Saturday, March 05, 2016

After Bern: Sandernistas in Summer

What Will the Sandernistas Do After July?

by Ralph Nader - CounterPunch

March 4, 2016

The hard-bitten, corporatist Democrats are moving Hillary Clinton through the presidential primaries. They are using “Republican-speak” to beat down Bernie Sanders as favoring Big Government and more taxes and they may unwittingly be setting the stage for a serious split in the Democratic Party.

What is emerging is the reaction of millions of Sanders supporters who will feel repudiated, not just left behind, as the Clintonites plan to celebrate at the Democratic Convention in July.

The political experience gained by the Sanders workers, many of them young, helped Sanders register primary victories over Hillary in Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Vermont and New Hampshire with their energy and votes. They came close in Nevada and Massachusetts and probably won in Iowa.

Hillary’s rhetoric has outraged Sanders’ supporters. She berates Sanders regularly for not being practical or realistic about his Medicare-for-all, breaking up big banks, a $15 minimum wage, a tax on Wall Street speculation and carbon and getting big money out of politics. Clinton’s putdowns exemplify why so many people who back Sanders want to defeat her. Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, favored over all other candidates from both parties by the Wall Street crowd and quietly adored by the military-industrial complex who see Generalissima Clinton as a militarist who would maintain the warfare state.

Democrat Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, derided this “We Shouldn’t Even Try” attitude common among many frightened Democrats. These are, in Reich’s words, “the establishment Democrats – Washington lobbyists, editorial writers, inside-the-Beltway operatives, party leaders and big contributors who have grown comfortable with the way things are.” These hereditary Democrat opinion-shapers tell their audiences that Hillary personifies experience and electability. They argue it is either Clinton or Trump or some other crazed Republican.

Here we go again. Every four years, the Democratic leaders define the Democratic candidate by how bad the Republicans are. This is designed to panic and mute their followers. Every four years, both parties become more corporatist. Sanders’ voters want to define the Democratic Party by how good it can be for the people. And these Sanders voters may not go back into the Democratic Party fold.

Low turnout for the Democratic Party’s primaries is being compared to a much higher Republican voter turnout for their candidates. Low turnout in November would dim Hillary’s chances in an electoral college, winner-take-all system.

Such Democratic Party misfortune can become more likely should Bernie endorse Hillary at the Democratic Convention without any conditions or her acceptance of his agenda, assuming she is the nominee. Last year he declared that he would endorse “the Democratic nominee.” Certainly, all the Democratic politicos in the Congress who endorsed Hillary set no conditions. The large labor unions that went with Hillary are known for giving their endorsements without receiving any benefits for workers. So, Hillary would have no mandate should she win the election. And you know that Clintons without mandates tend to bend toward Wall Street and rampant militarism.

It is doubtful whether Hillary will credibly adopt any of Bernie’s agenda, considering where her campaign money is coming from and how unwilling she is to alienate her circle of advisors.

Where does this leave the Sanders people who see Hillary as experienced in waging wars, qualified as an entrenched pol, and realistic to suit the plutocracy’s tastes, and not really getting much of anything progressive done (alluding to the ways she has described herself)?

The energetic Sanders supporters, including the Millennials who voted so heavily for Bernie, could form a New Progressive movement to exercise a policy pull on the establishment Democrats before November and to be a growing magnet after November with the objective of taking over the Democratic Party starting with winning local elections. This will have long-term benefits for our country.

To those who point to history throwing water on such a potential breakout, I tell them to look at the 2016 presidential primaries. All bets are off when political debates become big media business with huge ratings, and when a gambling czar and builder of expensive real estate, Donald Trump (a hybrid Rep/Dem), is overturning all the old homilies about presidential politics, and is in a primary contest with two freshmen Senators whose vacuous ambitions are their only achievements.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
More articles by:Ralph Nader

Friday, March 04, 2016

Between a ROK and Hard Place: The Other Korean Brain Laundry

South Korea and the Art of Collaboration

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

March 4, 2016  

If raw, naked propaganda makes you sick, stay away from South Korea (ROK)!

While the Western brain-conditioning machine wants you to believe that it is actually the North that is successfully indoctrinating its citizens, those of us who have worked on both sides of the border (or on both sides of the “DMZ”) know much better.

And if they don’t tell, they lie!

From the “art work” on both sides of the barbed wire fences, to the institutions designated to brainwash millions of common people, South Korea is leading; its regime’s propaganda (and the propaganda of its Western handlers) is much more experienced, determined, aggressive and therefore, effective.

The curator of the “DMZ STORY, Berlin East Side Gallery & DMZ Story Exhibition” sounded more like an interrogator than an artist.

When I visited this huge German–South Korean anti-Communist propaganda “project” in Seoul, I mentioned at the entrance that I would be very happy to write about the exhibition. Then, I was not allowed to simply enter, I was forced to meet the curator.

And the curator sounded and behaved like an Asian apparatchik serving the West and its ideology (there are plenty of them in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia and of course in South Korea). He began our encounter with the line of questioning so common in Seoul:

“Where do you come from? What are you doing here?”

Then things got a bit arrogant and patronizing:

“What do you know about Korea? Is this your first time here?”

“I know both sides fairly well”, I replied, still relatively politely.

“Both sides? How could you know both sides? You visited North Korea?”

“Yes”, I replied. “I was invited by the DPRK government. I travelled as a member of the Ramsey Clark Peace Delegation…”

Instead of showing well-mannered interest, his face turned red and he exploded:

“So you were told all those lies! You were shown nonsense, propaganda, fabrications”!

By then we were inside the multi-story exhibition venue. It was a truly monstrous place: lowest grade of propaganda kitsch! There were paintings of Brezhnev French-kissing Erich Honecker, as well as some sentimental outpourings about freedom, democracy, and peace… Anti-Communist barks were intertwining with pro-Western, pro-American ‘artwork’. There were images of both the Berlin Wall and Marilyn Monroe, on the same panel.

“Do you ever show mass-slaughter of Korean citizens by the US military?” I wondered.

“Americans never harmed anybody!” he began shouting. “They are very good people. Maybe there was some unfortunate collateral damage during the war, but they would never harm anyone on purpose.”

His eyes were shining. He hated me with all his essence. It was obvious. And it felt so wonderful to be hated by someone like him!

“I have a good friend, an Australian artist” I resumed our conversation. “His name is George Burchett… His father’s name was Wilfred Burchett… You know, perhaps the greatest English-language journalist of all times, a war correspondent… He worked in your country, during the war. He exposed countless crimes against humanity performed here, by the West. He proved that the Americans were burning numerous Korean civilians alive, in the tunnels, while conducting bacteriological warfare. And that many Western prisoners of war were forcefully disappeared by their own military, when they were, after being exchanged, insisting on telling the truth about how well and humanely they were treated by their North Korean and Chinese captors.”

I gave him my card. He ran to his office in order to Google me, and most likely, to report me. He was fuming. A few minutes later he ran back to the gallery, shouting: “You do not exist!”

He obviously kept misspelling my name. I helped him, I reestablished my existence, and then left the place.


The War Museum of Korea, also known as The War Memorial of Korea, is perhaps the single greatest propaganda institution anywhere on earth. It is so outrageous, so grotesque, so vile, and so huge, that only those who see it could believe that something like that could actually exist, scarring our Earth.

US strategic B-52 bombers are “decorating” its loans, and so are tanks, helicopters and jet fighters, even some gunboats.

Statues all over the neighborhood are depicting insane looking soldiers, charging towards their invisible enemies – no doubt the fellow Koreans and Asians. The ROK, North America and the West are shamelessly glorified. Everything North Korean, Communist, and Asian seems to be spat on.

There are endless explanatory signs, describing events and equipment, like the one in front of a deadly US jet fighter: “F-5A ‘Freedom Fighter’ (U.S.A.).”

There are memorials to those countries that participated in the Korean War, on the South Korean side, including such places like South Africa (still apartheid), Ethiopia (still fascist), Colombia, Thailand and Philippines (fascist and staunchly pro-Western), Turkey, but also, of course the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

There is a Museum Wedding Hall, in case someone is interested to tie the knot while being surrounded by all those bellicose relics, equipment and ‘art work’. Many actually do get married here, I am told; true patriotic duty, I suppose.


In South Korea, all Communist parties are banned, so the Communists have to operate clandestinely.

According to The Review of Korean Studies:

“The South Korean government enacted legislation against “anti-national” activities in 1948 and firmly establishing an anti-communist ideology with the National Security Act. The act outlawed any dissent or criticism of the ruling South Korean government, effectively making communism illegal. This included the media, art, literature and music…”

Truly democratic… But as long as voters are allowed to stick their papers to some box…

South Korea, one of the richest countries in Asia, grew on the foundations of open and uncompromising collaboration with the West in general and with the United States in particular. In the past it was resting on the fascist concepts designed by the West and by its own military and business oligarchs. ROK tortured, murdered and disappeared its dissidents. In many ways, it was not unlike Pinochet’s Chile or Suharto’s Indonesia.

