Saturday, June 06, 2015

Blair the Reasonable to Head Council on Tolerance

Congratulations Tony Blair

by Gilad Atzmon 

The Guardian reports this morning that Tony Blair is to take on a new role leading the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation.

This is no doubt great news. The 21st century’s greatest war criminal is called to lead the campaign against ‘extremism’ which he himself instigated. Truth be told, it only makes sense to appoint a mass murderer to such a delicate job because only a genocidal character could be intimately familiar with the nitty gritty of institutional hatred and intolerance.

The British former prime minister who launched an immoral interventionist war has been appointed as chairman of the European Council on Tolerance following his spectacular success as a Peace Envoy to the Middle East introducing reconciliation and new harmony to the entire region.

In a joint article (paywall) with Moshe Kantor, the president of the council of the European Jewish Congress, Blair recently expressed his devotion to the Jews and the primacy of their suffering.

“Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem, but one infecting the whole of society and needs to be tackled for the sake of us all.”

The penny dropped. Blair, seemingly understands his contribution to Jew hatred. Next time when he launches a global criminal war with no end he must make sure that rather than using Lord Cash Point Levy as his chief fund raiser he should consider using someone else, preferably a ‘gentile’ (If he finds one). Even Blair must have grasped by now that the clear association between his Ziocon war and a Jewish financier is ‘not just a Jewish problem.’ With 5 million people dead in the region it infects the whole universe.

It is encouraging to learn that the council chaired by Blair doesn’t really believe in elementary freedom, quite the opposite, it believes it should promote legislation to confront ‘holocaust denial’, and this makes a lot of sense to me. As a person who perpetrated a holocaust himself, Blair is interested in laws that would stop any attempt to narrating and revising the past.

I totally agree. I believe that all history except the Jewish one, must be abolished all together and immediately. We are moving forward, we progress, we should invest in the future rather than attempt to find out what really happened let alone why.

Negotiating Peace Whilst Preparing War - Colombia, Iran, Cuba, Ukraine, Yemen, and Syria

Peace Negotiations or War Preparations? Colombia, Iran, China, Cuba, Ukraine, Yemen and Syria

by James Petras


On May 21, 2015, the Colombian Air Force (FAC) bombed the base camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killing 26 guerrillas. Three days later the FAC bombed other FARC bases killing 14 more guerrillas. This was part of an official offensive, launched by President Juan Manuel Santos, the US’s most loyal client in Latin America. Among the victims were FARC Commanders Jairo Martinez, a participant in the ongoing peace negotiations in Havana and Roman Ruiz.

Colombia works closely with the US, through Bernard Aronson, a very intrusive neo-conservative ‘overseer’, who is Washington’s coordinator in the Colombian counter-insurgency war. The US maintains seven military bases and has stationed over one thousand US ‘advisers’ in the field and within the Colombian Defense Ministry. The military offensive was launched by the Santos regime precisely when it was officially engaged in two and a half year-long ‘peace negotiations’, during which three of five items on the ‘peace agenda’ had been agreed to and the FARC had ordered a unilateral cease fire. Two months earlier, President Santos treacherously set-up the FARC to lower their defenses by appearing to ‘reciprocate’ when he ordered “the suspension of air force bombing of FARC field camps”. In other words, the Santos government and US adviser Aronson used the ‘cover of peace negotiations’ and the FARC’s unilateral ‘cease fire’ to launch a major military offensive. The FARC ended its cease fire and resumed combat in ten regional ‘departments’, as the regime intensified its offensive by bombing villages in FARC-controlled regions. While Santos and Aronson escalated their military offensive in Colombia, the FARC negotiators in Havana continued their “peace” negotiations….

President Santos and Aronson have used the cover of “peace negotiations” as a propaganda ploy to launch a full scale military offensive. Concessions and agreements served to lower the FARC’s guard, identify its officials and secure intelligence on FARC base camps. US adviser Aronson’s role is to ensure that the Colombian government destroys the popular armed resistance, and forces the FARC to accept a ‘peace accord’ that does not change the status of US bases, lucrativecontracts with international mining companies and promotes ‘free trade’. The Santos regime announced that the ‘peace negotiations’ would continue in Havana . . . even as it intensifies the war in Colombia, killing FARC members and supporters. Aronson and Santos pursue a ‘peace of the cemetery’.

The Colombia and Washington regimes are conducting a two-pronged ‘peace negotiations and brutal war policy’ against the FARC as part of a general world-wide politico-military campaign against mass popular movements that oppose neo-liberal economic policies, US-initiated wars and military bases and onerous ‘free trade’ agreements.

In each region the US has developed a very ‘special relation’ with key governments that serve as ‘strategic allies’. These include Israel in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf and southwest Asia, Japan in the Far East and Colombia in Latin America.

For the past two decades Colombia has served as the key US operational base for US naval and air surveillance in the Caribbean, Central America and the Andean countries and the launching pad for destabilization campaigns and intervention against the governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Honduras. Washington’s use of ‘peace negotiations’ as a prelude to a military offensive in Colombia is the prototype of US strategic policy in several other contentious regions of the world.

In the essay, we will identify the countries where the US is engaged in ‘peace negotiations’ as a prelude to military aggression and political subversion and we will describe in detail the strategy and implementation of this policy in the most ‘advanced case’ of Colombia. We will focus on how erstwhile leftist governments, eager to improve relations with the US, contribute to furthering Washington’s strategic goals of subversion and ‘regime change’.

Finally, we will evaluate the possible outcomes of this strategy both in terms of advancing US imperial interests and in developing effective anti-imperialist politics.

Peace Negotiations: the New Face of Empire-building

Throughout the world, Washington is engaged in some sort of direct or indirect ‘peace negotiations’ even as it expands and intensifies its military operations.

US and Iran: Unilateral Disarmament and Military Encirclement

The mass media and official Washington spokespersons would have us believe that the US and Iran are within reach of a ‘peace accord’, contingent on Teheran surrendering its nuclear capability (repeatedly proven to be non-military in nature) and the US lifting its ‘economic sanctions’. The media’s ‘narrow focus approach’ to the Persian Gulf conveniently ignores contradictory regional developments.

First, the US has embarked on devastating wars against key Iranian regional allies: The US funds and supplies arms to terrorists who have invaded and bombed Syria and Yemen. Washington is expanding military bases surrounding Iran while increasing its naval presence in the Persian Gulf. President Obama has expanded military agreements with the Gulf monarchies. Congress is increasing the flow of offensive arms to Israel as it openly threatens to attack Iran. In reality, while engaged in ‘peace negotiations’ with Teheran, Washington is waging war with Iran’s allies and threatens its security.

Equally important, the US has vetoed numerous attempts to finally rid the Middle East of nuclear arms. This veto safeguards the far-right, militarist Israeli regime’s enormous offensive nuclear stockpile, while outlawing any possibility of an Iranian deterrent.

The so-called ‘peace negotiations’ allows the US to engage in pervasive and frequent espionage of Iranian military installations (so-called ‘inspections’ by the US controlled International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) with no reciprocal inspection of US or Israeli military bases or that of any of its Gulf client states. Furthermore, and crucial to a sudden military assault, Washington assumes in its ongoing ‘peace negotiations’, the unilateral ‘right’ to suspend the talks at a moment’s notice under any pretext and launch a military attack.

In sum, the US ‘negotiates peace’ with Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, while it supplies Saudi Arabia with bombs and intelligence in its war against Yemen and finances armed Jihadi terrorists seizing half of Syria and large contiguous parts of Iraq.

The Iranian officials, ensconced in Switzerland while negotiating with the US, have played down the military threat to their country resulting from the massive re-entry of US armed forces in Iraq and the installation of the new puppet Haider Abidi regime.

How will the US conclude a ‘peace settlement’ with Iran while it engages in wars against Iran’s neighbors and allies and when Iranian negotiations are framed in military terms?

Are the ‘peace negotiations’ merely a ploy designed to destroy Iran’s regional allies, isolate and weaken its military defenses and set it up for attack ‘down the road’? How does this fit into Obama’s global strategy?

US-China Diplomatic Negotiations: Military Encirclement and Encroachment

Over the past decade, President Obama and top State and Treasury Department officials have met with Chinese leaders, promising greater economic co-operation and exchanging diplomatic niceties.

