Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Khashoggi Conversion: Turning on The House of Saud

Jamal Khashoggi: Where The Road to Damascus & The Path to 9/11 Converge

by Kristen Breitweiser - WashingtonsBlog

October 16, 2018

Road to Damascus Conversion: Derived from the Biblical story of Paul, the term “Damascus road conversion” is commonly used to refer to an abrupt about-face on a serious issue of religion, politics or philosophy. In this type of change, a single, dramatic event causes a person to become aligned with something he or she previously was against or support a position that he or she previously opposed. 

As a 9/11 widow who has spent the last 17 years fighting for accountability with regard to the 9/11 attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others, I find the recent uproar over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder interesting and out of character for many of those decrying his disappearance and demanding an investigation and accountability.

Frankly, 9/11 Family members keep a running list of all those in Washington who have proved by their past actions to be against U.S. victims of terrorism and in support of nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a nation with a long history of supporting global Wahhabist terrorism. As victims of terrorism, we are ever vigilant and watchful about all those named on our lists. We follow these folks actions, their speeches, their legislation, because we know that they are never looking out for our best interests as U.S. victims of terrorism. As a group, our institutional memory is broad and long. And we never forget.

That’s why we all happened to notice the uncharacteristic behavior of so many of those on our lists with the advent of Jamal Khasoggi’s disappearance. And it made us wonder why so many people, who had previously always blindly supported the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were now so vociferously jumping Saudi ship.

What caused this Road to Damascus conversion?

Take for example those who fought against the release of The 28 Pages of the Joint Inquiry of Congress(JICI) that detailed the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks for fear that The 28 Pages public release might harm the Saudi’s reputation and its very special relationship with the United States. A relationship, in large part, based on oil, weapons, money, and shared intelligence operations—things that have little to do with keeping American citizens safe. 

Regarding The 28 Pages, CIA Director, John Brennan once said, “releasing a classified section of the congressional investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States would be a mistake. A reason to keep them under wraps is they contain “unvetted information” that some could use to unfairly implicate Saudi Arabia in the terror attacks.” 

Yet, now when faced with the comparatively less significant disappearance and murder of only one man, Khashoggi (not the thousands on 9/11, the hundreds from Khobar and the Embassy bombings or the 17 U.S. sailors from the Cole), based on far less substantiated and convincing evidence from newspapers(rather than a several hundred page bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional Investigation’s Final Report), John Brennan is suddenly moved to hold the Saudis accountable.

On Khashoggi’s disappearance, Brennan had this to say:

“It appears increasingly likely that Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was detained and killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. There is still much that we don’t know, but if such an audacious act was carried out, it almost certainly would have required the approval of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi was a particular irritant to the crown prince. Khashoggi was widely known and respected inside and outside the kingdom for his literary talent, political acumen and principled opposition to Mohammed’s increasing authoritarianism and arrogance. The news reports and Turkish government accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance from the Saudi Consulate, and the contemporaneous arrival of two planeloads of Saudis, have the hallmarks of a professional capture operation or, more ominously, an assassination.
As someone who worked closely with the Saudis for many years, and who lived and worked as a U.S. official for five years in Saudi Arabia, I am certain that if such an operation occurred inside a Saudi diplomatic mission against a high-profile journalist working for a U.S. newspaper, it would have needed the direct authorization of Saudi Arabia’s top leadership — the crown prince.
I am confident that U.S. intelligence agencies have the capability to determine, with a high degree of certainty, what happened to Khashoggi. If he is found to be dead at the hands of the Saudi government, his demise cannot go unanswered — by the Trump administration, by Congress or by the world community.
Ideally, King Salman would take immediate action against those responsible, but if he doesn’t have the will or the ability, the United States would have to act. That would include immediate sanctions on all Saudis involved; a freeze on U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia; suspension of all routine intelligence cooperation with Saudi security services; and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder. The message would be clear: The United States will never turn a blind eye to such inhuman behavior, even when carried out by friends, because this is a nation that remains faithful to its values.”

Really, Mr. Brennan? Never turn a blind eye? You turned two blind eyes to the Saudis for nearly 20 years as you defended them and kept the truth of their misdeeds shrouded in secrecy from the 9/11 families, the Embassy Bombing families, the Khobar Tower families, and the USS Cole families. Cover up is complicity and you have been complicit for 20 years! And now you are worried about inhumane behavior? Now, you are interested in the United States taking immediate action and imposing sanctions?

For the record, Mr Brennan—>3,000 innocent souls were brutally murdered in cold-blood on 9/11. Their massacre yielded literally tens of thousands of body parts that were recovered and returned to the victim’s family or unceremoniously incinerated at Ground Zero and/or hastily dumped in a garbage land-fill in Staten Island. That, John Brennan, is the definition of inhumanity.

Unfortunately, John Brennan is not the only DC insider who’s pulling a road to Damascus conversion in the face of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. As a 9/11 family member who fought with many other 9/11 family members to have the right to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a court of law by getting legislation called JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) enacted into law, I know far too many people in Washington  more than willing to choose their Saudi “friends”  instead of helping U.S. victims of terrorism get our day in court for the mass murder of our loved ones.

Chief among those Saudi supporters who threw us under the bus was our Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama and members of his Administration. Obama opposed JASTA from the start. And, when JASTA earned a near unanimous vote by Congress to become law, Obama heartlessly vetoed it. Thankfully, Obama’s veto of JASTA was soundly overridden by Congress who meted out the only veto-override of Barack Obama’s entire 8-year nearly perfect Presidency. And he deserved it. And just for the record, over those 8 years, the families and survivors wrote 5 letters to President Obama asking for a dialogue with him about JASTA, all delivered by members of Congress and all completely ignored by him. President Obama even fought against the release of the 28 pages—delaying their release for years—even though he admitted to never taking the time to read them!

When asked about the victims of terrorism legislation, JASTA, and the rights of the 9/11 Families to have a path to justice to hold all those who participated in the 9/11 attacks accountable in a court of law, Obama Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, said, “while the White House was sympathetic to the concerns of 9/11 families, they objected to the bill’s “principle of undermining sovereign immunity.”

In short, to the Obama Administration (who was, at the time, very focused on their Iran Deal and ensuring Saudi silence for that deal), the rights of the 9/11 families to justice for the mass murder of our loved ones, had to yield to the more noble sounding concept of state sovereignty. Funny, we were all pretty certain that any modicum of state sovereignty pretty much flew out the window on 9/11 when our homeland—i.e. our sovereign—was attacked by 19 hijackers(15 of whom were Saudi) crashing planes into buildings. Not so, for Rhodes and Obama.

Interestingly though, most recently, Ben Rhodes has said this about Saudi accountability as it pertains to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance: we are presently suffering from,

“A Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. And that it drives home the consequences of the Trump administration’s refusal to champion democratic values around the globe.”

Rhodes goes on to say,

“It’s not too late to heed Khashoggi’s warnings—to understand that while Saudi Arabia is a historic partner of the United States, our interests are not totally aligned with the Saudi leadership’s, and our values are most definitely not.
We should cease all support for the war in Yemen, and lead an effort to address its humanitarian crisis. We should balance our principled opposition to the Iranian regime’s nefarious behavior with a return to the diplomatic agreement that prevents that regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We should resume an aggressive transition away from a reliance on fossil fuels. We should support countries like Canada that have been bullied by the Saudis when they spoke out on human-rights issues. We should cease military sales until the truth about Khashoggi’s disappearance comes out, and make clear that our support going forward is not without conditions. And we could once more stand up for universal rights, even if it means inviting the opposition of those who have a very different view of justice.”