Until now it remains one of the most fundamentalist hubs of capitalism, consumerism and pop culture. “K-pop” is actually spreading nihilism, idiocy, egotism and ignorance all over Asia, acting as an important tool of Western cultural imperialism.

The wealth does not always come with production (although some of it does). Seoul always got well rewarded for its efforts by its Western handlers.

While studying in New York City, I got to know several South Korean young women who were sent by their families to get diplomas at top US universities, while also acting on behalf of their corrupt military and corporate clans, purchasing prime multi-million dollar real estate; mainly condominiums in Manhattan.


Seoul is bad, but indoctrination gets even more intense, as one approaches the “border”.

At the very beginning of 2016, South Korean disinformation gurus resumed bombardment of DPRK with the vilest propaganda imaginable, using giant loudspeakers. Nonsense that was shouted through them again and again was supposed to humiliate the DPRK and its leadership, to discredit Communism, and to show the superiority of capitalist and Western dogmas.

The DPRK was ‘punished’ by those huge speakers for its missile program. ROK’s logic is simple: “it is fine to host the most aggressive army on Earth (the US army) on our territory. But if the DPRK decides to defend itself, it has to be castigated”.

Some time ago I wrote about one of my visits to that area – to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Here are a few updated excerpts. Until now nothing has really changed for better:

Any trip to the border is revealing, as long as one is ready to keep his or her eyes open and to forget for a while about clichés and slogans which have been hammered into our brains for decades by Western propaganda: “South Korea: freedom and democracy. North Korea: evil state”…

If you are a connoisseur, the “Korean Veterans Association” arranges the ‘most enjoyable’ visits in conjunction with Chung-Ang Express Tour. Guides are nothing less than former South Korean soldiers and intelligence officers; just what those who are always willing to sample delicious nuances and tastes of pro-market and pro-western brainwashing process truly appreciate!

Everybody knows perfectly well what he or she is supposed to think about the land above the 38th parallel, but there is very little knowledge, at least in the West, about the brutality of former South Korean regimes: their fraudulent elections, aggressive anti-leftist propaganda, corruption, campaign of terror and intimidation, torture and political killings. Not much is remembered about the brutality of the US forces during the Korean War, including several massacres of the civilian population. The Vietnam War and Western genocides triggered in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos overshadowed the equally terrible chapter of the Cold War, which took place on the Korean peninsula.

But back to the visits to the DMZ and the “Joint Security Area” at Panmunjeom, with the “Korean Veterans Association” vehicle and with Mr. Kim as my guide:

One day before my departure I received the usual memo and warning:

“PLEASE NOTE” the leaflet said: “Casual clothes such as blue jeans (kind of jean), and sandals (slippers) are not permitted in the area. Shaggy or unkempt hair is not allowed either. Any equipment, microphones or flags belonging to the communist side in the MAC conference room are NOT TO BE TOUCHED! Do not speak with, make any gestures towards or in any way, approach or respond to personnel from the other side.”

No alcohol consumption was allowed before or during the trip.

In the morning I put on sharp looking black pants, trimmed my beard, and charged my cameras. After examining my reflection in the mirror I came to the conclusion that despite some shortcomings in my appearance beyond my control, I looked fit to represent the affluent world of ‘democracy, freedom and economic opportunities’. My inner thoughts remained well hidden and unless someone were to force me to undergo a lie-detector test, there was hardly any danger that my presence at the most militarized frontier in the world would cost disturbances or embarrassment to my South Korean hosts. Armed with my notebooks, cameras and US passport, I left the hotel, in anticipation of yet another surreal undertaking.

Big bus slowly and majestically departed center of Seoul. Mr. Kim, our guide, exceeded all my expectations. He summarized the evilness of the North Korean regime, underlined the great economic, moral and democratic might of the the Republic of Korea, and then warned us to be careful, “very careful” when we encounter “those North Koreans” at the border:

“…And don’t make any unexpected and sharp moves. Don’t step away from the trails: the border is a minefield. Take photographs only when I advise you. Do not talk to North Korean guards! Enjoy your trip!”

At the back of my seat, I found a brochure printed by the Korean Veterans Association. On the front page, a middle-aged western couple was grinning (showing perfect and clearly fake teeth) in the direction of North Korea. Sure enough, these people were not pointing fingers at anything. The woman was pointing her designer sun glasses held in well manicured fingers, a man – looking like he had just won a brand new Jaguar in sweepstakes – was pointing his small camera towards the territory of the proud member of the “Axis of Evil”.

“…And our close and reliable ally – the United States of America – is always ready to defend our freedom and democracy,” came from the loudspeakers attached to the ceiling of the bus. Mr. Kim was obviously doing his best to educate us.

“Among other things, you will see Reunification Village – no taxes paid by its inhabitants. They are growing one of the best ginsengs in the world there. Reunification Bridge… You will see some of 700 thousand South Korean and American soldiers stationed at the border: 90% are Koreans, 10% Americans… You are all very privileged: Korean citizens have to apply for this visit 6 months to one year in advance, and most of them are not granted a permit… You will also see Ballinger Camp…”

A perfect multi-lane highway was following the coast of the Han-gang River. There were no milestones on either side of it. Soon after we left Seoul, we spotted a small area between the motorway and the river being converted into a tremendous barbed-wire fortification “decorated” only with watchtowers and other military installations. All that probably just in case some North Korean military divers decided to invade this ‘capitalist paradise’.

Enormous concrete apartment blocks were visible from the window on the right side of the bus. Entire towns, entire cities made of the same multi-story housing projects. I could hardly keep up with the numbers: Block 23, Block 78, and on it went. Majestic Han-gang River, soldiers and endless wire on one side; concrete and identical looking housing ghettos on the other.

The bus entered “Freedom Road” and after a few miles, stopped at the parking lot near “Freedom Bridge”. There stood the last South Korean train station, after which the tracks went towards the North and the bridge itself, decorated with the heart-breaking paper messages written by ordinary Korean people attached to the metal grid: mostly wishes to see their families across the border at least one more time.

The bus moves again, this time towards the Tongil Bridge and the checkpoint. We were entering the “no-go-area”, the most militarized place on earth, the “Demilitarized Zone”.

Mr. Kim’s outbursts were intensifying. He was jumping at the front of the bus, excited, clearly ‘on the mission’. He began mixing attacks against North Korean state with his cheep military humor:

“So why do we still have so many American soldiers here? What do you think? Hey? Because they are protecting us! And because we don’t want to spend more money on our own defense!” He was laughing at his own puns, but nobody else was. Foreign visitors on the bus were silent. The view behind the window obviously overwhelmed them – especially those who came there for the first time.

Barbed wires were everywhere and so were the military trucks driving up and down the road. Everything looked unreal and disturbing, including the ginseng-growing Freedom Village, a small hamlet separated from the rest of the world, surviving in the middle of the minefields and well-hidden high-tech weaponry.

The area looked peaceful, almost serene. No heavy weapons visible: everything hidden under the ground. There must have been tens of thousands of tanks, camouflaged bunkers, artillery and missile silos as well as nerve-gas and biological-weapons concentrated around here, but from our angle of vision, there were only some majestic migrant birds flying over the gently rolling hills, shitting on all this baloney from tremendous heights.

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is just a strip of land – approximately 248km/155 miles long and 4 km/2.5 miles wide, cutting across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between the North and South.

The bus drove through the military Camp Bonifas and terminated its journey at the parking lot at Ballinger Camp. Our passports were checked again and then we had to attend a briefing. Another list of rules, another endless outburst of propaganda pushed down our throats. American and Korean soldiers were patrolling side by side, inside the briefing room and on the road.

“The American army has a golf-course here”, explained Mr. Kim after we had boarded another, this time military bus with two soldiers inside. “The funny thing is that it has only one hole and it is surrounded by the mine-field”. He laughed loudly, but again nobody responded.

And then it appeared in front of us: the ‘truce village’ – Panmunjom – the only place where the North and South connect. It is called JSA (Joint Security Area), with several buildings on both sides and some constructed right on top of MDL (The Military Demarcation Line). This is where negotiations between the two sides have been held since 1953.

We were obliged to visit “Freedom House”, a monstrous propaganda establishment made of glass and steal. From here, the North Korean information center (Panmun-gak Pavilion) is less than 100 meters away. Theoretically I should have been free to cross all the way to the DPRK side and visit their center. I should have been free to move around, as long as I did not leave the JSA.

I was not prevented to enter by the North Koreans: I was prevented lo leave by the brisk military voice of Mr. Kim, my guide or whatever hell he really might have been. And of course, by Mr. Kim’s handlers…

Instead of going north I was again bombarded by stories about the bizarre “Stump of the Tree Chopping Incident” from 1976, about the shootout which followed the defection of a Soviet diplomat to the South during the Cold War, about long tunnels which were dug by the North Korean military (no outright lies, just manipulated half-truths).

