Saturday, March 23, 2013

Selling Death and Buying Assassins In the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia

The Obama-Kerry-Hagel Troika: President Obama’s Second Term: Selling Death and Buying Assassins In the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia

by James Petras - Information Clearing House 

As President Obama enters his second term with a new Cabinet, the foreign policy legacy of the past four years weighs heavily on their strategic decisions and their empire-building efforts. Central to the analysis of the next period is an evaluation of the past policies especially in regions where Washington expended its greatest financial and military resources, namely the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

We will proceed by examining the accomplishments and failures of the Obama-Clinton regime. We will then turn to the ongoing policy efforts to sustain the empire-building project. We will take account of the constraints and opportunities, which define the parameters resulting from imperial military ambitions, Israeli-Zionist influence in shaping policy and the ongoing anti-imperialist struggles. We will conclude by examining likely polices and outcomes resulting from current strategies.

The Clinton-Obama Imperial Legacy: The Accomplishments

The greatest success of the Obama-Clinton (OC) imperial legacy was the virtual elimination of organized domestic anti-war dissent, the demise of the peace movement and the co-optation of virtually the entire ‘progressive’ leadership in the US – while multiplying the number of proxy wars, overt and covert military operations and ‘defense’ spending. As a result, the entire political spectrum moved further to the right toward greater militarization abroad and increased police-state measures at home.

Facing mass revolts and the overthrow of long-standing client regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, the Obama-Clinton (OC) Administration moved rapidly to reconfigure new client regimes while preserving the state apparatus – the military, intelligence, police, judicial and civilian bureaucracy. The empire dumped incumbent regimes in order to save the repressive state, the key guarantor of US strategic interests. Washington reminded its client rulers that ‘There are no permanent alliances, there are only permanent imperial interests’. Washington successfully engineered a political pact between conservative Islamist leaders and parties and the old military elite. The new political blocs in Egypt upheld Israeli annexation of Palestine, the brutal blockade of Gaza and the neo-liberal economic order. Washington repeated the ‘reshuffle of clients’ in Yemen and Tunisia. The OC intervention temporarily aborted the pro-democracy, anti-Zionist and anti-corruption popular revolt. The OC policies secured a temporary respite, but the subsequent effort by Egypt to secure an IMF loan has led to a stalemate amid deteriorating economic conditions and rising political protest. The successful imposition of new client regimes amenable to US hegemony in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, in the face of popular revolts, marked the beginning of a series of favorable political-military outcomes in the region for the OC regime.

Facing Israeli annexation of ever-widening swaths of Palestinian land and the end of any pretense of ‘peace negotiations’, Washington continued to provide Israel with massive military assistance, modern weapons systems and unconditional political support in the UN. By submitting to Israel the OC regime succeeded in retaining the political support of the domestic Zionist power configuration (ZPC). The OC regime’s economic handouts supported the puppet Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as it policed the West Bank for Israel. Despite losing the vote to seat the Palestinians as a non-voting member in the UN, Washington succeeded in blocking full membership. The OC regime succeeded in fulfilling its role as Israel’s handmaiden, despite opposition from the vast majority of UN members.

The OC regime succeeded in tightening sanctions on Iran, by securing Russian, Chinese and Arab League support, without provoking a potentially destructive war. The US sanction policy toward Iran is largely designed and implemented by key Zionist appointees in the Treasury (formerly Stuart Levy, now David Cohen) and in Congress, by legislators bought and directed by the powerful America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The US, under Obama-Clinton, destroyed the independent nationalist Gadhafi government via a joint air war with the EU and tried to set up a client regime. In turn, Libya became a key recruiting ground for violent Islamist mercenaries invading Syria and weapons depot supplying Islamist terrorists. The OC regime’s military success in Libya was part of a general strategy to accelerate the expansion of US and European military operations in Africa. This includes setting up drone bases and promoting African mercenary armies from Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia to expand imperial control in Somalia, Mali and elsewhere.

In the Gulf region the US succeeded in propping up the autocratic Bahrain monarchy, as it killed and jailed opponents and outlawed the mass pro-democracy social movement among its oppressed Shi’a majority population. The OC regime successfully secured Gulf state financing for the Libyan and Syrian wars.

In Iraq, the US has succeeded in dividing the devastated nation into fragments of warring fiefdoms, Shi’a, Sunni, Kurd and subsets of each. It succeeded in destroying a once modern and secular society, an advanced economy and independent nationalist regime. Initially the OC regime hoped to establish a client outpost in Iraq from which to secure Washington’s wealthy petro-clients in the Gulf, especially among the patrimonial dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

Washington, in alliance with other NATO powers and its Gulf state clients, succeeded in converting a peaceful civilian protest movement in Syria into a full scale civil war and military invasion, increasingly dominated by armed Al Qaeda ‘internationalists’. The US-EU-Gulf State-Turkey-Israeli alliance has armed, financed, trained and advised Islamist and mercenary terrorists to effectively destroy the Syrian state, society and economy, dispossessing and uprooting a million refugees across the border and resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of thousands. The US promoted invasion of Syria has seriously weakened one of the last governments defending the Palestinians, opposing Israeli colonization of the West Bank and providing a refuge for persecuted Palestinian leaders. By virtually destroying the Syrian state, the OC regime has driven a wedge between Hezbollah, the leading nationalist force in Lebanon and its ally Iran, while tightening the military encirclement of Teheran and exerting cross-border pressure against Iraq. A brutal Islamist regime in Syria will [could] replace the secular state with prospects of massive ethnic cleansing against minority populations, especially Christians and Allevis.

Obama and Clinton successfully expanded the drone assassination program throughout the Middle East and South Asia, killing more civilian non-combatants than suspected adversaries especially in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The OC regime successfully imposed the presidential doctrine of killing of US citizens via drones with the support or acquiescence of the US Congress, judiciary and most of the mass media and without a shred of judicial due process. Accompanying the license to assassinate civilians via drones, Obama/Clinton successfully expanded the use of Special Operations death squads, dispatching them to seventy countries to assassinate political adversaries, destabilize independent governments and bolster client regimes.

The OC regime has spent tens of billions of dollars and succeeded in building a 350,000 man mercenary army in Afghanistan to defend US strategic interests, sustain its military bases and destroy the nationalist-Islamic opposition (‘Taliban’). OC hoped to cover Washington’s retreat from the combat front. Despite the military build-up and in the face of a sharply deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan, the OC regime has been negotiating with political sectors of the ‘Taliban’, to dump the current client ruler, Karzai, and ‘reshuffle the regime to save the state’, hoping to pull-off a coalition-collaborator Islamist-military regime such as has been shoe-horned in place in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

Vulnerability and Failures of the Obama-Clinton Legacy

The apparent and real empire-building successes of the Obama-Clinton regime are fraught with vulnerabilities and are based on fragile political and socio-economic foundations. Temporary tactical gains reveal strategic weaknesses and high military costs without commensurate imperial economic gains.

The Obama-Clinton counter-revolutionary offensive and its political military successes are driven by a military conception of empire building without a shred of economic thinking. It is not surprising that many of the key decision-makers promoting military-driven empire building are militarist ideologues and Zionist policy-makers, who specialize in utterly destroying adversaries (of Israel) and not in promoting or protecting US imperial oil, manufacturing and service interests.

A telegraphic point-by-point analysis and critique of the major policy interventions of the Obama-Clinton regime highlights strategic weaknesses and failures, even in areas that the empire-builders currently celebrate as ‘successes’.

While the OC regime succeeded in procuring close to fifteen billion US tax payer dollars in tribute payments to Israel, they failed to secure a neo-colonial settlement of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, even one based on conceding a truncated part of the West Bank composed of disconnected enclaves (‘Bantustans’). As a result of the total dominance of US Middle East policy by the Zionist power configuration (representing less than 1% of the US populace), the OC regime was repeatedly ‘humiliated’ by their Israeli overlords. The supremely confident, beefy Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu launched and flaunted massive new exclusive Jews-only colonial settlements on Palestinian land, despite near universal condemnation, knowing he could count on the veto power of Washington in the United Nations and its political leverage over EU allies and Arab clients. Strategically, the OC regime’s deep links to the Zionist power configuration includes the appointment of Israel Firsters to top positions in the US foreign policy establishment. These appointments ensured that Israeli interests would continue to determine US policies in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region. The Zionist appointees designated which political clients would be acceptable and which adversaries would be targeted for destruction. The OC regime’s biggest failure as US empire-builders was their inability to achieve independence from the Zionist incubus and accommodate the emergence of new socio-political forces as well as its failure to reap economic gains commensurate with its budget-busting military expenditures.