I’d just like to add a few points regarding Ben’s discussion of the “Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership” currently underway: First, the Yemen war started under President Obama. Second, any humanitarian crisis created in Yemen was largely ignored under Obama. Third, military sales to the Saudis under Obama always flourished. And, fourth, regarding standing up for “universal rights” and “views of justice”—Obama should have chosen to stand up with the 9/11 families by supporting JASTA, rather than stabbing us in the back and vetoing JASTA. Full stop, Ben.

It’s important to highlight that, to date, not one person has been held accountable or fully prosecuted by the U.S. government for the mass murder of 3,000 people on 9/11, the injuries of thousands and the responders, many of whom are sick and dying. That’s why JASTA was so important to the 9/11 Families and all Americans. And that’s why we had hoped that a former Constitutional Law professor, scholar, and lawyer like President Barack Obama would have supported our efforts as U.S. victims of terrorism.

Notably, 17 years after the 9/11 attacks, those held at GTMO are still in the pre-trial phase of the military tribunal system. And, lawyers who participate in the GTMO system privately acknowledge that the detainee cases will likely never make it to the trial phase—due in large part because of the difficulties created by the CIA’s enhanced interrogation(torture) program carried out on the GTMO detainees.

Moreover, not one Department of Justice(DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Office—even the famous Southern District of NY(SDNY) who can “indict a ham sandwich”—has bothered to file a single indictment against any co-conspirator connected to the 9/11 attacks. Inexplicably, 3,000 pre-meditated murders took place in downtown Manhattan a few blocks from the SDNY offices and they’ve got nothing to show for themselves when it comes to 9/11. How is that possible? Or, even acceptable? Where are the newspaper columns, editorials, articles, and op-eds about that outrage?

Of course, President Obama and his advisors were not the only ones fighting against the 9/11 Families in our plight to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a court of law. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was another one of the key members of Congress who chose to side with the Saudis instead of the 9/11 Families.

Specifically, regarding JASTA and the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks, Graham was “not convinced the Saudi government was culpable even though many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.” They want to blame bin Laden,” Graham said about the Saudis. “All I can say is, from what I can tell, I don’t think the government of Saudi Arabia was involved here.”

Graham, who said he’s in close contact with Saudi officials about the issue, warned it could destroy America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, a critical ally in the tumultuous Middle East. “This is an odd situation in the sense that 9/11 families are high on everybody’s list to take care of,” Graham said. “It comes at a time when Saudi Arabia believes that America is not a reliable ally. It comes at a time when they think they’re being blamed for things they didn’t do. All I’m trying to find is a way to move forward with a legal process that doesn’t destroy the relationship. That’s worth investing some time in.”

Now juxtapose that with what Graham has to say after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi: “I’ve never been more disturbed than I am right now. If this man was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that would cross every line of normality in the international community.” “If they’re this brazen it shows contempt. Contempt for everything we stand for, contempt for the relationship.”

Lindsey Graham has never been more concerned with such “brazen contempt” put forth by the Saudis in connection to the disappearance of Khashoggi? Apparently, for Lindsey, it wasn’t the 3,000 dead on 9/11, and fifteen Saudi hijackers flying planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon that triggered the end of his Saudi love affair. No, it was Jamal Khashoggi getting killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

What really speaks to the hypocrisy currently underfoot surrounding Khashoggi and the sudden out of character demands for Saudi accountability is the cross-over Congressional signatories found on two separate Senate letters.

First, the Senator Bob Corker “Unintended Consequences” letter written and signed by 28 Senators immediately on the heels of JASTA becoming law. The 9/11 Families considered the Corker letter as a betrayal and an act of bad faith. In short, we believed that those who signed the letter had succumbed to Saudi pressure and thrown us under the bus.

In part, the Corker letter said: We have a great deal of compassion for the families and respect their desire for justice. We understand your purpose in drafting this legislation is to remove obstacles so those who commit or support terrorist acts in the United States face the full range of consequences of the U.S. legal system. However, concerns have been raised regarding potential unintended consequences that may result from this legislation for the national security and foreign policy of the United States. We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences.

Yet, when it comes to Khashoggi, Corker no longer seems to worry about any unintended consequences. Rather, he is seeking very significant and fully-intended consequences. Corker has this to say:

“If it turns out to be what we all think it is today but don’t know, but what we all think it is today, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels.”

He also said,

“It points to the idea that whatever has happened to him, the Saudis—I mean, they’ve got some explaining to do.” Corker warned that a congressional response to the alleged killing would be “tangible,” adding: 

“Our relations with Saudi Arabia, at least from the Senate standpoint, are the lowest ever. It’s never been this low.” 

Unsurprisingly, Corker is not alone in his Road to Damascus conversion. Interestingly, nine of the very same Senators who wanted to “tweak” JASTA along with Senator Corker, due to their concerns about the “unintended consequences” of the 9/11 Families holding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable, now seem to have no problem demanding an investigation and swift accountability for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. 

In part the Corker Khoshoggi letter states:

The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, which includes:
“torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.”
 Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.
Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the president, upon receipt of a letter from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, must make a determination and is authorized to impose sanctions with respect to a foreign person responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights violations against individuals who seek to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote human rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression.”

Once again, we have a group of people doing a complete Road to Damascus conversion. These same nine Senators weren’t interested in providing Saudi accountability to the 9/11 Families, yet now, they are demanding it for Jamal Khashoggi.

Moreover, for years, many of these Senators didn’t seem to care too much about the human rights of the Yemeni citizens getting slaughtered by U.S. bombs and ammunitions. They all seemed ok with signing off on lucrative arms packages-even in the face of report after report after report of human rights atrocities taking place in Yemen and Syria at the hands of the Saudis. The nine Senators who signed both the Khashoggi letter and the JASTA “Unintended Consequences” letter are: Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Ben Cardin, Jeff Flake, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Coons, Jeff Merkely, Mark Udall, and Jim Risch.

Which begs the obvious question: Who was Jamal Khashoggi and why has his disappearance and alleged murder triggered this unprecedented, and out of character response from so many in Washington DC?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question makes the many statements and support currently being given by so many in Washington even more incomprehensible. Because Jamal Khashoggi was no Mother Theresa.

First, let me be crystal clear, Jamal Khashoggi was not merely a journalist working for the Washington Post.

Additionally, Jamal Khashoggi was not just an outspoken critic of current Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Simple research reveals a much more colorful background of Jamal Khashoggi. 

To start, a person should read the Chicago Tribune article from 2004 that talks about Jamal Khashoggi being recruited by Adel Batterjee in the 1980’s to get the “scoop of a lifetime.” That assignment was to go with Batterjee to Afghanistan and hang-out with the CIA/Saudi mujahideen fighting against the Soviets. The article is long and very well-researched. I highly suggest you take the time to read it because it details very clearly and specifically why and how Jamal Khashoggi knew so much about al Qaeda, the CIA, the Saudis, and much of the financing, funding, and organizing of Bin Laden that led to the 9/11 attacks. 

