Saturday, March 14, 2015

Washington's Other Coup: Keeping the Ongoing Venezuela Plot Quiet

The Coup Americans Don't Know About and Washington's Plan to Destroy Venezuela's Democracy -  Talking with Alfredo Lopez

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

In an interview Wednesday on the Progressive Radio Network's [1] program "This Can't Be Happening!", TCBH! colleagues Dave Lindorff and Alfredo Lopez talk about the recent coup plot broken up by Venezuelan police, consider President Obama's outlandish and absurd claim that Venezuela, one of the leading suppliers or oil to the US, poses a "unique and extraordinary threat" to US national security, and also discuss Alfredo's contention that the telecom industry has become a counterattack on the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision in favor of net neutrality.

Lopez, a long-time Latino activist and founder of the progressive web hosting service MayFirst/PeopleLInk, reports on how for years, Venezuela has been essentially under attack by US funded right-wingers and oligarchs trying to oust the popular elected government, first of Hugo Chavez, and now his successor Nicolás Maduro. This has included a coup, recently broken up by Venezuelan police, which allegedly had the backing of the US, like the nearly successful one in 2002, when Chavez was actually captured and held hostage by coup leaders until freed by a mass mobilization of the country's poor and its military enlisted ranks.

Lopez notes that the Bolivarian socialist experiment launched by the late President Chavez has been essentially working in a constant state of "impending coup," a US funds and advice have poured into the country from outfits like USAID and the Congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) -- subversive organizations that have funded violent protests and riots aimed at destabilizing the existing government, as was successfully done in Ukraine last year.

Lindorff and Lopez talk about what lies behind the absurd claim, made in an executive order Tuesday by President Obama, that Venezuela, a functioning Latin American democracy, poses a threat to US national security. Is this a prelude to military action, as feared by Venezuelan government officials, or just part of a longer-term plan to destabilize and ultimately unseat Venezuela's socialist-minded central government.

Listen too, to the second half of the PRN program as Lopez explains how the telecom industry is organizing a counter-attack against the successful progressive campaign that lead to the last month's surprise announcement by the FCC that it was endorsing reclassifying the Internet as a public utility, subject to equity rules that require it to provide equal services at equal costs to subscribers of all income levels.

"The pushback by the big media corporations against this FCC ruling has already begun," warns Lopez, suggesting that this is a battle that the left can win -- if people are paying attention.

Dave Lindorff and Alfredo Lopez discuss Venezuela's coup, 
US imperialism and the Internet on the Progressive Radio Network


West's Cartoonish Bogie Man in Nigeria

Dysfunction in Nigeria

by Craig Murray -  ICH

I have fond memories of Borno state, camping beside my LandRover in the cold, crisp early mornings, steam rising from a cup of tea, then the thermometer climbing visibly as the sun got to work. Fulani herdsmen crossing the horizon under conical hats with their angular cattle, women walking behind, slim and with beautiful posture, swaying as they walked. The neat homesteads surrounded by fences of beautifully woven millet stalk. Meals of roasted corn and suya. I remember the farmer who offered me a drink, then took a tin cup and brought milk straight from the cow, still very warm. The people there are grave and hospitable.

I never one felt in the slightest danger, thirty years ago. I am taken aback that places I went round then without a care for the British High Commission (I had the agriculture brief, which was an amazing license to roam) are now no-go areas. The region is mostly dry savannah: the forest area stretching into Cameroon, incidentally, is by no means impenetrable, though it is true the canopy would be a barrier to aerial surveillance. Very little of it is primary forest any more.

The media now have a new cartoon figure of hate in the bearded, bobble-hatted leader of Boko Haram, and in truth he is a very bad person. But armed rebellions of thousands of people do not just happen. It is not a simple and spontaneous outbreak of evil, still less a sign that we must wage Tony Blair’s war on Muslims everywhere.

Nigeria is a country with governance and corruption as bad as anywhere in the world. A country of billionaires and of near starving sufferers. A country of pollution and exploitation by big oil, and a happily complicit and deeply corrupt political class. Nobody disagrees with that, and very few would disagree that there lies the root cause of Boko Haram’s ability to gather support.

If the Nigerian government were to have sent in the army en masse to try to recover the kidnapped schoolgirls, the first result would undoubtedly have been, on all previous experience of the Nigerian army, that hundreds more women would have been raped, this time by soldiers. Villages would have been looted and people arrested, tortured and killed, more on the basis of extorting money than of looking for suspects.

To be fair to President Goodluck Jonathan he knows this, and he had made the extremely brave decision a year ago to try to deal with Boko Haram by dialogue and negotiation, and call off the military campaign which was making matters far worse. He drew much criticism for it at the time, particularly from neo-cons, and will be blamed now. The problem is that things have gone too far to be easily remedied, and to negotiate with the crazed is not simple.

Were I trying to get back the girls, I would operate through the agency of traditional society. Nigeria’s indigenous institutions are much degraded, but offer more hope than any Western style interventions. I am not precisely sure which is the appropriate traditional ruler, but I suspect that it is the Lamido of Adamawa, whose immediate predecessor I took tea with on several occasions. Information on the girl’s whereabouts will definitely be obtainable through the networks of subsidiary chiefs and elders, which still exist, even though their political and administrative power had passed. It is particularly helpful that in this region these traditional allegiances are linked to Islamic authority. Adamawa’s territory extends into the Cameroon, and even Chad.

The fact of the old state of Adamawa extending into Cameroon and Chad brings us to the heart of the problem. Nigeria is an entirely artificial, colonial construct created by the British Empire (and bounded by the French Empire). Its boundaries bear no relation to internal national entities, and it is huge. The strange thing is that these totally artificial colonial constructs of states generate a genuine and fierce patriotism among their citizens. After just my first year of living in Nigeria I had formed a firm view that it would be much better for the country to be split into at least three states, and that Britain’s attitude in the Biafran war, that colonial state boundaries must be inviolable, had been wrong.

Many patriotic Nigerians will be very angry with me for suggesting their country should split up. It is also worth observing that, not only in Nigeria, many Africans who are, with justice, most vocal in their denouncing of colonialism, are at the same time most patriotic about their entirely artificial nationality, created by the colonial power.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

Sounding Out the Venezuelan Coup Plot

Venezuelan Gov. Releases Audio of Coup Plotters


On Thursday, Venezuela officials released recordings of what it said was proof that opposition figures and some military officers were plotting to overthrow the government - Analysis with Miguel Tinker Salas and Paul Jay - February 27, 2015

Miguel Tinker-Salas is a professor of History and Latin American studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He is co-author of Venezuela: Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an Exceptional Democracy and author of Under the Shadow of the Eagles and The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela. His latest book is Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Was He Kidding? Graham's Promise to Use Military Against Congress

Why the media silence on Lindsey Graham’s vow to use the military to force vote in Congress?

by Bill Van Auken - WSWS 

14 March 2015  

The protracted 2016 presidential campaign cycle has already begun, and with it the close attention of the media to the statements made by prospective candidates in hopes of discovering even the slightest “gaffe” that can be turned into a political news item.

All the more odd then that the remarks made at a New Hampshire town hall meeting by one Republican presidential hopeful, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have been virtually blacked out by all of the major print and broadcast outlets.

Asked by a member of the audience what he would do about automatic cuts to the Pentagon budget that would go into effect because of sequestration, Graham responded that the problem had left him sick to his stomach.

He continued:

“And here is the first thing I would do if I were President of the United States: I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We’re not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.”

The statement is extraordinary. A candidate for the presidency of the United States vows that, once elected, he would use the military to impose his—and its—will upon a recalcitrant Congress. Presumably, troops would hold members of the House and Senate at gunpoint until they produced the results demanded.

What Graham described is in essence a military coup, much like those organized by the Pentagon and the CIA in countries like Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile and Argentina, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.

Graham’s aides subsequently tried to portray Graham’s statement as a an attempt at humor, insisting that it was not to be taken “literally,” even though the candidate himself stressed that unleashing the military on Congress was “literally” something he would do.

