Saturday, March 24, 2018

The 1, 2,3,4's of America's Regime Change Wars

American 'Regime Change Wars' Was Born in Belgrade 19 Years Ago Today

by Adam Garrie - Eurasia Future (via OffGuardian)

March 24, 2018

Throughout the 20th century, the US had been in the business of overthrowing governments that it did not like, almost always because such governments did not create conditions unilaterally favourable to US business interests.

From overthrowing multiple Latin American governments, most famously the leftist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, to the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953, to the installation of the Pakistani Dictator General Zia who executed the democratically elected Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the US has been ‘changing regimes’ long before the post-Cold War era.

However, in the 21st century, the idea of ‘regime change’ went from an unspoken reality to a stated goal among increasingly war-hungry US leaders.

A “new world order” – a regime change order

After the Cold War, when George H.W. Bush declared a “new world order”, the US and its European allies began backing radical far-right nationalist and Takfiri insurgencies throughout Yugoslavia, beginning in 1991. This resulted in the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and the anti-western and therefore unrecognised Republika Srpska. In 1995, the then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević came to the United States to sign the Dayton Accords with his Takfiri nemesis Alija Izetbegović and the neo-fascist Croatian leader Franjo Tuđman. At the time, the Dayton Accords were hailed as a ‘western’ triumph.

Indeed, the west had successfully turned the most peaceful and prosperous state in modern southern Europe into a rump and for Washington, Britain and Berlin, this counted as a success. Yugoslavia was by 1995, reduced to the constituent republics of Serbia and Montenegro. But for a US busily drafting the doctrines of regime change as articulated in the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine, even a reduced Yugoslavia was too much to live with.

The Albanian terrorist war against Orthodox Christians

Since the 1980s, radical Albanian terrorist groups had committed acts of atrocities against the Orthodox Christian population of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo. In 1993, these groups congealed into the KLA, a well-organised terrorist group that began a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing against Orthodox Serbs which even saw the killing of multiple ethnic Albanians who remained patriotic and peaceful Yugoslav citizens, content to live in harmony with their Serb neighbours.

While UN Security Council Resolution 1160 listed the KLA as a terrorist group, the US continued to finance its campaign of ethnic cleansing and later spun a narrative that it was the Yugoslav armed forces that were to blame for an ethnic cleansing campaign, when in reality, Yugoslavia was engaged in a modest anti-terror operation aimed at the foreign armed and funded KLA.

A war for European demagogues and for Monica Lewinsky

By March of 1999, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was out to make a name for himself as a so-called ‘liberal interventionist’, while a new German government was keen on destroying what remained of Yugoslavia in order to exploit previously unavailable economic avenues in the Balkans, while increasing German soft-power among Albanian radicals. At the same time, Bill Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal that he was desperate to push out of the headlines. This perfect storm conspired to convince Clinton to join his eager European partners and foment an illegal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

NATO aggression against Chinese and Russian targets in Yugoslavia

The NATO war which was not authorised by the UN witnessed the killing of thousands of civilians both by the NATO airstrikes themselves and by NATO’s KLA allies. During the war, hospitals, schools, homes, a civilian television station and the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade were all destroyed.

During group operations, Russian peace keepers had temporarily based themselves in Yugoslavia’s Pristina airport. It subsequently became known that NATO Commander General Wesley Clark of the United States was prepared to send in NATO troops to forcibly wrestle control of the airport from the Russian peace keeping units to his own NATO forces. This would have almost certainly resulted in an exchange of fire between Russian and NATO forces, something which hadn’t even happened at the height of the Cold War. This was prevented only because another NATO officers, Britain’s General Michael Jackson, refused to obey Clark’s order to move against the Russian peace keepers. At the time, it was reported he said to Clark, “I’m not going to start the Third World War for you”. Thus, in a war on Yugoslavia, NATO ran the risk of a wider world war with both China and Russia.

In hindsight, the NATO war on Yugoslavia was a kind of blood-soaked dress rehearsal for the broader regime change wars of the 21st century including those aimed at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The war in Yugoslavia followed this new model in a calculated series of steps whose pattern has been repeated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and later unsuccessfully in Syria. The pattern as is follows:

1. Publicly discredit a foreign leader whom the west previous had agreements or pacts with.

Just consider how in the 1980s Saddam Hussein was a US ally in the war against Iran. Likewise in the 1980s, the political movements associated with the Afghan Mujaheddin that became the Taliban of the 1990s, were US allies in a war against the USSR and the legitimate Afghan government. Furthermore, Libya and the US reached a rapprochement in 2003, while Syria’s President al-Assad was considered someone who could ‘work with the west’ right up to the 2011 US proxy war on Syria.

Thus while Slobodan Milošević went to the US in 1995 to sign a widely celebrated peace deal, it was only four short years later that he became re-invented as public enemy number one.

2. Turn the defender into the aggressor

Before the US portrayed the Libyan government as an aggressor for fighting the terrorist group al-Qaeda, before the US openly took the side of the head-chopping Al-Nusra Front in Syria against the secular, pluralistic Syrian Arab Republic and before a staunchly anti-al-Qaeda Saddam was perversely accused of being behind 9/11, the Yugoslav government was accused of committing ethnic cleansing, when it reality they were defending against the ethnic cleaning committed by the terrorist KLA.

3. Slander the ‘enemy regime’ as anti-democratic and therefore dangerous

In 1999, few Americans knew or cared about the internal politics of Yugoslavia. The same was true of the Taliban, Saddam, Gaddafi and al-Assad. Therefore, in order to create an easily digested narrative, the leaders who stood in the way of US hegemony needed to be painted as anti-democratic, tyrannical, mechanical and evil, before a gullible US public who in 1999 were busy choking in the easily understood Lewinsky scandal.

4. Ignore the UN and bomb away

Like other regime change wars, most notably Iraq, the NATO war on Yugoslavia was not authorised by the UN or any other legitimate international body. Therefore it was totally illegal: it was a war crime. The ‘one rule for you and one rule for us’ attitude that continues to drive the US led NATO alliance, was therefore cast in stone in 1999, thus paving the way for a future where the UN could serve only as an organisation to occasionally rubber stamp US aggression, but one that was ultimately incapable of stopping US aggression.

For the US and its NATO partners, the war on Yugoslavia was a dress rehearsal for what was to come during the presidencies of Bush, Obama and almost certainly Trump. But for the thousands of dead civilians whose country was ripped out from under them, the war on Yugoslavia remains the crime of the century. Yugoslavia was a country that stood against fascist aggression in the 1940s, only to fall to terrorist forces whose forebears had allied themselves with fascism during the Second World War. Even 19 years after the war, thousands of refugees remain without permanent homes after fleeing from the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, which remains occupied by NATO forces and former KLA members in charge of a regime ruling the occupied territory.

Yugoslavia never threatened a single foreign nation, but the large powers of central and western Europe conspired with the United States to turn a peaceful part of southern Europe into smouldering inferno. For the wider world, everything changed on September the 11th, 2001. An attack whose official explanation fewer and fewer people believe, set off a chain ‘reaction’ of aggressive wars that in turn unleashed a wave of international terrorism that ultimately gave birth to Daesh.

But before the world had September the 11th, 2001, Yugoslavia had the 24th of March, 1999. Yugoslavia was sacrificed on the altar of ‘regime change war’ and the US has never looked back since.

Adam Garrie is Director at Eurasia future. He is a geo-political expert who can be frequently seen on Nedka Babliku’s weekly discussion show Digital Divides, RT’s flagship debate show CrossTalk as well as Press-TV’s flagship programme ‘The Debate’. A global specialist with an emphasis on Eurasian integration, Garrie’s articles have been published in the Oriental Review, Asia Times, Geopolitica Russia, the Tasnim News Agency, Global Research, RT’s Op-Edge, Global Village Space and others.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Why Do They Hate (& Fear) Russia?

