Saturday, September 10, 2016

Apple's Irish Sweepstake No Pot of Gold for the People

Irish Disgrace over Apple Tax Scam

by Finian Cunningham - Sputnik

September 9, 2016

It’s not just the European Commission that thinks the Irish government is indulging US tech giant Apple with illegal tax breaks. 

Many ordinary, wage-poor Irish workers, unemployed youth, neglected hospital patients and impoverished pensioners are also infuriated by what they see as the Dublin government’s betrayal of their needs in order to suck up to the world’s richest corporation. The issue here is not merely an Irish domestic affair. It is about how servile governments choose to pander to capital and foreign investors while their own people are shafted.

After three years of investigation, the EC – the EU’s executive branch – ruled last week that successive Irish governments had given the American multinational firm “unfair and illegal state aid” by grossly undertaxing it to the tune of €13 billion ($14.5 billion).

The EC concluded that Apple’s international sales subsidiary based in the Republic of Ireland was afforded an effective corporate tax rate of less than 1 per cent. Considering that rates in Germany and France are over 30 per cent the Irish fiscal take is a pathetic nibble, not a fair bite into the profits of a company that globally makes over $50 billion a year. But, incredibly, the Irish government has made the bizarre appeal that it doesn’t want the money back.

Dublin claims that Brussels is compromising Irish sovereignty by interfering in its tax affairs. Irish opposition parties do not agree with the government. The leftwing Sinn Fein party points out that Irish citizens have borne the brunt of economic austerity for years since the financial crash of 2008, and that, as a matter of basic justice, the people should avail of the huge tax arrears which successive governments have indulged foreign capital with.

Putting Apple’s tax dues into perspective illustrates the importance of the sums involved. The €13bn would cover a full year of spending on public healthcare by the Irish state. This is at a time when thousands of Irish people are being denied medical treatment because the government claims there is no money in state coffers. Up to now, Irish governments have claimed that their low corporate tax policies over the past 25 years created a roaring economy driven by foreign companies setting up shop in Ireland. This gave rise to the phenomenon of the so-called “Celtic Tiger” in emulation of the East Asian economic tigers of South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. The Irish corporate tax rate was nominally set at 12.5 per cent, more than half the official rate elsewhere in Europe and in the US. And, of course, American multinationals like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook set up in Ireland to make enormous savings. Certainly in the case of Apple, the international sales subsidiary has all the appearances of a classic tax avoidance scam.

The company clears its global business revenues through its puny Irish office, thus avoiding paying taxes in countries where it has points of sale. The EU investigation found that the Irish government was not even applying its nominally low rate of 12.5 per cent on Apple. The effective rate was less than 1 per cent, allowing the tech giant to amass record worldwide profits.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook called the EC ruling “maddening” and claimed that his company had done nothing wrong. “Apple has always tried to do the right thing,” he maintains. Well, if that’s so, then why has his firm relocated much of its production facilities out of its US home country to exploit cheap labor in China? Is that what Cook calls “doing the right thing”?

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, of the rightwing, pro-business Fine Gael party, may huff and puff about the “sovereign rights” of his nation. What is so sovereign and right about allowing foreign investors to trample all over Irish workers and deprive the Irish nation of its due taxes?

The European Commission has certainly got a bad rap in recent years from EU citizens fed up with relentless economic austerity. It is partly this populist backlash across Europe that is now obliging the Brussels administration to crack down on corporate tax dodging. EC President Jean Claude Juncker is making something of a crusade to stamp out tax loopholes and to claw back money for the benefit of long-suffering EU citizens. The EU leadership knows that if it doesn’t begin to act in a more democratic way, the forces of disintegration of the 28-member bloc may become unstoppable, as the Brexit vote earlier this year tends to show. Thus, the EU is pushing for greater tax justice out of an instinct for survival in the face of growing popular discontent.

This inevitably is vexing US corporations like Apple who have long played off EU member states against another to extract favors like rock-bottom tax rates. The move is also causing friction between the EU and US government. Washington has angrily denounced the ruling on Apple to pay back €13bn in taxes. The US claims the EU is acting unlawfully as an international tax authority. More likely, the US wants to get a share of Apple’s profits by declaring, sometime in the future, a partial tax amnesty so that the company will bring back a portion of its astronomical cash pile. Surely though, the question is: governments should work together to ensure a level business field so that multinational companies like Apple are not allowed to exploit national differences?

The case of Ireland is a particular disgrace. For decades, Irish governments have received billions of euro in EU development aid for building roads and other infrastructure. Yet, these same Irish governments have colluded with foreign corporations to cheat Europe and the Irish people out of billions of fiscal proceeds. For the Irish political class, the prestige of having top flight companies on their territory inflates their vanity and for a while the strategy may have seemed plausible. Soaring corporate profits artificially boosted headline growth figures of gross national product. But in the end, it is all a scam, for which the Irish people are paying bitterly.

The supreme irony is that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising – the insurrection in 1916 that heralded Ireland’s freedom from foreign domination under the British empire. James Connolly and the other leaders of the Rising proclaimed that henceforth Ireland’s national wealth would be prerogative of the Irish people. A hundred years later, the crumby, unpopular politicians who sit in government offices in Dublin evidently believe the opposite: That the wealth of Ireland belongs to foreign capital.

If we can learn one thing it is that the era of globalization and corporate dominance has to end. Otherwise, it is a futile race to the bottom whereby nations are held hostage to predation.

Democracy means nothing if the people do not have democratic control over economic policies. That the Irish government claims to be acting as “a guarantor of sovereignty” is a contemptible disgrace – one that must have James Connolly and the other great Irish revolutionaries spinning in their graves with disgust.

American Slave: Prison Labor Rises

Thousands of Prisoners Strike Against Forced Labor 


September 10, 2016

On the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, Prison Radio's Noelle Hanrahan explains how and why prisoners organized what may be the largest prison strike in US history.

Thousands of prisoners across the nation are participating in what could be the largest prison strike in U.S. history. The strike, which is beginning on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, aims to draw attention to the unfair living and working conditions which incarcerated people face every day.

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I. is an investigative journalist, private investigator, and director of Prison Radio. Prison Radio produces 30 correspondents from prisons across the U.S. Hanrahan produced and co wrote the feature length documentary 'Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary' (2013), Street Legal Cinema. As a white working class lesbian, Noelle tries to amplify those voices that can illuminate the way forward. She lives in Philadelphia with her kids. 

The Last Dissident: Afflicted the Afflicters

Imperial Submission: When Dissidents Take a Turn to Empire  

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

09 September, 2016

O dark dark dark, they all go into the dark, the vacuous, vacuumous void of the imperial penumbra: the rock-ribbed dissidents, fiery oppositionists, staunch anti-imperialists, eminent afflicters of the unjustly comfortable; the lifelong exposers of ideological bullshittery, distinguished voices decrying repression and hate, chairmen of many activist committees, generous denouncers of profiteering, brave and battered souls who put their bodies upon the gears of the odious Machine again and again -- all go into the dark. They bow their heads and say to the Machine, at last: protect us.

[My latest column for the print version of CounterPunch.]

This year has seen depressing recurrences of a syndrome first exhibited -- in typically brazen form -- by Christopher Hitchens in the first days after 9/11: stalwart figures of political dissent submitting reluctantly (or in Hitchens’ case, gleefully) to the power of the militarist American state as the only force capable of mounting a last-ditch defense of humanist values against the imminent, overwhelming existential threat of Islam.

Some of these coat-turning figures are the usual “reformists” and careerists whose “dissent” was always epidermis-deep; their submission to the state rates nothing more than bemused scorn. But what of someone like Bill Blum, who has informed and inspired so many of us for decades with his uncompromising insights into the true nature of the odious Machine as it has chewed its way around the world, killing millions, spouting lies, fomenting extremism, repressing freedom at home and abroad? If Blum too could succumb to Hitchenitis, would such a blot not seem "like a second fall of man"?

And yet it has come to pass. The terrorist atrocity in Nice was apparently the last straw for Blum. After that horrific attack -- by a mentally troubled, wife-beating, doped-up wretch who, it seems, might have been preyed upon by Islamic extremists in the same way the FBI picks troubled souls to foment terror plots it can then 'foil' (or not) -- Blum declared that it was time to drop "political correctness" and "support Western military and economic power to crush the unspeakable evil of ISIS."

Well, I suppose if the wielders of "Western military and economic power" were not actively pursuing -- with copious amounts of energy, arms and money -- strategies which they know exacerbate the "radical Islamic terrorism" that Blum apparently believes everyone but he and Pam Geller are too scared to mention, there might be the sliver of an argument in this position.

