Saturday, October 15, 2016

Brooking No Dissent: Western Moves to Shut-Up Foreign Media

West is Gunning for Russian Media Ban

by Finian Cunningham - SCF

October 13, 2016

It would be monumental, but Western states seem to be moving, ineluctably, towards banning Russian news media channels from satellite platforms and the internet. That outcome – albeit with enormous ethical and political implications – seems to be a logical conclusion of the increasingly frenzied transatlantic campaign to demonize Russia.

Washington, London and Paris appear to be coordinating an unprecedented media onslaught that is vilifying Russia for almost every conceivable malfeasance, from alleged war crimes in Syria to threatening the security of Europe, to shooting down civilian airliners, to subverting American presidential elections. And that’s only a sample.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson declared this week that Russia is in danger of becoming a «pariah state». Ironically, that fate has less to do with Russia’s actual conduct and more to do with the desired objective driving Western policy towards Moscow – to isolate and portray Russia as an international reprobate.

If Russia can be sufficiently demonized in the eyes of the Western public by their governments, then the political context is created for drastic measures, which would otherwise be seen as unacceptable infringements of democratic rights. Measures that go way beyond economic sanctions and into the realm of media censorship. How weird is that? The «free world» which deplores «Russian authoritarianism» moving towards media censorship and policing what it deems as «thought-crime».

European parliamentarians this week voted for a resolution calling for greater «institutional capacities to counter Kremlin-inspired propaganda». The vote was passed by the EU’s foreign affairs committee and will go before the full parliament next month. If it is voted through then, the next step would be institutional mechanisms to block Russian media access.

The hostility towards Russia, as conveyed by the wording in this week’s EU resolution, can only be described as rabid, if not bordering on paranoid. The Russian government was accused of aggressively employing a «disinformation campaign», of «targeting EU politicians and journalists», and of «disrupting democratic values across Europe». In short, Moscow was accused of plotting the downfall of the European bloc.

Of particularly sinister note, the EU foreign affairs committee gave special attention to Russia’s «wide range of tools and instruments such as multi-lingual TV stations and pseudo news agencies to divide Europe».

So, not only is the Russian government being recklessly accused of harboring subversive, destructive designs on European states, its professional news media channels are conflated with an alleged Russian agenda of hybrid warfare. The Russian state is demonized as a foreign enemy, and its news media are part of the hybrid warfare arsenal. In other words, legitimate Russian public information services are in effect being delegitimized by the European parliament.

Astoundingly, professional media channels like RT and Sputnik are actually being referred to as «pseudo news agencies» and «tools of Kremlin propaganda».

The oft-cited issue of these Russian channels being «state-owned» and government-funded is irrelevant. So too are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, BBC, France 24 and Deutsche Welle, to name a few of the Western state-owned broadcasters. Indeed, aggregate Western government funding for news publishing is many multiples that of Russia’s budget.

The Western drumbeat to delegitimize Russia’s popular news media has escalated in recent months. Last month, for example, the US-led NATO military alliance issued yet another report warning: ‘West Losing Information War Against Russia’.

It is a fair question to ask, what has a supposed military-security organization got to do with espousing on matters of journalism and public information services?

A Voice of America report added:

«The West must step up its efforts to combat and counter the information war being waged by its opponents, according to NATO officials. They warn that countries like Russia are exploiting the freedom of the press in Western media to spread disinformation».

Note how it is alleged that Russia is somehow underhandedly «exploiting» Western media freedom. The implication here is that counter-sanctions on Russian media would therefore be justified because of alleged transgressions.

Meanwhile, also last month, the Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper Jr reportedly briefed members of Congress on Russian «information warfare». He singled out RT and Sputnik as media weapons for Russian «information warfare». Their purpose, according to Clapper, was subverting Western societies by tapping into radical groups and sowing public confusion.

This marks a dramatic deterioration in West-Russia relations, whereby Russia’s mass news media are tarred as enemy weapons. Such thinking also betrays how degenerate Western political leaders have sunk into Cold War stereotypes; and how willing they are prepared to go to further antagonize Russia.

Ever since the much-vaunted «reset» friendlier policy towards Russia under US President Barack Obama was abandoned during his first administration, circa 2011, Washington’s hostility and that of its European allies has crescendoed to current levels of apparent hysteria.

Probably the key factor in why Washington jettisoned its reset policy was that it realized Russian President Vladimir Putin was not going to be a pushover like his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, who cravenly submitted to American hegemony, whether on matters of geopolitical interests, global finance, or overseas resource-wars. Putin was having none of it. Russia would not be an American vassal state, as European Union states all-too evidently are.

It is because of Russia’s independence and boldness on speaking out against American caprice towards international law, for example in its conduct of illegal wars and regime change machinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Ukraine, that Washington finds such attitude so intolerable.

When asked recently by German media why the West is so hostile towards him, Putin reportedly responded with one word: «Fear».

By that, the Russian leader did not mean that the West was afraid of Russia attacking militarily. He meant that the fear was due to his power of demonstration. A strong counter-weight to US-led imperialistic conduct is a powerful negation of presumed American unipolar supremacy over the world. It means that the world is not a doormat for American subjugation. Russia’s defiance of US hegemony is a harbinger of a multipolar world, one in which America and its European subsidiaries must begin working with other nations as equals and within the mutual confines of international law, not as renegades above the law.

Syria is a classic illustration. Washington and its British and French allies, along with regional client states, presumed that they could pull off another illegal regime-change operation in that Arab country, as they had done previously in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia’s military intervention in support of its Syrian ally was a stark demonstration that the Western regime-change playbook was no longer permitted. Furthermore, Russia’s intervention also exposed the covert criminal involvement of Washington and its partners in using terrorist proxies for regime change.

The same can be said about Ukraine, where Russia’s political support for ethnic Russian separatists has prevented Washington’s coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 turning the entire country into a US puppet-regime.

This is why Washington fears Russia under Putin. It is an obstacle to its full-spectrum global dominance, as envisaged by American imperialist ideologues following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, Russia is more than an obstacle. In its conduct of independent foreign policy, Russia is exposing American crimes of international lawlessness and state-sponsorship of terrorism. And Russia is also exposing the pathetic servility and complicity of European states, the Western mass media and UN institutions in pandering to Washington’s hegemonic ambitions.

Russia’s foreign policy is, of course, wholly legitimate. But from Washington’s point of view it is an intolerable defiance of its tyrannical desires. To that end, Russia must be transmogrified into an enemy state. And the servile European leaders go along with that agenda in order to conceal their own odious complicity.

It so happens that Russian news media have shown commensurate journalist independence and critical examination on major world events, such as what is really going on in Syria and Ukraine. Western governments can be provably connected to covertly supporting terrorist networks for illegal regime change. If that sounds far-fetched and «unfair comment» it is only because Western media have failed to expose their own governments’ bogus claims and pretensions. It nevertheless does not delegitimize the journalism of Russia media. In fact, it makes such journalism commendable.

To say that the Western states are frustrated by Russia is an understatement. They are livid, as can be seen from the way their Syrian regime-change criminal enterprise has been routed. Hence, Western efforts are aimed at accusing Russia of «war crimes» and being comparable to Nazi Germany.

Combine this demonization with sensational claims of Russia subverting Western democracies, the toxic political climate becomes conducive to more far-reaching measures.

This is a recklessly reductionist logic: Russia equals enemy state, and Russia news media are tantamount to enemy propaganda.

As the European lawmakers voting this week on curbing Russia news media suggests, the next logical step is the outright banning of Russian news channels from the airwaves and internet.

But as Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief at RT told Deutsche Welle, the draconian move to ban Russian media only shows how empty Western claims of «free speech» are.

«This is a rather interesting interpretation of the much-touted western values, particularly that of the freedom of speech – which in action apparently means attacking a rare voice of dissent amongst literally thousands of European media outlets,» added Simonyan.

Western governments are displaying the standards of a despot.

Unable to get their absolute way, including violating international law and going to war whenever and wherever they want, they then lash out at resistant nations like Russia, to the point where Russia is being labelled as an enemy state liable for military attack.

And when news media expose these criminal Western double standards and hypocrisies, then such media are also lambasted as enemy propaganda that must be shut off and banned.

Western decadence is truly sinking into the gutter or corruption and absurdity. That is a fate of its own making due to its own internal collapse of oligarchic mis-rule and warmongering. And the Western public increasingly know that, with or without Russian assistance.

Shooting the messenger, doesn’t alter that message.