At some point I felt that I could not stomach Mr. Kim any longer. I approached him on the viewing terrace, just a few feet from DPRK, and asked him publicly, in front of the soldiers and visitors:

“Mr. Kim, could you please tell us about the accident involving the US soldier defecting from here to the North in 1983?”

Mr. Kim stared at me in disbelief and I could only guess what would have happened to me if I had dared to challenge him in the days of the ROK’s full-blown military dictatorship.

“You must be out of your mind, young man”, he replied in a patronizing tone of voice. “Why would an American defect to the Communist North? Nothing like that ever happened.”

But it did happen, and it was not the only “incident” of its kind.

Finally I was allowed to enter the barrack where the negotiations between the North and the South take place. The Demarcation line – the border – runs in the middle of the table. I went around the table, technically entering the DPRK. It felt good…

South Korean soldiers kept their watch inside and outside the barracks. The ones selected to serve in this area were enormous – probably two meters tall.

Their ‘adversaries’ from the north were of average height.

South Korean soldiers, although most likely made of flesh and blood, were trained to stand still without the slightest movement, creating the impression that they were made of wax. Not one muscle moved. Their expressionless faces were decorated by large-frame sunglasses, making them look like mafia or like bouncers in some exclusive bordello. Outside the barracks, soldiers were standing with their legs unnaturally spread, only half of their faces facing the enemy, the other side facing the corner of the wall.

Grotesque, Kafkaesque, all this… Then I thought: “This is the true image of fascism, militarism and imperialism.”

At the other side, lonely looking North Korean soldiers appeared modest and very human in comparison, their Soviet-style uniforms far from fancy. They were facing their adversaries directly, not the wall of the barrack: directly, like true and proud human beings!

Standing for a while on the North Korean turf, I thought how little people are allowed to know about this land! Only what is tailored by countless vicious reports carried by the mainstream Western media.

But after the war, the North was successfully competing with the South. For quite some time it was richer, more prosperous, socially balanced, and optimistic. Then the ‘eastern block’ was destroyed by Western imperialism, and the North cynically abandoned, supported only by its great neighbor: China. Isolated and petrified (not unreasonably, as is evident from the history), it became a target, a punch bag of victorious western propaganda: “Communism? You want Communism? Just look at North Korea; that’s an alternative to our free society.”

The DPRK has been facing countless provocations from the south, but mainly from the West. US military bases on the territory of the ROK… Deadly US air force bases in Okinawa… Naval exercises near its shores… Sanctions and demonization… Terrible insults… All this, only because the DPRK wants to go its own way! Only because it has been refusing to become a serf, a slave!

And the past… Even according to BBC Timewatch:

“More than one million civilians died during the Korean War in 1950 but no one knows how many of these were killed by American forces. Few doubt that US forces committed atrocities in Korea, although the Pentagon denies official responsibility for one of the worst incidents of the war: the frenzied slaughter of civilians at the No Gun Ri railway tunnels”.

I asked Mr. Kim about the No Gun Ri tunnel, but by then I was firmly on his shit list, and he stopped replying to my questions.

Our bus briefly stopped at the “Bridge of No Return”, an abandoned border crossing. Again, the DPRK was just a few feet away.

“Look at the “Propaganda Village on the other side”, shouted Mr. Kim, salivating. “You can see the houses there, but nobody lives there. It is just propaganda. Pro-pa-gan-da! And that flagpole with the North Korean flag: it is the highest flagpole in the world, 157.5 meters high. We built our flagpole at 98.4 meters in 1980’s and they felt they have to have the highest one in the world.” He produced a dry, ugly and sarcastic laugh.

Again, the no man’s land between two Koreas seemed serene and quiet. Green fields and light mist were pleasing to the eyes. Birds were flying and shitting, while creeks were singing.

“To hell with the flagpole”, I thought. “What were you doing in the 1970’s, during Park’s dictatorship, Mr. Kim? Were you breaking balls, raping, torturing students?”

“And now”, said Mr. Kim, grinning happily, “Let’s give a big applause to our heroic soldiers, both Koreans and Americans!” We were approaching Camp Ballinger. “Here you can’t take photographs, but you can buy souvenirs and finally? Finally you can have a drink!”

After several checkpoints and a few miles of military roads, it was traffic jam all the way to Seoul. Traffic and barbed wires, only this time to my right. And the endless ocean of concrete apartment blocks on the left…

“Come and join us again”, said Mr. Kim, parting. Across the street, protesters were blasting “The International” in Korean, from enormous black speakers placed right on the sidewalk in front of some office building.


In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), things were more enjoyable. I went there in 2013. Pyongyang, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Victory; it was festive, full of cultural venues, grand music performances and concerts.

I then wrote:

“60 years ago North Korea won the war. But some 4 million people died many of them, civilians. Maybe it was more than 4 million, nobody knows exactly. The capital city Pyongyang was totally leveled to the ground. I did not want to hear loud music and long speeches. I wanted to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, by sitting quietly by the river covered by mist, listening to the tall grass. But during my 8 days in North Korea, I had very few moments of silence, almost no opportunity to reflect.
What have I seen in those 8 days in DPRK – in North Korea? I saw an enormous futuristic city, Pyongyang, the capital, built from the ashes. I saw enormous theatres and stadiums, a metro system deep below the ground (public transportation doubling as nuclear shelter, in case the city came under attack). I saw trolley buses and double-decker buses, wide avenues, unimaginably ample sidewalks, roller-skating rinks and playgrounds for children.

Statues and monuments were everywhere. The size of some boulevards and buildings were simply overwhelming. For more than a decade I lived in Manhattan, but this was very different grandeur. New York was growing towards the sky, while Pyongyang consisted of tremendous open spaces and massive eclectic buildings.
Outside the capital I saw green fields, and farmers walking home deep in the countryside. Clearly, there was no malnutrition among children, and despite the embargo, everyone was decently dressed.”

Young people that were working with me – my interpreter, drivers, and guides – had a fantastic sense of humor. They were also very kind.

My interpreter was obsessed with potato chips. She was also picking my brains about how to deal with her ‘evil’ boyfriend who was not ready to make his move and to propose marriage. As we were driving all over the country, they were showing me their motherland, while I was sharing my photos from all corners of the globed, stored on my iPhones.

At one point we came to the same spot, which I knew from the other side, to the same Panmunjom, and to the same DPRK information center (Panmun-gak Pavilion), which a few years earlier I had not been allowed to visit from the side of Republic of Korea.

There were detailed photo exhibitions and paintings on this side of the border. There were terrible events illustrated, and bitter memories revisited. But it was all so serene, human, and endlessly sad.

Ramsey Clark spoke about the horrors of the past, and about the brutality of US actions. An old man, one of the survivors of the mass killings of civilians in the tunnels, spoke about the brutality he witnessed as a child. The artwork in the local museum depicted the savage torture and rape of Korean women by US troops, their bodies mutilated; with nipples penetrated by metal hooks.

On July 26 2013, I met, together with Ramsey Clark and a few other delegates, Mr.Yang Hyong Sob, the Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Committee.

“Seeing is believing”, he declared. “Please tell the world what you witnessed here.”

I replied:

“It is their common tactic. The West portrays people of the DPRK, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Serbia, as heartless, as if they were some plastic androids. Then, subconsciously, compassion towards the people of those nations vanishes from the hearts of the Western public. Suddenly it is fine to starve, to bomb, to murder thousands, even millions of those androids. But once the faces are shown, the Western public gets confused; many refuse to support mass murder. Therefore, the faces are hardly shown.

No one knows how many Korean people died during the war. Millions, for sure… Some say 4 million… or more. Further millions of human lives were ruined by the sanctions, Western-provoked intimidations of the DPRK, and by the arms race.

Still, the hate, insults and professional propaganda are flying mostly from the South!


Seoul 2016… The first ice is gently covering the surface of Han-gang River.

My hotel “W” on top of Walker Hill is overly “cool”, impersonal, overprized and metallically cold. Techno beats are following me everywhere, from elevators to the vast lobby.

“Where are you from?” The driver on the way from the Incheon Airport interrogates me. His English is perfect. He served with the US military. Almost all drivers of those orange taxis that the foreigners are urged to use, are government agents. They only ask questions, and hardly ever answer.

“What do you think about North Korea? Oh, you went there? You know?”

After I reply, when I say what I witnessed, deep silence follows. Then a barrage of pointed questions. I ignore that old snitch.

I go around Seoul, searching for dissent. No new great films are made about the horrors of the ROK dictatorship. They still sell “Peppermint Candy” in some DVD stores, the greatest film so far, but it was made so many years ago…

There are some books, describing South Korean racism, xenophobia, and police, military and capitalist brutality. There are stories about the immigrants from DPRK, doctors and professors, forced to work as cleaners in the toughest bordellos of Seoul. It is not only foreigners who became targets of chauvinism, but also the immigrants from the north.