The successful imposition of new client regimes in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) is a short-term victory, based on force and the continuation of the authoritarian repressive state apparatus. The introduction of regressive neo-liberal policies will doom this short-term success. If the US ‘won’ the first round in the ‘Arab Spring’, its client rulers face a more radical social upheaval, one which goes beyond the earlier anti-dictatorial struggle and which explicitly targets the US, EU and the IMF. The new clients’ prospects of achieving stability via economic recovery are virtually non-existent. The full implementation of the OC-IMF agenda of ending popular food and fuel subsidies, increasing regressive taxation and wide spread privatizations will create a powder-key among the Arab masses. Under pressure from new waves of mass uprisings against brutal neo-liberal economic policies, the Arab clients’ US-mandated complicity with Israel may end.

The OC regime’s successful overthrow and assassination of President Gadhafi was accompanied by the utter destruction of the Libyan nationalist state, its economy and social fabric. The OC policy of total war has produced a miserable, lawless, chaotic society ‘headed’ by powerless expat neo-liberals at the top and run by local tribal chiefs, Islamist thugs and criminal gangs on the ground. They specialize in running guns, dispatching armed mercenaries abroad (especially to Syria), trafficking in migrant workers, drugs and sex slavery. The oil industry enclave has partially recovered but few if any oil profits make it to the US. Meanwhile, even US Embassy personnel (including the Ambassador) have been murdered and visiting US officials only travel in heavily armed conveys. Instead of a political victory, Washington has lost a potential oil partner for its own extractive industry. One might say the only real ‘beneficiary’ of the US-EU war to destroy Libya was Israel: Gadhafi had been a staunch ally and supporter of the Palestinian people. The invasion of Libya led to the massive displacement of armed ethnic communities, which has exacerbated conflicts in resource-rich sub-Sahara neo-colonies.

The Zionist power configuration, embedded in Congress, Treasury and inside the OC regime, has succeeded in imposing new and harsher economic sanctions on 75 million Iranians in support of Israel’s goal of ‘regime change’ in Teheran. However, the effect has been to strengthen the unity of the ethnically diverse Iranian population, especially when overt military threats, emanating from nuclear-armed Israel, are amplified by the White house and the Zionist-occupied US Congress.

Iran’s peaceful nuclear program continues; oil and gas sales to China, Japan, India and Korea and Pakistan continue. A new billion-dollar gas pipeline agreement with Pakistan has been signed. Iran has replaced the US as the major foreign influence in Iraq.

In other words the Obama-Clinton diplomatic success (‘sanctions against Iran’) have not enhanced US power nor achieved any strategic goals. Moreover Zionist-designed sanctions have had a negative effect on US energy prices and oil company profits. The OC regime’s policy toward Iran has ‘succeeded’ in maintaining Israel as the only nuclear power in the Middle East, a goal of Tel Aviv.

Obama and Clinton’s success in expanding outposts, missions, drone platforms and mercenary armies in Africa has been costly, politically destabilizing and has not prevented large-scale long-term Chinese economic penetration in the most lucrative resource sectors of the region. The US may have closer ties with African generals and dictators; its bankers come and go; but capital flight out of Africa accompanies inflows of US foreign aid. While the OC regime were building drone platforms, thousands of Chinese miners, investors, construction and transport companies were establishing an economic empire that over time will enhance China’s power, long after the US military empire has collapsed.

The OC regime claims ‘military victory’ in Iraq when, in fact, what we see is ‘defeat via retreat’ on the ground. The US has spent $2 trillion dollars in order to overthrow and execute the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Bush and Obama-Clinton regimes have made absolute fools out of the entire executive branch of the US government by justifying the war on the basis of crudely manufactured intelligence (falsely claiming the existence of weapons of mass destruction) through a series of lies cooked up by Israeli-collaborators in the Pentagon, White House and New York Times (especially the infamous propagandist Judith Miller). The end result is a failed state: savage ethnic-religious divisions, millions of dead, displaced and injured, daily terror bombings against a brutalized population, and a great leap backward in terms of Iraq’s economic, scientific and social development. In political terms, Iraq is now ruled by a thuggish Shia elite closely tied to Iran – which is the biggest beneficiary of the US invasion of Iraq and principal adversary of US empire building. The OC regime’s post-war Iraq is composed of an overwhelmingly hostile population, a divided and fragmented country pitting Arabs against Kurds, where the most qualified and educated have been driven out or assassinated and entire ancient Christian communities have been obliterated. The OC regime claims to ‘success in Iraq’, in fact, show a weakening of the overall US presence in the Gulf region. Economically, Turkey has become Iraq’s main trading partner with trade growing by double and triple digits each year.

In other words, the US invasion of Iraq destroyed an adversary of Israel, broke the US economy ($2 trillion and counting), increased the influence of Iran and handed Iraq’s petro-dollar consumer market and lucrative reconstruction contracts over to Turkey. The Obama-Clinton regime’s claims of military victory ring hollow in the empty coffers of the US Treasury – where are the ‘spoils of this imperial war’? Most of the intellectual authors of the invasion of Iraq have departed from the US government and are now comfortably ensconced within Zionist think tanks (propaganda mills) in Washington or flaunt lucrative ‘consultant’ contracts in Wall Street and Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the American taxpayers are left to struggle with an enormous war debt and to grieve the several hundred thousand American casualties – soldiers who lost their lives, limbs and minds – all for a blatant lie perpetrated at the behest of a foreign power, Israel.

The people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria – serial victims of the US-EU military machines and their Islamist mercenaries – face an increasingly militarized Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, out of which new wars are already emerging, like pus from festering wounds. In Libya, the US and EU diplomats cringe in their bunkers and travel only in armed convoys, the consequences of their ‘humanitarian’ imperial-Islamist alliances.

As the US and EU supply arms to Islamist terrorists and murderous gangsters who plunder Syrian cities, decapitate captured government soldiers and execute civilian suspects (civilian government functionaries, such as school teachers), Syria’s diverse secular society is on the brink of extinction. Islamist fanatics bristling with advanced weaponry bought by the Saudi monarch and Gulf petro-oligarchs capture sophisticated Syrian cities and impose medieval Sharia law on what was one of the region’s most diverse and sophisticated secular societies. The large communities of Alawites, Orthodox and Syriac Christians, Kurds and educated secular Syrians face mass extermination or expulsion by Saudi-funded Wahhabi fanatics. The EU-US backed ‘secular’ clients (mostly ex-pat Syrians with US or UK passports) serve as propaganda cover for the armed Islamists thugs and mercenaries. Authoritarian Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, himself a ‘soft-core’ Islamist, provides bases, training, and logistical support for the Syrian invasion. Turkey has become the Islamist pivot for fundamentalist power taking over Syria and the Levant. Islamist terrorist violence is spilling over the border into Lebanon today, Jordan tomorrow and may eventually lead to multiple wars involving vulnerable Gulf clients.

Yes, the Obama-Clinton regime undermined an independent, secular, nationalist adversary in President Assad and by doing so they destroy an advocate of Palestinian self-determination, but the ultimate results will not favor US imperial military, economic or diplomatic interests. The OC regime’s wars have destroyed US commercial prospects for decades ahead; the victory of their mercenary Islamist ‘rebels’ is setting in motion a more virulent armed version of Al Qaeda with a territorial base and access to immense quantities of modern weapons in areas contiguous to US client regimes.

The OC regime claim to have discovered a low-cost (in terms of American blood) technique to project US military power: killing anti-imperial opponents by drone and Special Forces. According to the OC regime’s strategists the advantages of assassination by drone warfare is that it would not result in the death of US combat soldiers and the Special Forces, whose high-intensity, low visibility operations are ‘off-budget’ would not elicit any public or legislative scrutiny. But drones have become highly visible, even to the usually complacent and highly myopic US Congress and are routinely condemned even by client regimes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United Nations has publically condemned drones as civilian casualties have far exceeded the number of so-called ‘terrorist’ targets. Most experts agree that drone assassinations have vastly increased the number of opponents and facilitated the recruitment of resistance fighters. Drone warfare has increasingly isolated client regimes like Yemen that permit US drone attacks against its citizens. The strategy of foreign policy by ‘drone and death squad’ has not replaced the need for ground troops in the task of empire building. Once US troops do withdraw, its mercenary armies have proved incapable or unwilling to obey US advisors, trainers or Special Forces.