Finian Cunningham is a former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

The Still Illegal War Against Iraq

Illegality, Ignorance, and Imperialism (and the Need for Revolution)

by Gary Leupp - Dissident Voice

October 13th, 2016

The Illegality of the U.S. War on Iraq 

One overlooked lesson of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is that international law–even the most fundamental one embodied in Article 2 of the UN Charter prohibiting use of force in international relations–can be violated with impunity, without legal ramifications or sanctions.
Fallujah 2003

Even Henry Kissinger–that embodiment of vicious amorality and imperialist aggression–noted in 2002 that the planned invasion would upset the structure of international relations existing since the Treaty of Westphalia 1648. Never mind, it happened anyway.

The U.S.-led assault on Iraq, in a war based entirely on lies–about Iraq’s 9/11 complicity; mobile chemical weapons labs; al-Qaeda training camps; a nuclear weapons program that could produce “a mushroom cloud over New York”; aluminum tube imports to abet that mythical effort; Saddam-backed al-Qaeda Kurds in Iraq producing chemical weapons; Saddam’s maintenance of a missile fleet on 45-minute standby to attack British military bases in Cyprus, as well as Israel, Greece and Turkey; imports of uranium from Niger, a meeting in Baghdad between Saddam and Mohammad Atta, meetings between Iraqi officials with al-Qaeda in Prague and elsewhere, etc.–was obviously criminal.

The war based on lies obviously produced horrific results (half a million dead for no good reason, for example), sharpening international tensions. But it doesn’t matter, in this post-empiricism world, in which (the then George W. Bush aide Karl Rove opined to a journalist in 2004) “we’re an empire now, we create our own reality; and while you [rational, normal humans] are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”

“We’re history’s actors,” the Machiavellian political operative boasted. “And you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” And he was right, in the sense that forces of decency on the planet have been unable to thwart the actions of the empire in the fourteen years since. And no amount of study and analysis have deterred those actors from their chosen roles.

The so-called “international community” did not punish the U.S. and its “coalition of the willing” henchmen in 2003, even as hapless UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan somberly pronounced the war “illegal.” (Repeat: the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which had rejected the U.S. case for war, stated publicly that the war was “illegal.” Should have been end of story, were there some justice in this world.)

Nor did the American people successfully demand prosecution of such war criminals as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, “Scooter” Libby, David Wurmser, Elliott Abrams, Adam Shulsky, John Bolton etc.

These moral monsters are all doing very nicely in their current careers, if somewhat constrained in their international travels due to the possibility of arrest in certain countries. One must imagine them getting together for the occasional reunion, remembering the good old days of Shock and Awe, sharing Geneva Accords jokes, toasting the fact that they all remain at large, and recently rejoicing together about the likelihood of a Hillary Clinton administration. (In truth, they’ve always liked her).

The Officially-Promoted Ignorance of the People about the Recent Past

Another overlooked lesson is that, despite heroic efforts by countless activists to educate the masses about the criminality of the Iraq war, and its disastrous human toll, the masses seem to have learned nearly nothing. (No, I take that back; I over-speak; I perhaps show bitterness that my own voice crying in the wilderness is so little heard.)

Of course there are millions in this sad country that do understand what’s been going on. But polls suggest that historical memories are short and confused. Suffice it to say that as recently as June 2015 CNN/ORC poll showed that 52% of Americans had a positive opinion of George W. Bush.

Remember him? (I have to ask this–just because some of my college students were just two years old when this happened.) “Dubya” Bush was the president who came to office in that rigged election in 2000 (the one decided when the Supreme Court stopped a recount of votes in Florida, after Bush had received a minority of the popular vote), He was a son of George H.W. Bush, a former president known for his war on Iraq in 1991, who’d been thrown out after one term for his handling of the economy. The second Bush installed a cabinet led by an incredibly powerful and super-secretive vice president named Dick Cheney consisting of big oil representatives, anti-science Christian conservatives and lots of neocons out to remake the whole Middle East on behalf of Israel. These were hand-picked by Cheney, who became the de facto leader of the country during the first four years of the Bush administration.

Bush was the president that used the tragedy of 9/11 (in which around 3000 died) to invade Afghanistan killing tens of thousands. U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban (who had nothing to do with 9/11, by the way) and installed a puppet named Hamid Karzai. (In fairness, Karzai became more independent over time.) But the central government in Kabul has remained weak, at the mercy of the warlords, and 15 years after the Taliban’s “fall” the group controls more of the country (about one-third) than at any time since 2002!

(George W. Bush stupidly conflated al-Qaeda–an international terror network bent on provoking a general Islam-western conflict, to realize some future vague aim of a reconstituted Caliphate, with the Taliban–a Pashtun-based Afghan-nationalist network of militants and clerics that combine traditional “Pashtunwali” hospitality to outsiders, such as bin Laden, and xenophobia. In deposing their rule and imposing a new regime, which after all these years remains fragmented, unstable, corrupt, with warlords-cum-governors continuing to administer provinces, Bush rejected a Taliban offer to turn bin Laden over to U.S. custody and insisted on regime change. He said the U.S. “would not distinguish” between al-Qaeda and the Taliban although he ought to have made a firm distinction. The Al-Qaeda foreigners were quickly driven from Afghanistan in 2001-2. The Taliban born of the Afghan soil and rooted in the anti-Soviet struggle of the 1980s remain, and make advances.

In other words: Bush’s decision for regime change in Afghanistan–supposedly as a response to the 9/11 attacks remotely “directed” by a Saudi man in Afghanistan–was not so much a rational response to the attacks but the seizure of an opportunity to gain control of a large Central Asian Country. Let us not mention for the time being Afghanistan’s position as host for a gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean, or what former President Hamid Karzai estimated as $ 30 trillion in mineral deposits. The point is, Bush did not embark on a “war of necessity.” He triggered an ongoing disaster in Afghanistan. Does it not seem strange that after so many years of training the Afghan Army (180,000) costing so many billions to fight maybe 20,000 Talibs, the U.S. military remains entrenched in Afghanistan, unable to rely on natives to suppress their own crazies who in any case at this point are no threat to the U.S.? It’s not like the Taliban is threatening to attack U.S. soil.)

Worse–for those of you who don’t remember clearly–Bush followed up Afghanistan with the Iraq War, based–to repeat, because you can never ever repeat it enough–entirely on lies.

Yet (since the topic is ignorance) a January 2015 poll showed 40% of Americans and 51% of Republicans actually believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Does that not depress you? If not, what is wrong with you?

Tens of millions of people actively warring against reality live in a dream world induced by viewing their favorite cable network. The problem of ignorance is as terrifying as the problem of bombing, when one leads to the other.

Tired Old Russophobia in the Service of U.S. Imperialism

The people have in general been successfully seduced into a neo-Cold War mentality. Even young people mercifully born after the Cold War are victimized by the lingering Russophobia of that period. It is ingrained in popular culture. (Notice how it figures routinely in Saturday Night Live sketches, for example. Why do you keep doing that babushka character, Kate McKinnon? Don’t you realize how many people you’re insulting?)

The people have been persuaded that Russia is an aggressive power, which has invaded Georgia and Ukraine in an effort to revive the Soviet Union–that “existential threat” to the U.S. throughout the Cold War. They’ve been persuaded to embrace a contra-reality; the State Department (rather like Donald Trump responding to criticism) responds to exposure of its crimes with ferocious counter-attacks.

Russia points out that the U.S. sabotaged the peace process in Syria last month by bombing 62 Syrian soldiers; the U.S. responds indignantly, changing the subject, claiming Russia’s support for the Syrian Arab Army is the basic problem. It suspends talks with Russia on the Syrian problem and warns of the possibility of unilateral actions to bring down Assad. (As the exceptional and indispensable Nation; the last, best hope of mankind; the shining city on the hill, etc., the U.S. has rights transcending normal mundane rights that allow it to smash states at will without any need for apology or even half-persuasive explanation.)

Or the U.S. finances a fascist-fueled regime change in Ukraine in February 2014, toppling a democratically elected president, provoking a secessionist movement in the east and the Russian annexation of Crimea (whose people in fact overwhelming welcomed that re-incorporation), and tells the world that what’s happened is a popular uprising deposing a corrupt Russia-backed dictator, causing peeved Putin to “invade” Ukraine. Notice how the mainstream media never for a moment entertains the possibility that the armed opposition in Ukraine’s Donbass region reflects genuine local feelings and isn’t (and needn’t be) generated by Moscow. They virtually deny agency to the Russian-speakers who constitute the opposition to a regime whose first move was to derecognize the Russian language for official purposes. They fail to mention how the February coup threatened the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, a crucial component in the Russian navy which unlike the U.S. has precious few naval bases anywhere, with the prospects of expulsion and a NATO takeover of Sevastopol.

