel factories in the world, saw outrageous corruption scandals during its first wave of privatization. During the second privatization in 2005, the mammoth factory was taken over by the Indian multinational giant, Mittal Steel (which paid $4.81 billion), and was renamed Arcelor Mittal Kryvyi Rih.

Since then, production has declined significantly, and thousands of workers were unceremoniously fired.

According to the Arcelor Mittal Factbooks (2007 and 2008), steel production decreased from 8.1 million tons in 2007, to 6.2 million tons in 2008. In 2011, the workforce decreased from 55,000 to 37,000 people, and the management is still hoping that even more dramatic job cuts (down to 15,000) can be negotiated.

By late afternoon, we arrived at the main gate of the factory. Hundreds of people were walking by; most of them looking exhausted, discouraged and unwilling to engage in any conversation. Some shouted anti-coup slogans, but did not want to give their names or go on the record.

Finally, a group of tough-looking steelworkers stop, and begin to discuss the situation at the factory with us, passionately: “Do you realize how little we earn here? People at this plant, depending on their rank, bring home only some $180, $260, or at most some $450 a month. Across the border, in Russia, in the city of Chelyabinsk, the salaries are three to four times higher!”

His friend is totally wound up and he screams: “We are ready! We will go! People are reaching the limit!”

It is hard to get any political sense from the group, but it is clear that opinions are divided: while some want more foreign investment, others are demanding immediate nationalization. They have absolutely no disputes with Russia, but some support the coup in Kiev, while others are against it.

It is clear that, more than ideology; these people want some practical improvement in their own lives and in the life of their city.

“All we have heard for the past 20 years is that things will improve,” explains the first steel worker.“But look what is happening in reality. Mittal periodically fails to pay what is due. For instance, I am supposed to get 5,700 hryvnas a month, but I get less than 5,000. And the technology at the plant is old, outdated. The profits that Mittal is making – at least if some of it would stay here, in Ukraine, and go to the building of the roads or improving the water supplies… But they take everything out of the country.”

The next day, in Kharkov, Sergei Kirichuk, leader of the left-wing Borotba (Struggle) movement, told me: “People all over the world are fighting against the so-called “free market,” but in Ukraine, to bring it here, was the main reason for the ‘revolution.’ It is really hard to believe.”

State of war

The border between Ukraine and Russia, near the town of Zhuravlevka, between Ukrainian Kharkov and the Russian city of Belgorod, is quiet. Good weather, wide fields and an almost flat landscape, guarantee good visibility for several kilometers.

On the 28 of March, when Western and Ukrainian mass media were shouting about an enormous Russian military force right at the border, I only saw a few frustrated birds and an apparently unmanned watch tower.

The traffic at the border was light, but it was flowing – and several passenger cars were crossing from the Russian side to Ukraine. What I saw, however, were several Ukrainian tanks along the M-20/E-105 highway, just a stone’s throw away from the border. There were tanks and armored vehicles, and quite a substantial movement of Ukrainian soldiers.

An old Soviet Zaporozhets car with Ukrainian license plates, carrying an entire family apparently from Russia, stopped right next to one of the tanks. A man, his wife and their two children began shouting something at the soldiers. The family laughed for a while, and then their ancient sedan slowly took off toward Kharkov.

The local press was, however, not as amusing. “State of War!” shouted the headline in the Kyiv Post. “We lifted up to the sky 100 jet fighters, in order to scare Moscow,” declared the Today newspaper.


The reality on the ground differed sharply from the ‘fairytales’, paid for and propagated by Western mass media outlets and by the ‘free Ukrainian press’.

In the east in Kharkov, Soviet banners flew in the wind, next to many Russian flags. Thousands of people gathered in front of the giant statue of Lenin on those windy days of March 28-29.

There were fiery speeches and ovations. The outraged crowd met the proclamations that the Western powers had instigated the “fascist coup” in Kiev, with loud shouts of “Russia, Russia!”

Old women, Communist leaders, and my friend Sergei Kirichuk, the left-wing leader of Borotba, as well as people from international solidarity organizations, made fiery speeches. Apparently, the government in Kiev had already begun to cut the few social benefits that were left, including free medical assistance. Several hospitals were poised to close down soon.

People were ready to fight; to defend themselves against those hated neo-liberal policies, for which (or against which) none of them had been allowed to vote for.

“In Crimea, people voted, overwhelmingly, to return to Russia,” said Aleksey, a student. “But the West calls it unconstitutional and undemocratic. In Ukraine itself, the democratically-elected government has been overthrown and policies that nobody really wants are being pushed down our throats. And… this is called democracy!”

In an apartment of the Borotba movement, a young leader and history student, Irina Drazman, spoke about the way the West has destroyed Ukraine. She reminded me of a Chilean student leader and now an MP – Ms. Camila Vallejo. Irina is only 20, but coherent and as sharp as a razor.

“There is great nostalgia for the Soviet Union,” she says. “If only it could be reshaped and the concept improved, most of the people in Ukraine would be happy to be part of it again.”

And that is exactly what the West is trying to prevent: A powerful and united country, one which can defend the interest of its people.

Standing in front of a police cordon in Kharkov, Aleksandr Oleinik, a Ukrainian political analyst, says:

“The essence of what is now happening is based on the doctrine of the United States, which has one major goal: To wipe out from the globe, first the Soviet Union, and then Russia, regardless of its form; whether socialist or capitalist… As is well known, these goals were already defined in the early 1980s, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his report to the US State Department, titled: “Game Plan: A Geostrategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest.”

Playing Ukrainian game

For the West, what is happening in Ukraine may be a game; a geopolitical game. The same game it is playing in Venezuela, in Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba and China, to name just a few places. Victory would be the total domination of the planet.

Those lives of regular people, of those billions of “peons,” matter nothing.

In Kiev’s Maidan, the main square where the “revolution” or the coup took place, right-wing groupings are hanging around, aimlessly. Some men and women are frustrated. Many even feel that they were fooled.

Thousands were paid to participate in what was thought would bring at least some social justice. But the interim government began taking its dictates, almost immediately: from the United States, from European Union and from the institutions such as IMF and World Bank.

Now thousands of disgruntled ‘revolutionaries’ feel frustrated. Instead of saving the country, they sold out all their ideals, and betrayed their own people. And their own lives went from bad to worse.

The tension is growing and Ukraine is on the edge. There is serious internal drift – inside the right-wing movements, especially after several recent political assassinations. There is growing tension, even confrontation, between conservative, oppressive forces and those progressive ones. There is tension between Russian speakers and those who are insisting on purely the Ukrainian language being used all over the country.

There are political assassinations; there is fear and uncertainty about the future. There is increasing a negative role being played by the religions, from Protestant to Orthodox. Nobody knows what will follow the coup. Confusion and frustration, as well as social collapse, may well cause a brutal civil war.

All photos by Andre Vltchek.

Ukraine's Anti-Fascist Rebels for Donetsk People's Republic

Support the Ukrainian Anti-fascist Rebellion for the Donetsk People’s Republic

by Steven Argue

On February 23, one day after taking power, the coup government in Kiev voted to take away the language rights of Hungarian, Romanian, Tatar, and Russian speaking minorities. Eventually the bill was not signed, due in part to large uprisings against it, but the chauvinistic intentions and priorities of the anti-democratic government were made clear.

That coup government is made up of a closely knit coalition of three capitalist parties, one of which is the neo-Nazi party Svoboda. For neo-Nazi Svoboda leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, taking away the language rights of the Russian minority will be just the beginning. He recently spoke before supporters in Kiev calling for criminal penalties for speaking in the Russian language. In addition, he called for stripping all ethnic Russians of their Ukrainian citizenship, forcing them to become non-citizens in their own land.

In 2010 the official Svoboda internet website included in its program their desire to: "physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (Fast, without a trial, shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda)."

