Friday, December 12, 2014

Tracking the Crimea/Ukraine Split Propaganda War

The Propaganda War over Crimea's Break from Ukraine

by Roger Annis - New Cold War

(first published on Truthout, Dec. 10, 2014 )

In the propaganda campaign being waged by the NATO countries and the government of Ukraine against Russia and in support of Kiev’s war in the east of the country, the events in Crimea of the past nine months occupy a pivotal place.

The secession from Ukraine that followed the March 16 referendum vote in Crimea is the number one pretext to justify the war as well as NATO’s rising aggression in Eastern Europe.

NATO began an eastward expansion 25 years ago at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has incorporated 11 new member countries (including eastern Germany) – 13 if Croatia and Albania are counted.

NATO might be upsetting the entire military and political balance of Europe by continuing to push eastward today in Ukraine, but the drumbeat of Western government and media propaganda claims the heightened tensions of this past year are all Russia’s fault. Russia’s supposed annexation of Crimea in March is the example par excellence that a new “Russian aggression,” harkening back to Soviet Union times, is afoot. It must be stopped at all costs before Ukraine falls, too.

In this made-up world, Kiev’s murderous, illegal war against its own population disappears. The war is an “ongoing conflict” between “armed groups” in which the only actors with a purpose, it seems, are “pro-Russian separatists” and their purported backer in Moscow. An emerging subset of the theme of Crimea as victim of annexation is that it’s also a land of disappearing human rights.

Given the very high stakes involved in all of this for the future of Europe, if not the world, it is time to step back and examine what is actually taking place in Crimea.

Fact from fiction

The Washington Post published an article on November 28 on the situation in Crimea that is a good example of the part-fact, mostly-fiction and falsehood that prevail in so much of mainstream media presentations of Russia, Ukraine and Crimea today.

The online edition of the article has the ominous title, “Crimea is becoming more Russian – and less hospitable to minorities.” The headline in the print edition is “Crimea’s uneasy slide into Russification.” Neither headline is proven in the published product. The “minorities” referred to in the headline are ethnic Ukrainians, who constitute an estimated 24 percent of Crimea’s population of 2.4 million, and Tatars, a people of Muslim faith who make up 12 percent.

The Post article was reprinted in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper. It likes to think of itself as liberal. But the Star ceased to think and write for itself on matters Ukraine some months ago. It borrows from newswires for its coverage, selecting those stories that fit its editorial stand in support of Kiev’s war and, echoing NATO, tell Russia that it should police into submission the pro-autonomy, anti-austerity rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

The daily UK Guardian published a similar article on Nov. 25 in the form of a column by a pro-Western Russian writer. The writer cites Refat Chubarov, a Tatar politician resident in Ukraine, who says that Russia is preparing a “Chechen scenario” in Crimea, that is, a bloody destructive war. Nothing in the article provides the slightest suggestion of what would drive Russia to launch a war in an otherwise peaceful territory.

Buzzfeed went even further in September, reporting that Crimea’s Tatars are facing a similar fate to the one they suffered in 1944, when they were violently expelled en masse by then-dictator of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.

The Post presents a very dark picture of Crimea today. People of Ukrainian descent are worried they could soon be “wiped away.” The Ukrainian language has “vanished” from schools. Ukrainian Orthodox churches have become “havens” for the persecuted. The church is the “only thing left” of the Ukrainian presence on the Crimean peninsula. Priests have “fled,” and Church authorities have been “forced” (by what or by whom?) to close one-third of their congregations.

The article says a blogger is worried that police will “come for her” because her blog and Facebook page are critical of the post-secession political authorities. A few other residents of Crimea are introduced who are evidently unhappy with the state of affairs in the region. But the reasons for their unhappiness, and possibly that of many other residents of Crimea, are entirely unclear.

It’s a grim picture. Unfortunately for the unknowing reader looking to understand events, the picture is peppered with untruths and exaggerations. And given the language barriers that separate Crimea from the West, it is very difficult for all but the most highly informed (or fluent in Russian or Ukrainian) reader to distinguish fact from fiction.

Let’s start by clearing up the numerous factual inaccuracies in the article. It is not true that Ukrainian language instruction has been removed from schools. Nor has Tatar instruction. The opposite is the case.

The change is that there are no longer any Ukrainian-only schools. Crimea now has three official languages – Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar. Before the changeover in March 2014, there was only one official language – Ukrainian. Schooling in Ukrainian or in Tatar is guaranteed on demand by parents (subject to reasonable limits on minimum numbers of students). [1]

The minister of education of Crimea reports there are 20 schools with classes where all the disciplines are being taught in Ukrainian. One example from a Crimean news report is the schools in the town of Feodosia, where there are 8,500 students. Of those, 139 are studying in Ukrainian and 120 in Tatar.

Another example is in a November 14 news report in the All Crimea news agency concerning a proposed renaming of the “Ukrainian Grammar School” in the capital city Simferopol to the “Academic Gymnasium of Simferopol.” School director Valentina Lavrik explains that the name request came from a majority of parents. Parent assemblies play an important role in the administration of the Russian education system. The news agency reported in August that the teaching language of the school would be Ukrainian for nine classes, serving 14 percent of the children in the school.

Textbooks in Ukrainian and Tatar, yes, are in short supply. That’s because the school curriculum is now that of the Russian education system. But textbooks are being translated into the other two official languages. (Russian-language news report here.) In the meantime, teachers are doing their best, language-wise, with the new curriculum.

One of the problems of Tatar-language education today in Crimea is the legacy of neglect and social underdevelopment of the region. Crimea was an autonomous republic of Ukraine for 60 years. Tatars only began to return to their homeland in large numbers in the late 1980s.

Underdevelopment also affected Ukrainian speakers. The Guardian Weekly reported in November that prior to secession from Ukraine, “not many courses were taught in Ukrainian as it was.” This fits a general pattern of the failure of successive, post-independence (1991) governments in Ukraine “to adequately promote and develop Ukrainian language and culture, including its very important regional and class-based dialects. (This July 2014 article by Ukrainian writer and editor Dmitry Kolesnik describes this challenge.)

The speaker of the Crimean State Council (legislative assembly), Vladimir Konstantinov, told the Kryminform news agency that a key challenge today in improving Tatar language education and government services is the absence of professional training inherited from the past. “There is great demand for teachers and translators of Tartar, and so the training should be organized for them.”

He went on, “Linguistic diversity is a responsibility of Crimea; it is our policy. We have to support it and so it is necessary to spend the necessary money and resources for the development of the Tatar, Ukrainian and Russian languages at the state level.”

I will return to the subject of the legacy of Tatar oppression and discrimination in Ukraine later in the article.

Who is restricting travel?

The Post article speaks of the difficulty of travel between Crimea and Ukraine. It’s an important subject because there is no land connection between Crimea and Russia except through Ukraine. The Post leaves the impression that travel obstacles are Russia’s fault. The opposite is the case.

Only holders of Ukraine-issued travel documents are permitted entry to Ukraine from Crimea. It is not true, as the Post says, that holders of Ukrainian passports must relinquish them if they apply for a Russian passport. Indeed, many Ukrainians rely on their dual citizenship and passports to access social services or receive pensions in both countries. This can be lifesaving for the poorest members of the Ukrainian population.

Residents of Crimea who are Ukrainian citizens are either required to apply for Russian citizenship or, if they choose not to do so and wish to remain a resident in Crimea, they must apply for a permanent residency permit. Human Rights Watch calls this a “coercive” measure, but it sounds very similar to how most countries in the world register those who are resident within their borders.

Human Rights Watch has reported recently that Ukrainian passport holders entering Ukraine from Crimea who are discovered to also hold Russian passports are refused entry.

Meanwhile, foreigners are not permitted entry to Ukraine without special permission because Ukraine does not recognize Crimea as an international entity with which it shares corresponding border procedures. Ukraine cut air travel to Crimea last February.

There is train service. It is heavily policed by Ukrainian authorities. In October, a U.S. journalist with the weekly Workers World newspaper, Greg Butterfield, was refused entry to Ukraine in the middle of the night while traveling by train. He was placed on the next train back to Crimea. An Orwellian twist to the experience was that the border guards assumed him to be a tourist. Presumably, since Ukraine says the political/geographic entity of the new Crimea does not exist, it cannot allow a tourist to cross a “nonexistent” border from “nowhere.” Or something like that.

Church persecution?

The Post suggests there is persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church taking place in Crimea today. But it provides no specific evidence. The examples it does cite are misleading or dubious.

It says church congregations have closed. Yes, but this includes the congregations attached to Ukrainian military bases that were closed when the transition to Russia took place. (Many Ukrainian military personnel opted to stay in the refounded Crimea and join the Russian military).

Additionally, an estimated 20,000 people have opted to move to Ukraine. (Of that number, there are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Tatars, out of the total Crimean Tatar population of 300,000.)