The Hillary campaign leans heavily on a curious post-Soviet form of red-baiting, even condemning people for merely granting interviews (with Larry King!) to RT Television, the state-funded Russian news channel that I personally find at least as credible as CNN or MSNBC, usually more so. But now Trump’s VP choice, Mike Pence, has jumped on board the Russophobe bandwagon as well, trashing Putin as “small and bullying” in his “debate” with Tim Kaine, and implicitly endorsing Hillary’s no-fly zone. Yes, the entire U.S. political class appeals to a mentality rooted in terrifying ignorance.

If Obama, enjoying his 55% favorable numbers, were to order a general assault on the Syrian state forces tomorrow, “to protect the people of Aleppo from further genocide” or whatever, most people would be unenthusiastic, dubious, and worried. Some especially confused people might be angry, asking why “we” are helping “those people” rather than making America great again, and why we don’t just “take their oil” to make everything better. There would be mass demos, of course. But asininity rules, because it’s been so long cultivated as part of our culture.

Asininity Rules

That’s harsh, you say. But were this not the case, why would this country of 310 million be presented (by its 1% who decide most things) with two options for next oppressor: Hillary who continues to maintain that the destruction of Libya was a good, happy thing; or Donald, who opportunistically inveighs against unpopular past foreign policy (as it seems politically opportune) but generally appears asinine about the world when thinking on his feet. And why does the leading third-party candidate–most kindly received by the monopoly press–keep playing to their script, answering questions about his knowledge of the world that continuously humiliate him, exposing his abject ignorance?

Asininity is pervasive, not because people are stupid, but because it’s publicly supported, subsidized. One of Kerry’s nameless subordinates, or one of Jay Carter’s, texts Andrea Mitchell or Christiane Amanpour or Richard Engel laying down the talking points. The media reports that “officials confirm” this or that about Russia. No mind that six months later investigative journalists explode the disinformation, or at least cast doubt on what were depicted as “slam-dunk” truths; the goal has already been achieved (by the eternally immune), the damage done. And the liars responsible bask in the understanding that they will never, ever, face consequences.

The corporate media is, at it were, infected by members of the most discredited political dynasties–with names like Brzezinski, Cuomo, Scarborough, Bush, and Amanpour–less “journalists” than political operatives whose commonly held system of political values includes knee-jerk, unthinking Russophobia.

That media that unfortunately mediates many minds effectively is mind-bogglingly illogical by its very nature. Its monitors determine the limits. And so an anchor brimming over with moral indignation will inveigh against Russia hackers “influencing U.S. elections” without mentioning that U.S. NGOs backed by the two political parties spend billions influencing foreign elections; that the U.S. State Department boasted the U.S. $ 5 billion to influence Ukrainian politics up to the February 2014 coup; and that the NSA monitors of everybody’s personal emails from the Pope to Angela Merkel to EU trade negotiators?

Or covering a Russian military drill on Russian territory next to the Baltics the talking head will depict it as threatening to Latvia or Lithuania, not bothering to mention the massive drills preceding it in Poland. The relentless expansion of the anti-Russian NATO alliance, from 16 at the end of the Cold War when Washington promised Moscow the alliance would not expand, to 28 members some now bordering Russia itself, is seldom noticed and never questioned. When Trump, loose cannon that he is, raised the question of NATO’s continued relevance and expenses, the Democrats were all over him for departing from a “staple” of the post-war world–something that must never be questioned by a sober-minded person. Instead we are asked to believe that Putin wants to reestablish the Soviet Union and that Russia is the number one existential threat to the United States.

That is, again, asinine. It does not correspond to objective reality. But as Chris Cuomo can tell you, you can get people to believe it.

Thus the imperialism of our times entails gross illegality allowed by mass ignorance. But how to educate the masses, brainwashed as they are by the corporate media in league with the State Department, to seriously, methodically oppose that imperialism? Or, to rephrase, how do we overthrow the system itself?

If I weren’t afraid of being placed on a no-fly list or worse, I would frankly–reasoning logically (just as you can)–opine that nothing less than a revolution will overthrow this rotten, rigged system, always so slickly (and usually, effectively) packaged by its media, but in essence so blood-sucking, so murderous.

It’s so crying out for upheaval–violent, one might suppose, given the national religion of gun violence and the very dim prospect that those who are the problem will ever yield power peacefully. When mass demonstrations against police murder result in the deployment of militarized police, imagine what will befall future crowds seeking to storm the citadels of power in Washington D.C. and elsewhere.

The system is so exposed, in this magical moment, as the two clowns take the stage to show the world the collective consciousness of the U.S. bourgeoisie, distilled into these two small minds that while dissimilar in many respects agree on the basics: capitalism is good, pay for play is normal, militarism is good, the military must be further strengthened, and (recall the common mantra of the two conventions) USA! USA! USA! USA!

If you don’t know what the latter means, it means ignorance, illegality, and imperialism.

The Morning after the Asinine Debate

While I self-medicated throughout to ease the pain, such that the memory was vague this morning, the morning talk shows caused me to revisit last night’s highlights. These included Hillary’s reiteration–yes, even after the Russians have installed their new missile defense systems in Syria which some thought would rule the option out–of her desire to declare a “no-fly zone” over Syria; more Russophobia and Putin-baiting; more crude opportunistic positing of a Putin-Trump bromance. And Trump’s noteworthy but unelaborated disagreement with his running mate on the Syrian issue.

With her coalition of the ignorant, criminal and militaristic–as “deplorable,” surely, as anything in the opposing camp–Clinton will surely win the election. It’s already been rigged (by the mistreatment of Sanders by the DNC, which denied him the nomination; and by DNC-aligned NBC’s conscious effort to give Trump ridiculous amounts of free air time to energize his campaign from its very inception, allowing him to drive out his many Republican competitors and become–as an unwinnable buffoon–Hillary’s dream opponent).

It shouldn’t require any email leak revealed by Wikileaks, Russia or extraterrestrials to “sow doubts” among people in this country (as concerned commentators in and out of government are doing) “about the legitimacy of our democratic system.” The facts speak for themselves. How many DNC top staffers aside from the hideous Debbie Wasserman Schulz had to step down when someone (Russia, Hillary wants us to think) revealed that the party leaders were so upset with Bernie’s popularity that they thought about using both his Jewishness and his lack of apparent religious belief to damage him in the south?

The whole Democratic primary process was in fact illegitimate, and the Republican one no better. The whole thing is a farce, and the deeply unpopular new U.S. president should at the earliest possible time experience what regime change feels like.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Public and Private: The Two Faces of Hillary Clinton - Syria

WikiLeaks: The two faces of Hillary Clinton on Syria 

by Sharmine Narwani - RT

October 14, 2106

People don’t trust Hillary Clinton, and no one can agree on why,” begins a sympathetic piece on the Democratic Party presidential candidate in Fast Company last July.

In a CNN poll that same month, only 30 percent of Americans believed Clinton to be “honest and trustworthy.” If voters don’t know what to make of Clinton or how to read her, the blame may lie directly with the candidate herself. In an April 2013 speech made public by WikiLeaks last week, Clinton confided:

“Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody's watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

That last ‘public vs. private’ comment quickly made the media rounds, and confirmed – for her critics - Clinton’s deliberate duplicity on a number of policy positions.

WikiLeaks has provided an opportunity to delve into some of these, so let’s take a look at one very prominent feature of Clinton’s foreign policy agenda: Syria, a country that stands at the center of a potential global confrontation today.
Not a Syrian uprising; a regime change plan

A 2012 email released by WikiLeaks last year shows that, behind the scenes, Clinton’s State Department was calculating its Syria policy using entirely different metrics than its publicly-stated narrative of supporting reforms and rejecting violence:

“It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.”

The email, written by an unidentified person and included within the WikiLeaks ‘Clinton archive,’ lays out a plan:

“Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, US diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition… Arming the Syrian rebels and using Western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Arming a Syrian rebellion from outside the country was already a consideration “from the very beginning,” according to a recent WikiLeaks release of a June 2013 speech by Clinton:

“So, the problem for the US and the Europeans has been from the very beginning: What is it you – who is it you are going to try to arm. And you probably read in the papers my view was we should try to find some of the groups that were there that we thought we could build relationships with and develop some covert connections that might then at least give us some insight into what is going on inside Syria.”