The clearest expression of the failed strategy is the rising number of defections from Afghan security forces and the killing of NATO and US officers by Afghan soldiers and officers – even those with the highest security clearance. This infiltration into the highest ranks of the Afghan military and police points clearly to the near-future demise of the puppet Karzai regime. The various ministers in the Afghan client regime and their banker cronies know they have no chance of surviving a post-US withdrawal situation: they have multiple passports in hand and millions in stolen funds stashed in Gulf State bank accounts; their families are safely housed abroad; and their private planes are ready to take off at a moment’s notice. We may witness the panic scenes at the US Embassy, reminiscent of the last days in Saigon (Viet Nam), with local ‘small-fry’ collaborators clamoring to board the ‘last flights out’ before the advancing Taliban insurgents – if our jaded media even bother to cover the debacle. The current attempt by the US to strike a face-saving deal with the ‘political Taliban’ (under auspices of ‘our friends’, the Saudi autocrats) has infuriated our current puppet in Kabul, Hamid Karzai. As a result he is publically condemning Special Forces operations and their arbitrary killing and torture of villagers, as well as US drone attacks against Afghan civilians.

The OC regime’s overtures to the Taliban have so far failed because the sine quo non-condition of the Islamist nationalists is the total withdrawal of all US military and civilian occupation forces: in other words an unconditional collapse of US power in Afghanistan. The Taliban do not need to offer Obama a ‘face-saving’ formula allowing for a ‘residual’ US presence. As the withdrawal proceeds, more and more Afghan military officers will switch sides, dumping the losers and building bridges toward the new rulers. If the US decides to reverse course and retain ‘garrison bunkers’ in Afghanistan, they will face a continuing and deepening war of attrition under conditions of growing budgetary constraints and US electoral hostility.

Results and Perspectives: The Obama-Kerry-Hagel (OKH) Era

The Obama-Kerry-Hagel (OKH) regime has few imperial assets with which to confront the next four years of US empire building and has powerful constraints against devising strategic innovations or even tactical advances, capable of limiting US losses.

The most significant obstacle to any shift from costly and ineffective military-driven empire building to economic and diplomatic informed policies is the influence of the Zionist power configurations (ZPC) over the ‘troika’ (OKH) and the Congress. The new Israeli coalition regime is even more extreme and militarist, as indicated by the powerful presence of a radical settler-colonist party intent on violently annexing what remains of the Palestinian West Bank. The effective Israeli veto over US foreign policy in the Middle East is enforced by the Presidents of the Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations (representing over 50 powerful Zionist groups) that exclude any possibility that the Obama-Kerry-Hagel regime can even paste a tiny fig leaf ‘peace process’ onto Israel’s accelerating seizure of Palestinian land. The OKH regime, under war-mongering ZPC tutelage, will never attempt any reasonable negotiations with Iran.

The OKH regime is openly committed to entering a war on Israel’s behalf, if the Jewish state unilaterally decides to attack Teheran. Obama’s visit to Israel, and his obligatory ‘consultation’ with leading Jewish-Zionist leaders prior to the trip, was designed ‘to fix’ the White House agenda: US lock-step conformity with Netanyahu’s policy of provoking war against Iran and Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands. The Zionists have even dictated Obama’s own body language toward Netanyahu: no public spats, only smiles and handshakes, the lapdog US President agreed. If anything, the OKH regime will be even more servile to Israeli demands over the next four years because the Zionist occupied US Congress has given Israel a ‘free hand’ in deciding US foreign policy in the Middle East, including the timing of war and the substance of negotiations.

Obama’s newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are unconditional lifetime Zionists who can be expected to advance economic sanctions against Iran in hopes of strangling its economy and provoking a military confrontation.

Given Washington’s costly commitment to Israeli war plans and the constraints of US budget cuts, the new OKH regime will try to ‘coordinate’ policies with the other NATO powers, including sharing material resources and devising complementary strategies in counter-insurgency operations in sub-Sahara Africa, Islamist mercenary operations in Syria and managing ‘Muslim–neo-liberal’ regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Kerry’s visit to Europe was designed to strengthen inter-imperial efforts and especially to bolster French ‘Socialist’ President Hollande’s imperial war policies in Mali and Niger and the ‘Franco-Saudi’ efforts against Syria.

Under pressures from the puppet Syrian mercenary army invading Syria, British Prime Minister Cameron and French President Hollande, the OKH regime will step-up the flow of US arms in an attempt to forestall the advance of the Wahhabi Islamist terrorists who have effectively taken over regions of Syria with backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf petro-dictatorships. The great fear in Washington is that its modern weapons will not just contribute to overthrowing the secular nationalist Assad regime but will put in power a new Al Qaeda-type regime on the borders of the most vulnerable client rulers in Jordan and Lebanon. An Islamist fundamentalist Syria could serve as a ‘headquarters’ and trampoline for cross border attacks on US bases throughout the region. Israel will finally annex the strategic Syrian ‘Golan Heights’, which it has occupied since 1967, on the pretext of protecting itself from the Islamists it worked hard to put in power. The Kurds will try to seize regions of Northern Syria as part of ‘Greater Kurdistan’, to Ankara’s consternation. Turkey will traffic its ‘gentler’ version of ‘Islamist nationalism’. Washington, London and Paris will be unable to enthrone their London-based ex-pat clients in Damascus … The OKH regime may have ousted the secular, nationalist President Assad but it will certainly reap the whirlwind of long-term bloody strife pitting regional powers, rival clients and Al Qaeda terrorists all intent on pillaging the war-ravaged Syria.

Faced with its dubious prospects in Syria, unable to secure a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and impotent to regain influence over Shi’a Iraq, the new OKH regime will make an effort to bolster the military-Islamist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia by co-opting sectors of the liberal secular opposition. This won’t be an easy task given the growing socio-political polarization. Washington’s prospects for consolidating a new set of client regimes will be severely tested by its support for brutal IMF demands on Morsi to eliminate popular food and fuel subsidies – a policy guaranteed to provoke large-scale rioting among impoverished Egyptians and even the threat of a mass national uprising, uniting secular leftists and poor Muslims. The key concern in Washington is that the ouster of its Islamist client Morsi might jeopardize Egypt’s subservient deal with Israel to enforce the economic blockade of millions of Palestinians in Gaza and to accept the Jewish State’s seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank.

So far the OKH regime has relied on the combined repressive power of the intact Mubarak military, police and intelligence services to prop-up its client Morsi. But in a pinch, if he falls, the US may try to reshuffle the deck and seek a new set of ‘liberal’ political clients or impose an outright military dictatorship on the Egyptians.

In Obama’s never-ending pursuit on behalf of Israeli interests, his new Secretary of State John Kerry made a point of directly attacking Prime Minister Erdogan for equating Zionism with fascism as soon as he landed in Turkey. While his ham-fisted tirade made little headway in achieving a Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, Obama convinced Erdogan to accept a pro-forma apology from Netanyahu. Erdogan now has to face the political reality that 90% of the Turkish people clearly oppose Israel’s savage repression of the Palestinians. In the meantime, Turkish capital has been the main beneficiary of the US military-imposed ‘partition’ of Iraq. Turkish traders and oil speculators dominate the market in Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’. The US may have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in the invasion but the Turks have made many billions in profits from a war they did not support and immensely increased Turkey’s regional influence. The OKH regime can do nothing about Turkey, an opponent of Washington’s Iraq invasion, reaping huge profits from that $2 trillion-plus investment of US treasure and blood. The OKH regime may have secured Erdogan’s support for the violent overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria … but it will be for Turkey’s own hegemonic interests. Erdogan’s interest in overthrowing the secular-nationalist Assad is based on his plans to establish a compliant client Islamist regime in Damascus and market to be dominated by Turkish business leaders and policy makers. Erdogan has taken a page from the Israeli playbook of manipulating the US military machine for its own regional interests and profit.

Washington will continue to rely on Saudi and Qatari financing of mercenary armies and Islamist terrorists to destabilize and invade anti-imperialist regimes but with the caveat that the battle-hardened mercenaries are also fanatics – profoundly hostile to the US and the EU.

Qatar’s billions of petro-dollars are like a venereal disease, ‘here, there and everywhere’, infecting a region through the funding and arming of Islamist terrorists in tandem with NATO missiles and bombs to destroy Gaddafi’s nationalist welfare state in Libya, savaging the independent secular government in Syria and providing billions of dollars to prop up the puppet Islamist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia (Financial Times, 3/19/2013, p.7). Qatar’s autocratic monarchy enriches its extended royal family and the foreign imperial protectors – namely the US and UK, in exchange for buying and distributing weapons to Islamist mercenaries attacking independent nationalist regimes.

The OKH regime will retain the presence of its naval armada in the Gulf and its training missions and military bases in order to prop-up the decadent Gulf petro-monarcho-dictatorships. However, the entire Gulf-US complex could become the scene of a grisly military conflagaration if the extremist Israeli regime decides to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran and provoke a generalized regional war. As it stands, the stability of the entire US-Gulf oil alliance rests on the whims of a ‘third party’ (Israel) and its Fifth Column embedded in the US Congress and Executive branch.