The article claims that 12 percent of Crimea’s population are adherents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but no source is cited. (The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was a split in 1992 with the Moscow-based patriarchy of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The new branch did not become dominant in Ukraine as it hoped.)

How do Crimeans view matters?

Few statistics or overall information on social and economic conditions in Crimea are provided in the Post article or others like it. But the article does say that economic conditions for residents of the region have improved in important respects. The pensions, social services and other public services provided by the Russian Federation are much better financed than those of Ukraine. Meanwhile (not reported in the Post), the Russian government is investing billions of rubles (approximately 50 rubles per US dollar) in social and economic infrastructure in Crimea, and it is encouraging capitalist economic investment, including finding new markets for Crimean goods to counter the economic embargo that Europe and North America imposed against the region beginning last March.

One very big change taking place is the confiscation of large enterprises of the bourgeoisie of Ukraine that previously dominated the economy. Particularly targeted are the billionaire Ukrainians who are financing the war in eastern Ukraine. The biggest loser is Igor Kolomoisky, the notorious billionaire and financier of right-wing parties and militias. He dominates the economy and political life of the region of Dnipropetrovsk in southern Ukraine and owns Ukraine’s largest bank, PrivatBank. The bank’s 65 branches in Crimea have been confiscated.

Though the takeovers are being described in some quarters as “nationalizations,” many of the enterprises will be sold to Russian entrepreneurs.

Dmitry Kolesnik has traveled to Crimea all his life, and he says that improvements in the social wage in Crimea are offsetting the declines in agriculture, tourism and industry caused by the embargo. He says, “In general, there are many problems in Crimea, especially due to the difficult and expensive transport connections. But still, the majority have much higher salaries and pensions, while prices are still lower than in Russia.”

The New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar wrote on July 7, “The annexation still retains broad support in Crimea, since the many Russians living there yearned to be part of the motherland.”

That same month, British-Ukrainian-Russian writer and actress Vera Graziadei traveled to Crimea to investigate how Crimeans were viewing the political changes. She was intensely interested because she has traveled to Crimea every year of her life. She encountered different viewpoints among the people of different ethnicities to whom she spoke. But overall, her findings were summarized in the headline of an extensive written report that she published on her website in September. It was titled, “Crimeans are happier to be a part of Russia than Russians themselves.”

One resident tells The Washington Post, “Our lives have become better. Financially better and morally better. Especially morally.”

The inference here by the Post writer is that the resident speaks for many. Indeed, the writer says, “But many Crimeans are happy to be part of Russia, even if the initial euphoria has dissipated. Some welcome once again being part of a Russian nation to which they always felt connected. Others hold out hope for new economic opportunities. Many say that if it weren’t for Russia’s intervention, they would have had the same bloody experience as eastern Ukraine . . . ”

Here the cat is being let out of the bag. At the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, Crimeans, like many other people in Ukraine, were watching with dismay or horror the ascendance of the extreme right in the protest movement across western Ukraine, called Euromaidan. The maelstrom of violence that unfolded on Maidan Square in Kiev saw the government in power try to suppress the protest movement by force. The neoconservative and extreme-right leaders of the movement and their extreme-right shock troops responded with their own force. Ultimately, they overthrew the elected president, Victor Yanukovych, in late February.

Following the overthrow, as happened even more sharply in eastern Ukraine, armed and violent right-wing and fascist militias began to enter Crimea to impose by violence the “new order” of the new government, namely, its sharp and destructive turn toward austerity and economic association with Europe, which would, in turn, provoke a rupture of economic and other ties to Russia. This looming threat of civil war coming from the new government in Kiev and the right wing and fascist militias that the government leaned upon for support prompted a quick secession referendum in Crimea on March 16. The referendum was organized by the elected legislative assembly of Crimea.

Russia had considerable stake in the unfolding events. Its lease agreement with Ukraine for its Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol was threatened by the new government’s stated intention of joining the NATO fold. But the argument that events amounted to a “Russian annexation” is dogma, not fact.

Yes, Russia acted clumsily. It pretended it was playing no role in facilitating the decision of Crimea’s assembly to hold the referendum. But few serious observers doubt that, even with its haste and democratic imperfections, the “yes” vote for secession reflected the desire of Crimea’s majority to take a pass on Kiev’s course.

Ukraine is today playing its part in the economic squeeze of Crimea, as the Post reports. Ukrainians who enter Crimea can bring only limited cash with them. Ukraine banks are not honoring the accounts of customers. (Similar moves have been taken by Kiev in southeast Ukraine as part of the attempt to “cleanse” the region of its Russian-language majority.)

Ukraine has also restricted the flow of water into Crimea via the large canal that was built as part of the post-WW2 effort. Crimea is an arid region and its agriculture depends heavily on water diverted from rivers in Ukraine.

History and legacy

One of the great ironies of Kiev’s and NATO’s declarations about Crimea today is that they are demanding a return to the political status of Crimea that was decided 60 years ago by the Soviet Union. That was a process that was anything but democratic. Administration of Crimea was switched from the Russian Soviet Federation to the Ukrainian one in 1954 as a measure to facilitate the costly and difficult process of post-World War II reconstruction. The peninsula was one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of the German Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, and it suffered horribly under Nazi occupation.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of independent Ukraine in 1991, living standards in the new country declined and have never recovered to the levels of the late Soviet era for ordinary citizens. In Russia, meanwhile, living standards have risen from the depths of the post-Soviet collapse and are far higher today than in Ukraine. This is largely thanks to buoyant prices of the vast natural resources of Russia that the new class of entrepreneurs (“oligarchs”) sell on the world market.

The Post article is careful to not examine the social and economic conditions prevailing in Crimea before the decision in March to secede, including the conditions of the Tatar minority. That’s because it would challenge the narrative of a Crimea spiraling downward. As described earlier, with respect to education services, the people of the peninsula and the new governing authorities inherit conditions of considerable social underdevelopment and national rights violations.

Writing in December 2012, an American Peace Corps volunteer living in Crimea said that the education system for Tatars at the time was very poor. Only five percent of Tatar children speak the language, said the writer.

Tatar was not an officially recognized language in Ukraine, and the Tatar people had no recognition in the country’s Constitution granting meaningful powers. Prior to 1998, explained the Peace Corps writer, there was no Tatar language school instruction in Crimea. A number of schools were established that year that began to teach in Tatar. By 2008, 3,472 pupils were enrolled.

It wasn’t only education service that was lacking for Tatars. Their national rights as a whole were not recognized. A 2009 article in the Eurasian Daily Monitor reported:

The anniversary [May 18, date of commemoration of the 1944 deportations of Tatars from Crimea by the wartime Soviet Union] coincided with the first World Congress of Crimean Tatars, attended by 800 delegates from 11 countries. The congress, held in the famous Bakhchysaray palace [in Crimea] . . . released the pent up frustrations felt by Crimean Tatars who are dissatisfied with the manner in which they have been treated by successive Ukrainian governments. Throughout much of May, the Crimean Tatar protestors stood outside the cabinet of ministers’ office in Kiev demanding greater attention for their economic and social plight.

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, a veteran Soviet dissident, complained that no legislation has ever been adopted in Ukraine to reinstate the social and legal rights of his people (Voice of America Russian service, May 18). The World Congress called upon the Ukrainian president and prime minister, “to take urgent steps to deliver on all the previously reached agreements, and your instructions and promises regarding the fair resolution of land disputes in Crimea and providing Crimean Tatars with land”

All of the infrastructure of the Crimean Tatars up to their 1944 deportation – theaters, schools, mosques, and other buildings – were expropriated by the Soviet regime and have not been returned . . .

Dzhemilev went on to acquire a seat in the Rada courtesy of the less-than-democratic procedure whereby approximately half the seats in the body are accorded to those electoral machines (“parties,” if you will) that obtain five percent or more of the vote at election time. The party seats are accorded by vote result. Dzhemilev was “re-elected” to the Rada on October 26 of this year as part of the “Petro Poroshenko Bloc.” He is a harsh critic of the “Russian occupation” of Crimea and argues that Tatars have nothing to fear from the right-wing government in Kiev or the ascendant forces of the far right on which it leans for support.

Dzhemilev is also a former head of the Mejlis, a commission of the historic Tatar assembly which is called the Kurultai. The Mejlis’ present claim to represent Tatars is sharply challenged by other Tatar institutions. Dzhemilev and current Mejlis head Refat Chubarov have been barred from entry to Crimea because they are accused of fomenting civil strife, if not civil war.


In 2012, the Ukraine government introduced a language law which made changes to the 1996 Constitution. It granted undefined status to “regional languages” in defined areas where minority language speakers constitute more than ten percent of the population. The law provoked sharp protests from right-wing (and pro-Europe) nationalists in Ukraine, including fistfights in the Rada during its adoption. The protests against the law were incredibly ironic because the measure was a response by the government of the day to insistence by the European Union that Ukraine adhere to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. That’s a convention that accords status to “unofficial” languages in Europe.