A specious argument, to be sure -- "the problems caused by violent Western intervention can be solved by more violent Western intervention "-- but an argument nonetheless.

But as Blum himself has detailed with devastating accuracy over the years, the United States and its allies have enabled such forces for decades. And it has been evident for years that their main objective in Syria is regime change, not the defeat of ISIS. It's also been evident -- as Blum has documented -- that they don't give a rat's ass about "radical Islamic terrorism" except as a means to advance their foreign and domestic agendas: supporting it here, opposing it there, ignoring the monstrous consequences and laughing all the way to the bank.

But Blum doesn't stop with supporting military action against ISIS. He wants a full-bore campaign of domestic repression launched against all Muslims within reach of those ever-benevolent Western powers. Blum says,

"[Muslim culture] must be severely curtailed. The West must oversee the classes in Islamic schools in France, the UK, the US, et al ... Even if it means sending spies into the classes, outfitted with recording devices. The teachers of these classes, if they have any connection at all to anything smacking of radical Islam ... should be fired."

(Maybe these new civilization-saving spies can pass along the names of suspect teachers to the White House for consideration on those "Terror Tuesdays" when the president decides who will be arbitrarily murdered that week by the protectors of humanist values.)

And even if, as in many cases, "the perpetrator of some horrible terrorist act was not even religious or never attended a mosque," it doesn't matter, says Blum. The mere fact that they might have been "raised in the atmosphere" of "Muslim culture or environment" is enough to justify subjecting every Muslim to repression, surveillance or even "purging." (This despite the fact that Muslims are, overwhelmingly, the chief victims of radical Islamic terrorism – and of “Western military and economic power” as well.)

Blum says he knows all about Western atrocities -- Iraq, Vietnam, Hiroshima -- but ISIS is worse than all of this, presumably because of that irredeemable "Muslim culture or environment." So we must now support the Machine -- the "culture or environment" of American militarism -- that perpetrated those atrocities in order to destroy a group that would not exist without the interventions of "Western military and economic power." We must take it on trust that after decades of the brutal, inhuman, murderous operations documented by Blum, this Machine, this murderous system, will now save our "values" from destruction.

I’ll continue to read (and re-read) Blum’s work with respect and attention, as always. But it’s sad to see him enter this shadowland, where the shade of Hitchens is sitting by the wraith of Whittaker Chambers and chuckling, “What took you so long, Bill?”

Friday, September 09, 2016

Can the Pacific Orca Be Saved?

Time Is Running Out For British Columbia's Killer Whales

by Chris Genovali - Raincoast Conservation

Sept. 9, 2016  

As top marine predators, the population status and physical condition of Southern Resident killer whales is emblematic of the overall health of the Salish Sea. As citizens of the Salish Sea, we know these whales represent much more. This irreplaceable killer whale population has significant and widely recognized social, cultural, and ecological values.

It has been 14 years since Southern Resident killer whales were listed as endangered under Canada's Species at Risk Act. Today, less than 85 of these whales remain. Despite their legal obligation to act, the federal government has failed to take measures to further recovery of the Southern Residents. As one of Canada's most endangered group of animals, actions for their survival cannot wait any longer.

A Population Viability Analysis (PVA) is a tool used by scientists to understand and rank threats to endangered species. It also provides direction on the most effective conservation actions to reverse their endangered status. Raincoast Conservation Foundation's PVA, conducted by leading scientists studying killer whales, acoustics and endangered populations, shows that Southern Resident killer whales require more Chinook salmon (their primary food source), and less noise and disturbance from vessels.

The Raincoast PVA assessed the viability of the southern residents in light of their cumulative disturbances and threats, including increased ocean noise resulting from additional vessel traffic and oil spills. It also examined the role of Chinook salmon abundance and contaminants. The Southern Resident population has experienced almost no population growth over the past four decades, and has declined in the last two decades. Our analysis shows that increased traffic and noise conditions will intensify existing threats, accelerating their rate of decline and possibly leading to complete extinction. Conversely, reducing existing vessel noise and increasing Chinook availability increases their likelihood of long-term survival.

"Low abundance of Chinook (Spring) salmon corresponds to killer whales not getting enough to eat, their survival and birth rates dropping, and mortality increasing. More Chinook for killer whales will require closures of commercial and recreational Chinook fisheries, and allowing these depleted salmon runs to rebuild," states Misty MacDuffee, a Raincoast biologist and director of the foundation's Wild Salmon Program.

In addition to their diminishing food supply, vessel noise and disturbance make it difficult for killer whales to successfully hunt, feed and communicate. Southern Resident killer whales produce and listen to sounds in order to establish and maintain critical life functions: to navigate, find and select mates, maintain their social network, and locate and capture prey (especially Chinook salmon). The existing level of noise has already degraded critical habitat and studies suggest it has reduced the feeding efficiency of these whales.

Until a Cumulative Effects Assessment is undertaken, no expansions in Salish Sea shipping should be approved or considered. Southern Resident killer whales are within 400 metres of a vessel most of the time during daylight hours from May to September. Reducing boat disturbance requires regulations that increase the approach distance from 100 meters to 200 meters, matching US regulations. Other disturbance initiatives, like limiting boat numbers, and/or constraining the viewing times and/or the days when boats follow whales, must also be considered. Such regulations also require enforcement.

Raincoast's senior scientist Dr. Paul Paquet states,

"This unique population of killer whales has continued to struggle while recovery actions have been delayed. In addition to addressing prey shortages and vessel disturbance, there is a clear need for longer-term action on marine pollutants, commitments to marine protected areas, amendments to marine mammal regulations, identification of Salish Sea killer whale sanctuaries, and reduction of ship noise."

From commercial and recreational fisheries closures on Chinook salmon to whale watching regulations and enforcement, Raincoast scientists are calling for meaningful recovery actions for Southern Resident killer whales as they can only survive with strong protection measures and immediate action.

A version of this article previously ran in Seaside Magazine.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

UN Investigators Polish Syrian Government "Chemical Attacks" Chestnut

UN Team Heard Claims of 'Staged' Chemical Attacks During 2014 Investigation

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

September 8, 2016

United Nations investigators encountered evidence that alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian military were staged by jihadist rebels and their supporters, but still decided to blame the government for two incidents in which chlorine was allegedly dispersed via improvised explosives dropped by helicopters.

In both cases, the Syrian government denied that it had any aircraft in the areas at the times of the purported attacks.
On Aug. 30, 2013, U.S. Secretary 
of State John Kerry delivers an earlier 
accusation of Syrian gov’t chemical 
weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013. 
That evidence was later discredited 
(State Dep’t photo) 

But the UN team rejected that explanation with the curious argument that Syria failed to provide flight records to corroborate the absence of any flights. Yet, if there had been no flights, there would be no flight records.

The controversial map developed by Human Rights Watch and embraced by the New York Times, supposedly showing the flight paths of two missiles from the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack intersecting at a Syrian military base. The analysis was later discredited when aeronautical experts found that the one missile carrying sarin had only one-fourth the necessary range.

The UN team also dismissed out of hand the possibility that jihadist rebels who had overrun some air bases and thus had operational helicopters at their disposal might have used them as part of a staged event designed to incriminate the Damascus regime and thus justify U.S. or other outside military intervention.

Another problem with the UN team’s findings is that the home-made chlorine bombs had minimal military value, inflicting relatively few casualties and only a handful of deaths.

Why the Syrian government, which was under intense international pressure regarding alleged chemical weapons use and was in the process of surrendering its stockpile of such weapons, would have jerry-rigged a handful of homemade bombs and dropped them for no discernible military effect makes little sense.

However, since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been thoroughly demonized over his harsh reaction to an uprising that began in 2011, pretty much any accusation against him – no matter how unlikely or implausible – is widely accepted in the mainstream Western media and political circles. In other words, the UN team was under pressure to reach a guilty verdict.

Accusations of staging

Yet, the evidence from at least one of the incidents examined by the UN team suggests that an attack on Al-Tamanah on the night of April 29-30, 2014, might well have been staged by rebels and then played up by activists through social media.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the UN report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

Accounts from other people, who did allege that there had been a government chemical attack on Al-Tamanah, provided suspect evidence, including data from questionable sources, according to the UN report.

The report said, “Three witnesses, who did not give any description of the incident on 29-30 April 2014, provided material of unknown source. One witness had second-hand knowledge of two of the five incidents in Al-Tamanah, but did not remember the exact dates. Later that witness provided a USB-stick with information of unknown origin, which was saved in separate folders according to the dates of all the five incidents mentioned by the FFM (the UN’s Fact-Finding Mission).