Obama’s second term depends on a precarious set of alliances, conditioned by the decisions of a fanatical ultra- militarist foreign power (Israel) and subject to a rising tide of mass pro-democracy movements in an arc extending from Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen over to Pakistan. Moreover, many of the crucial outcomes are beyond the control of the US White House. The OKH regime does not control the mass movements in North Africa and the mercenary Islamists currently taking over Syria are sworn enemies of both Washington and Damascus. Washington may retain, within a shrinking budget and in concert with the EU, the power to brutally destroy independent regimes. However, in the process they rip the very fabric of complex societies and shatter their economies, thus undermining their own capacity to reap the economic spoils of imperial conquest. Indeed the main ‘booty’ extracted from Washington’s imperial wars has derived from the US Treasury, as rapacious contractors, corrupt politicians and US military officials pillage billions of US taxpayer dollars in ‘aid and reconstruction programs’ for themselves.

A 2011 report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that defense contractors had wasted or lost to fraud as much as $60 billion dollars – or $12 million a day since 2001 (Financial Times, 3/19/2013, p. 4). The biggest military contractor ($39.5 billion dollars) is Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton – formerly run by George W. Bush’s Vice President Richard Cheney. Cheney was a co-architect of the Iraq war along with the Pentagon Zionists Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. Corrupt war profiteers and Zionist Fifth Columnists (for Israel) teamed up to pillage the US Treasury for self-enrichment and to destroy Iraq, a key ally of Palestinian liberation and consolidate what Obama hails as Israel’s military supremacy in the Middle East.

The legacy of the Bush regime and Obama’s first term is one of pyrrhic military victories: an Iraq shredded by sectarian wars and the reversal of half a century of socio-economic, educational and scientific progress under a secular nationalist government. The OKH regime cannot undo the growing ties between Iraq and Iran. Nor can they reverse the growing commercial, gas and energy ties between Iran and Pakistan. The US has secured greater Israeli military links with NATO and the European Union, but a growing popular European and North American boycott against Israeli goods and investments is taking its toll on the Jewish state. The Obama-Kerry-Hagel regime shows no sign of making even a partial break with the costly policy of ‘military driven imperialism’ in the Middle East and North Africa. Moreover, it lacks economic resources to prop up its new clients in North Africa. While they scurry to fund the current brutal war against Syria, they will have to prepare for new wars against Lebanon and Iran. The OKH regime will have to rely on low-cost, high-risk, mercenary warfare in Syria. It will try to carve out defense perimeters around its political and petroleum enclaves in Libya. It will have to concede even greater economic and Islamist ideological influence to Turkey. Above all, it will need to appease the Jewish State’s annexation of the West Bank, under pressure from the ZPC!

The old RCA Victor Company marketed its Victorolas, ancient phonograph players with huge horn-like amplifiers, with the image of an attentive dog sitting before the machine in eager anticipation of ‘his master’s voice’. The recent trip by Obama to Israel evokes such an image. Obama’s speech to Jewish students in Jerusalem included such ecstatic praise of everything Israeli or Jewish that he exceeded any propagandistic AIPAC press release, surpassed any fabrication by Netanyahu and embellished (almost to the point of caricature) every racist myth of Jewish superiority. He lauded Israel as a ‘land of peace and democracy’ in the face of 45 years of brutal military rule and expropriation of 60% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He spoke of ‘negotiations without conditions’, a euphemism for giving Israel the green light to annex what remains of Palestinian land in the West Bank. He praised Israel’s creativity and courage in founding the Jewish State, ignoring the violent ethnic cleansing and expulsion of over 850,000 Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians. He spoke of Israeli technological genius, forgetting that Israel’s main exports are weapons of massive destruction. No US leader, past or present (or any other imperial ruler), has so faithfully echoed and embellished the lies of such a bloody colonial power and its US-based Fifth Column with greater fervor than Obama’s degrading effort to satisfy his Zionist handlers in Washington. His performance far exceeded their highest expectations of US servility. In style and substance he fulfilled and over-fulfilled their demands for unconditional US subordination to the Jewish state. In fact, one might suspect that in doing so he set a new standard for the boot-licking belly crawl so familiar to observers of US Congressional servants to Israel. Needless to say, the entire Zionist propaganda apparatus from neo-cons to liberals were ecstatic. Here was a Shabbat goy out-Zionizing the most fanatical Zionist.

The day Obama spoke in Jerusalem will be remembered as a day of shame for all Americans who believe in freedom and dignity and peace with social justice. To listen to the President of the United States grovel before a racist colonial power is degrading. It was also a day of anger for the five billion people of the world who have broken their chains of colonial racist oppression. Obama has made his choice: His administration will have to live with this for the next four years.

The OKH regime’s attempt to penetrate Africa via military missions and the promotion of Pan-African mercenary forces will require an accommodation of France’s rising imperial militarism. It will have to acknowledge China’s increasing economic supremacy in Africa’s extractive sectors, infrastructure and trade. The OKH regime’s ‘pivot to Asia’ involving trans-Pacific free trade agreements excluding China, military bases encircling Beijing and encouraging Japan’s provocation over disputed territory has had no impact on China’s economic growth and burgeoning trade relations. China’s trade with Asia now surpasses its trade with the US. The two way flow of investments into and out of China trump all the OKH regime’s offshore war mongering. The OKH regime’s Asian ‘pivot’ has failed to produce any imperial economic rewards for Washington’s coffers. However, it has incited greater military tensions between Japan and China and between North and South Korea. This is occurring at a time when the Pentagon faces major budget cuts and US Treasury Secretary Lew is trying to drum up greater trade with China.

In sum, the past military commitments, the links to Israel, the legacies of political failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fragility of new client rulers mean that the OKH regime will play an increasingly marginal economic role in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The Obama-Kerry-Hagel troika will do their best to salvage the US military bases and political influence among autocratic petro-states in the Gulf.


James Petras, is a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. Petras is the author of The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press 2006); The Rulers and the Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press 2007) He is a specialist on US Zionist politics and a close reader of the Israeli and American Jewish Press.

Battle of Cyprus Coming to a Bank Near You?

The Battle of Cyprus

by Ellen Brown - CounterPunch

If these worries become really serious, . . . [s]mall savers will take their money out of banks and resort to household safes and a shotgun.” – Martin Hutchinson on the attempted EU raid on private deposits in Cyprus banks

On Tuesday, March 19, the national legislature of Cyprus overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout. Reuters called it “a stunning setback for the 17-nation currency bloc,” but it was a stunning victory for democracy. As Reuters quoted one 65-year-old pensioner, “The voice of the people was heard.”

The EU had warned that it would withhold €10 billion in bailout loans, and the European Central Bank (ECB) had threatened to end emergency lending assistance for distressed Cypriot banks, unless depositors – including small savers – shared the cost of the rescue. In the deal rejected by the legislature, a one-time levy on depositors would be required in return for a bailout of the banking system. Deposits below €100,000 would be subject to a 6.75% levy or “haircut”, while those over €100,000 would have been subject to a 9.99% “fine.”

The move was bold, but the battle isn’t over yet. The EU has now given Cyprus until Monday to raise the billions of euros it needs to clinch an international bailout or face the threatened collapse of its financial system and likely exit from the euro currency zone.

The Long-planned Confiscation Scheme

The deal pushed by the “troika” – the EU, ECB and IMF – has been characterized as a one-off event devised as an emergency measure in this one extreme case. But the confiscation plan has long been in the making, and it isn’t limited to Cyprus.

In a September 2011 article in the Bulletin of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand titled “A Primer on Open Bank Resolution,” Kevin Hoskin and Ian Woolford discussed a very similar haircut plan that had been in the works, they said, since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The article referenced recommendations made in 2010 and 2011 by the Basel Committee of the Bank for International Settlements, the “central bankers’ central bank” in Switzerland.

The purpose of the plan, called the Open Bank Resolution (OBR) , is to deal with bank failures when they have become so expensive that governments are no longer willing to bail out the lenders. The authors wrote that the primary objectives of OBR are to:

ensure that, as far as possible, any losses are ultimately borne by the bank’s shareholders and creditors . . . .
The spectrum of “creditors” is defined to include depositors:

At one end of the spectrum, there are large international financial institutions that invest in debt issued by the bank (commonly referred to as wholesale funding). At the other end of the spectrum, are customers with cheque and savings accounts and term deposits.

Most people would be surprised to learn that they are legally considered “creditors” of their banks rather than customers who have trusted the bank with their money for safekeeping, but that seems to be the case.