The first act of the Rada following the overthrow of Yanukovych in February 2014 was to repeal the 2012 language law. That was huge political blunder and an embarrassment to “democratic” Europe, U.S. and Canada, which had backed the overthrow. The post-overthrow interim president vetoed the measure on February 28.

In Crimea, meanwhile, a new constitution proposed in March 2014 and ratified in April declared Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar as official languages. Before that, Russian and Tatar were recognized languages of the Crimean Constitution. The territory was an autonomous republic of Ukraine with its own constitution, albeit subordinate to Ukraine Constitution and law.

Ukraine was and remains an officially unilingual country, notwithstanding the very large Russian minority that lives there and the fact that Russian is the de facto language of work, government service and the street for much of the country.

Also in Crimea, a new law was adopted in March, “On guarantees of resurrection of the rights for Crimean Tartar people and integration in Crimean community.” (Russian language report here). It was drafted in consultation with officials of the Republic of Tatarstan, one of the constituents of the Russian Federation.

The law is sweeping in scope. It opens the door to recognition and application of the rights of the deportees and descendants of 1944, including a recuperation of lost property. It grants the Tatar language official status and provides for Tatar representation of 20 percent in the governing executive power. It proposes to restore and promote the cultural and historical institutions of the nationality. The law proposes a five-year plan to implement all this.

The Russian Federation has formally recognized the 1944 deportation as an historic crime. This was voiced by Vladimir Putin in March of this year and formally recognized by Russia’s parliament on May 16.

The new law recognizes the Kurultai institution. It is to meet at least once per month. A broad Public Council of the Crimean Tatar People was struck in early November and one of its duties is to organize an election to the Kurultai. The Council includes representatives of more than 20 social, political and cultural organizations of the Tatar population.


Does all of this mean smooth sailing for the Crimean people and its Tatar minority? It would be naïve to think so. The region inherits a legacy of economic and social underdevelopment and is suffering an economic embargo. There is a now-permanent NATO military threat against its existence. It has no land connection to Russia. Civil war is raging in neighbouring Ukraine, and if Crimea were to let down its guard, civil war would be visited upon it by the right-wing government in Kiev and its allied, right-wing militias.

Crimea is under an intense propaganda bombardment by international and Ukrainian media. Dmitry Kolesnik explains, “Ukrainian media are constantly reporting that Crimea faces ‘hunger, … empty shops, . . . empty tourism beaches,’ although I saw nothing of the sort during my recent visit. The media constantly invent the most fantastic stories, never verified by sources. All this is under an intense regime of press censorship.”

While membership in the Russian Federation brings economic advantages to Crimea compared to Ukraine, capitalist Russia is a “managed democracy” in which political and social rights are tightly managed and restricted (not so different than the situation in the West, but that’s another story). Recent reports by Human Rights Watch (in October and November) and by Amnesty International last May on the situation in Crimea are full of hyperbole and unfounded accusations, but they do raise serious concerns about harassment, intimidation and possibly worse directed at those who are unhappy with the new political and social order in Crimea.

Concerns are being raised within the Tatar population over the slow pace of implementation of legal and constitutional changes. The chairman of the “Filli Firka” social rights organization, Enver Cantemir-Umerov, says the changes made earlier this year and reaffirmed during the Sept 14 election to the Crimean regional assembly are not being met. (Russian language report here.)

All this said, the challenges facing Crimea are nothing in comparison to the disaster north of its border. A bloody war is being waged in eastern Ukraine by Kiev, with NATO backing. The war is accompanied by a harsh clampdown on democratic rights throughout the country, including paramilitary gangs that violently assault public expressions of discontent and protests by journalists against a new thought-control “information ministry” of the government. Austerity measures ordered by international lenders in Europe are biting hard. The new minister of finance is a U.S. citizen formerly employed by the U.S. State Department.

Biased, Western media keeps pumping out the message that “It’s Russia, stupid” and that Crimea is sliding into something resembling a Soviet gulag. That’s because the NATO countries’ goal of weakening Russia and crushing the anti-austerity rebellion that has arisen in eastern Ukraine depends upon having a propagandized, misinformed and unengaged public at home.

But the game of lies and deception is slowly coming undone. The sane world needs to turn its attention to how best to assist the Ukrainian people to recover from the current crisis and put their country onto a new path of social justice and national and language equality.

[1]. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced that he will bring a proposal to the recently elected Rada that reaffirms Ukrainian as the only official language of the country. It’s not clear how that might change the 2012 law.

Roger Annis writes frequently for Truthout on events in Ukraine. He is an editor of the new website, The New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond. He was a delegate to the antiwar confrence that took place in Yalta, Crimea on July 6, 7, 2014.

Meeting the Modern-Day Mengeles: America's Torture Doctors

Modern-Day Mengeles: America's Terror War Torture Shrinks

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

One of the "revelations" of the Senate report on CIA torture has been the role played by two psychologists in devising the regimen of torture used by the Agency.

Torture Doc, Bruce Jensen
[A quick but necessary digression: please note that this torture regimen has been lauded as "effective" and "life-saving" by the Obama Administration -- even after the release of the report; indeed, the Administration says that the fruits of these crimes still "inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day."

Torture Doc, James Mitchell
 Just bear that in mind as you read the reams of justified denunciations of the Bush Administration for the commission of these particular crimes by this particular agency. The Bush thugs should be excoriated -- and prosecuted -- for their crimes.
But a multitude of crimes in many forms (including torture) are still being committed by the Terror War machine under Obama -- the man who has stoutly shielded his predecessors from prosecution and now even praises some of their worst crimes.]

But of course there is nothing new in report's uncovering of the psychologists' role. (Except for one element: the fact that these two sinister quacks were paid a whopping $81 million for helping the United States government torture defenseless captives and produce garbage intelligence.) Anyone who wanted to know about their Mengele-style perversion of medical ethics could have read about it in reputable mainstream publications years ago. (Actually, this is also true of almost all the incidents and practices detailed in the report. Anyone who didn't know of these things before now -- especially in the political-media world -- simply didn't want to know of these things.) There were also other psychologists and medical personnel involved in the program after it got started, as Mark Benjamin detailed at back in 2007.

In that same year, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer produced an extensive report on the wide-ranging Terror War torture regimen. The article should have produced a firestorm of outrage and aggressive, in-depth, high-profile investigations from, say, the U.S. Senate, which was then in the control of the Democrats. But as we know, her revelations sank like a stone. And it is very, very likely that the same thing will happen with the newly released (and, it must always be noted, heavily truncated, censored and incomplete) Senate report. Indeed, McClatchy is already reporting that the incoming Republican-controlled Senate will gladly let the report "gather dust," taking no follow-up action. This stance will doubtless please their Terror War partners in the White House, who fought against the release of the report -- and who certainly aren't going to do anything about it.

I wrote about the Mayer and Benjamin articles when they first came out in 2007. Below are a few excerpts, dealing with their reportage on the torture shrinks:

For those who have been following and chronicling the rise of the gulag since its inception (back in the days when its instigators and practitioners were still happy to brag to cheerleading newspapers about "taking the gloves off" and going to "the dark side"), there is not a lot that is new in Mayer's piece. But she has brought it all together with devastating thoroughness and clarity.

Mayer mentions tellingly -- but briefly -- one key aspect of Bush's torture chambers that has been largely overlooked: the key role played by a couple of psychologists in drawing up the sinister regimen (which was also based in part on KGB practices): CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Mark Benjamin of Salon has much more on this pair, who devoted their clinical skills to devising ways to destroy a captive's mind -- in the somewhat bizarre conviction that a destroyed mind can somehow produce useful intelligence. (Benjamin in turn drew on a 2005 piece by Mayer about Mitchell and the Bush Regime's Mengelean use of medical personnel in interrogations.)

Mitchell and Jessen helped run the military's SERE program, originally designed to teach American forces how to resist and survive torture inflicted on them by evil regimes or terrorists. But it turns out that the Rumsfeld Pentagon and its mad scientists were using U.S. soldiers as guinea pigs to help devise their own torture program. For years, the Pentagon flatly denied using SERE tactics on the captives in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was, of course, a lie. 
As Benjamin reports:

Until last month, the Army had denied any use of SERE training for prisoner interrogations. "We do not teach interrogation techniques," Carol Darby, chief spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, said last June when Salon asked about a document that appeared to indicate that instructors from the SERE school taught their methods to interrogators at Guantánamo.
But the declassified DoD inspector general's report described initiatives by high-level military officials to incorporate SERE concepts into interrogations. And it said that psychologists affiliated with SERE training -- people like Mitchell and Jessen -- played a critical role. According to the inspector general, the Army Special Operations Command's Psychological Directorate at Fort Bragg first drafted a plan to have the military reverse-engineer SERE training in the summer of 2002. At the same time, the commander of Guantánamo determined that SERE tactics might be used on detainees at the military prison. Then in September 2002, the Army Special Operations Command and other SERE officials hosted a "SERE psychologist conference" at Fort Bragg to brief staff from the military's prison at Guantánamo on the use of SERE tactics.
And Mayer notes:
The SERE program was designed strictly for defense against torture regimes, but the C.I.A.’s new team used its expertise to help interrogators inflict abuse. “They were very arrogant, and pro-torture,” a European official knowledgeable about the program said. “They sought to render the detainees vulnerable—to break down all of their senses. It takes a psychologist trained in this to understand these rupturing experiences.”