“Another witness provided the dates of all five incidents reading it from a piece of paper, but did not provide any testimony on the incident on 29-30 April 2014. The latter also provided a video titled ‘site where second barrel containing toxic chlorine gas was dropped tamanaa 30 April 14’”

Some other witnesses alleging a Syrian government attack offered curious claims about detecting the chlorine-infused “barrel bombs” based on how the device sounded in its descent.

The UN report said,

“The eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

As in other cases that were investigated, the UN team demanded that the Syrian government provide flight records to support its denial that any of its aircraft were in the air in that vicinity at the time of the attack.

“The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic stated that no military activities were conducted from land or air in Al-Tamanah on the dates of the incidents, but did not provide any records of flight operations to support this statement,” the UN report said.

In the Al-Tamanah case, the UN team judged the evidence insufficient to reach a firm judgment regarding who was responsible. However, in two other cases, in Talmenes in April 2014 and Sarmin in March 2015, the UN team accused the Syrian military of dropping chlorine-infused “barrel bombs.”

Investigative limitations

Yet, regarding all eight cases that were examined, the UN team acknowledged significant limitations on its ability to investigate.

The report said, “As was the case with the Fact-Finding missions, the lack of access to the locations under investigation due to the dire security situation on the ground affected the manner in which the Mechanism [a committee from the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] was able to conduct its investigation.

“Visits to certain locations would have facilitated the ability of the Mechanism to (a) confirm and access specific locations of interest; (b) collect comparative environmental samples; (c) identify new witnesses; and (d) physically evaluate the material of interest to the Mechanism (e.g., remnants).

“Other challenges and constraints include the following factors: (a) the time period that had elapsed since the incident (i.e. in some cases, more than two years since the incident); (b) the lack of chain of custody for some of the material received; (c) the source of information and material was of secondary or tertiary nature; (d) some of the information material, including those depicting the size and nature of the incident, were misleading; (e) finding independent sources of information that could provide access to individuals and information material proved difficult; and (f) the impact locations were not preserved and were compromised by the time they were recorded (e.g., the videos and photographs of the impact locations were taken days after the incident and in many cases after the remnants had been removed from the impact location).”

In other words, the UN/OPCW investigation was compromised by its inability to conduct an effective on-the-ground assessment and was forced to rely on witnesses who were often allied with the rebel forces or sympathetic to the political opposition to President Assad.

This problem is reminiscent of what happened inside the U.S. Intelligence Community in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq when some 18 witnesses – supposedly “defectors” from Saddam Hussein’s regime – became “walk-ins” who presented claims about the Iraqi government’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

CIA analysts debunked some of these bogus claims and traced some of the deceit to the machinations of the pro-invasion Iraqi National Congress (INC), but – given the political-and-media hatred of Saddam Hussein – the CIA analysts were under intense pressure to accept some of the dubious accounts that were then incorporated into U.S. intelligence products and used to justify a war under false pretenses.

As with Iraq – where the U.S. government had helped fund anti-regime groups such as the INC – a similar situation exists inside Syria where U.S. officials have assisted the “opposition” in organizing politically and mastering propaganda skills. So, the means and opportunity for depicting regime “atrocities” through social media are there, along with the motive.

These activists – as well as the radical jihadists and other armed rebels – have become increasingly desperate to induce the United States to intervene militarily against the Syrian army and thus make their desired “regime change” possible.

Obama’s red line

The emphasis on creating a chemical weapons casus belli increased when President Barack Obama set the Syrian government’s possible use of such weapons as a “red line” that might cause him to intervene directly with U.S. forces.

That comment and the political pressure for instituting another Mideast “regime change” were the backdrop for the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, which anti-Assad activists, the mainstream U.S. press, and the U.S. State Department immediately blamed on government forces.

In the ensuing days, Obama came to the edge of authorizing a retaliatory military strike before hearing from U.S. and other Western intelligence services that they had doubts about who had actually pulled off the attack.

Since then, the sarin case against Assad has largely collapsed (although to defuse the crisis he agreed to a Russian plan for Syria to surrender all its chemical weapons). The evidence now appears to indicate that radical jihadists released the sarin with the goal of goading Obama into joining the war on their side, i.e., a false-flag operation.

As the sarin case fell apart in 2014, the U.S. government shifted its emphasis toward chlorine-gas allegations. I first encountered this bait-and-switch tactic when I pressed a senior State Department official to back up or back off the increasingly discredited sarin gas claims.

While sidestepping the sarin case, the official asserted that the Syrian government almost surely was responsible for the more recent chlorine-gas incidents, citing the bombs’ delivery by helicopter and arguing that only the Syrian government possessed such aircraft.

According to the UN report, however, that belief regarding the government’s monopoly of helicopters may not be true, since rebel forces had captured air bases where operational helicopters were present. That means, at least theoretically, the jihadists could have staged the night-time attacks – complete with prior alarms spread by activist first-responders, known as “white helmets,” about the imminent arrival of “government” helicopters with chlorine bombs.

But the more nettlesome question, which the UN report does not address, is why would the Syrian government launch these strange attacks while realizing that any chemical weapons incident could prompt U.S. military intervention that could tip the war in favor of the jihadists and other rebels, especially since the chlorine attacks had virtually no military value.

Few fatalities

While the makeshift chlorine bombs may have sent scores of civilians to get medical attention, very few of the casualties were fatal, according to the UN report. By contrast, the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack killed hundreds, with the U.S. government putting out an even higher (and almost surely exaggerated) number of 1,429 dead.

In both these cases – the sarin and chlorine investigations – UN officials were under enormous pressure from the U.S. State Department and Western governments to come up with something that could be used to justify “regime change” in Damascus.

The U.S. State Department and various anti-Assad non-governmental organizations also had a strong motive to play up any accusations of Syrian chemical weapons use. Obama’s critics still hope to push him into an increased military intervention to remove Assad from power.

Significantly, the recent UN report was initially leaked to The New York Times, which has been at the forefront of agitating for another “regime change” operation in Syria. Not unexpectedly, the Times produced an article on Aug. 24 that applied no skepticism to the accusations and simply blamed the Assad government for two of the chlorine attacks.

The UN report wasn’t officially available until the end of August, but even then it was extremely difficult to access at the UN’s Web site. This week, I finally reached a UN press representative who walked me through the maze of links required to get to the right page, but it turned out that the page had been off-line since last Friday, the press aide said. Finally, on Tuesday, I was sent a link that worked.

Though these technical glitches may well have been coincidental, the effect was to delay any critical review of the UN’s report. By the time its evidentiary and logical gaps could be examined by the public, the conventional wisdom had already solidified regarding the Syrian government’s guilt.

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

Putin First In with New Uzbek Leadership

Mirziyoyev is Uzbekistan’s new leader; relations with Russia set to grow closer 

by Alexander Mercouris  - The Duran

September 8, 2016

Uzbek parliament confirms appointment of Mirziyoyev as Acting President just 2 days after meeting with Russian President Putin in Samarkand.

Uzbekistan’s parliament has now confirmed Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s appointment as Acting President of the country in place of the recently deceased Islam Karimov.

This comes just 2 days after Mirziyoyev’s meeting with Putin in Samarkand when he spoke of Russia as an “allied country”.

Mirziyoyev’s appointment as Acting President coming on top of his previous appointment as chairman of the commission which organised Karimov’s funeral and his meeting with Putin in Samarkand 2 days ago, all but confirms that he is Uzbekistan’s new leader. Presumably his position will be formalised once national elections to the Presidency take place, as will doubtless happen shortly. Needless to say, in Uzbekistan such elections are essentially a technicality.

Putin’s meeting with Mirziyoyev in Samarkand suggests that the Russians are better informed about the political situation in Uzbekistan then had previously been suspected. It now looks as if the meeting was at least in part intended to signal to the Uzbek leadership that Mirziyoyev has Moscow’s support. If so then that in turn all but confirms that Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia are set to become much closer.

Meanwhile a very interesting article about Uzbekistan has appeared in the Financial Times which unusually declines to look at the country in mere east-west terms. Instead it calls for Uzbekistan to join the rest of Central Asia in forming a common market in the region’s economic self-interest. Most unusually the article even goes so far as to point to the far reaching economic progress Central Asia achieved when the whole region was economically integrated when it was part of the USSR.

So far as it goes this advice is entirely correct. As I discussed in previous article, the reason Uzbekistan under Karimov had to operate such a tightly controlled economy is because it lacks the export base to cover its imports and finance its domestic development on the strength of its own resources. If Uzbekistan is to prosper then it needs to integrate its economy in a regional grouping so that this problem can be finally offset.

This is how the article explains it:

“The Soviet era offers some lessons. As constituent republics of the USSR, the Central Asian states produced different commodities — oil and gas from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; water from the mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for irrigating huge cotton plantations; wheat from Kazakhstan; uranium, gold and other key minerals from several of the countries.