Certainly, we know that by early 2012, the Obama and Erdogan administrations had struck a deal to establish a rat-line transporting weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria – via the CIA and MI6, and funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was only a temporary setback. Weapons and financial assistance to militants in Syria, however, continued to flow from America’s regional allies without any US pushback, even though Washington clearly knew arms were being siphoned to extremists.

A declassified DIA document from August 2012 circulated to Clinton’s State Department states plainly that “the Salafist, Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and that “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition.”

But if US Special Forces were involved in driving arms and fighters into Syria in early 2012, the groundwork would have had to have begun many, many months before. The US military’s unconventional warfare (UW) strategy requires that target-state population perceptions are first ‘groomed’ into accepting an armed insurrection, using “propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government”…creating “local and national ‘agitation’”…helping organize “boycotts, strikes and other efforts to suggest public discontent”…before beginning the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”

You get an idea of how this ‘propaganda’ and ‘grooming’ works in a June 2011 email from Clinton’s recently-departed Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who openly calls for fabricating sectarian narratives to incite Syrian protestors:

“This suggests US should be making much more of the ways in which Syrian regime is simulating violence. Can’t we call for a meeting of the UNSC where we do not call for action but simply present information along the lines of what is recounted below so as to ‘bring it to the attention of the Council’ in a way that then has greater credibility globally? Making the point repeatedly that the regime wants this to look like/turn into sectarian violence? At the very least that can be broadcast back into Syria in various ways that will encourage protestors. There is an information war going on; we can do much more to elevate and legitimate the truth.”

This is business as usual for a US State Department well-versed in sowing sectarian discord in the Middle East – all while publicly denouncing sectarian strife. A WikiLeaks email from 2006 shows that this thinking was already well-entrenched in Foggy Bottom, with a focus on “exploiting vulnerabilities” – particularly “sectarian” ones - inside Syria.
Fueling the sectarian Jihad

By late 2011, US intelligence had assessed that Al-Qaeda was operating inside Syria. This information was public, but not widely disseminated. Instead, Clinton’s team focused heavily on flogging the narrative that “Assad must go” because of his government’s widespread human rights violations.

Clinton liberally used the “humanitarian” pretext to advance a regime change agenda – pushing, behind the scenes, for increased assistance to militants and direct US military intervention, while publicly decrying the escalating violence inside Syria.

But did she give a toss about keeping Syrians safe? The evidence suggests otherwise. In this new WikiLeaks release of a speech to the Jewish United Fund in August 2013 – “flagged,” incidentally, by her staffers who worried about its content – Clinton outlines one possible Syria policy option:

“One way is a very hands off, step back, we don’t have a dog in this hunt, let them kill themselves until they get exhausted, and then we’ll figure out how to deal with what the remnants are. That’s a position held by people who believe there is no way, not just for the United States but others, to stop the killing before the people doing the killing and the return killing are tired of killing each other. So it’s a very hands off approach.”

To any observer of the foreign-fueled Syrian war of attrition, it looks very much like Clinton opted for this course of action.

And given that Washington’s allies in the Syrian fight consisted mainly of head-chopping, jihadist foot soldiers, Clinton’s scenario of a killing field to keep all sides “exhausted” may have even been the starting plan.

These fighters came equipped with a militant, sectarian mindset courtesy of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – under the supervision, of course, of a CIA that cut its teeth doing the exact same thing with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

A WikiLeaks email sent from Hillary Clinton to her now-campaign chief John Podesta in August 2014 shows that the former Secretary of State is fully aware that her allies were partial to supporting terrorists:

“While this military/paramilitary operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are, of course, two staunch US allies in the region that host American military bases and, apparently, also support ISIL.

Another October 2013 Clinton speech ‘flagged’ by her campaign staff, and released by WikiLeaks this week, has her saying:

“The Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”

The State Department knows all too well that both fighters and weapons are fungible in the Syrian militant marketplace. It is a key reason the US has always resisted naming those groups it considers “moderate” rebels. Arms and supplies to US-backed groups have often found their way to ISIL and Al-Qaeda, with photo evidence aplenty making the social media rounds.

Despite these loaded disclosures, Clinton and other US policymakers still flog outdated narratives about an ‘evil Syrian regime killing innocent civilians’ while ignoring the narrative they know to be true: bloodthirsty jihadists armed to the teeth by ideologically-aligned US allies.

This Syrian conflict – privately, at least – is about regime change at all costs for the hawkish side of the policy establishment which includes the CIA, Pentagon brass and Clinton. Publicly, however, it’s still about “crimes against humanity” – whatever that means today.

Earlier this month, Clinton began to publicly reveal that truth in advance of the November presidential election. Reuters reports Clinton as saying “removing President Bashar al-Assad is the top priority in Syria.”

She is also once again touting a “no-fly zone” over Syria – much as she did with Libya. In yet another speech ‘flagged’ by her campaign and released by WikiLeaks – this one delivered to Goldman Sachs at their CEO conference in June 2013 - Clinton explains:

To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”

So Clinton is advocating for a no-fly zone despite the fact that she recognizes she’s “going to kill a lot of Syrians.” Which then puts that other speech of hers about letting Syrians “kill themselves until they get exhausted” into context.

Her only regional allies in this endeavor will be the Saudis and Qataris, who we now know support ISIL and other terrorists inside Syria. We also know that Clinton will continue to ignore this indiscretion – not because of what she says, but because of what she does:

Her public-versus-private position on the Saudis, after all, has been bandied about since the 2010 WikiLeaks State Department cables were released.

In 2009, a secret WikiLeaks cable signed off by then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads, in part: "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide…Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Laskhar-e Taiba), and other terrorist groups…It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.”

Yet by 2011, Clinton was ushering through the biggest weapons sale to Saudi Arabia in US history – a massive $67 Billion arms dump into the epicenter of global terror.

Clinton is not averse to cashing in on Saudi riches for her and her family’s foundation either. The Clinton Foundation has received millions of dollars from Saudi, Qatari and other Gulf sources, despite the role their governments have played in funding global Jihad. And her campaign manager’s brother, Tony Podesta, just signed on to furnish the Saudi government with very expensive public relations services earlier this year.

There is something schizophrenic about Hillary Clinton’s compartmentalization of issues that speaks to the very competence of her judgment. Her whole private-versus-public-positions shtick is antithetical to the transparency, process and accountability demanded by democracy.

She speaks of her Iraq “mistake,” yet we have still not heard what lessons she has learned. And it grates, because we can see she has repeated them again and again, in Libya and in Syria.

The ‘public’ Hillary Clinton supports self-determination, freedom and human rights for Syrians. The ‘private’ Hillary Clinton supports the wholesale massacre of Syrians by a closely allied network of depraved sectarian terrorists – in order to weaken Iran and strengthen Israel.

If you’re one of those Americans who don’t trust her, you have good reason. At this point it is hard to ascertain if Clinton herself knows what her truth is anymore.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online,, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani

Bob's Nobel

Stockholm Syndrome: Dylan’s Nobel 

by David Yearsley - CounterPunch

October 14, 2016

Was that great global spluttering sound we heard this week the five members of the Nobel literature committee gagging on the lutefisk that is their prize? Or was it the rest of the world guffawing in ecstatic disbelief when they realized that the choice of Bob Dylan as this year’s lit laureate was not a joke. Actually it was a joke, though one about as amusing as cod soaked in lye.

Leave it to the Swedish Academy to wipe away the last gelatinous blob of credibility or interest their annual awards might have retained up until the moment the Dylan announcement was made. To paraphrase Adorno, there can be no Nobel after Kissinger. The war criminal’s 1973 peace prize marked a new nadir of cynicism in the aftermath of his bombing campaign Cambodia.

That same year Marlon Brando declined a far more prestigious, and often more (indirectly) lucrative award—the Oscar—in protest over events at Wounded Knee and the portrayal of Native Americans by Hollywood. It was a promising period of refusal in Tinseltown, though not in Stockholm. Two years earlier George C. Scott had turned down the same statuette for his portrayal of Patton, pointing out straightforwardly that competition between actors, and by extension artists, is a bad thing. Likewise, Sartre didn’t accept his Nobel Prize for literature in 1964, explaining “that the writer must refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution.”

Dylan became that long ago, even before he started doing Super Bowl spots. In the past he has pooh-poohed accolades and awards, but like the renegade street artist Banksy when he was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, Dylan appears ready to make another exception in his own case. After all, Dylan has already taken home his Oscar for Things Have Changed, and I seem to remember that Obama handed him some kind of medal a few years back at the White House.