The only corporate media outlet to produce anything on the incident was Bloomberg news. It cynically headlined its piece, “How a Lindsey Graham Joke Turned into a Coup Plot Against the Government.” Most of the article was dedicated to mocking what the author termed the “ideological media” for treating “the Graham joke as a serious proposal.”

The New York Times, the supposed “paper of record,” maintained a complete silence on Graham’s remarks. It did post a puff piece reporting that Graham is one of a number of senators who “rarely or never use email,” while noting reassuringly that “Lawmakers can certainly be effective without using email since they employ staff who send messages on their behalf.” Hot news indeed.

A Washington Post politics blog featured the same email story. Graham’s statement about dispatching troops to Capitol Hill received only the absolute minimal and indirect reference in another online Washington Post blog: a link to the Bloomberg story, saying nothing about its content and describing it as a piece that “explains how a meaningless remark becomes a ‘gaffe.’”

Graham’s remark was no mere “gaffe,” much less meaningless. It expresses real relations within the US government, which after nearly 14 years of continuous war has seen an immense growth in the power and influence of the military and intelligence apparatus.

This protracted eruption of militarism has gone hand-in-hand with the monopolization of wealth and political power in the hands of a financial oligarchy and the unprecedented deepening of social inequality. These processes, rooted in the crisis of American capitalism, have steadily eroded and hollowed out what remains of constitutional government and democratic rights in the US.

These relations have found concrete expression in the ongoing discussions over sequestration and the military budget, with a parade of generals, admirals and civilian Pentagon officials coming before Congress to predict catastrophe and global defeat if any part of the gargantuan spending on arms and military operations is cut.

The all but stated premise behind this testimony is that the generals and admirals are the only ones qualified to set military policy, and the Congress, ostensibly consisting of the elected representatives of the people, should get out of their way. This is a viewpoint that elements like Graham echo and endorse.

Under conditions of deepening crisis and rising social conflict, it is not such a leap from this position to the military taking a more direct hand in dictating government policy, along the lines suggested by Graham to the town meeting in New Hampshire.

If the corporate media has no interest in probing the real relations underlying Graham’s remarks, it is because it is fully complicit in the conspiracies to wage war abroad and eviscerate democratic rights at home. It is fulfilling its function as an instrument of the corporate and financial elite: not to expose or clarify, but to cover up the real dangers confronting the working class.

Canada's Dirty Secrets: The Secret Trial 5

The Secret Trial 5


Imagine spending years in prison without being charged with a crime or knowing exactly what you’re accused of.

A film about the human impact of the “War on Terror,” The Secret Trial 5 is a sobering examination of the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, a Kafkaesque tool that allows for indefinite detention without charges, based on evidence not revealed to the accused or their lawyers.

Over the last decade, this rare and highly controversial device has been used to detain five men for nearly 30 years combined. To date, none has been charged with a crime or seen the evidence against them. Through the experience of the detainees and their families, the film raises poignant questions about the balance between security and liberty.

About the Production


A true crowdfunding success story, The Secret Trial 5 was shot over four years on funds raised primarily through public contributions. Using their animated trailer, the filmmakers reached out to Canadians and raised nearly $50,000 through two campaigns before being selected as recipients of Telefilm Canada’s inaugural Micro-Budget Program.

While travelling back and forth for shoots in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa, first time filmmakers Amar Wala and Noah Bingham stayed true to their grassroots, community-based approach to production by constantly sharing progress and staying connected with their supporters. Partnering with several human rights and legal organizations along the way, the team’s goal has always been to raise awareness and spur debate about security certificates at every stage of production.

Understanding the Centuries-Long Rape of Haiti

The economic reasons for the US occupation of Haiti behind the UN and NGO charitable fronts (Check back often for updates.)

by Ezili Dantò - (HLLN) and Free Haiti Movement

The Obama Administration got rid of its most powerful Democratic rival with Haiti. Hillary and Bill Clinton “opened Haiti” as their private asset to liquidate. They used the resources of the World Bank, the State Department, USAID, the UN, the Private Military Security Contractors (PMSC), the US military, and the Fed’s passport and visa issuance capabilities. They got kickbacks called “donations,” from anyone who wished to buy, from them, a piece of Haiti’s lands, oil, iridium, uranium or gold. They also took in bribes disguised as “donation” from big businesses, some from offshore Swiss Bank accounts, to assign UN guns subcontracted to PMSCs to secure corporate interests in Haiti. The Clintons have used governmental power to conduct their private business and called it “helping poor Haitians.” The evidence is in the results for Haiti’s poor.

The racket is finally being exposed by some US journalists. But not altogether and not simply because most care about the truth, the human rights, health or lives of the Black people of Haiti. No. We’ve explained the racism, neo-feudalism, cognitive dissonance, imperialism terrors and about the US low intensity warfare in Haiti for decades now. (See, The Pain Rush in Haiti; Haiti Riches, the economic reason for the US occupation of Haiti behind the UN and NGO charitable fronts ; Quiet Genocide in Haiti from FDR to Obama: UN a criminal organization from Lumumba to Aristide and Swapping Haiti lives: Interview on US Haiti Exploits.)

The new “revelations” – they’re “new” because some white guy or gal with privilege newspaper distribution and publishing access, says so.

They’re new revelations because the Republicans are getting ready to play their musical chair dance at the false 2016 presidential elections for the false US democracy. They will fuel up on false consternation about how the Clintons enriched themselves on Haiti’s traumas to score political points to fuel their own power-grabs for the presidential seat of power in Washington. (See, Former US Ambassador to Haiti lied, Martelly held a U.S. passport; and the 2004 George W.Bush Bloodbath Brought to Haiti: Coup D’etat Massacres, Victims and Human Rights Abuses.)

One reporter duly noted that it’s not news to the US public that charges of ethical violations are associated with the Clintons. The public is used to:

“the whiff of “Pay to Play” in Clinton World; they’re blind to appearances of impropriety; they feel the rules don’t apply to them; and they aren’t transparent.” (See also, Jan 2015 -Flight logs place Bill Clinton on sex offender’s jet multiple times and Bill Clinton identified in lawsuit against his former friend and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein who had ‘regular’ orgies at his Caribbean compound that the former president visited multiple times and By Ezili Dantò The Western sex push and ethnic cleansing in Haiti)

In 2009, we wrote about the Bill and Hillary many conflicts of interests. One, at the State Department divvying up false aid dollars to beltway NGOs. The other, as UN Special Envoy to Haiti supposedly garnered $3billion in funds for the four back-to-back 2008 hurricanes that killed 3000 Haitians and flooded out the town of Gonaives. Bill Clinton announced he would collect funds to built Gonaives back up and do infrastructure, with flood barriers, embankments and levees against such natural disasters in Haiti. Two years later, by the time of the 2010 earthquake, Gonaives was still in mud and the local residents were asking Ezili’s HLLN to investigate where did the $3billion Bill Clinton collected go to? This was our prelude to what would happen to the earthquake funds under Bill Clinton. No one would listen to ourstory. See, “The Two Most Common Neocolonial Storylines about Haiti, 2007.

Quiet Genocide in Haiti from FDR to Obama: UN a criminal organization from Lumumba to Aristide

In 2011, we again pointed to the stark and unethical Clintons’ conflicts of interests. Asked how would donors know where Bill Clinton would put Haiti funds he collected in the name of quake victims?

Bill Clinton had more Haiti titles and power in Haiti than Haiti’s president. He was the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, the head of the Clinton Foundation, the co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). Obama also put him in charge, along with George W. Bush, of the Clinton-Bush Haiti fund. Clinton also directed the Clinton Guistra Sustainable Growth Initiative for Haiti (CGSGI).