The Soviets linked these into a fully integrated economic network with an infrastructure stretching from the Chinese border to the Ural Mountains, thereby providing each country with the commodities it did not have, with the surplus going to Moscow.

That network broke down in 1991 along with the Soviet Union, as the increasingly rivalrous states retreated behind disputed borders and tariff regimes. Karimov refused to take part in early initiatives to create a post-Soviet common market. As a consequence, the tension between Uzbekistan’s need for water and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s need for Uzbek-supplied oil and gas was never resolved.

Central Asia squandered great economic opportunities when the Soviet Union collapsed. It cannot afford to do so again. The new Uzbek leader can undo Karimov’s baleful legacy by bringing the region together, improving living standards and undermining Islamist extremists, who threaten Central Asia from bases in northern Afghanistan.”

Of course what this article does not say (and given that it is published in the Financial Times it cannot say) is that the political and economic geography of the region nowadays makes it unavoidable that any such grouping in this region bringing all the Central Asian states together would today have to be led not by any Central Asian state such as Uzbekistan but by Beijing and Moscow.

It might in theory have been possible to create a Central Asian grouping independent of Beijing and Moscow in 1991. Today that option no longer exists. The huge growth of Chinese and Russian power since 1991 and the Eurasian institutions they have already created leaves the region no other choice if it is to reintegrate and prosper than to join them.

It seems that Mirziyoyev and the rest of the Uzbek leadership – and possibly even Karimov in the last few years of his life – do however understand it, which explains why Mirziyoyev and Uzbekistan are now turning decisively towards Moscow.

Loose Arrows: The Pentagon's Unaccounted for Global Army

Mission Impossible: Keeping Track of U.S. Special Ops in Africa

by Nick Turse - TomDispatch

September 6, 2016   

Sometimes the real news is in the details -- or even in the discrepancies. Take, for instance, missions by America’s most elite troops in Africa.

It was September 2014. The sky was bright and clear and ice blue as the camouflage-clad men walked to the open door and tumbled out into nothing. One moment members of the U.S. 19th Special Forces Group and Moroccan paratroopers were flying high above North Africa in a rumbling C-130 aircraft; the next, they were silhouetted against the cloudless sky, translucent green parachutes filling with air, as they began to drift back to earth.

Those soldiers were taking part in a Joint Combined Exchange Training, or JCET mission, conducted under the auspices of Special Operations Command Forward-West Africa out of Camp Ram Ram, Morocco. It was the first time in several years that American and Moroccan troops had engaged in airborne training together, but just one of many JCET missions in 2014 that allowed America’s best-equipped, best-trained forces to hone their skills while forging ties with African allies.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, What the U.S. Military Doesn't Know (and Neither Do You)

It hardly matters where you look. There are the nearly million-and-a-half weapons that the Pentagon shipped to war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. As a recent study shows, it evidently lost complete track of hundreds of thousands of them, many of which seem to have simply gone on the open market in countries where buyers are unlikely to be the crew of our dreams. Or there’s the $6.5 trillion (that is not a misprint) that the accountants for a single service, the U.S. Army, seem to have lost track of in 2015. Or there’s the simple fact that the Pentagon is utterly incapable of conducting a successful audit of itself or, on a minor note, that its officials can't even keep track of which of their underlings go to strip clubs, “adult entertainment establishments,” and casinos on the taxpayer dollar. You could say that, though it swallows up at least $600 billion-plus a year of our money, it’s an organization that seems remarkably comfortable knowing remarkably little about itself (which means of course that you know next to nothing about it).

This should, of course, be unacceptable in a democracy. But coverage of the Pentagon and its stupendously wasteful ways, not to speak of oversight of its financial dealings, is in remarkably short supply in our world. That should be surprising, given this country's 800 military bases around the world, the planet it largely arms, and the fact that its special operations forces have been active in up to 135 countries a year. What it does, and where and how it does it, given its reach and its power, plays a not-insignificant role in determining what transpires on this conflicted planet of ours.

This is why I regularly find it amazing, even unnerving, that, in a world of monster media organizations, covering what the U.S. military does in Africa -- and it does more and more there -- has largely been left to Nick Turse of TomDispatch. He’s been reporting on that military's “pivot” to Africa for years now and, with the rarest of exceptions, he’s done so in a remarkably lonely fashion. How can this be? It obviously matters what our military is doing -- especially in a world where, it seems, the more it enters a region, the more terror outfits spread and flourish in that same region. Call it happenstance if you wish, but as for me, I would prefer that Americans knew regularly and in some detail what exactly was being done in our name in the world. Tom 

Mission Impossible: 

Keeping Track of U.S. Special Ops in Africa

by Nick Turse

A key way the U.S. military has deepened its involvement on the continent, JCETs have been carried out in an increasing number of African countries in recent years, according to documents recently obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). When it comes to U.S. troops involved, foreign forces taking part, and U.S. tax dollars spent, the numbers have all been on the rise. From 2013 to 2014, as those recently released files reveal, the price tag almost doubled, from $3.3 million to $6.2 million.

These increases offer a window into the rising importance of such missions by U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) around the world, including their increasingly conspicuous roles in conflicts from Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Afghanistan. On any given day, 10,000 special operators are “deployed” or “forward stationed” conducting overseas missions “from behind-the-scenes information-gathering and partner-building to high-end dynamic strike operations” -- so General Joseph Votel, at the time chief of Special Operations Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.

Through such figures, the growing importance of the U.S. military’s pivot to Africa becomes apparent. The number of elite forces deployed there, for example, has been steadily on the rise. In 2006, the percentage of forward-stationed special operators on the continent hovered at 1%. In 2014, that number hit 10% -- a jump of 900% in less than a decade. While JCETs make up only a small fraction of the hundreds of military-to-military engagements carried out by U.S. forces in Africa each year, they play an outsized role in the pivot there, allowing U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to deepen its ties with a variety of African partners through the efforts of America’s most secretive and least scrutinized troops.

Exactly how many JCETs have been conducted in Africa is, however, murky at best. The documents obtained from U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) via FOIA present one number; AFRICOM offers another. It’s possible that no one actually knows the true figure. One thing is certain, however, according to a study by RAND, America’s premier think tank for evaluating the military: the program consistently produces poor results.

The Gray Zone

According to SOCOM, Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) is, on average, “routinely engaged” in about half of Africa’s 54 countries, “working with and through our African counterparts.” For his part, SOCAFRICA commander Brigadier General Donald Bolduc has said that his team of 1,700 personnel is “busy year-round in 22 partner nations.”

The 2014 SOCOM documents TomDispatch obtained note that, in addition to conducting JCETs, U.S. Special Operations forces took part in the annual Flintlock training exercise, involving 22 nations, and four named operations: Juniper Shield, a wide-ranging effort, formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara, aimed at Northwest Africa; Juniper Micron, a U.S.-backed French and African mission to stabilize Mali (following a coup there by a U.S.-trained officer) that has been grinding on since 2013; Octave Shield, an even longer-suffering mission against militants in East Africa; and Observant Compass, a similarly long-running effort aimed at Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa (that recently retired AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez derided as an expensive and strategically unimportant burden).

America's most elite forces in Africa operate in what Bolduc calls “the gray zone, between traditional war and peace.” In layman's terms, its missions are expanding in the shadows on a continent the United States sees as increasingly insecure, unstable, and riven by terror groups.

“Operating in the Gray Zone requires SOCAFRICA to act in a supporting role to a host of other organizations,” he told the CTC Sentinel, the publication of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 
“One must understand, in Africa we are not the kinetic solution. If required, partner nations should do those sorts of operations. We do, however, build this capability, share information, provide advice and assistance, and accompany and support with enablers.”

Officially, the Joint Combined Exchange Training program isn’t so much about advice and assistance, support, or training partners, as it is about providing Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special operators with unique opportunities to hone their craft -- specifically, unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense -- overseas. “The purpose of JCETs is to foster the training of U.S. SOF in mission-critical skills by training with partner-nation forces in their home countries,” according to SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw. 
“The program enables U.S. SOF to build their capability to conduct operations with partner-nation military forces in an unfamiliar environment while developing their language skills, and familiarity with local geography and culture.”

Authorization for the JCET program does, however, allow for “incidental-training benefits” to “accrue to the foreign friendly forces at no cost.” In reality, say experts, this is an overarching goal of JCETs.