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’”
… Mitchell and Jessen were not experts sought for their dispassionate advice in determining the best policy options for government officials. All the "experts" employed by the Bush Regime are just dupes … or, as with the psychologists, willing stooges, brought in to act as window dressing for policies already decided upon. Bush and Cheney and their minions wanted to torture people -- not only for the psychosexual kick these genuine perverts get from it but also because it was a central element in their drive to establish an authoritarian executive unfettered by any law. They could not, as a matter of "principle," submit to the authority of the Geneva Conventions, American law or Constitutional precepts. They had plenty of scientists and practiced interrogators on hand to tell them that the KGB-SERE system was useless -- indeed, counterproductive -- in producing actionable intelligence. But they chose to listen only to those who told them what they wanted to hear, whose pseudo-science buttressed decisions they had already taken.
I finished that 2007 piece with a paragraph that still holds true today, as a description of the kind of people who hold power in our blood-soaked bipartisan imperial system:

They don't want to govern; they want to rule. They simply cannot be treated -- on any issue whatsoever -- as an ordinary government engaged in ordinary tussles over politics and policy. They are not a government in any traditional sense of the word. They are the criminal vanguard of a radical movement that is now holding the nation hostage. And any political "opposition" that does not recognize this fact is worse than useless; it is, as we've said before, complicit in the gang's crimes.

Long Delayed Barrett Brown Sentencing Hearing Imminent (Maybe)

In advance of sentencing, government blocks the public's right to know


Ahead of the sentencing of Barrett Brown, which is due to happen next Tuesday, December 16th, the government is opposing the public's right to know about a case with extraordinary implications for the public and for the practice of journalists.

On November 19th, Brown's defense attorneys filed their final sentencing memorandum, which is a thorough legal argument in favor of time served for the defendant, including many letters submitted by friends, family and supporters on his behalf.

Because the government's pleadings arguing for a 8 ½ year sentence were made under seal, the defense's filing in response was also sealed, like much of the case.

Arbitrary and inexplicable secrecy, including protective orders and gag orders have abounded in USA v. Barrett Lancaster Brown from the very start.

On Thursday, the defense filed a motion to unseal the sentencing memorandum and attendant exhibits in support of the public's right of access. Incredibly, the government is opposing the release of the sentencing memo.

It seems clear that the government doesn't want journalists to attend the upcoming hearing with an understanding of what issues are at stake, and they don't want further attention to a case that has already proven to be an embarrassment.

Brown has already spent 2 years and 3 months in jail, and now scrutiny of his final hearing and access to the arguments being made by each side is being blocked. This morning, the court ordered that the government respond to the motion by the end of today.

Keep an eye on the case docket (3:12-CR-317-L) to learn what argument prosecutors could possibly have to keep things secret.

Free Barrett Brown calls upon the judge to rule in favor of the public's right to know, and we ask the press not only to follow Brown's sentencing, but to inquire of these government prosecutors about what compels them to prevent observers from learning what's at stake.

Brown is scheduled to be sentenced on 12/16 at the federal courthouse at 1100 Commerce St. in Dallas, TX at 9AM CST.


December 12, 2014

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Defending the Freedom to Drill, Baby, Drill: America's Stake in the South China Sea

From “Assuring Freedom of Navigation” to “Drill, Baby, Drill” in the SCS

by Peter Lee - China Matters

As I predicted a while back, the United States has quietly ditched its old, underperforming pretext for confrontation in the South China Sea and is sidestepping into a new justification.

I do not care deeply about America’s stake in the South China Sea.

So I have little interest in slogging through recent US & PRC contributions to the controversy du jour: the viability or lack thereof of the notorious nine dash line or 9DL under international law.

The only people who should give a sh*t about the South China Sea are the Chinese. Much of the PRC’s trade and Middle East energy pass through the SCS; and the determined US rapprochement with Myanmar (and anti-Chinese activism by the PRC's domestic Myanmar opponents) has threatened one of the PRC’s important energy security countermoves: the Rakhine to Kunming oil and gas pipeline originating beyond the western end of the Malacca Straits.

But the PRC’s conflicts with its SCS neighbors—and the ridiculous burden of the nine-dash line—are China’s key areas of strategic & diplomatic vulnerability. The United States has been working assiduously to exploit the PRC’s difficulties and foreclose the logical trajectory for conflict resolution since 2010, when Hillary Clinton declared the United States had a strategic interest in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, a sea I might point out, which is of overwhelming strategic importance to only one major power, the PRC.

Instead of allowing the conflicts to resolve themselves through bilateral discussions, with the PRC basically sticking it to Vietnam and the Philippines and confirming its dominant strategic posture in the South China Sea, the United States worked overtly to internationalize them through ASEAN and has discretely encouraged the Philippines and Vietnam to defy the PRC and thereby keep the conflicts alive.

Case in point, the apparent sabotage of PRC-Philippine bilateral negotiations over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 by Kurt Campbell and Alberto Del Rosario.

The commentariat apparently swallowed Kurt Campbell’s ridiculous line about the Scarborough Shoal encounter which, stripped of the persiflage, boils down to this:

  • First, the PRC abandoned its desperately defended insistence on bilateral negotiations with the Philippines (and its other SCS interlocutors, for that matter), to settle the affair in a completely Filipino-free environment with one of its most detested adversaries, the Pappy of the Pivot, Kurt Campbell, in a Virginia motel room;
  • Second, the PRC decided virtually instantaneously to renege on the revolutionary initiative they had just negotiated with Campbell.

As a couple carefree hours of googling the English-language Philippine press reveals, this story is BS.

President Aquino was deep in back-channel talks directly with Beijing.

Del Rosario blew up the bilateral initiative and bewildered everybody with jibberjabber accusing the Chinese of reneging on a US-brokered deal that probably existed only in the fertile imagination of Kurt Campbell.

Perhaps it gives the commentariat brainhurt to consider the possibility that Kurt Campbell is yanking its chain and the US might conceivably be guilty of counterproductive and destabilizing behavior in Asia in order to create a strategic opportunity.

I could understand that, I guess. Life and work are easier when you treat Kurt Campbell as a font of insider expertise, instead of calculating dispenser of dodgy and self-serving narratives. The path to fame and fortune in Asia pundit-land is not, I guess, paved with skepticism concerning Kurt Campbell and US talking points.

The SCS is now officially, a thing, something for the military-industrial-think tank complex to batten on.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has institutionalized its handwringing over the SCS in a new initiative, the “AsiaMaritime Transparency Initiative”:

Competing territorial claims, incidents between neighboring countries, and increasing militarization, however, raise the possibility that an isolated event at sea could become a geopolitical catastrophe. This is all occurring against a backdrop of relative opaqueness. Geography makes it difficult to monitor events as they occur, and there is no public, reliable authority for information on maritime developments.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative seeks to change this. AMTI was conceived of and designed by CSIS. It is an interactive, regularly-updated source for information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia. AMTI aims to promote transparency in the Indo-Pacific to dissuade assertive behavior and conflict and generate opportunities for cooperation and confidence building.

There may be circumstances when AMTI cannot confidently de-conflict contradictory but credible accounts of the same event. In such cases, we will be guided by our advisory board as to whether to post the event showing multiple, plausible accounts, or await further information.

AMTI is made possible by Asia Program internal funding as well as a start-up grant from the Brzezinski Institute on Geostrategy. CSIS is in the process of soliciting funding for the initiative from governments in Asia, as well as corporate and foundation support.

I see a platform to document, broadcast and legitimize anti-PRC talking points in anticipation of SCS clashes in line with the close-surveillance “naming and shaming” tactics previously proposed to put a crimp in PRC’s seaborne mischief. Prove me wrong, I beg you.

In my piece from earlier this year, reproduced below, I argue that Campbell’s motive in 2014 was to retroactively frame the PRC as the great betrayer of peace and security in the SCS, in order to deal with the fact that the PRC had neutralized the “threat to freedom of navigation” gambit—and in fact in mid 2014 turned it on its head and made an apparent spectacle of US doctrinal impotence by freely navigating the HYSY 981 oil rig through the South China Sea—and provide a narrative basis for justifying an overt US slide toward a new, hopefully more effective but also overtly anti-PRC position.