Parallel to these conciliatory gestures, Washington has escalated its military encirclement of China by enlarging its military presence in Australia, Japan, and the Philippines and increasing its aggressive patrols of adjoining airspace and vital maritime routes.

The State Department has been inciting border-states, including Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, to contest Chinese maritime borders and its transformation of off-shore atolls into military bases.

The White House has proposed the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, which specifically excludes China. It has signed off on nuclear weapons agreements with India, hoping to secure an Indo-American military pact on China’s southwestern flank.

Obama’s so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ is best understood as a rapid escalation of military threats and exclusionary trade pacts designed to provoke, isolate, weaken and degrade China and push back its rise to economic supremacy in Asia.

So far the US strategy has failed. Washington’s diplomatic gestures have lacked the necessary economic substance and incentives to its ‘allies’; its much-ballyhooed trade agreements have floundered in the face of far superior and inclusive Chinese initiatives, including its new $100 billion-dollar Infrastructure Investment Bank and its more than $40 billion dollar economic agreements with the government of India.

In the face of its economic failures the Pentagon has opted for flagrant military encroachments on Chinese airspace. Specifically, US warplanes are directed to overfly China’s ongoing construction of military installations on atolls in the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Office and Defense Ministry have vigorously protested these violations of its sovereignty. The Obama regime has brashly rejected China’s diplomatic protests and affirmed Washington’s ‘right’ to encroach on Chinese territorial waters.

After a quarter of a century of failing to dominate China via economic penetration by US multi-nationals and through the liberalization of its financial system, Washington has discarded its ‘softer’ diplomatic approach and adopted a ‘proto-war’ stand. This policy uses economic boycotts, military encirclement and encroachment on Chinese maritime, aerial and land sovereignty in the hope of provoking a military response and then evoking a second ‘Pearl Harbor’ as a pretext for a full scale war engulfing its Asian allies (and Australia) in a major war in the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s market successes have replaced the US as the dominant economic power in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the face of this ‘usurpation’ the US has dropped the velvet glove of diplomacy in favor of the iron fist of military provocation and escalation. The US military budget is five times greater than China’s, whereas China’s investments and financing of economic projects throughout Asia, Latin America and the BRIC countries are ten times greater than those of the US.

China’s ‘economic pivot’ will clearly enhance Beijing’s global position over the medium and long-run, if the US’s reckless and short-term military superiority and territorial aggression does not lead to a devastating world war!

In the meantime, China is developing its military capacity to confront the ‘US pivot to war’. China’s leaders have devised a new defensive strategy, boosting its naval capacity and shifting from strictly territorial defense to both defense and offense on land, air and sea. Off shore defense is combined with open sea protection to enhance China’s capability for a strategic deterrent and counter-attack. China’s annual military spending had increased on average ten percent per annum in anticipation of the Pentagon shifting 60% of its fleet to the Pacific over the next five years.

US-Cuba Diplomatic Negotiations: The ‘Trojan Horse’ Approach

For over fifty years the US has mounted a concerted terrorist-sabotage campaign, economic embargo and diplomatic war against its Caribbean neighbor, Cuba. In the face of near total diplomatic isolation in the United Nations (185 to 3 against the US-imposed blockade), universal opposition to belligerent US policy toward Cuba at the Summit of the Americas and in the Organization of American States and surprisingly favorable public opinion toward Cuba among the domestic US citizenry, Washington decided to open negotiations to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with Havana.

On the surface, the apparent shift from military confrontation and economic sanctions to diplomatic negotiations would register as a move toward peaceful co-existence between opposing social systems. However, a closer reading of Washington’s tactical concessions and strategic goals argues for a mere ‘change of methods’ for reversing advances of the socialist revolution rather than a diplomatic accommodation.

Under the cover of a diplomatic agreement, the US will directly or indirectly channel millions of dollars into Cuba’s private sector, strengthening its weight in the economy, and forming partnerships with Cuban public and private sector counter-parts. The US Embassy’s economic policy will be directed toward expanding the business sectors open to US capital. In other words, Washington will pursue a strategy of incremental privatization to create economic and political allies.

Secondly, the US embassy will greatly expand its role as financial backer, recruiter and protector of counter-revolutionary, self-styled Cuban ‘dissidents’ in its ‘civil society.

Thirdly, the vast influx of US-controlled telecommunications, cultural programs and exchanges, and commercial sales will have the effect of de-radicalizing the Cuban public (from socialism and egalitarianism to gross consumerism) and reducing Cuba’s fraternal ties to Latin America. Anti-imperialist solidarity with popular Latin American movements and governments will diminish as the Cubans adopt the ‘Miami mentality’.

Fourthly, Cuba’s economic and political ties with Venezuela will remain but the US efforts to subvert or ‘moderate’ the Bolivarian government may face less opposition from Havana.

Fifth, Washington will foster cheap mass tourism in order to promote a one-sided dependent economy, which over time will replace socialist consciousness with a ‘comprador consciousness’ – a decadent mentality, which encourages the emergence of a class of intermediaries or ‘brokers’ engaged in economic exchanges between the ‘sender’(the US) and ‘receiver’(Cuba) country. Cuban ‘intermediaries’ between the imperial US and dependent Cuba could become strategic political actors in Havana.

In other words, the concessions Washington have secured via diplomatic politics will form the ‘Trojan Horse’ to facilitate a ‘subversion from within approach’ designed to subvert the social economy and to secure Cuban co-operation in de-radicalizing Latin America.

Fidel Castro has rightly expressed his distrust of the new US approach. Castro’s pointed criticisms of Washington’s highly militarized interventions in the Middle East, the Ukraine and the South China Sea is designed to influence Cuban policymakers, who are overzealous in conceding political concessions to the US.

Libya, Ukraine, Syria and Yemen: Negotiations as Prelude to Wars

Negotiations between Libyan President Gadhafi and Washington led to a dismantling of the country’s advanced military defense programs. Once essentially defenseless from NATO attack, the US and its European and Gulf allies embarked on a full-scale bombing campaign for ‘regime change’ in support of tribal and sectarian warlords destroying the country’s infrastructure, ending the life of its leader and tens of thousands of Libyans and driving hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers from sub-Sahara Africa into exile as refugees.

Negotiations between the democratically-elected leader of the Ukraine and the US-NATO based opposition led to political concessions that were quickly exploited by US funded foreign NGOs and domestic neo-Nazis. Street mobs took over government buildings in Kiev leading to a putsch and ‘regime change’, as well as detonating a brutal ethnic war against eastern Russian speaking Ukrainians, opposed to NATO and favoring continued traditional ties with Russia. Despite ‘negotiations’ between the NATO-backed regime and Donbass federalists leading to a European-brokered cease fire, the government in Kiev continues to bomb the self-governing regions.

The US, EU, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (the “Quartet”) back armed Islamist mercenaries and jihadist terrorists seeking to overthrow the Bashar Assad government in Damascus and rebel Houthi government coalition in Yemen. Under the guise of seeking a ‘negotiated political solution’, the ‘Quartet’ has consistently pursued a military solution.

Negotiations and diplomacy have become chosen tactical ploys in Washington’s repertory for pursing war.

Wars are preceded by or accompany diplomacy and negotiations which act to weaken the target adversary, as was the case in Libya, the Ukraine and Colombia.

Diplomatic overtures to China are accompanied by a ‘military pivot’, aggressive military encirclement, and provocative acts such as the recent arrest of visiting Chinese scholars and repeated violations of Chinese airspace.

The diplomatic overtures to Cuba are accompanied by demands for greater “access” to proselytize and subvert Cuban officials,and its people .

US negotiators demand the unilateral demilitarization and pervasive oversight of Iran’s strategic military defenses even as the US expands its proxy wars against Teheran’s allies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile Washington rejects the comprehensive ending of economic sanctions against the Iranians.

Negotiations, under the Obama regime, are simply tactics to intensify and expand the strategy of war. The “peace negotiations” between the US-backed Santos regime and the FARC follows the global script outlined above.

Through phony ‘partial agreements’, which are never seriously intended to be implemented, the US-backed Colombian military and their paramilitary allies continue to ravage the countryside. Displaced peasants and farmers attempting to return and reclaim farmland continue to be assassinated. Human rights lawyers and workers are still murdered.