Mission Impossible

U.S. Special Operations forces conducted 20 JCETs in Africa during 2014, according to the documents obtained from SOCOM. These missions were carried out in 10 countries, up from eight a year earlier. Four took place in both Kenya and Uganda; three in Chad; two in both Morocco and Tunisia; and one each in Djibouti, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania. “These events were invaluable training platforms that allowed U.S. SOF to train and sustain in both core and specialized skills, while working hand-in-hand with host nation forces,” say the files. African forces involved numbered 2,770, up from 2,017 in 2013. The number of U.S. special operators increased from 308 to 417.

Impressive as these figures are, the actual numbers may prove higher still. AFRICOM claims it carried out not 20 but 26 JCETs in 2014, according to figures provided last year by spokesman Chuck Prichard. Similar discrepancies can be found in official figures for previous years as well. According to Prichard, special operators conducted “approximately nine JCETs across Africa in Fiscal Year 2012” and 18 in 2013. Documents obtained by TomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act from the office of the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs indicate, however, that there were 19 JCETs in 2012 and 20 in 2013.

AFRICOM ignored repeated requests for clarification about the discrepancies among these figures. Multiple emails with subject lines indicating questions about JCETs sent to spokesperson Anthony Falvo, were “deleted without being read,” according to automatic return receipts. Asked for an explanation of why AFRICOM and SOCOM can’t agree on the number of JCETs on the continent or if anyone actually knows the real number, Ken McGraw of Special Operations Command demurred. “I don't know the source of AFRICOM's information,” he told TomDispatch. 
“To the best of my knowledge, the information our office provided you was from official reporting.”

In fact, effective oversight of even some relatively pedestrian training efforts is often hard to come by, thanks to the military’s general lack of transparency and the opaque nature of assistance programs, says Colby Goodman, the director of the Security Assistance Monitor at the Center for International Policy. “And for JCETs and other Special Operations programs,” he says, “it’s even more difficult.”

Given that the two commands involved with the JCET program can’t even come to a consensus on the number of missions involved raises a simple but sweeping question: Does anyone really know what America’s most elite forces are doing in Africa?

Under the circumstances, it should surprise no one that a military that can’t keep a simple count of one type of mission on one continent would encounter difficulties with larger, more difficult tasks.

More Missions, More Problems

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, the incoming commander of SOCOM, General Raymond Thomas III, laid out a sweeping vision of the “U.S. strategy in Africa.” It included “neutralizing Al-Shabaab in East Africa” and empowering Somalia’s government to do the same; “working with our African partners in North and West Africa to ensure they are willing and capable of containing the instability in Libya, degrading VEOs [Violent Extremist Organizations] in the Sahel-Maghreb region, and interdicting the flow of illicit material,” as well as working with African allies to contain Boko Haram and empowering Nigeria to suppress the terror group.

“SOF implements this strategy by being a part of [a] global team of national and international partners that conduct persistent, networked, and distributed full spectrum special operations in support of AFRICOM to promote stability and prosperity in Africa,” said Thomas. 
 “The SOCAFRICA end states are to neutralize Al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda Affiliates and Adherents in East Africa, contain Libyan instability and Violent Extremist Organizations and other Terrorist organizations in North and West Africa, and degrade Boko Haram.”

Bolduc, SOCAFRICA’s commander, suggested that the U.S. is well on its way toward achieving those goals. “Our security assistance and advise-and-assist efforts in Africa have been effective as we continue to see gradual improvements in the overall security capabilities of African partner nations across the continent,” he said earlier this year.

 “Clearly, there’s been more progress in certain areas versus others, but the trends I see with these forces are positive.”

Independent assessments suggest just the opposite. Data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland show, for example, that terror attacks have spiked over the last decade, roughly coinciding with AFRICOM’s establishment. Before it became an independent command in 2007, there were fewer than 400 such incidents annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, the number reached nearly 2,000.

Similarly, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which uses media reports to monitor violence, shows that “conflict events” have jumped precipitously, from less than 4,000 to more than 15,000 per year, over the same span.

Earlier this year, the Defense Department’s own Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a research institution dedicated to the analysis of security issues on that continent, drew attention to skyrocketing terrorism fatalities there in recent years. It also published a map of “Africa’s Active Militant Islamist Groups” that showed 22 organizations menacing the continent. Bolduc himself has repeatedly cited the far higher figure of nearly 50 terrorist and “malign groups” now operating in Africa, up from just one major threat cited by AFRICOM commander Carter Ham in 2010.

In addition to troubling overall trends in Africa since the U.S. pivot there, JCETs have come under special criticism. A 2013 report by the RAND Corporation on “building partner capacity” (BPC) cited several limitations of the program. “U.S. forces cannot provide support to partner equipment under JCETs and cannot conduct dedicated training in advanced CT [counterterrorism] techniques (and hence cannot conduct planning for BPC),” it noted. Ultimately the RAND study, which was prepared for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, found “moderately low” effectiveness for JCETs conducted in Africa.

In an email, SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw said he didn’t have the time to review the results of the RAND study and refused to offer comment on it.

Mum’s the Word

The U.S. military either can’t or won’t come to a consensus on how many missions have been carried out by its most elite troops in Africa. Incredible as it might seem, given that we’re talking about an organization that notoriously can’t keep track of the money it spends or the weapons it sends to allied forces or even audit itself, it’s entirely possible that no one actually knows how many JCETs -- and as a result how many special operations missions -- have been carried out on the continent, where they occurred, or what transpired during them.

What is known is that a Pentagon-commissioned study by RAND, the largest American think tank and the military’s go-to source for analysis, found that the JCET program had yielded poor results. The command whose troops carried out the training, however, may not even have been aware of the years-old study and won’t offer comment on it. At the same time, the command responsible for the continent where the training takes place won’t even acknowledge questions about the program, let alone offer answers.

With independent analyses showing armed violence and terror attacks on the rise in Africa, the Pentagon’s center for the study of the continent showing terrorism fatalities spiking, and the commander of America’s most elite forces in Africa acknowledging a proliferation of terrorist groups there, perhaps it’s no surprise that the U.S. military isn’t interested in looking too closely at its efforts over the last decade. Experts, however, say that keeping the American people in the dark is both dangerous for democracy and a threat to effective overseas U.S. military engagement.

“There is a serious lack of transparency on this type of training and that inhibits efforts for Congressional staff and the public to provide oversight,” says Colby Goodman of the Center for International Policy. 
Repeatedly asked about Goodman’s assertion, AFRICOM’s Anthony Falvo offered his typical non-response: Emails to the spokesman seeking comment were “deleted without being read.”

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His book Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa recently received an American Book Award. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Nick Turse

Temer, Temer: Ousting Brazil's Pretenders

Over a Million People on the Street Demanding New Elections in Brazil


September 7, 2016

Large protests took place in various cities in Brazil last Sunday with the largest formation in Sao Paulo where media outlets estimated that over 100,000 people took to the streets against the new conservative government of President Michel Temer. Last week Brazil’s senate had voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office in what her supporters have called a legislative coup. Sunday’s protestors were mainly calling for [ouster] of President Temer and demanded new elections.

In his work at CEPR, Alexander Main focuses on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean and regularly engages with U.S. policy makers and civil society groups to inform the public debate. He is frequently interviewed by media in the U.S. and Latin American and his analyses on U.S. policy in the Americas have been published in a variety of domestic and international media outlets including Foreign Policy, NACLA and the Monde diplomatique. Prior to CEPR, Alexander spent more than six years in Latin America working as an international relations analyst. He has a degree in history and political science from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

Cracks in US Global Hegemony Welcome

A Good Beginning 

by Kathy Kelly  - VCNC

September 07, 2016

It seems that some who have the ears of U.S. elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China.

In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Thomas Graham, two architects of the US cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested US global imperialism is coming to an end. Both analysts urge more cooperation with Russia and China to achieve traditional, still imperial, US aims. Mr. Graham recommends a shifting mix of competition and cooperation, aiming toward a "confident management of ambiguity." Mr. Brzezinski calls for deputizing other countries, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to carry out the combined aims of the US, Russia and China so that this triumvirate could control other people’s land and resources.

It’s surely worthwhile to wonder what effect opinions such as Brzezinski’s and Graham’s might have upon how US resources are allotted, whether to meet human needs or to further enlarge the US Department of Defense (DOD) and further enrich the corporations that profit from US investments in weapons technology.

If the US might diminish offensive war preparations against Russia, when would DOD budget proposals begin to reflect this? As of April 15, 2016, the US DOD was proposing that the US Fiscal Year 2017 budget significantly increase funding for the "European Reassurance Initiative" (ERI) from $789.3 million the previous year to $3.4 billion. The document reads: "the expanded focus is a reflection of the United States’ strong and balanced approach to Russia in the wake of its aggression in Eastern Europe." The requested funds will enable the US"defense" establishment to expand purchases of ammunition, fuel, equipment, and combat vehicles. It will also enable the DOD to allocate money to airfields, training centers, and ranges, as well as finance at least "28 joint and multinational exercises which annually train more than 18,000 US personnel alongside 45,000 NATO Allies." This is good news for major "defense" contractors.