I don’t like what I see and feel in Seoul. It is cold, brutal, confused. I feel totally alone here. I talk to several foreigners: they all feel the same: from diplomats to English teachers. It does not feel like Asia. I am not exactly sure what it feels like. Like an enormous military base of some relatively rich country, perhaps?

Everyone who means something here was educated in the US. I see tremendous, horrifying Pentecostal churches all over the city. I see open and concealed pro-Western propaganda, everywhere. I see militarization. And Christmas trees…

Nobody wants to talk, if you are ‘different’. Unlike in Japan, here, many speak English: for obvious reasons. But nobody talks, beyond clichés. You have to fit. You have to be a Christian, right winger, anti-Communist, damn it!

Two of my books are translated to Korean and published in Seoul. I try to meet my publishers, but they reply in an extremely rude way, turning me down. They are not interested. My work is just some commodity. They don’t give a shit about me as a person.

I work for several days here. Eventually, emotionally exhausted, I run away.

On my TG flight from Seoul to Bangkok I watch the last bit of the insane propaganda – a South Korean film about the DPRK invasion, called “Northern Limit Line”. Again, North Koreans are robots, beasts, murderers, while South Koreans are good sons, good citizens, and true heroes. Like in K-pop, even the propaganda is now utilizing self-righteous, egotistic forms.

I came to write about South Korean propaganda and I got what I was asking for. I cannot complain. But I actually overate. The free “buffet” of it was just too vast. It will take some time to digest before I come back for more!


Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
More articles by:Andre Vltchek

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Peace Valley Defenders Declare Hunger Strike to Stop Site-C Mega Dam

Site C Protesters to Start HUNGER STRIKE

by Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land

March 3, 2016 

 Supporters of Site C/Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land Camp Call Hunger Strike after Camp Dismantled by RCMP 

VANCOUVER, BC  - On Thursday March 3rd, 2016, in the spirit of non-violent action and with the intention of shaming BC Hydro, who are preparing to destroy a vital agricultural and sacred valley in Treaty 8 Territory, supporters of the Site C/Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land will be gathering at B.C. Hydro (333 Dunsmuir St, Vancouver).

A daily hunger strike will be initiated Thursday at 8:00 am.

Those participating include Rick Buckman Coe, Tamo Campos & Liz Beggar among others.

The hunger strike was called immediately following the aggressive RCMP attendance at the Site C/Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land Camp on Tuesday, March 1st, 2016.

Justice Bruce Butler approved B.C. Hydro’s application for an interim injunction and enforcement order to forcibly remove the Treaty 8 Indigenous Land Defenders and supporters, including local farmers and members of the Peace Valley Landowners Association. The court order and the riot act were read out to those at the camp and the RCMP were present until the camp was dismantled.

We believe B.C. Hydro is a failing and highly mismanaged Crown Corporation operating with reckless disregard for the public it is meant to serve. Continued hikes in rates and declining mining and LNG projects have cost us all enough.

It is unacceptable that despite this, the British Columbia Supreme Court and the B.C. government have supported B.C. Hydro through its violations of the public trust and rights of the Indigenous Peoples of our province, whose territories they access without appropriate consultation and most certainly without consent. as a result of a flawed and extralegal permitting process the B.C. Provincial government is conducting.

We find it unacceptable that the RCMP have enforced such injustices on members of the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land Defenders.

The hunger strikes will be held daily outside the BC Hydro Office from 8am to 5pm. Our demands are the same as the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land; No construction until the court case of Treaty violations is finished and that this project be given a review with the BC Utilities Commission.

“The government signed Treaty 8 in the early 1900s on our territory. The proceeded to pressure Indigenous people to follow and obey it, but in turn they do not honor our Treaty rights. We were promised to live and thrive continuing our ways of life, our livelihoods. We did not surrender, lease, rent or sell our lands” Yvonne Tupper,  Member of Treaty 8

“We’re not eating here today to symbolize how this government is literally flooding the best agricultural lands of the north that could feed approximately a million people. We’re not eating because our government is literally starving us of any form of justice and reconciliation for Treaty 8.” – Tamo Campos 

FOR RELEASE - Thursday, March 3rd, 2016


Helen Knott – Spokesperson for Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land 
Tamo Campos –

What's Really Causing the Microcephaly Outbreak?

Zika, Microcephaly and Pesticides: Half-Truths, Hysteria and Vested Interests

by Claire Robinson - CounterPunch

March 3, 2016

I recently published an article on reports by the Argentine doctors’ group, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, and the Brazilian public health researchers’ group Abrasco, which raised the issue of the potential role of the larvicide pyriproxyfen in the apparent surge in babies born with birth defects involving abnormally small heads (microcephaly).

Pyriproxyfen is added to drinking water stored in open containers to interfere with the development of disease-carrying mosquitoes, thus killing or disabling them.

The Ecologist published a version of my article which, together with the original publication on GMWatch, quickly went viral, triggering a lot more media coverage.

This in turn met with a furious backlash involving what has seemed at times like a ‘shouting brigade’ condemning anyone who thinks the Argentine report worth taking seriously.

Yet at times this chorus of condemnation has been extraordinarily hypocritical, condemning the Argentine doctors as enemies of fact and accuracy while getting the most basic of facts wrong about what the doctors are actually suggesting.

Pesticide defenders invent ‘pesticide causes Zika’ conspiracy theory

Take, for instance, the Washington Post food columnist, Tamar Haspel. Haspel tweeted: “No, GMOs and pesticides aren’t the Zika culprits. Could we evaluate groups by how often they spread fact-free theories? A cred rating.”

Andrew Noymer, a social epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, replied: “Pesticide is not Zika culprit but it hasn’t been definitively ruled out as birth defect culprit. Got it? Good.”

In response to Noymer’s challenge, Haspel claimed that she was just using Zika as Twitter “shorthand” for microcephaly! Noymer retorted, “Well then you’re just misinformed.”

It wasn’t just Haspel who seemed to accuse the supposed ‘conspiracy theorists’ of linking the pesticide to Zika. Grist food writer Nathanael Johnson also appeared to fall into the trap with a headline attacking a “bogus theory connecting Zika” to the pesticide industry.

But the Argentine doctors only ever suggested the larvicide pyriproxyfen might be a culprit in microcephaly. Nobody ever claimed pesticides cause the Zika virus!

Another well-known GMO supporter, Julie Kelly, made a similar mistake when she damned the Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo for tweeting what she said was an “egregiously inaccurate” article that blamed “pesticides – not mosquitos – for transmitting the Zika virus”.

Just good friends

This is not to say that some of the initial coverage of the pesticide hypothesis didn’t suffer from real inaccuracies. One red herring was set running by the Argentine doctors themselves when they wrongly identified the company that makes the larvicide as a subsidiary of Monsanto.

In fact, Sumitomo Chemical is a long-term strategic partner of Monsanto’s – they’ve been working together for nearly two decades, but Monsanto doesn’t own the company. Even so, it’s a perhaps understandable error given the closeness of the companies’ cooperation in Brazil and Argentina.

In any case, it’s an error that I was careful to avoid in my Ecologist piece, which correctly identified the larvicide manufacturer as only a strategic partner.

Nevertheless, it’s an error that was seized upon by Nathanael Johnson, for instance, with his headline, “A bogus theory connecting Zika virus to Monsanto could give mosquitoes a boost”.

Ironically, that headline, as we’ve noted, is more misleading than the error about the extent of the Monsanto connection.

‘Pesticides could be involved’: leading scientists

What is also misleading about Johnson’s headline is the suggestion that the pesticide theory (in relation to microcephaly, of course, not Zika) can be batted off as ‘bogus’. The idea that this particular pesticide – and/or other pesticides – could be linked to the birth defect problem in Brazil is not something that can simply be dismissed out of hand.

For example Dr David Morens, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said of the pesticide claim to Public Radio International: “It’s certainly plausible, but we haven’t heard enough scientific information to weigh in on whether it’s real.”

Like some viruses, he continued, some toxins have been associated with microcephaly. “So the theory that a pesticide could do it is not totally out of line.” More study is needed to determine the truth, he insisted – and precisely the same is true for the Zika hypothesis:

“I can say that what we’ve heard about these cases of microcephaly and the epidemic of Zika, and now the possible chemical or pesticide exposure, are claims and statements that don’t yet have scientific backing.”

And while it has been claimed that Dr Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, “spoke out against the ‘sketchy’ report” of the Argentine doctors, Collins actually described their idea not as ‘bogus’ but as “an interesting bu speculative theory”.

The biologist Dr Pete Myers, in an editorial comment posted on the online news service Environmental Health News, pointed out that the reason the pesticide hypothesis is, as Collins rightly says, “sketchy”, is the lack of adequate investigation of pesticides before they are released on to the market:

“[These are] dueling hypotheses [as to whether the Zika virus or the larvicide is responsible for the microcephaly increase] with great consequences for getting it right, or wrong. We would be in a better position to make the choice if pesticides were tested more rigorously before being used.”