Frank Giustra is a member of the Clinton Foundation board and a Vancouver mining magnate. CGSGI was created to conduct “social and economic development programs in parts of the world where poverty is widespread, including Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and Haiti.” All these countries have mining operations in the works. Clinton and Giustra brought in a third investor, the richest man the world, Carlos Slim, who matched their initial $100 million fund. After the 2010 earthquake Clinton, Giustra and Slim established another $20 million fund to finance “small businesses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.”

Laws against insider dealings and for transparency are raised by these interlocking boards and funds. It is not clear, and one does not know when former president Bill Clinton asks for donation dollars for Haiti earthquake relief and reconstruction whether he was raising monies for the UN country-donor fund as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti and for the IHRC or, for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, or for the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Guistra Sustainable Growth Initiative, or the Clinton, Giustra and Slim $20 million fund for Haiti, to name a few blatant conflicts. What’s clear is that even the ethics agreement the Clinton Foundation signed with the Obama administration about not accepting foreign government funds while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State were violated. The $500,000 from Algeria for Haitian earthquake relief, violated the ethics agreement with the Obama State Department. But Haitians understand that this earthquake donation is not the only donation the Clintons mishandled. It’s just the only one, so far, that’s noted unethical by the powers-that-be. What about the World Bank, banking over $9 billion and disbursing these foreign government quake funds collected in the name of Haiti, practically at Bill Clinton’s sole discretion while his wife was directing State Department queries about Haiti to the Clinton Foundation?

Probably in violation of Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution, multinational businesses and foreign countries bought influence in the US and in Haiti by making bribes, disguised as charitable gifts, to the Clinton Foundation.

Little footprint of that $9 billion collected for quake victims by Bill Clinton can be found in Haiti today, other than luxury hotels and a sweatshop for Korean owners, built with monies given for homeless people. The area where the quake happened was not “built back better.” There’s no well-built permanent housing for the victims, no roads, clean water, local food or a reliable supply of electricity. Less than one cent of every dollar went to the Haiti government. The bulk of responsibility lies with the Clintons and the US government that unleashed them onto defenseless Haiti. One at the UN/WB. The other, at the State Department.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits ethics violations and bribery of foreign officials. But Bill Clinton made no attempt to conceal his Haiti aid corruption. Neither did US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They pushed their own Haiti staff members into nominal positions of power to rubber stamp their Haiti edicts. Haiti Prime Minister Gary Conille, who succeeded Jean Max Bellerive as Prime Minister was the chief of staff for Bill Clinton and a U.N. employee at the time. Cheryl Mills, another Clinton staffer also served as the United States’ representative on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) while Bill Clinton was co-chair of the IHRC with Haiti Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive.

In 2010, under the tenure of Haiti Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive when Bill Clinton was named co-chair of IHRC, the State Department, run by his wife, began directing parties interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation. The Wall Street Journal, wrote:

“Being on the right side of Bill matters if you want to benefit from U.S. foreign aid destined for Haiti.”

A slew of recent articles are detailing how Hillary Clinton used a private email server from her home to conduct State Department business. There’s been consternation over the big backers of the Clinton Foundation with Swiss Bank accounts, and criticisms of the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from countries that Hillary Clinton dealt with while Secretary of State, including Canada, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Keystone XL pipeline Canadians who have an important financial stake in Haiti oil, mining and the US occupation in Haiti, also donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Obama’s State Department acknowledged the ethical violation issue with the Clinton Foundation donations. But it’s doubtful that the lawless Obama Administration, authors of the shocking kill list or rule 1021 of the NDAA, will find lawlessness in the Clintons behavior on this matter or on Hillary Clinton’s failure to comply with the Federal Records Act.

What is clear is that the US occupation behind UN and NGO charitable fronts added to Haiti’s suffering immeasurably even before the earthquake. More than 20-thousand Haitians have been killed by the occupation forces since 2004. A UN-imported cholera epidemic has killed over 10,000 Haitians, infected over 850,000. A Ferguson-like Haiti militarized police and a brand new neoDuvalierist dictatorship, with Martelly ruling by decree, has annihilated any “change we can believe in” for a new US-Haiti policy under the Clinton-Obama team.

What’s clear is that, just as Gonaives was not built back for the benefit of the storm victims, neither were the earthquake zones. It’s been eight years since the 2008 storms. The people at Gonaives Haiti are still living in mud and at risked of another flood crisis each hurricane season. Same thing happened with the earthquake billions. The quake monies benefited Clintons’ cronies, the Clinton Foundation big business donors, the Clintons’ luxury spa resort and hotel partners, the military industrial/intelligence complex and the usual Washington beltway bandits, like Chemonics. The holocaust for Haiti continued. What’s worst was the Clintons’ use of shock and trauma – the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake and 2010 UN-imported cholera traumas – to push the 2010 doctored elections down the Haitian people’s throats.

That impossibly flawed election had, by Jan 12, 2015, turned from four years of Martelly circumventing Parliament, to outright dictatorship where he was formally ruling by decree with the approval and international force of the Clintons and their Hollywood image makers. In essence, the Clintons’ fraudulently manipulated horrifying pestilence brought upon the people of Haiti, including the starvation that Bill Clinton apologized for, to enrich themselves, strengthen the US occupation, peddled their US governmental access, their UN-World Bank access for the benefit of their cronies, the Clinton Foundation donors and to better steal Haiti oil, golds, underwater treasures, offshore islands and lands. We’ve written about this at: “Haiti Waking Up 5 Years Later“.

Behind the headlines, Haitians continue to strongly protest the Clintons’ brazen exploitation of US foreign aid and quake donation monies meant for homeless people to enrich themselves and secure a regulatory business environment favorable to foreigners that hurts local Haitians. In 2014, two prominent Haiti lawyers, Newton St. Juste and Andre Michel petitioned Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes, demanding an audit of Bill Clinton’s management of the IHRC.

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State helped impose the Martelly 
dictatorship. US Ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White and US Ambassador 
to UN Samantha Powers, daily maintains the Haiti terror with UN guns 
and the NGO charitable fronts

But the forces against justice for Haiti are made to look so overwhelmingly innocent. Nowadays the “good ‘ol” boys are white “just-doing-their-jobs” career chicks with blond or red hair with smiley names like Hillary, Samantha or Pamela.

They can be Cheryl Mills, Susan Rice, Condi Rice or gay, LGBT or straight. Doesn’t matter. They work for the Bush dynasty or for the Clinton/Obama group to install dictatorship in Haiti. The terror they’ve brought to Haiti is as familiar as when FDR was running the first US occupation of Haiti for Woodrow Wilson, or when Harding took it over. The UN is a criminal tool of empire that enjoys the immunity of the corporatocracy to readily swap the lives of the global poor in exchange for funding to keep its career bureaucrats in easy jobs and power. (See also, On UN Jobs-Selling Scandal, UN Tells ICP of Suspensions and Butchers of Haiti masked as the saviors of Haiti.)

Hillary Clinton and the other “smiley faced” career chicks are as complicit in supporting brutal US dictatorship and imperialism worldwide as the Manifest Destiny good ‘ol boys who saw no problem with genocide of indigenous peoples and with making alliances with countries like Saudia Arabia known for violence against women and for denying them many basic freedoms. The new dictatorship and US occupation in Haiti, legitimized with the help of Hillary Clinton, Pamela White, Samantha Powers, Cheryl Mills and Susan Rice, brings proportionally greater violence, hunger, disease, rape and brutality into the lives of Haiti women and children.

For us Haitians, the situation won’t change as long as the American people and schooled peoples worldwide believe that elections, as implemented by the US, actually represents Main Street interests or people values over monopolistic Wall Street profits. The Ndòki forces of empire, responsible for engineering group passivity or to leveraging centuries of African enslavement to angelize whites and demonize Blacks must be structurally decoded and removed.