In the past year, the National Guard of my home state of Illinois has participated in the DOD reserve component. 22 US states matched up with 21 European countries to practice maneuvers designed to build up the ERI. The IL National Guard and the Polish Air Force have acquired “Joint Terminal Attack Controller” systems that enable them to practice coordinating airstrikes with Poland in support of ground forces combating enemies in the region. Members of the IL National Guard were part of NATO’s July 2016 “Anakonda” exercises on the Russian border. As the state of Illinois spent an entire year without a budget for social services or higher education, millions of dollars were directed toward joint military maneuvers with Poland that ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

Many families in Illinois can relate to the impact of rising food prices in Russia while family income stays the same or decreases. People in both the US and Russia would benefit from diversion of funds away from billion dollar weapons systems toward the creation of jobs and infrastructure that improve the lives of ordinary people.

But people are bombarded with war propaganda. Consider a recent piece of propaganda-lite, just under 5 minutes, which aired on ABC news, showing Martha Raddatz in the back seat of an F-15 US fighter jet, flying over Estonia. "That was awesome," Raddatz coos, as she witnesses war-games from the F-15’s open cockpit. She calls the American show of force a critical deterrent to Russian forces. The piece neglects to mention ordinary Russians on whose borders, in June 2016, 10 days of US / NATO military exercises involving 31,000 troops took place.

In the high plateaus of Afghanistan, peasant women provide a striking example of risk-taking in order to literally plant new seeds. The New York Times recently reported on women in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province who have formed unions, risking ridicule and possible physical abuse to form cooperative groups. These women help one another acquire seeds for vegetables other than potatoes and also for new varieties of potatoes. They manage to feed their families and to pool resources so that they can spend less on delivering their crops to the market.

These women are acting with clarity and bravery, creating a new world within the shell of the old. We should be guided by such clarity as we insist that lasting peace can’t be founded on military power. The end of US empire would be a welcome end. I hope that policy makers will let themselves be guided by sanity and the courage to clarify the US’ vast potential to make a positive difference in our world by asking themselves a simple, indispensable question: how can we learn to live together without killing one another? An indispensable follow-up is: When do we start?

Kathy Kelly ( co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Voices is organizing a small delegation to Russia in October 2016.

US Refusal to Cease Support of Terrorist Jihadis Scuttles Syrian Peace Talks

US In Denial Over Sponsoring Terrorism Is Why Syrian War Rages On

by Finian Cunningham - RT

Sept. 8, 2016

Marathon 10-hour talks this weekend between the US and Russia in Geneva failed to produce a comprehensive plan to end the brutal Syrian war.

Cutting through diplomatic jargon, the fundamental problem is that the US remains in denial about its criminal role in fueling the war.

It is this role by the US and various foreign allies in supporting illegally armed groups that ensures the continuance of the conflict, which has been running for nearly six years with hundreds of thousands killed.

Washington and its allies – in particular this week Turkey – claim to be fighting terrorism. But the myriad global networks of weapons, cash, oil smuggling and military intelligence all testify to systematic state sponsorship of terrorism in Syria – in spite of random apparent anti-terror operations by these same sponsor-states.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said they were continuing to work on details for a breakthrough to end the violence. These precise details were not revealed, but it is reported that American and Russian military and technical experts are liaising on resolving them.

Kerry and Lavrov have obviously good personal rapport, and there seems to be an earnest mutual respect between the diplomats to find a solution in Syria. But how can a solution be found when one of the parties is part of the problem? Not only that, but the guilty party is in utter denial about its nefarious role.

In this way, the discussions between Kerry and Lavrov are more resembling of the relationship between a patient and a therapist, in which Lavrov is having to painstakingly work through the details about which Kerry suffers cognitive dissonance.

Part of the logistical problem in implementing a ceasefire in Syria is the ongoing failure by the US to provide any distinction between terrorist groups and militia that it claims are “moderate rebels”.

That is a main factor for why the earlier ceasefire called in February fell apart. Syrian government forces and their Russian ally maintain that they have the legal right to continue attacking internationally recognized al Qaeda-linked terrorist brigades. For which Washington then turns around and accuses Syria and Russia of targeting “moderate” insurgents.

However, absurdly, Washington has not or cannot provide Russia with any maps or locations showing where its “moderate” militias are.

In a press conference with Lavrov in Geneva, Kerry ducked a question on how a modality could be found for making such a distinction. Kerry gave this tellingly vague response: “It is not a helpful situation, and we’re expressing concern about it with the Russians and working on ways to deal with it.”

In other words, Washington hasn’t a clue about any realistic distinction between the plethora of armed groups trying to topple the Syrian government.

That vacuity from Washington vindicates the Syrian and Russian assessment as essentially correct: the vast majority of the anti-government opposition are terrorist entities. They may have countless different names, but they share the same extremist ideology and methods; and ultimately they share the same sponsors among foreign states for weapons and funding. Chief among these sponsors is Washington, Britain and France, as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies.

The Western media indulge in the same bankrupt, mendacious thinking by referring to “inter-mingling” between “moderates” and “extremists”. This is plainly a delusional narrative that has no bearing on reality in Syria. More than this it is a psychological operation of deception to conceal criminality of governments from their citizens.

The disclosure by former US intelligence chief Lt General Michael Flynn that the Obama administration was well aware from as early as 2012 that its covert support to anti-government militants in Syria was fomenting jihadist terrorism was a rare moment of honesty. Obama’s Secretary of State at that crucial time was Hillary Clinton. In that regard, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is right to say that Obama and Clinton “created” Islamic State and other related jihadist terrorist groups.

But Clinton’s successor John Kerry remains in apparent blissful denial of this systematic link between US foreign policy, regime change in Syria and the sponsorship of terrorism. Kerry arrogantly equivocates with diplomatic language about vague details for ending the conflict, without the slightest sign of shame over his nation’s culpability in fueling that conflict.

Associated Press quoted US officials who said that it is imperative that Russia pressures the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad to concentrate its military attacks on Islamic State and the other main al Qaeda-linked organization, Al Nusra.

“For their part, US officials say they are willing to press rebel groups [sic] they support harder on separating themselves from the Islamic State and Al Nusra,” reported AP.

That sounds like the American side is prepared to give nothing but the same old empty procrastination over “un-mingling” of terror brigades.

Nevertheless, there are indications that Lavrov’s “therapy” is succeeding in incrementally nursing the American side towards some truth acceptance.

Reuters reported on the latest Geneva encounter thus: “Assad's future is not part of the current talks. Instead, discussions are focused on finding an effective and lasting solution to end the violence, which would open negotiations on a political transition in Syria.”

That “Assad’s future is not part of the current talks” is a significant concession by the Americans. No doubt, Washington still wants its prize of regime change – which is the original objective for inciting this war. However, it is notable that Kerry reportedly has now dropped the “Assad must go” mantra in his meetings with Lavrov.

Russia has consistently told the Americans that the issue of Syria’s president and government is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people alone. That is an inviolable legal principle underpinned by UN resolutions.

On that score, Washington appears, at last, to be overcoming its cognitive disconnect by finally shutting its mouth on illegal demands about the Syrian presidency.

Now the next phase of diplomatic “therapy” from Lavrov will need to coax his American patient into coming to terms with the truth of its complicity in terrorism. The causal connections between policy makers in the Obama administration and CIA weapons supply to terrorist clients are documented and disclosed, as in the case of Lt General Flynn.

What is needed is for people like John Kerry and other Western government leaders to stop living in denial and to realize the truth: They are part of Syria’s problem, not the solution.

And their problem stems from criminal covert support to terrorist proxy armies in their equally criminal intrigues for regime change in Syria.

Without this systematic accountability for Washington and its various allies over the conflict in Syria, all diplomatic talk about “ending the violence” is just futile nonsense.

The ceasefire first announced six months failed because of this Western mentality of denial and deception. There is no reason to think that new efforts for another ceasefire will somehow succeed.

Because the delusional minds of the terror sponsors so far seems to be beyond any form of remedial influence – despite the best efforts of Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov.

A good dose of Western public anger demanding prosecutions for war crimes might help provide some remedy though, and bring an end to Syria’s torment.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, 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 newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV. 

Meeting Uzbekistan's Next Tyrant

Karimov Family Values

by Craig Murray

6 Sep, 2016

It is now important that Prime Minister Mirzieyev – who appears to be in control in Uzbekistan at the moment – produces Gulnara Karimova and shows that she is alive and healthy. The whereabouts of her daughter Iman are also obscure.