In fact, one of the world’s leading virologists, Dr Leslie Lobel, recently told the Guardian that it is not clear that the microcephaly cases in Brazil are linked to the Zika virus and that there was “a strong possibility pesticides could be involved and this needed to be studied”.

The reason it needs to be studied is because, as Myers’ points out, there’s a relative lack of hard and independently generated data on pesticides like pyriproxyfen, thanks to an inadequate regulatory system.

The Argentine doctors are not to blame for this regulatory failure and they should not be censured for flagging up questions about the chemical.

Axes to grind

Why are some people so keen to dismiss the doctors’ suggestion out of hand? It has been suggested that those flagging up the possibility of a connection between pyriproxyfen and microcephaly have a hidden agenda.

For example, Professor Andrew Batholomaeus, one of the “experts” quoted by the Science Media Centre of Australia in defence of the larvicide’s safety, said: “Journalists covering this story would do well to research the background of those making and reporting the claims as the underlying story and potential public health consequences may be far more newsworthy than the current headlines.”

But it’s surely no surprise if Argentine physicians, who have had to deal at first hand with the suffering caused by the GMO soy revolution in Argentina with its accompanying pesticide onslaught, should be particularly alert to the role of pesticides in health and development issues in Latin America – and suspicious of the safety claims of chemical corporations.

The doctors say their local communities are facing an exploding health crisis, which includes children suffering unusual birth defects. And in neighbouring Brazil the country’s National Cancer Institute says the release of GM crops has helped make the country the largest consumer of agrochemicals in the world.

Industry-friendly attackers

Also, some of those leading the attacks on the pesticides hypothesis could also be accused of having an agenda.

Julie Kelly, for instance, uses her National Review article to attack Mark Ruffalo not just for drawing attention to the larvicide theory but also over his campaigning on climate change and fracking, his support for sustainable energy, and his publicly confronting the CEO of Monsanto over the impact of his company’s products:

“None of that is true, but you can’t really expect a guy who thinks 322 million Americans can survive on wind turbines to actually deal with reality. This week, though, Ruffalo’s arrogance and ignorance caught up with him. He tweeted out an egregiously inaccurate article blaming pesticides – not mosquitos – for transmitting the Zika virus and causing certain birth defects (it was retweeted more than 500 times). Ruffalo eagerly put the blame on a Monsanto subsidiary (which also turned out to be false) and called it the ‘true cause of Brazil’s microcephaly outbreak.’ The actor was called out by the New York Times and other news outlets for spreading the conspiracy theory; Ruffalo later retweeted an article debunking the rumor yet refused to acknowledge his mistake.”

Kelly, who is married to a lobbyist for the agricultural commodities giant ADM, is a self-declared member, along with Monsanto personnel, of the Kevin Folta ‘fan club‘ – Kevin Folta being the GMO-loving / Roundup-drinking scientist who denied having any links to Monsanto even though he’d received $25,000 from the company for his biotech communication programme and had other notable industry connections besides.

Interestingly, Tamar Haspel appears far from keen to explore the ties between companies like Monsanto and academics at public universities like Kevin Folta, and has herself been accused of collaborating closely with the agrochemical industry and of batting for Monsanto.

And perhaps the most virulent attack on the Argentine doctors, published predictably in Forbes, was contributed by another Folta fan. Kavin Senapathy also regularly co-authors pieces with Henry Miller, a climate skeptic and staunch defender of DDT and other controversial pesticides, not to mention the tobacco industry.

So where does this leave us?

Yes, the Argentine doctors and some of their supporters may be said to have an agenda, but as we have seen, that charge can just as easily be levelled against some of those keen to debunk their concerns.

The connection to Monsanto may have been overstated by the doctors, and even more by some news outlets, but it wasn’t invented – Sumitomo Chemical is Monsanto’s long-term strategic partner.

There has also been a misplaced attack on those of us who have drawn attention to the concerns of the Brazilian public health researchers about pyriproxyfen and other chemicals. I’ll be looking at that in a subsequent article.

And as one of the world’s leading virologists has also flagged up the need to take seriously that notion that pesticides could be involved, I’m going to be looking more at this critical issue, including what scientists do and don’t know about pyriproxyfen.

This article was originally published by GMWatch.
Claire Robinson is an editor at GMWatch.
More articles by:Claire Robinson

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

To Plan B, And Not to Be: How the West Wishes to Scatter the Arabs

‘Plan B’ – Not an Enigma: Why the West Is Keen on Dividing the Arabs

by Ramzy Baroud

March 2, 2016

When Arab streets exploded with fury, from Tunis to Sanaa, pan-Arabism seemed, then, like a nominal notion. Neither did the so-called ‘Jasmine Revolution’ use slogans that affirmed its Arab identity, nor did angry Egyptian youth raise the banner proclaiming Arab unity atop the high buildings adjacent to Tahrir Square.

Oddly, the Arabism of the ‘Arab Spring’ was almost as if a result of convenience. It was politically convenient for western governments to stereotype Arab nations as if they are exact duplicates of one another, and that national sentiments, identities, expectations and popular revolts are all rooted in the same past and correspond with a precise reality in the present. Thus, many in the west expected that the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, especially since it was followed by the abdication of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, would lead to a domino effect. “Who’s next?’ was a pretentious question that many asked, some with no understanding of the region and its complexity.

After initial hesitation, the US, along with its western allies, moved quickly to influence the outcome in some Arab countries. Their mission was to ensure a smooth transition in countries whose fate had been decided by the impulsive revolts, to speed up the toppling of their enemies and to prop up their allies so that they would not suffer a similar fate.

The outcome was real devastation. Countries where the west and their allies - and predictably, enemies were involved - became infernos, not of revolutionary fervor, but of militant chaos, terrorism and unabated wars. Libya, Syria and Yemen are the obvious examples.

In a way, the west, its media and allies assigned themselves as gatekeepers of determining, not only the fate of the Arabs, but in molding their identities as well. Coupled with the collapse of the whole notion of nationhood in some Arab countries – Libya, for example – the US is now taking upon itself the responsibility of devising future scenarios of broken down Arab states.

In his testimony before a US Senate committee to discuss the Syria ceasefire, Secretary of State, John Kerry revealed that his country is preparing a ‘Plan B” should the ceasefire fail. Kerry refrained from offering specifics; however, he offered clues. It may be “too late to keep Syria as a whole, if we wait much longer,” he indicated.

The possibility of dividing Syria was not a random warning, but situated in a large and growing edifice of intellectual and media text in the US and other western countries. It was articulated by Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute in a Reuter’s op-ed last October. He called for the US to find a ‘common purpose with Russia’, while keeping in mind the ‘Bosnia model.’

“In similar fashion, a future Syria could be a confederation of several sectors: one largely Alawite - another Kurdish - a third, primarily Druse - a fourth, largely made up of Sunni Muslims; and then a central zone of intermixed groups in the country’s main population belt from Damascus to Aleppo.”

What is dangerous about O’Hanlon’s solution for Syria is not the complete disregard of Syria’s national identity. Frankly, many western intellectuals never even subscribed to the notion that Arabs were nations in the western definition of nationhood, in the first place. (Read Aaron David Miller article: Tribes with Flags) No, the real danger lies in the fact that such a divisive dismantling of Arab nations is very much plausible, and historical precedents abound.

It is no secret that the modern formation of Arab countries are largely the outcome of dividing the Arab region within the Ottoman Empire into mini-states. That was the result of political necessities and compromises that arose from the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. The US, then, was more consumed with its South American environs, and the rest of the world was largely a Great Game that was mastered by Britain and France.

The British-French agreement, with the consent of Russia, was entirely motivated by sheer power, economic interests, political hegemony and little else. This explains why most of the borders of Arab countries were perfect straight lines. Indeed, they were charted by a pencil and ruler, not organic evolution of geography based on multiple factors and protracted history of conflict or concord.

It has been almost one hundred years since colonial powers divided the Arabs, although they are yet to respect the very boundaries that they have created. Moreover, they have invested much time, energy, resources and, at times, all out wars to ensure that the arbitrary division never truly ends.

Not only does the west loathe the term ‘Arab unity’, it also loathes whoever dares infuse what they deem to be hostile, radical terminology. Egypt’s second President, Jamal Abdel Nasser, argued that true liberation and freedom of Arab nations was intrinsically linked to Arab unity.

Thus, it was no surprise that the struggle for Palestine occupied a central stage in the rhetoric of Arab nationalism throughout the 1950s and 60s. Abdel Nasser was raised to the status of a national hero in the eyes of most Arabs, and a pariah in the eyes of the west and Israel.

To ensure that Arabs are never to unite, the west invested in their further disunity. In 2006/07, former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, made it clear that the US would cease its support of the Palestinian Authority shall Fatah and Hamas unite. Earlier, when, resistance in Iraq reached a point that the American occupiers found unbearable, they invested in dividing the ranks of the Iraqis based on sectarian lines. Their intellectuals pondered the possibility of dividing Iraq into three autonomous states: Shia, Sunni and Kurdish.