Why the UK, the EU and the US Gang-Up on Russia 

by James Petras 


For the greater part of a decade the US, the UK and the EU have been carrying out a campaign to undermine and overthrow the Russia government and in particular to oust President Putin. Fundamental issues are at stake including the real possibility of a nuclear war.

The most recent western propaganda campaign and one of the most virulent is the charge launched by the UK regime of Prime Minister Theresa May. The Brits have claimed that Russian secret agents conspired to poison a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in England , threatening the sovereignty and safety of the British people.

No evidence has ever been presented. Instead the UK expelled Russian diplomats and demands harsher sanctions, to increase tensions. The UK and its US and EU patrons are moving toward a break in relations and a military build-up.

A number of fundamental questions arise regarding the origins and growing intensity of this anti-Russian animus.

Why do the Western regimes now feel Russia is a greater threat then in the past? Do they believe Russia is more vulnerable to Western threats or attacks? Why do the Western military leaders seek to undermine Russia’s defenses? Do the US economic elites believe it is possible to provoke an economic crisis and the demise of President Putin’s government? What is the strategic goal of Western policymakers? Why has the UK regime taken the lead in the anti-Russian crusade via the fake toxin accusations at this time?

This paper is directed at providing key elements to address these questions.

The Historical Context for Western Aggression

Several fundamental historical factors dating back to the 1990’s account for the current surge in Western hostility to Russia.

First and foremost, during the 1990’s the US degraded Russia, reducing it to a vassal state, and imposing itself as a unipolar state.

Secondly, Western elites pillaged the Russian economy, seizing and laundering hundreds of billions of dollars. Wall Street and City of London banks and overseas tax havens were the main beneficiaries

Thirdly, the US seized and took control of the Russian electoral process, and secured the fraudulent “election” of Yeltsin.

Fourthly, the West degraded Russia’s military and scientific institutions and advanced their armed forces to Russia’s borders.

Fifthly, the West insured that Russia was unable to support its allies and independent governments throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Russia was unable to aid its allies in the Ukraine, Cuba, North Korea, Libya etc.

With the collapse of the Yeltsin regime and the election of PresidentPutin, Russia regained its sovereignty, its economy recovered, its armed forces and scientific institutes were rebuilt and strengthened. Poverty was sharply reduced and Western backed gangster capitalists were constrained, jailed or fled mostly to the UK and the US.

Russia’s historic recovery under President Putin and its gradual international influence shattered US pretense to rule over unipolar world. Russia’s recovery and control of its economic resources lessened US dominance, especially of its oil and gas fields.

As Russia consolidated its sovereignty and advanced economically, socially, politically and militarily, the West increased its hostility in an effort to roll-back Russia to the Dark Ages of the 1990’s.

The US launched numerous coups and military intervention and fraudulent elections to surround and isolate Russia . The Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Russian allies in Central Asia were targeted. NATO military bases proliferated.

Russia’s economy was targeted : sanctions were directed at its imports and exports. President Putin was subject to a virulent Western media propaganda campaign. US NGO’s funded opposition parties and politicians.

The US-EU rollback campaign failed.

The encirclement campaign failed.

The Ukraine fragmented - Russia allies took control of the East; Crimean voted for unification with Russia. Syria joined with Russia to defeat armed US vassals. Russia turned to China’s multi-lateral trade, transport and financial networks.

As the entire US unipolar fantasy dissolved it provoked deep resentment, animosity and a systematic counter-attack. The US’s costly and failed war on terror became a dress rehearsal for the economic and ideological war against the Kremlin ..Russia’s historical recovery and defeat of Western rollback intensified the ideological and economic war.

The UK poison plot was concocted to heighten economic tensions and prepare the western public for heightened military confrontations.

Russia is not a threat to the West: it is recovering its sovereignty in order to further a multi-polar world. President Putin is not an “aggressor” but he refuses to allow Russia to return to vassalage.

President Putin is immensely popular in Russia and hated by the US precisely because he is the opposition of Yeltsin - he has created a flourishing economy; he resists sanctions and defends Russia’s borders and allies.


In a summary response to the opening questions.

1) The Western regimes recognize that Russia is a threat to their global dominance; they know that Russia is no threat to invade the EU, North America or their vassals.

2) Western regimes believe they can topple Russia via economic warfare including sanctions. In fact Russia has become more self-reliant and has diversified its trading partners, especially China, and even includes Saudi Arabia and other Western allies.

The Western propaganda campaign has failed to turn Russian voters against Putin. In the March 19, 2018 Presidential election voter participation increased to 67% ..Vladimir Putin secured a record 77% majority. President Putin is politically stronger than ever.

Russia’s display of advanced nuclear and other advanced weaponry has had a major deterrent effect especially among US military leaders, making it clear that Russia is not vulnerable to attack.

The UK has attempted to unify and gain importance with the EU and the US via the launch of its anti-Russia toxic conspiracy. Prime Minister May has failed. Brexit will force the UK to break with the EU.

President Trump will not replace the EU as a substitute trading partner. While the EU and Washington may back the UK crusade against Russia they will pursue their own trade agenda; which do not include the UK.

In a word, the UK, the EU and the US are ganging-up on Russia, for diverse historic and contemporary reasons. The UK exploitation of the anti-Russian conspiracy is a temporary ploy to join the gang but will not change its inevitable global decline and the break-up of the UK.

Russia will remain a global power. It will continue under the leadership of President Putin .The Western powers will divide and bugger their neighbors - and decide it is their better judgment to accept and work within a multi-polar world.

Like Old Times: Amnesty on the War Path Again

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again 

by Paul de Rooij - CounterPunch

March 23, 2018  
One must marvel at the first few paragraphs of Amnesty International’s recent press release:

“The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong…

Right now, in Eastern Ghouta 400,000 men, women and children, who have been living under an unlawful government siege for six years, are being starved and indiscriminately bombed by the Syrian government with the backing of Russia. […]
The international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again. Armed opposition groups have retaliated by indiscriminately shelling two villages in Idleb, which they have also besieged since 2014.” [1]

This is an unambiguous call and a justification for war; it seems that AI is calling for a NATO bombing campaign similar to the one staged in Libya in 2011. There is also no ambiguity as to who AI deems to be culpable and ought to be at the receiving end of a “humanitarian bombing” campaign. Before cheering yet another US/NATO war, it is useful to analyse Amnesty International’s record in assisting propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars. It is also worthwhile reviewing AI’s reporting on Syria, and how it compares with that on other countries in the area.

A sorry record

It is not the first time that Amnesty International has played a role in a propaganda campaign in the lead up to a war. A few examples:

Before the US invasion to ouster the Iraqis from Kuwait, president George Bush Sr. appeared on TV holding an Amnesty International report claiming that Iraqi soldiers had dumped babies out of incubators. That was Amnesty International’s willing participation in spreading a hoax — a hoax fabricated by a major American PR company.

In the months prior to the US-NATO attack on Serbia, Amnesty-USA put two Croatian women on a ten city-speaking-tour to project their account of their “rape-camp” ordeal — in reality one of them was a top Croatian propaganda official, a close advisor to president Tudjman, who was also known for her acting abilities.[2] Again, this hoax was pushed by a major American PR company.

AI’s coverage/non-coverage of Israeli mass crimes also deserves to be analysed.[3] In this case, Amnesty plays a role in adulterating and reducing criticism after wars or the misery caused by its continuous occupation and abuse of the Palestinians (discussed below). Amnesty International-Israel served as a propaganda front busy manipulating “human rights” reports to suit Israel’s interests.[4] AI-London has not commented on the manipulation by its Israeli siblings.