According to Wikipedia: “In most legal systems, . . . the funds deposited are no longer the property of the customer. The funds become the property of the bank, and the customer in turn receives an asset called a deposit account (a checking or savings account). That deposit account is a liability of the bank on the bank’s books and on its balance sheet. Because the bank is authorized by law to make loans up to a multiple of its reserves, the bank’s reserves on hand to satisfy payment of deposit liabilities amounts to only a fraction of the total which the bank is obligated to pay in satisfaction of its demand deposits.”

The bank gets the money. The depositor becomes only a creditor with an IOU. The bank is not required to keep the deposits available for withdrawal but can lend them out, keeping only a “fraction” on reserve, following accepted fractional reserve banking principles. When too many creditors come for their money at once, the result can be a run on the banks and bank failure.

The New Zealand OBR said the creditors had all enjoyed a return on their investments and had freely accepted the risk, but most people would be surprised to learn that too. What return do you get from a bank on a deposit account these days? And isn’t your deposit protected against risk by FDIC deposit insurance?

Not anymore, apparently. As Martin Hutchinson observed in Money Morning, “if governments can just seize deposits by means of a ‘tax’ then deposit insurance is worth absolutely zippo.”

The Real Profiteers Get Off Scot-Free

Felix Salmon wrote in Reuters of the Cyprus confiscation:

Meanwhile, people who deserve to lose money here, won’t. If you lent money to Cyprus’s banks by buying their debt rather than by depositing money, you will suffer no losses at all. And if you lent money to the insolvent Cypriot government, then you too will be paid off at 100 cents on the euro. . . .

The big winner here is the ECB, which has extended a lot of credit to dubiously-solvent Cypriot banks and which is taking no losses at all.

It is the ECB that can most afford to take the hit, because it has the power to print euros. It could simply create the money to bail out the Cyprus banks and take no loss at all. But imposing austerity on the people is apparently part of the plan. Salmon writes:
From a drily technocratic perspective, this move can be seen as simply being part of a standard Euro-austerity program: the EU wants tax hikes and spending cuts, and this is a kind of tax . . . 

The big losers are working-class Cypriots, whose elected government has proved powerless . . . . The Eurozone has always had a democratic deficit: monetary union was imposed by the elite on unthankful and unwilling citizens. Now the citizens are revolting: just look at Beppe Grillo.

But that was before the Cyprus government stood up for the depositors and refused to go along with the plan, in what will be a stunning victory for democracy if they can hold their ground.

It CAN Happen Here

Cyprus is a small island, of little apparent significance. But one day, the bold move of its legislators may be compared to the Battle of Marathon, the pivotal moment in European history when their Greek forebears fended off the Persians, allowing classical Greek civilization to flourish. The current battle on this tiny island has taken on global significance. If the technocrat bankers can push through their confiscation scheme there, precedent will be established for doing it elsewhere when bank bailouts become prohibitive for governments.

That situation could be looming even now in the United States. As Gretchen Morgenson warned in a recent article on the 307-page Senate report detailing last year’s $6.2 billion trading fiasco at JPMorganChase: “Be afraid.” The report resoundingly disproves the premise that the Dodd-Frank legislation has made our system safe from the reckless banking activities that brought the economy to its knees in 2008. Writes Morgenson:

JPMorgan . . . Is the largest derivatives dealer in the world. Trillions of dollars in such instruments sit on its and other big banks’ balance sheets. The ease with which the bank hid losses and fiddled with valuations should be a major concern to investors.

Pam Martens observed in a March 18th article that JPMorgan was gambling in the stock market with depositor funds. She writes, “trading stocks with customers’ savings deposits – that truly has the ring of the excesses of 1929 . . . .”

The large institutional banks not only could fail; they are likely to fail. When the derivative scheme collapses and the US government refuses a bailout, JPMorgan could be giving its depositors’ accounts sizeable “haircuts” along guidelines established by the BIS and Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Time for Some Public Sector Banks?

The bold moves of the Cypriots and such firebrand political activists as Italy’s Grillo are not the only bulwarks against bankster confiscation. While the credit crisis is strangling the Western banking system, the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – have sailed through largely unscathed. According to a May 2010 article in The Economist, what has allowed them to escape are their strong and stable publicly-owned banks.

Professor Kurt von Mettenheim of the Sao Paulo Business School of Brazil writes, “The credit policies of BRIC government banks help explain why these countries experienced shorter and milder economic downturns during 2007-2008.” Government banks countered the effects of the financial crisis by providing counter-cyclical credit and greater client confidence.

Russia is an Eastern European country that weathered the credit crisis although being very close to the Eurozone. According to a March 2010 article in Forbes:

As in other countries, the [2008] crisis prompted the state to take on a greater role in the banking system. State-owned systemic banks . . . have been used to carry out anticrisis measures, such as driving growth in lending (however limited) and supporting private institutions.

In the 1998 Asian crisis, many Russians who had put all their savings in private banks lost everything; and the credit crisis of 2008 has reinforced their distrust of private banks. Russian businesses as well as individuals have turned to their government-owned banks as the more trustworthy alternative. As a result, state-owned banks are expected to continue dominating the Russian banking industry for the foreseeable future.

The entire Eurozone conundrum is unnecessary. It is the result of too little money in a system in which the money supply is fixed, and the Eurozone governments and their central banks cannot issue their own currencies. There are insufficient euros to pay principal plus interest in a pyramid scheme in which only the principal is injected by the banks that create money as “bank credit” on their books. A central bank with the power to issue money could remedy that systemic flaw, by injecting the liquidity needed to jumpstart the economy and turn back the tide of austerity choking the people.

The push to confiscate the savings of hard-working Cypriot citizens is a shot across the bow for every working person in the world, a wake-up call to the perils of a system in which tiny cadres of elites call the shots and the rest of us pay the price. When we finally pull back the veils of power to expose the men pulling the levers in an age-old game they devised, we will see that prosperity is indeed possible for all.

For more on the public bank solution and for details of the June 2013 Public Banking Institute conference in San Rafael, California, see here.

ELLEN BROWN is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private banking oligarchy has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are,, and

Racist, Regressive, Republican: Still Supporting Bush Lies on Iraq After All These Years

Republicans and the War on Iraq

by Walter C. Uhler - Dissident Voice

Last October three scholars issued a report, which found that 79% of Republicans were explicit racists. This past January a university poll found that as many as 64% of Republicans could be considered “birthers.” (Most birthers are pathetic racist morons who, obsessed by their need to delegitimize America’s first black president, refuse to accept any evidence which proves that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.) However, both of these morally bankrupt values pale in significance, when compared with the overwhelming support that Republicans continue to give to President Bush’s illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq.

Ten years ago this week, President George W. Bush gave the order for American troops to bomb and invade Iraq. From August 2002 through March 2003, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized two primary reasons for invading Iraq: the threats posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD, especially nuclear weapons) and Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda.

For example, on 26 August 2002 Cheney asserted: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” On 7 September 2002, Bush told an audience in Cincinnati that Iraq was “six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.” He told the United Nations that “Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons.” When Rice talked about the evidence of WMD, she asserted: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Cheney repeatedly expressed his conviction that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda and his belief that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. He also claimed: “One of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein…is his biological weapons ability, the fact that he may at some point try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly even including the United States.” Rumsfeld asserted that the evidence of Saddam- al Qaeda ties was “bullet-proof.” [Terry Anderson, Bush’s Wars, p. 106-08]

On 5 February 2003, Colin Powell gave a speech to the United Nations – broadcast across the world – that became the turning point in the Bush administration’s selling of war. He began by saying: “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.”

Powell cited aluminum tubes that could be used as centrifuge cylinders in a nuclear weapons program. He cited decontamination vehicles associated with chemical weapons and “biological weapons factories” on trucks and train cars. He also cited drones “well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons,” four tons of the nerve agent VX and 122-mm chemical warheads and a secret force of a few dozen Scud-type missiles.

The next day a Washington Post editorial claimed, “After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”

Nevertheless, although Powell’s speech to the United Nations sealed the deal for war with most of America’s newspaper editors and reporters, as well as with most pundits and many citizens; it didn’t persuade Ted Kennedy, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Patrick Buchanan, Arianna Huffington, Robert Byrd, Scott Ritter, John Mearshimer, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Stephen Walt, Gore Vidal, John le Carre, Edward Said, Hans Blix, Jonathan Schell, James Fallows, or Mohamed El Baradei. Neither did it persuade the rulers of France, Germany and Russia who withheld their approval for war in the UN Security Council.

