Saturday, October 17, 2015

Video Catched IDF Planting Weapon on Murdered Teen

Video Shows Soldiers Placing Object Near Body Of Slain Palestinian Teen

by IMEMC News 

October 17, 2015

The Youth Against Settlements Coalition in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, published a video of the fatal shooting a Palestinian youth on the hands of an armed Israeli paramilitary settler, and showing a soldier placing a sharp object next to the dead Palestinian teen.

The 18-year-old victim was identified as Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18, medical sources confirmed.

The video shows a soldier handing his officer what appears to be a knife, who in turn places it near the head of the slain Palestinian, in what seems to be an attempt to claim they shot him “after he attempted to stab them.”

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The coalition posed a question about the military claim that the teen carried a knife, especially since the fatal shooting took place in an area of Hebron where no Palestinian can enter without being searched, and examined by a metal detection machine, and has to go through iron gates manned by several soldiers.

It added that al-Qawasmi is not from the isolated Palestinian neighborhood, and has to go through all the Israeli security measures, searches and metal detection machines before entering it.

Also on Saturday, soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teen close to the Armon Hanetziv illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands in Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem.

|Related: Three Palestinians killed on Saturday; 42 Palestinians Killed This Month, Including 7 Children|

On Friday, Israeli soldiers killed five Palestinians, and wounded around 300 others, in different parts of occupied Palestine.


"PCHR Weekly Report: 23 Palestinians killed, 607 wounded from Oct. 8 - 13"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Smartphone Intifada: Mobiles Put the Lie to Israeli Police Story on Palestinian Civilians Shot

Videos Challenge Israeli Police Account of Shootings

by Jonathan Cook  - Dissident Voice

October 16th, 2015  

It has been called the “smartphone intifada”. After a sharp escalation in violence between Palestinians and Israelis in recent weeks, shocking scenes captured on video have spread across social media.

According to Israeli human rights organisations, several such videos challenge the accuracy of official Israeli accounts of the circumstances in which police have killed or injured Palestinians.

Fadi Alloun: Security camera
footage withheld

The footage, the nine groups said in a statement this week, provided concrete evidence that police were “quick to shoot to kill” rather than arrest Palestinians in Jerusalem and Israel who were suspected of involvement in attacks on Israelis Jews.

The shootings, they added, had occurred when the Palestinians posed no physical threat to security forces.

Lawyers have also accused the justice ministry of thwarting investigations, especially into the police killing of Fadi Alloun, a Palestinian from Jerusalem. Security camera footage of his shooting has been withheld and his family have been denied access to his body for an autopsy.

Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally annexed, are subject to Israeli civil law – unlike the West Bank, where Palestinians live under Israeli military rule.

Human rights groups have long complained that Israeli soldiers in the West Bank carry out “extra-judicial executions”.

The Israeli government recently announced it was authorising for the first time the use of live-fire against Palestinians, including children, who throw stones in Israel and Jerusalem.

Israel includes a population of 1.6 million Palestinians who have citizenship, while most of East Jerusalem’s 370,000 Palestinians have Israeli residency permits.

Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s Palestinian citizens, said details of the government’s new live-fire regulations had yet to be divulged to them.

But it cited Israeli politicians and police commanders as openly calling for extra-judicial killings since the upswing in tensions.

‘Terrorists will not survive’

Jerusalem’s police chief, Moshe Edri, is reported to have said: “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed.” Police minister Gilad Erdan similarly declared: “Every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to commit.”

Adalah and Addameer, a Palestinian group defending prisoners’ rights, sent a letter to Israel’s attorney general this week highlighting three cases where video footage documented the unjustified shooting or abuse of Palestinian suspects.

Suhad Bishara, an Adalah lawyer, said the Israeli justice ministry had given no indication that its police investigations unit, Mahash, would investigate any of the incidents.

“What they are saying is the precise opposite: that these officers are heroes, that they behaved according to the law,” she said.

Mahash is already deeply mistrusted by Israel’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population, after it failed to identify any of the police officers responsible for killing 13 unarmed demonstrators inside Israel at the start of the second intifada in October 2000.

There have been 51 deaths of Palestinian citizens at the hands of the security forces since the October 2000 events, most in unexplained circumstances, compared to two Israeli Jews.

Bishara said: “We seem to have reached an even worse point than after the October 2000 events. Then Mahash conducted some investigations, even if they were deeply flawed. Now the need for investigations is simply being ignored.”

A spokeswoman for Mahash confirmed that a complaint from Adalah had been received but would make no further comment.

The urgent need for investigations was underscored late Thursday when the interior minister, Silvan Shalom, said he intended to strip Palestinian-Israeli “terror suspects” of their citizenship and those in Jerusalem of their residency permits.

According to international law, countries should not leave their citizens stateless.

Body kept from family

Adalah and Addameer are concerned that in the most prominent of the filmed shootings – of Alloun on 4 October – Israeli officials are putting up obstacles to block any investigation.

Videos on social media show a policeman shooting dead 19-year-old Alloun as he seeks protection from a mob of Israeli Jews chasing him and demanding that he be executed.

The crowd accuses him of a stabbing that occurred moments earlier close to the Old City. Even though the film suggests he posed no physical threat at the time, a police officer fired at him seven times. Alloun fell to the ground after the first shot.

Morad Jadalah, a lawyer with Addameer, said the authorities had refused to make available footage from security cameras in the area that might provide a clearer view of what happened.

They had also denied Alloun’s family access to his body, and the police had buried him without an autopsy being carried out.

Adalah and Addameer accused the police of seeking to “disrupt the investigation in advance” and “damage essential factual findings”.

Jadalah said: “If we can’t examine Alloun’s body to see how he was killed, we have no case against the police in court, whatever the videos reveal. The authorities are engaged in attempts to prevent justice from being done.”

In another case taken up by Adalah, from 9 October, Israa Abed, a 30-year-old mother of three from Nazareth, is filmed surrounded by soldiers and police at a bus station in northern Israel. As she stands almost immobile before them, several shots are fired, wounding her.

Although the security services have claimed there was a knife in her hand, she can be seen making no effort to attack them. Another video, taken shortly after she was shot, appears to show a pair of sunglasses, not a knife, next to her.

Doctors have said she was shot six times from the same gun.

Shalom named Abed, who survived the shooting, as one of two Palestinian citizens he wanted to strip of their citizenship.

Boy left to bleed

In the third case, 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra is filmed being kicked by police and denied medical treatment as he lies bleeding and severely injured on a road in a settlement in East Jerusalem on 12 October. Crowds of settlers curse him and shout “Die! Son of a bitch.”

He was rammed by a vehicle after he and an older cousin were suspected of stabbing two Israeli Jews, one a child his own age.

Physicians for Human Rights in Israel decried a video and photos released by the government on Thursday of Manasra recovering in an Israeli hospital. They said the images violated Israel’s juvenile and privacy laws, and the hospital’s involvement was a severe breach of medical ethics.

Suspicions have been raised too about the fatal shooting of Basel Sidr on 14 October. Footage shows police shooting the 20-year-old as he tried to attack them with a knife at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City.

However, B’Tselem, an Israeli organisation monitoring Israeli violations in the occupied territories, expressed “grave concern” that the officers continued to shoot at Sidr after he was wounded on the ground with no one near him.

Jadalah, of Addameer, said: “These videos are helping to fuel Palestinian rage. They reinforce the sense in Jerusalem that we are fighting for our lives and the city.”

Since the start of the month, 32 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded. Attacks have left seven Israeli Jews dead.

On Wednesday thousands of soldiers and paramilitary Border Police were deployed in Jerusalem and major cities in Israel where Palestinians live. It is the first time in more than a decade soldiers have been used inside Israel.

8,000 gun permit requests

Meanwhile, Israeli media reports indicate that, since the unrest erupted, Israeli soldiers and police have had a light finger on the trigger and have rushed to conclusions about the threat posed by Palestinians unsupported by evidence.

On Thursday a soldier opened fire in a train near Haifa, causing minor injuries, after other soldiers wrongly shouted out a warning that someone was holding a knife.

Later the same day, police admitted that two Palestinians from East Jerusalem arrested on suspicion of planning an attack after a major manhunt in Tel Aviv were simply visiting the city.

Israeli politicians such as Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat have called on Israeli civilians who own a firearm to carry it at all times. On Friday some 8,000 Jews were reported to have applied for a gun permit in the first 24 hours after the easing of licensing rules by the government.

“In the current atmosphere, the call by politicians for Israeli civilians to arm themselves constitutes incitement to kill Palestinians for no reason,” said Bishara, of Adalah.
“It sends a message to the security forces and to Israeli civilians that Arab life is of no value.”

There has also been a spate of reports in the past week of Palestinian citizens being beaten or stabbed by Israeli Jews after they were identified as Arab. Mobs of Jews chanting “Death to Arabs” are now a familiar sight in Jerusalem.

In the southern town of Dimona last week, an Israeli Jew stabbed four Palestinians over the course of an hour.

Jadalah said: “When Israeli Jews carry out knife attacks, they are arrested, not killed. It seems the police can follow proper procedures when Jews are involved.”

Ahmed Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, echoed Jadalah on Twitter: “Of course, the Jewish stabber ended the spree [of stabbings] without a bullet or scratch.”

Rami Nasreddin, the director of Palvision, a youth empowerment programme in Jerusalem, said videos of violence by the security forces and of Jewish mobs had left many Palestinians in Jerusalem frightened to go out.

“Most of the schools are closed because parents are afraid to let their children on to the streets,” he said.

“I have to admit I am scared myself. I know that if a settler shouts out that I have a knife or that I am a terrorist, the police are likely to shoot me without a second thought.”

• First published at Middle East Eye

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

Election Campaign Reviews Coming In: Harper's Appeal to "Racist Canada" Raises Eyebrows Abroad

Congratulations Canada: Now the World is Talking About Your Prime Minister's Racist Rhetoric

by PressProgress

How do we want the world to see us?