I think we’ve seen that with the release of the US paper. By declaring its opinion that the nine-dash line doesn’t conform to the international law of the sea (I will not excessively belabor the fact that the US itself has not ratified UNCLOS), the US government is not only “taking sides”; it is taking the position that the PRC is improperly denying US interests their fair access to the oily goodness of the South China Sea. Or as Jeffrey Bader put it, US interests include:

To ensure that all countries, including the U.S., have the right to exploit the mineral and fish resources outside of legitimate Exclusive Economic Zones.

This is a touch disingenuous, perhaps. Since Vietnam is not abandoning its claim to the PRC-occupied Spratlys—and claims a corresponding EEZ all the way up to the Philippine EEZ—there might not be any UNCLOS-certified mutually-agreed free-and-clear seabed for the US to sashay into.

But by abandoning the non-flying “threat to freedom of navigation” canard in favor of the “Hey, we got a right to drill in the SCS, dammit!” repudiation of the 9DL, the United States can finally claim some real skin in the game, if not in international waters, then maybe in a consortium exploiting stuff within an EEZ.

Perhaps the next shoe to drop or splash (assuming the arbitral committee comes up with a suitable repudiation of the nine-dash line) might be for an international flotilla including US ships to shield an internationally-financed (with US investment, natch) Phillipines-sanctioned survey ship or drilling rig off the Recto Bank from Chinese harassment in a mirror-image to the crowd of PRC ships that surrounded the HYSY 981 in its foray in contested waters off the Spratlys. If that works, maybe Vietnam might get into the energy incident act as well. Maybe India and Japan will be emboldened to make good on their promises and pitch in, too. Maybe.

If there’s a collision, I expect the AMTI website to get very busy, in this case replicating the parade of Japanese videos released on the occasion of PRC-Japan Senkaku encounters.

Trouble is, I think the PRC is not going to back down. Its lengthy riposte to the Philippine arbitration case is an indicator that it has the determination to defy/ignore an unfavorable ruling.

I think the PRC will act on the assumption its existential interest in the SCS will trump the US determination to embarrass and inconvenience the PRC in its own backyard. And we will get caught in an escalatory spiral which, despite the financial and psychic benefits it dispenses to the armed services, defense contractors, and pundits, will be expensive, destabilizing, and ultimately counterproductive to US interests and prestige.

In other words, ten years from now we might not be celebrating the time we stopped Chinese aggression, ah, excuse me, assertiveness at Fiery Cross Reef and assured the security of our Philippine coconut milk supplies 4evah, and instead might ask ruefully, “Since when did we think it was a good idea to twist the PRC’s nuts repeatedly on the SCS?”

We’ve made our watery geostrategic bed in the South China Sea. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out to be our grave.

Weaponized Impunity: Torture and Police Killings in Militarized America

Torture, police killings and the militarization of America

by Bill Van Auken - WSWS

The fact that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report exposing CIA torture has been released in the United States as the country is being swept by angry protests over a series of vicious and unpunished police killings has been little noted by the American mass media.

What are treated as unrelated stories are, in fact, two facets of the same phenomenon: the growth of a massive and criminal police state apparatus that enjoys absolute impunity. The crimes carried out abroad and the crimes carried out at home have a common source in an economic and social system that is in deep crisis and whose overriding features are social inequality, militarism and a relentless assault on basic democratic rights.

The cops who shot down unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, strangled to death Eric Garner in Staten Island and killed defenseless individuals in Cleveland, Phoenix and elsewhere go unpunished as prosecutors employ a deliberate system of exoneration by grand jury to prevent them from ever being called to account for their crimes.

The actions in the Senate report are sufficient to require the immediate arrest and prosecution not merely of the CIA’s killers and torturers, but of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice and other top officials who authorized and oversaw a system of depravity and violence in violation of both US and international law.

Yet no one in the US Congress, the Obama administration or any other section of the American ruling establishment suggests that such prosecutions are even remotely possible. On Thursday, Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, himself implicated in the crimes, organized a press conference from CIA headquarters in Langley to defend the “enhanced interrogation” torture program and denounce the Senate report.

It was Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who told an approving congressional committee in 2002 that “there was ‘before 9/11 and after 9/11.’ After 9/11 the gloves came off.”

The phrase, conjuring up the image of a bare-knuckled brawl, became a favorite cliché within both the Bush White House and the US military command. It was translated into far more gruesome forms of violence, ranging from waterboarding to hanging people from manacles and “rectal hydration.”

But the “gloves” that were taken off had more far-reaching implications. They involved dispensing with any adherence to the US Constitution, the Geneva Conventions or other bodies of domestic and international law.

The gloves came off not just for the interrogators at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and CIA black sites scattered across the globe, but for every level of the state, down to the local police.

Whatever Obama may say today about torture being “contrary to our values,” this process has only qualitatively deepened over the course of his presidency.

Mr. Obama’s “values” allow him to arrogate to himself the power to designate American citizens as enemy terrorists and order their execution via drone missile strikes with absolutely no judicial review. They permit the codification into law of his supposed right to declare anyone, American or foreign national, an enemy combatant and lock him away in indefinite detention without charges or trial. And they are in concert with his presiding over a massive expansion of domestic and foreign spying that encompasses virtually all forms of communication of innocent people across the globe.

This same process has found noxious expression within local police departments across the United States. “Homeland security” policing has become the new standard, in which “national security” is the overriding principle, and the entire population is looked on as potential enemies. The fradulent narrative of a never-ending “war on terrorism” has become an all-purpose justification for arbitrary and disproportionate violence leading to murder.

The military-police mindset has been embodied in the creation of Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country, bringing local cops together with Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal agencies. At the same time, billions of dollars worth of military hardware, from assault rifles to armored vehicles, are being funneled annually from the Pentagon to local police departments, creating a militarized force suitable for deployment in a domestic war.

The real significance of these developments was demonstrated first in the martial law lockdown of the Boston metropolitan area following the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013. An entire population was turned into prisoners in their own homes and subjected to warrantless searches by helmeted and machine-gun toting police backed by armored vehicles—all supposedly to capture one 19-year-old youth.

More recently in Ferguson, peaceful protests against police murder have been met with cops who look like they are headed for combat in Afghanistan, followed by the Missouri governor’s preemptive declaration of a state of emergency and callout of the National Guard in anticipation of further protests over the grand jury’s failure to indict the killer cop.

In the course of the current protests over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, there has been a concerted attempt by political forces ranging from President Obama to the millionaire operative Al Sharpton, along with a network of organizations orbiting the Democratic Party, to insist that the entire issue is one of racism, to be answered by a “conversation on race,” a “new civil rights movement” or various police reform palliatives.

All of this is meant to divert popular outrage into safer channels and conceal a far more sinister reality. A militarized police force, working in close collaboration with the US military and intelligence complex, is being prepared for violent repression against the working class as a whole. It will be used against strikes, demonstrations, protests and other forms of opposition to the policies of the corporate and financial elite.

Torture, police killings, the destruction of core democratic rights—all are methods employed by a criminal ruling class whose wealth is secured through financial parasitism. It has built up its fortunes by transferring social wealth from the working class—the overwhelming majority of the population—to the top 1 percent, while employing militarist violence to further its plunder abroad.

These ruling layers operate not out of strength or confidence in their system, but rather out of fear. They know that record levels of social inequality are not only incompatible with democracy, but must give rise to social revolt at the next, inevitable eruption of global financial crisis. If the torturers and the police killers enjoy impunity, it is because preparations are being made to turn them loose against a rebellious population.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pacifists Sentenced for Drone Protest

Missouri Judge Convicts and Sentences Two Peace Activists for Protesting Drone Warfare


Jefferson City, MO - On December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of Kansas City, MO and Chicagoan Kathy Kelly guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at Whiteman AFB.

In testimony, Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden.

Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced Kelly (left) to three months in prison and Walker to one year of supervised probation. 

“I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare,” said Kelly.
 “The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people. In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.”

During sentencing, prosecution attorneys asked that Walker be sentenced to five years of probation and banned from going within 500 feet of any military base. Judge Whitworth imposed a sentence of one year probation with a condition that Walker refrain from approaching any military base for one year. Walker coordinates an organization that provides re-entry services to newly released prisoners throughout Missouri.

Noting that the condition to stay away from military bases will affect her ability to travel in the region, Walker expressed concern that this condition will limit her work among former prisoners.

Kelly’s work as a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence places her alongside people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul. She said that the day’s proceedings offered a valuable opportunity to shed light on experiences of Afghan families whose grievances are seldom heard.