How the US controls and impoverishes Haiti

The 2004 Bush regime change in Haiti was further institutionalized by the Obama/Clinton maneuvers from 2008 to present. The World Bank, controlled by the US, amended Haiti mining laws. These laws benefit insiders such as, Hillary Clinton’s brother, Larry Rodham, whose North Carolina company, VCS Mining received one of two rare gold mining licenses. Bill Clinton’s co-chair at the IHRC, Jean Max Bellerive also sits on the board of VCS mining, which landed the rare gold permit in Haiti.

The World Bank did not only rewrite Haiti mining laws but at the same time, invested, through the IFC in Haiti mining. It’s really the US multinational mining companies – through the World Bank/IFC – that are writing Haiti mining laws to mine Haiti’s over $20billion in gold while the people are disenfranchised under the US occupation behind UN guns.

The people of Haiti objected to this, with constant calls for these UN rapes, World Bank rapes, US occupation and re-colonization to stop. But the World Bank ruled they have no say. It doesn’t matter to the imperialist World Bank that besides the economic pillage, gold mining causes severe environmental devastation, not needed in Haiti. The World Bank refused to consider the Haitian communities’ complaint about the new mining law. This mining ruling by foreigners will only bring more pain to Haiti. In a recent Letter to World Bank about its accountability, more than 80 organizations from around the world joined with the Haiti Mining Justice Collective, the NYU Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel to demand that the World Bank take responsibility for its actions in Haiti.

Will the World Stop the Clintons: End the US occupation of Haiti behind UN mercenary guns and the NGO charitable fronts?

Hillary Clinton, in the middle of managing the crisis in Egypt, finished interviews on the Sunday morning news shows and immediately flew to Haiti where she insisted Michell Martelly, who had not scored to be included in the run-offs, be included in the run-offs for the sham 2010 elections. Hillary Clinton and her Cheryl Mills’ acolytes brought intense U.S. pressure to bear on the Haitian government and Electoral Council to comply, including, revoking the visas of several Haitian officials she felt were not complying, prematurely announcing the election dispute was over, threatening to cut off aid if the doctored elections and OAS ruling to advance Martelly to the second rounds were not accepted by Haiti. According to special representative of the OAS, Ricardo Seitenfus, the internationals’ “Core Group” for Haiti, even threatened to forcibly remove Haiti president Preval if he didn’t comply and put Martelly in the elections. Seitenfus exposed the international meddling in Haiti in general, and by MINUSTAH and NGOs in particular. Then, the US-installed Michel Martelly ruled against Haiti Parliament prohibitions giving Hillary Clinton’s brother a rare license to exploit Haiti’s over $20 billion in gold.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, as UN envoy to Haiti, brought in the World Bank to replace the UN’s regular banker. Bill Clinton with Paul Farmer’s partner at the World Bank, worked to take in all quake monies to increase white foreign presence in Haiti and to create infrastructure for the mining and oil magnates magnates in the North where there was no earthquake, calling it “Caracol jobs” for the people of Haiti. The Clinton used their star power to bring Hollywood with them to celebrate their Haiti sweatshop. (See also, Haiti: Foreign Investment means Death and Repression: A Historical Perspective and Oil in Haiti and Oil Refinery – an old notion for Fort Liberte as a transshipment terminal for US supertankers)

The World Bank privately invested in Haiti’s gold through its for-profit affiliate and used US/UN/PMSCs military guns in Haiti and the NGO charitable fronts to forcibly amend Haiti constitution and Haiti’s laws with a new mining law favorable to the Clinton brother ilks, the mining and oil magnates. In exchange, the mining magnates and other corporations, buying influence in Haiti, gave 100s of millions in kickbacks as “donation” to the Clinton Global Foundation. Meanwhile, Haitians have no sovereignty. Bill Clinton apologizes for destroying Haiti local agriculture with US subsidies to big Arkansas agro-business while Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State brought in Monsanto as a “gift” to Haiti agriculture! Haitians die from UN-imported cholera, quake ravages, UN brutality and rapes. The Clintons provided the traumatized Haiti poor with cholera insurance for destitute Haiti market women to purchase and formaldehyde-laced trailers left over from Katrina.

The Aid Racket: Food Aid and promoting hunger as a Weapon

The World Bank Thievery in Haiti

The World Bank, for its part, brings death to Haitians in various ways besides its traditional endless debts that replaced Haiti’s Independence Debt to perpetually feed the corporatocracy.

It’s graduated to helping US/Clintons/Bushes collect earthquake funds to finance infrastructure for multinational mining magnates and oil barons instead of permanent housing for quake victims. Then uses US military occupation as opportunity to invest in Haiti mining and changes the Haiti mining laws to benefit itself. While the UN brings death through importing UN-cholera and a closed society to Haiti. But does the world care? Oh no. The corporate media focuses everyone on ISIL, Ukraine, Ebola, new wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, et al. While, right here in the Western Hemisphere the greatest terror against an un-armed people, the least violent peoples in the Caribbean and an impoverished, traumatized people without an army, goes unabated.

The World Bank, controlled by the US, also insisted on collecting the Haiti quake donation dollars at the UN. This was supervised by Bill Clinton. This was unprecedented, in the entire history of the UN, as the UN has the UNDP as its own banker that traditionally holds such funds. This duplicity and theft which raised no ruckus allowed both the World Bank and the UN’s banker to pocket an “administrative fee” off the top, from every quake dollar meant for homeless and traumatized Haiti quake victims. We’re told, though we’d like more verification that the fee taken off the top, was 7% or so, by each of these entities (that’s 7% each received of $13 billion in quake dollars.)

There are no laws for the lawless US and their UN-NGO charitable fronts in Haiti. They’re above all laws, all civility, and can be as depraved and inhumane as they wish. No one in power lifts not even a token protest. The UN Security Council is in on the rape. Samantha Powers recently led the UN Security Council visit to Haiti to reinforce the Martelly dictatorship. US Ambassador Pamela White, if she could get away with it, would sign the name of every Haiti Parliamentary member to whatever document the US wants to have a Haiti signature for. She’s been spotted at midnight Parliamentary meetings she’s called to order, working her blackberry to get protesting Haiti parliamentarians to her confab. See, Haiti Message to US Ambassador Pamela White: Stop Blocking Removal of Corrupt Martelly-Lamothe Regime.

Dominican Republic is also not benefiting from foreign mining.

#We Are All Dominicans. Condemn the
racist mob lynching of Haiti man in the 
Dominican Republic. Justice for Tulile

The foreign gold mining exploitation in the Dominican Republic is also not benefiting its people. When the Dominican poor and Haiti poor collide, the instability flames benefit the US-Euro corporatocracy taking advantage of both nations. To that end the US authorities have pushed Haiti quake construction work that’s not gone to the Washington beltway hoards, not to local Haiti construction firms, but to enrich corrupt Dominican Republic politicians like Senator Felix Bautista. The Obama Administration has also ignored the 2013 DR court ruling that denationalized over 2o0,ooo Dominicans of Haitian descent and, instead, placed new homeland security guards at the border to inflame both sides of the island as pawns in their colonial games.

Pushing racism helps inept DR state authorities scapegoat Haitians for the country’s economic problems instead of neoliberal economics, unfair trade, privatization of public assets, colonialism, Barrick Gold, their corrupt oligarchs or colonial politicians.

NGO/Charitable Industrial Complex are the crisis caravan: 
The poverty pimping business – advocacy & 
activism used to maintain the status quo 

Although DR cultural hatred for their own African blood is real, both peoples are also pawns in the colonial game of conquest. Despite the dangers, Haiti migrants flood into the DR as well as the open seas to escape the US occupation and new dictatorship making it harder and harder to breathe in Haiti. This exacerbates an already historical issue of racism in the DR as well as legitimate concerns to control their borders. The ensuring violence kills more Haitians and gives the US-UN military another pretext for destroying both countries for the benefit of mining heavyweights like Barrick Gold, which is exploiting DR gold, leaving the environment ravaged, the DR people sickened from poisoned water and skin rashes. Haiti already has enough pain from UN cholera, skin rashes from tear gas and foul water thrown at human rights demonstrators by the US-trained militarized police. The Clintons’ mining contracts, World Bank mining laws imposed on Haiti with the continuing US occupation, promises more environmental costs – higher levels of lead, sulphur, cyanide and zinc poisoning, more pain rush and poverty for the poor.