The Santos regime escalates its military offensive against the FARC, taking full advantage of the “unilateral ceasefire” declared by FARC leaders in Havana.

The true intentions of the Santos regime toward the FARC were revealed in the aftermath of the assassination of 40 guerrilla combatants: The regime demonized the FARC, justifying the offensive by criminalizing the insurgents, linking them to drug and human traffickers.

The gap between what the regime negotiators say in Havana and what the military commanders do in the Colombian countryside has never been greater. The disconnect between the peace talks in Havana and the military offensive in Colombia is the best indicator of what can be expected if an agreement is signed.

Santos and the US adviser Aronson envision a highly militarized state advised by thousands of US agents and mercenaries. The disarmament of the FARC will be followed by the persecution of former guerrilla combatants and the expansion of mining contracts in former guerrilla controlled territory. The military command will increase its sponsorship of cross border paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. The Santos regime will find a pretext to continue the incarceration of the majority of political prisoners. There will be no agrarian reform or repossession of illegally seized land. There will be no reversal of the US-Colombian free trade agreement. The hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants will remain without land or justice.

Very little of what is agreed in Havana will be implemented. FARC leaders will be confined to playing the electoral game, providing that they are not assassinated by ‘sicarios on motorcycles’. Guerrilla militants without land, employment or security may join the drug traffickers – in a re-play of the so-called “Peace Accords” in El Salvador.

Under these circumstances why does the FARC’s current leadership proceed toward a suicidal agreement and its own extinction? In past conversations with leading Cuban foreign policy officials, including former Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, I was told that the Cuban government was deeply hostile to FARC and was eager to end hostilities in order to improve Cuban relations with the US. Likewise members of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry told me that they co-operated with the Colombian government in arresting and deporting FARC officials and sympathizers in order “to secure their borders from Colombian military and paramilitary incursions”.

In other words, there are valid grounds for viewing the FARC negotiators as operating under intense pressure from its supposed allies to continue ‘talks’ and reach a ‘peace agreement’, even if the results will be neither peace or justice!


The US strategy of “war through peace negotiations” is an ongoing process. So far the US military build-up against China has failed to intimidate China. Beijing has responded by launching its own strategic military response and by financing a huge number of Asian economic projects which, in the long-run, will isolate the US and undermine its offensive capacity.

The ‘war through negotiation’ strategy succeeded in destroying a nationalist adversary in Libya, while also devastating a profitable oil and gas producer, creating a ‘failed state’ on the Mediterranean and unleashing jihadist groups throughout North Africa. The NATO-Obama campaign for ‘regime change’ in Libya led to the mass exodus of millions of sub-Saharan workers formerly employed in Libya with untold thousands drowning in the Mediterranean in their desperate flight.

The US ‘war and negotiations policy’ toward Iran remains inconclusive: Washington has encircled Iran with proxy wars against Yemen and Syria but Iran continues to gain influence in Iraq. The US has spent $40 billion on arms and training on an Iraqi army whose soldiers refuse to fight and die for US interests, allowing the neo-Baathist- ‘ISIS’ coalition of Sunni insurgents to seize one-third of the country. The more serious and motivated militia defending Baghdad is composed of the Shia volunteers, influenced by Teheran. The horrific break-up of what was once sovereign secular republic continues.

Washington’s dual strategy of negotiating with the Rohani regime while encircling the country is intended to degrade Teheran’s defense capability while minimizing any relief from the economic sanctions. Whether this one-sided process will lead to a ‘final agreement’ remains to be seen. In the final analysis, the US relations with Iran are subject to the power and influence of the Zionist power configuration in the US, acting on behalf of Israel, over and against the European Union’s interest to develop trade with the 80 million strong Iranian market.

The US “subversion via negotiations” approach to Cuba has moved forward slowly. The Cuban security apparatus, military, and, especially, important contingents of Fidelista officials, militants and intellectuals serve as an important counter-weight to the zealous liberal “modernizers” who envision “market solutions”. Washington does not expect a rapid transition to capitalism. It is banking on a ‘war of positions’, securing joint ventures with state officials; a massive infusion of consumerist propaganda to counter socialist values; funding private capitalists as potential strategic political allies; encouraging Cuban foreign policy officials to cut off support for leftist movements and governments. Cuba’s leaders, at all costs, must not return to an economically dependent relation with the US – which is the strategic goal of the US. Washington is seeking through diplomacy to secure what 50 years of warfare failed to achieve: a regime change and a reversal of the gains of the Cuban Revolution.

The US strategy of war through negotiations has mixed results. Where it confronts a burgeoning world power, such as China, it has failed. With a weak, disarmed state like Libya, it succeeded beyond its wildest dreams (or nightmares). With “middle level powers” like Cuba and Iran, it has secured political concessions but has not yet eroded the security and defense capabilities of the governments. In the case of Colombia, Washington is deeply embedded in the regime and has openly embraced a naked military solution.

The FARC’s ‘inner leadership’ cannot continue with the unilateral ‘cease fire’ unless it wishes for suicide; the ‘outside leadership’ appears committed to negotiations even as the war escalates. The results are uncertain, but what is obvious is that the Aronson – Santos regime have no tolerance for a ‘peace with social justice’. Their goal for the long struggling Colombian people is the ‘peace of the cemetery’, as the historic FARC leader Manual Marulanda declared in the aftermath of the broken peace negotiations of 1999-2002.

I.F. Stone and the Urge to Serve

Remembrance of Wars Past - Why There Is No Massive Antiwar Movement in America

by Tom Engelhardt  - TomDispatch

There was the old American lefty paper, the Guardian, and the Village Voice, which beat the Sixties into the world, and its later imitators like the Boston Phoenix. There was Liberation News Service, the Rat in New York, the Great Speckled Bird in Atlanta, the Old Mole in Boston, the distinctly psychedelic Chicago Seed, Leviathan, Viet-Report, and the L.A. Free Press, as well as that Texas paper whose name I long ago forgot that was partial to armadillo cartoons. 

And they existed, in the 1960s and early 1970s, amid a jostling crowd of hundreds of “underground” newspapers -- all quite aboveground but the word sounded so romantic in that political moment.

Well, it’s one, two, three, look at that amputee,

At least it’s below the knee,
Could have been worse, you see.
Well, it’s true your kids look at you differently,
But you came in an ambulance instead of a hearse,
That’s the phrase of the trade,
It could have been worse.
-- First verse of a Vietnam-era song written by U.S. Air Force medic Bob Boardman off Country Joe McDonald’s "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag"

There were G.I. antiwar papers by the score and high school rags by the hundreds in an “alternate” universe of opposition that somehow made the rounds by mail or got passed on hand-to-hand in a now almost unimaginable world of interpersonal social networking that preceded the Internet by decades. And then, of course, there was I.F. Stone’s Weekly (1953-1971): one dedicated journalist, 19 years, every word his own (except, of course, for the endless foolishness he mined from the reams of official documentation produced in Washington, Vietnam, and elsewhere).

I can remember the arrival of that newsletter, though I no longer know whether I subscribed myself or simply shared someone else’s copy. In a time when being young was supposed to be glorious, Stone was old -- my parents’ age -- but still we waited on his words. It helped to have someone from a previous generation confirm in nuts and bolts ways that the issue that swept so many of us away, the Vietnam War, was indeed an American atrocity.

The Call to Service

They say you can’t go home again, but recently, almost 44 years after I saw my last issue of the Weekly -- Stone was 64 when he closed up shop; I was 27 -- I found the full archive of them, all 19 years, online, and began reading him all over again. It brought back a dizzying time in which we felt “liberated” from so much that we had been brought up to believe and -- though we wouldn’t have understood it that way then -- angered and forlorn by the loss as well. That included the John Wayne version of America in which, at the end of any war film, as the Marine Corps Hymn welled up, American troops advanced to a justified victory that would make the world a better place. It also included a far kinder-hearted but allied vision of a country, a government, that was truly ours, and to which we owed -- and one dreamed of offering -- some form of service. That was deeply engrained in us, which was why when, in his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy so famously called on us to serve, the response was so powerful. (“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”) Soon after, my future wife went into the Peace Corps like tens of thousands of other young Americans, while I dreamed, as I had from childhood, of becoming a diplomat in order to represent our country abroad.