Next, I would encourage you to read some of Jamal Khashoggi’s opinion pieces from the Daily Star. Notably, do not read the ones cherry-picked by David Ignatius. Read some of the others that include some fairly fiery words from Khashoggi: here, and here, and here, and herehere, and  here

Also, please note that in one of the leading books written about the 9/11 attacks, Lawrence Wright’s, “The Looming Tower,” Jamal Khashoggi is portrayed by Wright as a “friend” of Bin Laden. Khashoggi is not a “journalist” who reports on bin Laden. Rather he is described as Osama Bin Laden’s friend. And the Bin Laden/Khashoggi friendship apparently spans more than a decade—from Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to the Sudan.

In addition, also note that Jamal Khashoggi was closely connected to Prince Turki al Faisal. Prince Turki was the head of Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years. Interestingly, he resigned from his post 10 days before 9/11. Probably more interestingly, Turki is the man who allegedly brokered the deal with Bin Laden back in 1998 where, in exchange for money and support, Bin Laden would not attack the Saudi Royal Family.  Some believe that this agreement paved the way for the 9/11 attacks and various intelligence agencies around the globe “looking the other way” or “turning a blind eye” to al Qaeda’s actions in the lead up to 9/11.

Notably, Prince Turki al Faisal was also one of the first named defendants in the 9/11 Families’ litigation.  He was dismissed from the case years ago due to grounds of sovereign immunity.

Moreover, Jamal Khashoggi was also closely connected to Prince Alaweed bin Talal who was held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel last year by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Additionally, reporting also links Talal to the 9/11 attacks.

Finally, there is Khashoggi’s family connection to Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arm’s dealer at the center of the CIA’s Iran-Contra fiasco back in the 80’s.

Just because Jamal Khashoggi was around during the original days of al Qaeda’s creation, knew how all the Islamic charities were set up and how al Qaeda funds moved around the world, was a friend of Bin Laden’s for at least two decades, was very connected to Saudi intelligence and quite possibly, (like his Uncle Adnan) worked with the CIA, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Jamal Khashoggi was a bad actor.

But, I’m someone who believes that you judge a man’s character by the company he keeps which is why I find the current uproar over what happened to Jamal so curious.

One last fact to mention: the timing of Khashoggi’s disappearance when taken in connection with the 9/11 Families’ litigation. Last Friday, something very notable happened in the 9/11 litigation against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For the first time ever, the Department of Justice stood on the side of the 9/11 Families and publicly committed to finally releasing three large tranches of formerly secret documents that we believe connect the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks. This is the biggest development we have had in our over 16 years of litigation.

In a time when news lasts about as long as a minute, why has the story of Jamal Khashoggi dominated headlines for more than a week? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever questioned by the FBI at any time before or after the 9/11 attacks? If not, why not? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever employed by the CIA? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever deemed an asset of the CIA? When did Jamal’s employment for Saudi intelligence come to an end? Was Jamal Khashoggi a joint asset between the GIA and the CIA? Did Jamal Khashoggi ever have any contact with the 9/11 hijackers or anyone in the support network of the 9/11 hijackers inside the United States? And, why did it take 15 Saudi assassins to kill Jamal Khashoggi? Doesn’t that seem a bit like overkill? And, is it just a coincidence that there were 15 Saudi hijackers on 9/11? Why would Jamal Khashoggi willingly go to the Saudi Consulate in Turkey—especially given his alleged sour relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman? What would inspire him to go there? And what was the entreaty MBS allegedly made to Jamal more than one month ago about anyways? Was it made in earnest? What was Jamal Khashoggi really doing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul?

In many ways, Jamal’s behavior reminds me of former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger when he got caught stealing and destroying top secret national security documents from the National Archives so many years ago. None of it makes any sense.

As someone who has fought for nearly 20 years to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks, l applaud this newly found “mission of many” to hold the Saudis accountable—even if it is inspired by the disappearance, alleged murder and dismemberment of a man like Jamal Khashoggi.

Better late than never.

Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. 

Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter:  

Bringing War Home: Atrocities Abroad, Mass Shootings at Home

The War on Terror’s Toll, From Atrocities Abroad to Mass Shootings at Home


November 10, 2018

A new study says the U.S.-led so-called “war on terror” has killed up to 507,000 people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The report from Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs calls that half a million figure an undercount due to the, quote, “great uncertainty in any count of killing in war.” It’s the latest effort to assess the carnage from 17 years of endless and expanding U.S.-led war around the globe. And to that toll we also might add U.S. citizens dying at home. The shooter in this week’s [Thousand] Oaks massacre was Ian David Long, a veteran of the Afghan war. Ventura County Sheriff Jeff Dean said that police had previously interacted with Long, and that he may have suffered from PTSD.

As Ian David Long — an-ex U.S. Marine who served in the Afghan war — kills 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California, might we also count victims of mass shootings carried out by U.S. veterans? We speak to Vijay Prashad of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research.

Political Schisms Threaten Sri Lanka

Tamil nationalists support US-backed factions in Sri Lankan political crisis

by K. Nesan - WSWS

10 November 2018 

On November 3, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) announced that it would vote for the United National Party’s (UNP) no-confidence motion against Mahinda Rajapakse in parliament.

An official TNA statement described President Maithripala Sirisena’s sacking of UNP Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his appointment of Rajapakse as prime minister as “illegal,” “unconstitutional” and an “undemocratic” violation of “parliamentary supremacy.”

Mavai Senathirajah, who leads the Federal Party, the dominant component of the TNA, said four days earlier that the alliance would decide on who to support in the ensuing political crisis after consulting with the “international community” and India.

The TNA’s decision to support Wickremesinghe has nothing to do with defending democracy. Rather, the organisation is pursuing the same pro-imperialist course that saw it support the US-sponsored regime-change operation that brought Sirisena and Wickremesinghe to power in 2015. That operation was aimed at installing a pro-US government in Colombo in line with Washington’s war preparations against China.

Against the Tamil nationalists and other middle-class “left” organisations, the SEP (Sri Lanka) was the only political party that rejected fraudulent claims that the regime would result in democratic rule. The SEP warned about the danger of a US-led war against China and the IMF-dictated social austerity attacks on the working class, and laid out a political program to unify Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim workers in struggle against the Colombo regime. Recent events have comprehensively vindicated the SEP.

Sampanthan campaigned for Sirisena in 2015, insisting that his election would produce a “revival of democracy.” While Sirisena has now unilaterally sacked the prime minister and dissolved the parliament, the TNA is again on a crusade for “democracy”—this time against the man it hailed as Sri Lanka’s leading “democrat.” Underlying the shift in the TNA’s position is the Tamil bourgeoisie’s determination to maintain its close political alignment with US foreign policy demands.

Both Washington and the TNA seek to use the vicious state repression of the Tamil workers and oppressed masses after the 1983–2009 Sri Lankan civil war as a political pretext to pressure the regime in Colombo under the phony banner of defending “human rights.”

Less than 24 hours after Rajapakse’s installation as prime minister, the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs tweeted:

“We expect the Government of Sri Lanka to uphold its Geneva commitments to human rights, reform, accountability, justice and reconciliation.”

The tweet indicated that if Rajapakse was installed as prime minister and pursued a pro-China policy, Washington could again threaten Colombo with war crimes investigations over the 2009 massacre of the Tamils—threats it used to remove Rajapakse from office in 2015.

Not accidentally, the TNA’s statements are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Western powers in “defending” democracy in Sri Lanka. TNA leader M. A. Sumanthiran told a party meeting that “we are the deciding factor,” stressing the TNA’s leading role in mobilising “forces” to defeat Rajapakse in 2015.