Political leaders and people in the media who defend the oppressed Russian nationality have been violently attacked by these neo-Nazi fascists. This includes a neo-Nazi attack by the Svoboda Party that forced the acting CEO of the National Television Company of Ukraine, Aleksandr Panteleymonov, to resign. One of the neo-Nazi thugs participating in the attack is ironically the head of the government's Freedom of Speech and Information Committee.

Also attacked by fascists in the Ukrainian parliament was Communist MP Petro Symonenko who declared of the fascists who carried out the coup in February, "You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view..." As if to prove him right, he was then interrupted by fascists of the Svoboda Party who physically attacked him. Likewise, on February 25th, fascist paramilitaries of Svoboda searched Petro Simonenko’s house, looking for evidence of anything, and upon finding nothing, burned down his house using Molotov cocktails.

“Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.”

The Obama administration used these chauvinistic neo-Nazis to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and they now occupy many key posts in the coup government. In eastern Ukrainian regions where the Russian minority constitutes the majority, there have naturally been uprisings against the chauvinistic central government and its appointed governments in the east such as the deputy head of South Eastern Ukraine as appointed by the illegitimate government in Kiev. He is a wealthy capitalist and criminal named Boris Filatov.

Of Nazi collaborator and Nazi mass murderer Stepan Bandera, Filatov states:

“I am proud of Bandera. He is my Hero. Particularly, as I see that people are ready to die under red-and-black flags.” 

Filatov has also stated his recipe for the solution in the region saying, “Give the scum promises, guarantees and then hang them.” When questioned on this later he explained it was just something he said on social media and not an official statement.

In addition to fascist hatred, the Obama installed coup government in Kiev is agreeing to IMF austerity and other dictates, including a 50% increase in the price of heating fuel. This IMF austerity comes on top of mass unemployment and much lower wages that have happened since the overthrow of the socialist economy in Ukraine with the destruction of the USSR. Higher fuel prices will cause the poor to freeze to death. To impose this austerity, the United States and EU supported the fascists and other ultra-nationalists who took power in Kiev in February.

Naturally, the oppressed Russian nationality of eastern Ukraine has risen up against the new imperialist imposed fascist infested government in Kiev. In Crimea the people voted to get out of Ukraine while the getting was good, with 96.5% of the people voting for Crimea to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

Likewise, the oppressed Czech nationality is looking to get out of Ukraine as well. An estimated 20,000 Czechs live in the Volyn region of Ukraine. During the week of March 20th, Emma Snidevicova, leader of Czechs in Ukraine’s Volyn region, spoke before the Czech parliament appealing for repatriation of Ukrainian Czechs:

“The situation in Ukraine is that we are afraid for our lives, families and children. The situation is getting worse every day and pushes us to ask the Czech people to take us back home.”

Czech MP, Radim Fiala, said of the situation:

"Crime and banditry is on the rise in western Ukraine, and the local radical groups abiding by the legacy of Stepan Bandera are to blame. Apprehensions of our compatriots who have an experience of clashing with nationalists during the Second World War cannot be ignored."

Besides Crimea which has now rejoined Russia, and Czechs who are looking to immigrate, there are now strong anti-fascist uprisings across eastern Ukraine, including in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. Buildings have been seized including facilities where weapons are stored. In Donetsk the rebellion has now organized a 12 member ruling panel, declared its independence, and renamed itself the Donetsk People’s Republic. They are asking for a Russian peace keeping contingent to defend them from the illegitimate government in Kiev.

Regarding the potential for an anti-capitalist program in Donetsk, People's Republic Commissar Nikolai Solntsev has declared the economic policy of the new government would focus on supporting “the working class, not the bourgeoisie.” Unlike the United States, which continues to carry out measures like an economic blockade against Cuba, the Russian Federation already has close relationships with countries with socialist economies, including Russia's close ties to Belarus. This flows in part from the fact that Russia is only a weak capitalist country with little direct foreign investment, even in neighboring capitalist countries like Ukraine. Russia's interests in the region have more to do with maintaining good mutual regional trading relationships while the imperialist U.S. and EU are seeking to maximize foreign exploitation while they also seek to isolate Russia.

In response to the uprisings in eastern Ukraine, the Obama administration, EU, and Kiev government are blaming Russia. The reality, however, is that it is the imperialist imposed coup in Kiev and the chauvinism of that government are the cause the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine, not Russian intervention.

Leninist-Trotskyists support the anti-fascist uprisings in eastern Ukraine and call for the continued building of non-sectarian self-defense militias to protect oppressed nationalities, Jews, women, unions, and opposition political parties from fascist attacks.

In addition, we call for the building of Leninist-Trotskyist parties that fights to overthrow the capitalist system itself, ending IMF austerity, massive unemployment, national oppression, and other devastation capitalism has brought to Ukraine.

For more I've written on recent events in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, check-out:

US & EU Imperialist Hands Off Crimea, Ukraine, Belarus, & Russia! (In Depth)

Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia's 3rd Largest City

For Ukraine's Self-Defense Militias!
For Crimea's Right To National Self Determination!

Belarus: President Lukashenko Vows to Prevent a Coup Similar to Ukraine

Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis! (An earlier article before the coup with in-depth analysis)

Friday, April 11, 2014

The 'Fogh' of War: NATO's Muscle Man Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO’s ‘Fogh’ of War

by Finian Cunningham - PressTV

It's been a busy week for NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The week began with him telling lies, spewing propaganda, seeking to please Washington, trying to incite war in Europe with Russia, and ended with a warning to Russia to back down from military aggression.

Such is the busy life of a puppet on a string, bouncing in step with the tune called by his master. From here on, Rasmussen should be re-branded as the “Fogh of War.”

Earlier in the week, Fogh Rasmussen addressed a meeting in Paris on the “transformation of NATO.” He licked the boots of French leaders by saying:

“From Central Africa to Eastern Europe, French forces are helping make our world safer - whether under the banner of NATO, the European Union, or of France.”

Make our world safer? This was homage to French militarism that has ignited wholesale sectarian war in the Central African Republic (CAR) where thousands of people have been slaughtered since French troops landed in that country last December on the pretext of “halting genocide.”

As noted in a previous column, France did not halt sectarian killing in the CAR; it unleashed the mass killing when its troops unilaterally disarmed Muslims while giving a free hand to Christian militia there to go on a continuing rampage. All for the purpose of France grabbing rich natural resources, in particular uranium, in its former African colony.

The “Fogh of War” conflated this murderous French neo-imperialism in Africa with the NATO defence of Europe by outrageously implicating Russia as a new terrorist threat. He said Europe is confronted:

“Because from Sevastopol to Syria and the Sahel, we are facing a dangerous world, where threats are complex, unpredictable and interconnected. Newer challenges, such as terrorism, failed states, cyber and missile attacks. And old challenges in new guises, such as attempts to redraw borders by force.”

Note also the way the NATO chief manages to launder NATO-backed terrorists in Syria now as an enemy endangering Europe - to be saved by NATO! Yet, on and on he merrily danced while tying himself up in the strings of his own scripted propaganda.

Rasmussen, who was previously the prime minister of Denmark before taking up his mouthpiece job at NATO in 2009, went on to spew lies about Russian aggression in Ukraine and he called, ominously, for “a readiness action plan.”

“The current crisis [in Ukraine] poses a serious challenge to our common security,” he claimed this week.

“But,” he assured, “North America and Europe stand together in facing up to it. And we stand united in our firm response. In recent weeks, we have seen the United States’ clear commitment to Europe's security... We must review the readiness of all our forces,” said Rasmussen, sounding like a cross between a tin-pot general and an arms salesman working for Washington.

We can be sure that Rasmussen’s masters in Washington really loved that bit of melodrama about America and Europe standing together and the US commitment to Europe's security.