And that sense of service to country ran so deep that when the first oppositional movements of the era arose, particularly the Civil Rights Movement, the impulse to serve was essential to them, as it clearly was to I.F. Stone. The discovery that under your country’s shining veneer lay a series of nightmares might have changed how that sense of obligation was applied, but it didn’t change the impulse. Not at all.

In his writing, Stone was calm, civil, thoughtful, fact-based, and still presented an American world that looked shockingly unlike the one you could read about in what wasn’t yet called “the mainstream media” or could see on the nightly network news. (Your TV still had only 13 channels, without a zapper in sight.) A researcher par excellence, Stone, like the rest of us, lacked the ability to see into the future, which meant that some of his fears (“World War III”) as well as his dreams never came true. But on the American present of that time, he was remarkably on target. Rereading some of his work so many decades later set me thinking about the similarities and differences between that moment of eternal war in Indochina and the present endless war on terror.

Among the eeriest things about reading Stone’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia coverage, 14 years into the next century, is how resonantly familiar so much of what he wrote still seems, how twenty-first-century it all is. It turns out that the national security state hasn’t just been repeating things they’ve done unsuccessfully for the last 13 years, but for the last 60. Let me offer just a few examples from his newsletter. I think you’ll get the idea.

* With last June’s collapse of the American-trained and -armed Iraqi army and recent revelations about its 50,000 “ghost soldiers” in mind, here’s Stone on the Laotian army in January 1961: “It is the highest paid army in Asia and variously estimated (the canny Laotians have never let us know the exact numbers, perhaps lest we check on how much the military payroll is diverted into the pockets of a few leaders) at from 23,000 to 30,000. Yet it has never been able to stand up against handfuls of guerrillas and even a few determined battalions like those mustered by Captain Kong Le.”
* On ISIS’s offensive in Iraq last year, or the 9/11 attacks, or just about any other development you want to mention in our wars since then, our gargantuan bureaucracy of 17 expanding intelligence outfits has repeatedly been caught short, so consider Stone’s comments on the Tet Offensive of February 1968. At a time when America’s top commander in Vietnam had repeatedly assured Americans that the Vietnamese enemy was losing, the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (the “Vietcong”) launched attacks on just about every major town and city in South Vietnam, including the U.S. Embassy in Saigon: “We still don’t know what hit us. The debris is not all in Saigon and Hue. The world’s biggest intelligence apparatus was caught by surprise.”
* On our drone assassination and other air campaigns as a global war not on, but for -- i.e., to recruit -- terrorists, including our present bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria, here’s Stone in February 1968: “When the bodies are really counted, it will be seen that one of the major casualties was our delusion about victory by air power: all that boom-boom did not keep the enemy from showing up at Langvei with tanks... The whole country is slowly being burnt down to ‘save it.’ To apply scorched-earth tactics to one’s own country is heroic; to apply it to a country one claims to be saving is brutal and cowardly... It is we who rally the people to the other side.” And here he is again in May 1970: “Nowhere has air power, however overwhelming and unchallenged, been able to win a war.”

Demobilizing Americans

And so it goes reading Stone today. But if much in the American way of war remains dismally familiar some five decades later, one thing of major significance has changed, something you can see regularly in I.F. Stone’s Weekly but not in our present world. Thirteen years after our set of disastrous wars started, where is the massive antiwar movement, including an army in near revolt and a Congress with significant critics in significant positions?

Think of it this way: in 1968, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was J. William Fulbright, a man who came to oppose U.S. policy in Vietnam and wrote a book about this country titled The Arrogance of Power (a phrase no senator who hoped to stay in Washington in 2015 would apply to the U.S.). The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee today: John McCain. ‘Nuff said.

In the last six decades, the American national security state has succeeded strikingly at only one thing (other than turning itself into a growth industry): it freed itself of us and of Congress. In the years following the Vietnam War, the American people were effectively demobilized, shorn of that sense of service to country, while war was privatized and the citizen soldier replaced by an “all-volunteer” force and a host of paid contractors working for warrior corporations. Post-9/11, the citizenry was urged to pay as much attention as possible to “our troops,” or “warriors,” and next to none to the wars they were fighting. Today, the official role of a national security state, bigger and more powerful than in the Vietnam era, is to make Americans “safe” from terror. In a world of war-making that has disappeared into the shadows and a Washington in which just about all information is now classified and shrouded in secrecy, the only way to be “safe” and “secure” as a citizen is, by definition, to be ignorant, to know as little as possible about what “our” government is doing in our name. This helps explain why, in the Obama years, the only crime in official Washington is leaking or whistleblowing; that is, letting the public in on something that we, the people, aren’t supposed to know about the workings of “our” government.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon ended the draft, a move meant to bring a rebellious citizen’s army under control. Since then, in a host of ways, our leaders have managed to sideline the citizenry, replacing the urge to serve with a sense of cynicism about government (which has morphed into many things, including, on the right, the Tea Party movement). As a result, those leaders have been freed from us and from just about all congressional oversight and so have been able to do what they damn well pleased. In practice, this has meant doing the same dumb, brutal, militarized things over and over again. From the repetitive stupidity of twenty-first-century American foreign -- that is, war -- policy, you might draw the conclusion (though they won’t) that the citizenry, even in revolt, has something crucial to teach the state.

Serving the Country in Opposition

Nonetheless, this demobilization of us should be seen for what it is: a remarkable achievement. It means that you have to be of a certain age (call me “I.F. Pebble”) even to remember what that urge to serve felt like, especially once it went into opposition on a massive scale. I.F. Stone was an early model for just that. In those years, I was, too, and there was nothing special about me. Untold numbers of Americans like me, military and civilian, engaged in such acts and thought of them as service to country. Though they obviously didn’t fit the normal definition of American “patriotism,” they came from the same place.

In April 1968, not so many months after the Tet Offensive, I went with two close friends to a rally on Boston Common organized by an anti-draft group called the Resistance. There, the three of us turned in our draft cards. I went in jacket and tie because I wanted to make the point that we weren’t hippy radicals. We were serious Americans turning our backs on a war from hell being pursued by a country transforming itself before our eyes into our worst nightmare.

Even all these years later, I can still remember the remarkable sense of exhilaration, even freedom, involved and also the fear. (In those years, being a relatively meek and law-abiding guy, I often found myself beyond my comfort zone, and so a little -- or more than a little -- scared.) Similarly, the next year, a gutsy young woman who was a co-worker and I -- I had, by then, dropped out of graduate school and was working at an “underground” movement print shop -- drove two unnerved and unnerving Green Beret deserters to Canada. Admittedly, when they began pretend-machine-gunning the countryside we were passing through, I was unsettled, and when they pulled out dope (no drugs had been the agreed-upon rule on a trip in which we were to cross the Canadian border), I was ready to be anywhere else but in that car. Still, whatever my anxieties, I had no doubt about why I was doing what I was doing, or about the importance of helping American soldiers who no longer wanted to take part in a terrible war.

Finally, in 1971, an Air Force medic named Bob Boardman, angered by the stream of American war wounded coming home, snuck me into his medical unit at Travis Air Force Base in northern California. There, though without any experience as a reporter, I “interviewed” a bunch of wigged-out, angry guys with stumps for arms or legs, who were “antiwar” in all sorts of complex, unexpected, and outraged ways. It couldn’t have been grimmer or more searing or more moving, and I went home, wrote up a three-part series on what I had seen and heard, and sold it to Pacific News Service, a small antiwar outfit in San Francisco (where I would subsequently go to work).

None of this would have been most Americans’ idea of service, even then. But it was mine. I felt that my government had betrayed me, and that it was my duty as a citizen to do whatever I could to change its ways (as, in fact, I still do). And so, in some upside-down, inside-out way, I maintained a connection to and a perverse faith in that government, or our ability to force change on it, as the Civil Rights Movement had done.

That, I suspect, is what’s gone missing in much of our American world and just bringing back the draft, often suggested as one answer to our war-making problems, would be no ultimate solution. It would undoubtedly change the make-up of the U.S. military somewhat. However, what’s missing in action isn’t the draft, but a faith in the idea of service to country, the essence of what once would have been defined as patriotism. At an even more basic level, what may be gone is the very idea of the active citizen, not to speak of the democracy that went with such a conception of citizenship, as opposed to our present bizarro world of multi-billion-dollar 1% elections.