But, having churned mainstream media and public support, Bush gave the order to invade Iraq, notwithstanding that fact that he failed to gain the necessary approval from the Security Council of the United Nations and notwithstanding the fact that, three weeks after Powell’s presentation 59% of Americans did not support an invasion without the support of the Security Council.

Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, Article 2.4, expressly prohibits member states from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defense under Article 51 (i.e., actual or imminent attack) and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states: “The Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Thus, the Charter of the United Nations – which was approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Truman in 1945 — is the supreme law of the land. And, thus, the Bush administration’s violation of the UN Charter constituted both a war crime under international law and an impeachable offense for its violation of the Constitution.

Bush’s order to invade on 19 March 2003 also interrupted the work of UN weapons inspectors, who had been scouring Iraq for WMD since November 2002. In fact, on 27 January 2003 Hans Blix told the UN that his inspections of 230 sites found no evidence of WMD. Mohamed El Baradei was even more emphatic. “In the next few months” his inspection team would provide “credible assurance that Iraq had no nuclear weapons programme.” [Anderson, pp. 120-21]

Two days before the invasion, Bush gave Saddam an ultimatum and the UN inspectors were advised to leave Iraq. In the words of his press secretary, the ultimatum prompted Pope John Paul II to assert: “Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history.”

On 19 March 2003 – a day that will live in infamy – President Bush announced to the nation, “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free the people and to defend the world from grave danger…”

(It’s worth noting that on 14 July 2003, nearly four months after the invasion had begun, George Bush was asked whether questionable intelligence about WMD had distorted his speeches and decisions about Iraq. As part of his response, Bush said the following: “The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in.”

Notice how Bush attempted to deflect attention away from his administration’s past certainty about actual weapons of mass destruction by substituting the weasel words, “weapons program.” (Virtually every sovereign state has a weapons program.) It was something he began doing as early as May 2003.

More significantly, however, Bush’s last sentence about Saddam’s refusal to allow the inspectors in was a bald-faced lie! He repeated the lie on 27 January 2004 and on 21 March 2006 went so far as to assert that he actually went to war because Saddam wouldn’t allow the inspectors into his country. Here are his very words: “And when he [Saddam] chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.”

Let it be noted that a National Intelligence Estimate in 2006 concluded that Bush’s invasion actually made the world more dangerous, due to the proliferation of terrorists and terrorist attacks.)

Almost immediately after the invasion, the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) – consisting of some 1,400 American, British and Australian military and civilian experts on WMD – was dispatched to Iraq to locate Saddam’s WMD. And almost immediately after the invasion both the public and the press began asking questions about the whereabouts of Saddam’s WMD. On 30 March 2003, when he was asked whether he was surprised by the failure of coalition forces to find WMD thus far, Rumsfeld responded: “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” (Later, when confronted with his own words, Rumsfeld denied making that statement.)

The failure to find WMD or ties to al Qaeda prompted Bush to execute part two of his bait-and-switch con. Bush began to move away from his emphasis on Iraq’s WMD and ties to al Qaeda and increasingly emphasized what had been the secondary goals of removing a tyrant and bringing democracy to Iraq. Many members of the press and public fell for it. Even today America’s neoconservatives rely on the con to salvage what remains of their shattered reputations.

As the failure to find WMD extended into the late summer of 2003, the intrepid Charles J. Hanley of the Associated Press published an article in the St. Petersburg Times on 10 August that, point by point, destroyed Colin Powell’s UN assertions about Iraq’s WMD. Worse, on 3 October the ISG published an interim report, which admitted that it found no actual chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.

Failure to find WMD heightened the unease of many Americans who, by December 2003 were beginning to doubt Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” statement of 1May. Already, in June, the CIA advised Bush and his top advisors that they were facing a “classic insurgency” in Iraq. The insurgency sparked a civil war that continued to grow well into late 2006, until the Sunni Awakening, American soldiers buying off the enemy, pacification from ethnic cleansing and the “surge” allowed the United States to leave Iraq without suffering outright defeat. Looking back, the facts on the ground four years after the invasion stood in stark contrast to Rumsfeld’s embarrassing prediction in 2002: “I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”

As reports of bad news – no WMD, no ties to al Qaeda, increasing American deaths and casualties, an escalating insurgency, decreasing approval of Bush and the war in the polls – attached themselves like barnacles to Bush’s invasion, temporary relief was found when Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003.

Perhaps seeking to bask in the glow of that capture, Bush agreed to an interview with Diane Sawyer a few days later. It was a disaster for Bush.

The key exchange occurred after Ms. Sawyer broached the subject of the intelligence concerning WMD that the Bush administration used to justify the invasion. She said: “When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said there is no doubt, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons and now the inspectors say that there’s no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger, in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn’t have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence — the inspectors have said they can’t confirm this, they can’t corroborate.”

Bush responded by saying: “But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program.”

Relentless, Ms. Sawyer pressed on: “But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still…”

Which prompted Bush to respond: “So what’s the difference?”


On 30 September 2004, the ISG issued its final report. It’s most earth-shaking conclusions were:

• Saddam ended his nuclear program in 1991. ISG found no evidence of concerted efforts to restart the program, and Iraq’s ability to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program progressively decayed after 1991.

• Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 1991, and only a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions were discovered by the ISG.

• Saddam’s regime abandoned its biological weapons program and its ambition to obtain advanced biological weapons in 1995. While it could have re-established an elementary BW program within weeks, ISG discovered no indications it was pursuing such a course.

Yes, that’s right; Saddam Hussein had been telling the truth when he denied having any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Thus, the only remaining question was: Why did the Bush administration present the world with false assertions about Iraq’s WMD?

Members of the Bush administration, as well as their apologists, assert that: (1) virtually everybody believed that Saddam had WMD and (2) they simply acted upon faulty intelligence. What they do not say is: (1) even countries that suspected Saddam had WMD were willing to await the results of the searches being conducted by UN inspectors and (2) the Bush administration had an active informant inside Iraq, who told Bush, Cheney and Rice that Iraq had no WMD.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, made a deal (worth at least $200,000) to reveal Iraq’s military secrets to the CIA. Sabri and some Iraqi scientists told the CIA that Saddam had no WMD. The French, who had tapped Sabri’s phone, confirmed that he was telling the truth. But, on 18 September 2002, after CIA director George Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri’s information, Bush dismissed it as “the same old thing.”

According to Terry Anderson, in his book Bush’s Wars, “When a CIA agent insisted on the significance of Sabri’s information, one of Tenet’s deputies responded, ‘You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.” [p. 114]

The response by Tenet’s deputy in the fall of 2002 substantiated what the head of British Intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair during a secret meeting held some two month earlier, on 23 July 2002. According to the classified minutes of that meeting, subsequently called the Downing Street Memo (which was leaked to the British press in May 2005), the head of British Intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers about his recent meeting in the U.S. with President Bush and his top advisers.

As a result of his meeting with Bush, Dearlove was convinced that the U.S. President had decided to attack Iraq. “There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy….There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action.”

Consequently, Americans have two independent sources that demolish the Bush’s administration’s attempt to blame “bad intelligence” for their failure to find WMD. In reality, any intelligence about WMD that could be used to incite support for regime change was acceptable and presentable, regardless of the reliability of the source. And any intelligence about WMD that might undermine support for regime change was neither acceptable nor presentable, even when the source was highly reliable. Why? Because the members of Bush’s team already “knew” that Saddam had WMD.

The only thing that mattered to the Bush administration was finding a way to garner public and congressional support for regime change in Iraq – a goal it had established at its first National Security Council meeting in January 2001. The hyping of unsubstantiated intelligence about WMD and al Qaeda allowed them to achieve their criminal objective.

According to a very recent study conducted by scholars for Brown University, from 2003 to 2013 the invasion resulted in 189,000 direct war deaths, including the deaths of 4,488 American soldiers, 3,418 U.S. contractors, 10,819 allied military and police, 36,000 opposition forces and 134,000 innocent civilians. Many indirect deaths, perhaps numbering into the hundreds of thousands also resulted from that invasion.

The invasion, insurgency and subsequent civil war caused massive refugee problems as millions uprooted themselves or were forcibly uprooted to other parts of the country or to other countries. According to the Brown University study, “The percent of Iraqis living in slum conditions tripled from 17 percent prior to the 2003 invasion to 53 percent in 2010.”

Regarding ethnic cleansing, the Brown study concludes: “Studies have shown that the drop in sectarian violence after 2007 was not a result of the US and Iraqi military surge, but a consequence of ethno-religious homogenization. As each group and sub-group claimed its own territory, there was no one left to kill.” Nevertheless, to this day, Iraq suffers from a low-grade insurgency against the increasingly authoritarian Maliki government.