The TNA’s cynical claims to be fighting for democracy and against the oppression of the Tamil masses since 2009 are exposed by Sumanthiran’s recent meeting with a delegation from the Sinhala-chauvinist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and headed by party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Attacking Sirisena, Sumanthiran declared that, “the TNA and the JVP decided to resist these moves jointly and join hands with all opponents of such unlawful and undemocratic practices.” Dissanayake reciprocated, stating,

“We, as the JVP, and people in the north have both faced the repercussions of anti-democratic situations.”

This posturing has no credibility among workers in Sri Lanka. Since its foundation in 1966, the JVP has been a champion of racist politics targeting Tamils. During its first insurrection in 1971, which ended in the bloody death of thousands of Sinhalese youth at the hands of the Colombo regime, the JVP denounced Tamil plantation workers as a fifth column of Indian influence in Sri Lanka. The JVP is infamous for its active support of the Sri Lankan military against Tamil nationalist forces during the civil war and its murderous political violence against political opponents, including the SEP.

The alliance of the racist JVP and the TNA nationalists in line with US imperialist foreign policy is a warning to the working class. These parties are fully integrated into the Sri Lankan ruling elite’s drive towards dictatorship and are bitterly hostile to the workers.

What is the balance sheet of the TNA’s three-year support for the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime?

TNA parliamentarians voted for the government’s IMF-dictated austerity budgets which have drastically worsened the living conditions of the working class and the masses.

The TNA promised in 2015 that Sirisena’s Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) and Wickremesinghe’s UNP would unite and solve the Tamil national question but none of the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war have been addressed.

Tamil political prisoners have not been released, no investigation of war crimes has occurred, the whereabouts of the missing are still unknown and military-held private lands have not been returned. Homes destroyed by the war have not been rebuilt, and the war wounded and widows are still suffering without assistance.

In 2016, Sampanthan dismissed growing popular anger over the plight of the Tamil masses, saying: “After travelling a long journey, one cannot hastily break contact with the government.”

Immediately after last month’s political coup, Sirisena announced that he would grant no concessions to the Tamils and never allow Tamil-majority areas “to be merged nor allow the country to be a federal state.” I would “have to be killed,” he declared, for before such a devolution of power was implemented.

Despite this, Sampanthan led a TNA delegation to meet Sirisena on November 7 and issued a press release in which he pledged to “extend to the President its fullest support with regard to any future steps taken by him to stabilise the political situation in the country with the cooperation of all political parties.”

Tamil nationalist critics of the TNA are supporting the organisation’s parliamentary manoeuvres and calling for more detailed promises from Washington and the other powers to protect Tamil bourgeois interests. As political analyst S. A. Jothilingam told a press conference in Jaffna,

“Mahinda Rajapakse is supported by China, Western countries support Ranil Wickremesinghe. The best thing that can be done in this situation is to keep these countries as witnesses and obtain written promises from these parties.”

The stark shift to the right of the ruling parties is their reaction to the growing movement of protests and strikes among workers of all ethnicities in Sri Lanka. Two days before Sirisena’s political coup, 5,000 young Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim workers protested in Galle Face Green, demanding that daily wages for plantation workers be doubled to 1,000 rupees. In several cities in the Tamil-majority North and East, workers and youths have spontaneously joined street protests in support of the plantation workers.

The last three years have once more proved that there is no national path for the democratic aspirations of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Tamil nationalists’ alignment with imperialism originates in the bourgeois class interests they represent and which are hostile to the workers and oppressed masses.

Amid an upsurge of the class struggle, the only way forward is on basis of the struggle being waged by the SEP to unify the working class of all nationalities on a socialist and revolutionary perspective. The support of Tamil workers from the North and East for strikes and protests in Colombo and Sinhalese workers’ sympathy for the year-long protests of the relatives of missing people in the North point to the growing unification of the working class.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Failed Revolutions Have Anniversaries Too: Remembering Germany's November Revolution

One hundred years since the November Revolution in Germany

by Ulrich Rippert and Peter Schwarz - WSWS

9 November 2018

One hundred years ago—on November 9, 1918—the revolutionary uprising of the German working class against war and monarchy reached its peak and shook the capitalist system to its foundations.

Since the beginning of 1918, despite repression, draconian censorship, the imprisonment of revolutionary leaders and the support of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and trade unions for the Great War, the imperial government was no longer able to control the resistance of the working class to the war.

The devastating effects of three-and-a-half years of bloody slaughter and the military defeats on the Western front led to a revolutionary crisis.

In many areas, the food supply had collapsed almost completely. Although war production had increased dramatically since the summer of 1914, total industrial production at the end of 1917 was 47 percent below its pre-war level. Agricultural production had fallen by 60 percent.

The famine was unimaginable.

The fronts hardly moved in the last months of the war, but the great human slaughter continued unabated. Soldiers were senselessly sent to the slaughter, starved to death in the trenches or condemned to die in agony from epidemics. By that point, the First World War had been raging for four years.

General Ludendorff and the Supreme Army Command delayed the armistice negotiations, and when the war finally ended in November 1918, 10 million people had lost their lives worldwide, with 20 million wounded soldiers. In addition, there were 7 million civilian victims.

In Russia, under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the working class had conquered power and ended Russian involvement in the war in October 1917. Their victory inspired the workers in Germany. Amid the butchery of the world war, the Russian revolution proved that a world beyond capitalism was possible without exploitation and war.

In January 1918, the workers at the armament factories in Hennigsdorf downed their tools. Their demonstration in neighbouring Berlin was joined by 400,000 people.

“The January Strike is the beginning of the end of the Wilhelmine order, a volcanic eruption of all the contradictions that have been swirling in the Reich and which have not only been concealed by the truce, but have even been aggravated by it,” Joachim Käppner writes in his book '1918'.

After that, the resistance in the factories grew and spread to the fleet and the front. In the autumn of 1918, the situation was worsening from day to day. To control the revolutionary wave and shift responsibility for the war defeat onto others, the government made a series of retreats.

“The reform from above was supposed to forestall the revolution from below—that was the basic idea of the now completed about-face,” Volker Ullrich remarks in 'The Revolution of 1918/19'.

On October 3, Prince Max von Baden was appointed Reich chancellor to form a government coalition with the Social Democrats, who for the first time in history assumed government responsibility. Three weeks later, General Ludendorff, the most powerful man in the Supreme Army Command, was dismissed.

But the measures came too late. The revolutionary uprising could no longer be stopped. Here is an outline of the events that rapidly followed:

On October 30, the sailors of the deep-sea fleet rebel and refuse to go out in a “final battle,” which would mean their certain demise.

In Kiel, sailors fraternise with the workers and organise a general strike. On November 4, they occupy the ships and the Kiel City Hall. Workers’ and soldiers’ councils are formed.

On November 5, the revolution prevails in Lübeck, on November 6 in Hamburg, then in Bremen, Hanover and Stuttgart. On November 7, 80,000 workers demonstrate in Munich and form a workers’ and soldiers’ council. One day later, Kurt Eisner proclaims the Free State of Bavaria.

Events begin to accelerate. Richard Müller, who, as chairman of the Executive Council of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils, played a leading role in the Berlin uprising of November 9, describes it this way:

“After the breakfast break, things became lively. The factories emptied at an incredibly fast pace. The streets were filled with huge crowds of people. On the outskirts, where the largest factories are located, large protest marches formed, which flowed into the centre of the city.”