At the conclusion of the sentencing, Kelly said that every branch of U.S. government, including the judicial branch, shares responsibility for suffering caused when drones target and kill civilians.

For immediate release
December 11, 2014

Contact: Buddy Bell
312 647 9345
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
773 619 2418

Inverted Totalitarianism and the Imperative of Revolt

The Imperative of Revolt

by Chris Hedges - Truthdig

TORONTO - I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

“If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens,” Saul said during our meeting Wednesday in Toronto, where he lives. “At a certain point when the financial system is wrong it falls apart. And it did. And it will fall apart again.”

“The collapse started in 1973,” Saul continued. “There were a series of sequential collapses afterwards. The fascinating thing is that between 1850 and 1970 we put in place all sorts of mechanisms to stop collapses which we can call liberalism, social democracy or Red Toryism. It was an understanding that we can’t have boom-and-bust cycles. We can’t have poverty-stricken people. We can’t have starvation. The reason today’s collapses are not leading to what happened in the 18th century and the 19th century is because all these safety nets, although under attack, are still in place. But each time we have a collapse we come out of it stripping more of the protection away. At a certain point we will find ourselves back in the pre-protection period. At that point we will get a collapse that will be incredibly dramatic. I have no idea what it will look like. A revolution from the left? A revolution from the right? Is it violence followed by state violence? Is it the collapse of the last meaningful edges of democracy? Is it a sudden decision by a critical mass of people that they are not going to take it anymore?”

This devolution of the economic system has been accompanied by corporations’ seizure of nearly all forms of political and social power. The corporate elite, through a puppet political class and compliant intellectuals, pundits and press, still employs the language of a capitalist democracy. But what has arisen is a new kind of control, inverted totalitarianism, which Wolin brilliantly dissects in his book “Democracy Incorporated.”

Inverted totalitarianism does not replicate past totalitarian structures, such as fascism and communism. It is therefore harder to immediately identify and understand. There is no blustering demagogue. There is no triumphant revolutionary party. There are no ideologically drenched and emotional mass political rallies. The old symbols, the old iconography and the old language of democracy are held up as virtuous. The old systems of governance—electoral politics, an independent judiciary, a free press and the Constitution—appear to be venerated. But, similar to what happened during the late Roman Empire, all the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.

The corporate state, Wolin told me at his Oregon home, is “legitimated by elections it controls.” It exploits laws that once protected democracy to extinguish democracy; one example is allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions in the name of our First Amendment right to free speech and our right to petition the government as citizens. “It perpetuates politics all the time,” Wolin said, “but a politics that is not political.” The endless election cycles, he said, are an example of politics without politics, driven not by substantive issues but manufactured political personalities and opinion polls. There is no national institution in the United States “that can be described as democratic,” he said.

The mechanisms that once allowed the citizen to be a participant in power—from participating in elections to enjoying the rights of dissent and privacy—have been nullified. Money has replaced the vote, Wolin said, and corporations have garnered total power without using the cruder forms of traditional totalitarian control: concentration camps, enforced ideological conformity and the physical suppression of dissent. They will avoid such measures “as long as that dissent remains ineffectual,” he said. “The government does not need to stamp out dissent. The uniformity of imposed public opinion through the corporate media does a very effective job.”

The state has obliterated privacy through mass surveillance, a fundamental precondition for totalitarian rule, and in ways that are patently unconstitutional has stripped citizens of the rights to a living wage, benefits and job security. And it has destroyed institutions, such as labor unions, that once protected workers from corporate abuse.

Inverted totalitarianism, Wolin has written, is “only in part a state-centered phenomenon.” It also represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry.”

Corporate power works in secret. It is unseen by the public and largely anonymous. Politicians and citizens alike often seem blissfully unaware of the consequences of inverted totalitarianism, Wolin said in the interview. And because it is a new form of totalitarianism we do not recognize the radical change that has gradually taken place. Our failure to grasp the new configuration of power has permitted the corporate state to rob us through judicial fiat, a process that culminates in a disempowered population and omnipotent corporate rulers. Inverted totalitarianism, Wolin said, “projects power upwards.” It is “the antithesis of constitutional power.”

“Democracy has been turned upside down,” Wolin said. “It is supposed to be a government for the people, by the people. But it has become an organized form of government dominated by groups that are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or responsive to popular needs and popular demands. At the same time, it retains a patina of democracy. We still have elections. They are relatively free. We have a relatively free media. But what is missing is a crucial, continuous opposition that has a coherent position, that is not just saying no, no, no, that has an alternative and ongoing critique of what is wrong and what needs to be remedied.”

Wolin and Saul, echoing Karl Marx, view unfettered and unregulated capitalism as a revolutionary force that has within it the seeds of its own self-annihilation. It is and always has been deeply antagonistic to participatory democracy, they said. Democratic states must heavily regulate and control capitalism, for once capitalism is freed from outside restraint it seeks to snuff out democratic institutions and abolish democratic rights that are seen—often correctly—as an impediment to maximizing profit. The more ruthless and pronounced global corporate capitalism becomes, the greater the loss of democratic space.

“Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate customs, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy,” Wolin said. “That is where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. It wants a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. The [capitalist’s] notion of an economy, while broadly based in the sense of a relatively free entrance and property that is relatively widely dispersed, is as elitist as any aristocratic system.”

Wolin and Saul said they expect the state, especially in an age of terminal economic decline, to employ more violent and draconian forms of control to keep restive populations in check. This coercion, they said, will fuel discontent and unrest, which will further increase state repression.

“People with power use the tools they have,” Saul said. “As the West has gradually lost its economic tool it has turned to what remains, which are military tools and violence. The West still has the most weaponry. Even if they are doing very badly economically in a global sense, they can use the weaponry to replace the economics or replace competition.”

“They decided that capitalism and the market was about the right to have the cheapest possible goods,” Saul said. “That is what competition meant. This is a lie. No capitalist philosopher ever said that. As you bring the prices down below the capacity to produce them in a middle-class country you commit suicide. As you commit suicide you have to ask, ‘How do we run this place?’ And you have to run it using these other methods—bread and circuses, armies, police and prisons.”

The liberal class—which has shriveled under the corporate onslaught and a Cold War ideology that held up national security as the highest good—once found a home in the Democratic Party, the press, labor unions and universities. It made reform possible. Now, because it is merely decorative, it compounds the political and economic crisis. There is no effective organized opposition to the rise of a neofeudalism dominated a tiny corporate oligarchy that exploits workers and the poor.

“The reform class, those who believe that reform is possible, those who believe in humanism, justice and inclusion, has become incredibly lazy over the last 30 or 40 years,” Saul said. “The last hurrah was really in the 1970s. Since then they think that getting a tenured position at Harvard and waiting to get a job in Washington is actually an action, as opposed to passivity.”

“One of the things we have seen over the last 30 or 40 years is a gradual silencing of people who are doctors or scientists,” Saul said. “They are silenced by the managerial methodology of contracts. You sign an employment contract that says everything you know belongs to the people who hired you. You are not allowed to speak out. Take that [right] away and you have a gigantic educated group who has a great deal to say and do, but they are tied up. They don’t know how to untie themselves. They come out with their Ph.D. They are deeply in debt. The only way they can get a job is to give up their intellectual freedom. They are prisoners.”

Resistance, Wolin and Saul agreed, will begin locally, with communities organizing to form autonomous groups that practice direct democracy outside the formal power structures, including the two main political parties. These groups will have to address issues such as food security, education, local governance, economic cooperation and consumption. And they will have to sever themselves, as much as possible, from the corporate economy.

Richard Rorty talked about how you take power,” Saul said. “You go out and win the school board elections. You hold the school board. You reform the schools. Then you win the towns. And you stay there. And you hold it for 30 to 40 years. And gradually you bring in reforms that improve things. It isn’t about three years in Washington on a contract. There has to be a critical mass of leaders willing to ruin their lives as part of a large group that figures out how to get power and hold power at all of these levels, gradually putting reforms in place.”

I asked them if a professional revolutionary class, revolutionists dedicated solely to overthrowing the corporate state, was a prerequisite. Would we have to model any credible opposition after Vladimir Lenin’s disciplined and rigidly controlled Bolsheviks or Machiavelli’s republican conspirators? Wolin and Saul, while deeply critical of Lenin’s ideology of state capitalism and state terror, agreed that creating a class devoted full time to radical change was essential to fomenting change. There must be people, they said, willing to dedicate their lives to confronting the corporate state outside traditional institutions and parties. Revolt, for a few, must become a vocation. The alliance between mass movements and a professional revolutionary class, they said, offers the best chance for an overthrow of corporate power.