For this is exactly what the Danish non-entity politician is doing. He is giving a European accent to Washington's strategic agenda of sowing conflict between Europe and Russia, even if that means inciting a nuclear war.

Vladimir Putin’s government is right when it dismisses NATO claims of a Russian military threat to Europe. These reckless assertions are simply a ploy to prolong American military and political meddling in European relations with Russia. That meddling goes back to the beginning of the Cold War post-1945, and it continues until today, more than two decades after the official end of the Cold War.

The crisis over Ukraine stems from Washington and Europe’s subversion of that country and the coup d'état the West sponsored against the elected government in Kiev in February. That coup brought a rag-tag fascist junta to power, which has openly threatened ethnic Russians mainly in the east of Ukraine.

The population in the east of Ukraine now want to set up separatist republics that are aligned with Russia, as has already happened in the southern Crimea Peninsula after a legal referendum was held there last month. No wonder they do, when the self-proclaimed neo-Nazi fascists in Kiev are calling for massacres against the Russian population, as when the convicted embezzler Yulia Tymoshenko was caught saying in a leaked phone call that she relished the chance to “whack Russians in the head.”

To blame the turmoil on Russian aggression, as US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are doing, is turning reality on its head. And thanks to European puppets like Rasmussen, the rest of Europe is now being forced into a contrived conflict with Moscow.

Rasmussen, the “Fogh of War,” ended the week with even more inflammatory rhetoric when he visited the Czech Republic. Speaking in the capital, Prague, Rasmussen claimed: “For the first time since countries like the Czech Republic won their freedom, and the Cold War ended, we see one state trying to grab part of another's territory at gunpoint.”

The NATO chief again accused Russia of “illegal aggression” and of “massing troops” on the border of Ukraine, citing unspecified “satellite” evidence. He warned Moscow to “step back.”

“From Prague, I have this message to Russia: You have a choice to stop blaming others for your own actions, to stop massing your troops, to stop escalating this crisis and start engaging in a genuine dialogue,” said Rasmussen.

The fact is that Russia has been calling for dialog to resolve the crisis in Ukraine since the Western-backed street violence erupted in Kiev last November. All Russian overtures for a political settlement have been snubbed by Washington and its NATO allies.

Rasmussen is nothing but a paid puppet doing Washington’s bidding. His job is not to protect Europe, as the NATO literature claims. His job is to incite insecurity and, if need be, an all-out war, in order to serve Washington’s agenda of keeping Europe and Russia divided.

The “Fogh of War” is to step down from his NATO five-year post in September. His next career move is as yet unknown publicly. But what are the bets that Rasmussen ends up in some Washington-funded think tank on a fat salary, with lecture tour bonuses to boot? That’s the reward for non-entity Washington puppets who are playing with millions of peoples’ lives.

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.

Snake Oil: How the Fracking Industry Sells Itself

Those Fracking Lies

by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall - Dissident Voice

Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future by Richard Heinberg (Post Carbon Institute, 2013) is about the economics of fracking. Also known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking refers to using pressurized water and chemicals to release oil or natural gas trapped in underground rock formations. Heinberg’s new book describes the behind-the-scenes role of Goldman Sachs and other investment banks in driving the present fracking boom.

Technology to extract oil and gas deposits trapped in rock formations was first developed in 1866. Because the process is extremely capital intensive, fracking for oil only became economically sustainable in when the price of oil tripled a decade ago. In the case of natural gas, it took the elimination of price controls and federal tax credits to make fracking financially feasible.

How Fracking Loses Money

According to Heinberg, fossil fuel companies are losing money on fracking. The recent boom has led to a surplus of natural gas. This, in turn, has driven the price down, forcing the oil/gas industry to sell it for less than they spend to get it out of the ground. Because only a small fraction of shale gas can be extracted cost effectively, production declines by an average of 80-90% over the first 36 months. Industry data indicates it costs between $10-20 million to operate a fracking rig that will produce $6-15 million worth of natural gas in the well’s lifetime.

Obviously you can’t tell investors that fracking for natural gas is a money-losing proposition. Investors only want to hear that fracking is the miracle solution to America’s dependence on dirty coal and foreign oil. Thus oil/gas companies, the banks that finance them, the federal agencies that regulate them and Obama himself all parrot the hype that fracking will supply cheap natural gas to fuel US power plants for the next 100 years. According to Heinberg, this wildly optimistic prediction was calculated by extrapolating the best production rates of the best fracking sites over the 20,000 or so existing rigs. The problem with this methodology is that it fails to allow for rapid depletion rates or the fact that the best wells are already tapped out.

This pressure to meet financial targets forces the companies to sink more and more wells. Thirty-five to fifty percent of existing wells (7,200 wells) must be replaced every year “just to pay off the bankers.”

Fracking Based Derivatives

The only way companies can stay in business is by selling assets and financial products. This includes unused oil and gas leases1 they acquired cheaply in the 1990s, company shares, derivatives and credit default swaps. The investment banks themselves have created their own fracking-based derivative called volumetric production payments (VPPS). The banks bundle them and sell them to gullible pension fund managers, just like they did toxic mortgages before the 2008 crash.

The billions they’re losing explains why the industry is so keen to start exporting fracked gas as Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to China, Japan and India. These countries are happy to pay $15 per million BTUs, nearly four times the domestic price of $4. A growing export market will quickly drive up US prices.

Environmental Consequences of Fracking

Meanwhile the explosion of fracking rigs across the landscape is causing massive environmental damage and eating up scarce dollars we should be investing in renewable energy. Owing to strong public opposition, fracking is banned or strictly regulated in most of Europe. As a result, Europeans are far more likely to invest energy dollars in renewables. In 2012, Germany obtained 23% of their electricity from renewable sources, Denmark 41% and Portugal 45%

Snake Oil debunks the widely promoted myth is that that burning natural gas to produce electricity creates less greenhouse gasses than burning coal. If you count all the methane (a greenhouse gas 20-100 times more potent than CO2) released during fracking, using fracked natural gas to fuel power plants produces 20-100% more greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

The massive amount of freshwater consumed by tens of thousands of fracking wells is also a major concern, especially in drought-stricken regions. The water take for a single well pad cluster can exceed 60 million gallons. The Halliburton Loophole, championed by Dick Cheney, amended the clean Water Act in 2005 to remove the requirement that oil and gas companies disclose the toxic chemicals they use in fracking. This is especially concerning given recent studies documenting serious health problems in people and livestock adjacent to fracking sites.

In 2011, the EPA made the determination that fracking waste is too radioactive (from exposure to underground cesium and uranium) to be processed in municipal waste facilities. Thus most of it held in large evaporation pools or re-injected into old wells. A recent US Geological Service study has linked deep well re-injection to a rash of earthquakes in regions that rarely experience them. In 2011 central Oklahoma experienced a fracking-related 5.7 earthquake that destroyed 14 homes and a highway and injured two people.

Other Unconventional Production Methods

Snake Oil also debunks the flimsy economic hype used to promote other methods of unconventional oil and gas production (e.g. oil fracking, deep sea oil drilling, tar sands, etc), as well as examining what the inevitable transition to renewable energy will look like. Because renewable energy will never be as cheap as fossil fuels, some modification will be necessary in our current energy intensive lifestyle.

An oil or gas lease is a contract by which a landowner authorizes exploration for and production of oil and on his land, usually in return for royalties from the sale of the oil or gas. []

Dr. Bramhall is a retired American psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. She has published a free, downloadable non-fiction ebook 21st Century Revolution. Her first book The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led her to leave the US in 2002. Email her at: Read other articles by Stuart Jeanne, or visit Stuart Jeanne's website.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Behind America's Curtain: A New US Reality

The New American Reality

by Ramzy Baroud -

US Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t hide his frustration anymore as the US-sponsored peace process continued to falter. After 8 months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 04 that the latest setback had served as a ‘reality check’ for the peace process. But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist in during the last few years.