This last month has been devastating for Canada's international reputation – from 1-800 hotlines to snitch on your neighbours to screening refugees based on their religion to policing how a handful of women dress, it doesn't square with what most Canadians have in mind when they think: mutual-respect.

When Americans start turning their heads away from train wrecks like Donald Trump or Sarah Palin and ask what's "going on up in Canada?" it might be a sign we've got an image problem.

Here are 7 international news stories that underline just how far off course Stephen Harper's divisive rhetoric has taken all of us: 

1. The Economist: Harper is "Muslim-bashing" as a "campaign tactic"

The Economist informs its international readership that Harper's "Muslim-bashing" rhetoric appears to have spurred a series of physical attacks on Muslim-Canadians: 

The [Niqab] fuss is a godsend for Stephen Harper, who hopes voters will re-elect him for a fourth term as prime minister—despite their fatigue with his ten-year rule and a weak economy ... Canada’s 1m Muslims are dismayed. Although hate crimes in general are declining, those targeting Muslims are not. In the past week, a pregnant woman wearing a headscarf in Montreal was knocked down by two teenagers. Another wearing a niqab in Toronto said she was assaulted. Politicising the niqab is "unbelievably dangerous," said Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, who is a Muslim. 

2. The Guardian: Harper is using "Islamophobia to make gains in polls"

A recent article in the UK-based Guardian observes that Harper's fear-mongering about foreigners has gotten so over-the-top, he's starting to sound like Donald Trump: 

"Thanks to candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, American political discourse seems to be dominated by xenophobia. Now, Canada seems to be following suit." 

3. Washington Post: Harper is playing "a dangerous xenophobic game"

Over at the Washington Post, confusion abounds as to how an "insignificant" issue has dominated a Canadian election at the same time as our economy is tanking and a few other issues that actually present a threat to the security and welfare of Canadians: 

"There are lots of important issues at stake, including Canada's flagging economy, its role in counterterrorism operations overseas, and the looming specter of climate change.

But, of late, something far more insignificant has begun to dominate the conversation: whether Muslim women can wear the niqab, a type of full-face veil, during Canadian citizenship ceremonies." 

4. Esquire Magazine: "What the f--k is going on up in Canada?"

Esquire Magazine has a piece that says Harper has "learned all the wrong lessons from the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton years" and is "going to Trump University this time around": 

"​Once uncorked, xenophobia rarely stays in the bottle. If it's not questioning someone's citizenship, it's good old-fashioned nativism." 


5. The Independent: Harper's rhetoric has "dark, racist overtones"

A headline in the British daily The Independent expressed disbelief that Canadian democracy is losing its way – "something has gone profoundly wrong": 

"Faithful ally of Britain in two world wars, peacekeeper to the world, Nato but neutral across the globe, it’s difficult to believe that Canada’s democracy might have come adrift. But the last weeks of election campaigning by Stephen Harper’s ruling Conservative party – with its dark, racist overtones and anti-Muslim rhetoric -- suggests that something has gone profoundly wrong with the nation which Winston Churchill once called “the linchpin of the English-speaking peoples." 

6. Vox: "Disturbing questions" are being raised "about how Canada sees Muslims and immigrants"

Calling it a disturbing "wedge issue," the news website Vox attempted to explain to American readers why an "unusual issue" could come to dominate Canada's election news coverage: 

"It's not as if there's an epidemic of Muslim women wearing niqabs to Canadian citizenship ceremonies. But in the past months, and especially the past few weeks, the niqab issue has become a huge part of Harper's campaign. What's more, it appears to be working — raising some pretty disturbing questions about how Canada sees Muslims and immigrants." 

7. Salon: "White people don't have to worry about Canada's new 'report your neighbor' hotline"

But at least Salon, a New York-based outlet covering current affairs, took note of how Canadians have been ruthlessly mocking the "Conservatives' racist strategy"

"The criticism of “Report Your Neighbor” has been voluble, with news outlets emphasizing that the Conservative defense of “old-stock”— i.e. White –“Canadian values” is, rather, a coded way of validating Islamophobia in Canada, and that this fear-mongering has led to vicious physical attacks against Muslim women wearing the veil, including one pregnant woman. (The irony abounds, for it would seem that women and children could, in fact, use some protection from “barbaric cultural practices,” just the ones that are being whipped up by the “old-stock” government itself.)

Meanwhile, internetizens have been grimly mocking the racism of “Report Your Neighbor.” Not only has a satire site popped up to target the Un-Canadian behavior of Conservatives, but the hashtag #BarbaricCulturalPractices has been skewering the campaign."

Maybe that should give us all hope.

Because if there's one thing that unites us as Canadians, it's ridiculing bad Conservative ideas. It's what we do best.

New Trudeau Government Just a Blast from to the Past?

Back to the Past on October 20 if the Liberal Are Reelected

by Roger Annis -

Progressive Canadians are looking forward to the defeat of Stephen Harper's Conservatives on election day, October 19. Polls have the party's campaign slipping badly. The Liberal Party seems poised for at least minority government status in Canada's first-past-the-poll electoral system.

In desperation, with their polling numbers in decline and an election victory apparently slipping away, the Conservatives have turned to openly racist as well as fear-mongering national security themes in the concluding weeks of the campaign.

Their campaign has welcomed very public support from disgraced former Toronto mayor Rob Ford and it has promised that if re-elected, a Conservative government would create a new law and related policing agency directed at people of Muslim faith, particularly women, banning what the party calls "barbaric cultural practices."

But there is a wrinkle to the good news of a likely departure of the Conservatives. The polling numbers for Canada's social democratic New Democratic Party have declined markedly since the outset of the campaign in early August. The numbers now sit in the low 20 per cent range, good only for third place. That means the Liberals will be back in power after a ten-year absence.

If the NDP finishes third, the ranks of the party and the political left more broadly will have some serious soul-searching to do. For one writer, that has already begun.

NDP in the 'mushy middle'

A young journalist at The Toronto Star, Canada's largest circulation daily newspaper, has written a perceptive view of the election race. Desmond Cole writes a weekly commentary in The Star and his column for October 15 is titled 'The NDP's disastrous move to the mushy middle'.

Cole examines the decline in polling numbers for the NDP. He argues that the reason for the decline is the failure of the party to present bold, progressive ideas in this election.

He writes, "Sadly, the greatest selling point of both the NDP and Liberals in this campaign is that they are not the Conservatives. Between the two, the NDP has most consistently opposed Harper’s policies. But New Democrats have utterly failed to present a fresh vision for Canada, one that transcends not only Harper’s apparent mistakes and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's apparent shortcomings, but the ideological chokehold of neoliberalism on the Canadian imagination."

He examines the NDP election platform and concludes, "It would be refreshing for a major political party to tell Canadians we do not control our economic destiny, and that we must challenge the neo-liberal status quo that is leaving so many Canadians behind. Liberals and Conservatives have proven they can win without rocking the boat. New Democrats probably can’t and should stop trying."

Prospects for left-wing surges

It is difficult to prove that a more left-wing program for the NDP (or Green Party) would immediately translate to higher electoral support. For one, as we see in this present election, the Liberal Party is capable of feints to the left in response to surges in NDP support, particularly when it's been ten years since the party governed the country and memories of its right-wing governance have faded. But political trends in Canada and internationally suggest strongly that the claim is true.

Left-wing platforms have become more popular as the capitalist order drags the world deeper into the scourges of poverty, war and ecological vandalism. This has been true in Latin America for several decades and is the case in some important parts of Europe.

There is also proof by negative example. The Labour Party in Britain has been greatly weakened and discredited by the right-wing policies it applied in government under prime ministers Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-10). The party has lost the last two elections to the highly unpopular Conservatives under David Cameron. The right-wing Labour policies of the Blair/Brown era, however polished up in new forum, do not appeal anymore. Labour was shockingly shut out from Scotland in the national election earlier this year. Now party ranks have chosen a solid left-winger, Jeremy Corbyn, as their new leader. His campaign for leadership has induced a surge of new and young members into the party.

In last year's election on June 5 in the province of Ontario, the NDP chose to run to the right of the incumbent Liberal Party, going so far as to court Conservative voters with promises of 'balanced budgets', no significant new spending on social programs, and so on. The party lost badly. (I wrote three articles on that election, including one on the outcome. Find all those articles by searching 'Ontario election' on my website.)

This federal NDP campaign is a less-crude version of the 2014 NDP campaign in Ontario, but still in the same vein. As in Ontario, 'balanced budget' dogma is at the center of the campaign. Party leader Tom Mulcair has acknowledged that he was and remains an admirer of Margaret Thatcher's economic record. And so on.

Left-wing platforms will inevitably become more popular as the capitalist order drags the world deeper into poverty, war and ecological vandalism. Whether these win elections is a more complicated matter. In any event, the purpose of left-wing politics is not to win elections per se. It is to fight for governments that advance the social and economic interests of the majority of society. The world needs governments that are pro-peace and social justice, anti-militarist and pro-Mother Earth.

'Strategic' voting?

A key number to watch in the election result will be voter turnout. It has been in steady decline in Canada over the past three decades. The previous election in 2011 scored the lowest turnout in Canadian history. Well below 50 per cent of adult-age Canadians voted in that election. A high turnout this time would auger well for a defeat of the Conservatives.

Many progressive Canadians are engaging in the unproven and politically disarming strategy of 'strategic voting'. That strategy argues to vote for the candidate of the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives in each of Canada's 338 electoral districts. It is the official position of Canada's largest trade union, UNIFOR. Large electoral networks of environmental and social rights activists, notably Lead Now, are deeply engaged in such campaigning.

'Strategic voting' is motivated by progressive impulses. But among its faults is that it overlooks the single largest failure of the present capitalist electoral system—the massive disaffection of voters. Fifty per cent of adult Canadians, give or take some percentage points, do not go to the polls. These voters are disproportionately young, poor, working class or First Nations people, or all of the above. They don't vote because they correctly perceive that no matter which party they vote for, the performance in government will disappoint.