In 2012, Amnesty erected advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights. This was merely crass pro-NATO pro-interventionist propaganda. [5]

Amnesty-France was instrumental in propagating anti-Libyan propaganda prior to the NATO bombing of the country in 2011.[6]

Alas, Amnesty’s sorry record is much longer than these few examples indicate.

Not anti-war

One would expect a human rights organisation to be intrinsically opposed to war, but AI is a cheerleader of so-called humanitarian intervention, and even “humanitarian bombing”.[7] In the past, when queried about its equivocal and lame statements about wars, an AI official stated that “Amnesty International is not anti-war”. Even with this predisposition AI was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize – yet another undeserving recipient for a prize meant to be given only to those actively opposed to wars. In Syria’s case, AI has given up this phoney “not anti-war” stance for one that is actively advocating war. Notice that it uses a rather dubious argument about “never again” about standing by in the face of mass crimes; in reality this is an appeal to holocaust memes meant to favour this war.

Syria today…

The Syrian government is presently rolling back the jihadis who had managed to establish themselves in an area next to Damascus. No government would tolerate to have a section of their capital city under jihadi control, an area from which the rest of the city is mortared, and an area vital to control the water supply of the city. What would happen if jihadis took over Arlington, VA, and used it to bomb the center of Washington DC? The response would be self-evident. For some reason AI doesn’t bestow this right of self-defence to the Syrian government, but instead refers to an “unlawful government siege [of Ghouta] for six years”. This is laughable.

It is remarkable to find that in none of the latest press releases or reports does AI discuss the nature of the armed groups fighting in Syria. Even those referred to as “moderates” by Washington are a rather unsavoury bunch. Most of them are foreign jihadis; a good portion of them are Saudis. (NB: Saudis offered political and criminal prisoners a way out of jail on condition of going to fight in Syria.) And they are armed/trained/financed by the US/UK/Saudi/Emirates/Turkey/Qatar… to the tune of at least $12 billion. The former US ambassador to Syria stated that the US contribution was at least $12bn [8]; this figure excludes the funds provided by the Saudis and other regimes in the area. Gareth Porter reports that the quantities of weapons supplied to the jihadis were enough to equip an army. [9] Yet, this armed gang of jihadis is barely mentioned in Amnesty’s assessment of the situation in Syria. In Ghouta, the jihadis belong to the Nusra front (or one of its rebranded versions), that is, a group with an extreme ideology; they are an Al-Qaeda offshoot. AI’s press release doesn’t mention this salient fact.

Amnesty portrays the Syrian government as at war against its own people — and Aleppo, Ghouta, etc., under siege; and not allowing the population to escape. Although AI similarly condemned the liberation of Aleppo, it didn’t interview these victims after the fact. If it interviews someone — invariably anonymous — it intones sinister fears of the government. For all its faults, the government has popular backing, and it stands in the way of a jihadi project to carve up Syria and ethnically cleanse it.

And there is a double standard

When it comes to Israeli mass crimes AI is rather cautious in the language used and in its recommendations. It is rather coy in mentioning “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, and reference to the latter is virtually non-existent or couched in exculpatory language (favourite cushioning words: “alleged”, “could be construed as”). While it sparingly uses these accusations against Israel, it levels the same accusations against Palestinians — it applies a notion that there are crimes “on both sides”. AI’s harshest admonishment is that Israeli actions are not “proportionate”. There are no appeals to the “international community” which should not stand by, “never again…” One wonders what Amnesty has to say about the Israeli siege of Gaza, where the population has been put “on a diet” causing a dire situation for about 1.8 million people today. In this case, there are no reports, no calls to the “international community” to do anything, no accusations of “crimes against humanity”… AI uses another script altogether.

In the current press release, AI unambiguously states that both Syria and Russia are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. And if this is the case, there is an obligation for other states to act, to intervene. AI is not requesting an investigation, it is urging intervention.

While in the Israeli case AI states that crimes are committed on both sides, when it comes to Syria it is only the Syrian government that is deemed culpable. It is difficult to remove entrenched well armed jihadis who use residents as human shields. Jihadis dig themselves in and around hospitals and schools [10], and when action is taken against them there, the likes of Amnesty utter their clucking sounds.

In its latest statement AI states:

“It must also send a strong message that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable, by referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” 

 Fair enough. In 2002, Donatella Rovera, an AI researcher on the Middle East, was queried about why AI didn’t make a similar demand to hold Israel accountable at the ICC or ICJ, and she stated that AI didn’t make such demands.[11] Another standard applies.

An issue about sources…

Amnesty reports several statements made by residents of Ghouta, all giving harrowing accounts of the conditions on the ground. But all the statements blame the government for their predicament. “Like many Syrians, the humanitarian worker expressed deep distrust of the government.” Or “We hear rumours of reconciliation but that can never happen. The government hates us…” And other such unverifiable statements. And who exactly is reporting this? Does AI have a direct line to the “White Helmets”? All Amnesty has to do is compare the statements made before the liberation of Aleppo and the opinion of the residents now. If the residents are pleased with their condition without the jihadis around, then this should be sufficient to question the dubious statements originating from anonymous sources in Ghouta today.

Other examples

Amnesty International doesn’t want you to respect the Syrian government. Reviewing its press releases about Syria, it is all one-sided; the jihadis hardly merit a meaningful rebuke. But no report was as distorted as its multimedia presentation of the purported abuses in the Saydnaya Prison. Here Amnesty’s methodology was on show: accept hearsay, magnify it melodramatically, extrapolate and exaggerate [12]. This is not human rights reportage, it is crass propaganda. The timing of all these so-called reports is also dubious. On the eve of major reconciliation talks or negotiations, Amnesty publishes a report portraying the Syrian government as beyond the pale. Would anyone want to negotiate with such a party? The timing of several other AI reports coincide with attempts to resolve the conflict via negotiations. The timing of its latest press release coincides with a major Syrian government offensive into Ghouta — and portraying it as criminal in nature.

Human rights are not neutral

Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator, made Amnesty International USA possible — he provided the funds necessary to establish the organisation. [13] Weinstein didn’t put up the funds because he fancied AI’s lovely researchers. People put up funds for such organisations to shape the way abuses and crimes are reported. In Weinstein’s case, his ardent devotion to Israel might explain his financial contribution to Amnesty USA. Amnesty is also a conduit to push propaganda desired by those who foster such organisations. The very nature of “human rights”, its very flexible nature, lends itself to prime manipulation.

A Syrian furniture salesman based in Coventry, a small city in the UK, runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Sitting in his living room, he produces reports about the latest atrocities, chemical attacks, and every other sordid detail to tarnish the Syrian government’s image. He reaches his mysterious sources by phone, invariably someone hostile to the Syrian government. The output of this one-man-band is then used by the BBC, CNN, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal,… and major media outlets to report on the situation in Syria. It is expensive for news organisations to have correspondents on the ground, it is dangerous; so what is better than “human rights” reports obtained for free! And does Amnesty International rely on SOHR? At least they should footnote their reports.

The main playbook

The US and some of its sidekicks have for decades been engaged in regime change in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America… The usual formula for this is to create civic organisations, e.g., Journalists’ union, Lawyer and Jurist guilds, select Labour unions… and human rights organisations. These people are then trained to exercise political power effectively by staging mass demonstrations, manipulating the media, spreading rumours, disrupting the government — all the way to the take over of parliaments. These are the so-called “colour revolutions”. They tried this in Syria, but opted primarily to arm and organise jihadis. The jihadis are backed by a propaganda machinery, and the US is conducting the largest disinformation/propaganda campaign in Syria today [14]. The essence of the campaign is to tarnish the image of the Syrian government, robbing it of its international legitimacy and support. Human rights reportage is essential to this campaign. By analysing Amnesty International reportage, it is evident that it is part of this campaign; it has weaponised human rights.