The state of US foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language. In some instances, as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and most recently in Palestine and Israel, too many calamitous scenarios have exposed the fault lines of US foreign policy. The succession of crises is not allowing the US to cut its losses in the Middle East and stage a calculated ‘pivot’ to Asia following its disastrous Iraq war.

US foreign policy is almost entirely crippled.

For the Obama administration, it has been a continuous firefighting mission since George W. Bush left office. In fact, there have been too many ‘reality checks’ to count.

Per the logic of the once powerful pro-Israel Washington-based neoconservatives, the invasion of Iraq was a belated attempt at regaining initiative in the Middle East, and controlling a greater share of the energy supplies worldwide. Sure, the US media had then made much noise about fighting terror, restoring democracies and heralding freedoms, but the neo-cons were hardly secretive about the real objectives. They tirelessly warned about the decline of their country’s fortunes. They labored to redraw the map of the Middle East in a way that they imagined would slow down the rise of China, and the other giants that are slowly, but surely, standing on their feet to face up to the post-Cold War superpower.

But all such efforts were bound to fail. The US escaped Iraq, but only after altering the balance of power and creating new classes of winners and losers. The violence of the invasion and occupation scarred Iraq, but also destabilized neighboring countries by overwhelming their economies, augmenting militancy and creating more pressure cookers in political spaces that were, until then, somewhat ‘stable’.

The war left America fatigued, and set the course for a transition in the Middle East, although not the kind of transition that the likes of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had championed. There was no ‘New Middle East’ per se, but rather an old one that is in much worse shape than ever before. When the last US soldier scheduled to leave Iraq had crossed the border into Kuwait in Dec 2011, the US was exposed in more ways than one. The limits of US military power was revealed – by not winning, it had lost. Its economy proved fragile – as it continues to teeter between collapse and ‘recovery.’ It was left with zero confidence among its friends. As for its enemies, the US was no longer a daunting menace, but a toothless tiger.

There was a short period in US foreign policy strategy in which Washington needed to count its losses, regroup and regain initiative, but not in the Middle East. The Asia pacific region, especially the South China Sea, seemed to be the most rational restarting point, and for a good reason.

Writing in Forbes magazine in Washington, Robert D. Kaplan described the convergence underway in the Asia pacific region. He wrote, “Russia is increasingly shifting its focus of energy exports to East Asia. China is on track to perhaps become Russia’s biggest export market for oil before the end of the decade.”

The Middle East is itself changing directions, as the region’s hydrocarbon production is increasingly being exported there; Russia is covering the East Asia realm, according to Kaplan, as “North America will soon be looking more and more to the Indo-Pacific region to export its own energy, especially natural gas.”

But the US is still being pulled into too many different directions. It has attempted to police the world exclusively for its own interests for the last 25 years. It failed. ‘Cut and run’ is essentially an American foreign policy staple, and that too is a botched approach. Even after the piecemeal US withdrawal from Iraq, the US is too deeply entrenched in the Middle East region to achieve a clean break.

The US took part in the Libya war, but attempted to do so while masking its action as part of a larger NATO drive, so that it shoulders only part of the blame when things went awry, as they predictably have. Since the January 25 revolution, its position on Egypt was perhaps the most inconsistent of all Western powers, unmistakably demonstrating its lack of clarity and relevance to a country with a massive size and influence. However, it was in Syria that US weaknesses were truly exposed. Military intervention was not possible – and for reasons none of which were moralistic. Its political influence proved immaterial. And most importantly, its own legions of allies throughout the Middle East are walking away from beneath the American leadership banner. The new destinations are Russia for arms and China for economic alternatives.

President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia in late March might’ve been a step too little too late to repair its weakening alliances in the region. Even if the US was ready to mend fences, it neither has the political will, the economic potency or the military prowess to be effective. True, the US still possesses massive military capabilities and remains the world’s largest economy. But the commitment that the Middle East would require from the US at this time of multiple wars and revolutions is by no means the kind of commitment the US is ready to impart. In a way, the US has ‘lost’ the Middle East.

Even the ‘pivot’ to Asia is likely to end in shambles. On the one hand, the US opponents, Russia notwithstanding, have grown much more assertive in recent years. They too have their own agendas, which will keep the US and its willing European allies busy for years. The Russian move against Crimea had once more exposed the limits of US and NATO in regions outside the conventional parameters of western influence.

If the US proved resourceful enough to stage a fight in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the battle – over energy supplies, potential reserves, markets and routes – is likely to be the most grueling yet. China is not Iraq before the US invasion –broken by decades of war, siege and sanctions. Its geography is too vast to besiege, and its military too massive to destroy with a single ‘shock and awe’.

The US has truly lost the initiative, in the Middle East region and beyond it. The neo-cons’ drunkenness with military power led to costly wars that have overwhelmed the empire beyond salvation. And now, the US foreign policy makers are mere diplomatic firefighters, from Palestine, to Syria to the Ukraine. For the Americans, the last few years have been more than a ‘reality check’, but the new reality itself.

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant and the editor of His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Our Fossil-Nuke Addiction Extinction

Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

by Harvey Wasserman -  Truthdig

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem.

The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor fallout is doing the same.

How the two mega-poisons interact remains largely unstudied, but the answers can’t be good. And it’s clearer than ever that we won’t survive without ridding our planet of both.

To oppose atomic power with fossil fuels is to treat cancer by burning down the house.

To oppose petro-pollution with nukes is to stoke that fire with radiation.

In September, the first round of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report confirmed yet again that global warming is accelerating and that human activity is the cause.

On March 31, it reported on additional ecological impacts ranging from compromised food systems to harm done a wide range of critical living networks.

The core problem is “global weirding,” an escalating, unpredictable ecological instability. “A breakdown of food systems,” the loss of low-lying cities, ocean acidification, the death of coral reefs, the decline of critical land-based flora and fauna, and the decimation of critical ecosystems are all part of an increasingly poisonous package. The idea that somehow more CO2 will yield more crops is counteracted by the toll taken by temperature spikes and the loss of certain insects, combined with the increased predations of others—and much more we simply do not understand.

There are always dissenters. But at Prince William Sound in Alaska we see the consensus on warming joined by yet another global terror: petro-poisoning.

A quarter-century after the 1979 Valdez disaster, Exxon and its allies are sticking with their “see no evil, pay no damages” denials.

But the hard evidence shows a wide range of local sea life has failed to return. Residual oil is still globbed along the shoreline.

And, in what NPR has called a “Eureka moment,” scientists have confirmed that the “long-lasting components of oil thought to be benign turned out to cause chronic damage to fish hearts when fish were exposed to tiny concentrations of the compounds as embryos.”

The impact is confirmed by parallel heart problems reported by Bloomberg to tuna harmed in the Gulf of Mexico’s far more recent 2010 BP disaster.

If the petro-toxics from these spills can do such damage to larger fish, what are they also doing to all others that occupy this ecosystem? If trace poisons spewed 25 years ago are still ripping through the embryo of Alaskan fish, what must they also be doing to the starfish, the krill, the phytoplankton, the algae and so many other microorganisms?

It’s long been known that the particulate matter from burning coal over the centuries has killed countless humans.

But what, in turn, is all that doing to the global ecosystem and all its even more vulnerable creatures, warmed or otherwise?

Since the Valdez’s 25th anniversary last month, two more major spills have poisoned the waters off Galveston, Texas, and Michigan. As Greg Palast has reported at Truthdig, our single certainty is that in a world dominated by no-fault corporations, the fossil industry will pour ever-more lethal poisons into our air and water, land and crops, and all else on which we depend.

The same is true of atomic energy. A new scientific report about Chernobyl warns that in at least some of the forests saturated with radiation leaked from that nuclear plant, the natural cycle of decay has all but ceased.