The war of aggression and the subsequent torture of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib provoked the hatred of the United States by much of the world’s population. Some governments became reluctant to share intelligence with the U.S. The war caused a spike in terrorist activity and resulted in the rise of Iran as a regional power.

Tens of thousands of American soldiers returned home missing arms or legs, suffering severe head wounds or, in the best case, terrible PTSD. Some committed suicide, while others saw their marriages collapse.

Nevertheless, according to a very recent Gallup Poll, “66% of respondents who identify as or lean Republican say the U.S. did not make a mistake in sending troops to fight in Iraq.” 73% of Democratic leaners or identifiers saw the military campaign as a mistake, as did 53% of all respondents.

We shouldn’t be surprised, however, that two-thirds of America’s Republicans respond like morons. After all, according to a poll completed in May 2012, 63 percent of Republican respondents still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. (Only 27 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats were so stupid.)

What can we do to get the message through to these intellectual and moral dead-enders? I think I know.

Speaking for the United States, in his opening address to the Nuremberg Tribunal, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson asserted: “This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times – aggressive war.” [Michael R. Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 1945-46, p. 80]

Article 6 of the Tribunal’s Charter lists “Crimes against Peace; namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging war of aggression” [Ibid, p. 52] as its first and foremost crime. And in its indictment of notorious Nazis, the Tribunal listed as “Count One” the “conspiracy” to commit “Crimes against Peace, in that the defendants planned, prepared, initiated and waged wars of aggression.” [Ibid, 58]

“Allied prosecutors hoped that Nuremberg would hold a mirror up to the German nation and compel ordinary Germans to recognize the Nazi crimes.” [The Legacy of Nuremberg, documentary project of Minnesota Public Radio and NPR News, July 2002] Americans, especially the ignorant and morally debased two-thirds of Republicans who still support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, would benefit were the International Criminal Court to conduct a war crimes trial of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell and Wolfowitz.

What Justice Robert H. Jackson said about the Nazi war criminals in 1945 applies equally to Bush and his men today: “These men were of a station and rank which does not soil its own hands with blood. They were men who knew how to use lesser folk as tools. We want to reach the planners and designers, the inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the world would not have been for so long scourged with violence and lawlessness and wracked with the agonies and convulsions, of this terrible war….” [Marrus, p. 83]

Following the line of thinking recently expressed by former Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Desmond Tutu, they all need to stand trial — even if in absentia — before the International Criminal Court.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA). He can be reached at: Read other articles by Walter C., or visit Walter C.'s website.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Steele Your Stomach: Brit Media Reveals Salvador Option in Iraq

BBC-Guardian Expose Uses Wikileaks to Link Iraq Torture Centers to US Col. Steele and Gen. Petraeus

by Democracy Now!

A shocking new report by The Guardian and BBC Arabic details how the United States armed and trained Iraqi death squads that ran torture centers. It is a story that stretches from the U.S.-backed death squads in Central America during the 1980s to the imprisoned Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. We play extended excerpts of "James Steele: America’s Mystery Man in Iraq," which exposes the role the retired U.S. colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played in training Iraqi police commando units.

"We spent maybe six months trying to track down young American soldiers who served in Samarra," says the film’s executive producer, Maggie O’Kane, who notes the investigation was sparked by memos found in the Iraq War Logs released by WikiLeaks.

"But many were too frightened because of what happened to Bradley Manning." A Pentagon spokesman told The Guardian it had seen the reports and is looking into the situation. "As you know, the issue surrounding accusation of abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees is a complex one that is full of history and emotion," said Col. Jack Miller. "It will take time to work a thorough response."

No Country for This Old Man: Watson Declared "Pirate", Resigns Sea Shepherd Helm

We Continue to Go Backwards at an Unsustainable Rate

by Rafe Mair - The

Old men cannot help feeling sad – not just at the physical ramifications, the illnesses you know will come all too soon or the fact that the fateful day is not far off.

It’s not even the mistakes made, the people hurt by what you’ve said and done or the opportunities missed. These things are balanced off by the knowledge that your fate is that of every living thing in the world and your family.

To have the love of my life, four children (one deceased), eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild balances the unbalanceable equation.

For me, the truly horrid part is to see that not only have humans learned no lessons, we continue to go backwards at an unsustainable rate.

We have freely elected governments in both Ottawa and Victoria that not only refuse to understand the consequences of their deliberate, greedy ways, but actually believe that their actions are helpful to mankind. They have all, I assume, been taught to tell the truth but they consistently lie, such that one cannot accept a word they say. Worse, they have created an atmosphere where everyone, especially big business, must also lie – although which came first I cannot say.

The past week has been especially hard for this old guy to handle. The premier of the province tells us that an oil refinery in Kitimat will blow our troubles away. We should now consider the proposed Enbridge Pipeline to be a blessing as if the diluted bitumen to pass through the pipeline is now not a worry. She tells us that the “Prosperity Fund”, from Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) revenues, will put, someday soon, $100 BILLION into our kitty for safe keeping. How unhelpful it is to point out that LNG is a glut on the market or alternatively will, at the best, offset the egregious fiscal harm done the province since the Liberals took power in 2001.

We have a federal government utterly bent on having this pipeline approved and have sent a lawyer off to convince First Nations that lots of Wampum will come their way if they just ignore their centuries old commitment to the environment.

The basic point is essentially this: when large corporate profits are at stake, the environment, our natural inheritance, means, dare I say it, fuck-all – a naughty phrase but it, better than any other, sums up this utterly uncaring attitude of those put in authority over us. It's not that they don't care - they do care about political funds and corporate profits while ignoring our inheritance and what should be our legacy for our descendants.

What really struck me this week was the resignation from the Sea Shepherd Society of Captain Paul Watson, who has been designated a “pirate” by the US District Court of Appeals, which made the point that the critical importance of your crusade cannot permit you to enforce your own penalties.

As I sit here by my computer this Thursday morning, I’m wearing a Sea Shepherd pullover – I put it on, eerily, before I heard the news of his departure from the organization's anti-whaling fleet. I have been on Sea Shepherd's Board of Advisors for over 20 years – I’ve known Paul for more than 30.

I’m not going to trouble you with Paul’s many activities but simply say that, yes, Paul did try to protect the oceans of the world, contrary to the wishes of corporations and their captive governments. For the vast majority of cases, he tried to enforce international law when no one else would. He looked at Japan killing hundreds of whales a year for scientific purposes with all the animals - surprise! surprise! - ending up as sushi in exclusive restaurants and tried to save these whales.

He tried to enforce laws against stripping shark fins away and throwing the poor creatures back in the water for a slow, painful death, so that Chinese gentlemen could get a hard on. He tried to enforce international laws against killing seals so that fancy women in Europe could wear mink coats. He went to the Faroe Islands to stop the annual “harvesting" of Pilot Whales for no better reason than they’ve always done it. (You might find it interesting to note that on the back of a Faroe bill is an engraving of a man clubbing a whale to death).

Let me try to put this in perspective. There have seldom been fundamental rights granted or enforced without the presence or threat of force. The barons at Runnymede, Martin Luther, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, the protection of minorities, and the list goes on. It’s interesting to note that in his 30-plus years, Watson caused no injuries, much less death.

I’m not making a case for Paul – he can and does speak for himself and what he believes in.

What distresses me is that governments, acting in our name, put fish farms, desecration of farmland, destruction of our rivers, pipelines and tankers, ahead of what really should count in life while so many of us vote for them.

As Pogo said in the famous cartoon of the 40s and 50s, “we’ve met the enemy and it is us.”

Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.

Cyprus: It's the Petro Economy, Stupid!

As Cyprus Collapses, It's a Race to the Mediterranean Gas Finish Line

by Jen Alic -

Cyprus is preparing for total financial collapse as the European Central Bank turns its back on the island after its parliament rejected a scheme to make Cypriot citizens pay a levy on savings deposits in return for a share in potential gas futures to fund a bailout.

On Wednesday, the Greek-Cypriot government voted against asking its citizens to bank on the future of gas exports by paying a 3-15% levy on bank deposits in return for a stake in potential gas sales. The scheme would have partly funded a $13 billion EU bailout.

It would have been a major gamble that had Cypriots asking how much gas the island actually has and whether it will prove commercially viable any time soon.

In the end, not even the parliament was willing to take the gamble, forcing Cypriots to look elsewhere for cash, hitting up Russia in desperate talks this week, but to no avail.

The bank deposit levy would not have gone down well in Russia, whose citizens use Cypriot banks to store their “offshore” cash. Some of the largest accounts belong to Russians and other foreigners, and the levy scheme would have targeted accounts with over 20,000 euros. So it made sense that Cyprus would then turn to Russia for help, but so far Moscow hasn't put any concrete offers on the table.