Reaching out to disaffected voters is a very important responsibility of left-wing movements and activists. But doing so with a message to vote Liberal is a highly dubious proposition on many fronts, not least because what is needed is to inspire the disaffected with something new and forward looking, not to offer more of the same.

On the plus side, an important point argued by strategic voting campaigns is the need for a proportional electoral system.

There is some similarity between the lineup of the parties in Canada and the two-party electoral system in the United States. The Liberals in Canada and the Democrats in the United States are each posited as a "lesser evil" or even "progressive" alternatives in circumstances where a trade-union based party such as the NDP or other forms of progressive parties (such as the Green Party in the United States) seemingly have no chance of winning an election. The task of building a progressive party is postponed to the hereafter in favour of the "more realistic" goal of electing the lesser evil. This is the historic position of the Communist Parties in both countries. A variant of this concerning the present Canadian election is recently argued by a Toronto writer for the online journal The Bullet.

But there is a marked difference between the two countries which makes strategic voting in Canada rather less disempowering than the Democratic Party option in the U.S. lesser-evilism in the United States weakens progressive social and political movements because means entrapment in the web of the Democratic Party. In Canada, a very important break with such entrapment was begun during the 1930s with the founding of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, a precursor to the NDP, and then carried forward with the formal founding of the NDP in 1961. The founding of the NDP was a merger, more or less, of the CCF and the country's trade unions.

The trap of the Liberal Party

The Liberal Party in Canada is one of the two historic parties of the Canadian capitalist class. It led the country through World War Two and then the neo-colonial war on the Korean peninsula from 1950-53. The Liberals led a modernization of the Canadian imperialist state for 30 years beginning in the 1960s. That successfully staved off the movement for Quebec independence as well as countrywide social discontent and rebellion. Then in the 1990s, Liberal governments led by Jean Chrétien undertook the austerity and security-state measures since brought to full fruition by the Harper Conservatives. As well, it was a Liberal government which took Canada into the disastrous, U.S. led war against the people of Afghanistan beginning in 2001.

On May 6, of this year, the Liberals voted in favour of Bill C-51, the latest piece of national security legislation in Canada attacking civil liberties. The bill is extremely regressive, a sort-of Patriot Act for Canada.

Five weeks earlier, the Liberals and NDP voted against a Harper government proposal to join the U.S.-led aerial bombardments of Syria being waged under the guise of opposing ISIS. Those were good decisions by the two parties, but a shameful fact of this federal election campaign is that the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP share very common views on foreign policy. In particular, they are united in supporting the NATO military buildup in eastern Europe against Russia and the related, neo-colonizing project for eastern and southern Europe (Greece and Ukraine) by the large, northern countries of the European Union.

All three parties support the right-wing, extremist government in Ukraine and they support economic sanctions against Russia. In this election campaign, Tom Mulcair has criticized the Harper government for not being tougher on sanctions against Russia!

All three parties back Israel in its ongoing war against the Palestinian people, to the point where the Liberals and the NDP now routinely yank any candidate of their parties who may have expressed past sympathy with the Palestinian cause.

A reminder of the Liberals ties to big business has been delivered in the closing days of the election campaign in the form of a national co-chair of the party's election campaign, Daniel Gagnier. He resigned from that post on October 14 after communications to his friends in the oil industry became public. Gagnier is a lobbyist for Big Oil in Canada, specifically for the proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline that would carry bitumen across 4,000 km of Canadian territory to an Atlantic Ocean export terminus in Saint John, New Brunswick. Gagnier jumped the gun of an expected Liberal election victory when he sent a three-page memo to his industry contacts advising how they could prepare to lobby and pressure an expected Liberal government.

A left-wing party

Concerning ecology and the environment, I have already written that considering the acceleration of global warming and the dire warnings of scientists of the need to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the environmental platforms of all four of the federal parties constitute climate change denial. (The right-wing, pro-sovereignty Bloc Québécois party, expected to win a handful of seats in Quebec, has distinct environmental policies based on the fact that the province of Quebec can easily meet all of its high energy needs from hydro-electric generation.)

I see no reason in this election to change the view I expressed last year following the outcome of the 2014 Ontario election, namely, that a new, left-wing party is needed in Canada in order to challenge capitalist capitalist rule. I have always believed that present members of the NDP will play an important part of in such a process. Indeed, the victory of Jeremy Corbyn in winning the leadership of the Labour Party is a reminder of the important role that members and supporters of the NDP and its affiliated unions will play a very important role in reconstituting a left-wing voice and movement. Here is what I wrote 15 months ago:

"So a new, left wing and anti-capitalist political direction and party are needed. That's a key lesson to draw from the Ontario election and from the experiences in other provinces. It is needed for evident social and environmental reasons. It’s also a way to sharpen a fight for political accountability in the present political alignment.

"Extra-Parliamentary protests are vital in fighting for reforms and creating a political alternative. But it’s a big weakness when there are no anti-capitalist voices in the electoral arena. That leaves the pro-capitalist NDP holding a political monopoly on the left. (A similar argument, on a smaller scale, applies in the environmental arena with respect to the pro-private enterprise Green Party.)"

Roger Annis publishes his writings as well as recommended writings of others on his blog A Socialist In Canada and in his blog on This article also appeared in Counterpunch.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Staying in the Fog: How a Lack of Intelligence Keeps the Emergency Military Mechanism Turning

The Fog of Intelligence: Or How to Be Eternally “Caught Off Guard” in the Greater Middle East

by Tom Engelhardt  - TomDispatch


That figure stunned me. I found it in the 12th paragraph of a front-page New York Times story about “senior commanders” at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) playing fast and loose with intelligence reports to give their air war against ISIS an unjustified sheen of success: “CENTCOM’s mammoth intelligence operation, with some 1,500 civilian, military, and contract analysts, is housed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, in a bay front building that has the look of a sterile government facility posing as a Spanish hacienda.”

Think about that. CENTCOM, one of six U.S. military commands that divide the planet up like a pie, has at least 1,500 intelligence analysts (military, civilian, and private contractors) all to itself. Let me repeat that: 1,500 of them. CENTCOM is essentially the country’s war command, responsible for most of the Greater Middle East, that expanse of now-chaotic territory filled with strife-torn and failing states that runs from Pakistan’s border to Egypt. That’s no small task and about it there is much to be known. Still, that figure should act like a flash of lightning, illuminating for a second an otherwise dark and stormy landscape.

And mind you, that’s just the analysts, not the full CENTCOM intelligence roster for which we have no figure at all. In other words, even if that 1,500 represents a full count of the command’s intelligence analysts, not just the ones at its Tampa headquarters but in the field at places like its enormous operation at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, CENTCOM still has almost half as many of them as military personnel on the ground in Iraq (3,500 at latest count). 
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Creating an Un-Intelligence Machine

[Note to TomDispatch Readers: Here’s a small reminder. TomDispatch keeps itself going to a significant extent thanks to the donations of faithful readers. In return for contributions of $100 or more, we like to offer -- as a small but (we hope) meaningful thank you -- signed, personalized copies of superlative books that help, like this website, make some sense of our embattled world. Among those on offer at present are Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield and his bestselling Kill Anything That Moves, my own Shadow Government and The End of Victory Culture, David Vine’s Base Nation, and Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow. Check out our donation page for the full list. Tom

The Fog of Intelligence: Or How to Be Eternally “Caught Off Guard” in the Greater Middle East

by Tom Engelhardt 

Now, try to imagine what those 1,500 analysts are doing, even for a command deep in a “quagmire” in Syria and Iraq, as President Obama recently dubbed it (though he was admittedly speaking about the Russians), as well as what looks like a failing war, 14 years later, in Afghanistan, and another in Yemen led by the Saudis but backed by Washington. Even given all of that, what in the world could they possibly be “analyzing”? Who at CENTCOM, in the Defense Intelligence Agency, or elsewhere has the time to attend to the reports and data flows that must be generated by 1,500 analysts?

Of course, in the gargantuan beast that is the American military and intelligence universe, streams of raw intelligence beyond compare are undoubtedly flooding into CENTCOM’s headquarters, possibly overwhelming even 1,500 analysts. There’s “human intelligence,” or HUMINT, from sources and agents on the ground; there’s imagery and satellite intelligence, or GEOINT, by the bushelful. Given the size and scope of American global surveillance activities, there must be untold tons of signals intelligence, or SIGINT; and with all those drones flying over battlefields and prospective battlefields across the Greater Middle East, there’s undoubtedly a river of full motion video, or FMV, flowing into CENTCOM headquarters and various command posts; and don’t forget the information being shared with the command by allied intelligence services, including those of the “five eyes“ nations, and various Middle Eastern countries; and of course, some of the command’s analysts must be handling humdrum, everyday open-source material, or OSINT, as well -- local radio and TV broadcasts, the press, the Internet, scholarly journals, and god knows what else.

And while you’re thinking about all this, keep in mind that those 1,500 analysts feed into, and assumedly draw on, an intelligence system of a size surely unmatched even by the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Think of it: the U.S. Intelligence Community has -- count ‘em -- 17 agencies and outfits, eating close to $70 billion annually, more than $500 billion between 2001 and 2013. And if that doesn’t stagger you, think about the 500,000 private contractors hooked into the system in one way or another, the 1.4 million people (34% of them private contractors) with access to “top secret” information, and the 5.1 million -- larger than Norway’s population -- with access to “confidential and secret” information.

Remember as well that, in these years, a global surveillance state of Orwellian proportions has been ramped up. It gathers billions of emails and cell phone calls from the backlands of the planet; has kept tabs on at least 35 leaders of other countries and the secretary general of the U.N. by hacking email accounts, tapping cell phones, and so on; keeps a careful eye and ear on its own citizens, including video gamers; and even, it seems, spies on Congress. (After all, whom can you trust?)