If, so many years into the disastrous war on terror, the Afghan War that never ends, and most recently Iraq War 3.0 and Syria War 1.0, there is no significant antiwar movement in this country, you can thank the only fit of brilliance the national security state has displayed. It successfully drummed us out of service. The sole task it left to Americans, 40 years after the Vietnam War ended, was the ludicrous one of repeatedly thanking the troops for their service, something that would have been inconceivable in the 1950s or 1960s because you would, in essence, have been thanking yourself.

Missing in Action

Here are I.F. Stone’s last words from the penultimate paragraph of the final issue of his newsletter:

“No one could have been happier than I have been with the Weekly. To give a little comfort to the oppressed, to write the truth exactly as I saw it, to make no compromises other than those of quality imposed by my own inadequacies, to be free to follow no master other than my own compulsions, to live up to my idealized image of what a true newspaperman should be, and still be able to make a living for my family -- what more could a man ask?”

Here is the last verse that medic wrote in 1971 for his angry song (the first of which led off this piece):

But it’s seven, eight, nine,
Well, he finally died,
Tried to keep him alive,
but he lost the will to survive.
The agony that his life would have been,
Well, you say to yourself as you load up the hearse,
At least, it’s over this way, it could have been worse.

And here are a few words the extremely solemn 23-year-old Tom Engelhardt wrote to the dean of his school on rejecting a National Defense Fellowship grant to study China in April 1968. (The “General Hershey” I refer to was the director of the Selective Service System which had issued a memo, printed in 1967 by the SDS publication New Left Notes, on “channeling” American manpower where it could best help the state achieve its ends.):

“On the morning of April 3, at the Boston Common, I turned in my draft card. I felt this to be a reply to three different types of 'channeling' which I saw as affecting my own life. First of all, it was a reply to General Hershey’s statement that manpower channeling ‘is the American or indirect way of achieving what is done by direction in foreign countries where choice is not permitted.’ I disassociated myself from the draft system, which was flagrantly attempting to make me live a life without freedom...

“Finally, I entered into resistance against an American government which was, with the help of the men provided by the draft, attempting the most serious type of ‘channeling’ outside our own country. This is especially obvious in Vietnam where it denies the people of South Vietnam the opportunity to consider viable alternatives to their present government. Moreover, as that attempt at ‘channeling’ (or, as it is called, ‘Winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people’) met opposition, the American government, through its armed forces, committed acts of such unbelievable horror as to be unbearable to a thinking person.”

Stone’s sign-off, that medic’s song, and my letter all are documents from a time when Americans could be in opposition to, while also feeling in service to, their country. In other words, they are documents from a lost world and so would, I suspect, have little meaning to the young of the present moment. Can there be any question that today’s young are a volunteering crew, often gripped by the urge to help, to make this world of ours a better place? Can you doubt as well that they are quite capable of rising to resist what’s increasingly grim in that terrible world, as the Occupy moment showed in 2011? Nor, I suspect, is the desire for a government that they could serve gone utterly, as indicated by the movement that formed around Barack Obama in his race for the presidency (and that he and his team essentially demobilized on entering the Oval Office).

What’s missing is any sense of connection to the government, any sense that it’s “ours” or that we the people matter. In its place -- and you can thank successive administrations for this -- is the deepest sort of pessimism and cynicism about a national security state and war-making machine beyond our control. And why protest what you can’t change?

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

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

[Note: Ron Unz of the Unz Review is archiving and posting a range of old publications, including all issues of I.F. Stone’s Weekly. This is indeed a remarkable service to the rest of us. To view the Weekly, click here. I.F. Stone’s family has also set up a website dedicated to the man and his work. To visit it, click here.]

Copyright 2015 Tom Engelhardt

Friday, June 05, 2015

Visit Victoria, Chem-Trail Capital of Canada: Come Join the Experiment!

by Ape

Hangman of Cairo Does Germany: Red Carpets for Al-Sisi

Al-Sisi in Berlin: Red carpet for the hangman of Cairo

by Johannes Stern - WSWS

5 June 2015

No other event could have better exposed the human rights pretenses of the German ruling class than the official reception of Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Berlin. If the term “mass murderer” can be applied to any international head of state, it certainly applies to him.

The Egyptian despot is not a murderer on a par with the Nazis. But he is without a doubt comparable to General Augusto Pinochet, the former leader of the Chilean military junta, under whose rule (1973-1990) tens of thousands of regime opponents were imprisoned, tortured and killed.

Here is an incomplete but no less shocking chronicle of the bloodiest incidents in Egypt since al-Sisi organized a putsch on July 3, 2013 following mass protests against Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi:

* July 8, 2013: Egyptian security forces shoot 53 Mursi supporters in front of the building of the Republican Guard in Cairo.

* August 14, 2013: The army and police storm two camps of anti-putsch protestors and kill more than 1,000 people, among them many women and children. Humans Rights Watch identifies the “massacre” as the “worst incident of illegal mass killing in the modern history of Egypt.”

* January 25, 2014: On the third anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, military and security forces kill more than 100 opponents of the regime during demonstrations.

* March 24, 2014: On a single day of hearings in the largest mass trial in Egyptian history, 529 people are sentenced to death.

* April 28, 2014: In another mass trial, 683 more people are sentenced to death in less than 15 minutes.

* May 15, 2015: Mursi himself and more than 100 other co-defendants are sentenced to death.

* May 16, 2015: Six of those convicted are hanged. Amnesty International strongly condemns the trial and points out that the confessions of the accused were extracted under torture.

That is just a small part of al-Sisi’s reign of terror. Anyone opposing his regime in Egypt who is not killed can expect to be arrested and tortured. According to Amnesty International, in the last two years 41,000 people have disappeared into the country’s prisons. Protests and strikes are prohibited by law. Independent media is suppressed, and parties and organizations that criticize the regime are forbidden.

The atrocities and serious human rights violations of the regime are so grave that even some figures in the bourgeois media and among German politicians felt compelled to raise criticisms. Norbert Lammert (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), president of the Bundestag, cancelled a meeting with al-Sisi on short notice with the explanation that in Egypt there was neither a parliament nor concrete prospects for elections. However, this did not stop Lammert from calling the visit from the dictator “desirable and necessary.”

Al-Sisi’s joint press conference with Merkel created a scandal. A young medical student, who according to media reports had been accredited as a journalist, shouted several times at al-Sisi: “He is a murderer, he is a Nazi, he is a fascist!” and “Down with the military junta!” In his remarks, al-Sisi praised the Egyptian military and defended the death sentences.

A visibly shocked Merkel was escorted from the stage together with al-Sisi. The chancellor may be a relatively limited bourgeois politician, but she might have sensed instinctively that the protest was directed not only at al-Sisi, the gravedigger of the Egyptian Revolution, but also against the policies of the German government and herself.

The German ruling class and its servants in the media never miss an opportunity to exploit the issue of “human rights” for foreign policy aims, or to justify economic warfare against Russia and foreign deployments of the German military.

Now their masks have been torn off. Over the course of the past year, the German ruling class has attempted to dress up the return of aggressive foreign and great power policies with phrases about “democracy,” “peace” and “responsibility.” It is now clear what this is really all about: the economic and geostrategic interests of German imperialism.

Merkel did not mince her words during the press conference. After she had made clear that she was “pleased” with al-Sisi’s visit and the “open” exchange based on “partnership,” she declared: “I want to state that I consider the relationship with Egypt to be of great strategic importance.” The country is working “on a way that attempts to secure stability and the prosperity of the country.” Germany, she said, wanted to be “an important partner who can help.”

As for the death sentences, Merkel only said that “the high number of death sentences is, in our view, something that should be avoided.” She had nothing to say about the massacres, the mass imprisonments and the torture in Egyptian prisons.

Only the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, could outdo Merkel’s unscrupulousness. The former pastor embodies more than any other the hypocritical moralizing of German imperialism. Only a few hours after receiving al-Sisi with military honors in Bellevue Castle, Gauck travelled to the opening of the 35th congress of the Evangelical Church in Germany in Stuttgart to decry the “poverty, injustice, conflicts, intolerance and destruction of the environment … in many parts of the world.”