Currently there is a major buildup of US warships in the Mediterranean; and the Russian general staff fear that Syria will be the target of a major cruise missile attack.[15] Possibly, Russian forces will also be targeted. Couple this with the unprecedented black propaganda campaign against Russia in the US and the UK, and it seems very likely that a major shooting war is in the offing. Given that AI has lent itself in previous propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars, one finds that the latest Amnesty International report is merely a leading indicator for such a war. Amnesty International is embedded in a propaganda campaign — it will be cheerleading with blue and white pompons when the humanitarian bombs fall.

PAUL de ROOIJ is a writer living in London. He can be reached at (NB: all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted.)
More articles by:Paul de Rooij

[1] AI, “Syria: Seven years of catastrophic failure by the international community”, 15 March 2018.

[2] Diana Johnstone, Fools Crusade, 20 Sep 2002. Johnstone documents the curious case of Jadranka Cijel. NB: AI was alerted to the fact that the accounts by the two women were questionable; it proceeded with the tour anyway.

[3] I have written quite a few articles about Amnesty for Counterpunch. The latest: Amnesty International: Whitewashing Another Massacre, CounterPunch, 8 May 2015.

[4] Uri Blau, Documents reveal how Israel made Amnesty’s local branch a front for the Foreign Ministry in the 70s, Haaretz, 18 March 2017. Neve Gordon, Nicola Perugini, Israel’s human rights spies: Manipulating the discourse, Al-Jazeera Online, 22 March 2017.

[5] Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley, Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars, ConsortiumNews, 18 June 2012.

[6] Also: Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[7] Alexander Cockburn reports that Amnesty was present during a US State Department briefing seeking to justify “humanitarian bombing”. How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More? CounterPunch, April 1999.

[8] Ben Norton , US Ambassador Confirms Billions Spent On Regime Change in Syria, Debunking ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Myth,, 9 February 2018.

[9] Gareth Porter, How America Armed Terrorists in Syria, The American Conservative, 22 June 2017.

[10] Robert Fisk has reported on this fact in several of his articles. In “the Syrian hospital siege that turned into a massacre”, The Independent, 5 June 2015 there is a reference to tunnels under a hospital. In another article, the same, but at a school.

[11] Israel hasn’t joined the ICC, and thus ICC cannot bring any action against Israel. ICC is only meant to harass African tinpot dictators.

[12] John Wight, The Problems With the Amnesty International Report, Sputnik News, 15 February 2017. Important discussion with Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria. Also, Tony Cartalucci, Amnesty International admits Syria’s ‘torture prison’ report fabricated entirely in UK, Sign of the Times, 9 February 2017. And, Rick Sterling, Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War, ConsortiumNews, 11 February 2017.

[13] Thomas Frank, Hypocrite at the good cause parties, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2018

[14] Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[15] TASS, US preparing strikes on Syria, carrier strike groups set up in Mediterranean, 17 March 2018

British Press Provides Space for Johnson's 'Categorical' Lies on Skripal Scandal

Boris Johnson is a Categorical Liar 

by Craig Murray

March 22, 2018

Evidence submitted by the British government in court today proves, beyond any doubt, that Boris Johnson has been point blank lying about the degree of certainty Porton Down scientists have about the Skripals being poisoned with a Russian “novichok” agent.

Yesterday in an interview with Deutsche Welle Boris Johnson claimed directly Porton Down had told him they positively identified the nerve agent as Russian:

You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?

Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …

So they have the samples …

They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, “Are you sure?” And he said there’s no doubt.

I knew and had published from my own whistleblowers that this is a lie. Until now I could not prove it. But today I can absolutely prove it, due to the judgement at the High Court case which gave permission for new blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for use by the OPCW.

Justice Williams included in his judgement a summary of the evidence which tells us, directly for the first time, what Porton Down have actually said:

The Evidence

16. The evidence in support of the application is contained within the applications themselves (in particular the Forms COP 3) and the witness statements.
17. I consider the following to be the relevant parts of the evidence. I shall identify the witnesses only by their role and shall summarise the essential elements of their evidence.
i) CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst
Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.

The emphasis is mine. This sworn Court evidence direct from Porton Down is utterly incompatible with what Boris Johnson has been saying. The truth is that Porton Down have not even positively identified this as a “Novichok”, as opposed to “a closely related agent”. Even if it were a “Novichok” that would not prove manufacture in Russia, and a “closely related agent” could be manufactured by literally scores of state and non-state actors.

This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the government have been straight out lying – to Parliament, to the EU, to NATO, to the United Nations, and above all to the people – about their degree of certainty of the origin of the attack. It might well be an attack originating in Russia, but there are indeed other possibilities and investigation is needed. As the government has sought to whip up jingoistic hysteria in advance of forthcoming local elections, the scale of the lie has daily increased.

On a sombre note, I am very much afraid the High Court evidence seems to indicate there is very little chance the Skripals will ever recover; one of the reasons the judge gave for his decision is that samples taken now will be better for analysis than samples taken post mortem.


This website remains under a massive DOS attack which has persisted for more than 24 hours now, but so far the defences are holding. Some strange form of “ghost banning” is also affecting both my twitter and Facebook feeds. So please

a) Feel free to repost, republish, translate or spread this article anywhere and anyway you can. All copyright is waived.
b) If you came here by Twitter, please retweet but also in addition create a new tweet yourself containing a link to this post (or to any other site on which you have placed the information)
c) If you came here by Facebook, again please share but also in addition create a new post yourself which contains the information and the link.

The state and corporate media now have evidence of the vast discrepancy between what May and Johnson are saying, and the truth about the Porton Down scientists’ position. I am afraid to say I expect this to make no difference whatsoever to the propaganda output of the BBC.

As TransMountain Protest Escalates, Police Tactics Grow More Aggressive

Aggressive Police Tactics Escalate Against TransMountain Pipeline Protests in Canada


March 23, 2018

Indigenous environmental activist, Clayton Thomas-Muller of, says not only did arrests take place outside exclusion zone but police are escalating their aggression against non-violent land and water defenders with aim of criminalizing peaceful dissent.

Clayton Thomas Muller is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, Canada. Based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Clayton is a Stop it at the Source campaigner for

After the Windfall: Puerto Rico's Would Be Moia

Seasteading Meets the Shock Doctrine in Puerto Rico, Where Ethnic Cleansing Precedes Going Galt

by Cory Doctorow - Boing Boing

March 23, 2018

Naomi Klein's l(ooooo)ong read in The Intercept about the state of play in Puerto Rico is the comprehensive summary of the post-Maria fuckery and hope that has gripped America's colonial laboratory, the place where taxation without representation, austerity, chemical weapons, new drugs, and new agribusiness techniques get trialed before the rest of America are subjected to them.

Puerto Rico has experienced centuries of fuckery, including a brutal anti-independence regime that murdered and jailed American citizens for waving a flag, peacefully protesting, and pure speech acts in which factual recitals of the state of Puerto Rico became crimes.

The fuckery never stopped. After being colonized for medical experiments, chemical weapons experiments, and agribusiness experiments, Puerto Rico was colonized for financial experiments.

First the island offered short-term tax incentives for businesses to locate there (the dubious benefits of this were wiped off the ledger and converted to deficits when all the businesses left the island after their tax holiday ended); then the island floated tax-free bonds that rang up massive debt; then came even shittier bonds with predatory interest rates that ballooned to 785%-1000% after their teaser rates expire.