In other words, if that 1,500 figure bowls you over, keep in mind that it just stands in for a far larger system that puts to shame, in size and yottabytes of information collected, the wildest dreams of past science fiction writers. In these years, a mammoth, even labyrinthine, bureaucratic “intelligence” structure has been constructed that is drowning in “information” -- and on its own, it seems, the military has been ramping up a smaller but similarly scaled set of intelligence structures.

Surprised, Caught Off Guard, and Left Scrambling

The question remains: If data almost beyond imagining flows into CENTCOM, what are those 1,500 analysts actually doing? How are they passing their time? What exactly do they produce and does it really qualify as “intelligence,” no less prove useful? Of course, we out here have limited access to the intelligence produced by CENTCOM, unless stories like the one about top commanders fudging assessments on the air war against the Islamic State break into the media. So you might assume that there’s no way of measuring the effectiveness of the command’s intelligence operations. But you would be wrong. It is, in fact, possible to produce a rough gauge of its effectiveness. Let’s call it the TomDispatch Surprise Measurement System, or TSMS. Think of it as a practical, news-based guide to the questions: What did they know and when did they know it?

Let me offer a few examples chosen almost at random from recent events in CENTCOM’s domain. Take the seizure at the end of September by a few hundred Taliban fighters of the northern provincial Afghan capital of Kunduz, the first city the Taliban has controlled, however briefly, since it was ejected from that same town in 2002. In the process, the Taliban fighters reportedly scattered up to 7,000 members of the Afghan security forces that the U.S. has been training, funding, and arming for years.

For anyone following news reports closely, the Taliban had for months been tightening its control over rural areas around Kunduz and testing the city’s defenses. Nonetheless, this May, based assumedly on the best intelligence analyses available from CENTCOM, the top U.S. commander in the country, Army General John Campbell, offered this predictive comment: “If you take a look very closely at some of the things in Kunduz and up in [neighboring] Badakhshan [Province], [the Taliban] will attack some very small checkpoints... They will go out and hit a little bit and then they kind of go to ground... so they’re not gaining territory for the most part.’”

As late as August 13th, at a press briefing, an ABC News reporter asked Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, the U.S. deputy chief of staff for communications in Afghanistan: “There has been a significant increase in Taliban activity in northern Afghanistan, particularly around Kunduz. What is behind that? Are the Afghan troops in that part of Afghanistan at risk of falling to the Taliban?”

Shoffner responded, in part, this way: “So, again, I think there's been a lot of generalization when it comes to reports on the north. Kunduz is -- is not now, and has not been in danger of being overrun by the Taliban, and so -- with that, it's kind of a general perspective in the north, that's sort of how we see it.”

That General Cambell at least remained of a similar mindset even as Kunduz fell is obvious enough since, as New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg reported, he was out of the country at the time. As Goldstein put it: 

“Mostly, though, American and Afghan officials appeared to be genuinely surprised at the speedy fall of Kunduz, which took place when Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of coalition forces, was in Germany for a defense conference... Though the Taliban have been making gains in the hinterlands around Kunduz for months, American military planners have for years insisted that Afghan forces were capable of holding onto the country’s major cities.

“‘This wasn’t supposed to happen,’ said a senior American military officer who served in Afghanistan, speaking on the condition of anonymity. ‘The Afghans are fighting, so it’s not like we’re looking at them giving up or collapsing right now. They’re just not fighting very well.’”

It’s generally agreed that the American high command was “caught off guard” by the capture of Kunduz and particularly shocked by the Afghan military’s inability to fight effectively. And who would have predicted such a thing of an American-trained army in the region, given that the American-backed, -trained, and -equipped Iraqi Army on the other side of the Greater Middle East had a similar experience in June 2014 in Mosul and other cities of northern Iraq when relatively small numbers of Islamic State militants routed its troops?

At that time, U.S. military leaders and top administration officials right up to President Obama were, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “caught off guard by the swift collapse of Iraqi security forces” and the successes of the Islamic State in northern Iraq. Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt of the Times wrote in retrospect, “Intelligence agencies were caught off guard by the speed of the extremists’... advance across northern Iraq.” And don’t forget that, despite that CENTCOM intelligence machine, something similar happened in May 2015 when, as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius put it, U.S. officials and American intelligence were “blindsided again” by a very similar collapse of Iraqi forces in the city of Ramadi in al-Anbar Province.

Or let’s take another example where those 1,500 analysts must have been hard at work: the failed $500 million Pentagon program to train “moderate” Syrians into a force that could fight the Islamic State. In the Pentagon version of the elephant that gave birth to a mouse, that vast effort of vetting, training, and arming finally produced Division 30, a single 54-man unit of armed moderates, who were inserted into Syria near the forces of the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra Front. That group promptly kidnapped two of its leaders and then attacked the unit. The result was a disaster as the U.S.-trained fighters fled or were killed. Soon thereafter, the American general overseeing the war against the Islamic State testified before Congress that only “four or five” armed combatants from the U.S. force remained in the field.

Here again is how the New York Times reported the response to this incident:

“In Washington, several current and former senior administration officials acknowledged that the attack and the abductions by the Nusra Front took American officials by surprise and amounted to a significant intelligence failure. While American military trainers had gone to great lengths to protect the initial group of trainees from attacks by Islamic State or Syrian Army forces, they did not anticipate an assault from the Nusra Front. In fact, officials said on Friday, they expected the Nusra Front to welcome Division 30 as an ally in its fight against the Islamic State.
“‘This wasn’t supposed to happen like this,’ said one former senior American official, who was working closely on Syria issues until recently, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential intelligence assessments.”

Now, if accurate, this is wild stuff. After all, how anyone, commander or intelligence analyst, could imagine that the al-Nusra Front, classified as an enemy force in Washington and some of whose militants had been targeted by U.S. air power, would have welcomed U.S.-backed troops with open arms is the mystery of all mysteries. One small footnote to this: McClatchy News later reported that the al-Nusra Front had been poised to attack the unit because it had tipped off in advance by Turkish intelligence, something CENTCOM’s intelligence operatives evidently knew nothing about.

In the wake of that little disaster and again, assumedly, with CENTCOM’s full stock of intelligence and analysis on hand, the military inserted the next unit of 74 trained moderates into Syria and was shocked (shocked!) when its members, chastened perhaps by the fate of Division 30, promptly handed over at least a quarter of their U.S.-supplied equipment, including trucks, ammunition, and rifles, to the al-Nusra Front in return for “safe passage.” Al-Nusra militants soon were posting photos of the weapons online and tweeting proudly about them. CENTCOM officials initially denied that any of this had happened (and were clearly in the dark about it) before reversing course and reluctantly admitting that it was so. (“‘If accurate, the report of NSF [New Syrian Forces] members providing equipment to al-Nusra Front is very concerning and a violation of Syria train-and-equip program guidelines,’ U.S. Central Command spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder said.”)

To turn to even more recent events in CENTCOM’s bailiwick, American officials were reportedly similarly stunned as September ended when Russia reached a surprise agreement with U.S. ally Iraq on an anti-ISIS intelligence-sharing arrangement that would also include Syria and Iran. Washington was once again “caught off guard” and, in the words of Michael Gordon of the Times, “left... scrambling,” even though its officials had known “that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad.”

Similarly, the Russian build-up of weaponry, planes, and personnel in Syria initially "surprised" and -- yes -- caught the Obama administration “off guard.” Again, despite those 1,500 CENTCOM analysts and the rest of the vast U.S. intelligence community, American officials, according to every news report available, were "caught flat-footed" and, of course, "by surprise” (again, right up to the president) when the Russians began their full-scale bombing campaign in Syria against various al-Qaeda-allied outfits and CIA-backed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were even caught off guard and taken aback by the way the Russians delivered the news that their bombing campaign was about to start: a three-star Russian general arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to offer an hour’s notice. (Congressional lawmakers are now considering “the extent to which the spy community overlooked or misjudged critical warning signs” about the Russian intervention in Syria.)

The Fog Machine of American Intelligence

You get the point. Whatever the efforts of that expansive corps of intelligence analysts (and the vast intelligence edifice behind it), when anything happens in the Greater Middle East, you can essentially assume that the official American reaction, military and political, will be “surprise” and that policymakers will be left “scrambling” in a quagmire of ignorance to rescue American policy from the unexpected. In other words, somehow, with what passes for the best, or at least most extensive and expensive intelligence operation on the planet, with all those satellites and drones and surveillance sweeps and sources, with crowds of analysts, hordes of private contractors, and tens of billions of dollars, with, in short, “intelligence” galore, American officials in the area of their wars are evidently going to continue to find themselves eternally caught “off guard.”

The phrase “the fog of war” stands in for the inability of commanders to truly grasp what’s happening in the chaos that is any battlefield. Perhaps it’s time to introduce a companion phrase: the fog of intelligence. It hardly matters whether those 1,500 CENTCOM analysts (and all those at other commands or at the 17 major intelligence outfits) produce superlative “intelligence” that then descends into the fog of leadership, or whether any bureaucratic conglomeration of “analysts,” drowning in secret information and the protocols that go with it, is going to add up to a giant fog machine.

It’s difficult enough, of course, to peer into the future, to imagine what’s coming, especially in distant, alien lands. Cobble that basic problem together with an overwhelming data stream and groupthink, then fit it all inside the constrained mindsets of Washington and the Pentagon, and you have a formula for producing the fog of intelligence and so for seldom being “on guard” when it comes to much of anything.

My own suspicion: you could get rid of most of the 17 agencies and outfits in the U.S. Intelligence Community and dump just about all the secret and classified information that is the heart and soul of the national security state. Then you could let a small group of independently minded analysts and critics loose on open-source material, and you would be far more likely to get intelligent, actionable, inventive analyses of our global situation, our wars, and our beleaguered path into the future.

The evidence, after all, is largely in. In these years, for what now must be approaching three-quarters of a trillion dollars, the national security state and the military seem to have created an un-intelligence system. Welcome to the fog of everything.