Libya was too broken up after NATO’s intervention turned a regional uprising into a bloody war. Since then, France, Britain, the US and others have backed some parties against others. Whatever sense of nationhood that existed after the end of Italian colonization of that country has been decimated as Libyans reverted to their regions and tribes to survive the upheaval.

A rumored ‘Plan B’ to divide Libya to three separate protectorates of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan was recently rejected by the Libyan Ambassador to Rome. However, Libyans presently seem to be the least relevant party in determining the future of their own country.

The Arab world has always been seen in western eyes as a place of conquest, to be exploited, controlled and tamed. That mindset continues to define the relationship. While Arab unity is to be dreaded, further divisions often appear as ‘Plan B’, when the current status quo, call it ‘Plan A’, seems impossible to sustain.

What is truly interesting is that, despite the lack of a pan-Arab vision in Arab countries that experienced popular revolts five years ago, few events in modern history has brought the Arabs together like the chants of freedom in Tunis, the cries of victories in Egypt and screams of pain in Yemen and Syria.

It is that very collective identity, often unspoken but felt, that drives millions of Arabs to hold on to however faint a hope that their nations will survive the ongoing onslaught and prospective western division.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include ‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is:

Haiti: UN Keeping Peace at the Point of a Gun

Canada in Haiti: Peacekeeping or Occupation?

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

February 29, 2016

Do Black (Haitian) lives matter to Canada’s leading ‘left-wing’ foreign-policy think tank? Apparently not as much as having the corporate media mention their work by getting in bed with militarism disguised as peacekeeping.

At the start of Black History Month the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute co-published Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it). On the cover of the report (left) a white Canadian soldier, with a massive M-16 strapped around his shoulder, is bent over to hold the hand of a young black boy. In the background are Canadian and UN colours.

A call for the Canadian Forces to offer its members more peacekeeping training, Unprepared for peace? is premised on the erroneous notion that UN missions are by definition socially useful. And it repeatedly implies that Canada’s most significant recent contribution to a UN mission — the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) — was an operation we should be proud of.

The lead author of the report is Rideau Institute board member Walter Dorn, who has worked with and publicly lauded the UN mission in Haiti. “With financial support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade”, Dorn wrote, “the United Nations sent me on research trips to the UN missions in Haiti” and elsewhere in 2006.

During a sabbatical that year Dorn served as a consultant to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and later briefed the “Military Directors of the UN Mission in Haiti” on “Technologies for Peacekeeping”. With help from MINUSTAH he published Intelligence-led Peacekeeping: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2006–07. In it Dorn claims the intervention to overthrow Haiti’s elected government in 2004 was designed “to create basic conditions for security and stability.” The report largely focuses on UN intelligence activities in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighbourhood.

In applauding UN operations in Cite Soleil, Dorn ignores MINUSTAH’s political role. After helping oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide and thousands of other elected officials, 500 Canadian soldiers were incorporated into a UN mission that backed up the coup government’s violent crackdown of Haiti’s pro-democracy movement from March 2004 to May 2006. The UN force also participated directly in pacifying the slums, which left dozens of civilians dead in Cité Soleil (a bastion of support for Aristide).

Dorn has delivered a number of lectures and interviews in favour of the UN force. In 2010 he presented on “The Protection of Civilians: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” The next year he told CBC Radio’s The World This Weekend the world is “crying for Canada” to expand its military role within the UN, noting “we have a long-standing police contribution in Haiti but we could easily contribute to the military side.”

He also rebuked critics of the UN. In 2012 the author of a Council of Hemispheric Affairs report, Courtney Frantz, told IPS MINUSTAH “perpetrated acts of violence” and had “become an instrument of the U.S., France and Canada in terms of their economic interests (including privatisation in Haiti).” In the article, Dorn countered Frantz, saying UN forces delivered “law and order”.

The next year Dorn told the Canadian Press that adding 34 Canadian soldiers to MINUSTAH was a “positive development. It helps Haiti. It helps the United Nations, the United States and Brazil.”

While dispatching Canadian soldiers may have helped the US and Brazil (the country leading the military mission), most Haitians see the UN as an occupying force responsible for innumerable abuses. Aside from the above-mentioned political repression, the UN’s disregard for Haitian life caused a major cholera outbreak, which left at least 8,000 Haitians dead and 750,000 ill. In October 2010 a UN base in central Haiti discharged sewage, including the feces of newly deployed Nepalese troops, into a river where people drank. This introduced the water-borne disease into the country.

Haiti represents but one example of Dorn’s support for Canadian backed UN violence. In writing about the early 1960s UN mission in the Congo Dorn ignores that mission’s role in the assassination of elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Similarly, he provides a wildly one-sided version of the early 1950s “UN police action” in Korea, which left as many as four million dead.

Dorn promotes greater Canadian engagement in UN military actions, but doesn’t mind if this takes place alongside US/NATO led wars. Last March he wrote, “the two approaches can coexist. It’s not one or the other and nothing in between. We can excel in combat and excel in peacekeeping.”

Sympathetic to Washington’s worldview, Dorn isn’t troubled by UN forces standing in for NATO. In Unprepared for Peace? he writes:

“In the post-Afghanistan period, the burden of addressing emerging international crises is increasingly shifted towards the United Nations, with NATO limiting its intervention primarily to air strikes such as those used in Libya in 2011.”

In the case of the Canada/France/Britain/US war in Libya, Dorn called for a UN force to mop up a conflict he deemed, even four years after, “justified… easily passing a Just War threshold.” Five months into that war the Independent reported him saying, a “peacekeeping mission in Libya would present the UN with an opportunity to overcome its surprisingly outmoded attitude to new military technology.”

As he campaigns for improved UN military capacity, Dorn enthused about the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening UN weaponry. “The U.S. effort is genuine”, he said in March.

“I’ve been to Washington three times in recent months to talk with the (U.S.) Department of Defense on helping bring United Nations peacekeeping technology into the 21st century.”

Dorn attracts corporate media interest, which presumably explains the Rideau Institute’s interest in collaborating. Unprepared for Peace? was cited throughout the dominant media and the Toronto Star editorial board even praised its conclusions.

But, Dorn’s establishment standing is largely due to his position at the Royal Military College and Canadian Forces College. The military’s website describes Dorn as a “professor at the Canadian Forces College and Chair of the Master of Defence Studies programme at RMC [Royal Military College].” Dorn survives, even thrives, at the military run colleges because elements of the Canadian Forces have long viewed “peacekeeping”, which demands a military force, as a way to maintain public support for its budget.

An indication of his opinion towards military spending, in 2014 Ipolitics reported, “[Dorn] said he is satisfied with the current size of the military. He said anything smaller would mean Canada is spending less than 1 per cent of GDP on its Armed Forces – and, as a professor of defence studies, that’s not something he could support.”

Perhaps some might argue that the “foreign policy left” should be a broad coalition that includes anyone who is in favour of anything called “peacekeeping” or that the Rideau Institute has simply not thought through the implications of promoting Dorn’s views. But how do you square either argument with Richard Sanders, coordinator Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, appeal to peace activists attending a 2010 Rideau Institute sponsored event with Dorn: “Knee-jerk support for anything with the UN ‘peacekeeping’ brand can lead folks to supporting mass murder of innocent civilians.”

Unfortunately, Canada’s preeminent ‘left-wing’ foreign policy think tank has spurned demilitarization and anti-imperialist voices to promote the views of the liberal end of the military. The Rideau Institute works with an individual who aggressively supported Canada’s worst foreign-policy crime of the first decade of the 21st century. But the victims were poor black Haitians so apparently that does not matter.

Happy Black History Month.

Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation Read other articles by Yves.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Libya War Crimes

New York Times on Clinton and Libya: Portrait of a war criminal

by Bill Van Auken  - WSWS

1 March 2016

A two-part series entitled “The Libya Gamble” published in the Sunday and Monday editions of the New York Times is a damning indictment of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The piece, written by Times national security correspondent Scott Shane and investigative reporter Jo Becker, details the leading role played by Clinton in fomenting a war of aggression that killed tens if not hundreds of thousands. The fact that it is not intended as an exposure of these imperialist atrocities makes it all the more incriminating.

The Times has endorsed Clinton’s presidential campaign, describing her as “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history” and as a president who “would use American military power effectively.” The paper has helped promote the political propaganda touting her as a feminist icon and a candidate deserving the support of African-Americans.

No one would suspect that Ms. Clinton’s criminal record makes her the political equivalent of a black widow spider.

Even the Libya piece suggests that her pivotal role in instigating the US-NATO war of 2011 casts a favorable light “on what kind of president she might be.” It describes her as a “diligent student and unrelenting inquisitor, absorbing fat briefing books, inviting dissenting views from subordinates, studying foreign counterparts to learn how to win them over. She was a pragmatist, willing to improvise...”