Twelve years ago President Karimov jailed his own nephew, Jamshid Karimov, for the “crime” of writing an article in a state publication which suggested modest improvements to his uncle’s economic policies.

Like other prominent dissidents, young Karimov ended up chained to a bed in a psychiatric ward being pumped mind altering drugs to re-educate him.

Nevertheless, when President Karimov’s daughter Gulnara was confined to house arrest two years ago, I was inclined to view it more as protective detention than real incarceration.

Gulnara was wanted on fraud and corruption charges in Sweden, Switzerland, France and the USA. The US government has demanded she forfeit 550 million dollars. Her “detention” in Uzbekistan prevented her being subject to an embarrassing trial in a foreign state. Besides her ability to tweet and send sorrowful photos from her house arrest seemed to argue against real detention. But 18 months of complete disappearance have caused me to worry.

Another interpretation, to which I now tend, was that in his declining years Karimov was not all powerful and became unable to protect Gulnara from Mirzieyev and security service chief Inoyatov. Though it still remains possible that he incarcerated his own daughter to an uncertain fate – after all his funeral just took place with not even the western obituaries mentioning the existence of his eldest child, a discarded son from his first marriage.

There is no doubt that Karimov did think of Gulnara as a potential successor – or at least in that unenlightened country, in conjunction with a suitable husband. Mansur Maqsudi was a surprisingly good choice, but he proved unwilling to put up with Gulnara’s blatant infidelities and they divorced.

The private lifestyle of the Karimovs got rare public exposure when the New Jersey divorce settlement awarded Gulnara, for example, her US $4.5 million worth of personal jewellery.

There was no sign of Gulnara at her father’s funeral. It is rumoured, and not impossible, she has been moved to Israel under an assumed name. On the other hand she could be dead. While I believe her to be involved in numerous crimes including corruption, sex-trafficking and conspiracy to murder, I should like to see her tried rather than murdered, and the Uzbek regime should now be asked to produce her – not least to help numerous investigations worldwide into mafia operations.

I have long expected Mirzieyev to take over as President, but I am happy to say I do not believe the corrupt system in Uzbekistan will last much longer. Uzbekistan has become a remittance economy. The highest single source of revenue was remittances from Uzbeks working abroad, mostly in Russia and Kazakhstan. The collapse in the oil price and the not coincidental crackdowns on illegal migrant workers have slashed remittance revenue from $5.2 billion to under $2 billion.

Exports of natural gas, mostly to China, were Uzbekistan’s second biggest revenue source and the price has fallen drastically. So once again the state is turning the screws on forced labour for the cotton industry.

Decades of relentless propaganda had bought Karimov an artificial but real popularity. His successor has to start a personality cult from scratch against sharp economic decline.

I am very hopeful the system will collapse within two years.

Falling: A 9/11 Retrospective

A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington's 15-Year Air War

Bombs Away! Their Precision Weaponry and Ours

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch

September 8, 2016

On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers.

One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

The other three hit their targets -- the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. -- with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.

From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda's 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets. (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.) In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

It was a barbaric, if daring, plan and an atrocity of the first order. Almost 15 years later, such suicidal acts with similar “precision” weaponry (though without the air power component) continue to be unleashed across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and sometimes elsewhere, taking a terrible toll -- from a soccer game in Iraq to a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey (where the “weapon” may have been a boy).

The effect of the September 11th attacks was stunning. Though the phrase would have no resonance or meaning (other than in military circles) until the U.S. invasion of Iraq began a year and a half later, 9/11 qualifies as perhaps the most successful example of “shock and awe” imaginable.

The attack was promptly encapsulated in screaming headlines as the “Pearl Harbor of the Twenty-First Century” or a “New Day of Infamy,” and the images of those towers crumbling in New York at what was almost instantly called “Ground Zero” (as if the city had experienced a nuclear strike) were replayed again and again to a stunned world. It was an experience that no one who lived through it was likely to forget.

In Washington, the vice president headed for a deep underground bunker; the secretary of defense, speaking to his aides at the damaged Pentagon, urged them to “Go Massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not” (the first hint of the coming decision to invade Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein); and the president, who was reading a children’s story, The Pet Goat, to a class of elementary school students in Sarasota, Florida, while the attacks took place, boarded Air Force One and promptly headed away from Washington.

Soon enough, though, he would appear at Ground Zero, bullhorn in hand, and swear that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

Within days, he had announced a “war on terror.” And on October 7, 2011, less than a month after those attacks, the Bush administration would launch its own air war, dispatching B-2 Stealth bombers with satellite-guided precision weaponry from the U.S., as well as B-1 and B-52 long-range bombers from the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, supplemented by strike aircraft from two U.S. aircraft carriers, and about 50 Tomahawk Cruise missiles fired from ships. And this was just its initial air riposte to al-Qaeda (though the most significant parts of the attack were, in fact, aimed at taking out the Taliban regime that then controlled much of Afghanistan).

By the end of December 2001, 17,500 bombs and other munitions had rained down on Afghanistan, 57% of which were reportedly “precision-guided” smart weapons. Released as well, however, were perfectly dumb bombs and cluster munitions filled with “soda can-like” bomblets which scatter over a wide area, don’t all explode on contact, and so remain around for civilians to mistakenly pick up.

If you really want to experience shock and awe, however, think about this: almost 15 years have passed and that air war has never ended. In Afghanistan, for instance, in just the first four years of the Obama administration (2009-2012), more than 18,000 munitions were released over the country. And this year, B-52s, those old Vietnam workhorses, retired for a decade in Afghanistan, took to the air again as U.S. air sorties there ramped up against surging Taliban and Islamic state militants.

And that’s just to begin to describe the never-ending nature of the American air war that has spread across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa in these years. In response to al-Qaeda’s brief set of air strikes against U.S. targets, Washington launched an air campaign that has yet to end, involving the use of hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles, many of a “precision” sort but some as dumb as they come, against a growing array of enemies. Almost 15 years later, American bombs and missiles are now landing on targets in not one but seven largely Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen).

What are we to make of al-Qaeda’s and Washington’s “precision” air campaigns? 

Here are some thoughts:

1. Success and Failure: Without a hint of exaggeration, you could say that, at the cost of $400,000 to $500,000, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 air assault created Washington’s multi-trillion-dollar Global War on Terror. With a microscopic hijacked air force and a single morning’s air campaign, that group provoked an administration already dreaming of global domination into launching a worldwide air war (with a significant ground component) that would turn the Greater Middle East -- then a relatively calm (if largely autocratic) region -- into a morass of conflicts, failed or collapsed states, ruined cities, and refugees by the millions, in which extreme Islamic terror outfits now seem to sprout like so many mushrooms. This, you might say, was the brilliance of Osama bin Laden. Seldom has so little air power (or perhaps power of any sort) been leveraged quite so purposefully into such sweeping consequences. It may represent the most successful use of strategic bombing -- that is, air power aimed at the civilian population of, and morale in, an enemy country -- in history.

On the other hand, with only a slight hint of exaggeration, you might also conclude that seldom has an air campaign without end (almost 15 years and still expanding at the cost of untold billions of dollars) proven quite so unsuccessful. Put another way, you could perhaps conclude that, in these years, Washington has bombed and missiled a world of Islamist terror outfits into existence.

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda was the most modest of forces with militant followers in perhaps the low thousands in Afghanistan and tiny numbers of scattered supporters elsewhere on the planet. Now, there are al-Qaeda spin-offs and wannabe outfits, often thriving, from Pakistan to Yemen, Syria to North Africa, and of course the Islamic State (ISIS), that self-proclaimed “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, still holds a sizeable chunk of territory in Iraq and Syria while its “brand” has spread to groups from Afghanistan to Libya.

Minimally, the U.S. air campaign, which has certainly killed enough terror leaders, “lieutenants,” “militants,” and others over these years, has shown no ability to halt the process and arguably has ploughed remarkably fertile ground for it. Yet in response to the next terror outrage (as in Libya recently), the bombs continue to fall. It’s a curious record in the generally disappointing annals of air power and well worth considering in more detail.

2. Bombs Away!: As 2015 ended, the rate of U.S. bomb and missile use over Iraq and Syria was so high that stockpiles of both were reportedly depleted. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh said, "We're expending munitions faster than we can replenish them. B-1s have dropped bombs in record numbers... We need the funding in place to ensure we're prepared for the long fight. This is a critical need."

And this situation carried into 2016 as bombing runs over Syria and Iraq only seemed to rise. Even though both Boeing, which makes the Joint Direct Attack Munition, and Lockheed Hellfire, which produces the Hellfire missile (so crucial to Washington’s drone assassination campaigns across the Greater Middle East and Africa), significantly stepped up production of those weapons, there were still shortfalls.