The real symptoms of Stockholm syndrome are these: American warriors from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama get the peace prize, and a pop star is crowned with the lit laurels.

Yet some famous writers cheered the news. Salman Rushdie, who doubtless had harbored hopes of one day being honored by the Swedes, grandiosely tweeted:

“From Orpheus to Faiz, song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice.” 

A great choice because now there would be no pressure on the egomaniacal Rushdie to feel like getting that dreamt-of call from Stockholm would elevate him to literary immortality. Joyce Carol Oates’ praise for the “inspired” choice echoed with a similar sentiment. The Academy’s decision was not a slap in the face but a slap on the back to all writers who had previously invested an interest in the prize beyond the considerable cash pay out. Even Philip Roth must have been relieved at the Dylan news since with it the Swedish the Academy sealed its own irrelevance.

The Academy’s deliberations are notoriously secretive. Only when William Golding won the prize in 1983 did one ancient member, a guy named Artur Lundkvist, break the code of silence and lambast the winner as “as a small English phenomenon of no great interest.” Small is one word you can’t use about the phenomenon that is Dylan.

There are five Swedes on the literary committee. This year there were two men in their eighties, and three others, of which one is a woman, all born in the late 1940s. Here’s betting this trio of Baltic Baby Boomers kept plying the two old geezers with schnapps, while they pressed their generation’s case for Dylan for, as they put it in their citation, “creating new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

One of the Boomers on this year’s now-infamous panel is Horace Engdahl, longtime Academy member and its former permanent secretary. In 2007 Engdahl briskly informed the Associate Press that America is “too insular and ignorant to challenge Europe as the center of the literary world.” His revenge on American letters is now complete: Yes to Dylan, means a final and resounding No to Roth, to McCarthy, to DeLillo, and to Pynchon. Yes they’re all men and all novelists, but far more deserving of the prize, if it still carried any meaning for the sustenance of literary culture.

Many writers, public intellectuals, and run-of-the-mill celebrities have already supported the Academy’s decision, arguing that the conception of literature should be expanded. So how about a prize in illiterature that searches out real bards who, like Homer himself, never wrote anything down but only sang and improvised their poetry? The Nobel could also go to authors of elegant Silicon Valley computer code or of New York graffiti. All these forms are valid expressions of human intelligence and creativity, but they are not Literature with a capital L. Is this elitist, vital, time-consuming? Damn right it is! That’s what the prize should be for.

I can sense the Dylan hordes unpacking their slings and lighting their arrows. Yes, lyrics can be literature. Yes, Oxford has anthologized “Desolation Row” and Cambridge has a Companion to him. Yes, plenty of poets and profs, not to mention millions of fans, praise his gift for, and contributions to, the English language. Yes, uniting words and melody is as old as language, maybe even older. Dylan should be praised but not given a Nobel Prize for it all. The market has already recognized his achievements, the world his talents. Nothing new will be discovered or achieved by this award except the self-destruction of the Nobel Prizes’ final iota of integrity.

However dumfounding the Dylan news was, it could have been predicted, especially in the way music, so crucial to many great writers from James Joyce (no Nobel for him) to the above-mentioned Pynchon (no Nobel for him either), has figured in the work of those authors who have received the award. The 2004 winner Elfriede Jelinek’s darkly brilliant and stingingly hilarious dismantling of classical music culture in her novel, The Piano Teacher, presaged a turn towards the popular in both literature and music. That tremendous, provocative book torched the concert hall, highbrow culture, and the misogynistic devils propping it all up.

There was however an echo of that faltering culture in the 2011 award that went to local hero Tomas Tranströmer (not surprisingly the Nobel committee is heavy on hand-outs to fellow Scandinavians) for a dozen slender volumes of crystalline dreamscape poetry. His entire oeuvre weighs about a tenth of Dylan’s collected lyrics packaged in book form.

Like Jelinek, Tranströmer was an avid pianist. One of his most famous poems Allegro, the one cited first by the Nobel committee five years ago, begins: “After a black day, I play Haydn, / and feel a little warmth in my hands.” (Tranströmer would later lose the use of his own right hand.) The fourteen-line poem ends with a vision of transcendent musical architecture and spiritual poise:

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;

rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house

but every pane of glass is still whole.

This week’s rolling stone has shattered the glass house that was the Nobel Prize in literature.
DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at
More articles by:David Yearsley

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Challenging Border Exclusion on Both Sides

Policies of Exclusion Challenged Across the Board and Across the Border

by Buddy Bell - VCNV

October 14, 2016 

On the morning of Oct. 8, a group of US veterans who were deported to Mexico, in some cases after having fought in U.S. wars, congregated in Plaza Ochoa, Nogales, Sonora.

They were joined by members of Dreamer Moms International, which advocates for women deported while their children stayed in the U.S., by the Mesoamerica Migrants’ Movement, and by other solidarity activists from both sides of the border.
Photo credit: Susan Kingsland

The group marched from the plaza to the port of entry facility where they planned to meet a simultaneous march organized on the U.S. side by Veterans for Peace. However, the group coming from the U.S. side was delayed by police, so the veterans and their supporters held forth in front of the border crossing for half of an hour.

While U.S. customs agents sat at their computer banks serving as fibers in the cheesecloth of U.S. global capital, which allows the sale of mass-produced goods across the border but prohibits most people from selling their labor on any other terms than desperate submission, they and the people waiting in line were in earshot of the marchers' chants, such as "no human being is illegal!" and "deported veterans: bring them home!"

Neither were the government policies of Mexico--- some of them taken at the behest of the U.S.--- immune from criticism. Ana Enamorado, mother of Oscar Lopez Enamorado, spoke at the impromptu rally:

I am a Honduran mother. I have a son who was disappeared, and that's why I am here. I am here at this border demanding justice, demanding the truth about the disappearance of my son. We have thousands of disappeared Central American migrants. We know that they have disappeared in Mexico. We don't know where they are. We don't know what occurred with them. We demand truth and justice.

And we are thousands who suffer this ache, this tragedy of not knowing what has happened to our sons and daughters.

Just as I am here, I know that all the Central American mothers would have liked to be here too, but no, it isn't possible. I am here representing them, and demanding the truth.

Migrants must be respected. We have to be able to know what happened to them.

I had to come from my country, Honduras, in order to search all of Mexico without knowing where I would find him, how I would find him. But my struggle continues.

I thank all of you here for your support, for the invitation to be in this march because this is one way to support us.

We have to form a network, like my companion here told us before, to search, to struggle together. I know that working together we can achieve many things.

There are many people who don't know about what has been occurring, but I want them to know there's so much tragedy, so much violence. We tell about what happened to us so that it empowers action. We have to do something. We have to work to avoid having it occur again.

Eventually, the marchers on the U.S. side were able to enter Mexico through one of the traffic lanes. Together, the combined march weaved through city streets until circling back to International Blvd. and flowing parallel to the 30-feet high grate of steel bars demarking the border. Others who did not cross the border flowed in a procession on the other side.

The two rivers of humanity came to rest at two small stages directly across the border from each other. At this point a trans-border rally commenced with the people on both sides of the wall. It had been planned by School of the Americas Watch, a group that focused on a US Army school that trains soldiers from other nations in the Americas before doing extensive organizing on the issue of the border.

Hector Barajas, representing the Deported Veterans Justice Project, addressed the crowd from the stage:

I was deported over 12 years ago from my family, and I served in the U.S. military from 1995 to 2001. I was in Eloy [immigration detention center] for over a year. I've been separated from my family, and there are many brothers and sisters that are also separated from their families.

The United States intervenes around the world whether it’s right or it’s wrong. We were asking for the Berlin Wall to be brought down yet we're building another one.

We need to tear this wall down! It separates families, neighbors, and others of the human race.
So I want to thank everybody. I love you guys and--- that's my country--- I'm very excited for all of you guys to be here. We just want to return to our families. Thank you!

Although the march through Nogales, Mexico covered a variety of specific struggles regarding accountability and freedom of movement, what unites them is the urgent call for a shift in thinking--- a refusal to accept that human beings can be counted as worthy or unworthy to cross a geographical line. The desire for such a shift is also what inspired the rest of the planned border convergence weekend, which has been extensively reported elsewhere.


As an 18-year-old from Indiana, I moved to south San Diego to live in a Spanish-speaking enclave. Working at a gas station with many coworkers who crossed the border each day for work, I got a lot of guided tours of Tijuana, and these back-and-forth visits exposed me to just how blatant vast disparities in wealth can be.