What the German elites mean by “help” and the “fight against poverty” is abundantly clear. As early as mid-March, Siemens, one of the largest companies in Germany, signed a contract and declaration of intent at an economic summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, worth 10 billion euros. Another form of German “help” comes in the form of close collaboration between German and Egyptian police and intelligence forces. The German government is planning at least six conferences this year with representatives of Egyptian intelligence and police agencies in order to develop mutual strategies in the fight against “terrorism.”

The visit of al-Sisi recalls the visit of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to West Berlin in May 1967. The federal government of that time was also seeking to secure new markets and strategic partnerships in the Middle East, and to that end it welcomed a brutal tyrant. One of the counter-demonstrators in 1967, the student Benno Ohnesorg, was shot dead by police. In response to the subsequent massive radicalization of students, the German grand coalition government adopted an emergency law on May 30, 1968, granting the state massive new powers—all under the guise of the fight against “terrorism”.

As was the case at the time of the Shah’s visit, there is also a domestic dimension to al-Sisi’s visit. Unlike 1967, there have been no substantial protests in the last few days. However, under the surface an enormous storm of protest against the unpopular austerity and war policies of the German ruling class is brewing, and the eruptions to come will far surpass the events of the years 1967/1968.

Against a background of growing social tensions, the so-called “opposition parties” in the Bundestag felt an irresistible force of attraction to the Egyptian dictator.

“Dialogue is the only way to influence the resolution of conflicts, and therefore it would be wrong not to speak with Sisi,” declared the leader of the Left Party, Gregor Gysi on Twitter. The chair of the Greens in the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, issued a similar message: “Of course, when in doubt you have to speak with a military dictator when it concerns to the extremely difficult situation in the Middle East.”

Al-Sisi regularly justifies his brutal regime with references to the “struggle against terrorism” and the need to prevent a civil war in Egypt. In fact, its principal aim is to suppress the Egyptian masses who took to the streets in 2011 for democratic and social rights, toppled Hosni Mubarak and shook the Egyptian bourgeoisie and its Western allies to the core.

The fact that the Berlin elites now roll out the red carpet for the hangman of Cairo must be seen as a warning. The same German ruling class that elevated the Nazis to power in 1933 is once again preparing to use violent methods at home.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Reviewing Austerity - The Demolition of the Welfare State

Reviewing Austerity - The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy

by Jim Miles - Foreign Policy Journal

Of the many works on economics and finance available over the last several years, Austerity is by far the clearest and most concise presentation on how the concept of austerity operates. Essentially it is nothing but corporate takeover of the governance of the world.

The results of the rising corporate governance are rising inequality within nations, loss of freedoms, civil liberties and human rights. It includes political manipulations denigrating immigrants, the working poor and others requiring social assistance, ethnic and religious intolerance, all to be blamed for why the economy is no longer working well when it is really the neoliberal policies that are to blame.

The focus of the book is the United Kingdom. It clearly outlines how the National Health Service and the education sector have been seriously affected by the corporatization (privatization or outsourcing) of many formerly public functions have led to increased costs, corruption, fraud, and gross inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in service.

In order to protect the corporate world, many laws have been made that circumvent or undermine basic human rights of privacy, freedom of assembly, detention without charges, et al. Mendoza highlights her comments with specific examples that highlight the absurdity and the oppressive nature of many of these acts.

Historically she gives a brief outline beginning with the Bretton Woods Agreements made during World War II when U.S. corporate ideology became paramount. The work passes through the era of IMF//World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that created many countries indebted to the western financial system and harmed much of the affected countries agricultural and nascent industrial components.

It concludes with the current “negotiations” - really a lack thereof as the corporate bosses/lawyers/MBAs are writing the agreements out of public sight/democratic scrutiny - concerning the TTIP (Atlantic) and TTP (Pacific) financial agreements that create corporate rule over sovereign national rules.

There is a whole lot more that could be said if Mendoza had wanted to bring in the bankers, and the military-corporate liaisons, but Austerity does very well without those components. This short work is well worth the read - clear and concise while avoiding the use of the economic jargon that readily hides the real intentions of the corporate world. It is a well focussed work, long enough to make a clear argument, short enough and plain enough to be a very accessible read for anyone.

Austerity - The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy. Kerry-Anne Mendoza. New Internationalist, Oxford, U.K., 2015.

The Need for an Alternative (Real) Media

A Defining Moment for The Real News


If there was ever a moment that showed why we need The Real News Network, it was during the Baltimore uprising. Mainstream news first reported on the murder of Freddie Gray, and it was the video of Freddie Gray that became the iconic image--that is, until the iconic image became the burning down of a CVS pharmacy.

Once young people who have been corralled and cornered toward Pennsylvania and North--and I mean that, corralled and cornered, because the high school that opened up right outside the mall where the original confrontation with police took place, that high school emptied and the students had no buses and no subway, metro, to get on, because they'd all been closed down. Then with hundreds of students milling around, the police started forcing them down towards the Pennsylvania-North corner.

Yes, stone throwing began. Yes, one pharmacy burned down. But how does that compare to the murder of Freddie Gray? Well, for the mainstream media it all became about thugs and criminals and vandals and rioting. That all of a sudden became far more important than homicide.Well, not on The Real News.

Paul Jay stresses the importance of The Real News coverage of the protests against the murder of Freddie Gray and the police and National Guard violation of people's constitutional and human rights.

On The Real News we focused on the murder of Freddie Gray. We also contextualized what happened. Why young people had been cornered at Pennsylvania North. We also talked about the need for people to protest and resist the conditions they live in, and we didn't just pay some lip service to the fact that there's poverty or chronic poverty in Baltimore, which occasionally you can hear as an underlying cause on places like CNN.

We talked about why there's poverty. We talked about how profit is made through poverty. For example, through keeping wages low. Someone can work at Johns Hopkins cleaning surgical rooms for $13 an hour. Or the incarceration industry, which makes millions of dollars for people that build, maintain and service prisons. Bail bondsmen and the judiciary, and of course the police force. We talked about real estate speculation wanting to keep areas unlivable so that they can be gentrified.

When you talk about systemic racism, when you talk about chronic poverty, it's about real stuff, not just some general labels. And on The Real News we talked about this. We didn't fall for the mainstream narrative. Quite the contrary. We created a narrative that was not just made up fiction, but based on facts and based on what was really going on was in the interested of ordinary people. And that's why we need The Real News Network, especially in times of crisis. Especially in moments like these.

We need a network that doesn't bow to pressure, we need a network that's independent from government, from corporations, from advertising, so we can simply go where the facts lead.And if you want The Real News, well, we have a fundraising campaign on. And I know you're getting pitched from all kinds of places. But let me say this clearly: if we're going to achieve what we've set out to do in Baltimore, we can't do it without you contributing. In this campaign, and in other campaigns when we ask for support.

Our basic funding does not cover the cost of the expansion in Baltimore. In fact, it doesn't cover the costs that we maintained covering the Baltimore uprising. Live from the streets and from our studio panels of some of the leading figures in Baltimore debating and discussing constitutional rights, and the whole issue of community control of police, and the underlying issues and conditions that faced the people of Gilmor Homes, the place where Freddie grew up. Many months before Freddie was killed.

I don't think you'll find anything comparable with the breadth and depth of the coverage we've been producing during the Baltimore uprising, and before it and since. We've been dealing with the issue of who owns stuff and who has power. Where will effective solutions really come from. Because at The Real News we think the most important news we do is about effective solutions and how people can get organize for change.Our objective in Baltimore is to win the local news market. To break through, to amass audience.

Imagine if The Real News was watched by tens of thousands of people in Baltimore at a moment like the Baltimore uprising. It would be a game-changer.Well, that game-changer, if it takes place in Baltimore, can also take place in other cities. This is a model of what's possible. But it's not possible without you.

Our spring fundraising campaign is on. For every dollar you donate, we get another dollar up to $100,000. If we don't meet our target this spring, we can't expand our Baltimore work.So please, with your support, help us make Real News.