The mining area in Haiti’s North lies on a quake fault line. There are already questions about whether mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns triggered the Haiti earthquake in 2010? Not to mention if the building of the largest US-embassy compound in the Western Hemisphere and the US underground tunnel-diggings did not also trigger the Haiti earthquake?

It’s time for the terror and quiet genocide in Haiti to stop. For the assets of Haiti to be properly used to better the lives of local Haitians. It’s time to stop the use of the US military and charitable fronts to provide corporate welfare to the Bush and Clinton Wall Street corporatocracy. During the 2008 presidential elections, Republican presidential candidate John McCain got no pushback whatsoever for heading the International Republican Institute (IRI) which played a pivotal role in ousting Haiti’s democratically elected government in George Bushes’ 2004 Regime change. The Clintons hammering the McCain nail stuck in Haiti’s back with Martelly’s cholera democracy probably will not raise more than an eyebrow during this 2016 upcoming US presidential charade. It would be nice to be proven wrong.

Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)
and Free Haiti Movement

March 9, 2015

The West has two faces. One evil.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

In the Footsteps of Napoleon: NATO Moves on Russia

NATO’s Shadow of Nazi Operation Barbarossa

Finian Cunningham - SCF


NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve paced ahead this week with the latest arrival of more US military forces in the Baltic region. Under the guise of defending eastern Europe from «Russian aggression», more than 100 Abrams tanks and Bradley armoured personnel carriers rolled into Latvia. 

Last month, a similar motorised display of military support was deployed in Estonia – in the town of Narva – with American flags flown by the US Army’s Second Calvary Regiment just 300 metres from the Russian border.

Narva protrudes sharply eastward – like a metaphorical blade – into Russian territory. It is only some 100 kilometres from St Petersburg – Russia’s second city after Moscow, and with a searing history of military assault by Nazi Germany during 1941-44. The siege of St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, caused over one million Russians to perish, mainly from hunger, before the German Wehrmacht was eventually pushed back and defeated by the Soviet Red Army. More on that in a moment. 

Back to the present: US General John O’Conner said of the latest deployment in Latvia that American troops would «deter Russian aggression», adding with Orwellian prose: «Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended».

The US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve has seen a surge in American military presence in the Baltic countries and other eastern European members of the NATO alliance over the past year. Technically, it is claimed that the US forces are «on tour duty» and therefore not transgressing past agreements with Russia to limit NATO permanent forces on Russia’s borders. But semantics aside, it is hard not to see that Washington has, in effect, significantly stepped up its military footprint in a geo-strategically sensitive region, in brazen contravention of erstwhile commitments made to Moscow. NATO warplane sorties have increased four-fold in the Baltic region over the past year, as have NATO warships in the Black Sea. 

Citing «Russian aggression», Washington and amenable rightwing governments in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, are giving themselves a licence to do what they are forbidden to do under binding accords, such as the NATO-Russia Founding Act signed in the 1990s, – namely, to expand military forces on Russia’s western borders. Operation Atlantic Resolve is predicated on unsubstantiated US-led claims – propaganda – that Russia is the source of aggression, primarily in Ukraine, and to the rest of Europe. Fact: Russia is not in Ukraine or any European country. 

Such blatant inversion of reality is part of the «psyops» in the US-led propaganda offensive. 

US commanded military exercises, including live-fire drills and the installation of Patriot and Cruise missiles, are scheduled to take place over the next months in the Baltic countries, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, as well as Ukraine and Georgia on Russia’s southern flank. The latter two reveal the wider non-NATO dimension of Washington’s geopolitical agenda.

US Colonel Michael Foster said of the forthcoming military exercises across Europe: «So by the end of the summer, you could very well see an operation that stretches from the Baltic all the way down to the Black Sea.»

It is doubtful that this American colonel understands the historical significance of his excited military vista. Part of the problem is that Americans and many other Westerners have such a paucity of historical understanding. They are inebriated with Western Victors’ History, which is bereft of real causes and effects. It is a propagandised version of chronological events, with the causal forces omitted, and which is used to justify the subsequent actions of Western powers. This inebriated understanding of history explains why history seems to so often repeat. Without understanding the real causes of events, how can repetition be averted? And that’s just the way Western corporate rulers like it, with their culpability obscured from public view.

Let’s have a look at US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve in a more realistic, historical perspective. Then we might appreciate that it has the scope and unerring sinister resonance with a previous military development – Operation Barbarossa – the mammoth invasion of Soviet Russia that was launched by Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941. 

Furthermore this is not superficial analogy indulging in sensationalism. If we look into the ideological motive forces there is a consistent continuum.

Nazi Germany’s unprovoked assault on the Soviet Union in June 1941 was the biggest military invasion ever in the history of modern warfare. It led to the death of some 30 million Russians at the hands of the Waffen-SS and Einsatzgruppen extermination squads, along with forced starvation, disease and appalling privations, such as in the cities of St Petersburg and Volgograd (Stalingrad). 

Operation Barbarossa, like Operation Atlantic Resolve, spanned from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with key invasion points through Estonia, Poland and Ukraine. And we wonder why the current Kiev regime’s onslaught on the ethnic Russian people of eastern Ukraine is deemed so provocative to Russia? During Operation Barbarossa, Ukrainian regiments served as auxiliaries to the Waffen-SS in the mass murder of millions of fellow Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, Gypsies, Jews and others. All were seen as «untermenschen» (sub-humans) to be eliminated by the «exceptional» Germanic «Aryan race». 

When Adolf Hitler wrote his infamous manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 1925, he postulated that Germany’s imperial greatness would be realised by crushing Soviet Russia. The necessary «lebensraum» (expansion) would be by conquest of the eastern region, which he disparaged as being populated by «untermenschen slavs ruled by Bolshevik Jews». Hitler’s hatred of Jewry was only matched by his utter detestation of Communist Russia. Both had to be exterminated, in his view.

Western conventional history tends to focus on Hitler’s anti-Semitism and Final Solution as being directed primarily at Jews. The truth is that Hitler and Nazi Germany was equally obsessed with destroying Soviet Russia. This obsession with Soviet Russia was intimately shared within Western ruling circles in the years preluding the Second World War. 

In 1918 at the end of the First World War, and despite all its horrors and 20 million death toll, US Secretary of State Robert Lansing was vexed by quite another matter when he wrote: «Bolshevism is the most hideous and monstrous thing that the human mind has ever conceived… it is worse, far worse, than a Prussianised Germany, and would mean an ever greater menace to human liberty.»

Russia’s October Revolution of 1917 and the threat of communist insurrection worldwide presented Western rulers with a staggering nightmare. This was underlined by the crisis in capitalism at that time and its quagmire of economic recession, social collapse and the looming Great Depression, not unlike today’s crisis.

Fascism in Europe – from Portugal, Spain, Italy to Germany – was courted by Western elites as a bulwark against the spread of socialist movements inspired by Russia’s October Revolution. Hitler’s Germany with its industrial prowess was seen as a particularly favourite strong-arm, anti-Soviet regime, which would crush a growing European labour movement as well as the perceived geopolitical rival of Russia to Western capitalism.

It is a matter of record that US corporations, from Wall Street banks to Ford and General Motors, invested heavily in building up the Nazi war machine during the 1930s. The Fuhrer was also covertly engaged by the British Conservative elite, led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, whereby he was given a «freehand» to expand eastwards. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria and Czech Sudetenland in 1938, that was just the beginning of the eventual intended assault on the Soviet Union that the Western rulers were quietly rooting for. (See The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion by Alvin Finkel and Clement Leibovitz.)

When Operation Barbarossa came in the summer of 1941, the largest military invasion in history was thus fulfilling a deeply held strategic agenda to crush Russia as a geopolitical rival, not just to Germany but to the Western powers who had covertly built up the Nazi war machine. 