Taken for granted in this account is that all of this diligence, pragmatism and improvisation was in furtherance of a criminal war of aggression that laid waste to an entire society.

Today, as the article notes, Clinton deflects questions about the war with bromides about the Libyans having participated in two elections—which have produced what are now three competing governments, none of which can claim to rule any significant part of the country enmeshed in a bloody civil war. It is “too soon to tell” how things will evolve in Libya, she adds, five years after the war and under conditions in which Washington is once again deploying special operations troops on the ground and bombing the country from the air.

The article acknowledges that Clinton had fought within the Obama administration against “dropping support for Hosni Mubarak” under conditions in which the masses of Egypt had risen up in a revolutionary struggle against the US-backed dictator.

Yet somehow in Libya, the article argues, “Clinton had a new opportunity to support the historic change that had just swept out the leaders of its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia. And Libya seemed a tantalizingly easy case—with just six million people, no sectarian divide and plenty of oil.”

Here the phrases “tantalizingly easy” and “plenty of oil” were the operative ones in Clinton’s real calculations. A regime change operation was mounted against the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi not to further the revolutionary upheavals that were dubbed the “Arab spring,” but rather to contain them by imposing a US-controlled puppet state in the country separating Egypt and Tunisia, and asserting unfettered Western control over Africa’s largest oil reserves in the bargain.

The article establishes that Clinton “pressed for a secret program that supplied arms to rebel militias,” composed largely of Islamist groups, some with direct ties to Al Qaeda.

Within the administration, the Times reports, she pressed for direct US military intervention on the grounds that the British and French governments would go ahead without the US and Washington would be “left behind” and “be less capable of shaping” the scramble for control of Libya and its oil wealth.

The pretext, that Libyan government forces were on the verge of a “genocidal massacre” of “protesters” in the eastern city of Benghazi, was subsequently refuted by international human rights groups, and the total number killed in armed clashes before the US and NATO began their bombing of Libya amounted to barely 350.

At the outset of this bombing campaign, the article recounts, numerous attempts were made by Libyan officials, UN functionaries, other African governments and the African Union to negotiate a ceasefire and a political settlement, all of which were rejected by Washington. Charles Kubic, a retired rear admiral who received a proposal from a top Libyan military officer for a 72-hour ceasefire, was told by the US military command to immediately cut off the discussion based on orders that had come from “outside the Pentagon.”

“The question that stays with me is, why didn’t you spend 72 hours giving peace a chance?” he told the Times. The obvious answer was that those who had promoted the Libyan intervention, with Clinton in the lead, were determined to have their war for regime change fought to a bloody conclusion.

That came in October 2011 with the vicious lynch-mob murder of Gaddafi by the US-backed Islamist “rebels.” After watching a video on an aide’s BlackBerry of the Libyan leader being beaten and sodomized with a bayonet before he was killed, Clinton exclaimed “Wow!”

She then infamously turned to her television interviewer, exclaimed “We came, we saw, he died!” and cackled in delight.

Murdered alongside Gaddafi was his son Mutassim, who just two years earlier had been warmly welcomed to the State Department with smiles and handshakes by the same Hillary Clinton.

As the article makes clear, these bloody crimes were viewed by Clinton and her supporters as grist for her 2016 presidential campaign. Her top aide at the State Department issued a memo stating that the record demonstrated Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.”

“The memo’s language put her at the center of everything,” the article states: “‘HRC announces ... HRC directs ... HRC travels ... HRC engages,’ it read.”

In the aftermath of the catastrophe in Libya, the article credits Clinton with “pushing for an aggressive American program to arm and train Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.”

It fails, however, to spell out the concrete connection between these two imperialist interventions. Arms seized from Libyan government stockpiles were funneled, along with Libyan Islamist fighters, into Syria, under the supervision of the CIA, which established a secret station in Benghazi along with another in southern Turkey.

After rivalries and recriminations between the agency and the Islamists erupted in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US facilities in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and three security personnel, Clinton came under Republican fire, not for waging an illegal war, assassinating a foreign leader or arming Al Qaeda, but for an alleged “cover-up” of the Benghazi incident.

Similarly, a continuing investigation has been mounted over Clinton’s use of a non-secure private email server which handled material deemed secret, but little attention has been paid to the content of these emails, which again implicate Clinton in the bloody crimes carried out in Libya, Syria and beyond.

Summed up in Clinton’s role in the Libyan events is the arrogance and recklessness of a US foreign policy that is inseparable from militarism and aggression. In Clinton’s shameless attempt to exploit events that killed tens of thousands and turned millions into refugees to further her grubby political ambitions, one finds a consummate expression of the degraded character of the American ruling elite and its political system as a whole, and of the Democratic Party in particular.

In a just world, or at least one in which the principles upon which the Nuremberg war crimes trials of the surviving leaders of the Third Reich continued to be observed, Hillary Clinton would not be running for US president but, at best, be spending the rest of her life in a prison cell.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Roger Annis, Bruce Livesey Mar. 2, 2016

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

John Lennon famously sang, "Give Peace a Chance," but the Western Axis Powers and their media are clearly not sharing the chorus where Syria is concerned.

Despite the recently agreed Cessation of Hostilities, to listen to the CBC and America's corporate news disseminators, the tentative steps towards peace made by Russia are false, doomed to fail, and appear in fact designed to do so.

A cynical observer might think the whole exercise is just a pretext to further NATO warmaking in its years-long efforts to either effect regime change over there, or create a smoking ruin of Syria in the attempt.

Listen. Hear.

Roger Annis is a longtime socialist, trade union activist, and prolific essayist in the cause of social justice and peace both in Canada and abroad. He's a contributing editor at the website New Cold War, where he's written extensively on Ukraine, and his articles can also be found at his website, A Socialist in Canada, and at, and His latest article, 'Syria Ceasefire a Triumph of Diplomacy, But Militarism Still Rules in Ottawa and Other Western Capitals' examines the recent Cessation of Hostilities agreement for Syria.

Roger Annis in the first half.

And; they're two of the World's richest men, yet outside their native America the Koch brothers are barely known. In fact, even within the United States, the Koch's have managed to keep an extraordinarily low media profile; and in Canada, where they happen to own a good portion of Alberta's Tar Sands, they've achieved as close to teevee invisibility as a pair of billionaires can.

My second half guest hopes to remedy that. His documentary film, 'How the Kochs and the Rich Buy Elections' will expose the brothers' "controversial practices," addressing just how they've insinuated themselves into the heart of American democracy - if he can only get it made, again.

Bruce Livesey is a multiple award-winning investigative journalist and author who's worked in print, radio, and television. He currently serves as the National Observer's lead investigative reporter, and has written for most major publications in Canada, including: The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The Gazette, The Walrus, amongst others, and his book, 'The Thieves of Bay Street' was a best-selling Arthur Ellis Award nominee in Canada. Livesey's been a producer for CBC's The Fifth Estate, The National, and CBC News Sunday, and Global TV in Canada, while working with PBS's Frontline and the New York Times in the States, and directing documentaries for Al Jazeera English.

Bruce Livesey and smoking out the Koch's in the second half.

But first, Roger Annis and winning the ceasefire battle, but not stopping the Syria war.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Western Militarism Will Not Allow Syria Ceasefire Succeed

Syria Ceasefire a Triumph of Diplomacy, But Militarism Still Rules in Ottawa and Other Western Capitals

by Roger Annis - A Socialist in Canada

Feb 28, 2016

 [This article also appeared on Counterpunch and on New Cold] 

Syria ceasefire a triumph of Russian-led diplomacy, 
but Canada continues to warn of big, bad Russia 

On February 26, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a Russia-U.S. proposed resolution endorsing a ceasefire plan for Syria. The text of the UNSC resolution as well as summaries of statements by Security Council-member countries is published here on New Cold

Warfare has all but ceased in Syria during the first 48 hours of the ceasefire, excepting an assault on the Kurdish town of Tel Abyad by Islamic State forces in eastern Syria that was repulsed by the YPG, the self-defense force of the Syrian Kurdish people.

One might think that the seeming miracle of a ceasefire in Syria would be cause for celebration, but apparently no one in Western governments and media nor in some circles of the international left is cheering. Instead, they continue to flog their warnings about big, bad Russia.

The significance of the Syria ceasefire is being downplayed. Much of Western media reporting is filled with stories of alleged violations as well as doubts that the ceasefire can hold. The reason for the doom and gloom is that the ceasefire is largely thanks to Russian military efforts (with Iran also playing a significant role) and, most importantly, the ceasefire is a blow to the aspirations of the imperialist ‘regime change’ alliance led by the United States that wants the overthrow of Syria’s government and the transformation of Syria into the kind of ‘failed state’ disaster zone created by NATO in Libya.

A Feb 28, 2016 editorial in The Guardian, for example, almost sounds a note of sadness in writing, “The Russians rescued the [Syrian] regime and strengthened it to the point where the idea that it might be toppled became, at most, a very distant prospect.”