The Puerto Rican government was stripped of its power to govern in favor of an appointed board of finance industry execs whose job was to ensure that those bonds got serviced, at any expense -- including the shuttering of critical state institutions and the sale of state assets (often at sweetheart rates to their friends).

Puerto Ricans had just about had enough in 2017, and waves of protests and uprisings shook the island, stemming the tide and showing a solidarity that put the whole neoliberal project in jeopardy. Then Hurricane Maria hit.

You may remember what a piece of fuckery that was, but let me refresh you: there was the two-person company that employed a Trump cabinet member's son, who were awarded a $300,000,000 contract to rebuild the island's shattered power grid; the anonymous mercenaries who flooded the city streets; the not-even-trying spin-doctoring by Trump officials; Trump's war against local officials who stood up to him; the official indifference and incompetence, culminating in the paper towel incident, which is by no means the cruelest fuckery, but possibly the most emblematic.

(Naturally, elected Republicans rejected the Warren-Sanders plan to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.)

In the wake of Maria, in the face of seemingly deliberate governmental indifference, community organizers, anarchists and socialists stepped in to fill the void, laying the ground for a new Puerto Rican resistance that could form out of the ruins of Maria.

But the new face of Puerto Rico is ferociously contested. A group of cryptocurrency speculators have hatched a plan to create "Puertopia," in which a radically depopulated island becomes a kind of on-shore off-shore tax-haven. Puerto Rico already offers a raft of tax-gifts to fly-in bankers; if you overwinter in Puerto Rico, you can avail yourself of a 0% capital gains and 0% interest and dividends tax-rates (this tax deal is not available to year-round, ordinary Puerto Rican residents). Move your businesses's registration to Puerto Rico and you'll enjoy a 4% corporate tax rate. All without leaving the USA or relinquishing your US passport!

The Puertopians and the neoliberal management of Puerto Rico have convergent interests, and those interests likewise converge with trumpism: since Maria, the island has experienced radical depopulation, driven by the incompetence of the relief effort; the government projects (plans) a 20% drop in population overall. There are official plans, some already underway, to sell off state assets at fire-sale prices, and to shutter public schools, end independent consumption-crop farming in favor of corporate cash-crop farms tended by low-wage workers who have no rights to speak of.

Against this are the green shoots of a new Puerto Rican resistance, reborn after Maria. The fact that decentralized, renewable energy; sustainable consumption-crop farming; and publicly run schools all weathered the storm more-or-less intact is an existence-proof of a better way for Puerto Rico, one grounded in fiscal sovereignty, educational sovereignty, food sovereignty, and the refactoring of Puerto Rican infrastructure to benefit Puerto Ricans and resilience.

Meanwhile, the Puertopians and the island's technocratic appointed managers plan to supercharge the factors that created a disaster on Puerto Rico: more filthy, groaning fossil fuels that poison the people and the land under normal operating conditions, and then do it a thousand times more when they're inundated by severe weather; more austerity; an end to public education in favor of Devos-compliant charter-schools; more centralization of the ports where fuel comes in and cash crops go out -- more profitable fragility that assumes that big business can always get bailed out by the state, while paying virtually no tax to support that state.

Klein's story shows how the "sovereignty" sought by the Puertopians -- the power to take away someone else's island through corrupt privatization deals and then run the place without any duty to the people you expropriated -- contrasts with the meaningful sovereignty of Puerto Rican resistance. When Devos tries to close their public schools and replace them with charter schools, the teachers and parents occupy their schools and refuse to allow them to be closed. Devos wants "school choice," but only if that choice is to funnel tax-dollars to for-profit charter schools that teach Dominionist gospel.

Klein paints a picture of a wildly overmatched resistance that is fighting "fast capital," "unencumbered by democratic norms" where "the governor and the fiscal control board can whip up their plan to radically downsize and auction off the territory in a matter of weeks."

Meanwhile, the resistance is struggling with the administrative incompetence after Maria, struggling to feed themselves, to stave off critical illness, to survive.

The Puertopia vision is to transform the island into "a fly-in bedroom community for tax-dodging plutocrats," who believe that taxation is theft and pay lip service to "freedom" -- while enthusiastically backing the governor's plan to "penalize communities that set up their own renewable micro-grids."

But the resistance has an advantage: its history. They're not starting from scratch: they've been at it for a century, and they reached a zenith last year, just before Maria. The hurricane smashed the island, but the reconstruction process has brought people together in hardened, tight-knit brigades who are fiercely determined to free their homeland from colonialist exploitation. It's not a fair fight, but they stand a chance -- especially now, when so much of the world seems to be waking up to the manifest injustice of inequality and unchecked, late-stage capitalism.

It's a great read, and it holds out hope, which we all need -- especially the people of Puerto Rico.

For those harboring these Randian secessionist fantasies, Puerto Rico is a much lighter lift. When it comes to taxing and regulating the wealthy, its current government has surrendered with unmatched enthusiasm. And there’s no need to go to the trouble of building your own islands on elaborate floating platforms — as one Puerto Crypto session put it, Puerto Rico is poised to be transformed into a “crypto-island.”

Sure, unlike the empty city-states Seasteaders fantasize about, real-world Puerto Rico is densely habited with living, breathing Puerto Ricans. But FEMA and the governor’s office have been doing their best to take care of that too. Though there has been no reliable effort to track migration flows since Hurricane Maria, some 200,000 people have reportedly left the island, many of them with federal help.

This exodus was first presented as a temporary emergency measure, but it has since become apparent that the depopulation is intended to be permanent. The Puerto Rican governor’s office predicts that over the next five years, the island’s population will experience a “cumulative decline” of nearly 20 percent.

The Battle for Paradise [Naomi Klein/The Intercept]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Hearing the Skripal Evidence

The Skripal Case Goes to Court for the First Time - New Uncertainties for the British and Russian Governments

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

March 23, 2018

Moscow  - British High Court Justice David Williams has issued the first court adjudication of evidence presented by the British Government of what happened to Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal when they succumbed to poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Following three days of closed-door hearings this week in London, the judge issued a ruling for publication yesterday.

This allows the commencement of a process of evidence-gathering and testing by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under international treaty procedures and rules for the admissibility of evidence.

The new court-ordered safeguards respond to the criticism issued in an official aide-memoire from the Russian Foreign Ministry on March 21. In that document, the Russian Government criticized the British Government for failing to secure “the chain of custody [of blood sample and poison evidence] up to all the OPCW requirements when evidence was collected”.

The process ordered by Justice Williams yesterday will not only assure the independence of OPCW evidence-gathering. By DNA testing of the fresh blood samples to be taken by the OPCW and matched against the original blood samples taken by British investigators to the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Russian suspicion of evidence tampering will be addressed.

In a dramatic disclosure defying explanation, Williams has now revealed that lawyers representing the Skripals and witnesses from the Salisbury Hospital and the British Government told the court there has been no approach from any Russian family member, any Russian government agency, or a lawyer acting for them to seek access to the Skripals or their medical records.

According to the hospital witness,

“the hospital has not been approached by anyone known to the patients to enquire of their welfare. The hospital know little about either patient or what they might have wished. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates have been appointed by the Trust to assist with best interests decisions on clinical matters.”

Representing the Skripals, Vikram Sachdeva QC told the judge “that in this case at present it did not appear practicable or appropriate to seek the views of others who might be interested in the welfare of Mr Skripal (his mother perhaps) or Ms Skripal (perhaps a fiancé).”

Justice Williams, 53, was a barrister and Queens Counsel (QC) specializing in family law and the protection of children, until his appointment to the family division of the High Court, and its special Court of Protection last October. This court hears applications relating to individuals who, the court website explains, “can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (they ‘lack mental capacity’).”