A quirk in the historical matrix saw the Western governments go to war with Nazi Germany for their own tactical interests. But the telling point is that as soon as the Second World War closed these same Western powers began recruiting Nazi agents, intelligence and assassins to assist in the new Cold War against the Soviet Union. Ukraine and the Baltic countries were again instrumental in the postwar subterfuge against Russia as they had been under the Nazi’s Operation Barbarossa, only this time they were recruited by the CIA, MI6 and US-led NATO, formed in 1949. 

Today, Russia may no longer profess Bolshevism as a state ideology. And we are not predicting here that the current US-led NATO manoeuvres around Russian territory are going to precipitate into an all-out military attack. That is beside the main issue. The point is that Russia still presents a problematic rival to American and Western hegemony. Moscow under Vladimir Putin is seen as an obstacle to US-led capitalist domination of Asia and the rest of the world. Russia’s stolid insistence on abiding by international law is an irksome impediment to Washington’s «exceptional» petulance to use military force whenever and wherever it wants to underpin its putative global hegemony. International popular support for Putin as a respected world statesman, together with widespread disdain for US rulers, is also another source of intense chagrin to Washington. This is the context in which we should assess the US-led hostility toward Russia and the latent war signals that emanate from Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The historical resonances over the past century are the same. Operation Barbarossa and Operation Atlantic Resolve are part of the same continuum of Western aggression towards Russia. Russia is deemed to be a countervailing force to Western hegemony, and therefore must be removed.

For Russia, the menacing military encirclement of Operation Atlantic Resolve has profoundly bad resonance with the past, and for good reasoning. Operation Barbarossa – only 74 years ago – is seared into Russian consciousness through immense human suffering. Russia was then on the brink of extirpation and was only saved by the heroic sacrifice of millions of its people; any nation would never allow such a danger to ever come close again. 

The West has never suffered in history to the depth that the Russian people have; and therefore many in the West, especially the pampered elite rulers, have no idea of how resolute Russians are in defending their homeland. Vladimir Putin’s home city is St Petersburg, the city where one million died from Nazi siege. 

When Western leaders talk breathlessly about «defending freedom» and glibly pillory Russians for being «paranoid» their Godawful inebriated ignorance of history is just cause for even more alarm.

Russia can perceive, rightly, the continuum of aggression. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hamad al-Hasanat: My Teacher's Secret Life

Secret History of My Geography Teacher, also Co-founder of Hamas

by Ramzy Baroud -

This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle.

Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on 2 March, at the age of 80.

“Hammad al-Hasanat co-founded the terrorist group (Hamas) on December 14, 1987,” wrote British tabloid by way of introducing the black Palestinian leader. I say ‘black,’ although, skin colour was never an issue worth discussing within the Palestinian Gaza political context.

But Hasanat had an affinity to Africa. I should know that. He was my geography teacher, and my favourite one throughout my three years at the Nuseirat’s UNRWA Boys’ Prep School.

Hasanat’s popularity stemmed largely from the fact that he “didn’t give too much homework” and that “he didn’t hit” as other teachers habitually did. In that way, his class was quite ideal: learning about the world at large and where winds come from and why, but the lessons included much storytelling. He was an agreeable character, and unlike our math teacher - whose name I am withholding because he still scares me to this day - who often came to class drunk and violent, Hasanat was a kind, fatherly figure to many of us.

But being teenagers and all, we exploited our geography teacher’s benevolence. Once we circulated a rumour that Hasanat naps in class because he was bitten by a bug while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

In a way, Hasanat asked for it, for he spoke disproportionately about that particular mountain. And whenever he needed to pronounce it, he would put less emphasis on the word “mount” and sharply increase the pitch of his voice when he phonated “Kilimanjaro”. It was as if the whole classroom would shake, as the thunderous voice of Hasanat would echo around the decayed walls of our UN funded refugee school.

We laughed at Hasanat’s expense, who rarely responded angrily at our snickering. Whenever he failed to mention Kilimanjaro, we would remind him with a sneaky question like “Abu Yaser, what is the highest mountain in Africa, you know, the one in Tanzania?” He would readily answer, then we would burst out laughing once more, and so on.

Hasanat was not a militant, even though an assault rifle was laid on his chest in preparation for burial. But, when stacked in the right order, historical circumstances could turn a kindly geography teacher, in the words of the condemnatory Daily Mail, into a “cofounder of a terrorist group”.

Hasanat’s oldest son is Yaser, thus he was “Abu Yaser” - father of Yaser. I have never met Yaser, but I knew Tariq Dukhan well. Both Tariq and Yaser, along with two other teenagers started the militant wing of Hamas, known as Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Tariq went to my school in Nuseirat. He was the son of our Principal, Abdul Fatah Dukhan, a friend of Hasanat. Together, Abdul Fatah and my geography teacher, along with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, launched the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas on 14 December, 1987. Their children were also the founder of the Qassam Brigades.

That fateful decision by some teachers at UN schools in my refugee camp and other areas in the Strip had fundamentally altered Palestine’s political landscape, and set the stage for the rise of the strongest fighting force in Palestinian armed struggle, ending with Israel’s summer war against Gaza last year. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians were killed in the so-called Operation Protective Edge, but also 70 Israelis, over 60 of whom were soldiers. The Hamas legend had never been more pronounced in Palestinian society.

Yasser, Tariq and two others were killed after a brief period of daring battle with the Israeli army. Tariq’s place was filled by his brother, Mohammed, who was a classmate of mine starting in the third grade. Back then, I liked him particularly because he gave me access to the UNRWA-supplied football after school hours. He stole the keys from his dad whenever we needed to get access to the storage room of the school. Mohammed was killed by Israel at the age of 20.

Although al-Qassam’s first cadre was quickly eliminated at the hand of the Israeli army, they managed to register their permanent presence through opening a platform for scores, hundreds and eventually thousands more to join in. The kids of the neighbourhood, despite limited means and access, founded an army-like brigades, disciplined, tough and unyielding.

But Ustaz Hasanat (“Ustaz” meaning teacher) as we called him, was never a militant in any stereotypical sense, nor was Abdul Fatah. He was and will always be my geography teacher, and truly passionate about geography. He had a degree from Cairo University that he received in 1963 confirming his passion.

The man was also a refugee from the Palestinian city of B’ir Sabe’, expropriated after the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe of 1948) to become the Israeli city of Beer Sheba. He, like the vast majority of the nearly one million refugees, was born in a simple “peasant” family - fellahin. The family was struck with another tragedy in 1951, when his two brothers Raji and Muhareb were killed by the Israeli army, both on the same day.

I wonder if Hasanat’s love for geography was compelled by the feeling of captivity one develops living in Gaza most of his life? The confines of life for a refugee can be overpowering. And why the fascination with Mount Kilimanjaro in particular?

One may never know. The current Hamas leader in Gaza, and the former Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that Hasanat “was a brilliant leader of the Islamic movement, and one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas movement in Palestine”. He may have been a “brilliant leader,” after all he founded the Islamic Society in Nuseirat, which had an important role in the formation of Hamas, but, to me and many of his students he never came across as a “fundamentalist” or a zealot in any way.

When he was exiled to Lebanon’s Marj al-Zuhur, starting in the winter of 1992, I was still living in Palestine, and I remember the trepidation that many felt that some of these old men would die amid the bareness of the snowy mountains. He was one of 419 members of mostly Islamic leaders. Somehow, he survived the harsh winter of that mountainous region, before they were allowed back into the occupied territories, many of them back into Israeli jails.

My geography teacher, who took naps quite often during class, was much tougher than many had assumed. As most of the founders of Hamas were killed, he escaped drones, warplanes and much destruction that followed, to die from old age after a brief illness.