Like cancer cells that refuse to die, the fallen vegetation won’t go away. “Decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination,” Rachel Nuwer writes on “These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.”

Sooner or later, that massive pile of inert detritus will catch fire. Gargantuan quantities of accumulated fallout will pour into the atmosphere. Those clouds will circle the globe. They’ll merge with all those other isotopes blown into the sky from Chernobyl for the past 28 years, and from all the other reactors and A-bomb tests dating back to New Mexico, 1945.

Meanwhile, Fukushima continues to pour 300 tons or more of radioactive effluent into the Pacific every day. The first of its cesium isotopes have been found off Alaska and will come to California this summer.

But the harm precedes the actual arrival. All 15 tuna taken in one recent study off the California coast tested positive for Fukushima contamination.

The eerie disintegration of starfish along the West Coast may have been caused by petro-pollution rather than Fukushima’s radiation. But each is clearly capable of doing the job alone.

Reports of a “dead zone” in the Pacific and of an epic disappearance of other marine life should be terrifying enough to make us act on both.

Burning coal and fracking gas release significant quantities of deadly radiation, as well as other pollutants and the matter at the root of climate change. Nuclear power heats our oceans and atmosphere, while spewing out still more eco-lethal doses of atomic emitters.

This is where tragedy and farce merge and mutate.

Our choice is not between nuclear power and fossil fuels. Either is sufficient to kill us outright or strand us alone on a dead planet.

Those who would work for human survival should long ago have embraced the truth that all living beings are interdependent, and so are the dirty corporate technologies that kill them.

We can no more survive on a planet burned and poisoned by fossil fuels than we can on one mutated and heated by atomic energy.

Time is short and the two movements must make their peace.

We have the means. Now we need the will.

NATO’s New Surrealpolitik

Washington and NATO’s New Surrealpolitik

by Finian Cunningham - Strategic Culture Foundation

As the unelected Kiev junta sends armed balaclava-clad paramilitaries to quell protests in Ukraine’s eastern cities it declares the operation "anti-terrorism". The acting (sic) president in Kiev Oleksandr Turchynov has labeled all those seeking political autonomy in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and other pro-Russian cities in the east of the country as «terrorists and criminals»; a new set of laws cobbled together by the junta – two months before scheduled official elections have taken place and therefore of dubious legality – gives the self-appointed politicians in Kiev the power to prosecute any one that does not recognize their self-imposed authority…

Meanwhile, NATO has warned Moscow to «step back» from alleged military aggression (from within its own borders!) towards Ukraine – even though the US-led alliance has escalated the presence of its fighter jets and troops in Russia’s neighboring countries. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of the 28-member NATO organization, has also led calls for speeding up the incorporation of Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina into the nuclear-armed pact. This is in addition to a deal hastily worked out by NATO and the NATO-backed junta in Kiev for joint military exercises to be carried out on Ukrainian territory.

This constitutes a new genre of politics, which one might dub "surrealpolitik". The former realpolitik of the bygone Cold War decades may have been cynical and callous, but at least such thinking was based on an objective reality that vying sides could commonly recognize and therefore negotiate. In the new genre of surrealpolitik, one side’s version of reality seems more in the realm of fantasy, which makes any dialogue between political contentions nearly, if not totally, impossible.

NATO installs an unelected regime in Kiev through a coup d’état against a legally elected government. That is a fact. Yet in the surreal world of Washington and its NATO allies, this fact is inverted into a fictional notion that what happened in Kiev during February was the culmination of «a democratic revolution». Airbrushed from the objective narrative are details such as the new regime arrogating administrative power through a campaign of Western-backed street violence and terrorism, including the fatal shooting of police officers by covert snipers.

Without supporting evidence, the sniper-assisted regime in Kiev, which was promptly accorded the authority of «government» by Western capitals and their media, has since counter-charged Russian secret services and the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych of orchestrating the shootings. Of course, the incriminating leaked telephone conversation, dated February 26, between EU ministers Catherine Ashton and Estonia’s Urmas Paet on Western-backed covert snipers is conveniently deleted from the official Western record.

The openly fascist junta then swiftly moves to announce repressive legislation against the majority ethnic Russian population in the east of the country. Its political leaders, such as convicted embezzler Yulia Tymoshenko freshly sprung from jail, openly call for mass murder of Russians and other opponents – and when street protests erupt in eastern cities of Ukraine against the junta in Kiev the latter now declares such protesters as «terrorist».

What’s more, demagogues like Tymoshenko, who has joked about nuking Russians, then turn around and accuse Moscow of intimidation. American Secretary of State John Kerry sanitizes such outrageous provocation by echoing the claims of Russian intimidation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney this week accused Moscow of inciting subversion and violence in eastern Ukraine, thus giving the political green light for the regime in Kiev to send its neo-Nazi paramilitaries to Donetz and Kharkiv to quash demonstrations in those cities where the population is understandably alarmed by the threats articulated in public by the NATO-installed regime in Kiev.

The people of Donetz, Kharkiv and other eastern cities have witnessed anarchy and thug politics being rewarded in Kiev with fulsome Western diplomatic and financial support. The constitutional rulebook and system of international law has been trashed. So why can’t the people of the eastern region, like the population of Crimea have already done, assert their own political autonomy in the face of this wanton political banditry? What moral or legal authority has the NATO-backed cabal in Kiev to lecture anybody else, given its own criminal rise to seize administrative power? And more especially given the explicit threats to life and limb issued by the Kiev junta and its paramilitaries towards the population in the east of the country.

Security measures taken by Moscow to be ready to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine are eminently reasonable in the light of present and past experience. The Svoboda and Right Sector so-called ministers in Kiev pay homage to the Ukrainian fascists during the Second World War who collaborated in Nazi extermination of millions of their compatriots. When present-day Ukrainian fascists call for «cleansing their country of Russians» and «whacking people in the head» en masse that conveys a clear and present danger of appalling resonance with the most heinous episodes of the 20th century. And yet, the likes of John Kerry turn reality on its head by accusing Moscow of engaging in benighted 20th century atavism.

What Western governments, NATO and its proxy junta in Kiev are engaging in is reckless and ridiculous grandstanding, which is completely divorced from reality. On the back of such hallucinatory political discourse, the Western-backed fascist thugs who grabbed power in Kiev accuse Moscow of «aggression» and «violating Ukraine’s sovereignty». NATO piles on the inflammatory accusations by claiming that Russian security concerns are threatening the entire peace and stability of Europe; thereby permitting the organization to accelerate the expansion of its forces on Russian borders in flagrant violation of post-Cold War rules-based agreements between Washington and Moscow on the non-expansion of NATO’s military in this sensitive zone.

As Alexander Grushko, Russia’s envoy to NATO, said recently: «The allegations on Moscow's aggressive designs posing a threat to the NATO countries are absolutely groundless and farfetched. If any danger could even emerge, then it is only from nationalistic and radical forces in Ukraine and in the case of the further deterioration of the situation in this country». Grushko added: «The additional measures announced [by NATO] and aimed at the so-called protection of the Eastern European members are absolutely unfounded».

Welcome to the world of surrealpolitik, where anything you assert to be true is true, notwithstanding the factual evidence.

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reminded NATO of its obligations under the Rome Declaration and other previous treaties with Moscow on non-expansion, he said: «We are expecting not just any answer but an answer fully respectful of the rules we have coordinated».

It is a disturbing sign of the surrealpolitik that has taken hold in Western capitals when NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen abruptly dismissed Lavrov’s statesmanship. Given the gravity of the matter, it seemed more than a discourtesy that Rasmussen issued a sardonic comment on the social networking site Twitter, saying that the Russian top diplomat’s concerns were merely «propaganda and disinformation».