“It is extremely important that people are willing to go into the streets,” Saul said. “Democracy has always been about the willingness of people to go into the streets. When the Occupy movement started I was pessimistic. I felt it could only go a certain distance. But the fact that a critical mass of people was willing to go into the streets and stay there, without being organized by a political party or a union, was a real statement. If you look at that, at what is happening in Canada, at the movements in Europe, the hundreds of thousands of people in Spain in the streets, you are seeing for the first time since the 19th century or early 20th century people coming into the streets in large numbers without a real political structure. These movements aren’t going to take power. But they are a sign that power and the respect for power is falling apart. What happens next? It could be dribbled away. But I think there is the possibility of a new generation coming in and saying we won’t accept this. That is how you get change. A new generation comes along and says no, no, no. They build their lives on the basis of that no.”

But none of these mass mobilizations, Saul and Wolin emphasized, will work unless there is a core of professional organizers.

“Anarchy is a beautiful idea, but someone has to run the stuff,” Saul said. “It has to be run over a long period of time. Look at the rise and fall of the Chinese empires. For thousands of years it has been about the rise and fall of the water systems. Somebody has to run the water system. Somebody [in modern times] has to keep the electricity going. Somebody has to make the hospitals work.”

“You need a professional or elite class devoted to profound change,” Saul said. “If you want to get power you have to be able to hold it. And you have to be able to hold it long enough to change the direction. The neoconservatives understood this. They have always been Bolsheviks. They are the Bolsheviks of the right. Their methodology is the methodology of the Bolsheviks. They took over political parties by internal coups d’état. They worked out, scientifically, what things they needed to do and in what order to change the structures of power. They have done it stage by stage. And we are living the result of that. The liberals sat around writing incomprehensible laws and boring policy papers. They were unwilling to engage in the real fight that was won by a minute group of extremists.”

“You have to understand power to reform things,” Saul said. “If you don’t understand power you get blown away by the guy who does. We are missing people who believe in justice and at the same time understand how tough power and politics are, how to make real choices. And these choices are often quite ugly.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kinder Morgan's Sordid History

REPORT: Energy Giant Kinder Morgan’s History of Pollution, Law-Breaking, Cover-ups 

by Sightline Institute

 As company seeks expansion of coal transport, host communities are wary.

A new Sightline Institute report finds energy giant Kinder Morgan has an alarming track record of pollution, law-breaking, and cover-ups in communities where it operates throughout North America. As the company seeks to expand its operations from coast to coast, swelling its coal terminals and oil pipelines, local decisionmakers are taking note of the company’s pattern of misbehavior nationwide.

Kinder Morgan has been found guilty of numerous violations:

Kinder Morgan has been fined numerous times by the US government for stealing coal from customers’ stockpiles, lying to air pollution regulators, illegally mixing hazardous waste into gasoline, and many other crimes.

Kinder Morgan’s pipelines are plagued by leaks and explosions, including two large and dangerous spills in residential neighborhoods in Canada. One hedge fund analyst has accused the firm of “starving” its pipelines of maintenance spending.

Kinder Morgan was convicted on six felony counts after one of its pipelines in California exploded, killing five workers.

In Louisiana, Kinder Morgan’s terminal spills coal directly into the Mississippi River and nearby wetlands.

The pollution is so heavy that satellite photos show coal-polluted water spreading from the facility in black plumes. The same site generates so much wind-blown coal dust that nearby residents won a class action lawsuit because their homes and belongings are so often covered in coal dust.

In South Carolina, coal dust from Kinder Morgan’s terminal contaminates the bay’s oysters, pilings, and boats. Locals have videotaped the company washing coal directly into sensitive waterways.

In Houston, Kinder Morgan’s terminal operators leave coal and petcoke, a highly toxic byproduct of oil refining, piled several stories high on its properties. The company’s petcoke operations are so dirty that even the firm’s promotional literature shows plumes of black dust blowing off its equipment.

In Virginia, Kinder Morgan’s coal export terminal is an open sore on the neighborhood, coating nearby homes in dust so frequently that the mayor has spoken out about the problem.

In Oregon, Kinder Morgan officials bribed a ship captain to illegally dump contaminated material at sea, and the firm’s operations have repeatedly polluted the Willamette River.

As the company’s spokesperson said when the firm was pushing a failed coal export plan in Oregon, “What we’re proposing is not something we don’t already do.” The report’s author, Sightline Institute policy director Eric de Place, says, “That’s exactly the problem. Kinder Morgan has demonstrated a consistent lack of regard and respect for the communities where it does business.”

The full report is available at

Hear audio from a press call on the report.

Published: December 9, 2014
Media Contact:

Serena Larkin
Communications Associate
206-447-1880 x 111

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2014

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Loretta Napoleoni, Peter Liddell, Janine Bandcroft Dec. 10, 2014

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

It may be easier, even strangely reassuring, to think of ISIS, aka ISIL, or "Islamic State" as it prefers to be called, as just another in the long string of terrorist entities to have popped up over the last twenty years or so; but that would be a serious "misunderestimation" of what is currently going on in the former Iraq, Syria, and the Levant.

Or so economist, syndicated journalist, and best-selling author Loretta Napoleoni warns. Napoleoni knows her terror, having first written in her book, 'Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks' about the financial infrastructure underpinning 20th Century social radical movements in Europe and the Middle East.

Listen. Hear.

She followed Terror Incorporated with: 'Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation,' 'ROGUE ECONOMICS Capitalism’s New Reality,' 'TERRORISM AND THE ECONOMY: How the War on Terror is Bankrupting the World,' '10 YEARS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD: A Timeline of Events from 2001, 'MAONOMICS: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do,' and her latest, 'The Islamist Phoenix: Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East.'

Loretta Napoleoni in the first half.

And; tucked away on the edges of Saanich, above the hum of the Pat Bay Highway, is Haliburton Farm. The nine and a half acre organic community farm, sitting in the middle of a regular suburban neighbourhood has attracted attention from urban farmers the world over. Peter Liddell is one of the community volunteers sitting on Haliburton's board of directors, and he took me for a turn around the farm last week.

Peter Liddell and a unique farming model pioneered here in Saanich in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around our city in the coming week, and beyond there too. But first, Loretta Napoleoni and an Islamic Phoenix rising in the Middle East.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: And now heard at Simon Fraser University's . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Brand on Torture Release

CIA Torture: What Should We Think?

by Russell Brand - The Trews E207

Reaction to news that a landmark report on CIA torture after 9/11 has been released today.

Produced directed & edited by Gareth Roy.
Trews Theme by The Rubberbandits
Thanks to Jimi Mackay: @jimimackay
and Urban Nerds: @urban_nerds for our creative services

Subscribe Here Now: and send links to video news items of topical stories that you'd like me to analyse.

Cornering Russia, Freezing the World

Washington’s Frozen War Against Russia

by Diana Johnstone - CounterPunch

For over a year, the United States has played out a scenario designed to (1) reassert U.S. control over Europe by blocking E.U. trade with Russia, (2) bankrupt Russia, and (3) get rid of Vladimir Putin and replace him with an American puppet, like the late drunk, Boris Yeltsin.

The past few days have made crystal clear the perfidy of the economic side of this U.S. war against Russia.

It all began at the important high-level international meeting on Ukraine’s future held in Yalta in September 2013, where a major topic was the shale gas revolution which the United States hoped to use to weaken Russia. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to make the pitch, applauded by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Washington hoped to use its fracking techniques to provide substitute sources for natural gas, driving Russia out of the market. This amounts to selling Europe a pig in a poke.

But this trick could not be accomplished by relying on the sacrosanct “market”, since fracking is more costly than Russian gas extraction. A major crisis was necessary in order to distort the market by political pressures. By the February 22 coup d’état, engineered by Victoria Nuland, the United States effectively took control of Ukraine, putting in power its agent “Yats” (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) who favors joining NATO. This direct threat to Russia’s naval base in Crimea led to the referendum which peacefully returned the historically Russian peninsula to Russia. But the U.S.-led chorus condemned the orderly return of Crimea as “Russian military aggression”. This defensive move is trumpeted by NATO as proof of Putin’s intention to invade Russia’s European neighbors for no reason at all.

Meanwhile, the United States’ economic invasion has gone largely unnoticed.

Ukraine has some of the largest shale gas reserves in Europe. Like other Europeans, Ukrainians had demonstrated against the harmful environmental results of fracking on their lands, but unlike some other countries, Ukraine has no restrictive legislation. Chevron is already getting involved.

As of last May, R. Hunter Biden, son of the U.S. Vice President, is on the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer. The young Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and contribute to its “international expansion”.

Ukraine has rich soil as well as shale oil reserves. The U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill is particularly active in Ukraine, investing in grain elevators, animal feed, a major egg producer and agribusiness firm, UkrLandFarming, as well as the Black Sea port at Novorossiysk. The very active U.S.-Ukraine Business Council includes executives of Monsanto, John Deere, agriculture equipment-maker CNH Industrial, DuPont Pioneer, Eli Lilly & Company. Monsanto plans to build a $140 million “non-GMO corn seed plant in Ukraine”, evidently targeting the GMO-shy European market. It was in her speech at a Chevron-sponsored meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council a year ago that Victoria Nuland mentioned the five billion dollars spent by the U.S. in the last twenty years to win over Ukraine.