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

[Note: Nick Turse was my co-conspirator on this piece and I thank him for all his help.]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Tom Engelhardt

Protest: Anatomy of the New Police State

Police Tactics of Mass Arrests, Violence and Overcharging Protesters First Developed in 2000


October 15, 2015 
Kris Hermes tells Paul Jay that police suppression of protests at the Republican National Convention set the pattern for breaking up legal protests across North America.
LACY MACAULEY, MEDIA ACTIVIST: After I was very violently snatched by police, they threw me into the back of an unmarked van. There were four officers in the van. I believe that they were plainclothes officers. However, none of them identified themselves as officers. I was sat on by one of them--I was lying on my back. I was strangled. And when I didn't lose consciousness, the officer who had tried to strangle me actually punched me in the head at least once. 

Stonethrowing Law Not Applied to Settlers in West Bank

Settler Violence Continues in Bethlehem

by IMEMC News and Agencies 

October 15, 2015
Israeli settlers, Thursday, resumed their attacks against Palestinians, stoning Palestinian cars to the south of Bethlehem with stones, according to security sources.

Sources informed WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that a group of settlers – protected by Israeli army soldiers - gathered near the Israeli settlement of Ifrat, built illegally on Palestinian-owned land – and proceeded to hurl stones at passing Palestinian registered cars. However, no injuries were reported.

Israeli settlers reportedly blocked the Jerusalem-Hebron main road, hindering Palestinian traffic movement, which forced locals to take alternative ways to reach their destinations.

Settlers have stepped up their violent attacks against Palestinians and their properties, following the killing of four Israelis at the hands of alleged Palestinian suspects.

Clashes have been witnessed across the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Gaza, as well as in Arab communities inside the occupied 1948 land, against the backdrop of Israel’s repeated assaults against al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Israel has been enforcing a temporal division on the compound, the third holiest place in Islam, which ignited strong feelings of anger among Palestinians.

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.

Will Lithium Be the Next Mineral to Boom?

Lithium Market Set to Explode - All Eyes on Nevada

by James Stafford -

While other commodities are floundering or completely collapsing in this market, lithium—the critical mineral in the emerging battery gigafactory war—is poised to explode, and going forward Nevada is emerging as the front line in this pending American lithium boom.

Most of the world’s lithium comes from Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Australia and China, but American resources being developed by new entrants into this market have set up the state of Nevada to become the key venue and proving ground for game-changing trade in this everyday mineral.

Nevada is about to get a boost first from Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) upcoming battery gigafactory, and then from all of its rivals.

Lithium answer to Musk prayers?

For several years, experts have been predicting a lithium revolution, and while investors were being coy at first, the reality of the battery gigafactories is now clear, and nothing has hit this home more poignantly than Tesla’s recent supply agreements with lithium providers who will be the first beneficiaries of this boom, followed by a second round of lithium brine developers that are climbing quickly to the forefront.

As Jeb Handwerger—founder of Gold Stock Trades—recently told the Resource Investor:

“This is just the beginning. We're in the early stages of a revolution in powering transportation and homes. This really is disruptive technology. Annual growth in the battery space could be around 20 percent, which means that demand could double every five years. These batteries make smartphones, laptops, tablets, electric cars and even solar energy practical.”

Tesla—which will require large quantities of lithium at cheaper prices--has already signed agreements to purchase lithium from Canadian Bacanora Minerals Ltd and British Rare Earth Minerals Plc. in Mexico but has indicated that it is looking closer to home, and particularly in Nevada, which is ground zero for Tesla’s battery units.

For Nevada, there can be no more significant validation than Tesla’s lithium supply agreements. Albemarle Corp. already has the producing Rockwood mine, but Tesla and other gigafactory contenders are concerned about new lithium resources.

And the newest entrant on this scene—Dajin Resources Corp - has two projects in Nevada, only a short distance from Albemarle’s Rockwood producing mine and in close proximity to Pure Energy Mineral’s lithium development project, which just signed a preliminary supply agreement with Tesla.

Focused on the exploration of energy metal projects, Dajin has strategically located targets in Nevada, including over 3,800 acres in Alkali Lake, which is only 12 kilometers from the producing Rockwood Lithium Mine. It also has the Teels Marsh project, which covers over 3,000 acres in the Mineral County desert lake basin and is about 80 kilometers away from producing mines and new exploration targets that are all on the site of a volcanic eruption that many believe could have contributed lithium.

Where future supplies are concerned, investors will be looking closely at Dajin, which is 100% self-owned and operated. If it can post similar success in terms of exploring lithium brine, it could easily pop up as a favorite stock on investors’ radar.

And the brine is the place to be, putting Nevada at the front line of the North American lithium revolution at a time when other minerals are collapsing. The lithium, found in salty water, or brines, is the most cost-effective on the market; it’s cheap and easy to extract, giving competing battery gigafactories new, affordable American lithium resources that will be a global game-changer.

At the end of the day, Nevada has enough lithium brine to earn it a place among the key global venues—a list that for now includes the “Lithium Triangle” of Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, as well as China.

The current market turmoil has created a once in a generation opportunity for savvy energy investors.
Whilst the mainstream media prints scare stories of oil prices falling through the floor smart investors are setting up their next winning oil plays.

When it comes to lithium, “it’s all just talk if you don’t have an aquifer and a closed deep basin containing lithium,” says Dajin CEO Brian Findlay. “There aren’t many American properties out there like ours.”

Without lithium, there will be no battery gigafactories. In fact, one of these factories alone will need 15,000 tons of lithium carbonate a year just to get started—and the first is slated to come online as soon as next year.

Construction has already started on Tesla’s battery factory, where the assembly lines are expected to churn out enough lithium-ion batteries for 500,000 electric cars, according to Fortune magazine, and it should be operating at full capacity by 2020.

And the Tesla gigafactory is just the tip of this overall iceberg.

According to a report from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, more than one million electric vehicles will be on the road globally by the end of this year—that means a spike in lithium demand, which Roskill consulting and research predicts will more than double from 2012 to 2017.

Even more than hybrid cars, grid storage and the ‘powerwall’ will drive lithium demand through the roof. In an interview with Reuters, General Electric said it expected this sector to quadruple to $6 billion by 2020 thanks to rising demand for industrial battery systems driven by increasing reliance on intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar power, as well as the potential to add energy to the grid quickly when power needs spike.

Now the game is all about new resources—and specifically, American resources, with all eyes on the brine. Tesla knows this, and so do its competitors. Investors who know this will get in on the game before these new entrants start producing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bombing a Peace March in Ankara

Erdogan and the Ankara Bombing

by Graham E. Fuller - Consortium News

October 14, 2015

Turkish President Erdogan is playing some dangerous games, aiding Sunni extremists in their war to topple the Syrian government and stirring up old hatreds against the Kurds.

So, was last week’s murderous bombing in Ankara an outgrowth of those schemes or something worse, asks ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

“Hüngür Hüngür Ağlıyorum” is a refrain from a old Turkish folksong — “Bitterly I weep.” It commemorates a bloody turning point at Sakarya against Greek invaders back in 1921. But the words couldn’t more readily apply now to the unprecedented and outrageous bombing attacks in Ankara last week against marchers in a demonstration for peace that has cost the lives of some 100 people. Will that tragedy bring the country to its senses?

That event is the most horrific outcome yet of the escalating violence and mayhem that is emerging from the current Turkish electoral campaign —one capriciously demanded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was dissatisfied with the electoral setbacks of last June’s elections that thwarted his amassing greater powers; hence he mandated new elections so voters could “right their mistake.”

He is operating under the increasingly unrealistic supposition that the new elections on Nov. 1 will somehow reverse his decline and grant him new authority in his arrogant push to create a new super-presidency. The frightening thing is that his electoral gambits have grown increasingly reckless; it now appears as if the president acknowledges almost no limits to the means used to manipulate the electorate into voting for him.

Elections in Turkey are generally a rough contact sport — even though they are open and democratic; vote-rigging is rare. This time however Erdoğan is pulling out all the stops in an ever-rising campaign of the intimidation and silencing of political rivals, including detention of large numbers of journalists and attacks on media that dare to criticize the president.

Worse, Erdoğan is particularly hostile towards the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), a relatively new Kurdish-oriented party which has actually gained a considerable following among non-Kurds in Turkey — particularly liberals and youth — who value its broad outreach as a secular socialist party. It was this strong showing by the HDP in the June elections that robbed Erdoğan of his expected majority.

He has had blood in his eye ever since and has chosen to exploit ugly nationalist impulses in the country to discredit — perhaps even find grounds to ban — this party that has been gaining some popularity in Turkey as a fresh new political force. Pro-Erdoğan mobs have visited violence upon the party’s headquarters and members in recent months.

It was HDP elements and other liberal forces who dominated the march for peace last week and were the chief victims of the savage bombings. The HDP party leader has directly accused the president of complicity in the bombing of the marchers. There is, of course, no direct evidence of this as such. Indeed it might be too far a stretch to blame Erdoğan as directly responsible for engineering the events — such an act would of course be criminal in the highest degree.

So far Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has suggested that the “Islamic State” or ISIS is behind the slaughter. No reliable facts have been made public so far, and we may never get a clear answer. What is clearer, however, is that — although proving nothing — Erdoğan probably stood to benefit from this event more than other actors.

After inaugurating a bold, admirable and unprecedented initiative in earlier years to open dialog with the main Kurdish rebel group, he now seems to find greater political benefit in discrediting the HDP, perhaps even hoping to unleash unrest among Turkey’s Kurds with the aim of even banning the HDP — thereby removing a major obstacle to a clear-cut victory in the November elections. But to move to mass bombing would be quite another thing.

Erdoğan may also be banking on the hope that much of the Turkish electorate may now be so unnerved by the increased violence and recent attacks from the rebel PKK group that they just might decide to vote for the president’s party as a bulwark against the forces of Kurdish nationalism and chaos. But such a calculation represents a huge gamble that could produce a severe backlash: the electorate may well — and justifiably — fear that the president himself has become such a deeply polarizing, arrogant, erratic and destabilizing figure that he is even willing to put at risk the future stability of the country — and therefore will call for his defeat.