NATO and Washington are not only inverting fact and reality over Ukraine and the wider serious geopolitical implications. The reckless distortion is delivered with a contempt born of the most fatuous purblind arrogance. The conundrum is how to deal with such insanity?

Copyright Strategic Culture Foundation

[republished with permission of the author]

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. 

Obama Mob Sixes and Nines on Ukraine "Putsch"

When Is a Putsch a Putsch?

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

The mainstream U.S. news media, which hailed the Feb. 22 neo-Nazi-spearheaded coup overthrowing the democratically elected president of Ukraine as an expression of “democracy,” is now decrying public uprisings in eastern Ukraine as a Russian-instigated “putsch.”

Secretary of State John Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 8, 2014.

It apparently has reached the point where the MSM is so tangled up in its propagandistic narrative that it can’t give American readers anything close to an objective reading of what is actually going on in Ukraine or many other places, for that matter.

The way the MSM now summarizes the Feb. 22 coup is simply to say that President Viktor Yanukovych fled after weeks of protests by Ukrainians who favored “good government” and opposed “corruption,” as the Washington Post wrote on Tuesday.

Airbrushed out of the picture is the fact that the uprising had financial support and political encouragement from U.S. officials, including neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and the neocon-controlled, U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy. [See’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Also, disappearing from the frame was the inconvenient truth that neo-Nazi militants organized themselves from the start as paramilitary units with the intent of staging a violent putsch against Yanukovych’s elected government.

The MSM’s simplistic narrative turned this complex Ukrainian reality into a morality play of good guys vs. bad guys, the noble protesters against the nasty Yanukovych backed by the even nastier Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For instance, the New York Times on Sunday published a long and flattering profile of a Ukrainian man named Yuri Marchuk who was wounded in clashes around Kiev’s Maidan square in February. In the first half of the story, written by Alison Smale, we read about Marchuk’s courage in standing and fighting with his brave comrades.

The Neo-Nazi Connection

Only in the latter half of the article do we get a hint of a darker side to the tale. We’re told that Marchuk is “carefully skirting questions about the arrival of guns stolen from a government depot in the western Ukraine city of Lviv,” which was sending hundreds of new militants daily to bolster the sagging protests.

But what we’re not told by the Times is that Lviv is a neo-Nazi stronghold where 15,000 members of the far-right Svoboda party held a torchlight parade in honor of World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and where Svoboda has been mounting a campaign to have the local airport named in honor of Bandera, whose fascist paramilitary force took part in the exterminations of Jews and Poles.

However, since it’s been the consistent MSM practice to white-out the role of the neo-Nazi brown shirts – all the better to protect the pleasant narrative of a Kiev Spring – the Times ignores the Bandera angle and the significance of the Lviv reference.

Instead, we’re simply told: “organizers in Lviv said they alone were sending 600 people a day to Kiev. That enabled exhausted defenders [of the Maidan protests] to eat and sleep while new arrivals built barricades and then, early on Feb. 20, thrust toward the Berkut [police] positions.”

It was during that clash when Marchuk, a leader of a “sotin” or paramilitary force of 100 fighters, was shot in the right leg and suffered other wounds. After getting a splint on his leg, Marchuk said he returned to City Hall “checking on the fate of the 35 members of his hundred who had volunteered for that Thursday. Two were killed, 12 wounded, the rest all right, he found,” the Times reported.

We have to read down even further, to the fourth paragraph from the end, to learn that Marchuk is “close to Oleg Tyagnibok, leader of the nationalist Svoboda party,” though again the significance of that fact is not explained. The article continues in heroic terms:

“In these revolutionary times, he [Marchuk] suggested, it is not enough simply to be a patriot. You have to defend what you treasure. ‘To sit in the kitchen and simply cry about how much we love Ukraine, that is a crime,’ he said.”

But what is left out of this story is far more important than what is put in. The reporter should have pressed Marchuk about exactly what he thinks Ukrainians should “treasure,” whether he admires Nazi collaborator Bandera and what he would like to do with the ethnic Russians living in east and south Ukraine, Yanukovych’s “base” in the 2010 election.

Wouldn’t the story have been more interesting to Times’ readers if Smale had blended the grays of Marchuk’s far-right politics into this two-dimensional tale of the “white hat” Marchuk fighting bravely against the “black hat” Yanukovych.

But that would have violated an unwritten rule of the MSM’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis, to pretend that the neo-Nazi militias were simply one of Vladimir Putin’s “delusions” or a figment of Russian propaganda or at most a minor and insignificant factor in ousting Yanukovych.

Seeing a ‘Putsch’

Yet, while the crucial neo-Nazi violence in carrying out the Feb. 22 coup is whisked away to the memory hole and the word “putsch” is carefully avoided, an opposite phenomenon has occurred in reporting about resistance to the new Kiev government in Crimea and now eastern Ukraine. There, one can use the word “putsch.”

In those cases, the resistance is blamed on Russian “aggression,” since it’s apparently unthinkable that ethnic Russians who have witnessed a violent overthrow of their elected president – spearheaded by neo-Nazis – might actually want to resist the imposition of an unelected and extreme new government.

This alternative narrative – one that makes much more sense than the MSM’s storyline – is that the ethnic Russians feel disenfranchised by the coup organized in western Ukraine where the capital of Kiev is located. Their elected president had to flee for his life and a rump parliament took over, immediately “impeaching” him and passing legislation targeting Russian speakers in the eastern and southern sectors.

An American parallel might be: what would happen if the Red States elected a U.S. president but people in the Blue States around Washington D.C. violently seized the White House and imposed a new government? Would the folks in the Red States simply bow to the new order as a rump Congress passed laws targeting the rights and the interests of the Red States?

The rump Ukrainian parliament also passed a harsh austerity plan demanded by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund in order to secure $18 billion in loan guarantees. Even acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the handpicked choice of U.S. Assistant Secretary Nuland to run the new government, has acknowledged that the IMF plan is “very unpopular, very difficult, very tough.”

The coup regime also has appointed new governors to bring the eastern and southern provinces under Kiev’s control. Yet, when people in those regions resist this imposition of power by unelected officials, the MSM frames the protests as illegitimate.The Washington Post led its Tuesday’s editions this way:

“KIEV, UKRAINE – Pro-Russia demonstrators in eastern Ukraine declared separatist republics in two cities on Monday, and Ukrainian officials accused Moscow of orchestrating the moves as the first step toward launching an invasion.
“In Washington, the Obama administration expressed deep skepticism that the scattered uprisings and building takeovers in cities such as Donetsk and Kharkiv were spontaneous. ‘There is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid,’ said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.”

The article by Kathy Lally and Will Englund continues in that vein, presenting essentially a conspiracy theory that blames the Russian government for the political unrest, albeit without presenting any actual evidence to support the suspicions.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who has emerged as the leading spokesman for the hawkish State Department bureaucracy, blamed the eastern Ukrainian resistance to Kiev’s control on undercover actions by Russia.

“What we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

So, while the Feb. 22 coup in Kiev was portrayed as a simple uprising of Ukrainian patriots – with no attention paid to the $5 billion that Assistant Secretary Nuland herself said the U.S. has invested in Ukraine’s “European aspirations,” nor the 65 projects in Ukraine run by the U.S.-funded NED, nor with little notice of the organized violence by neo-Nazi paramilitary forces from western Ukraine – the resistance to the coup in Crimea and now in eastern and southern Ukraine could only result from dark manipulations orchestrated by Russian President Putin in the Kremlin.

It is that kind of biased journalism that has now become the norm of the MSM and, indeed, across significant parts of the “blogosphere.” Rather than learning to be more skeptical after the Iraq War deceptions a decade ago, the major news outlets appear to have become even more gullible, more integrated into the government’s propaganda structure, less able to provide balanced and independent journalism.

The U.S. reporting on crises in Iraq, Syria, Iran and now Ukraine reveal a nearly complete disconnect from the real world, as if the MSM is operating in a parallel universe.