Later, I met Rosa (not her real name) while working in a restaurant in Chicago, where I now live. We worked at the same prep station each day, and over the months, I met her husband and kids. Eventually Rosa became comfortable enough to tell me she had crossed the desert as a teenager to arrive in the U.S.

The following summer I decided I had to visit this desert, so I signed up to volunteer with No More Deaths, a network of activists who camp in the desert south of Tucson and maintain hundreds of water stations of about 10 jugs each. This I did for a couple of years while I was on summer vacation from driving school buses.

When SOA Watch announced that they would try to bring thousands of activists to southern Arizona for a trans-border Encuentro, I knew I had to attend. I understand that countless people’s hopes for the future would be brightened by so much new attention being focused on the border.

As Ana Enamorado tells us, “I know that working together we can achieve many things.”

Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

US Shows Its Bloody Hand in Yemen: Gulf of Tonkin Redux?

Tonkin 2.0: 'Attack' on Ships Justifies US Escalation in Yemen

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

October 13, 2016

So, just as the world was finally taking notice of the US-Saudi carnage in Yemen — following the mass slaughter of civilians in an attack on a funeral on Oct. 8 — suddenly, for the first time in the 19-month conflict, US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin — sorry, the Red Sea — were fired upon (or "threatened') by off-target missiles. Now, in thundering righteousness at this unprovoked outrage (unprovoked if you don’t count 19 months of slaughter and blockade which have killed thousands and put millions at risk of famine), the US — which had “only” been funding, arming, targeting, supplying intel and enforcing the inhumane blockade — has now directly entered the fray, firing missiles into Yemen to destroy three radar sites (which had been left inexplicably untouched in the previous 19 months of relentless US/KSA bombing).

Here’s a key passage from the NYT story:

“Before Thursday’s attack, Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for a peace deal in Yemen, arguing that the United States could be an honest broker because it was not directly involved in the Saudi-led bombing campaign.The military response could now make that a more difficult position to take."

Putting aside the hoot-worthy claim that the US could be an “honest broker” in a war that literally could not be taking place without extensive involvement of the United States on behalf of the religious extremists of the Saudi tyranny, here we see — once again — the militarist extremists of the US power structure scuppering even wan attempts at a diplomatic approach. We saw this just a few weeks ago in Syria, where a ceasefire crafted through diplomacy with the Russians was suddenly shattered by an “accidental” US attack on Syrian army positions.

It’s clear — clear beyond all reasonable doubt — that America’s militarist extremists are determined to subvert or destroy any attempt at peace that does not end in total American dominance. They can at times work subtly and patiently — witness the long, steady rehabilitation of the radical neocons of the Bush era, now openly embraced by the “progressive” Obama and Clinton — and, when possible, they prefer to work by proxy, to avoid stirring up the stupid herd of rubes (aka the American people) who supply the tax money and cannon fodder for their extremist agenda. But when they must, they will act swiftly, brutally and directly to kill moves toward peace. That’s what happened this week in Yemen.

Thus another proxy war slides into direct involvement, without any declaration or debate. Thus more and more civilians are slaughtered in the name of geopolitical power games, leaving behind anguished, grieving, angry survivors, prey to anyone who offers them a venue for retribution. All this, we’re told, is done in the name of “national security.” But here’s a question no one asks in the howling hell-circus of our presidential campaign: after 15 years of this, 15 years of “counterterror war” destroying entire nations, uprooting millions of people and killing multitudes of innocent people, 15 years of bipartisan policies which our own intelligence services have repeatedly said exacerbate “radicalization” terrorism at home and abroad — is our nation more secure?

As Predicted, Oil Tanker Tug Nathan E. Stewart Runs Aground Off Great Bear Rainforest

Petroleum Tanker "Nathan E Stewart" Run Aground in Seaforth Channel 

by Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker

Breaking News! The Texas-based ATB 10,000 dwt petroleum tanker, "Nathan E Stewart" has run aground in Seaforth Channel, at Gale Passage, about 1 mile due south of Ivory Island lighthouse.

The CCG vessel, Cape St James is on scene. As this horrific, dreadful and all but predictable story develops, I will keep you posted.

Latest: The CCG vessel "John P Tully" is now en route, loaded with slick cleaning material. The "Nathan E Stewart" is now reportedly taking on water..I'll be headed out at first light.

UPDATE: Well the Kinder Morgan-owned " Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, aka WCMRC aka BurrardClean (Kinder Morgan 50%, the rest of the shares by Chevron, Imperial Oil, Suncor and Shell) has finally arrived on the scene of the wreckage about 18 hours after the tug/barge mated unit (they ride doggy-style) first went aground early this morning. WCMRC is much touted by the pro-tanker lobbyists such as Krusty Klaque and ilk as being " Canada's "World Class" marine response service. Reports say that the Nathan E Stewart has now separated from the barge and has sunk to the bottom of Seaforth Channel, from where it will never be resurrected. I'm sure we will now be hearing dutiful corporate media reports about how the wonderful WCMRC, - which has a monopoly mandate to control oil spill response for the ENTIRE BC coast- has cleaned everything up and environmental damage is minimal " because diesel simply evaporates into the environment." (We will be sure to hear BC Green Party leader, and BC Liberal imposter, Andrew Weaver parroting that lie.) We don't know the fate of the barge "DBL 55" yet, although the Canadian tug, "Haisea Guardian" which had a cable attached to the barge earlier in the day, can now be seen on AIS moving slowly away from the scene...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Arrêt Canada! Trudeau Government Denies French Activist Bove Entry

European parliamentarian & CETA critic Jose Bove denied entry into Canada 

 by Brent Patterson - Council of Canadians

October 11, 2016

Jose Bove, an iconic anti-globalization activist and now a Member of the European Parliament, was barred from entering Canada today. The Council of Canadians had invited him to Canada to speak at several key events about his opposition to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Montreal-based Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey says, "Bove was to speak at a public forum in Montreal this evening about CETA. But he was detained at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for hours - without an explanation - and has now been ordered to leave the country."

Bove must report to the airport tomorrow for a 1 pm flight back to Europe.

Bove has now tweeted (in French): "#Canada Blocked for 3 hours at Montreal airport. Opponents of #CETA are not welcome in this country."

La Presse quotes his political aide Jean-Marc Desfilhes saying,

"No one has yet explained why. It's very curious. In Europe he is one of the most outspoken against the treaty with Canada and then he is blocked at the border. There has to be something political. He has no record, no problem with the law, is an elected member of the European Parliament, and he has a visa."

QMI quotes CSN organizer Louis-Serge Houle who says, "We do not understand why a French citizen is held at customs in this way."

It could be that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will arrive in Canada tomorrow to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss CETA. Bove had earlier commented in a media release: "It's to Mr. Valls to come and sell you the dream by qualifying the agreement as 'progressive', but it is pure lie. It is urgent to fight against CETA on both sides of the Atlantic."

The Trudeau government has yet to comment on why an elected member of the European Parliament has been denied entry into Canada. The government should also explain how it can trumpet a 'free trade' agreement with the European Union, while at the same time prohibiting a French citizen and an elected European Union political representative from entering this country.

To help get an answer, please tweet - "PM @JustinTrudeau, why was @josebove denied entry into Canada? We join with the @CouncilofCDNs in wanting to hear his concerns about #CETA!"

Bove was also scheduled to be a keynote speaker at The Council of Canadians Groundswell 2016 conference in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador this coming Friday.

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to stop CETA, please click here.


Brent Patterson's blog

Old and News: Battles of History's Liars


by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

October 12, 2016
Moscow  - In war it’s a commonplace to say it’s the winner who tells the story. It’s less well understood that the story doesn’t win the war. In other words, war is won on the field by force. Info-war decides what people, who don’t fight, don’t vote, and don’t count, think afterwards. Afterwards is always a long time.

What happened at the Battle of Aleppo (lead image, 1) is that Russian and Syrian forces, fighting for the Syrian government in Damascus, defeated the forces of the US and the NATO alliance, fighting with mercenaries they hired to overthrow the government in Damascus. This is the most decisive defeat of US strategy and arms since 1973, when Vietnamese forces won the second Battle of Saigon.

US Government propaganda – whether published in the US or through English, Canadian, Turkish or Dutch paid proxies – is attempting to explain their defeat on the field of battle in Syria by alleging war crimes on the part of the winning forces against women and children. The propaganda ignores the war crimes of those who started the war in Syria and occupation of Aleppo in the first place. Like the rewriting of the history of the US wars which have destroyed, and continue destroying, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Georgia, Ukraine, etc., defeat is one thing on the ground; another thingon the page where it doesn’t count.