Hasanat’s story is that of most refugee families; typical in its origins, but also unique in how each family coped with exile. My geography teacher died with a rifle on his chest, although I doubt that the old man even knew how to operate an assault rifle. He was carried to his grave by thousands of refugees in a funeral procession that teemed with scores of fighters, many of whom must have not been born yet when Yaser and Tariq established al-Qassam some 26 years ago.

When I told Ustaz Hasanat why we giggled every time he pronounced “Kilimanjaro,” he laughed too. But I never told him that we were the ones who started the rumour of the African bug that made him nap all too often during class.

Ramzy - is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

The Nuland View: Neo-Con Recycling Pre-Iraq Propaganda Technique for Ukraine

Nuland’s Mastery of Ukraine Propaganda

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

March 11, 2015 

An early skill learned by Official Washington’s neoconservatives, when they were cutting their teeth inside the U.S. government in the 1980s, was how to frame their arguments in the most propagandistic way, so anyone who dared to disagree with any aspect of the presentation seemed unpatriotic or crazy.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs  Victoria Nuland, 
who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

During my years at The Associated Press and Newsweek, I dealt with a number of now prominent neocons who were just starting out and mastering these techniques at the knee of top CIA psychological warfare specialist Walter Raymond Jr., who had been transferred to President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff where Raymond oversaw inter-agency task forces that pushed Reagan’s hard-line agenda in Central America and elsewhere. [See’s “The Victory of ‘Perception Management.’]

One of those quick learners was Robert Kagan, who was then a protégé of Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Kagan got his first big chance when he became director of the State Department’s public diplomacy office for Latin America, a key outlet for Raymond’s propaganda schemes.

Though always personable in his dealings with me, Kagan grew frustrated when I wouldn’t swallow the propaganda that I was being fed. At one point, Kagan warned me that I might have to be “controversialized,” i.e. targeted for public attack by Reagan’s right-wing media allies and anti-journalism attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, a process that did indeed occur.

Years later, Kagan emerged as one of America’s top neocons, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, which opened in 1998 to advocate for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, ultimately gaining the backing of a large swath of the U.S. national security establishment in support of that bloody endeavor.

Despite the Iraq disaster, Kagan continued to rise in influence, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist at the Washington Post, and someone whose published criticism so alarmed President Barack Obama last year that he invited Kagan to a White House lunch. [See’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy Weakness.”]

Kagan’s Wife’s Coup

But Kagan is perhaps best known these days as the husband of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, one of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former advisers and a key architect of last year’s coup in Ukraine, a “regime change” that toppled an elected president and touched off a civil war, which now has become a proxy fight involving nuclear-armed United States and Russia.

In an interview last year with the New York Times, Nuland indicated that she shared her husband’s criticism of President Obama for his hesitancy to use American power more assertively. Referring to Kagan’s public attacks on Obama’s more restrained “realist” foreign policy, Nuland said, “suffice to say … that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

But Nuland also seems to have mastered her husband’s skill with propaganda, presenting an extreme version of the situation in Ukraine, such that no one would dare quibble with the details. In prepared testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Nuland even slipped in an accusation blaming Russia for the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 though the U.S. government has not presented any proof.

Nuland testified, “In eastern Ukraine, Russia and its separatist puppets unleashed unspeakable violence and pillage; MH-17 was shot down.”

Now, it’s true that if one parses Nuland’s testimony, she’s not exactly saying the Russians or the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down the plane. There is a semi-colon between the “unspeakable violence and pillage” and the passive verb structure “MH-17 was shot down.” But anyone seeing her testimony would have understood that the Russians and their “puppets” shot down the plane, killing all 298 people onboard.

When I submitted a formal query to the State Department asking if Nuland’s testimony meant that the U.S. government had developed new evidence that the rebels shot down the plane and that the Russians shared complicity, I received no answer.

Perhaps significantly or perhaps not, Nuland presented similarly phrased testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday but made no reference to MH-17. So, I submitted a new inquiry asking whether the omission reflected second thoughts by Nuland about making the claim before the House. Again, I have not received a reply.

However, both of Nuland’s appearances place all the blame for the chaos in Ukraine on Russia, including the 6,000 or more deaths. Nuland offered not a single word of self-criticism about how she contributed to these violent events by encouraging last year’s coup, nor did she express the slightest concern about the actions of the coup regime in Kiev, including its dispatch of neo-Nazi militias to carry out “anti-terrorist” and “death squad” operations against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. [See’s “Nuclear War and Clashing Ukraine Narratives.]

Russia’s Fault

Everything was Russia’s fault – or as Nuland phrased it: “This manufactured conflict — controlled by the Kremlin; fueled by Russian tanks and heavy weapons; financed at Russian taxpayers’ expense — has cost the lives of more than 6,000 Ukrainians, but also of hundreds of young Russians sent to fight and die there by the Kremlin, in a war their government denies.”

Nuland was doing her husband proud. As every good propagandist knows, you don’t present events with any gray areas; your side is always perfect and the other side is the epitome of evil. And, today, Nuland faces almost no risk that some mainstream journalist will dare contradict this black-and-white storyline; they simply parrot it.

Besides heaping all the blame on the Russians, Nuland cited – in her Senate testimony – some of the new “reforms” that the Kiev authorities have just implemented as they build a “free-market state.” She said,

“They made tough choices to reduce and cap pension benefits, increase work requirements and phase in a higher retirement age; … they passed laws cutting wasteful gas subsidies.”

In other words, many of the “free-market reforms” are aimed at making the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder – by cutting pensions, removing work protections, forcing people to work into their old age and making them pay more for heat during the winter.

Nuland also hailed some of the regime’s stated commitments to fighting corruption. But Kiev seems to have simply installed a new cast of bureaucrats looking to enrich themselves. For instance, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko is an expatriate American who – before becoming an instant Ukrainian citizen last December – ran a U.S. taxpayer-financed investment fund for Ukraine that was drained of money as she engaged in lucrative insider deals, which she has fought to keep secret. [See’s “Ukraine’s Finance Minister’s American ‘Values.’]

Yet, none of these concerns were mentioned in Nuland’s propagandistic testimony to the House and Senate – not that any of the committee members or the mainstream press corps seemed to care that they were being spun and even misled. The hearings were mostly opportunities for members of Congress to engage in chest-beating as they demanded that President Obama send U.S. arms to Ukraine for a hot war with Russia.

Regarding the MH-17 disaster, one reason that I was inquisitive about Nuland’s insinuation in her House testimony that the Russians and the ethnic Russian rebels were responsible was that some U.S. intelligence analysts have reached a contrary conclusion, according to a source briefed on their findings. According to that information, the analysts found no proof that the Russians had delivered a BUK anti-aircraft system to the rebels and concluded that the attack was apparently carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military.

After I published that account last summer, the Obama administration went silent about the MH-17 shoot-down, letting stand some initial speculation that had blamed the Russians and the rebels. In the nearly eight months since the tragedy, the U.S. government has failed to make public any intelligence information on the crash. [See’s “The Danger of an MH-17 ‘Cold Case.’]

So, Nuland may have been a bit duplicitous when she phrased her testimony so that anyone hearing it would jump to the conclusion that the Russians and the rebels were to blame. It’s true she didn’t exactly say so but she surely knew what impression she was leaving.

In that, Nuland appears to have taken a page from the playbook of her husband’s old mentor, Elliott Abrams, who provided misleading testimony to Congress on the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s – and even though he was convicted of that offense, Abrams was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush and thus was able to return to government last decade to oversee the selling of the Iraq War.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and 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.

Airing the Laundry: Israel's Republican Senators Attempt to Hijack American Policy

The Message Behind the Senate GOP’s Letter to Iran

by Jim Lobe - CounterPunch

The story of the day on the Iran front is the publication of what its authors titled “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

It was signed by 47 Republican senators led by freshman Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who, as reported by LobeLog, received nearly $1 million in advertising support from Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel in the closing days of last November’s campaign. The basic thrust of the letter is to warn the recipients that once President Barack Obama leaves office, any deal that he and his P5+1 partners may have reached with Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program could be revoked “with the stroke of a pen.”