Müller describes how soldiers who had been ordered to Berlin to protect the monarchy and maintain order joined the workers’ demonstrations without being asked to do so. “Men, women, soldiers, a people in arms flooded the streets up to the nearest barracks,” he writes.

In Moabit prison and Tegel prison camp, the inmates are freed. “The large newspapers, the Wolff telegraph office, the telegraph department, the Reichstag building were already occupied in the first hours of the afternoon.”

“The characteristic feature of this uprising lies in the elemental force of its outbreak, in the all-encompassing extent of its expansion and the unified, almost methodical action in all parts of the vast area of greater Berlin,” Müller writes in summarizing the events.

The rule of the monarchy, shattered by the war, collapses like a house of cards under this tremendous onslaught of the working class. Reich Chancellor Max von Baden announces the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in the morning. At noon, he hands over his office to the Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert. In the early afternoon, SPD member Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the democratic republic from the balcony of the Berlin City Palace in front of a huge crowd of people. Karl Liebknecht, the leader of the Spartacus League, shortly afterwards proclaims the Socialist Republic in the neighbouring Lustgarten.

The following day, SPD Chairman Ebert forms a new government, called the “Council of People’s Representatives,” which includes three majority Social Democrats (Ebert, Philipp Scheidemann and Otto Landsberg) and three members of the Independent Social Democrats (Hugo Haase, Wilhelm Dittmann and Emil Barth). The Independent Social Democrats (USPD) had been founded in April 1917 by SPD members who, under the pressure of the masses, refused to grant further war credits and were therefore expelled from the SPD. Barth is also a member of the revolutionary representatives who exert great influence in the Berlin metal industry.

The Council of People’s Commissioners takes on the task of containing, suffocating and bloodily crushing the huge revolutionary wave that has in a few days spread like wildfire across the country, threatening not only the monarchy, but also the property of the capitalists and land owners and the power of the military caste.

In the summer of 1914, the SPD leaders voted to grant war credits to the German government and thus sent millions of workers into the slaughterhouse of the imperialist war. Four years later, they proved to be the most important defenders of capitalist rule. Ebert concludes a secret pact with the Supreme Army Command under General Gröner. The attacks against the revolutionary workers are prepared and organized in daily, direct cooperation with the general staff of the counterrevolution.

In his memoirs, General Gröner wrote of this alliance with Ebert:

“The officer corps could only cooperate with a government that took up the fight against radicalism and Bolshevism. Ebert was ready for that.”

He had told Ebert on November 10 that the army had made itself available to his government but demanded that Bolshevism be combated.
“Ebert responded to my proposal for an alliance. From then on, we discussed the necessary measures each evening on a secret line between the Reich Chancellery and the Army Command. The alliance has proven itself.”

Based on this alliance, the SPD leadership organizes one blow after another against the revolutionary workers. The people's commissar for the Army and Navy, Gustav Noske, is instructed to recruit against the uprising from the scattered reactionary soldiers of the Freikorps.

He takes on the task with the words: “Somebody has to play the bloodhound.” In the SPD party newspaper Vorwärts, calls for cooperation with the Freikorps, the precursor of the Nazi stormtroopers, appear under the headline “Protect yourselves from Spartakus!”

The conflict between the working class on the one hand, and the Freikorps, counterrevolutionary troops and the Ebert government on the other, develops into an open civil war. But it was not until December 29, when armed fighting was raging on the streets of Berlin, that the ministers of the USPD left the Ebert government. They had acted as a left-wing fig leaf, without having even the slightest influence upon events.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who had fought since the beginning of the war against the betrayal of the SPD and formed the “Gruppe Internationale” and later the “Spartakusbund,” founded the Communist Party of Germany amid the fire of great revolutionary struggles at the turn of the year 1918/1919.

Luxemburg, who had been released only a few weeks earlier from long imprisonment in a fortress, delivers the main address at the founding congress. Karl Radek delivers greetings from the Bolshevik Party. Two weeks later, on January 15, Luxembourg and Liebknecht are captured and murdered by Noske’s Freikorps.

Counterrevolution triumphs! With terrible cruelty, it rages against the revolutionary workers in Berlin and other industrial areas. Tens of thousands are murdered. The troops of the Social Democratic Army minister drown the revolution in blood.

Today, official historiography presents the November Revolution as a democratic awakening and beginning of democracy in Germany. It was nothing of the sort.

The 1918 German Revolution, as Leon Trotsky aptly put it in 1930, was “not a democratic completion of the bourgeois revolution,” but “a proletarian revolution beheaded by social democracy: more correctly, it is bourgeois counterrevolution forced to preserve pseudo-democratic forms after the victory over the proletariat."

The German bourgeoisie had already bid farewell to democratic aspirations 70 years earlier. In 1848, it had stabbed in the back the democratic revolution that had swept across Germany and large parts of Europe, and had allied itself with feudal reaction.

Germany’s rise as an imperialist great power then took place under the rule of the Hohenzollern regime. Prussian militarism, the authoritarian Prussian state apparatus and its backbone, the large landed property owners, served the aspiring German bourgeoisie to oppress the working class and pursue its imperialist goals. This culminated in the catastrophe of the First World War, for the outbreak of which the German bourgeoisie was largely to blame.

The workers and soldiers, who rose en masse after four years of barbaric slaughter and unspeakable war crimes, did not confront the task of completing the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The bourgeoisie had long since become the ruling class under the protection of the imperial regime and had proved its historical bankruptcy with the war. The working class was faced with the task of depriving the bourgeoisie and the military caste of their material basis, expropriating the industrial barons, war profiteers and landowners, and establishing a socialist workers state.

The German November Revolution was an inseparable part of the developing proletarian world revolution. One year earlier, the working class had conquered power in Russia under the leadership of the Bolsheviks. The leaders of the October Revolution, Lenin and Trotsky, had based their entire strategy on an international perspective. They understood the Russian Revolution as the prelude to the socialist world revolution. They were convinced that the contradictions of the imperialist world system expressed in the barbarity of the First World War would also drive the working class of other countries into revolution and quickly free the Russian workers state from its initial isolation. Events in Germany confirmed this perspective.

While the victory of the October Revolution inspired the German workers, it provoked fear and terror among the ruling elites. “Defence against Bolshevism” became not only the battle cry of the utmost reaction, but also of the SPD and sections of the USPD. “When Karl Liebknecht... tried on 9 November to commit the Reichstag faction of the independents to the Russian slogan ‘All power to the Soviets,’ Eduard Bernstein, present at the time, reacted as if struck like lightning to his head: ‘It brings us counterrevolution,’” wrote Heinrich Winkler in Der lange Weg nach Westen (Germany: The long road West).

The German Revolution failed due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership. Under August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, the SPD had built the largest Marxist mass party in the world. But its leading layers allowed themselves to be dragged along by the economic upswing. They betrayed their own program in 1914 and supported the First World War.

The working class did not recover from this blow in time. The USPD was founded a full three years after the beginning of the war. It emerged not on its own initiative, but because the SPD, through party expulsions, left it no other choice. Its policies always remained centrist, adapting to every bourgeois pressure, such as its participation in Ebert’s government. Even the most revolutionary and courageous representatives of the German working class in the Spartacus League found it difficult to break with the SPD and USPD in time.

The defeat of the November Revolution had devastating consequences. It isolated the Soviet Union, contributing substantially to the growth of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Joseph Stalin’s increasing influence on the policies of the Communist International, in turn, became an important factor in further defeats of the international working class. Thus, in 1923, the KPD (German Communist Party) missed an extraordinary revolutionary situation due to its false policies. And in 1933, the catastrophic policies of the KPD, dictated by Stalin and strictly opposed to a united front against the Nazis, resulted in Hitler taking power without a shot being fired.

Above all, however, the November Revolution left intact the power and property of all those forces that would help Hitler to power 15 years later: the industrial barons such as Stinnes, Krupp and Thyssen; the Prussian Junckers, upon whom Paul von Hindenburg and other generals relied; and the Freikorps, from which Hitler’s Stormtroopers were recruited. Not even the high nobility was expropriated or abolished, a task the French Revolution had thoroughly completed 120 years earlier.

A hundred years later, the working class in Germany and internationally is again faced with the same challenges as in 1918. With the intensification of the global crisis of capitalism—extreme social inequality, trade war and war—all the unresolved problems of the twentieth century are returning. Right-wing extremist parties are on the rise everywhere, including in Germany, as is militarism and authoritarianism. The class struggle is coming to a head. Without a socialist revolution in the foreseeable future, mankind threatens to sink again into war and barbarism.

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party) and the International Committee of the Fourth International are the only political tendency that draws on the lessons of the strategic experiences of the class struggle and fights for an international socialist perspective. The urgent need to build a politically independent, revolutionary socialist movement of the working class is the essential lesson of the German revolution, and remains the central task today.

Bank Robs Man: England Holds Venezuela's Gold Hostage

My Precious: Bank of England Refuses Return Venezuela’s Gold

by 21st Century Wire

November 9, 2018

Readers should be in little doubt that the western Atlanticist bloc, led by the United States, is waging economic warfare against Venezuela.

US President Donald Trump, along with neoconservative cabinet hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, have openly threatened to escalate hostilities against the South American country for no other reason than regime change.

Western “economic actions” are a euphemism for war. What does the west want regime change in Venezuela?

Fighting: Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro

The answer is simple and by no means a novel one: like Chavez before him, President Maduro is despised by the west and their sponsored political opposition in the country because he simply refuses to allow the west’s Neoliberal economic machine to steamroll the country with the usual prescription of mass privatization, deregulation, and crippling austerity.

One of the key elements for keeping an economy down is to restrict a government’s access to hard currencies which can be converted into foreign currencies – like gold. Clearly, this move by the UK is being done in conjunction with the US – in order to try and further cripple the Venezuelan economy.

RT International reports…

“The Bank of England (BoE) is refusing to release around $550 million in gold owned by Venezuela back to the country over the UK regulator’s claim of growing uncertainty about Caracas’s intentions for the 14 tons of gold bars.

British officials are insisting that measures aimed at preventing money-laundering are taken, The Times reports. The Venezuelan government is reportedly expected to provide a clarification about its plans for the gold.

“There are concerns that Mr. Maduro may seize the gold, which is owned by the state, and sell it for personal gain,” the media reports citing unnamed sources. 

Reports emerged earlier this week that the Venezuelan government had been trying to reach the gold belonging to the country for two months. The talks had reportedly come to a standstill due to increased difficulties in obtaining insurance for the shipping that is necessary to move a large gold cargo.

Last week, Venezuelan gold exports became subject of another round of US sanctions against the Latin American country. The latest penalties target both US individuals and corporations involved with gold sales in Venezuela.

Over the past several years, Washington introduced a wide range of punitive measures against the Bolivarian Republic, hitting its finances, debt issuance and business activity of state oil company PDVSA. US authorities accuse Venezuela’s current government and its leader Nicolas Maduro of violating human rights and undermining democracy.

Venezuela, which is currently in the throes of a severe economic crisis, has recently made attempts to eliminate reliance on US-controlled financial institutions and instruments, including the US dollar. Last month, the country committed to trading in euros, yuan and ‘other convertible currencies’ amid US penalties.

Over the past three years, Venezuela has been using its gold as collateral to get billions in loans from international lenders. However, swap agreements became difficult for Venezuela in 2017 after Washington banned US financial institutions from financing operations there.

READ MORE VENEZUELA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Venezuela Files


Kemp Counts Votes, Tries to Take Ball Home

Will Kemp Get Away With Suppressing Georgia’s Black Votes?


November 8, 2018  

The governor’s race in Georgia has been one of the most heated contests of the 2018 Midterms. And now. days later, its two contenders are at odds over whether or not it’s over.

Republican candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams with a lead of over 63,000 votes. On Thursday, Kemp announced he is resigning as Secretary of State. And moving forward with the transition.

Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp purged tens of thousands of votes as part of a crackdown that adversely impacted black voters. We speak to attorney, activist Anoa Changa and investigative journalist Greg Palast.

What They Won't Tell You About Wars

The reasons we go to war – who do you believe?

by MarkGB - Renegade Inc

November 9, 2018

Throw a dart at the map of the world and chances are it will land in or near a territory in which the US and its allies have ‘promoted democracy’, made a ‘humanitarian intervention’, and/or ‘defended western values’, leaving behind the stench of JP Morgan, Standard Oil, Halliburton, and the Cheney and Clinton dynasties. The politics of ‘left and right’ is a sideshow for the plebs – MarkGB examines how war has become a reliable profit centre for government cronies.

Is this person speaking their truth?

“Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage, and resolve is unmatched in human history.

American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield – for our nation and for our freedom. Through their lives, and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal and to remain one nation under God. The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose…

As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.”

How about this person?

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.

I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903.

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

One of those statements was made by a man who has never donned a uniform, never killed another human being, and never seen a friend blown to pieces by a shell or ripped apart by shrapnel. The other guy did all those things. One of those people was talking ‘horse shit; the other was speaking from their experience. One is the captive of a corrupt system that Eisenhower described as the military-industrial complex. The other retired from that system when Eisenhower was a young officer, and went on to describe his experiences in a book entitled ‘War is a Racket‘.

The first is President Donald Trump announcing his planned escalation in Afghanistan on 22nd August 2017; the second was Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler, a marine who retired in 1931 as the most decorated soldier in US history at that time.

Given such a gulf between authentic communication and a salesman’s cheap attempt to be ‘inspiring’…the question ‘Who do you believe?’ may seem purely rhetorical. And yet the same choice has arisen in one form or another many times in the last fifty years: in Vietnam during the sixties; in Iraq (twice); and more latterly in Libya and Syria. If you reduce the scale of the carnage somewhat, you can stick a pin into a world map and the chances are that it will land in or near a territory in which the US and the ‘western alliance’ have been busy ‘promoting democracy’, ‘making a humanitarian intervention’, and/or ‘defending western values’.

There’s a map here in fact:

If you head over to Indy100, (after you finish reading this article, or open the link in a new tab), you can use their interactive maps to discover how many US military personnel were deployed in each country at any particular time, and how many were /are on active duty.

You’ll notice there are a few large gaps on the map: America, Canada, Australia, India and parts of Africa…but given these were all British colonies, the majority of the world has had to suffer English speaking overlords and meddlers for three hundred years…and most of them have had enough…go figure.

If you dig out the press clippings and/or listen to the old newsreels from wars like Vietnam and Iraq, in each instance you will find political warmongers posing as principled human beings. Clearly we haven’t challenged them often enough or loudly enough or hard enough…so let’s go again.

When you dig a few centimetres under the surface of each of those interventions, you will start to find answers to the Latin phrase ‘cui bono?’ – for whose benefit?

For example, in Iraq 2 you’ll find the unmistakable smell of Dick Cheney and his pals at Halliburton.

In each case the actors may vary, but the basic plot, and the major roles don’t. You’ll find snakes posing as statesmen, vultures in the form of weapons dealers, oil deal fixers, & mining interests, and everywhere & always there will be parasites from Wall Street and other global financial centres, whose job it is to peddle the debt…I’m sorry I should have said ‘arrange the finance’.

Cover, rather than coverage, is provided by lap dogs in the media, whose most treasured asset is their address book. Take away their ‘access’ and there’s nothing much left – many of them don’t even write very well. Do you honestly think that the FT editor, Lionel Barber, got his Legion D’Honeur for ‘journalism’ – for telling the truth about the shenanigans that shape our world and speaking truth to power? They should’ve given him the Grand Order of Puckering Up (GOPU).

Similarly do you believe Martin Wolf is so thoroughly gullible that he can hang out at Bilderberg and Davos year in, year out, without realising that many of the ‘elite’ he is rubbing shoulders with are criminals, or would be if they answered to the same rule of law that applies to a common thief? For example, do you imagine that Wolf believes that JP Morgan hosted Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme for all those years without anyone ever knowing what was going on? If anyone really believes that insiders like Barber and Wolf don’t know how rotten the system is…I hope that person doesn’t leave the house unsupervised – there’s moving traffic out there.

But back to the star players:

Afghanistan has been a ‘nice little earner’ for many governmental cronies, and now that Trump has committed himself to the next round of slaughter, it will continue to be so. Here’s Matthew Hoh, board member of ‘Veterans for Peace’, senior fellow with the ‘Centre for International Policy’ and former member of Obama’s State Department in Afghanistan. He wrote this prior to, and in anticipation of, Trump’s escalation:

“Often repeated claims, such as millions of Afghan school girls going to school, millions of Afghans having access to improved health care and Afghan life expectancy dramatically increasing, and the construction of an Afghan job building economy have been exposed as nothing more than public relations lies.

Often displayed as modern Potemkin Villages to visiting journalists and congressional delegations and utilised to justify continued budgets for the Pentagon and USAID, and, so, to allow for more killing, like America’s reconstruction programme in Iraq, the reconstruction programme in Afghanistan has proven to be a failure and its supposed achievements shown to be virtually non-existent, as documented by multiple investigations by SIGAR, as well as by investigators and researchers from organisations such as the UN, EU, IMF, World Bank, etc…

Americans will also hear tonight (in Trump’s speech) how the US military has done great things for the Afghan people. You would be hard pressed to find many Afghans outside of the incredibly corrupt and illegitimate government, a better definition of a kleptocracy you will not find, that the US keeps in power with its soldiers and $35 billion a year, who would agree with the statements of the American politicians, the American generals and the pundits, the latter of which are mostly funded, directly or indirectly, by the military companies…

It is also important to remember that many members of the Afghan government are themselves warlords and drug barons, many of them guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses and war crimes, the same abuses of which the Taliban are guilty, while the current Ghani government, and the previous Karzai government, have allowed egregious crimes to continue against women, including laws that allow men to legally rape their wives. Whatever President Trump announces about Afghanistan, a decision he teased on Twitter, as if the announcement were a new retail product launch or television show episode, as opposed to the sombre and painful reality of war, we can be assured the lies about American progress in Afghanistan will continue, the lies about America’s commitment to human rights and democratic values will continue, the profits of the military companies and drug barons will also continue, and of course the suffering of the Afghan people will surely continue”

It is a mistake, however, to think that the people who profit from war are solely a manifestation of ‘the right’ – it goes much deeper than that. The problem is systemic. The so-called liberal democratic wing of US politics – which is latterly neither ‘liberal’ nor ‘democratic’, but is badly in need of a dictionary – also has its fair share of warmongers: the ‘liberal interventionists’.

Hillary Clinton, for example, has never met a war that she didn’t fall in love with instantaneously. Look at her record and you’ll find she lined up squarely behind Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Secretary of State, she was the political architect of Libya, and a constant source of whispering into Obama’s ear about creating ‘no-fly’ zones in Syria – strategically and operationally this was a ridiculous idea, but it would have further antagonised Putin, which was the point.

Look at the accounts of the Clinton Foundation and you’ll find they contain numerous ‘donations’ from Saudi Arabia – a family business originally put on the ‘throne’ by the British, propped up by the US since the seventies, supported for decades by the Wahhabis – a Sunni death cult of head-chopping psychopaths. Just the sort of money that you want to cosy up with if you are a politician who claims to be passionate about democracy and women’s issues, and are running for president…not.

Incidentally, that last point is a symptom of just how rotten the system is – it clearly didn’t worry the Clintons that such a thing would be a problem for them…and given the servitude of the New York Times & the Washington Post, it wouldn’t have been – had Julian Assange not started the ball rolling with proof of DNC election rigging. And now she blames the Russians for Trump’s victory…sweet irony…but I digress…

My point is this: at this level of the political game, ‘left and right’ is a sideshow for the plebs – this is about power and money.

Let me ask you a question: What do Dick Cheney, Larry Summers, James Wolsey, Rupert Murdoch and Jacob Rothschild all have in common?

Quite an impressive list of power brokers don’t you think? A former Vice-President under Bush, an ex-Treasury Secretary under Clinton, a former Director of the CIA, a global media mogul, and a member of an old European financial dynasty. What could these guys have in common other than political power and influence?

They are all members of the Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy, an American company with its head office in Newark, New Jersey. Now…what’s so magnetic about Genie Energy you may ask?

It may have something to do with one of their major commercial interests:

“A potentially significant oil and gas resource in Northern Israel pursuant to an exclusive, 3 year petroleum exploration license issued by the government of Israel”

So…perhaps these luminaries share a common fascination and expertise in the exploration & drilling of oil? I have no doubt that they would all look very dashing in overalls, a helmet and goggles…but perhaps there is something else…

As you’ve guessed there is another possibility…particularly since the description on Genie’s website is slightly misleading: the ‘significant oil and gas resource’ referred to isn’t actually located in ‘Northern Israel’. It is situated in an area better known as the Golan Heights – a territory captured from Syria during the 6-day war in 1967. An annexation described by the United Nations as “null and void and without international legal effect” (UN Resolution 497, adopted unanimously on 17th December 1981). In other words, Genie has oil and gas interests on land that the United Nations, with the supposed support of the United States, regards as illegally occupied territory.

Maybe that goes some way to explaining why Genie have such well connected paragons of virtue & international law on their Advisory Board. Who better to rub their magic lamp in Washington than a neoconservative warmonger, a greasy liberal influence peddler, a regime change organizer, an international purveyor of slime and a well-connected inheritor of parasitic spoils?

Does that sound like a left/right struggle to you? Me neither.

So where does that leave us? The crony-capitalist system is collapsing. Like ancient Rome, it is too corrupt to stand. The financial crisis was a major shock, but was nevertheless a symptom, as are the emergent fractures in our societies & our politics, as is the increase in geopolitical tension and warfare.