Old-fashioned reporting – where journalists took pride in uncovering information that spoiled a U.S. government scheme to dupe the public – has almost completely disappeared. Now, we see what looks like a competition between government officials and mainstream journalists to produce the most extreme distortion of the truth.

Indeed, it is hard to tell if the officials are captive to the false narratives spun by the MSM or if the MSM is parroting back the lies of officialdom. They seem to feed off one another as Official Washington’s narrative spirals further and further from reality.

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.

Preserving Syria's Ancient Cultural Artifacts

Will a Syrian victory at a posh London auction house accelerate Global Cultural Protections?

by Franklin Lamb

Over the past three years not many victories in Syria have been witnessed by this observer. Indeed some developments have even brought to mind Plutarch’s description of the Greek King Pyrrhus’ defeat of the Roman legions some while back.

But an achievement by the Syrian government and its people on 4/3/14 in an auction house in London is neither Pyrrhic, nor of the 'Another such victory and I am undone’ variety.

Stele of Adad-Nerari III

The case involves an ancient black basalt stele (a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected as a monument, very often for funerary or commemorative purposes). The artifact is of the Assyrian king Adad-Nerari III, who ruled Syria 2,800 years ago.

With a weight of 830 kg, it measures 137.5 cm high, by 75 cm wide by 27 cm in depth. Many Syrian and international antiquities specialists believe it was stolen from Syria in 2000 after standing for nearly three thousand years in the temple of the god Sulmanu, in the ancient city of Dur Katlimmu, now known as Tell Sheikh Hamad.

The tell is situated near the historic Khabour River between Hasaka and Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, not far from Palmyra which this observer has visited recently.

Recently the object appeared in the possession of the British auction house, Bonhoms, a development that caused angst among archeologists in Syria and internationally. Exactly what happened next is a bit unclear, but the legal/political case was encapsulated in an urgent letter addressed to Dr. Maamooun Abkulkarem, the indefatigable Director-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) in Syria’s Ministry of Culture, from a correspondent in Berlin. The letter arrived at DGAM on March 23, 2014.

“Dear Dr. Maamoun,

In the attachment I send you documentation on the stele of Tell Sheikh Hamad which is being offered for sale at Bonhams Auction house in London for April 3, 2014. According to my information UNESCO has already informed your government about this case. The only way to prohibit it from being sold is that your government responds to UNESCO, addresses Interpol, and request an investigation by the London police.

May I urge you Sir to inform your government quickly and act respectively before April 3!
Please note also this:

Yours sincerely,”

(Privacy of signer respected)

Dr. Maamoun and his dedicated Syrian nationalist team have been working nonstop (and some without pay for more than two years) to preserve, protect and plan for reconstruction of Syria’s, and by extension the world’s, cultural heritage. They and others are committed to stopping archeological theft, a phenomenon which has become more rampant since the current crisis erupted. The thefts have not been restricted solely to the rebel-held north or other areas not always under government control; they have also been a problem near Syria’s borders with Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, and to a lesser extent Iraq, and in some cases, stolen treasures have also been smuggled out of Syria by aircraft.

An international campaign is being launched to save our Global Culture Heritage in the custody of the people of the Syrian Arab Republic

Despite these crimes, the past few weeks have seen commendable cooperation between Lebanon and Syria leading to hundreds of Syrian antiquities being returned to Syria. On Syrian and Lebanese roads these days, soldiers at the frequent checkpoints not only look for explosives, wanted persons, and weapons, but they have orders at Syrian-Lebanon borders to search for more than 4000 stolen Syrian antiquities. A few hundred objects were returned to Syria this past year, and some are back on display in the garden of the National Museum in Damascus, where this observer photographed them.

Unfortunately there has been little, if any, help in stopping the flow of stolen Syrian antiquities into Jordan or Turkey, whose governments reportedly continue to turn a blind eye, ignoring their international obligations for reasons of politics and profit. In the case of Jordan, it has been widely alleged that King Abdullah’s government is condoning shipments of stolen Syrian artifacts, via Israeli drug and antiquities mafia operations. These international criminal enterprises then forward the global cultural treasures from Israeli ports and Tel Aviv airport to lucrative international markets—museums, auction houses, or private collectors in New York, London, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and elsewhere. With respect to Turkey, much of the 500 mile border is open to excavation teams sent in to strip Syria of her archeological treasures, again with widespread charges of Turkish government involvement.

Two DGAM staff members and scholars, Khaled and Iyam, explaining to a Damascus National Museum visitor details of a dozen recently returned (3/2014) Syrian antiquities with the sisterly cooperation of the government of Lebanon

The lower part of the stele of Adad-Nerari III is now at Bonhams auction house, where it was scheduled to be sold on 4/3/14, though initially the artifact came to public notice in 2000 at Christie's auction house. The two houses are often competitors, but increasingly have become collaborators, as they witness a flood of stolen Syrian antiquities available to them and their clients. They and other auction houses, museums and dealers sometimes employ means to deceive prospective private purchasers, other museums, governments, and police agencies. One tactic is to obfuscate provenance and source of the particular Syrian antiquity.

The evidence for the date of removal from Syria of the stele of Adad-Nerari III is not flimsy. The report of 19th century archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam admits that he was not able to find it during his investigations in 1879. He reported that the upper part, which he sent to the British Museum, had been removed by local villagers from the area of a “venerated grave on top of the mound,” so that its pagan presence would not defile the grave. Rassam, quite correctly as it turned out, believed that the lower part of the King’s statue was still buried on top of the mound near the grave but the gentleman died before he could return to excavate it.

Both Bonhams and Christies sale notices state that the lower part of the stele was in the possession of the seller's father by the 1960's. This was a patently false representation by both houses.

For the 2014 Bonham's sale, provenance is listed as "Private collection, Geneva, Switzerland, given as a gift from father to son in the 1960s." This is also false, and neither auction house provided any documentation for the ownership history. In point of fact, the stele is not mentioned in any publication prior to its listing by Christies in 2000. The complete publication, by A. K. Grayson, of the royal inscriptions of King Adad-Nerari III appeared in 1996, and all Grayson does is list the upper (British Museum) part of the stele. He makes no mention of the lower part. Publications in this series include every known inscription of each Syrian king.

This observer submits that if any scholar had seen the stele prior to 1996, it would have been listed in the 1996 publication. Furthermore, it is extremely unlikely that an inscription of this importance would not have become known to scholars, since it is well known even among the general public that owners of inscribed monuments, especially ones of this value and size, quite naturally seek scholarly opinions about their property.

Moreover, probative and material evidence in found in a report from the current director of excavations at Tell Sheikh Hamad, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Kühne, of the Freie Universität, Berlin. Dr. Huhne has directed survey and excavations at the site of Tell Sheikh Hamad in cooperation with DGAM since 1978. According to the professor, his is the only excavation at this site that has been authorized by the Syrian government. On 25 September 1999, Prof. Kühne sent a report to DGAM stating that some unknown person excavated illegally on top of the mound, near the venerated grave, during the night of 14 September 1999. Prof. Kühne provided photos of the looter excavations and he opined that the looter pit is just large enough to have contained the lower part of the stele. Prof. Kühne notes that the German mission was not excavating on the mound in 1999, and in fact had not worked there since 1988.

Last but not least, the location of the 1999 looter pits on top of the mound is precisely where Rassam, back in the 19th century, wrote that the lower part was buried. The first announcement of the existence of the stele, as noted above, was at the 2000 Christie's sale—less than a year after the reported looting incident at Tell Sheikh Hamad!

This observer submits that there is adequate Syrian law and international law and British law on the books, if applied, to makes things a bit tough legally for the auction houses of Bonhom and Christie and many others. Their lawyers apparently agree. It’s as though the Assyrian King might yet exact some sort of revenge on them from his grave. Or wherever the gentleman might be these days given local lore from the Tell Sheikh Hamad area.