In counting like this, the slaughter of innocents isn’t new. By the way, fomenting and broadcasting hatred of Russians as child-murderers, like hatred of Jews as child-sacrificers, or of Afro-Americans as child rapists, is a crime too.

The concentration camp weapon, which Adolf Hitler used to murder millions of innocent women and children, was the invention of the British in South Africa in 1899 and in Iraq in 1920, as well as the Italians in Libya in 1911. Calculate the proportionality of Boer, Libyan and Iraqi casualties to the civilian populations from which the victims were taken, and you will arrive at a ratio that is genocidal in outcome, as it was in intention. British policy was genocidal towards the Boers, as was Italian policy towards the Libyans.

In their genocide of the Armenians, the Turks saved themselves the cost of setting up concentration camps by the expedient of marching the victims to their death (pictured below).

Hitler’s genocide of the Jews required a larger capital cost, plus records, which have enabled the subsequent understanding of what happened, and the conviction of some of those responsible.

The US Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) allows you to study the military value, and also civilian cost, of the bombings of German and Japanese civilians. Read the civilian cost sections for Germany here; and for Japan here.

Read carefully: the reports count the deaths and economic costs. However, the German report does not conclude that the deaths of women and children in their homes contributed in any way to the defeat of the armies in the field. The reverse, in fact, is this admission that the aerial bombing had no effect on ideology or morale; it stiffened resistance, not weakened it. “The mental reaction of the German people to air attack is significant. Under ruthless Nazi control they showed surprising [sic] resistance to the terror and hardships of repeated air attack, to the destruction of their homes and belongings, and to the conditions under which they were reduced to live. Their morale, their belief in ultimate victory or satisfactory compromise, and their confidence in their leaders declined, but they continued to work efficiently as long as the physical means of production remained. The power of a police state over its people cannot be underestimated.”

The report on Japan is a little different. It concludes that the bombing of civilians – inflicting higher casualties than the allied armies could inflict in battle — was “complex”. On the one hand, “progressively lowered morale was characterized by loss of faith in both military and civilian leaders, loss of confidence in Japan’s military might and increasing distrust of government news releases and propaganda. People became short-tempered and more outspoken in their criticism of the government, the war and affairs in general.” On the other hand – bear in mind this is the story the winners are telling – the ideology on the ground was stronger than the foreign threat from the air. “Until the end, however, national traditions of obedience and conformity, reinforced by the police organization, remained effective in controlling the behavior of the population…It is probable that most Japanese would have passively faced death in a continuation of the hopeless struggle, had the Emperor so ordered.”

This is evidence of the bombing of Germany and Japan as war crimes by the winning side; that is according to the tests of intentionality, wanton destruction, and absence of military necessity which are the three prosecution tests in the Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 8.

What isn’t clear from Article 8 is how “civilian”, “protected person”, “military necessity” and “military objectives” are defined in a civil war, financed and armed from the outside, to take a country’s territory, cities, and population away from the jurisdiction of the government whose overthrow is the outsiders’ aim for the war. Article 8 adds that it is a war crime to “utiliz[e] the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations”. In civil war such distinctions can’t be made because they are part of the conflict – so, is starting a civil war a war crime? Is it a war crime to fight back?

The answers to these questions are given by both sides. Outside the killing grounds, though, the answers are more likely to be remembered, and believed, when they are given by the war winners, not by the war losers. The big guns of propaganda fail if they don’t win on the ground; the further they are away from the ground, the bigger they sound, the less they win.

Still, history is longer than we are, and the question-marks which war crimes 
leave behind can be turned on their heads many times over. Just so, our understanding of the truth.

The stories of two of the greatest battles ever fought over a single place illustrate that, if history runs for long enough, there is time to reinterpret the outcome of the battle. Take the Battle of Masada (lead image, 3) and the Battle of Bosworth Field (4), for example. The first, dates from the spring of 73 or 74 (the date isn’t certain) and is still interpreted as the courageous last stand by the Judaeans in their eight-year war against the Roman empire’s legions. The second took place on August 21, 1485, and marked the defeat (and death) of King Richard III of England by Henry Tudor, who took the kingship as Henry VII.

The first battle is an icon of Zionist ideology and Israeli national identity, founded on the idea that a thousand defenders of Masada defended themselves for more than a year before committing mass suicide, as the male fighters killed their wives and children before killing themselves. The second is a Shakespeare play about a hunchbacked killer of children whose army refuses to fight for him, and whose last words on the battlefield – “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” – are those of a coward offering a bribe as he tries to run away.

These stories of battles which took place 1,942 years and 531 years ago are false, no matter how many people believe otherwise. The evidence, assembled by archeologists, historians, and forensic pathologists who are still working on the bodies, portrays completely different events. Read the details in these new books.

Masada, it turns out, wasn’t a battle at all. There were several dozen males of fighting age and fewer than 500 people in the fortress at the end. The Roman siege lasted weeks, not months or years; the war in Judaea had ended more than a year earlier. The truth is that Masada was a camp for displaced persons who had taken over an abandoned royal residence after fleeing the real battles to the north, around Jerusalem. Without being able to grow crops or trade anything of value, the Masadan males lived off stealing, stick-ups, and raiding crops and livestock from the Judean settlements in the plain below their fort. In today’s terminology, they were not even terrorists or jihadis. When Silva, the governor of Judaea and commander of the siege legions, offered terms of surrender, the men didn’t think gangsters like themselves were included. They didn’t allow the women and children a choice. The defiant speeches at the end are figments of subsequent legend-making. Ancient bellingcat.

The battle of Bosworth Field was the real thing, but it didn’t occur where it has been supposed for a half-millennium. Richard and his army fought well, but they were out-flanked; blind-sighted by an unusually bright English summer sun. Richard spotted Henry, on foot (unhorsed), and in the rear of his line. So Richard launched the full line of his cavalry, himself leading from the front, with the aim of killing Henry.

Richard and his cavalrymen then ran into a manoeuvre and military technology they hadn’t seen before. This was a formation of Swiss-trained French pikemen whom Henry had hired, with a loan from the French king. As Richard’s horsemen began their charge, the pikemen withdrew and regrouped around Henry, setting up three rows of pike steel. It was this which broke Richard’s cavalry charge, and formed an effective bodyguard. Even so, Richard got to Henry’s battlefield standard, cutting it down and the standard-bearer with it. Richard was within feet of Henry, just beyond sword range, when Henry’s cavalry arrived in the rear of Richard’s knights. At that point, the battle could have gone either way, depending on which man, Richard or Henry, was killed first. Henry was the lucky one.

The winner started the war crime story immediately – medieval bellingcat. Henry decided to strip Richard’s body; mutilate it; display it tied over the back of a horse which was led into the nearest big town; then disposed of in an unmarked grave. Henry’s portraits were touched up; Richard’s portraits disfigured; for details, read this. The recent recovery of Richard’s grave, coffin and remains has begun to improve the credibility of the evidence of what really happened.

There’s plenty of time for the truth to win out, though Shakespeare’s version is still a best-seller, and most Englishmen want to believe nonsense about the last of the Tudors, Elizabeth the First, Good Queen Bess. It will take more than Black Adder to right her wrongs.

Rowan Atkinson (right) plays nobleman courtier to the corrupt and madly capricious 
queen whose misconduct was much worse than even the comedy allows. View this; then 
read this new history of what really happened by John Guy.

So let’s not sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings; how some have been deposed; some slain in war. If you aren’t German, not enough time has gone by decide whether the bombing of Dresden (lead image, 2) was an Anglo-American war crime. So too the Battle of Aleppo, which marks the victory of the government of Bashar al-Assad.

In case, dear reader, you feel too tender and too sore towards these events, wait then for five hundred or a thousand years. In the meantime, the significance of the Battle of Aleppo cannot be missed. There is a winner and there’s a loser. Luck and info-war have had had nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Media Skewing Syria During Prez Debate

Debate Moderator Distorted Syrian Reality

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

October 11, 2016

How ABC News’ Martha Raddatz framed her question about Syria in the second presidential debate shows why the mainstream U.S. news media, with its deep-seated biases and inability to deal with complexity, has become such a driving force for wider wars and even a threat to the future of the planet.

ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent,
Martha Raddatz.

Raddatz, the network’s chief global affairs correspondent, presented the Syrian conflict as simply a case of barbaric aggression by the Syrian government and its Russian allies against the Syrian people, especially the innocents living in Aleppo.

“Just days ago, the State Department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally, Russia, for their bombardment of Aleppo,” Raddatz said.