There are other forces that could also be theoretical beneficiaries of the bombing. Extremists within the right-wing nationalist party MHP are one possibility. And ISIS itself, of course, could well be behind the act, as the government claims. ISIS seeks to drive a wedge between Kurds and Turks and also to “punish” Erdoğan for backing away from his earlier, more tolerant view of ISIS in the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And to attack his new willingness to support U.S. attacks against ISIS. Yet ISIS usually claims credit for its terrorist actions; in this case it has not so far done so — for what that’s worth.

Other theories run more heavily to the conspiratorial — that the PKK Kurdish rebels sought to thwart its moderate Kurdish rivals; but the PKK has in fact declared an overall cease-fire, at least until the elections are over. Extreme leftists too (not a serious political force in the country) might seek to sow mayhem to weaken Erdoğan.

But even if Erdoğan’s intimate circle had nothing directly to do with this bombing, there is little doubt that the president has worked to create an atmosphere of xenophobia, fear, instability and anti-Kurdish sentiment that has created an ugly and violent political atmosphere not seen in decades. I worry that he might now even be tempted to create armed confrontation with Russia over Syria as a further distraction — an exceptionally dangerous move.

The major question now is how the Turkish electorate will react to events that seem to be dragging Turkey towards the brink. Will it reject Erdoğan and vote against the AKP in enough numbers to severely curtail his powers and vaulting ambitions in the next parliament? Or will it buy into Erdoğan’s increasingly hollow claims to be the “indispensable leader” who can keep the country on an even keel?

Turkey has before marched up the to political brink in previous years, only to find the electorate ultimately voting wisely to ensure the stability and progress of the country. Here’s hoping their common sense will prevail this time as well. Stakes are high for everybody involved in the region.

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan. (Amazon, Kindle)

Blame C-23: Advance Poll Woes in New Canadian Government Election

Compromising The Canadian Federal Election Advanced Polls

by Dragonslayer - PEJ News

10 October 2015

The Federal Election is being pushed as the most important ever. If so I would expect this graph to take a radical turn to the upside. For that to happen you have to push yourself like never before and get out and vote. That isn't going to be easy because everything is being done to discourage you from voting.

I went to the advance polling station on first and second days. The first day had about a 3 hour wait to vote.

There was only one person processing voters and taking about 30 minutes to process one person. I have voted every election since I was old enough to vote. Never has it taken more than 10 minutes even when the parking lot was full and the room crowded with voters.

The next day was the same with a slightly shorter line. As of this writing I have not voted.What I have learned over the years is that the fewer the number of voters, the more likely it is for the party to the right to get elected.

All across Canada the vote is being frustrated by intolerable line ups and poll station locations that make it impossible for many without transportation to vote. Many polls are located away from buss lines and require infirm people to walk long distance to the polls. Some Elections Canada offices are located far away from the urban centres access is difficult.

Why is it that no advanced polling stations have mail out forms so that people who can't wait can take them home and mail them out? Why is it that there is only one person processing at advanced polls when they have about 10 people there? Why are not more of them processing instead of watching everyone vote?

The biggest security risk is the sabotage of the election process by the design of the process by those who obviously want people to give up and walk away. If they spent a fraction of the PR money used to get people to vote on making the vote run smoothly there would be many more voting.

I was told they were monitoring the situation on the first day. On the second day I asked how many gave up and walked out of the line and left without voting? They all looked at me as if I was stupid...That is not their job...So why was I lied to the day before? Nobody was monitoring.

When I was there there was about 1 person a minute leaving with a voter card in hand. They didn't vote. Advanced pools are open for 8 hours per day. If the same number leave each day for the 4 days of advanced polling we get 1person/min X 60 min/hr X 8 hr/day X 4days = 1,920 people who didn't vote at one polling station. Well that is probably too many but even if 1 person every 2 minutes that would be 960 people not voting per voting station.

I called Elections Canada and after about 45 min run around I got that they don't know how many advanced voting stations there are in Canada. Online they say 400 districts and on the phone only 300. How many advanced polling stations in each district would be a guess at an average of 2 per district would be a minimum of 300 X 2 = 600. So 1,920 people/station X 600 stations = 1,152,000 voters that gave up and went away. Even if I divide that by 4, I get 288,000 people who didn't vote because of long line ups.

Certainly this is a serious problem. It could decide the election. The fewer the number of voters the more likely we get a right wing government.

Their may or may not be intentional sabotage of the election, but the long waiting to vote times are seriously compromising the integrity of the results.

All day yesterday and today I was listening to CBC radio reporting on the same long waits happening all across Canada. Every advanced polling station only had one person doing the voter processing. Elections Canada apparently isn't concerned about a crooked election. I think everyone should be hopping mad. I know I am. Vote...please.

UPDATE: Sunday Oct 11, 2015

Check out the CBC news article "B.C. Election Worker Quits Due To Long Line-Ups". At least four temporary elections workers at the community centre have also quit.

UPDATE Monday Oct 12, 2015

Went to the Elections Canada office in Victoria to vote. The Saanich one was too far away for me. They tried to process me after 30 min wait as a special voter. First they had me fill out a form even though I had a voter card to show I was registered. They asked for ID and I produced a drivers license. Then they put my name on an envelope and gave me another envelope with a ballot inside. I asked if the ballot envelope was going to be sent somewhere else inside the envelope with my name on it and they said yes. When I complained that that did not constitute a secret ballot, I was assured that numerous people who I didn't know would be viewing the separation of the two envelopes and the deposit of the ballot envelope into a real ballot box. I said that it all amounts to trusting others to be honest and that a true secret ballot would prevent trusting being part of the equation. There was no reason that the voting box at that station could not be a real voting box in which an anonymous ballot in an envelop void of any connection to the person voting could not have been implemented. The fact that there was an obvious attempt to create a non secret ballot process is enough to question the entire process as suspicious.

I grabbed my stuff without voting and went to the advanced voting station in my own district only to find that the line up was even longer than the first 2 days. The same security person that was there the day before said the line was shorter. That really pi__ed me off.

Well lets see if the polls on election day are any less crooked.... to be continued.

Harper Unleashed: The New Canadian Government's Foreign Policy

Naked Neoliberalism: Canadian Foreign Policy under Harper

by Jerome Klassen  - Socialist Project

Since the Conservative government of Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, shifts in Canadian foreign policy have been a flashpoint of debate in Parliament, the media, and civil society. There is general agreement that a “revolution in Canadian foreign policy” has occurred, to quote Canadian academic Alexander Moens.

For liberals, Harper's changes are simply a product of his right-wing ideology and domestic maneuvers, and thus are amenable to executive reform. For social democrats and left-nationalists, the same perspective holds, with the added concern of U.S. influence over Canadian state practices.

As Marxists have pointed out, the limitation of these perspectives is the absence of any political-economic analysis of Canadian state power – of any theorization of Canadian foreign policy as an expression of economic, political, and social power dynamics at home and abroad.

In this article I provide such a theory of Canadian foreign policy under the Harper government. I examine, in particular, the global context in which Canadian foreign policy operates; the policies of Liberal governments before Harper; the strategy of armoured neoliberalism that Harper has advanced; and the implementation of this strategy in several case studies. I argue that the new Canadian foreign policy is a reflection of the internationalization of Canadian capital and the restructuring of the state as an institution of class domination locally and globally.

The Global Context

The ‘revolution in Canadian foreign policy’ has to be viewed in relation to global dynamics in the world economy and state system. After the economic crises of the 1970s and 1980s, corporate elites and state managers pursued a ‘neoliberal’ model of capitalism in which wages are reduced, unions curtailed, social programs retrenched, public assets privatized, and finance and production globalized. The goal was to raise corporate profits by exploiting workers more harshly, and by creating new commodities out of nature and the public sector. Predictably, the neoliberal period has witnessed new patterns of social inequality, uneven development, and political conflict within and between countries.

The world economy, for example, has been characterized by structural imbalances – in particular, by the trade and investment relations within and between the regional blocs of North America, Western Europe, and developed Asia. Anchored by the United States, the North American bloc has been integrated as a preferential trading zone, and has tended to run systematic deficits with the European Union and key Asian economies. American deficits have been covered by dollar inflows to Wall Street and the U.S. Treasury, allowing the U.S. to finance its trade and government deficits, credit bubbles, and military campaigns.

Through these global value flows, U.S. strategy has been buttressed. Since the end of the Cold War, successive U.S. administrations have articulated a strategy of global preeminence. To this end, the U.S. has worked to block the emergence of any competitor in Eurasia, to expand the Cold War security alliances, and to further globalize neoliberal policies.

To support this agenda, the U.S. has engaged in global forms of disciplinary militarism. After 9/11, it increased defence spending to nearly half of world totals, and intervened militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Haiti, and Ukraine, among other countries. Despite the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has developed new techniques of interventionism, including drone strikes, Special Forces operations, and cyber warfare capabilities. The U.S. has also contrived new pretexts for regime change in ‘rogue’ or ‘failed’ states – for example, through selective applications of ‘democracy promotion’ and the ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians from oppressive governments.

Since the first Gulf War, the Middle East has been the key front of U.S. imperialism. According to U.S. Central Command, the U.S. government's fundamental interest is in protecting “uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.” To this end, the U.S. has maintained its key alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel; supported Israeli attacks on several states and resistance movements in the region, and impeded any efforts to end the occupation of Palestine; sanctioned and threatened Iran; and tried to steer the ‘Arab Spring’ in amenable directions – for example, by seeking regime change in Libya and Syria, backing repression in Bahrain and Yemen, and recognizing the 2013 military coup in Egypt. Alongside the war in Iraq, these policies have generated a vicious circle of militarism, underdevelopment, terrorism, and state failure in the region.