On December 2, President Poroshenko swore in three foreigners as cabinet ministers: an American, a Lithuanian and a Georgian. He granted them Ukrainian citizenship a few minutes before the ceremony.

U.S. born Natalie Jaresko is Ukraine’s new Finance Minister. With a Ukrainian family background and degrees from Harvard and DePaul universities, Jaresko went from the State Department to Kiev when Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, in order to head the economic department of the newly opened U.S. embassy. Three years later she left the U.S. Embassy to head the U.S. government-financed Western NIS Enterprise Fund. In 2004 she established her own equity fund. As a supporter of the 2004 Orange Revolution, she served on “Orange” victor President Viktor Yushchenko’s Foreign Investors Advisory Council.

Lithuanian investment banker Aivaras Abromavicius is the new Economy Minister, putting government economic policy clearly under U.S. influence, or rather control.

The new Health Minister, Aleksandr Kvitashvili from Georgia, is U.S.-educated and does not speak Ukrainian. He had served as health minister in his native Georgia, when U.S. puppet Mikheil Saakashvili was President.

The U.S. grip on Ukraine’s economy is now complete. The stage is set to begin fracking, perhaps transforming Hunter Biden into Ukraine’s newest oligarch.

Nobody is mentioning this, but the controversial trade agreement between the E.U. and Ukraine, whose postponement set off the Maidan protests leading to the U.S.-steered February 22 coup d’état, removes trade barriers, allowing free entry into E.U. countries of agricultural exports produced in Ukraine by U.S. corporations. The Ukrainian government is deeply in debt, but that will not prevent American corporations from making huge profits in that low-wage, regulation-free and fertile country. European grain producers, such as France, may find themselves severely damaged by the cheap competition.

The Russophobic Kiev government’s assault on Southeastern Ukraine is killing the country’s industrial sector, whose markets were in Russia. But to Kiev’s rulers from Western Ukraine, that does not matter. The death of old industry can help keep wages low and profits high.

Just as Americans decisively took control of the Ukrainian economy, Putin announced cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline project. The deal was signed in 2007 between Gazprom and the Italian petrochemical company ENI, in order to ensure Russian gas deliveries to the Balkans, Austria and Italy by bypassing Ukraine, whose unreliability as a transit country had been demonstrated by repeated failure to pay bills or syphoning of gas intended for Europe for its own use. The German Wintershall and the French EDF also invested in South Stream.

In recent months, U.S. representatives began to put pressure on the European countries involved to back out of the deal. South Stream was a potential life-saver for Serbia, still impoverished by the results of NATO bombing and fire-sale giveaways of its privatized industries to foreign buyers. Aside from much-needed jobs and energy security, Serbia was in line to earn 500 million euros in annual transit fees. Belgrade resisted warnings that Serbia must go along with E.U. foreign policy against Russia in order to retain its status as candidate to join the E.U.

The weak link was Bulgaria, earmarked for similar benefits as the landing point of the pipeline. U.S. Ambassador to Sofia Marcie Ries started warning Bulgarian businessmen that they could suffer from doing business with Russian companies under sanctions. The retiring president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso from Portugal, who used to be a “Maoist” back when “Maoism” was the cover for opposition to Soviet-backed liberation movements in Portugal’s African colonies, threatened Bulgaria with E.U. proceedings for irregularities in South Stream contracts. This refers to E.U. rules against allowing the same company to produce and transfer gas. In short, the E.U. was attempting to apply its own rules retroactively to a contract signed with a non-EU country before the rules were adopted.

Finally, John McCain flew into Sofia to browbeat the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, to pull out of the deal, leaving South Stream out in the Black Sea without a point of entry onto the Balkan mainland.

This is all very funny considering that a favorite current U.S. war propaganda theme against Russia is that Gazprom is a nefarious political weapon used by Putin to “coerce” and “bully” Europe.

The only evidence is that Russia has repeatedly called on Ukraine to pay its long-overdo gas bills. In vain.

Cancellation of South Stream amounts to a belated blow to Serbia from NATO. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic bewailed the loss of South Stream, noting that:

“We are paying the price of a conflict between big powers”.

Italian partners to the deal are also very unhappy at the big losses. But E.U. officials and media are, as usual, blaming it all on Putin.

Perhaps, when you are repeatedly insulted and made to feel unwelcome, you go away. Putin took his gas pipeline project to Turkey and immediately sold it to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. This looks like a good deal for Russia, and for Turkey, but the whole affair remains ominous.

Russian oil as a means of coercion? If Putin could use Gazprom to get Erdogan to change his policy on Syria, and drop his determination to overthrow Bachar al Assad, in order to defeat the Islamic State fanatics, that would be an excellent outcome. But so far, there is no sign of such a development.

The switch from the Balkans to Turkey deepens the gulf between Russia and Western Europe, which in the long run is harmful to both. But it also sharpens the economic inequality between Northern and Southern Europe. Germany still gets gas deliveries from Russia, notably from Gerhard Schroeder’s co-project with Putin, Nord Stream. But Southern European countries, already in deep crisis caused largely by the euro, are left out in the cold. This turn of events might contribute to the political revolt that is growing in those countries.

As voices were being raised in Italy complaining that anti-Russian sanctions were hurting Europe but leaving the United States unscathed, Europeans could take comfort in kind words from the Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House, who praised the European Union for doing the right thing, even though it is “tough on the European economy”.

In a speech to leading CEOs on December 3, Obama said the sanctions were intended to change Putin’s “mindset”, but didn’t think this would succeed. He is waiting for “the politics inside Russia” to “catch up with what’s happening in the economy, which is why we are going to continue to maintain that pressure.” This was another way of saying that stealing Russia’s natural gas market, forcing Europe to enact sanctions, and getting Washington’s bigoted stooges in Saudi Arabia to bring down petroleum prices by flooding the market, are all intended to make the Russian people blame Putin enough to get rid of him. Regime change, in short.

On December 4, the U.S. House of Representatives officially exposed the U.S. motive behind this mess by adopting what must surely be the worst piece of legislation ever adopted: Resolution 758. The Resolution is a compendium of all the lies floated against Vladimir Putin and Russia over the past year. Never perhaps have so many lies been crammed into a single official document of that length. And yet, this war propaganda was endorsed by a vote of 411 to 10. If, despite this call for war between two nuclear powers, there are still historians in the future, they must judge this resolution as proof of the total failure of the intelligence, honesty and sense of responsibility of the political system that Washington is trying to force on the entire world

Ron Paul has written an excellent analysis of this shameful document. and

Whatever one may think of Paul’s domestic policies, on international affairs he stands out as a lone – very lone – voice of reason. (Yes, there was Dennis Kucinich too, but they got rid of him by gerrymandering his district off the map.)

After a long list of “Whereas” lies, insults and threats, we get the crass commercial side of this dangerous campaign. The House calls on European countries to “reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use its supply of energy as a means of applying political and economic pressure on other countries, including by promoting increased natural gas and other energy exports from the United States and other countries” and “urges the President to expedite the United States Department of Energy’s approval of liquefied natural gas exports to Ukraine and other European countries”.

The Congress is ready to risk and even promote nuclear war, but when it comes to the “bottom line”, it is a matter of stealing Russia’s natural gas market by what so far is a bluff: shale gas obtained by U.S. fracking.

Worse Than Cold War

The neocons who manipulate America’s clueless politicians have not got us into a new Cold War. It is much worse. The long rivalry with the Soviet Union was “Cold” because of MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction. Both Washington and Moscow were perfectly aware that “Hot” war meant nuclear exchanges that would destroy everybody.

This time around, the United States thinks it already “won” the Cold War and seems to be drunk with self-confidence that it can win again. It is upgrading its nuclear weapons force and building a “nuclear shield” on Russia’s border whose only purpose can be to give the United States a first strike capacity – the ability to knock out any Russian retaliation against a U.S. nuclear attack. This cannot work, but it weakens deterrence.

The danger of outright war between the two nuclear powers is actually much greater than during the Cold War. We are now in a sort of Frozen War, because nothing the Russians say or do can have any effect. The neocons who manufacture U.S. policy behind the scenes have invented a totally fictional story about Russian “aggression” which the President of the United States, the mass media and now the Congress have accepted and endorsed. Russian leaders have responded with honesty, truth and common sense, remaining calm despite the invective thrown at them. It has done no good whatsoever. The positions are frozen. When reason fails, force follows. Sooner or later.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book, Queen of Chaos: the Foreign Policy of Hillary Clinton, will be published by CounterPunch in 2015. She can be reached at