The hospital’s testimony appears to contradict the declaration from the Foreign Ministry in Moscow that,

“the United Kingdom is … still denying, without any explanation, Russian officials’ consular access to Yulia Skripal envisaged by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. For more than two weeks now, we have not been able to credibly ascertain what happened to our citizen and what condition she is actually in.” 

Left: Justice David Williams; right, Vikram Sachdeva QC.

The Skripal court case was initiated by lawyers acting for the Skripals, the Salisbury hospital and the British Government through the Secretary of State for the Home Department; they were acting in concert. The Russian Government was not consulted or informed in advance. The judge ruled that “the Russian consular authorities will be made aware of these proceedings because [after] this judgment will be published”. Read the 18-page judgement here.

Five witnesses appeared in court to give evidence. They included a doctor treating the Skripals, as well as Porton Down scientists who analysed blood samples from the Skripals to identify the poison; together with officials from the Home Office and the Foreign Office. No police investigator appeared. Documentary evidence was also presented, containing “sensitive material including material deriving from the OPCW”. Hearings were held on March 20, 21, and 22 and Williams issued his judgement at the end of the third day.

The judge summarized the evidence of a witness he identified as a “Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst”. This source testified that “blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.”

No source for the nerve agent was reported by the judge. No Russian culpability was hinted in the judgement. For allegations of Russian manufacture and Kremlin culpability in the nerve agent attack by Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, read this.

After ruling that the Skripals lack the capacity to give their consent for fresh blood testing and for the disclosure of their medical records to the OPCW, Williams concluded.

“there may be some potential medical benefit in the tests being conducted by the OPCW in that they may identify some matter which sheds further light on the nature of the agent involved and thus the treatment that might be administered. I understand that the Secretary of State reposes complete confidence in the results of the tests carried out by Porton Down but I believe both that Mr Skripal and Ms Skripal would wish for the further analysis (and so s.4(6)(c) would be engaged) but that also objectively there is benefit in the expertise of the OPCW also being brought to bear even if the possibility of them uncovering something useful from a medical perspective may be slight.”
“Those matters therefore support the conclusion that it is in the best interests of Mr Skripal and Ms Skripal to have further blood samples taken and for their medical records to be disclosed.”

Williams also acknowledged that the OPCW might come to a different conclusion from the British Government. Accordingly, he said it was in the best interests of the Skripals that the blood sampling, DNA matching, and opening of the medical records should be allowed.

“I am satisfied that an inquiry such as the OPCW will conduct which might verify Porton Down’s conclusion, might elaborate or clarify them or might reach a different conclusion is something they [the Skripals] would wish be conducted and they would want to assist in that by providing samples.” 

OPCW headquarters in The Hague. Organization’s website can be opened here.

The Skripals, the judge added, “would be likely to want to support the work of the international body set up by international law knowing that its processes are unimpeachable, it is entirely independent, that the results of its enquiry would potentially be beneficial to the criminal investigation, confirming the nature of the attack and the substance used; assistance in bringing to justice those responsible; identifying those who carried out the attack. They would want to support the UK Government in taking steps on the international plane to hold those responsible to account.”

The absence of all Russian participation in this week’s London proceeding was ignored by the judge. Nor did he attempt to explain it in his ruling. “Given the absence of any contact having been made with the NHS [National Health Service] Trust by any family member, the absence of any evidence of any family in the UK and the limited evidence as to the possible existence of family members in Russia I accept that it is neither practicable nor appropriate in the special context of this case to consult with any relatives of Mr Skripal or Ms Skripal who might fall into the category identified in s.4(7)(b) of the Act.”

This reference to the statute can be read here. Section 4(7)(b) requires the judge deciding the best interests of an incapacitated person to take into account the views of “anyone engaged in caring for the person or interested in his welfare.” Williams claimed this section applies to “relatives”. The statute doesn’t say so.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in London say they qualify. The Russians also say that for two weeks following the March 4 attack on the Skripals – that’s more than two weeks before Williams opened his first court hearing – they made this explicit to the Home Office. There is no sign the Russian Embassy engaged British lawyers to surmount the Home Office obstacles by presenting their case in court. Russian intelligence agents in London appear not to have known about the Court of Protection proceeding.

Sachdeva was asked this morning if he was aware of efforts by other London lawyers to represent the interests of the Skripals and the Russian Government; for details of the Habeas Corpus procedure, read this.

Sachdeva was also asked to explain the apparent contradiction between what he claimed in court and the statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow: “the United Kingdom is … still denying, without any explanation, Russian officials’ consular access to Yulia Skripal envisaged by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. For more than two weeks now, we have not been able to credibly ascertain what happened to our citizen and what condition she is actually in.”

Sachdeva refused telephone and email requests to reply.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Philippine "Trump" Wages a Domestic War

Philippines: Duterte's Bloody War on His Own People 


March 21, 2018

Increasingly authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to classify hundreds of leftists as terrorists as he cracks down on the country's powerful communist movement.

We speak to Cristina Palabay, the secretary general of KARAPATAN, and Teddy Casino, a former congressman and representative of the Bayan Muna party.

Teddy Casino is a former Congressman and representative of the Bayan Muna Partylist, columnist for The Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, and a speaker who will be traveling to the U.S. to participate in ICHRP US's Stop the Killings speaking tour which will take place from late April to mid May across the United States.

Cristina 'Tinay' Palabay is the Secretary General of the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights, who herself has been threatened for her human rights work.

Glob and Maul: Canadian Media's Dismal Russia Coverage

Anti-Russia Prejudice Running Amok in Canada's Mainstream Media

by Roger Annis - A Socialist In Canada

March 20, 2018 

Canada’s toxic, corporate media is on an absolute tear against Russia and its president these days.

The occasion is the confluence of the Russian presidential election of March 18, the increasingly bizarre performance of Canada’s closest ally–the Donald Trump presidential administration, and the need to shore up, somehow, the ongoing erosion of moral and political authority of the entire Western imperialist order.

Sochi voter casts ballot in Russia's
March 18, 2018 presidential election (Sputnik)

The latter is visibly in panic in Britain where the government is manufacturing bizarre tales of the Russian government ordering assassinations on British soil using highly dangerous chemicals.

The Globe and Mail national daily published a feature article in its edition of Saturday, March 17 by its lead anti-Russia writer, Mark MacKinnon. The article continues the worst of the anti-Slavic and Cold War imagery that now dominates the reporting of Russia by the Globe and Mail in particular and Western media in general.

In this latest case, we read from MacKinnon that Vladimir Putin wants the Russian Federation to become a new Soviet Union. His lame article is headlined, ‘Back to the USSR: Putin and the new Cold War’. The sub-headline reads ominously: ‘Putin’s election victory is a sure thing. But he’s eyeing a much bigger prize.’

The article lead is featured on page one of the Globe along with a large image of the man himself, Vladimir Putin. The article is straight out of B-grade journalism, with the only thing missing being sinister-looking sunglasses adorning the image of the Russian president.

MacKinnon wrote a similarly lame piece for the Globe two days later, purporting to report on the Russian presidential election. He writes,

“If you’re a Russian who believes your country should be a part of – rather than an opponent of – Europe and the West, Mr. Putin’s thumping win is meant to tell you that you’re in a tiny minority.”

The National Post manages to outdo the Globe in its own latest round of anti-Russia reporting in a feature article by Adrian Humphreys. It is headlined, ‘The devilish art of assassination: Why Russia eliminates its enemies with dramatic flair’. Humphreys is described by the Post as a “senior investigative reporter”.