A different, forward-looking outlook is voiced by Al-Monitor in its weekly review on February 27:

“Rather than pointing out why the [Syria] agreement might fail, and it might, our starting point is that UN Security Council Resolution 2268 and the US-Russia agreement on a cessation of hostilities in Syria are potential breakthroughs.”

Grim civil war in Turkey

The Turkish government is, for now, begrudgingly, accepting the ceasefire. It has stopped its cross-border shellings of Kurdish Syrians. But the government is sticking to its declared aim of overthrowing the government of Syria, while the grim civil war it is pursuing against the Kurdish people of eastern Turkey is continuing.

That war is receiving little or no reporting in Western media and spotty coverage, at best, in anti-Russia, pseudo left wing media outlets.

There are dozens of journalists in jail in NATO-member Turkey. The country’s criminal code punishes journalists and other citizens for the offense of ‘insulting the president’. Two of the most prominent of those in jail, Can Dundar and Erdem Gul of the print daily Cumhuriyet, won release from prison on February 26. But they are still facing very serious charges of supporting a terror organization, threatening state security and espionage for publishing state secrets.

Last May, Cumhuriyet published evidence of a covert, arms-running operation to right-wing paramilitaries in Syria by Turkey’s national intelligence agency.

So obsessed are Canada’s news editors with anti-Russia crusading, they cannot even bring themselves to defend their journalist colleagues in Turkey. Not a single press outlet in Canada has reported the jailings of dozens of journalists in Turkey, including the cases of the Cumhuriyet editors. New York Times reporting consists of occasional wireservice stories.

Anti-Russia and Russophobic left-wing media also downplay the Syria ceasefire because the ceasefire is a direct consequence of the Russian military intervention undertaken in alliance with the Syrian government and, increasingly, in alliance with Kurdish forces in Syria. The Russian achievement flies in the face of the left-wing presentation of Russia as a predatory ‘imperialist’ country engaged in “global rivalry” with the United States and other NATO countries.

Canadian gov’t welcomes Ukrainian neo-Nazi

In Canada, the newly elected Liberal Party government and mainstream media have responded to events in Syria by stepping up their anti-Russia propaganda, notwithstanding comments one month ago by Canada’s minister of foreign affairs that Canada might undertake dialogue with Russia (though not end Canada’s punishing economic and travel sanctions against Russia and its leaders).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets 
Ukrainian paramilitary extremist Andriy Parubiy
 in Ottawa on Feb 23, 2016

On February 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed to his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa the founder of the modern fascist movement in Ukraine, Andriy Parubiy, an elected member of the Ukrainian Rada (Parliament).

The Ukrainian extremist also met with Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan and other elected members of Parliament of the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Parubiy is the deputy speaker of the Ukrainian Rada. Shortly after the Maidan coup of February 2014, he was appointed to head a key advisory committee of the Ukrainian government, the National Security and Defense Council. He held that post until August 2014. The NSDC was a leading agency in the Maidan coup regime’s launching of civil war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014. (The regime’s war plans for Crimea were frustrated by Crimea’s March 2014 referendum to secede from Ukraine.)

Before visiting Ottawa, Parubiy spoke at a public forum organized by the prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

Anti-Russia crusader Bill Browder

Canadian media is heavily engaged in anti-Russia propaganda on multiple fronts. An American crusader against Vladimir Putin, Bill Browder, visited Canada during the week of February 22. His visit was accorded fawning news coverage by the state broadcaster, CBC, the Globe and Mail national daily and the popular, mainstream iPolitics website, among others.

Browder is waging a crusade for steeper economic sanctions against Russia, saying that someone in the Russian government is responsible for the death in 2006 of a sometime employee of his, Sergei Magnitsky.

Browder was once a leading capitalist investor in Russia but left the country in 2005 as Russian authorities began to investigate him for tax evasion. He has not set foot in Russia since. He is a graduate of business studies at Stanford University. In the early 1990s, he jumped into the world of looting state-owned properties as the Soviet Union and other countries in eastern Europe underwent wrenching transitions to unbridled capitalism. An adoring article by Canadian journalist Bruce Livesey explained in April 2014, “Browder soon got work helping Eastern European governments privatize their economies.”

This was Browder’s second visit to Canada in the past year. In March 2015, he visited the country, again as part of his effort for further sanctions against Russia. His visit back then was timed with the presentation of a resolution in the Canadian Parliament calling for ‘Magnitsky Act’ sanctions on Russia. The resolution passed unanimously on March 26 but did not become legislation. Browder wants the new government in Ottawa to legislate the idea.

Senior Correspondent of CBC News, Terry Milewski, welcomed Browder’s March 2015 visit to Canada with a daft article full of stock references to Russia such as: “Vladimir Putin… little more than a vicious gangster”; “Browder has opened a window on the black heart of Putin’s Russia”; “Now that he’s unmasked as a thug, Putin is increasingly at risk, according to Browder”; “Can one man bring down a nuclear-armed dictator? Well, don’t say Bill Browder’s not trying.”

Moscow rally for Boris Nemtsov

Another event to gain widespread news coverage in Canada is the rally by thousands in Moscow on February 27 to mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Boris Nemtsov. The CBC assigned its European correspondent, Susan Ormiston, to attend the rally and report from it.

The Globe and Mail‘s European correspondent Mark MacKinnon also reported on the rally. He captioned one of his photos of demonstrators, ‘The other Russia’. He wrote:

That so many took to the streets to mark the anniversary of Boris Nemtsov’s murder was a loud rebuke of official inaction [sic] over his death, as well as a reminder that there is a significant number of people – at least in Moscow – who oppose the confrontational direction President Vladimir Putin has set for the country.

The sombre quiet was occasionally broken by chants of “Russia without Putin!” and “Russia will be free!” – two of Mr. Nemtsov’s rallying cries when he was at the head of louder protests against the Kremlin’s authoritarianism.
Ormiston reported:
“But the thing here, is people believe, many in the opposition believe, that the person who ordered the killing has not been identified and will not be identified. They believe that the orders came from much higher up.”

Five people have been arrested for Nemtsov’s killing in what appears to have been a gangland-style political dispute, but that doesn’t stop mainstream media from speculating that “someone” in the Russian government, possibly the Russian president himself, must have had a hand in the killing.

Nemtsov served as an advisor and high-ranking associate to Russian president Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Those were years of unbridled looting by foreign capitalists, in league with aspiring Russian capitalists, of the former state-owned enterprises of the Soviet Union. After Russians turned their backs on those disastrous years, Nemtsov was unsuccessful in fashioning a new political role for himself.

A militarizing world

One of the tasks that the new Canadian government of Justin Trudeau has set for itself is to sort out the messy legacy of acquisition of military equipment left by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper. That government botched every acquisition program that it laid its hands upon. The hell-bent crusade of the NATO military alliance against Russia and its regime-change agendas for elsewhere in the world require its Canadian member to boost its armaments. That is what the government is embarked upon doing.

The government has done an about-face on an election promise not to purchase Lockheed-Martin’s very costly, technologically complex F-35 fighter aircraft. The Globe and Mail reported on Feb 24, “The Canadian government intends to make a payment this spring to remain part of the consortium of F-35 Lightning fighter-jet buyers, despite a Liberal election promise to exclude the aircraft when selecting this country’s next warplane.”

In parallel, the government is upping its military intervention in northern Iraq, alongside its U.S. big brother. Many Canadians thought that the Liberal Party’s pledge to withdraw Canada’s six fighter aircraft from bombing missions over Iraq and Syria signaled an intent to help demilitarize the Middle East, but that was wishful thinking on their part.

The government will also continue to promote Canada as an international arms dealer. Despite significant domestic opposition, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion announced on February 19 he will permit General Dynamics corporation to proceed with the sale of $15 billion(!) worth of armoured vehicle sales to Saudi Arabia, a deal approved by the Harper government. Minister Dion says he feels very badly about the sale, but business is business. (Canada’s largest trade union, UNIFOR, supports the deal and it, too, no doubt, feels very badly.)

The arms-to-Saudi-Arabia decision is an uncomfortable one for a government trying to project a progressive image. The decision is made all the more uncomfortable by the vote of the European Parliament (albeit a symbolic vote only) on February 25 to recommend that EU countries cease the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, NATO ally Australia is taking up the cudgel of imperialist military threats against China, joining with the U.S. and its self-declared “pivot to Asia”. The Australian government has announced that it wants to spend $195 billion(!) on new military equipment over the next ten years to counter what it says is the growing threat from China.

Makes sense. Australia, like Canada, is one of the world’s largest per capita climate and natural resource vandals. What better way to deal with the world’s environmental emergency, social inequalities, pressing health care needs and so on than to step up spending on militarization and war?

Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond.

Related reading:
Liberals drone-shopping exercise sets stage for debate over lethal force, by Murray Brewster, Canadian Press, on CBC News, Feb 28, 2016