Plan A (the levy scheme) has been rejected. Plan B (Russia) has been ineffective. Plan C has yet to reveal itself. And without a Plan C, the banks can't reopen. The minute they open their doors there will be a withdrawal rush that will force their collapse.

In the meantime, cashing in on the island's major gas potential is more urgent than ever—but these are still very early days.

In the end, it's all about gas and the race to the finish line to develop massive Mediterranean discoveries. Cyprus has found itself right in the middle of this geopolitical game in which its gas potential is a tool in a showdown between Russia and the European Union.

The EU favored the Cypriot bank deposit levy but it would have hit at the massive accounts of Russian oligarchs. Without the promise of Levant Basin gas, the EU wouldn't have had the bravado for such a move because Russia holds too much power over Europe's gas supply.

Cypriot Gas Potential

The Greek Cypriot government believes it is sitting on an amazing 60 trillion cubic feet of gas, but these are early days—these aren't proven reserves and commercial viability could be years away. In the best-case scenario, production could feasibly begin in five years.

Exports are even further afield, with some analysts suggesting 2020 as a start date.

In 2011, the first (and only) gas was discovered offshore Cyprus, in Block 12, which is licensed to Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. (NBL). The block holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.

To date, the Greek Cypriots have awarded licenses for six offshore exploration blocks that could contain up to 40 trillion cubic feet of gas. Aside from Noble, these licenses have gone to Total SA of France and a joint venture between Eni SpA (ENI) of Italy and Korea Gas Corp.

But the process of exploring, developing, extracting, processing and getting gas to market is a long one. Getting the gas extracted offshore and then pumped onshore could take at least five years and some very expensive infrastructure that does not presently exist. The gas would have to be liquefied so it could be transported by seaborne tankers.

The potential is there: Cyprus' gas discoveries adjoin Israeli territorial waters where the discovery of the massive Leviathan gasfield (425 billion cubic meters or 16 trillion cubic feet) and smaller Tamar gasfield (250 billion cubic meters or 9 trillion cubic feet) have foreign companies in a rush to cash in on this.

There are myriad problems to extracting Cypriot gas—not the least of which is the fact that some of this offshore exploration territory is disputed by Turkey, which has controlled part of the island since 1974.

Gas exploration has taken this dispute to a new level, with Turkey sending in warships to halt drilling in 2011, and threatening to bar foreign companies exploring in Cyprus from any license opportunities in Turkey. The situation is likely to intensify as Noble prepares to begin exploratory drilling later this year in Block 12.

In the meantime, there is no shortage of competition on this arena. Cyprus will have to vie with Israel, Lebanon and Syria—all of which have made offshore gas discoveries of late in the Mediterranean's Levant Basin, which has an estimated total of 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

Blackmailing Cyprus?

While Greek Cypriot citizens are not willing to gamble away their savings on gas futures, Russia and the European Union are certainly less hesitant.

This is both a negotiating point for Cyprus and a convenient tool of blackmail for Russia and the EU. Essentially, the bailout is the prop on a stage that will determine who gets control of these assets.

Theoretically, Cyprus could guarantee Russia exploration rights in return for assistance. As much as this is possible, the EU could ease its bailout negotiations if it becomes clear that a Russian bailout of sorts is imminent.

Gas finds in the Mediterranean and particularly across the Levant Basin—home to Israel's Leviathan and Tamar fields—could be the answer to Russian gas hegemony in Europe. The question is: How much does Cyprus count in this equation? A lot.

Though only half of the estimated resources in the Levant Basin, Cyprus' potential 60 trillion cubic feet of gas could equal 40% of the EU's gas supplies and be worth a whopping $400 billion if commercial viability is proven.

Russia is keen to keep Cyprus and Israel from cooperating too much toward the goal of loosening Russia's grip on Europe before Moscow manages to gain a greater share of the Asian market.

Russia is also not keen on Israel's plan to lay an undersea natural gas pipeline to Turkey's south coast to sell its gas from the Leviathan field to Europe. Turkey hasn't agreed to this deal yet, but it is certainly considering it. This is fraught with all kinds of political problems at home, so for now Ankara is keeping it as low profile as possible.

With all of this in mind, Russia is doing its best to get in on the Levant largesse itself. While it's also courting Lebanon and Syria, dating Israel is already in full force. Gazprom has signed a deal with Israel that would give it control of Tamar's gas and access to the Asian market for its liquefied natural gas (LNG). Tamar will probably begin producing already in April at a 1 billion cubic feet/day capacity.

In accordance with this deal, which Israel has yet to approve, Gazprom will provide financial support for the development of the Tamar Floating LNG Project. In return, Gazprom will get exclusive rights to purchase and export Tamar LNG. It is also significant because Tamar is a US-Israeli joint venture—so essentially the plan is to help Russia diversify from the European market.

What does this mean for Cyprus? The chess pieces are still being put on the board, and both fortunately and unfortunately, Cyprus' gas potential will be intricately linked to its bailout potential.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

British Columbia's 'Chinatown': Liberals Caught Out in Water Status "Demotion" Scheme

BC Liberals Caught Demoting Protected Status of Community Drinking Water Sources

by BC Tap Water Alliance

Vancouver - In February 2013, the BC Tap Water Alliance began investigating logging proposals by B.C. Timber Sales in South Pender Harbour’s water supply, McNeill Lake, now under the authority of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD). The Alliance was shocked to discover that the B.C. Liberals altered the status of the McNeill Watershed Reserve four years ago in March, 2009.

It had been demoted to a Section 17 Land Act Reserve status that now gives the Ministry of Environment discretionary power to permit resource uses such as timber sales.

As summarized in the Alliance’s February 27th four page letter of complaint to Doug Konkin, the Deputy Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (see backgrounder web link), the small community watershed was protected by way of powerful Crown land legislation since at least 1974.

Former premier, Campbell poses for police in Hawaii

Designation as a Section 16 Watershed Reserve under the Land Act prohibits Crown land dispositions, such as timber sales. The Alliance asked that Konkin intervene by preventing the proposed timber sales, and has yet to receive a reply from the Deputy Minister.
Although the timber sale agreement was recently awarded, it has not yet been signed.

Upon further inquiries, the Alliance was astounded to discover that just two months before the last provincial election in 2009, the BC Liberals had actually altered ALL the Section 16 Community Watershed Reserves within the administrative boundary of the Ministry of Environment’s Lower Mainland or Region, including Chapman and Gray Creeks, the SCRD’s main source of water supply, where “thinning” was recently permitted in Chapman Creek with no prior notice to the SCRD. Apparently, the demotions were done without formally notifying dozens of water purveyors to whom the Reserves, and the water supplied, were dedicated.

These completely unpublicized, wholesale demotions appear to have been in response to allegations contained in our book, From Wisdom to Tyranny, the history of BC’s community Watershed Reserves, sent to three Liberal Party Ministers, Forests Minister Rich Coleman, Environment Minister Barry Penner, and Lands Minister Pat Bell (see backgrounder). The book strongly recommended that government conduct a provincial inquiry into the administrative history and mismanagement of the Community Watershed Reserves.

A year later on July 23, 2007, during the SCRD’s Board of Health Hearings on logging in Chapman Creek, which received wide media attention, the Alliance presented detailed information about the SCRD’s Chapman Creek Watershed Reserve (see backgrounder). In July 2007, when SCRD residents filed a Court Injunction against Western Forest Products logging in the Chapman Reserve, the Alliance’s book was entered into Court evidence.

The BC Liberal government’s initial response was to repeal Health Act legislation in May 2008 (Bill 23, The Public Health Act) in order to prevent third order governments from convening any further Board of Health Inquiries (see backgrounder).

In March 2009, the government also quietly removed the protection afforded by the Section and 16 Land Act Watershed Reserves, following nearly two decades of successive governments publicly denying their existence and intent.

“The public has no idea what this government secretly did four years ago. It is absolutely disgraceful,” notes Will Koop, B.C. Tap Water Alliance Coordinator. “No other administration over the last forty years has dared to do what the BC Liberals have done.”
“This government should immediately reinstate all of BC’s affected Community Watershed Reserves as Section 16 Reserves under the Land Act and delete all industrial tenures as intended, including Community Forests, BC Timber Sales and other forest tenures that have been wrongfully permitted within them. Then the Reserves should be designated as Section 15 Order-in-Council Reserves in favour of water purveyors and the communities they serve. It is only fair that the “other” 40 percent of British Columbians have what Greater Victoria and Metro Vancouver citizens reclaimed and now enjoy – protected watersheds that reliably produce clean water. That’s BC’s protection legacy.”


For Press Release Backgrounders: