Saturday, July 28, 2018

Passing: Ed Schultz - A Legacy Outside the Mainstream

The Corporate Media Won't Tell You

by Lee Camp - Redacted Tonight

July 16, 2018

Ed Schultz's legacy should definitely include the parts that the corporate media would NEVER tell you.

Here's my short video on it.

Still Standing: The Faces of North Korea

Releasing My North Korean Documentary Film to My Readers 

by Andre Vltchek - NEO

July 28, 2018

This is my 25-minutes piece about the DPRK (North Korea) – country that I visited relatively recently; visited and loved, was impressed with, and let me be frank – admired.

I don’t really know if I could call this a ‘documentary’. Perhaps not. A simple story, you know: I met a girl, tiny and delicate, at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang.

How old was she? Who knows; perhaps four or five. She was first clinging to her mom, then to a Korean professor Kiyul, even to a former US Attorney, General Ramsey Clark. Then she began skating away, waving innocently, looking back at me, at us, or just looking back…

Suddenly I was terribly scared for her. It was almost some physical fear. Perhaps it was irrational, like panic, I don’t know…

I did not want anything bad to happen to her. I did not want the US nukes start falling all around her. I did not want her to end up like those poor Vietnamese or Iraqi or Afghan children, victims of the Western barbarism; of the chemical weapons, depleted uranium, or cluster bombs. I did not want her to starve because of some insane sanctions pushed through the UN by spiteful maniacs who simply hate “the Others”.

And so, I produced a short film, about what I saw in North Korea. A film that I made for, dedicated to, that little girl at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang.

When I was filming, collecting footage in DPRK, the war, an attack from the West or from Japan or South Korea, looked possible, almost likely.

When, some time later, I was editing, in Beirut, with a Lebanese editor, US President Donald Trump was threatening to “take care of the North Korea”. What he meant was clear. Trump is a ‘honest man’. In the film I call him ‘a manager’. He may not be an Einstein, but he usually says what he means, at each given moment. You know, the Yakuza-style.

Now when I am releasing this humble work of mine, things look brighter after the Singapore Summit, although I really do not trust the West, after more than 500 years of barbaric colonialist wars and crusades. The ‘manager’ is perhaps honest when he says that now he likes President Kim, but then again, tomorrow he could be ‘honest’ again, declaring that he changed him mind and wants to break his arm.

Time to hurry, I feel. Time to hurry and to show to as many people as possible, how beautiful North Korea is, and how dignified its people are.

I can “sell” footage or “sell rights” and make some money for my other internationalist projects, but the whole thing would get delayed, and only limited number of people would see it in such case.

By releasing it like this, through one of my favorite media outlets in the world – New Eastern Outlook – the film will make nothing, zero, but I guess it is my duty to do it this way. Hopefully, the piece will be seen by many and the pressure on the West and on Japan will grow – pressure to stop intimidation of the people who already suffered so tremendously much!

If someone wants to support my films, including my works in progress (two big documentary films I am working on right now, one about Afghanistan after almost two decades of the NATO occupation, another about almost total environmental destruction in Kalimantan/Borneo), it can be done here. But no pressure. Just enjoy this particular film and other films that I will be soon and gradually releasing.

In the meantime, North Korea is standing.

While the West is calculating, what to do next. I don’t have a good feeling about all this. I hope I am wrong. I hope this is just a beginning of the serious peace process…

But I guess I have seen too many ruins of the cities, of countries and entire continents. Most of them were bombed, reduced to rubble after various ‘peace processes’. Mostly the bombs and missiles began flying after some sound agreements were reached and signed.

I don’t want the same thing to happen to North Korea. I don’t want this girl whom I spotted at the roller-skating ring, to vanish.

What I did this time is not much, but it is something. In this dangerous situation, almost everything counts. Let’s all do “something”, even if it is just a tiny bit. Rain is made of water drops, but it can stop a big fire. This time let us try to stop the madness.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including The Great October Socialist Revolution. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Deep Tech. State: The Pentagon and a Silicon "Surveillance Valley"

Ex-Obama Officials Shill, and Bill, for Big Tech’s Pentagon Deals


July 27, 2018

As Google faced an internal employee revolt over its involvement in the Pentagon’s drone warfare program, the Obama-veteran firm WestExec stepped in to help.

Yasha Levine's new book, 'Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet' explores the deep ties between the tech industry and government officials and many others in depth. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

The New Holy Empire: A Press Reverence for NATO

The Sanctification of NATO

by Gregory Shupak - FAIR

July 26, 2018

Claims that US President Donald Trump is undermining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by criticizing some of its members and having a cordial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin have sent establishment media into a frenzy to sanctify NATO as a force for peace and democracy.

A Guardian editorial (7/10/18) asserted:

The NATO alliance has helped mold the modern world and ushered in a democratic, liberal world order characterized by open trade and open societies, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union needed only to be lightly defended. This in turn contributed greatly to American peace and prosperity.

Note that “American peace” is a phrase used to describe a state that is currently bombing one country or another every 12 minutes, while US “prosperity” takes the form of spending $716 billion on the war machine annually while 40 million Americans live in poverty, giving the country a child poverty rate of 21 percent as well as the worst child mortality rate among rich nations.

A New York Times editorial (7/8/18) said that since World War II, the alliance has been “the anchor of an American-led and American-financed peace that fostered Western prosperity and prevented new world wars.” According to the paper, NATO has

“linked America and Europe not just in a mutual defense pledge but in advancing democratic governance, the rule of law, civil and human rights, and an increasingly open international economy.

The Times argued that, while the alliance’s original purpose was allegedly to respond to a hypothetical Soviet attack, NATO “found a new purpose” after the fall of the USSR, “defending Muslims in the Balkans, and after 9/11, helping the United States fight terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and elsewhere.”

The New York Times (7/8/18) credits NATO with “advancing democratic governance, the rule of law, [and] civil and human rights.”What the Times called “defending Muslims in the Balkans” was actually NATO’s invasion of Yugoslavia, an important tool in the dismantling of that country, which only under the most curious of definitions could be described as an act of “peace” or an exemplar of “the rule of law,” since the attack was illegal. Likewise, in “fight[ing] terrorists in Afghanistan,” NATO has hardly shown itself to be an agent of “peace” in a war that’s gone on for almost 17 years, during which NATO members have demonstrated their regard for “civil and human rights” by killing thousands of Afghan civilians and supporting torturers.

While NATO’s occupation has yet to usher in an “open societ[y]” or democracy in Afghanistan, the alliance’s presence has coincided with the birth of ISIS in the country. Rather than embodying “peace” or “human rights,” the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, which NATO took part in by way of a “training mission,” entailed torture, the killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, the use of chemical weapons, and rates of infant mortality, cancer and leukemia higher than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then in the Iraqi theatre of the war ostensibly aimed at ISIS, NATO demonstrated these values and helped “fight terrorists” as part of a coalition that killed thousands of civilians.

The Times’ vague reference to “fight[ing] terrorists in…Africa” notwithstanding, none of the articles discussed above or below mentioned Libya, the site of NATO’s most recent full-scale war. Yet it’s fair to say that the seemingly endless war and social collapse in Libya that have followed NATO’s attack, as well as the “hell” of beheadings, rape, and slave markets that resulted from it, aren’t features of “open societies” characterized by “peace,” “democratic” politics and “the rule of law, civil and human rights.” One struggles, in fact, to come up with a single example where such things were the goal of a NATO intervention, let alone its outcome.

Advocating Aggression

Canonizing NATO involves not only erasing its innumerable crimes but also advocating the bolstering of the organization, which would both increase the threat of war and divert resources from socially necessary goods like healthcare, housing, education, ameliorating poverty and inequality, and addressing the climate crisis.

The Washington Post (7/7/18) applauds “the biggest buildup by US allies in 25 years”–despite the fact that NATO is already responsible for more than half the world’s spending on war.

A Washington Post editorial (7/7/18) said:

“There is considerable good news to celebrate: [NATO] has substantially beefed up defenses of its eastern flank, facing Russia; it is recommitting to vital missions in Afghanistan and Iraq; and every one of its members is increasing defense spending—the biggest buildup by US allies in 25 years.
The summit is due to adopt an ambitious new plan that would allow NATO to deploy 30 battalions, 30 squadrons of planes and 30 ships within 30 days—a resource that could considerably bolster the ability of the United States to respond to crises.

The Times editorial claimed that, “faced with” an unspecified “Russian threat”—the existence of which the editorial offers no evidence for, but refers to twice—“a firm and convincing commitment to a strong NATO” is important. Thus the paper implicitly endorsed NATO’s

“establishing two new military commands, expanding cyberwarfare and counterterrorism efforts, and approving a new plan to speed the reinforcement of troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltic States to deter Russian aggression.

None of this coverage addressed NATO’s threats to Russia and how these shape Russian actions. Though NATO leaders promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward” toward Russia, the alliance has since grown quite a few inches eastward by adding to its ranks Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia and Montenegro.

The Nation (7/11/18) was one of the few outlets not join in the sanctification of NATO.

As Benjamin Schwarz pointed out in The Nation (7/11/18), the US has “interfered in the pre- and post-coup political machinations in Ukraine,” and “NATO has signaled that its expansion into Ukraine is a question of when, not if.” He went on to note:

“And now that NATO has created an enemy [in Russia], it justifies its [own] intensifying provocative actions—the massive annual military exercises since 2010 in Poland, Lithuania, and, on Russia’s very doorstep, in Latvia and Estonia; the creation of a permanent US Army headquarters in Poland; a new Pentagon-devised plan for a prolonged war with Russia; the US ambassador to NATO’s explicit identification of “Russia and the malign activities of Russia” as NATO’s “major” target—by declaring that they are nothing more than a necessary reaction to Russian hostility and the need, as the New York Times editorial board declared this week, to “contain” the Russian “threat.”
“And what, according to the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, makes the Russians a threat? Nothing less than that their aim—which is as unproven as it would be understandable—is “to shatter” NATO, the military pact arrayed against them.

Since 2016, NATO has had 4,000 troops in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Thus, when the Post said NATO’s military buildup “could considerably bolster the ability of the United States to respond to crises,” it should have added that NATO is a driving force in creating these crises in the first place. These media accounts suggest, however, that NATO has an unlimited right to build up its forces near Russian territory, while any Russian response to that is entirely illegitimate.

Therein lies the meta level of the absurdity of this panic about Trump being anti-NATO. By insisting that US allies in the organization pay in more heavily, he’s actually calling for NATO to be built up. In February, the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, which authorized developing and deploying so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons to “deter” Russia in case it’s not already deterred by America’s massive nuclear arsenal.

The problem isn’t, as the media suggests, that Trump is weakening NATO; the problem is that he’s strengthening it.

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media, is published by OR Books.

Hot, Hot Heating: Our Burning Orb

The Burning Hot Planet

by Robert Hunziker - CounterPunch 

July 27, 2018

A recent UK newspaper headline read “The World’s On Fire,” is literally true as extraordinary continent-wide wildfires consume the planet, accompanied by unbearable, insufferable, oppressive heat. Europe, North America, Japan, and North Africa are all experiencing unprecedented scorching heat. Which begs the question: When will anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming be recognized as a reality by America, the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHG)?

Don’t look for confirmation from the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate or House, the leadership of America (ahem). They are all deniers, and thus have blocked any and all efforts of an American “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy.

The reality is that NASA warned the Senate about human-caused global warming way back in 1988. Thirty years later, the planet burns and America’s government has accomplished next to nothing, a big fat zero! In fact, the U.S. government is rolling back some regulations that slow down CO2 emissions. So, the USA is now onside with global warming, an advocate, all-in for more GHGs stoking more heat.

In sharp contrast to America, resourceful Germany is known as “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.” Over the first six months of 2018, “Germany produces enough renewable energy to power the country’s households for an entire year” (Source: Independent, July 2, 2018).

And, canny China has committed more funding (about $150B) to renewables over the past year than the EU and U.S. combined. As the U.S. looks to coal, China invests in renewable energy. China’s National Energy Administration ordered local governments to give priority access to renewable power generators. (Source: The Global Energiewende, Energy Transition, May 21, 2018)

Heat and fire: People hospitalized; People dying. In Japan alone 80 are dead from a pounding heat wave and 30,000+ hospitalized from heat stroke… oh, only 30,000, which number increases by the hour! Kumagaya 106F; Tokyo 104F.

Stifling heat engulfs the planet. Is this what global warming looks like? If not, then just imagine what the real thing looks like!

Nobody has made an official proclamation about the wherefores or causes of planetary heat, but one has to wonder whether anthropogenic global warming is the vicious monster standing behind the curtain. After all, there’s nobody assigned to officially announce the impact of human-influenced global warming, but it sure feels like it!

Temps like 120F in Chino, California are far, far above normal. And, how about 124F in Quargla, Africa? Or, even more bizarre yet, 74 heat wave deaths in Quebec, way up north.

It is indisputable that the planet is not handling the heat very well, but is it the planet’s fault? Did an angry, upset, abused, never loved Mother Earth wake up one day and decide to burn-up? Doubtful.
More likely, some outside force like Homo sapiens (which is Latin for “wise man”) pushed emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) too far for far too long.

In fact, the science is absolutely 100% clear: It’s indisputable that, over time, GHGs blanket the atmosphere and act like an oven… imagine that!

BBC science editor David Shukman says the striking feature of today’s multiple heat waves happening at the same time is the jet stream. It is meandering in gigantic wacky loops, thus altering climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere as it stalls for long periods of time, trapping zones of high pressure, cloudless, windless, extremely hot zones.

Interestingly enough, for some years now climate scientists have warned that global warming is impacting the Arctic 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, which, in turn, throws off normal well-defined spinning jet streams at 39,000 feet into wacky deep prolonged loops that alter weather patterns throughout the hemisphere. Take a guess as to what’s happening now….

Answer: In an article in New Scientist, “Warming Arctic Could Be Behind Heatwave Sweeping Northern Hemisphere,” d/d July 24th according to the UK Meteorological Office:

“The heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere could continue for weeks, and possibly even months. And, accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet could be a key contributor.”

The Danger Zone

According to Arctic News, Can We Weather The Danger Zone? d/d July 1, 2018: “Earth may have long crossed the 1.5°C guardrail set at the Paris Agreement (2015).” Further to the point, the Danger Zone was likely surpassed as early as 2014 based upon NASA data adjusted to reflect the preindustrial baseline, air temps, and Arctic temps (not in agreement with mainstream science).

And, more distressing yet, according to the same Arctic News story: “The world may also be crossing the higher 2°C guardrail later this year, while temperatures threaten to keep rising dramatically beyond that point.”

What? According to the IPCC and the Paris Agreement 2015, countries “voluntarily” (oh, well) agreed to hold back GHGs to prevent exceeding the dreaded 2°C guardrail until 2100, and hopefully beyond. Wow! It’s not even 2020 yet. Is global warming 80 years ahead of schedule?

The Arctic News article suspiciously reads like the onset of runaway global warming. To confirm that suspicion, Arctic News claims (and here’s where it gets kinda scary crazy):

“…much carbon is stored in large and vulnerable pools that have until now been kept stable by low temperatures. The threat is that rapid temperature rise will hit vulnerable carbon pools hard, making them release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further contributing to the acceleration of the temperature rise.”

Does that describe Runaway Global Warming? Answer: Yes!

Examples of massive carbon pools: Permafrost – 900 Gt; High-Latitude Peatlands – 400 Gt; Tropical Peatlands 100 Gt; Methane Hydrates 10,000 Gt, and more (one gigaton is equivalent to one-billion metric tons or equivalent to 100,000,000 elephants).

Unfortunately, those massive carbon pools are exposed to unbelievable hot temps recorded at the farthest northern reaches, for example, 92.3°F on the Siberian coastline of the Arctic Ocean, which is permafrost country and methane hydrate territory. Oh really, Miami Beach temps in Siberia?

Maybe the U.S. should alter its climate change/global warming stance re: (1) the Paris ’15 Agreement by joining ASAP and (2) cancel the interminable Republican (mostly) denial about human-caused global warming, or more formally known as: “The Great American Global Warming School of Denial,” nowadays propagated by Trump and minions, especially as runaway global warming appears to be at an incipient stage, or maybe worse.

On the other hand, when is too late too late?

But, then again, thinking more about it: DO SOMETHING!

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at
More articles by: Robert Hunziker

IMF "Austerity" Sparks Eruption, Demands for President's Removal in Haiti

Nationwide Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal

by Kim Ives -  Haiti Liberte

July 11, 2018

Haiti exploded this past week in a nationwide uprising whose Kreyòl watchwords are “nou bouke,” meaning “we are fed up.”

Like a volcano, the explosion of anger and violence was building over the past 17 months of President Jovenel Moïse’s rule, which has been characterized by corruption, waste, double-talk, repression, and subservience to neoliberal dictates.

The spark was the slashing of fuel price subsidies mandated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for $96 million in “budget support.”

As a result, a gallon of gasoline rose 38% from 224 to 309 gourdes ($3.45 to $4.75), diesel leapt 47% from 179 to 264 gourdes ($1.74 to $4.06), and kerosene soared from 173 to 262 gourdes per gallon ($2.66 to $4.03). In comparison, the average cost in the U.S. of a gallon of gas is $2.86, of diesel is $3.25, and of kerosene is $3.60.

Demonstrators surged into the streets of cities
and towns around Haiti, erecting barricades, on Jul. 6
when the Haitian government announced huge fuel price increases.

Back on Mar. 8, Economy and Finance Minister Jude Alix Patrick Salomon announced that the Haitian government had bowed to the IMF’s demands in February, saying the fuel price hikes would take effect in July. Public transport drivers’ unions and popular organizations protested, pointing to the deepening poverty of Haiti’s masses and their inability to pay public transport costs.

A National gas station and cars were burned as demonstrators targeted 
businesses owned by members of Haiti’s bourgeoisie, particularly the Boulos family.

“The country will be blocked if the state stubbornly insists on raising prices for petroleum products,” said Edva Dorismé, vice president of the Haiti’s Assembly of Tap-Tap Drivers (RCTH). 

But Culture and Communication Minister Guyler C. Delva insisted the hikes would go forward, saying it was for the people’s own good.

“It is criminal on the part of the Haitian State to take such a measure, while there are other ways to find money without harming people,” said Jonel Merisier, the president of the Union of Drivers and Vehicle Owners of Mirebalais (SCPVM).

Many Haitians are avid fans of the Brazilian national soccer team, and the government apparently had hoped that they would be distracted by the Jul. 6 Brazil vs. Belgium contest during the ongoing World Cup. Just after the match began, it published the decree with the new increased prices to take effect the next day.

Government strategists apparently thought that Brazil would win the match and that the ensuing celebrations in Haiti would drown out any outrage over the price hikes.

Unfortunately for them, Brazil lost to Belgium and was eliminated from the World Cup competition. The Haitian masses’ resulting anger and disappointment over the loss dovetailed with the shock of finally seeing the new higher fuel prices, creating a perfect storm.

It was the last straw. Months of frustration boiled over. Faced with a 13% inflation rate and (officially) 14% unemployment, Haitian workers have been demonstrating for the minimum wage to be raised from 335 to 1000 gourdes a day ($5.15 to $15.39).

The government has spent millions on a pointless traveling carnival of political hoopla and promises called the “Caravan for Change,” generating resentment among Haitians with dwindling, poverty-stricken schools and hospitals. Local and municipal governments are also cash-starved while Jovenel’s regime spent millions more on resurrecting the traditionally-repressive Haitian Army last November.

The government has effectively blocked any investigation into where some $3.8 billion disappeared from the PetroCaribe fund, drawn from revenues from the sale of cheap Venezuelan petroleum products. An unpopular budget drawn up last year taxes the poor and even expatriate Haitians; the government has wasted time and money on a still-born “national dialogue” initiative called the General States (États Généraux) and recently distributed 3,000 large flat-screen TV sets to all senators and deputies for a rumored cost of $14 million so that rural Haitians could supposedly watch the World Cup.

All the while, police forces have used brutal and sometimes lethal force against demonstrators, jails are severely overcrowded with mostly untried detainees, and kidnappings, robberies, and “insécurité” (lawless atmosphere) are on the rise.

From Jul. 6 to 10, angry demonstrators took to the streets, setting up barricades of burning tires, car chassis, and furniture. The ravine-lined road through Canapé-Vert was coated with slick oil, making it too dangerous to drive on. Other areas around the capital of Port-au-Prince like Delmas, Lalue, Nazon, Champs-de-mars, Carrefour-Feuilles, Carrefour Fleuriot, and Kenscoff were inaccessible. Demonstrators also filled the streets of several other cities such as Cap-Haitien, Petit-Goâve, Les Cayes, Jérémie, and Jacmel, as well as towns in the Artibonite.

In the upscale neighborhoods of Pétionville, car windshields and house windows were broken. Banks, warehouses, gas stations, hotels, car dealerships, and supermarkets belonging to the bourgeoisie (particularly the Boulos family) were targeted for destruction, burning, and looting.

The court house in the town of Petit-Goâve was burned and the General Directorate of Taxes (DGI) was almost burned, with the building’s walls blackened by flames.

The government, through televised speeches, tweets, and press releases from the president, prime minister, and police brass tried to calm the protesters with hollow, meaningless declarations calling for calm.

Demonstrators burned the courthouse in Petit Goâve. 
Credit: Haitian Information Project

“I’m asking you for patience because the administration’s vision is clear,” said PM Jack Guy Lafontant in a completely ineffective televised speech on the morning of Jul. 7.
“It has a clear program that it continues to execute.”

Protests grew. By that afternoon, President Moïse had to make his televised speech, where he announced that the price hikes would be withdrawn. But it was too little, too late.

“There is no other alternative. He has to go,” professor Auguste “Gougousse” D’Meza, an educational and political consultant in Port-au-Prince, told the Miami Herald. 
The people don’t believe in him anymore.”

Already, many Haitian parliamentarians are calling for a no-confidence vote on Lafontant’s government, which may be sacrificed in an attempt to save Jovenel’s regime. Many representatives from Haiti’s bourgeoisie are also calling on Lafontant and his ministers to step down.

However, the target of the masses’ fury is not the prime minister but the president who selects him. “In his mind, he thinks he has done something serious,” Sen. Patrice Dumont said of President Moïse to the Miami Herald. “Up until now, he’s not living in reality.”

The “Core Group,” dominated by ambassadors from the U.S., Canada, and European nations, urged Haitians on Jul. 10 to “respect constitutional order,” in other words to not force Moïse’s resignation and flight. They also called on “national authorities to engage in deep and inclusive dialogue with all the other key actors of the country so as to restore calm, promote social cohesion, and assure the security of people and property.”

The U.S. embassy, like most of the others, has been closed through most of the tempest, urging U.S. citizens to “shelter in place.”

Hundreds of Haitian expatriate summer vacationers and U.S. missionaries were stranded at international airports in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien when airlines like Spirit, JetBlue, and American cancelled flights on Sat., Jul. 7. Flights gradually resumed over the following three days.

Many police officers abandoned their posts or did not venture out in the face of the masses’ wrath. One police officer, Robert Scutt, was killed when he tried to break through a street barricade.

There were at least four deaths which resulted from the uprising and its repression.

A general strike on Mon., Jul. 9 and Tue., Jul. 10 was successful nationwide, although people began to resume their activities late Tuesday.

While the virulence of the popular demonstrations has clearly shaken Haiti’s rulers, the leaders of Haiti’s popular and democratic opposition sector are currently divided and weak. Without organizational infrastructure and a clear strategy and line of march, the uprising will likely subside in coming days… at least temporarily.

But the speed and strength with which the demonstrations of the last five days developed make clear the fragility and volatility of Haiti’s political situation and augur more popular revolts in the days and weeks ahead.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Questions of a Sequel as West Wraps 'White Helmets' Production

“And… Cut!” – A Final Curtain Call for Syria’s White Helmets

by Tony Cartalucci - 21wire 

via NEO

July 26, 2018

Last week saw what might be the final act in one of the biggest NGO fraud performances of all-time. After five years of western government-funded film production of staged rescues, mainstream media propaganda dissemination, and outright fabricating evidence of chemical weapons attacks in Syria – the most advance creation to date in the US-UK soft power arsenal has finally left the building…

It is commonly known that when a ship is sinking, the crew does not board the lifeboats before the passengers. Most noble of all is when the captain and crew go down with the ship.

Then with what level of ignobility should we assess the so-called “Syrian Civil Defense” more commonly referred to as the White Helmets?

We are told that Syrian forces backed by Russian airpower are brutalizing the remnants of “rebels” in southern Syria near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Surely now more than ever do the people of southern Syria need the “bravest of the brave” – as UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt described them on social media.

Yet instead of rushing to where the cannons sound loudest, the White Helmets slunk across Syria’s borders with the aid of the Israeli Defense Forces, onward to Jordan, where the UN is working to relocate them – allegedly to Europe and North America.

It is a final act laying to rest once and for all a monumental lie – that the White Helmets were anything more than an extension of the foreign-funded proxy war aimed at overthrowing Damascus.

And now that overthrowing Damascus is no longer a possibility, the White Helmets are being evacuated to lie another day.

An Acting Troupe

The White Helmets were never “rescuers,” but a public relations wing of Al Qaeda and its various affiliates. The US did not arm and fund terrorists for years to ravage Syria only to “also” fund groups to help save lives. Instead, the White Helmets’ only real mandate was to augment the proxy war, exploiting humanitarian themes similar to how the US and NATO justified and executed the destruction of Libya.

Videos of clearly uninjured individuals – showered in dust and red paint – rushed to awaiting ambulances often feature more cameramen in the frame than supposed rescue workers. Absent from the vast majority of the White Helmets’ videos is the actual gore, horror, and misery of real war – gaping wounds, dangling or missing limbs, burnt flesh and hair – all the horrors real Syrians faced daily since 2011 when the US-backed proxy war began.

Standby Props: At the ‘Save Aleppo’ event in 2016, fake rescue scenes 
across Europe unknowingly parodied the White Helmets western-funded stage-play in Syria.

During the 2016 “Save Aleppo” protests held by the Syrian opposition across Europe, actors were dressed up, dusted and painted up with artificial blood, then posed in scenes indistinguishable from their Syrian-based counterparts’ videos. What was supposed to be another emotional gimmick aimed at manipulating the Western public to back wider Western military intervention, instead served as an indictment of precisely the game the White Helmets had been funded by the US and British governments to play amid Syria’s ongoing war.

The Guardian in a hastily written rebuttal to avalanches of evidence exposing the White Helmets of not only producing war propaganda, but doing so on behalf of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, would claim:

The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defence, is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers – former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters – who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians.
They’ve been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country’s continuing civil war. They have also exposed, through first-hand video footage, war crimes including a chemical attack in April. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations.

Indeed, the White Helmets have provided evidence of chemical weapons attacks – as noted by multiple OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) reports – but it is evidence the OPCW has never been able to verify.

Al Qaeda’s Propagandists

The reason why the OPCW was never able to verify the evidence was because the White Helmets who allegedly collected and transferred it over to OPCW investigators operate exclusively in territory held by terrorists fronts – most notably Al Qaeda’s various affiliates.

‘Moderate Rebels’: The western regime change vanguard was always 
al-Qaeda in Syria, joined at the hip with the White Helmets.

The OPCW would report regarding the April 2017 alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun that (emphasis added):

it was determined that the risk of a visit to the incident area would be prohibitive for the team. Therefore, the team could not visit the site shortly after the allegation to observe, assess, or record the location of the alleged incident, could not canvass directly for other witnesses, and could not collect environmental samples and/or remnants of the alleged munitions.

This meant that all evidence and witness testimony considered by the OPCW was handed to them. The OPCW admits (emphasis added):

Through liaison with representatives of several NGOs, including Same Justice/Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria (CVDCS), the Syrian Civil Defence (also known as White Helmets, and hereinafter “SCD”), the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), and the Syrian Institute for Justice (SIJ), the FFM identified a number of witnesses to be interviewed. These witnesses were expected to provide testimony and potentially relevant evidence.

The report admits it was the White Helmets who allegedly were first to arrive at the scene of the attack and repeatedly cites them throughout the report as the primary source of accusations regarding the attack. The report would note (emphasis added):

At the time of handover, the team was informed that all samples provided on 12 and 13 April 2017 were taken by the chemical sample unit of the SCD [White Helmets]. A member of the chemical sample unit who took the samples was present at the handover and provided information on every sample.

As to what risks prevented the OPCW team from collecting the evidence itself instead, a Deutsche Welle article titled, “Death toll rises in Syria ‘gas attack’,” would provide a clue:

“Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located, is mostly controlled by the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is dominated by the Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front.

Thus, the OPCW was not able to visit the site because it resided in territory occupied by Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al Nusra. This fact is also why we do not see Western media personalities on the ground embedded with their supposed “moderate rebels,” because none exist.

The White Helmets – however – are wherever Al Qaeda is – and it was Al Qaeda’s “cameramen-corpsmen” who supposedly responded to the Khan Sheikhun chemical weapons attack, allegedly collected samples, and passed them to the OPCW.

Because there was no onsite investigation and the samples the White Helmets handed to the OPCW could have originated anywhere, no conclusion regarding what attack if any took place could be made, let alone any blame be assigned for the attack. Yet the Khan Sheikhun incident prompted the United States to carry out an assault on Syrian targets with 59 cruise missiles.

It was a clear case of US-funded provocateurs staging an incident, the US rushing through justification to strike Syria by sidestepping evidence or lack thereof, and then the West collectively weathering the fallout as the June 2017 OPCW report was published, revealing the absolute lack of evidence linking the Syrian government to the attack.

It is a pattern that has repeatedly played out – each time the OPCW being unable to access sites of alleged chemical weapon attacks because they reside in territory occupied by dangerous terrorists, the White Helmets’ “chemical sample units” handing over evidence impossible to verify, and the US rushing through military strikes on Syria before investigations can be conducted and reports are published and analyzed.

Thus the White Helmets serve verifiably as a war propaganda tool – enabling the US to pressure Syria and carry out military strikes any time the Syrian government makes significant advances toward positions admittedly occupied by Al Qaeda. As to claims of the White Helmets “saving thousands of civilians,” this remains impossible to verify specifically because just as the OPCW has no access to territory the White Helmets and their Al Qaeda associates occupy, neither do independent organizations tasked with verifying anything else the White Helmets have claimed.

For those like the Guardian who claim the White Helmets are merely the victim of an “online propaganda machine,” who admit the White Helmets are the primary source of accusations used as serial pretexts for Western military strikes on Syria – what other conclusion can one draw that the White Helmets are primarily war propagandists?

REPUTATION LAUNDERING: Lavished with numerous trophies and
awards, the White Helmets propaganda roadshow became the ‘safe’ celebrity
cause of Hollywood’s liberal intelligensia to portray the Syrian war –
exactly how the US State Department and UK Foreign Office wanted it to be.

Their Final Performance?

Rescue workers don’t abandon the people they have sworn to protect. The White Helmets clearly never honestly swore to protect anyone. As Al Qaeda’s propagandists, they are being evacuated alongside militants and other support personnel cornered by the Syrian government’s advances.

The Guardian would report in its article, “UK agrees to take in some White Helmets evacuated from Syria by Israel,” that:

“The UK is willing to offer asylum to some of the 500 members or relatives of the Syrian volunteer civil defence forces known as the White Helmets who have been rescued from Syria and evacuated to Jordan, the Guardian has learned.
“The White Helmets and their families were evacuated by Israeli defence forces on Saturday night, crossing from northern Israel into Jordan at three points. The Israelis had initially put the numbers evacuated at 800, but later the figure was revised downwards by James Le Mesurier, a former MI5 officer who is considered to have founded the group in Turkey in 2013.

Thus, allegedly, hundreds of White Helmets – who worked with and for Al Qaeda – will now be scattered across Europe and North America. However, this in itself is not the White Helmet’s final performance.

The northern province of Idlib still remains occupied by foreign-backed militants. What terrorists have not slipped over the borders and into Israel and Jordan are consolidating their positions in northern Syria. Some say it is not a matter of if, but when Syrian forces turn their attention north and begin seizing back Idlib.

When they do, the White Helmets will be there, side-by-side Al Qaeda’s numerous affiliates, once again taking on the role of war propagandists – fabricating evidence and staging provocations to justify whatever their foreign sponsors’ desired role is amid the unfolding conflict.

And even when the last White Helmet flees Syria or melts back into the Syrian population leaving real heroes to restore order, rescue the vulnerable, and rebuild the nation – the cynical gimmick the White Helmets represent will be repeated in other proxy conflicts, in other nations targeted by Western hybrid warfare.

Nations should consider themselves warned – citing Syria as an example – that the West has used this tactic, and will use it again. The lessons Syria learned the hard way regarding all aspects of Western hybrid warfare must be shared and learned from to prevent the tragedy and misery the White Helmets claimed to rescue people from, but in fact sowed among the Syrian people.

Author Tony Cartalucci is writer and geopolitical researcher based in Bangkok. An original version of this story was first published at the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

To Hollywood’s regime change poster boys…


21st Century Wire White Helmets Files


Agreeing to Disagree: When Peace Cannot Be the Answer to War

Which Is More Occupied, Crimea or Afghanistan?

by David Swanson

July 26, 2018

According to Donald Trump, the one allied victor of World War II not still occupying Germany has made Germany its slave.

But according to the great anti-Trump Resistance in the United States, the nation that openly bragged about installing Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia (the same Yeltsin who subsequently installed Vladimir Putin) has been Pearl-Harbor-attacked by the same Putin via a computer or Facebook or a cable channel or a remote control device implanted in Trump’s hair or something — the details are fuzzy.

But both teams can agree on the important thing — which has achieved a growing, bi-partisan, academic and popular consensus in the United States during the past four years. It is this: the second biggest threat to peace on earth and to the global rule of law (right behind either Trump or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, depending on your affiliation) is the 2014 vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia.

Ain’t agreement agreeable? Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya, Oh Lord, kumbaya!

Now, the vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia has another, more common name: The Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote.

I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result.

Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea was voting to secede from a coup government. The United States had supported the secession of Kosovo from Serbia in the 1990s despite Serbian opposition. When Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia, the U.S. did not urge any opposition. The U.S. government supports the right of South Sudan to have seceded from Sudan, although violence and chaos reigned. U.S. politicians like Joe Biden and Jane Harman even proposed breaking Iraq up into pieces, as others have proposed for Syria.

But let’s grant for the sake of argument that the Crimean vote was problematic, even horrendous, even criminal. There is no question that Russia had military forces in Crimea and sent in more, something I believe I can non-hypocritically oppose, since I’m not the U.S. government and I advocate for the abolition of the U.S. military. Even so, how does the “occupation” of Crimea rise to the level of greatest threat to peace on earth?

Compare it to a trillion dollars a year in U.S. military spending, new missiles in Romania and Poland, massive bombing of Iraq and Syria, the destruction of Iraq and Libya, the endless war on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S.-Saudi devastation of Yemen and the creation of famine and disease epidemics, or the explicit threats to attack Iran, not to mention world-leading weapons dealing to dictatorships around the globe by the good old U.S. of A. I’m sure your average American would rather visit “liberated Mosul” than “annexed Crimea,” but should we deal with facts or slogans?

Let’s take one example of an occupation that the U.S. government is not demanding a swift end to: the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan. Here’s a letter that thousands of people have signed, addressed to Trump, and which you can sign too:

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is well into its 17th year. In 2014 President Obama declared it over, but it will remain a political, financial, security, legal, and moral problem unless you actually end it.

The U.S. military now has approximately 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan , plus 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors (of whom about 8,000 are from the United States). That’s 41,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country 16 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government.

During each of the past 16 years, our government in Washington has informed us that success was imminent. During each of the past 16 years, Afghanistan has continued its descent into poverty, violence, environmental degradation, and instability. The withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops would send a signal to the world, and to the people of Afghanistan, that the time has come to try a different approach, something other than more troops and weaponry.

The ambassador from the U.S.-brokered and funded Afghan Unity government has reportedly told you that maintaining U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is “as urgent as it was on Sept. 11, 2001.” There’s no reason to believe he won’t tell you that for the next four years, even though John Kerry tells us “Afghanistan now has a well-trained armed force …meeting the challenge posed by the Taliban and other terrorists groups.” But involvement need not take its current form.

The United States is spending $4 million an hour on planes, drones, bombs, guns, and over-priced contractors in a country that needs food and agricultural equipment, much of which could be provided by U.S. businesses. Thus far, the United States has spent an outrageous $783 billion with virtually nothing to show for it except the death of thousands of U.S. soldiers , and the death, injury and displacement of millions of Afghans. The Afghanistan War has been and will continue to be, as long as it lasts, a steady source of scandalous stories of fraud and waste. Even as an investment in the U.S. economy this war has been a bust.

But the war has had a substantial impact on our security: it has endangered us. Before Faisal Shahzad tried to blow up a car in Times Square, he had tried to join the war against the United States in Afghanistan. In numerous other incidents, terrorists targeting the United States have stated their motives as including revenge for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, along with other U.S. wars in the region. There is no reason to imagine this will change.

In addition, Afghanistan is the one nation where the United States is engaged in major warfare with a country that is a member of the International Criminal Court. That body has now announced that it is investigating possible prosecutions for U.S. crimes in Afghanistan. Over the past 16 years, we have been treated to an almost routine repetition of scandals: hunting children from helicopters, blowing up hospitals with drones, urinating on corpses — all fueling anti-U.S. propaganda, all brutalizing and shaming the United States.

Ordering young American men and women into a kill-or-die mission that was accomplished 16 years ago is a lot to ask. Expecting them to believe in that mission is too much. That fact may help explain this one: the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is suicide. The second highest killer of American military is green on blue, or the Afghan youth who the U.S. is training are turning their weapons on their trainers! You yourself recognized this, saying: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghans we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”
The withdrawal of U.S. troops would also be good for the Afghan people, as the presence of foreign soldiers has been an obstacle to peace talks. The Afghans themselves have to determine their future, and will only be able to do so once there is an end to foreign intervention.

We urge you to turn the page on this catastrophic military intervention. Bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. Cease U.S. airstrikes and instead, for a fraction of the cost, help the Afghans with food, shelter, and agricultural equipment.

I don’t propose comparing the horrors of the so-called longest U.S. war — as if the wars on Native Americans aren’t real — with World War II or Iraq. I propose comparing them with the people of Crimea voting to make their little piece of land part of Russia again. Which is more barbaric, immoral, illegal, destructive, and traumatic?

Most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world (Russia came in as the 12th greatest threat), and Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017.

Some in the United States seem to share the world’s view of the matter.

“The Taliban had surrendered a few months before I arrived in Afghanistan in late 2002,” Rory Fanning tells me, “but that wasn’t good enough for our politicians back home and the generals giving the orders. Our job was to draw people back into the fight. I signed up to prevent another 9/11, but my two tours in Afghanistan made me realize that I was making the world less safe.
We know now that a majority of the million or so people who have been killed since 9/11 have been innocent civilians, people with no stake in the game and no reason to fight until, often enough, the U.S. military baited them into it by killing or injuring a family member who more often than not was an innocent bystander.”

Eleanor Levine, active with Code Pink, says, “Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people, not the USA and not NATO.”

“How would you feel,” she asks, “if Afghanistan occupied the USA? How would you feel if your towns and streets were patrolled by an occupying force? How would you feel if your schools, homes, stores, banks, agriculture and jobs, were controlled by Afghanistan? I am betting you cannot imagine this possibility. But try hard to imagine how it would feel. Try really hard to imagine it because it is the everyday experience of Afghans who want to live life as Afghans and raise their children as Afghans in their own country. Try to think, what have Afghan people done to the USA and NATO to deserve continuous interference and control from afar?”

Here’s my proposal. The people of Afghanistan should hold a public referendum and vote immediately to become the 51st U.S. state. Not only would they then have made themselves seized, conquered, attacked, raped, and occupied in the bad, Russian senses of the terms, but if they sent along some photos of themselves in a note to the U.S. Congress, they’d get U.S. troops out of their country and achieve its total independence from the United States by the following afternoon.

Dealing Donbass for Crimea: Putin's Rebuffed Offer to Trump

The Helsinki Referendum for Donbass - Putin Opts for No-Win, No-Lose; US Rejects Swap of Donbass for Crimea

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

July 26, 2018

Moscow - President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left) has announced a new policy of withdrawal from eastern Ukraine under cover of a referendum to confirm the sovereignty of Kiev. No, hold it. Putin has announced an old policy in a new way in the English-language press.

No, no – an old policy, already rejected in private by the US Government and the Kiev regime, was announced by Putin to President Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16. That was in case Trump hadn’t been told or hadn’t thought of it.

It was also for Putin and the Russian military command, the Stavka, to demonstrate to each other that the US will agree to no Russian withdrawal agreement until Crimea is recovered. In the Russian language media, there is only one Russian explaining this means war without end.

That’s Igor Strelkov (above right), the former leader of the Donbass uprising in 2014. He says Putin’s formula for the Ukraine settlement is “chewing gum” he wants to spit out when noone is looking.

“But there are some political signals that up to the present moment the capitulation of DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LNR [Lugansk People’s Republic] is not planned. If it was so, Russia wouldn’t have eased the migration rules for Donbass citizens. So this idea is temporarily closed. Another idea — will the Ukrainian armed forces be defeated? A ceasefire isn’t possible without it.” 

That’s what Russians military sources call the Syrian solution.

Following his meetings with President Trump on July 16, President Putin described the talks on Ukraine this way:

“Returning to our discussion of the Ukrainian crisis, the importance of observing the Minsk agreements in good faith was noted. The United States could be more resolute in insisting on this and could motivate Ukraine’s leaders to engage in this work.”

There are three Minsk agreements . The first, the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014, was signed by representatives of the government in Kiev; the representatives of the governments in Donetsk and Lugansk; the Russian Ambassador to Kiev; and the representative of the international observer mission in eastern Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

There were twelve points in the agreement. Two of the points on the future political arrangements required decentralization of power for autonomy of Donetsk and Lugansk under Ukrainian law and early local elections there. This meant that the referendums for self-rule, held in Donetsk and Lugansk four months earlier on May 11, were neither accepted nor rejected.


A second memorandum was signed on September 19. Its five points were military in character, aiming at a ceasefire and withdrawal of combat aircraft, heavy weaponry, and attack formations. The third agreement was signed on February 15, 2015. Its seven points repeated the earlier ones.

The most recent report of the OSCE, dated July 9, confirms,

“The Mission continued to observe violations of key provisions of the Minsk agreements and related commitments. In particular, it observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line – 107 in government- and 157 in non-government-controlled areas. In addition, it observed the presence of newly laid mines on both sides of the contact line and the presence of armed forces and formations in close proximity to each other as well as in residential areas.”

The OSCE’s special monitoring mission in Ukraine is run by Ertugrul Apakan, a Turkish foreign ministry official who was once in charge of the Turkish military occupation of northern Cyprus; and Alexander Hug, a Swiss Army officer with postings in Kosovo and Bosnia. For details of the political alignment of OSCE, read this.

In Moscow on July 19, in a meeting with officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Putin reiterated that “the Minsk Package of Measures provides fundamental grounds for a political settlement of this crisis.”

What he meant by that was disclosed by officials who were privy to the unreported speeches at the ministry meeting. These officials were authorized to tell Bloomberg:

“Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.”

At the same time, Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, who had attended the luncheon meeting of delegations in Helsinki, announced that between Putin and Trump there had been “oral agreements” . Antonov followed at a meeting of the semi-official Valdai Club by adding there had been “specific proposals for resolving this [Ukrainian] question.” He stopped short of disclosing the details.

Antonov repeated himself in a statement to the Financial Times: “new proposals for solving [the conflict in the Donbas region] were made,” he claimed.

The official spokesman of the foreign ministry told the press on July 18:

“Work has started on many things of which Vladimir Putin spoke, with appropriate instructions having been issued, and diplomats, based on the outcome of the summit, are starting to work on the issues that were outlined during the joint news conference.” 

Then she added for the Financial Times:

“Given that the international community, first of all the US, has been unable to force Kiev to fulfil the Minsk Agreements, other options for a solution to the intra-Ukrainian conflict can also be discussed.” 

Left, Anatoly Antonov; right, Vladislav Surkov.

Vladislav Surkov, who was reappointed to the Kremlin staff in June, is the president’s special representative for eastern Ukraine; he is also the civilian directing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Councils, as the Novorussian governments are known. Surkov has been negotiating with Kurt Volker, his US counterpart; they met last August in Minsk; in November in Belgrade; and in January in Dubai. According to press statements by Volker, their talks have focused on a US proposal for a force of up to 30,000 United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine.

Surkov claimed last week that along with the UN military deployment, there would be a UN-supervised referendum for residents of Donetsk and Lugansk on their political future. Surkov told the Financial Times through a spokesman:

“[T]he idea of solving the conflict through a referendum had been discussed in Moscow repeatedly. But he said such a process would be different from the vote Russia conducted in Crimea in early 2014 to justify its annexation of the territory from Ukraine.This would have to happen under the auspices of the UN,’ the person said. ‘And it would have very little to do with Russia — nobody is talking about unifying those regions with the Russian Federation.’”

Surkov’s last point was blunter than has been reported in Russian, but not a change of strategy. Surkov was going a step further than the Minsk agreements, and further than Putin had been saying in public. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, didn’t deny the new referendum had been discussed in Helsinki. “Some new ideas were discussed. They will be worked on,” he told Bloomberg. The only thing that was new about the idea was that Peskov and the others were talking it up on the record, and to the western press.

By July 20 the Russians had given Trump four days to consider what Putin had proposed. The White House then issued a rejection. This came, not through Trump’s spokesman but through the National Security Council (NSC). The White House is “not considering” support for Putin’s referendum proposal, the NSC claimed.

“The Minsk Agreements are the process for resolving the conflict in the Donbas, and these agreements do not include any option for referendum. Furthermore, to organise a so-called referendum in a part of Ukraine which is not under government control would have no legitimacy.”

The careful wording rejected what Putin had not told Trump. It also avoided the key points of Putin’s proposal – that UN troops would supervise the voting; and that the issue for the vote would be restricted to the first Minsk Protocol Point 3; this requires a return to Ukrainian sovereignty with “decentralisation of power, including through the adoption of the Ukrainian law On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.”

In short, Putin offered Trump to withdraw from political support of Novorussia, and not to allow the Novorussians the option of seceding from Ukraine. Trump hasn’t quite killed the offer.

Rejection from Kiev appeared to be blunter.

“There will be no referendums held at gunpoint, with Russian tanks parked at schools and kindergartens of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk, no referendums organized in territories where Russian propaganda and Lifenews have been brainwashing the population for the past four years, intimidating them by ‘fascists and junta’ no referendums organized by Kremlin puppets in Kremlin-occupied lands.”

The Ukrainian riposte sidestepped the points of Putin’s proposal; and also the Russian assessment that the outcome preferred by Donbass voters would be a return to Ukrainian sovereignty, not accession to Russia. Most Russian assessments believe this has majority support in the Donbass.


The Canadian Government paid the International Republican Institute in Washington to conduct the poll. Both sources are actively hostile to Novorussian organizations and views, including the governments of Donetsk and Lugansk,. The poll report claims a sample of 1,378 residents of the Donbass region, two-thirds from Donetsk, one-third from Lugansk; most are from cities in these regions. Women and the elderly predominate in the sample. To substantiate that the views sampled were not those of Canadian and US Government policy, the pollsters say that 96% of their sample spoke Russian. Source:

For the time being, the Donetsk and Lugansk governments have stuck to the Minsk positions; they have not addressed Putin’s new referendum proposal. Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the Donetsk People’s Council, had earlier announced his support for a UN peacekeeping force so long as it was not NATO dominated.

The internet alt-media which follow the Kremlin have interpreted the Putin referendum as a breakthrough.

According to Fort Russ,

“[S]uch a proposal would be revolutionary. It would mean the end of the US’ ‘Project Ukraine’, the end of the Minsk Agreements, the official recognition of Donbass self-determination, and an enormous step in the readjustment of the US’ imperial architecture, which is Trump’s historic, watershed opportunity.”
Russia Insider called the referendum “the end of current Ukrainian statehood”. The Saker wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“Trump may not have offered an explicit US recognition of Crimea for Russia, or an easing of Ukraine-linked sanctions. It’s reasonable to picture a very delicate ballet in terms of what they really discussed in relation to Ukraine. Once again, the only thing Trump could offer on Ukraine is an easing of sanctions. But for Russia the stakes are much higher.”

This support for the Putin referendum in the English-language alt-media finds no endorsement in Russian. Strelkov (nom de guerre; family name Girkin) has published more on the issue than anyone else; his assessments appear in his own blog, in video interviews, and in small-circulation Russian internet media. An officer of FSB forces between 1996 and 2013, decorated for service in Chechnya, Strelkov was a colonel before he was assigned to reserve. After the start of the Donbass rising in 2014 he became defence minister of the Donetsk government. But he quarrelled with Moscow’s directions on tactics and strategy and was withdrawn.

Before the Kremlin dismissed him, Strelkov was sanctioned by the US on June 20, 2014. His US Treasury citation said Strelkov was “responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, and/or asserting governmental authority over a part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine.”

Strelkov’s criticisms of the military shortcomings of Novorussian and Russian strategy since then are well-known. He is particularly critical of the direction of the Ukraine front by Surkov, and also the financier Konstantin Malofeev. For more on Malofeev’s parallel adventures in monarchism, Orthodox Christianity and bank fraud, read this.

Igor Strelkov interviewed by Maxim Kalashnikov (Kucherenko), 
July 17, 2018. Source:

On July 20, Strelkov wrote that if a referendum were held, the vote would be “146% for return to the structure of Ukraine without any condition”.

According to Strelkov, “Putin doesn’t believe it is likely that the USA and Ukraine will agree to such an option, as it [would set a] precedent that calls into question all further ‘Ukrainian statehood’; together with its ‘integrity’. If [a referendum] on Donbass is possible, then why is a further one impossible in Transcarpathia, for example?”


So what is Strelkov’s explanation for the Russian disclosures of Putin’s referendum proposal before Trump had time to review it in detail with his officials; but so soon as to draw rejection, plus the announcement of US military reinforcements for Kiev?

“Not to win, not to lose”, Strelkov says is Putin’s strategy, balancing between civilians like Surkov who recommend capitulation to US demands, and the Stavka which believes that no-win, no-lose makes a US-armed military offensive in the Donbass inevitable.

 “Here [Putin’s] task is not to lose on the one hand; not to dishonour [Russia]. And on the other hand, not to win. This is the task they [Surkov] began to pursue in 2014. They sacrificed a bunch of assets which had been donated by the initiative [of the Donbass uprising]. They are afraid to win and do not want to, but whether they can is still unknown.”

Strategically, according to Strelkov, the weakness of this position invites American and Ukrainian attack.

“Sooner or later they will go on the offensive. They are constantly preparing for this. The only thing holding them back… is the position of Russia. Until they are ready to fight with the Russian army, [the Ukrainians] are not sure that Russian troops will not stand up for Donetsk and Lugansk [as they had in 2008] for South Ossetia.”
“At first, I could not believe that these [Kremlin] idiots really consider the Minsk agreements as a basis for reconciliation. For me it was axiomatic that war, once it started, must end either in victory or defeat. And in the situation which has developed, the rejection of victory means unconditional defeat, because Ukraine is only, I emphasize only, an instrument. This tool must be broken.
There would still be problems, sanctions and so forth, but with a broken tool against us there would be no one to fight. The Kremlin really seriously believed — for me, this was a discovery: I thought they were scoundrels, but I didn’t think they are so stupid — that Minsk should be implemented; that is, to exchange Donetsk and Lugansk for the recognition of the Crimea. And at the same time, it is necessary to stuff Donetsk and Lugansk into the special status of [autonomy in] Ukraine in order to be able, let’s say, to influence and block decisions by the Ukrainian authorities which Moscow will not be satisfied with.”