Palestine Occupation: Year 67 Status

Status of Palestine in 2015

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Popular Resistance

Some of this information is from a summary issued by the Negotiations Affairs Department (an independent group advising Palestinian negotiators):

- It has been 67 years since the occupation of 78% of Palestine in 1948

- It has been 48 years since the occupation of the other 22% of Palestine (WB and Gaza) that started 1967

- Today there are 12.5 million Palestinians 7.2 million of us are refugees/displaced people (six million from the ethnic cleansing of 1948-1950, 843,737 from 1967 Naksa, and 345,217 internal displacement within the green line, 57,669 internally displaced in 1967 areas.

- UNRWA has 5.4 million registered refugees and has established and operates in 59 official refugee camps (17 unofficial camps).

-Camps are unstable. As an example 162,000 used to inhabit Yarmuk Camp in Syria, most of them were displaced in the last three years and 1093 were killed or died of starvation in the besieged camp. A camp Imam gave a fatwa allowing the consumption of dog, cat, and donkey meet. Desperate Palestinians are also drowining in the Mediterranean Sea and dying in places like Gaza and Syria, when they run out of options. Malnutrition, birth defects, cancer, and other health issues are skyrocketing.

-When the Balfour declaration was issued in 1917, there were some 850,000 Palestinians only 7% of us were Jewish-Palestinians (and most Jews were also opposed to Zionism).

 - Roughly 6.5 million Palestinians still live in Palestine though they are restricted to use 8.7% of the land (Qumsiyeh calculation) and have no sovereignity even in those remaining areas.

-roughly 6.5 million Israeli Jews live in historic Palestine, vast majority of them immigrants or children of immigrants. They have access to 91.3% of the land and have physical sovereignity over 100% of it.

-Some 1500-1800 new Jewish Israeli NGOs are registered every year. Some 100 new Palestinian NGOs are registered every year. In total historic Palestine has the highest number of NGOs per population size of any place on earth. Many if not a majority of these NGOs (Israeli and Palestinian) increase corruption and graft and help sustain the status quo of apartheid and racism. A virtual industry of foreign aid is built around “peace” and “development” but actually entrench the apartheid system.

-By contrast, millions of good people with very limited resources do amazing work to help Palestine move forward. They include cadres of volunteers, the International solidarity movement, student bodies around the world, Palestine solidarity groups and more.

-In its ongoing policy of using citizens of Gaza as laboratory test subjects for new weapon development, Israel killed in its attack in Summer 2014 on Gaza 2147 Palestinians. Most of those were civilians including 531 children and 302 women. The Israeli assault also left 11,231 injured including 3258 Palestinian children

-Israeli Jewish public voted in the most right wing government in Israeli history including ministers now serving that support ethnic cleansing and massacring civilians.

- There is increasing public support in Western countries for human rights of Palestinains and also for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to help end racism and ethnic cleansing

- By contrast, thanks to massive lobby efforts and media control, politicians in Western Countries are acting as Israel’s henchmen including in efforts to combat BDS (and even suppressing free speech)

- There is increasing awareness of Western government hypocrisy/double standard  in regards to application of International humanitarian law and UN resolutions. This itself drives extremism and notions of “might  makes right”. Even among elites in power, they now realize that it is an impossible mission to claim to fight spread of a religious state in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) while maintaining a racist expanding religious state in
Palestine (Jewish State of Israel)

Bottom line: There is lots of suffering that started with Zionist colonization and exacerbated with Arab leader betrayal but the Palestinian cause remains strong thanks to people resistance around the world. Together we are charting path to freedom and dignity against all odds. Key question is what each of us is doing personally to help or hurt (looking in the mirror).

A luta continua.

Oil and Economic Warfare

The Evolution Of The Oil Weapon

by John Manfreda -

In the age of derivatives, swaps, and electronic money transfers, a new form of warfare has emerged: financial warfare. Recently, the US has passed sanctions on countries such as Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea , but the majority of energy related sanctions passed have been targeted at Iran and Russia.

An estimated 68 percent of Russia's government revenue is derived from oil and gas exports, while 80 percent of Iran's revenue comes from oil exports. That presents a very large target for the use of financial weapons.

To understand why financial warfare is now so commonplace, one must understand how it came into existence and what has been achieved taking such an approach.

The oil weapon first came into existence in 1965, when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal. What resulted from this was a declaration of war by France, England, and Israel. As a way to counter this invasion, Saudi Arabia decided to ban exports to England and France. This embargo turned out to have minimal economic impact, as the US increased shipments to Europe, and international oil companies redirected shipments to England and France.

The next embargo imposed was in 1967, when Arab states imposed an embargo on the US, Britain, and West Germany. This embargo was enacted after a rumor surfaced that Britain and the US were providing air cover for Israeli planes, after Israel bombed Egyptian military airports in the 1967 war. This embargo failed, due to the fact that Arab oil revenues declined. This embargo also wasn't enforced properly, as Western countries were still receiving oil from Arab countries.

But the most famous incident came in 1973. This was when OPEC issued a new embargo on countries that provided military aid to Israel, in the Yom Kippur war. This proved to have a greater economic impact on Europe and the US, because Saudi Arabia displaced Texas as the world's swing producer.

The 1973 embargo led to an increase in domestic fuel prices, shortages of gasoline, and the rationing of gasoline fuel. This embargo changed the dynamics of US foreign policy.

After the 1973 embargo, Richard Nixon sent his secretary of state Henry Kissinger to Saudi Arabia with a proposed deal, to ensure that an embargo such as this would never happen to the United States again.

After some revisions, in 1976, the House of Saud and Henry Kissinger finally reached an agreement. The agreement did the following things, according to Marin Katusa's 2014 book, "The Colder War." The Saudi's agreed to:

1. Give the US as much oil as it desired, for general consumption and national security measures. Thus increasing or decreasing oil production to the benefit of the US

2. To only sell oil for US dollars, and to reinvest profits in US treasury securities.

In return, the US guaranteed:

1. The protection of the Saudi Kingdom from rival Arab countries

2. The protection of Saudi oil fields

3. Protection from an Israel invasion.

The Saudi's agreed to this because, even though they had vast amounts of oil, they didn't possess an army which could protect them from its surrounding enemies; which included Iran, Iraq, and Israel.

This deal not only secured a steady supply of oil to the US, but allowed the US to expand its global footprint.

How the US and the Saudi's colluded to topple the USSR

In 1982, a secret declaration for economic war with The Soviet Union was signed. This declaration included:

• No new contracts to buy Soviet natural gas
• Accelerate development of an alternate supply to Soviet gas for parts of Europe
• A plan to substantially raise interest rates on credit to the USSR
• The requirement of higher down payments and shorter maturities on Russian bonds.

This declaration made the USSR's debt load much more burdensome, but what delivered the final blow to the USSR was the doubling of oil production from Saudi Arabia in 1986. This pushed oil prices down to roughly 10 dollars per barrel, thus vastly decreasing the USSR's government revenue. This declaration combined with low oil prices, according to James Norman, author of the 2008 book, "The Oil Card," is what led to the collapse of the USSR.

Today, the international financial system is much more sophisticated. Still, using financial sanctions with the intention of creating a de facto embargo on oil is a widespread practice today – just look at the cases of Iran and Russia.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Misleading Moment of Celebration: What New Surveillance Program?

A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

by Norman Solomon -

June 4, 2015

[L/R]: Kirk Wiebe (NSA), Coleen Rowley (FBI), Raymond McGovern
(CIA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon), William Binney (NSA), 
Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), and Thomas Drake (NSA)

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

Later on Wednesday, here in Oslo as part of a “Stand Up For Truth” tour, Drake warned at a public forum that “national security” has become “the new state religion.” Meanwhile, his Twitter messages were calling the USA Freedom Act an “itty-bitty step” — and a “stop/restart kabuki shell game” that “starts w/ restarting bulk collection of phone records.”

That downbeat appraisal of the USA Freedom Act should give pause to its celebrants. Drake is a former senior executive of the National Security Agency — and a whistleblower who endured prosecution and faced decades in prison for daring to speak truthfully about NSA activities. He ran afoul of vindictive authorities because he refused to go along with the NSA’s massive surveillance program after 9/11.