The fever has also caught on at Maclean’s, the monthly, conservative news magazine, as Professor Paul Robinson at the University of Ottawa reports on his website Irrussianality on March 17. He titles his report ‘Three doses of drivel’ and writes,

“Maclean’s is Canada’s equivalent of Time or Newsweek, that’s to say it’s a glossy magazine with lots of photographs mingled together with analysis of domestic and international events. In recent times, it’s been a reliable source of foaming-in-the mouth Russophobic commentary, but this week’s it’s outdone even itself by printing no fewer than three articles involving Russia, each one every bit as bad as the other.”

Canadians have been fed a constant barrage of anti-Russia propaganda in the leadup to the Russian presidential election by the Moscow correspondent of the state-run CBC. From Chris Brown, a reporter with no background and no expertise on Russia, we have been fed a constant stream of depictions of the election as rife with fraud, threats, intimidation and all other manner of crimes and wrongdoings. This in a country, Russia, that we are constantly told is falling apart. Unlike Canada’s closest ally, on the other side of the 49th parallel.

In a published article on March 17, Brown writes,

“Putin’s guarantee of another term as president — made largely possible through a combination of opponent elimination and a Kremlin-friendly media landscape — is assured. If he stays the full six-year term, his reign atop Russia’s political pyramid will stretch to 24 years. Since the Russian Revolution a century ago, only Josef Stalin has ruled longer.”

CBC describes Chris Brown in these words: “Previously a National Reporter in Vancouver, Chris has a passion for great stories and has travelled all over Canada and the world to find them.” Great stories, indeed.

The CBC story teller laments in the same article,

“Putin’s biggest adversary, anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, was banned from running. So the only drama election night will be watching how many Russians get off the couch to cast ballots.”

Vladimir Putin won Russia’s presidential election with 77 per cent of the vote. Western media reporting was a thousand and one variants of ‘What do you expect? He’s a dictator’ or ‘We all know the outcome, so don’t even bother to pay attention.’ Putin’s astonishingly high approval rate is an embarrassment to his unpopular Western counterparts and the election circuses which they stage in which participation rates by voters have declined for decades.

Western media is deeply angry at the Russian population for the fact that pro-Western political figures such as Alexei Navalny just cannot seem to win gain much political support. The so-called ‘liberals’ wish to see Russia assume an obedient, subservient role in the world order, something akin to the good old days of cowboy capitalism in Russia during the 1990s. But damned if the liberals just cannot gain much support from the Russian population.

The epicentre of Western anger and revenge is the population of Crimea. The West still cannot believe that the estimated 2.3 million Crimeans had the audacity to defy Western diktat in 2014. They were told to put up and shut up with the violent, Western backed ‘Maidan’ coup in February 2014 that saw extreme-right paramilitaries overthrow Ukraine’s elected president. But less than one month after that coup, Crimeans voted in a referendum by a large majority to secede from the new, extreme-right Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation. How dare they!

Subsequent polls of Crimeans show high levels of satisfaction with the March 16, 2014 referendum decision, even among the approximately 24 per cent of the Crimean population that is of Ukrainian ethnicity.

Mark MacKinnon writes in his aforementioned election analysis,

“The picture is even more dramatic if you consider that Mr. Putin’s nearest rivals were the Communist Party candidate and an ultranationalist firebrand, who respectively won 12 per cent and 6 per cent. Ninety-five per cent of Russians who voted cast their ballots for politicians who support confrontation with the West.”

MacKinnon inadvertently provides his readers with a glimmer of insight to Russian majority attitudes in the form of a quote from an important media figure in Russia: “We don’t want to live like you anymore,” Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-run RT news channel, wrote on Monday [March 19], addressing the West in general via a series of Twitter posts.

“For 50 years – secretly and clearly – we wanted to live like you, but we don’t anymore. We don’t respect you anymore.”

MacKinnon looks at the sad state of affairs among the Russian liberals themselves:

Adding to the feeling of defeat, Russia’s liberals are angrily divided over how to proceed from here. Ms. [Ksenia] Sobchak announced last week that she was teaming with Dmitry Gudkov – who was the only remaining Putin opponent in the country’s 450-seat parliament until he lost his seat last year – to start a new movement that they hope can resurrect liberal politics in the country by focusing first on the upcoming mayoral elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

But the new party looks doomed from the start without the participation of Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, who acrimoniously fell out with Ms. Sobchak over her decision to run for president…

The 36 year old journalist-lite Sobchak won less than two per cent of the vote.

The Globe is championing the efforts of the extreme-right government in Ukraine to goad NATO countries into ever-harsher economic sanctions against Russia. The latest instalment of that effort is an article on March 20 urging Germany to cancel a planned twinning of the ‘Nord Stream’ natural gas pipeline delivering Russian natural gas to Germany under the Black Sea. Nord Stream 1 and the proposed Nord Stream 2 allow Russia to bypass overland gas pipeline transit across Ukraine or Baltic republics. Ukraine stands to lose substantial gas transit revenues as Russia reconfigures its gas shipments away from the territory of its extremely hostile neighbour.

Is there anything positive that ever happens in Russia, according to Canada’s corporate media and government? No there isn’t. Russia is just a big, dark hole, plunging ever further into the abyss, Canada’s corporate media shouts in unison. What better way than this to deflect the fact that Canada’s corporate and political leaders have led ‘their’ country to its own abyss. Canada is tied lock, stock and barrel to an unhinged presidential administration in the U.S. hell bent on more wars, more environmental destruction and more social and physical violence against its own population.

The U.S. administration does not even respect its fawning friends. Canada’s corporate leaders are frantically trying to convince the U.S. to exempt them from threatened protectionist economic measures. These are being brandished by Donald Trump and his ilk as a magic potion before a worried and unsettled U.S. population.

Read also:
Behind this week’s Russia headlines: A mystery, a leap to conclusions and a fateful turn, by Patrick Lawrence,, March 18, 2018 (Patrick Lawrence is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist.)

Voter turnout at Russian polls – why pay attention, RT, March 18, 2018

American Gothic: 2020 As Recurring Nightmare

Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American

by Nate Terani - TomDispatch

March 22, 2018

Understand this: I’m an American veteran.

I’m also a Muslim-American in a country in which, in these years, that hasn’t exactly been the happiest category to fall into. Now, let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had an ominous dream. It was noon on a grey, cold January 20th, 2020, and Donald Trump was being sworn in for his second term as president.

Massive inaugural crowds cheered him exuberantly as a gentle snow fell upon a sea of MAGA red-hats and TRUMP banners waving in front of the Capitol.

In my dream, however, the Capitol wasn't quite the same as I remembered it from my days stationed there as a young Navy sailor. It seemed almost war-torn as clouds of dark smoke billowed up on the horizon and the sound of gunfire could be heard somewhere in the distance. In my dream -- don’t ask me how -- I could also hear the terror-filled voices of people screaming or crying out for help as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, clad in black uniforms, stormed local Washington homes and businesses, arresting people and loading them onto large unmarked cargo trucks.

Meanwhile, those inaugural crowds -- I have no idea if they were the largest in the history of dreams -- were flanked by military Humvees as heavily armed soldiers in unfamiliar camouflage uniforms stood behind the president while he delivered his second inaugural address. I could even hear his words eerily reverberating through the Capitol. “The enemy,” he exclaimed, “has infiltrated our great nation because of weak immigration laws allowed by treasonous politicians!”

At that very moment, he told the exuberant crowd, he was already singlehandedly purging “those terrorists and their enablers from our ranks.” The MAGA banners waved ever more frantically and the crowd roared as he declared, “Law and order are now being restored to our great nation once again!”