Beyond the Middle East, the neoliberal agenda of U.S. grand strategy has also limited development. In 2010, the UN Development Programme admitted that the world economy had experienced “no convergence in income... because on average rich countries have grown faster than poor ones over the past 40 years. The divide between developed and developing countries persists: a small subset of countries has remained at the top of the world income distribution, and only a handful of countries that have started out poor have joined that high-income group.” Furthermore, “within countries, rising income inequality is the norm.”

The logic of global capitalism under U.S. hegemony has thus been one of entrenched inequality and uneven development. With this in mind, how has the Canadian state positioned itself in the global system of empire?

Before Harper: Neoliberalism and Canadian Foreign Policy

Harper's foreign policy agenda is best viewed as a radical extension of Canadian state practices in the neoliberal period. On both economic and political fronts, four dynamics have transformed the political economy of Canadian foreign policy.

First, from the mid-1980s to the present, the Canadian state has pursued a project of continental neoliberalism. Under the direction of corporate policy groups and think tanks, the goal of this strategy has been to integrate the U.S. and Canadian economies in free-market ways, and to decompose the Canadian labour movement through new forms of regional competition. The free-trade agenda, which was embodied in the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, was a vital strategy for capital, and helped to raise the rate of profit for Canadian business from 1992 to 2007.

Second, the Canadian state worked to globalize production and investment on a broader scale. In fact, the regional strategy of continental neoliberalism was designed as a stepping-stone for Canadian corporate expansion in the world economy, particularly through foreign direct investments. By 1996, Canada had become a net exporter of direct investment capital, and Canadian corporations became leaders in several global sectors, including energy, mining, finance, aerospace, and information-and-computer-technologies. Directorship interlocks between the top tier firms of Corporate Canada and the top firms globally also increased, with Canadian corporate elites expanding their position in the ‘North Atlantic ruling class.’ On the trade front, Canada began to register a pattern in the balance-of-payments, running deficits with Europe, Asia and less developed economies, and overcoming these deficits with surpluses with the USA. In these ways, the NAFTA zone supported the global links of Canadian capital.

Third, in support of these dynamics, Liberal governments worked to erect a global architecture for transnational neoliberalism. In the 1990s, this was achieved through the World Trade Organization, APEC forums, and efforts to establish a Multilateral Agreement on Investment through the OECD. In the early 2000s, the Chrétien government also sought a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Building on the mass campaigns against CAFTA and NAFTA, Canadian activists played a critical role in protesting these trade and investment initiatives, most notably during the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Québec City.

Fourth, Liberal governments also began a rethink of Canadian foreign policy in light of the globalization agenda and Washington's primacy strategy. Most notably, in 1999, the Chrétien government supported NATO's illegal attack on Serbia, and in 2001 sent troops to Afghanistan. The Chrétien and Martin governments also increased budget lines for the Department of National Defence (DND) and for Canada's national security and intelligence agencies.

To support these efforts, they also issued several strategy documents, including the National Security Policy (2004) and the International Policy Statement (2005), both of which called for new security measures domestically and new military capabilities internationally. In addition, both governments further aligned Canada's security and immigration policies with the U.S., as demonstrated in the Smart Border Declaration (2001), the Safe Third Country Agreement (2002), and the Security and Prosperity Partnership (2005). Although Canada refused to participate formally in the 2003 Iraq war, the Chrétien government offered multiple forms of military assistance, including surveillance aircraft, naval ships, military personnel on exchange programs, and a military deployment to Afghanistan to relieve U.S. soldiers for the Gulf. The Martin government also deployed troops to Haiti in support of the 2004 coup d’état, and its Emerging Market Strategy (2005) delineated an array of supports to Canadian corporate expansion in the Third World.

The Harper government thus inherited a nascent apparatus for the internationalization of Canadian capital and the militarization of Canadian foreign policy in conjuncture with U.S. imperialism.

Armoured Neoliberalism: Harper's Grand Strategy

The novelty of Canadian foreign policy under Stephen Harper's government has been the upfront class-consciousness of its geopolitical and geo-economic agenda. With support of the corporate community and defence lobby, the Harper government has articulated a new grand strategy of armoured neoliberalism: a fusion of militarism and class warfare in Canadian state policies and practices. The aims have been three-fold: to globalize Corporate Canada's reach; to secure a core position for the Canadian state in the geopolitical hierarchy; and to discipline any opposition forces – both state and non-state – in the world order.

In pursuit of these goals, Harper has operated as “the ideal personification of the total national capital,” to quote Friedrich Engels. With this in mind, his government has developed new state capacities for military propaganda; propped up right-wing constituencies domestically for external purposes; and fortified a national security apparatus to monitor and suppress any challengers to the state/corporate nexus in Canada.

At the level of doctrine, this agenda has been spelled out in several statements. In 2008, the Canada First Defence Strategy highlighted “terrorism,” “failed and failing states,” and “insurgencies” as key security threats, and argued that Canada's highly globalized economy relied on “security abroad.” It promised $490-billion in new military spending, and envisioned a “combat-capable” military that is interoperable with U.S. forces.

In 2013, the Harper government released its Global Markets Action Plan, according to which “all Government of Canada assets [will be] harnessed to support the pursuit of commercial success by Canadian companies and investors in key foreign markets.” As part of this, it articulated an “extractive sector strategy” for Canadian resource investors abroad.

To support such economic interests, the Harper government published Building Resilience Against Terrorism (2012), also known as the Counter-Terrorism Strategy (CTS). This document has been the key legitimation strategy for Harper's national security and foreign policy agenda. It begins by identifying “Islamist extremism” as the leading threat to “Canadian interests.” The importance of this threat assessment is that it bases Canadian strategy on an apolitical and ahistorical understanding of Islamist violence, one that ignores the history of Western foreign policy in the Muslim world and conflates different types of Islamist movements. In the process, it constructs a one-dimensional menace against which Canadian forces must be mobilized on a permanent basis.

Second, the CTS targets domestic movements of “environmentalism and anti-capitalism” as potential sources of terrorist violence against “energy, transportation and oil and gas assets.” It thus seeks to legitimate a class-based project of securitization in the Canadian state itself, one that can surveil and discipline any working-class or environmental challenges to Canadian capital.

The key strategy of the Harper government, then, has been to openly define the foreign and domestic interests of Canadian capital as the raison d’étre of the state. The aim is to consolidate a national security state that can advance the global interests of Canadian capital, and suppress any opposition to this agenda. With this in mind, the Harper government has further restructured the national security and foreign policy apparatuses.

For example, under the Harper government, funding for Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), a federal agency for global signals-intelligence, increased dramatically to $422 million in 2013. With such new resources, CSEC has been involved – as part of the ‘Five Eyes’ group of countries – in metadata surveillance at home and abroad; in foreign industrial espionage in support of Canadian mining and energy corporations; and in covert spying operations for the U.S. National Security Agency.

By 2010/11, funding for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also increased to $506-million, giving CSIS new capacities for foreign and domestic intelligence work. CSIS has been involved in communications monitoring in Canada, and in surveillance operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has also been complicit in the detention and torture of Canadian citizens abroad, as demonstrated in the cases of Maher Arar, Abousfian Abdelrazick, and Omar Khadr, among others. In support of this, the Harper government closed the Office of the Inspector General of CSIS, and now allows CSIS to use intelligence gained through torture by foreign security services. Within Canada, CSIS has collected intelligence on the global justice and peace movements, and has targeted indigenous activists, mosques, and migrant organizations.

The Harper government has revolutionized the foreign policy apparatus in other ways. In March 2013, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) was folded into a new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). In the process, Canada's development assistance work was further linked to the economic and geopolitical interests of the state. In particular, it was torqued for making developing economies “trade and investment ready,” as former-Minister Julian Fantino put it. Alongside Export Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada, the DFATD has anchored a ‘whole-of-government’ effort for Canadian mining investment in the Third World.

Although the ‘commercialization’ of Foreign Affairs began in the early 1980s, the Harper government has advanced this process in novel ways. In particular, it tasked DFAIT with reviewing ties with emerging economies in Asia, coordinating more closely with the U.S. State Department on trade and global security, and developing a ‘Strategy for the Americas’ in light of Canadian corporate expansion in the region (see below). It also has negotiated a series of bilateral foreign investment agreements, and supported a new arms exporting strategy in liaison with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and defence industry groups.

In 2012, it also inked a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement with China, with the two-fold aim of (1) securing and protecting long-term Chinese investment in Canada's growing industrial sectors; and (2) offsetting the decline in U.S. demand for Canadian exports with new patterns of trade and investment with China and Asia. While the Agreement does not provide the same reciprocity to Canadian investors in China, and while it limits Canadian democracy with respect to economic, environmental, and First Nations policies, it fully accords with the neoliberal project of globalizing Canadian capitalism. With this in mind, Harper's DFATD has also worked on dozens of other investment and trade agreements with developing countries, many of which are recipients of large-scale investments by Canadian banking, mining, and energy firms.

The Harper government has also restructured the Department of National Defence. In October 2012, the Canadian Forces were given two command structures: the Canadian Joint Operations Command and the Canadian Special Operations Command. By 2011, Harper had increased defence spending to $22-billion, the highest level since the Second World War. In this context, the Conservative government increased regular and reserve personnel, and launched a major procurement effort, though the latter has been limited by austerity measures, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and political incompetence. Harper also has withdrawn Canadian forces from any significant UN peacekeeping operations, supported DND efforts to build seven overseas operational support hubs, and endorsed the new DND focus on counterterrorism, defence diplomacy, and interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces.

To support these efforts, it has tried to inculcate a new culture of militarism in Canadian civil society – for example, through yellow ribbon campaigns, war commemorations, recruitment drives, fallen soldier ceremonies, and military spectacles at professional sporting events. As historians Ian McKay and Jamie Swift argue, this “state-orchestrated cultural revolution” has aimed to “realize a specific vision of Canada, one of money for arms, more respect for soldiers, and more muscularity in foreign affairs.”

In these ways, then, the Harper government has embedded a new calculus of power in the grand strategy and institutional resume of the state. It has consolidated a national security apparatus at home, and redefined the strategy of Canadian foreign policy abroad, around a class-based imperialism.