There are already lots of arguments breaking out over whether the basis of the letter was an accurate statement of U.S. law.

One prominent Harvard law professor who also served as a top Justice Department official under George W. Bush, Jack Goldsmith, called at least one of the letter’s assertions about the ratification process “embarrassing.” It was especially embarrassing not only because Cotton graduated from Harvard Law School, but also because Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who earned a M.A. and PhD in international law at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver — Condoleezza Rice’s alma mater — felt compelled to correct Cotton’s understanding of Washington’s international legal obligations.

There is also a dispute over whether the letter constitutes a violation of the Logan Act, which provides:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

For those who might claim that the letter is protected by the First Amendment, it’s interesting to note that when he was serving in the U.S. Army after law school in 2006, Cotton wrote another “open letter” published by the far-right website Power Line calling for the prosecution and imprisonment of three New York Times reporters for allegedly violating the Espionage Act by disclosing how the government was tracking terrorist financing.

I’ll leave the legal analysis to the specialists, but the political implications of this truly remarkable effort to undermine the duly elected president of the United States and sabotage an international negotiation in which our closest NATO allies are also deeply invested need to be digested and understood. This is a clarifying moment and one which Obama himself made abundantly clear when he said that “it’s somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”

For those who follow Iran policy closely, this observation comes as no surprise. The Republican senators who signed that letter are desperate to block any agreement with Iran, just as hard-liners in Iran have long opposed anything that could lead to détente with the “Great Satan.” It’s not that they want a “much better agreement” with Tehran, as Benjamin Netanyahu insisted in his address to Congress. They want no agreement.

Indeed, it was Cotton himself who made this, as I put it, “Kristol clear” in a speech to the Heritage Foundation in mid-January:

“The United States must cease all appeasement, conciliation, and concessions towards Iran, starting with the sham nuclear negotiations. Certain voices call for congressional restraint, urging Congress not to act now lest Iran walk away from the negotiating table, undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But, the end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of Congressional action, it is very much an intended consequence. A feature, not a bug, so to speak.

And let’s please remember that veteran neoconservative activist Bill Kristol was up there in the same section of the House gallery where Netanyahu spoke as Bibi’s spouse Sara Netanyahu, Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, and, of course, multi-billionaire casino magnate and staunch Bibi-backer, Sheldon Adelson, who spent at least $150 million for Republican candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

Given ECI’s support for Cotton in the 2014 Senate race, it’s hard to imagine that Netanyahu and his Republican ambassador here, Ron Dermer, would not have approved of this latest initiative to sabotage prospects for an Iran deal.

Democrats on Notice

So let’s be clear: All the commentary and Israeli spin in the Times and elsewhere suggesting that Bibi’s speech had subtly signaled an openness to an agreement with Iran that settles for less than the total dismantling of its nuclear program, including its enrichment capabilities, is — to put it bluntly — bullshit.

For Netanyahu, Kristol, and Adelson, no deal is better than any deal because an agreement between Washington and Tehran could begin a process of rapprochement. And anyone — like Sen. Bob Corker (who, to his credit, did not sign the Cotton letter) or Robert Menendez — who says otherwise is either lying or deluding themselves. Cotton’s letter — and the fact that he spearheaded this effort — makes that abundantly clear.

Hopefully wavering Democrats now understand that.

Certainly, the Democratic leadership is holding up Cotton’s initiative as evidence of bad faith. Calling the letter “juvenile,” Minority Leader Harry Reid accused the Republicans of “undermining our commander in chief while empowering the Ayatollahs.”

He also rightly noted that the letter constituted a “hard slap in the face of not only United States but also our allies” — a point that, in my opinion, has not received nearly enough attention. I’m sure the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany greatly appreciated the Republican warning that their own efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement to Iran’s nuclear program have been a waste of time because the president of the United States can’t really negotiate an agreement with them on behalf of his country.

The Democrats’ number two, Sen. Dick Durbin, warned that Republicans “should think twice about whether their political stunt is worth the threat of another war in the Middle East,” while the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, was quite direct in her assessment of the letter:

I am appalled at the latest step of 47 Republicans to blow up a major effort by our country and the world powers to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear program.
This is a highly inappropriate and unprecedented incursion into the president’s prerogative to conduct foreign affairs and is not befitting this chamber. This letter only serves one purpose — to destroy an ongoing negotiation to reach a diplomatic agreement in its closing days.

All of this should result in a major reality check by Democrats and the dwindling number of relatively reasonable Republicans who remain in Congress.

Indeed, seven Republicans apparently decided against adding their names to the letter: Mississippi’s Thad Cochran, Maine’s Susan Collins, Indiana’s Dan Coats (which surprises me because he’s been very hawkish on Iran), Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and the two Tennessee senators, Lamar Alexander and Corker.

Perhaps this will prompt Corker to reassess the problematic provisions that he and Menendez (who will now be preoccupied with defending himself against anticipated federal corruption charges) have included in the legislation they crafted to ensure congressional review of any comprehensive deal with Iran. In any event, this really brazen and exclusively partisan effort to undermine presidential authority will almost certainly solidify Democratic support for a veto, if one is needed, of any legislation designed to sabotage the negotiation.

A Rift in the Israel Lobby

This episode is also likely to create even deeper divisions within the Israel lobby, particularly between mainstream groups like the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which are finding it ever more difficult to retain their bipartisan image and who were, apparently as a result, kept in the dark about House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Bibi — about which they were clearly unhappy.

Cotton’s initiative was an exclusively Republican affair, which, like Boehner’s invite, puts these groups in a very difficult position. This marks an intensification of the tensions generated by AIPAC’s decision a year ago to suspend its lobbying for the Kirk-Menendez sanctions bill after it ran into a brick wall of Democratic opposition in the Senate.

That decision drew scorn from Kristol’s ECI, Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition, and the far-right Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which receives substantial support from Adelson. As Kristol himself wrote at the time:

It would be nice if there were universal bipartisan support for acting now to stop a nuclear Iran. But there apparently is not. And it would be terrible if history’s judgment on the pro-Israel community was that it made a fetish of bipartisanship — and got a nuclear Iran.

As this latest maneuver shows, this coalition of right-wing groups, clearly backed by Netanyahu and Dermer and fueled by the largess of Adelson and other RJC billionaires, has essentially taken over the Republican Party’s leadership, at least as it pertains to U.S. policy in the Middle East. Even Rand Paul signed the letter.

As a result, they’ve become by far the most aggressive force in “pro-Israel” activity in Washington, leaving to AIPAC, the ADL, and the AJC the increasingly difficult task of reassuring increasingly alienated Democrats that supporting an Israel headed by the likes of Bibi Netanyahu is somehow consistent with their values and the national interest. This also means that long-faithful congressional champions of AIPAC who pride themselves on working “across the aisle” — notably Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez — have found themselves playing second or third fiddle to upstart and ultra-partisan extremists like Cotton and Ted Cruz.

As a result of changes in election laws, we don’t know which specific donors provided ECI with that $960,000 that was then passed along to a pro-Cotton ad campaign in the closing days of the election last November, but the choice of ECI — and the obviously tight relationship between ECI and the Republican Jewish Coalition — as the conduit suggests that it came from people who think very highly of Bibi Netanyahu.

We do know, however, the identity of one important source of direct financing for Cotton’s campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website, the second biggest donor to his campaign was Elliott Management, a hedge fund headed by billionaire Paul Singer. While the Club for Growth provided more than half a million dollars to Cotton’s campaign, Elliott supplied $143,100 — about 50 percent more than the Senate Conservatives Fund and four times as much as Koch Industries.

Singer sits on the RJC board and has contributed to such hard-line neoconservative organizations as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and the American Enterprise Institute — all of which, consistent with Netanyahu, have denounced negotiations — let alone any deal with Iran.

Jim Lobe, the former Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency Inter Press Service, is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy.
This article originally appeared on Lobelog.