“So this next question comes through social media through Facebook. Diane from Pennsylvania asks, if you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the Holocaust when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?”

The framing of the question assured a response from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her determination to expand the U.S. military intervention in Syria to include a “no-fly zone,” which U.S. military commanders say would require a massive operation that would kill many Syrians, both soldiers and civilians, to eliminate Syria’s sophisticated air-defense systems and its air force.

But Raddatz’s loaded question was also a way of influencing – or misleading – U.S. public opinion. Consider for a moment how a more honest and balanced question could have elicited a very different response and a more thoughtful discussion:

“The situation in Aleppo presents a heartrending and nettlesome concern. Al Qaeda fighters and their rebel allies, including some who have been armed by the United States, are holed up in some neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo. They’ve been firing rockets into the center and western sections of Aleppo and they have shot civilians seeking to leave east Aleppo through humanitarian corridors.

“These terrorists and their ‘moderate’ rebel allies seem to be using the tens of thousands of civilians still in east Aleppo as ‘human shields’ in order to create sympathy from Western audiences when the Syrian government seeks to root the terrorists and other insurgents from these neighborhoods with airstrikes that have killed both armed fighters and civilians. In such a circumstance, what should the U.S. role be and was it a terrible mistake to supply these fighters with sophisticated rockets and other weapons, given that these weapons have helped Al Qaeda in seizing and holding territory?”

Siding with Al Qaeda

Raddatz also could have noted that a key reason why the recent limited cease-fire failed was that the U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels in east Aleppo had rebuffed Secretary of State John Kerry’s demand that they separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which now calls itself the Syria Conquest Front.

Instead of breaking ties with Al Qaeda, some of these “moderate” rebel groups reaffirmed or expanded their alliances with Al Qaeda. In other words, Official Washington’s distinction between Al Qaeda’s terrorists and the “moderate” rebels was publicly revealed to be largely a myth. But the reality of U.S.-aided rebels collaborating with the terror group that carried out the 9/11 attacks complicates the preferred mainstream narrative of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin “the bad guys” versus the rebels “the good guys.”

If Raddatz had posed her question with the more complex reality (rather than the simplistic, biased form that she chose) and if Clinton still responded with her recipe of a “no-fly zone,” the obvious follow-up would be: “Wouldn’t such a military intervention constitute aggressive war against Syria in violation of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg principles?

“And wouldn’t such a strategy risk tipping the military balance inside Syria in favor of Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies, possibly even its spinoff terror group, the Islamic State? And what would the United States do then, if its destruction of the Syrian air force led to the black flag of jihadist terror flying over Damascus as well as all of Aleppo? Would a Clinton-45 administration send in U.S. troops to stop the likely massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other ‘heretics’?”

There would be other obvious and important questions that a more objective Martha Raddatz would ask: “Would your no-fly zone include shooting down Russian aircraft that are flying inside Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government? Might such a clash provoke a superpower escalation, possibly even invite nuclear war?”

But no such discussion is allowed inside the mainstream U.S. media’s frame. There is an unstated assumption that the United States has the unquestioned right to invade other countries at will, regardless of international law, and there is a studied silence about this hypocrisy even as the U.S. State Department touts the sanctity of international law.

Whose War Crimes?

Raddatz’s favorable reference to the State Department accusing the Syrian and Russian governments of war crimes further suggests a stunning lack of self-awareness, a blindness to America’s own guilt in that regard. How can any American journalist put on such blinders regarding even recent U.S. war crimes, including the illegal invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

While Raddatz referenced “the heart-breaking video of a 5-year-old Syrian boy named Omran sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble after an air strike in Aleppo,” she seems to have no similar sympathy for the slaughtered and maimed children of Iraq who suffered under American bombs – or the people of Yemen who have faced a prolonged aerial onslaught from Saudi Arabia using U.S. aircraft and U.S.-supplied ordnance.

Regarding Iraq, there was the case at the start of the U.S.-led war when President George W. Bush mistakenly thought Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein might be eating at a Baghdad restaurant so U.S. warplanes leveled it, killing more than a dozen civilians, including children and a young woman whose headless body was recovered by her mother.

“When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then her head,” the Associated Press reported, “her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed.” The London Independent cited this restaurant attack as one that represented “a clear breach” of the Geneva Conventions ban on bombing civilian targets.

But such civilian deaths were of little interest to the mainstream U.S. media. “American talking heads … never seemed to give the issue any thought,” wrote Eric Boehlert in a report on the U.S. war coverage for “Certainly they did not linger on images of the hellacious human carnage left in the aftermath.”

Thousands of other civilian deaths were equally horrific. Saad Abbas, 34, was wounded in an American bombing raid, but his family sought to shield him from the greater horror. The bombing had killed his three daughters Marwa, 11; Tabarek, 8; and Safia, 5 who had been the center of his life. “It wasn’t just ordinary love,” his wife said. “He was crazy about them. It wasn’t like other fathers.” [NYT, April 14, 2003]

The horror of the war was captured, too, in the fate of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas, who lost his two arms when a U.S. missile struck his Baghdad home. Ali’s father, his pregnant mother and his siblings were all killed. As the armless Ali was evacuated to a Kuwaiti hospital, becoming a symbol of U.S. compassion for injured Iraqi civilians, the boy said he would rather die than live without his hands.

Because of the horrors inflicted on Iraq – and the resulting chaos that has now spread across the region and into Europe – Raddatz could have asked Clinton, who as a U.S. senator voted for the illegal war, whether she felt any responsibility for this carnage. Of course, Raddatz would not ask that question because the U.S. mainstream media was almost universally onboard the Iraq War bandwagon, which helps explain why there has been virtually no accountability for those war crimes.

Letting Clinton Off

So, Clinton was not pressed on her war judgments regarding either Iraq or the Libyan “regime change” that she championed in 2011, another war of choice that transformed the once-prosperous North African nation into a failed state. Raddatz’s biased framing also put Republican Donald Trump on the defensive for resisting yet another American “regime change” project in Syria.

Trump was left muttering some right-wing talking points that sought to attack Clinton as soft on Syria, trying to link her to President Barack Obama’s decision not to bomb the Syrian military in August 2013 after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus, which occurred six months after Clinton had resigned as Secretary of State.

Trump: “She was there as Secretary of State with the so-called line in the sand, which…

Clinton: “No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…

Trump: “OK. But you were in contact — excuse me. You were…

Clinton: “At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.

Trump: “You were in total contact with the White House, and perhaps, sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would be listening to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened.”

In bashing Obama for not bombing Syria – after U.S. intelligence expressed suspicion that the sarin attack was actually carried out by Al Qaeda or a related group trying to trick the U.S. military into attacking the Syrian government – Trump may have pleased his right-wing base but he was deviating from his generally less war-like stance on the Middle East.

He followed that up with another false right-wing claim that Clinton and Obama had allowed the Russians to surge ahead on nuclear weapons, saying: “our nuclear program has fallen way behind, and they’ve gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good.”

Only after attacking Clinton for not being more militaristic did Trump say a few things that made sense, albeit in his incoherent snide-aside style.

Trump: “Now, she talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin and against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who the rebels are. You know, every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people. And you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people [we overthrow].

“Look at what she did in Libya with [Muammar] Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess. And, by the way, ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I’m sure you probably have heard that.” [Actually, whether one has heard it or not, that point is not true. During the ongoing political and military strife, Libya has been blocked from selling its oil, which is shipped by sea.]

Trump continued: “It was a disaster. Because the fact is, almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster.

“But if you look at Russia, just take a look at Russia, and look at what they did this week, where I agree, she wasn’t there, but possibly she’s consulted. We sign a peace treaty. Everyone’s all excited. Well, what Russia did with Assad and, by the way, with Iran, who you made very powerful with the dumbest deal perhaps I’ve ever seen in the history of deal-making, the Iran deal, with the $150 billion, with the $1.7 billion in cash, which is enough to fill up this room.

“But look at that deal. Iran now and Russia are now against us. So she wants to fight. She wants to fight for rebels. There’s only one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are. So what’s the purpose?”

While one can’t blame Raddatz for Trump’s scattered thinking – or for Clinton’s hawkishness – the moderator’s failure to frame the Syrian issue in a factual and nuanced way contributed to this dangerously misleading “debate” on a grave issue of war and peace.

It is surely not the first time that the mainstream U.S. media has failed the American people in this way, but – given the stakes of a possible nuclear war with Russia – this propagandistic style of “journalism” is fast becoming an existential threat.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and