Exploitation and Destruction: Harper In Action

The key foreign policy actions of the Harper government have revealed the logic of armoured neoliberalism in Canadian grand strategy. The war in Afghanistan has been the most important case in point. Upon taking office, the Conservative government fully embraced the counterinsurgency mission in Kandahar, and continued to extend the deployment until Spring 2011, after which Canadian forces were mandated with a three-year training mission for Afghan security services. Through a Strategic Advisory Team in President Karzai's office, Canadian military personnel were entrenched in the Afghan state, and played a key role in drafting a neoliberal development plan for that country. This plan involved privatizing state assets, deregulating the domestic economy, and liberalizing trade and investment. International donors largely managed the distribution of aid funds, and NGOs established projects across the country, without coordinating with the state.

Under the Harper government, the majority of Canadian aid spending was militarized as part of supporting the war in Kandahar. However, as Nipa Banerjee, the former head of CIDA operations in Afghanistan, has revealed, “all the projects have failed” and “none of them have been successful.”

The Canadian military mission also failed to achieve its stated aims of pacification, democratization, and development. While it prevented the Taliban from taking over Kandahar City, it failed to defeat the insurgency, antagonized the population, empowered warlords and drug traffickers, killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure, and knowingly transferred detainees to torture by Afghan security personnel. In these ways, Canada practiced a neoliberal form of militarism in Afghanistan – one that liberalized the Afghan economy, and established a client state for western influence in the region.

The same logic was apparent in Harper's Strategy for the Americas, which was designed to support Canadian corporate investment, bolster conservative governments, curry influence in Washington, and beat back left-wing movements. Nowhere was this more evident than in Honduras, where, in June 2009, the democratically elected President was abducted and flown out of the country by the military. He was replaced by a dictatorship, led by prominent members of the Honduran oligarchy, which cracked down violently on demonstrations.

Canada quickly emerged as one of the dictatorship's closest allies, consistently blaming the former-President for the crisis and lauding the accomplishments of the dictatorship. Though the OAS immediately ejected Honduras, demanding the restitution of democracy, Canada lobbied to have Honduras re-instated. Indeed, Canada helped the dictatorship create the appearance of democracy and rule of law, twice accepting the results of fraudulent elections and sending a representative to a sham ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, despite Amnesty International's denunciation of the dictatorship for using death squads to assassinate activists and journalists.

In 2011, Canada announced that it had signed a free trade agreement with Honduras, which would further reduce taxes and operating constraints on mining, garment, and tourist industry capital in Honduras. Canada has also helped train Honduran police, as part of Canada's emphasis on security – which makes sense in a context where Honduran communities have been mobilizing against Canadian companies like Goldcorp and Gildan.

Similar interests guided the Conservative government's interventions in Haiti after the 2012 earthquake. In public statements, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon averred that Canada's military deployment was “all about solidarity... all about helping [Haiti] in its hour of need.” Classified DFAIT documents reveal, however, that Canada's main priority was containing both “the risks of a popular uprising” and the “rumour that [left-wing] ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide... wants to organize a return to power.” The same documents reveal that Canada also supported a neoliberal reconstruction effort, one that involved a “real paradigm shift” and a “fundamental, structural rebuilding of [Haitian] society and its systems.” With this in mind, roughly 97 per cent of Canadian relief funds bypassed the Haitian government, going instead to the UN and international NGOs. As a result, it compounded what Canadian academic Justin Podur calls the “new dictatorship” in Haiti: a coalition of foreign and domestic elites that dominate and exploit the country through neoliberal methods of political, economic, and military control.

The same practices have appeared in Harper's Middle East policies. To begin, Harper has given unqualified support to Israel and its apartheid system in Palestine. As part of this, he changed Canada's voting patterns on Palestine at the UN, and boycotted the elected Palestinian Authority in 2006. Harper also backed the Israeli assault on Lebanon (2006), as well as successive Israeli attacks on Gaza, which the UN and human rights groups have described as war crimes. To build support for these policies, the Harper government has established strong ties with the Israel lobby in Canada, and has disingenuously conflated the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement with Anti-Semitism.

The Harper government was also quick to join NATO's 2011 war for regime change in Libya. While popular protests against Gadhafi's government had emerged in parts of the country, and while the UN Security Council had sanctioned a no-fly zone, the NATO mission focused primarily on bombing government, military, and civilian infrastructure in support of the insurgency. Canadian intelligence officers had warned the DND that, “there is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will be transformed into a long-term tribal/civil war.” They also warned that, given the presence of “several Islamist insurgent groups” in the opposition, the Canadian-commanded NATO mission ran the risk of becoming “al-Qaida's air force.” That Canada, the U.S., and NATO ignored such warnings indicates (1) the persistent fallacy of such ‘humanitarian wars’; (2) the western strategy to contain the Arab Spring and to exert greater control over Libya's oil wealth; (3) the strategic interest in testing U.S. AFRICOM's reach into the continent; and (4) the ongoing use of jihadist groups for imperial ends.

In the wake of Libya, Canada also established closer ties to the economies and security apparatuses of the Gulf Arab monarchies. For example, Canadian arms exports to the region have boomed under the Harper government, reaching tens of billions of dollars. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has become a close ally of Canada's Middle East policy. It has purchased approximately $15-billion in Canadian military exports; supported other business ventures by Canadian firms such as Bombardier and SNC Lavalin; and participated in Canadian navy and air force exercises. As Canadian journalist, Yves Engler, has noted, “the Conservatives’ ties to the Saudi monarchy demonstrate the absurdity ... of Harper's claim that ‘we are taking strong, principled positions in our dealings with other nations, whether popular or not’.”

Finally, Harper was quick to insert the Canadian military into the U.S. war against Islamic State (IS) – in particular, through a Special Forces training mission for Kurdish peshmerga militias, an air campaign of CF-18 Hornets, and an aid program for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the region (though not for settlement in Canada). While Canadian efforts have achieved some success in containing IS capacities in northern Iraq, they fit within a larger strategy that is highly contradictory.

First, the war strategy ignores how the sectarian, neoliberal policies of the U.S. occupation of Iraq created the impetus for IS’ emergence. Second, it ignores how the western strategy of regime change in Syria created another opportunity for IS to advance alongside other jihadist currents, including al-Qaeda in Syria. Third, it involves military forces from the Gulf dictatorships, which share and promote the same ideology as IS. Fourth, it ignores the sectarian character of the Iraqi government and its role in alienating the Sunni population. Fifth, judging from the military engagements to date, it is unclear if western strategy is to defeat or simply contain IS for imperial ends in the region. Sixth, the strategy has not confronted the active role of NATO-member Turkey in supporting IS. And finally, it has refused open collaboration with other forces in the region – namely, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian government – that are also fighting IS and al-Qaida.

For these reasons, Canada's new engagement in Iraq and Syria is an imperialist war that will likely compound the cycle of militarism, sectarianism, underdevelopment, and state failure in the region, to the detriment of popular struggles.

The conflict in Ukraine has been the last major front of Harper's imperial statecraft. The conflict has been over-determined by several dynamics of geopolitical and geo-economic rivalry in the post-Cold War period, including the eastward expansion of NATO, U.S. violations of Russian sovereignty, NATO's rejection of any Russian security interests near its borders, U.S. plans for nuclear superiority, western fury over Russian assistance to Syria, and fears of Russian-Chinese ‘balancing’ of U.S./NATO dominance. The ‘New Cold War’ of western foreign policy partly explains the authoritarian nationalism of Putin's government and its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine after the U.S.-backed coup d’état in Kyiv in February 2014.

In this conflict, Canada has played a prominent role. In the events leading up to the coup, opposition protestors were allowed to occupy the Canadian embassy in Kyiv for several days. Canada also recognized the coup government and the subsequent elections of limited legitimacy. In addition, it provided hundreds of millions of dollars in bilateral aid; backed a host of NATO Reassurance Measures; imposed a sanctions policy (albeit with loopholes for Canadian corporate ties with Russia); and deployed military trainers for the counterinsurgency in eastern Ukraine. In June 2015, it also signed a free-trade agreement with the Ukrainian government, which has subsequently solicited Canadian investors to purchase billions of dollars of soon-to-be privatized public enterprises. In taking these positions, the Harper government also aimed to buttress its links to conservative forces in Ukrainian-Canadian communities in several urban ridings.

However, Harper's policies vis-à-vis Russia and Ukraine are not driven by such electoral machinations. While corporate interests are largely peripheral to this conflict, the Harper government has worked to advance the class interests of Canadian imperialism. As ‘the ideal personification of the total national capital,’ Harper has escalated the political, economic, and military conflict with Russia as a means of asserting Canadian state power in a changing global order, one that is increasingly multi-polar and resistant to U.S./NATO preeminence. As a result, the ‘whole-of-government’ engagement with Ukraine fits within a larger system of economic, political, and military rivalry at the global level. It thus exemplifies the class-based nature of Harper's foreign policy, and his strategic mobilization of domestic constituencies for political, economic, and military purposes abroad.


Harper's foreign policy is an avatar for changing dynamics of economic and political power in Canada and around the world. Although Harper himself has played a critical role in conceptualizing and advancing the new grand strategy of armoured neoliberalism, his government is merely supporting the logic of Canadian corporate expansion. As such, Harper's imprint on Canadian foreign policy is best understood as a hegemonic strategy of the state-capital nexus in the context of neoliberal globalization and U.S. primacy objectives.

With this in mind, any strategy to challenge the new Canadian imperialism will have to address the political economy of capital and class at home and abroad. To this end, the further building of working-class, indigenous, and environmental movements will be of vital service to peace and global justice. •

Jerome Klassen is a Research Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies, and is author of Joining Empire: The Political Economy of the New Canadian Foreign Policy (University of Toronto Press, 2014). He thanks Tyler Shipley, Anthony Fenton, and Greg Shupak for support in writing this article.

This article was first published in the September/October 2015 issue of Canadian Dimension.