I awoke in a cold sweat. Unlike the sort of nightmare I’d normally shake off as a fantasy of slumber, the result perhaps of that late night dose of Ben and Jerry’s I had meant to resist, this one stuck with me and, I’m sorry to say, recurred. 
Worse yet, these days I no longer have to drop into some deep, unnerving dream state to experience it. 
Tomgram: Nate Terani, Being Demonized in Your Own Country

Who could possibly keep up with the discordant version of musical chairs now being played out in Washington? When it comes to Donald Trump’s White House, the old sports phrase about needing a scorecard to keep track of the players pops to mind (though you would need a new one every day or maybe every few hours). The turnover rate of top White House staffers was already at 43%, a record for any administration in little more than its first year in office, before the latest round of exits even began.

Recently, the president nominated Gina Haspel (“Bloody Gina”) to head the CIA. She had, in fact, been responsible for running one of the Bush administration's earliest and most brutal “black sites” and had a significant hand as well in destroying evidence of what CIA torturers had done there and elsewhere. Meanwhile, he tapped the Agency's previous director, Mike Pompeo, a notorious Tea Party Islamophobe and Iranophobe, to replace Twitter-fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Now, another key post is evidently about to be up for grabs. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is reportedly almost out the door as the president openly considers a replacement for him, possibly former Bush-era ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He's another major Iranophobe, who has called for launching military operations against that country for years. Like the recent replacement of economic adviser Gary Cohn by conservative CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, all of the president's new appointments or possible ones seem to have something in common: each is to the right of and significantly more extreme than the person he or she is replacing. Whether it’s the tearing up of the Iran nuclear deal and a possible future war with that country or yet more plutocratic economic policies, Donald Trump now seems intent on creating an ever more extreme administration.

In the context of that growing extremity, including the potential return of torture, the possible refilling of Guantanamo with new prisoners, the intensification of war across the Greater Middle East with a new focus on Iran, and the entrenchment of particularly extreme forms of Islamophobia, let U.S. Navy veteran Nate Terani take you into his own personal hell as a Muslim-American. It's a hell that remains largely private at the moment, but for how long? Tom

Donald Trump’s America: 

Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American

by Nate Terani 


American Fear-scapes

Though few of us are likely to admit it, some version of that dream of mine is, in fact, the secret daily nightmare of millions of my fellow Muslim-Americans. In a moment, when immigrants in this country live in a fear-scape all their own, believe me, so do we. In our living nightmare, an administration that can seem not just ineffective but hapless beyond imagining, plagued by scandal, and stocked with staff members heading for the exits (or being escorted off White House grounds) might nonetheless transform itself into something even more deeply threatening to Americans like us. It might sooner or later consolidate power and, eager to distract the public from its actual plutocratic and other grim policies, turn on us “bigly.” Without dropping into another dream state, I can easily enough imagine how, with the tacit endorsement of Trump’s base, that administration might prepare itself to use a future devastating terror attack, the next Orlando or San Bernardino, to skewer American Muslims or the immigrant community and so pave the way for a true living nightmare.

Such a crisis could take many forms, but imagine, for instance, a “dirty bomb” attack (the use of conventional explosives to spread radioactive nuclear waste materials across a wide area of some urban neighborhood). Just such an attack has certainly been a focus of concern in the U.S. intelligence community for years now. In fact, in 1999, while on active duty as a new member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the first interagency briefing I attended at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, focused on that very issue.

Should that happen or anything like it, it’s easy enough to imagine how the Trump administration might use it to enhance its own power at our expense. With the public cowering in fear, martial law might be declared. Meanwhile, a Congress that, in the face of the imperial presidency, has already abdicated its constitutional duty to declare war, might grant Donald Trump far greater authority than he already possesses, thanks to the unprecedented post-9/11 powers any president now wields -- and the American people (or enough of them, at least) would “rally 'round the chief.”

And then, or so I imagine (and, at least among American Muslims I know, I’m not alone in this), so much worse would begin to unfold and my recurring nightmare would become a nightmarish reality. In the aftermath of such an attack, so much in our world, from the Women’s March to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, would become distant and forgotten memories. Dissent would be denounced as unpatriotic, perhaps ultimately illegal, and basic human rights might be suspended.

By now, I’m sure you see where I’m going. In my nightmare at least -- and I’m talking about the waking one now, the one I live with every day -- countless immigrants and American Muslims are in camps awaiting who knows what. It’s not as if there is no precedent for anything like that in America, given the experience of Japanese-Americans rounded up and kept in just such camps during World War II.

In this moment of growing Islamophobia, at a time when a president has a desire to simply ban foreign Muslims and cast American ones as the worst of the worst, it’s just one more step into my fears of the future for me to imagine myself, an American veteran, as well as my family and other members of the Muslim community, sitting inside darkened train cars on our way to internment camps, while we desperately try to convince ourselves that surely the Supreme Court will overturn such an injustice.

And given our world, given the history of racism in this country, it’s not that hard to imagine scores of broken men, women, and children already at our destination as we hurtle down the tracks to join them. Nor is it that hard to imagine the Trump administration dismissing those who protest such treatment as disloyal co-conspirators, and then using militarized police raiders to hunt some of them down, too. I can even imagine mosques being set ablaze and synagogues and churches that attempted to protect citizens fleeing all of this being raided at the government’s orders.

Heading for a Dark Destination

In some dark corner of my mind, given what we know about what we human beings are capable of, I can almost imagine some kind of Muslim-American version of the Holocaust, the ultimate nightmare that immigrants and Muslim-Americans have dreaded since Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016, but dare not whisper. There’s nothing sadder to say than that such fears do not completely lack historical precedent: the world has, of course, been here before.

If the fate of the millions who perished during World War II, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his minions, doesn’t seem real enough to you, just pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There, you can witness the haunting images of our human brethren who, by virtue of their faith or background, were destroyed, some by their own countrymen.

Now, I know perfectly well that those of you who aren’t Muslim-Americans are likely to find such fantasies at best extreme; at worst, beyond conception. The reason isn’t hard to imagine, because of course Donald Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler; White House adviser Stephen Miller isn’t Joseph Goebbels; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t Hermann Göring; and former CIA Director and next Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t Heinrich Himmler. Yes -- but Pompeo, a major Islamophobe in an administration filled with them, has insisted that all Muslims are potentially complicit in terrorism and that “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way” are a “threat to America.” He has also received the “National Security Eagle Award” from a noted anti-Muslim hate group, ACT for America, and has been interviewed more than 20 times by Frank Gaffney, “the country’s most influential Islamophobe,” on his radio show. And when it comes to Islamophobia (and Iranophobia as well), in this administration Pompeo is hardly alone.

Still, not even bans, insults, and a visible loathing for those of us who don’t look like and pray like the president and his men, not even torchlight parades by Trump-supporting American neo-Nazis, get you easily to anything like an American Holocaust. But know, when you read this, that there are those of us out here who, in the dark of night, are indeed haunted by such thoughts anyway and by thoughts as well of those in the 1930s who dismissed the fears of the worst to come as so much hyperbole.

Speaking just for myself, I can’t help but believe that, in our 241-year history that includes a bitter civil war, two world wars, and the Great Depression, this could turn out to be the most crucial moment of all. I can’t help but wonder, at least in my bleaker moments, whether there will be any coming back from the dark destination, whatever it turns out to be, that we, as a nation, now seem headed for. And if not, just remember that no one will be able to say that we didn’t know what we were doing, that there were no warnings as people like me were demonized in our own country.

Whatever hell might still come, for this veteran at least, Donald Trump’s America is already hell enough.

Nate Terani is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in military intelligence with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently a spokesperson for Common Defense PAC and regional campaign organizer with Veterans Challenge Islamophobia. He is a featured columnist with the Arizona Muslim Voice newspaper. This is his second TomDispatch piece. Follow him on Twitter at @NateTerani.

Copyright 2018 Nate Terani