Drake understands how the NSA operates from the highest strategic levels. He notes a telling fact that has gone virtually unacknowledged by anti-surveillance boosters of the USA Freedom Act: “NSA approved.” So, of course, did the top purveyor of mendacious claims about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs — President Obama — who eagerly signed the “USA Freedom” bill into law just hours after the Senate passed it.

A comparable guardian of our rights, House Speaker John Boehner, crowed:

 “This legislation is critical to keeping Americans safe from terrorism and protecting their civil liberties.”

While some organizations with civil-liberties credentials have responded to the USA Freedom Act by popping open champagne bottles at various decibels, more sober assessments have also been heard. Just after senators approved the bill and sent it to the president, Demand Progress issued a statement pointing out: “The Senate just voted to reinstitute certain lapsed surveillance authorities — and that means that USA Freedom actually made Americans less free.”

Another astute assessment came from CREDO, saying that Congress had just created “sweeping new authorities for the government to conduct unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans.”

As it happened, the president signed the USA Freedom Act into law while four U.S. “national security” whistleblowers — Drake as well as Coleen Rowley (FBI), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department) and Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) — were partway through a “Stand Up For Truth” speaking tour from London to Oslo to Stockholm to Berlin. Traveling as part of the tour, I’ve been struck by the intensity of interest from audiences in the countries we’ve already visited — Great Britain and Norway — where governments have moved to worsen repressive policies for mass surveillance.

Right now, many people in Europe and elsewhere who care about civil liberties and want true press freedom are looking at the United States: to understand what an aroused citizenry might be able to accomplish, seeking to roll back a dangerous accumulation of power by an ostensibly democratic government. Let’s not unwittingly deceive them — or ourselves — about how much ground the U.S. surveillance state has lost so far.

Norman Solomon’s books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and coordinates its ExposeFacts project. Solomon is a co-founder of

Cabinet Carpetbaggers and the Kyiv Coupsters: In-Sourcing Another Foreign Governor

Neocon Fugitive Given Ukraine Province

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

June 2, 2015

The latest political move by the U.S.-backed “pro-democracy” regime in Ukraine was to foist on the people of Odessa the autocratic Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neoconservative favorite and currently a fugitive from his own country which is seeking him on charges of human rights violations and embezzlement.

Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia
and U.S. President George Bush at a NATO
meeting. (Photo credit: NATO)

New York Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn justified this imposition of a newly minted Ukrainian citizen on the largely Russian-speaking population of Odessa by saying that “the Ukrainian public’s general willingness to accept the appointment of foreigners to high-level positions underscores the deep lack of trust in any government after nearly a quarter-century of mismanagement and corruption.”

But Herszenhorn made no apparent effort to gauge how willing the people of Odessa are to accept this choice of a controversial foreign politician to govern them. The pick was made by President Petro Poroshenko and is just the latest questionable appointment by the post-coup regime in Kiev.

For instance, shortly after the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the new U.S.-endorsed authorities in Kiev named thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine. Kolomoisky, regarded as one of Ukraine’s most corrupt billionaires, ruled the region as his personal fiefdom until he was ousted by Poroshenko earlier this year in a dispute over Kolomoisky’s use of strong-arm tactics to maintain control of Ukrainian energy companies. [See’s “Ukraine’s Oligarchs Turn on Each Other.”]

Poroshenko also has granted overnight Ukrainian citizenship to other controversial foreigners to hold key positions in his government, including Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, an ex-U.S. State Department official whose qualifications included enriching herself through her management of a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund for Ukraine. [See’s “Ukraine Finance Minister’s ‘American Values’.”]

Beyond his recruitment of questionable outsiders, Poroshenko has made concessions to Ukraine’s far-right nationalists, including signing legislation to extend official recognition to Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis in killing Jews and Poles during World War II. In a bitter irony, the new law coincided with the world’s celebration in April of the 70th anniversary of Russian and U.S. troops bringing an end to the Holocaust. [See’s “How Ukraine Commemorates the Holocaust.”]

Now Poroshenko has given Saakashvili his own province to govern, rescuing him from an obscure existence in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. According to a New York Times profile last September, Saakashvili was there “writing a memoir, delivering ‘very well-paid’ speeches, helping start up a Washington-based think tank and visiting old boosters like Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state.”

McCain and Nuland were key neocon backers of the coup that ousted Yanukovych and touched off the bloody civil war that has killed thousands of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, while also reviving Cold War tensions between the West and Russia. Before the coup, McCain urged on right-wing protesters with promises of U.S. support and Nuland was overheard hand-picking Ukraine’s new leadership, saying “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became prime minister after the coup.

According to the Times profile, Saakashvili also “entertained David H. Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” another neocon favorite who ran into legal trouble himself when the FBI discovered he had shared top-secret information with his biographer/lover and then lied about it to FBI agents. Petraeus, however, received only a suspended sentence and a fine in contrast to intelligence-community whistleblowers who have faced serious prison time.

Models, Nude Artist and Massage Therapist

While cooling his heels in Brooklyn, Saakashvili fumed over charges leveled against him by prosecutors in his home country of Georgia. According to the Times profile, Saakashvili was accused of “using public money to pay for, among other things, hotel expenses for a personal stylist, hotel and travel for two fashion models, Botox injections and hair removal, the rental of a yacht in Italy and the purchase of artwork by the London artist Meredith Ostrom, who makes imprints on canvases with her naked, painted body. …

“Mr. Saakashvili is also accused of using public money to fly his massage therapist, Dorothy Stein, into Georgia in 2009. Mr. Saakashvili said he received a massage from Ms. Stein on ‘one occasion only,’ but Ms. Stein said she received 2,000 euros to massage him multiple times, including delivering her trademark ‘bite massage.’ ‘He gave me a bunch of presents,’ said Ms. Stein, who splits her time between Berlin and Hoboken,” including a gold necklace.

The Georgian prosecutors also have charged Saakashvili with human rights violations for his violent crackdown on political protesters in 2007.

However, in Herszenhorn’s May 31 article about Saakashvili’s appointment as Odessa’s governor, the Times correspondent (who has behaved more like a pro-Kiev propagandist than an objective reporter) wrote that the criminal charges against Saakashvili and other officials from his government are “widely perceived as a campaign of political retribution.”

Herszenhorn didn’t say where he had gained that perception, but it is true that Official Washington’s neoconservatives will broach no criticism of their longtime hero Saakashvili, who was a big booster of the Iraq War and even named a boulevard in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in honor of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Saakashvili apparently felt that his close ties to the Bush administration would protect him in summer 2008 when he provoked a border clash with Russian troops over the rebellious territory of South Ossetia. Georgia suffered a sharp military defeat and Saakashvili’s political star quickly faded among his countrymen, leading to his party’s rejection at the polls and his exile.

But Saakashvili’s love of the high life might find similar attitudes among some of the other “carpetbaggers” arriving in Ukraine to take Ukrainian citizenship and get top jobs in the post-coup government. Estonian Jaanika Merilo, an associate of Finance Minister Jaresko’s, was brought in to handle Ukraine’s foreign investments, but Merilo is best known on the Internet for her provocative party photos.

Janika Merilo, the Estonian being put in charge of
arranging foreign investments into Ukraine.
(From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)

Janika Merilo, an Estonian brought into the Ukrainian 
government to oversee foreign investments.
(From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)

Yet, as much fun as some of these well-connected politicians and bureaucrats may be having in Kiev, the plight of the average Ukrainian continues to worsen as “free-market” reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund take hold. Those “reforms” have included slashing old-age pensions, removing worker protections, and hiking the price of heating fuel.

Now, the latest “democratic” reform is to appoint a neocon politician on the run from his own country’s criminal justice system to govern what is likely to be a hostile population of ethnic Russians in Odessa.

On May 2, 2014, neo-Nazi street fighters set fire to Odessa’s Trade Union Building and burned alive dozens of ethnic Russians who had taken refuge there. The building was also spray-painted with Nazi slogans, including praise for the Galician SS, a Ukrainian force that fought with the Nazis and slaughtered Jews. [See’s “Ukraine’s Dr. Strangelove Reality.”]

Overseeing that tense city now is an unelected ex-Georgian neocon politician who is facing charges in his homeland for human rights abuses and misuse of government funds — more “democracy promotion” in the tragic land of Ukraine.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.