As this process accelerates it will become increasingly clear to ‘normal’ people that the primary concern of governments and ‘elites’ is to maintain their grip on power, and to double down when it is threatened. If the majority of westerners showed even a modicum of interest in their own history, this would already be glaringly apparent. Ultimately, however, it will not work. Power is systemic…and anyone who believes that centralisation of control in highly complex systems is anything other than a disaster waiting to happen…has not been paying attention.

One way or another we will have a realignment of geopolitical power, and a new monetary system – that is inevitable. A major war, though increasingly likely – isn’t. But to avoid this we need to be ‘awake’, and intolerant of any more ‘horseshit’…from the left or the right.

I’ll leave the last word with one of the heroes of my youth – Bob Dylan, who wrote the following lines in 1963. This is the first verse of eight, but the link that follows is a video of the whole song, with ‘stills’ photography from Vietnam…it’s powerful stuff.

Bob Dylan, ‘Masters of War’, ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’, 1963 -

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs

You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks…

MarkGB - is a retired UK businessperson with 35 years experience of working with people from 30 countries and six continents. He is not a member of any political party and does not represent any vested interests. He offers an independent view on economic and political events as they unfold.

Mark’s blog is & you can find him on Twitter @MarkGBblog

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Trained to Kill the Masses: Another Veteran with a Gun Runs Amok

Another Amazing Coincidence: Man Trained to Mass Murder Commits Mass Murder 

by David Swanson - Let's Try Democracy

November 8, 2018

The suspect in today’s mass shooting (well, the biggest one I’ve heard of thus far this morning; the day is young) is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Another mass shooter in Florida last week just happens to have been in the military. The man who killed with a van in Toronto this year had been briefly in the Canadian military and promoted his crime on Facebook beforehand as a military operation. The mass-killing in a Florida High School earlier this year was also promoted by the killer as a military operation, in the sense that he wore his JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) shirt and killed in the same school where the U.S. Army had trained him to shoot and instructed him in war-supporting views of the world and its history.

Obviously having been a member of the U.S. military can’t have any causal connection to mass shootings, and that’s why it makes the most amazing coincidence over and over again that so many individuals who’ve been trained to kill lots of people bizarrely end up killing lots of people.

Looking at a long list of mass shootings in the United States, almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general U.S. population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 — by averaging the percentages for each age year — about 14.76 percent of U.S. men are veterans, but at least 35% of these shooters were veterans. I determined that by quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, so the percentage is likely to be significantly higher. I found no news reports that stated that any of the shooters had not been in the military.

In U.S. mass shootings, military veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably more likely than that. Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive.

But here’s what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society taught by schools and entertainment systems that mass-killing is the way to solve problems.

Mass killing in the United States gets you on the news, and if you happen to be a president bombing a distant land it gets you widely praised and labeled as “finally presidential.”

Of course it’s possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn’t some truth to that. But it’s also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings — and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable — makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn’t truth in that.

The most killing Western societies do is done abroad by their militaries. In the United States, hundreds of deadly shootings every year are committed by police officers — disproportionately military veterans. Suicides, as well, are disproportionately committed by veterans. And not because we are untactful in pointing to problems, but because we generally fail to admit to and deal with problems. Veteran suicides are driven by guilt over having participated in killing. That guilt is the top factor in predicting suicide, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration, and the very least likely piece of information in the entire world to be mentioned in a celebration of Veterans Day.

Consider this. If over 35% of U.S. mass shooters were Muslim or foreign or black or gay or socialist or red-haired or any of millions of other things likely actually coincidental, it would be a Big Freaking Deal. But the fact that over 35% of them have been trained by the world’s biggest mass-killing institution is simply not of any interest.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

UN Disarmament Week Focuses on Nuclear Powers

Last week (Oct 24-30) was UN Disarmament Week, during which member states voted on a range of disarmament decisions and resolutions

by Basel Peace Office 

via PEJNews

6 November 2018

Last week (Oct 24-30) was UN Disarmament Week, during which member states voted on a range of disarmament decisions and resolutions. Decisions are binding on the United Nations. Resolutions are indications of governments' positions and intent – they are not binding but can be very authoritative and influential if supported by key countries.

The deliberations and votes took place in an environment of increasing tensions between nuclear armed States, and also an increasing divide between non-nuclear countries and those countries which rely on nuclear weapons for their security.

Nuclear risk-reduction: Reducing nuclear danger A resolution Reducing nuclear danger submitted by India received 127 votes in favour (mostly non-aligned countries). It failed to get support of nuclear-armed or European countries, primarily because it only calls for nuclear risk reduction measures by China, France, Russia, UK and USA – leaving out the other nuclear armed States – India, Pakistan, DPRK and Israel.

A resolution Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems submitted by a group of non-nuclear countries, was much more successful receiving 173 votes in favour, including from most of the NATO countries and from four nuclear armed States (China, DPRK, India, Pakistan).

Civil society presents to the UN General Assembly First Committee, October 2018

Nuclear prohibition:

A resolution on the Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was supported by 122 countries. This is more than the number who have signed the Treaty, which is 68 (with 19 of these countries having now ratified). The vote indicates that more signatures are likely. However, the resolution was not supported by any of the nuclear-armed countries, nor any of the countries under nuclear deterrence relationships, i.e. NATO, Australia, Japan, South Korea. The opposition of nuclear-armed and allied States to the resolution is another indication that they do not intend to join the new treaty. In general, this means that they will not be bound by the treaty's obligations. However, the customary law against the use of nuclear weapons which is re-affirmed by the treaty will apply to all States regardless of whether or not they join.

A resolution on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons submitted by India received 120 votes in favour, including from themselves and another three nuclear-armed States (China, DPRK and Pakistan). Some non-nuclear States have historically opposed the resolution in response to India testing nuclear weapons and becoming a nuclear-armed State in 1998. India has requested these countries to reconsider their opposition, especially in light of the international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in which India participated and which highlighted the importance of preventing any use of nuclear weapons.

UN Conferences:

A resolution affirming a previous decision to hold a UN High-Level Conference (Summit) on Nuclear Disarmament Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament,was supported by 143 countries. The resolution, entitled Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, also promotes negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention - a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons that includes nuclear-armed States (unlike the TPNW which does not include them). Despite getting a strong vote in favour, including from some nuclear armed states, the proposed conference does not yet appear to have enough political traction to be held. The resolution did not set a date for the conference.

The UNGA adopted a Decision to convene a conference no later than 2019 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Despite the objective of a Middle East Zone being supported by most UN members in a separate resolution (supported by 174 countries), the decision to convene a conference in 2019 to ‘elaborate a legally binding treaty’ was supported by only 103 countries. The hesitation by many countries to support the resolution was due to the fact that they believed that concrete preparations and negotiations for a Middle East Zone Treaty would require the participation of all countries in the region, and currently there is at least one country (Israel) that is not ready to work on such a regional treaty.

Other discussions and resolutions

There were other disarmament discussions at the UN General Assembly last week – included a heated discussion between Russia and the United States over the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Both US and Russia claim that the other party is in violation of the treaty, and last week President Trump announced that the US was initiating procedures to withdraw from the treaty.

In addition there were a number of other disarmament resolutions that were introduced, some of which were adopted and some of which are being actioned (voted upon) this week.

For more information see
UNGA First Committee
Press releases: Nov 1 and Nov 2.
Reaching Critical Will UN First Committee

Yours in peace
The Basel Peace Office team