Public awareness was raised with respect to this archeological criminal case by the people and government of Syria and others, and an international campaign mobilizing public opinion has ensued. The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) of the Syrian Ministry of Culture urged their colleagues at the Syrian Ministry of Interior, the Syrian Department of Criminal Security, and Interpol to “work to stop the sale of the piece and return it to Syria.” As reported by Nadine Kaanan, the Saade Institute created a video entitled “Stop the theft and sale of Syrian antiquities,” in which it urges that “all necessary legal measures be taken to return this important monument to Syria when security conditions permit.” The institute said it had decided to raise its voice to “preserve our countries’ artifacts and the story of human history, and also out of respect for the laws of the United Nations and for the sake of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.”

Long story made short, King Adad-Nerari III’s rare stele, prominently displayed in Bonhams auction house-with more than a few museums and investors interested in buying it, suddenly was stamped in Bonhoms to be sold catalog: “Withdrawn.” Some in attendance were not happy, and Bonhams administrative office is ‘holding consultations’ this week in light of expected public and trade journal reactions. Bonhams had planned to net around 1.3 million USD had the sale taken place.

Protecting the memory of King Adad-Nerari and preserving his place in the world’s cultural heritage may appear a modest victory given the nearly unimaginable suffering imposed daily on the people of the proud Syrian Arab Republic. But what happened to stop one auction house—from selling one stolen Syrian antiquity—was made possible by the people of Syria and others of good will who greatly value our Global Cultural Heritage. Hopefully, as international public awareness continues to increase about this aspect of the conflict in Syria, this case will enter the law books; maybe also it will result in legal statues and, consequently, a major advance toward preserving our Global Cultural Heritage.

May the people of Syria achieve many more such victories while ending this painful chapter in this ten millennia old Cradle of Civilization.

Mr. Lamb has been doing research in Syria visiting, where and when possible, various locals across Syria and assessing damage to the seven UNESCO Global Heritage sites while emphasizing the key role of international law and transnational public cooperation to preserve protect and restore our Global Cultural Heritage. He is reachable c/o 

Beirut and Washington, DC

"Legislate in 2014! Demand that Lebanon's Confessions grant Palestinian Refugees internationally mandated civil rights: the right to work, to own a home, and to repair camp shelters!

Beirut and International

“Education: Is the essential pillar of Palestinian Resistance"

Nelson Mandala 7/2011

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

False Flagging Nations: Nil Casus Belli

False Flags and Imperial Facades: Tales of "Progressives" in Power

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

Sy Hersh has a long piece in the London Review of Books detailing the strong evidence indicating that the Turkish government worked with Syrian rebels in a "false flag" operation of the worst sort: staging a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August 2013. The intent was to throw blame for the attack on the Assad regime, thereby drawing the United States directly into the conflict; the use of chemical weapons against the rebels was a "red line" repeatedly laid down by Barack Obama as the trigger for an American intervention.

As we know, the gambit very nearly worked. In addition to the deep background behind the sarin attack, Hersh's story also reveals the extent of the military operation planned by Obama. Although at the time, administration officials were speaking of "surgical strikes" and a limited response, the White House was in fact planning a massive attack involving the armed forces of three Western powers (the U.S., Britain and France) that would devastate the entire country and topple the regime. As Hersh writes:

"In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

"Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria."

Yet even while the war plans kept racheting up to new levels of violence -- including the targeting of civilian infrastructure, a blatant war crime which the United States now routinely commits, even celebrates, in all of its major military operations -- the "intelligence" behind the loudly trumpeted charges of the Assad regime's guilt in the attack was rapidly unraveling. Hersh details this process at length, and I won't repeat it here. But no super-duper gazillion-dollar "intelligence" operation was needed to question the propaganda being catapulted about the attack at the time. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the situation knew that it made no sense for Assad to launch a small, strategically and tactically ineffective chemical weapons attack when he knew this was the one thing that would bring the full weight of the American military machine down on his head. Especially as his forces had clearly gained the upper hand in the civil war at that time. Indeed, his position of strength was the very thing that led the plotters to instigate a false flag attack; the only way to turn the losing tide, they reasoned, was to force an American military response.

In the end, at the last moment, when all signs were pointing to war with Syria, Obama called off the attack. It is not clear why, but several factors doubtless played a part. As Hersh describes, there was strong resistance to the attack from some segments of the military itself, which knew the ostensible casus belli was almost certainly false and feared the much larger, longer, debilitating conflagration that was certain to follow a massive American attack. More publicly, there was the remarkable vote in the UK parliament against military action against Syria -- even as the ever-slavish British government was already sending its planes to join their American masters in the attack. This was undoubtedly significant, but one wonders now if it was the actual tipping point against war that it seemed at the time. After all, the Americans didn't need their little dogsbody's handful of planes nor its ever-diminishing diplomatic muscle to go through with the strike. (And in any case they retained the far more substantial support of France.) If Washington had wanted to act unilaterally, it would have done so. (And had a wider war ensued, Britain would certainly have entered on the American side.) There was also considerable domestic unease at the idea of war with Syria, which was also important. Although, again, once "our boys" were "in the field," fighting for freedom against the new Hitler, no doubt there would have been a good deal of rallying around the flag.

But in the end, we can't say for sure what caused the reversal. There may have been other factors we have no inkling of. And that's another valuable aspect of the Hersh story: it shows, once again, how the world is really run -- in almost total secrecy, behind thin facades of hype, hypocrisy and auto-hypnosis that have little or no connection to the reality of power's operations. Almost nothing we are told is true; yet billions of words are poured out every year in earnest disquisitions on the meaning and import of the dumb shows and distractions our betters put on for us while they pick our pockets and set our world on fire.

There is much more in the Hersh piece, including more details on how the administration of the Peace Prize laureate has assiduously pushed policies that it knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, would result in deadly weapons getting into the hands of some of the most virulent religious extremists on earth. It's odd, isn't it? In order to overthrow a repressive regime in Syria, the Peace Laureate allies himself in clandestine gun-running and the fomenting of sectarian violence with a regime, the Saudis, whose repression makes Assad's Syria look like Haight-Ashbury in the Sixties. And while telling us that al Qaeda is such a deadly foe to all human values that our fight against it requires us to give up our own freedoms, violate our constitution, institute death squads, set up all-pervasive surveillance, and wage overt and covert wars all over the earth -- the same Laureate is ensuring that groups openly allied with al Qaeda are being crammed full of weapons so they can spread sectarian violence across the Middle East and Africa.

Here, as everywhere in the Berserker Imperium, the dichotomy between rhetoric and reality is immeasurably vast, and widening all the time.


Also worth reading, as always, is the latest Anti-Empire Report from Bill Blum. He takes up the astonishing lies and historical misrepresentations Obama made in his recent European trip to re-ignite the Cold War. It was a jaw-dropping performance, as the Peace Laureate heartily defended the Hitlerian war of aggression against Iraq, and the war crimes in Serbia of his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. It was Clinton, you remember, who, before launching that splendid little war, rejected a Serbian peace offer that would have given him everything he demanded to "protect" Kosovo -- save for a free pass for a complete military occupation of Serbia. Clinton then proceeded to pulverize Serbia's civilian infrastructure in a vicious bombing campaign that ended with an agreement which... gave Clinton everything he asked for except, er, a free pass for a complete military occupation of Serbia. In other words, Clinton took the original offer -- but only after killing hundreds of innocent people, just to show everybody's who's boss.

Here again we see the reality of the "progressive," "liberal," "centrist," "moderate" (or whatever) side of the American imperium: behind their noble words, their evocations of the "common good," of justice, freedom, and human rights, there is the same murderous, pointless quest for dominance.