Fears have risen that at some point there might not be enough munitions for the wars being fought, in part because of the expense involved in producing various kinds of precision weaponry.

The numbers associated with the U.S. air campaign that is the heart and soul of Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria begun in August 2014, are striking. As 2015 ended, scholar Micah Zenko estimated (based on figures released by U.S. Air Force Central Command) that 23,144 bombs and missiles had been dropped on both countries by the U.S. Air Force that year (and another 5,500 by coalition partners) in what he calls Washington's “kill-'em-all with airstrikes” strategy -- which, he adds, “is not working.” (In fact, studies of the “kingpin strategy” or “decapitation” as it’s sometimes known -- attempts to destroy terror groups from the top down -- indicate that it has had anything but the desired effect.)

In 2016, the weaponry-released-per-month figures are minimally keeping pace with 2015 -- almost 13,400 for the U.S. and another nearly 4,000 for the rest of its air coalition through July. According to Pentagon figures, as of August, the U.S. had conducted 11,339 strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014 at a cost of $8.4 billion to U.S. taxpayers.

No point in my boring you with the more modest figures for the bombing and missiling over so many years of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Just know this: America’s air war in the Greater Middle East and Africa is now deeply embedded in the lifeblood of our national capital. Just about every major candidate for that office this year (even Bernie Sanders) was in favor of the air war against ISIS and no future president could ground the drones that continue to carry out White House-supervised assassination campaigns across a significant swath of the planet. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are essentially committed to continuing the U.S. air war into the distant future.

Think of this as a form of success -- not overseas, but at home. Bombs away is a triumphalist way of life in Washington and it hardly matters what those bombs do, or don’t do, on release over distant lands.

3. Barbarism and Civilization (or Their Precision and Ours): Al-Qaeda was quite precise in its assault on the American “homeland.” Its goal was clearly to take out both iconic structures and whoever might be in them. In the process, it clearly meant to horrify and provoke. On both counts, it was successful beyond what even its planners could have imagined. With perfect accuracy, the world branded this as barbarism of the first order.

Al-Qaeda’s “precision” tactics and those of its successor organizations from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to the Islamic State have not changed greatly over the years. Their precision weapons are sent into the heartlands of civilian life, as in that recent wedding ceremony in Turkey where a suicide bomber, possibly a boy outfitted with explosives, killed 54, including 22 children under 14, to create anger and outrage. The barbarity of this form of warfare is aimed, as ISIS says, at destroying the “gray zone” of our world, and creating instead an ever more us-vs.-them planet. At the same time, such attacks are meant to provoke the powers-that-be into striking back in ways that will create sympathy for ISIS in its world, as well as the kinds of conflict and chaos in which such organizations are likely, in the long run, to thrive. Osama bin Laden understood this early on. Others have grasped his point.

That, then, is their version of precision bombing, and if it isn’t the definition of barbarity, what is? But what about our version of -- to use a word seldom applied to us -- barbarity? Take the Bush administration's official “shock and awe” air campaign that began the invasion of Iraq on March 19-20, 2003. It was to involve an overwhelming display of air power, including 50 “decapitation” strikes meant to take out top Iraqi leaders. In fact, not a single leader was touched. According to Human Rights Watch, those strikes instead killed “dozens of civilians.” In less than two weeks, at least 8,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles would be loosed on Iraq. Some, of course, missed their precise targets but killed civilians; some hit those targets in crowded urban areas or even villages and did the same. A small number of Tomahawk missiles, at a cost of $750,000 apiece, among the more than 700 fired in those first weeks of war, would miss Iraq altogether and land in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

In those first weeks of war in which Baghdad was taken and the invasion declared a success, 863 U.S. planes were committed to the operation, more than 24,000 air “sorties” were conducted and, by one estimate, more than 2,700 civilians died under them, or nearly a Twin-Towersful of Iraqi non-combatants. In the first six years of what would become an ongoing air war in Iraq, one study found that “46% of the victims of U.S. air strikes whose gender could be determined were female and 39% were children.”

Similarly, in December 2003, Human Rights Watch reported that American and British planes had dropped or artillery had fired “almost 13,000 cluster munitions, containing nearly 2 million submunitions, that killed or wounded more than 1,000 civilians.” And the likelihood was that more died from scattered, unexploded bomblets in the months or years thereafter, when stepped on or picked up by a curious child. In fact, the U.S. dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan as well (with undoubtedly similar results), and in recent times has sold them to the Saudis for their profligate air campaign of slaughter in Yemen.

To grasp the dimensions of that 2003 air assault, consider the USS Abraham Lincoln, the aircraft carrier positioned off the coast of San Diego so that President George W. Bush could make a flamboyant landing on it that May 1st and, under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” declare that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” and that the U.S. and its allies had “prevailed.” (No, it turned out, they hadn’t.) As it happened, that carrier had just returned from a 10-month deployment in the Persian Gulf during which its planes had flown some 16,500 missions and dropped approximately 1.6 million pounds of bombs. And that, of course, was just one part of the overall air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces.

That the Bush administration’s shock-and-awe strikes and the invasion/air war that followed were neither precise nor effective in the short or long run is now obvious. After all, American air power is still blasting away at Iraq today. The question is: Shouldn't it be self-evident that an air war, which went on through at least 2010, was taken up again in 2014, has helped turn embattled Iraqi cities into rubble, and shows no sign of ending any time soon, is barbaric?

It’s clear that, while there is no way to adequately count all civilian casualties from America’s twenty-first-century air wars, “towers” of dead noncombatants have been piled atop one another in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. This next-to-eternal version of war, with all its destructiveness and “collateral damage” (which a few organizations have tried their best to document under difficult circumstances), should be the definition of state barbarism and terror in a world without mercy. That none of this has proven effective in the very terms that the bombers themselves set seems to matter little indeed.

Put in more graphic fashion, does anyone doubt that the Kurdish wedding slaughter (assumedly by an Islamic State suicide bomber) was a barbaric act? If not, then what are we to make of the eight documented cases -- largely ignored in this country -- in which U.S. air power eviscerated similar wedding parties in three countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen) between December 2001 and December 2013, killing almost 300 celebrants?

Of course, you already know the answer to that question. In our world, there is only one type of barbarism: theirs.

4. The Religious Roots of the Air Wars of (and on) Terror: Obviously, while there was a political aspect to al-Qaeda’s air war on America, there was also a deeply religious aspect to it. Hence, the ability to convince 19 men that self-immolation was a righteous way to go. Whether you call it jihad or fanaticism, at the heart of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks was a deep core of religiosity.

How then would you categorize an activity that repeatedly produces negative results and that a government nonetheless continues to engage in for 15 years with no end in sight? Let’s add that, in six of the seven countries the U.S. has bombed or missiled, its planes had full control of the air space from moment one, and in the seventh (Iraq), it took mere hours, or at most days, to establish it. In other words, during almost every second of this decade and a half of war, American pilots were in next to no danger in enemy skies -- or, in the case of drone pilots thousands of miles away from their targets, none at all. They were, that is, in little less than godlike positions above those they were sent to kill, the -- as drone pilots reportedly like to put it -- “bug splat.”

How could that godlike sense of dominance not gain an almost religious intensity over that long decade and a half -- even if the deity in question was of an imperial kind? That would undoubtedly hold, by the way, not just for the pilots pursuing the war, but for the generals planning and overseeing it, and the political leaders who ordered or endorsed it. That feeling of having so much uncontested power in one's hands must induce an essentially religious sense of omniscience and potency, hard to resist even when the results prove so unsatisfying.

What we undoubtedly have in the American air war, as in al-Qaeda’s, is a deeply embedded belief system that no real world evidence seems capable of shaking. This is, in other words, an American form of jihad, which is why it shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

Washington’s Thirty Years’ War

A child born on September 11, 2001, is now only a couple of years away from being able to sign on as a pilot in the air wars that began just after her birth. There are reasonable odds that her child, born several years from now, might be entering junior high school when those conflicts officially become America’s Thirty Years’ War.

I can still remember first coming across that moniker for an endless set of forgotten European religious wars of the seventeenth century. I found the thought of such a long period of warfare almost unimaginable, not to say antediluvian, given the power of modern weaponry. Well, as the phrase goes, live and learn.

Perhaps this September 11th, it’s finally time for Americans to begin to focus on our endless air war in the Greater Middle East, our very own disastrous Fifteen Years’ War. Otherwise, the first explosions from the Thirty Years’ version of the same will be on the horizon before we know it in a world possibly more destabilized and terrorizing than we can at present imagine.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Tom Engelhardt