Category Archives: Promoting imperialism and neo-colonialism

20 questions regarding the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015

20 questions regarding the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015

by Elias Davidsson, 15 November 2015

1.  The Bataclan attackers came by car they left outside. What became of that car?

2.  When did police and special forces arrive to the Bataclan? Why did it take more than two hours to assault the attackers at the Bataclan? What did the police do in these two hours?  How many forces participated in the assault on the attackers? How long did it take to overcome the attackers? Did any independent person witness the police’s assault?  Why did they insist that three attackers blew themselves up and one was shot dead, if the next day this figure has changed?  What was the role of the woman seen with the attackers? Who is she?

3.  Who witnessed the circumstances in which the attackers of the Bataclan died?

4.  Why has the situation at the Bataclan been described as “hostage taking”?

5.  Why did the attackers fail to kill their “hostages”?

6.  Did the attackers speak French without accent, as claimed by witnesses?

7.  Who from the police negotiated with the attackers, as mentioned by witnesses, and about what was negotiated?

8.  Did anyone really blow himself up outside the Stadium? Are there any independent witnesses?

9.  Who issued bomb threats earlier in the day?

10.  Were some of the attackers 15-18 years old, as estimated by the Institut médico-légal?

11.  Who was shooting from the window of the Bataclan on the outside, as experienced by Le Monde journalist Daniel Psenny and witness Carole Massemba, and why?

12.  Who left a car related to the attack in Montreuil?

13.  Why were weapons left the car in Montreuil?

14.  Will the police release the CCTVs from the attacks, that it is currently examining?

15.  Did the alleged attackers shoot at the police in Bataclan in self-defense?

16.  From where did the attackers obtain weapons, explosives and cars?

17.  How could the police immediately identify the type of explosives used?

18.  What did the Procureur de Paris mean when he said that five terrorists had been ”neutralized”? Were they killed?

19.  What was the origin of the IS communiqués? From where were they sent? How is it possible to authenticate these communiqués?  What is the telephone number and email address of the Islamic State’s government (It is assumed that a government ruling over a huge territory has a fixed location, uses telephones and has access to internet)?

20.  How was President Holland able to announce a state of emergency, the closure of borders and designate the attacks as an “act of war” before consulting his government and before the attacks had ended?

Saudi Shame on the Islamic World: “The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with United States Imperialism “

Saudi Shame on the Islamic World: “The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with United States Imperialism “

By Finian Cunningham
Global Research, August 17, 2012These jihadists, who have gravitated to Syria from Britain, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, among other countries, are directed by Washington, London and Paris in time-honoured fashion of these powers’ criminal involvement with Islamic fundamentalists under the catch-all nom de guerre of Al Qaeda. They are weaponised by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel; they are trained and based by Turkey and Jordan. And their brains are weaponised by Saudi Wahhabism, with all its intolerant pathological hatred to anyone who opposes its tyranny and Western objectives.

Far from promoting solidarity and peace, the OIC has shown itself to be a political instrument serving the geopolitical interests of Washington and its allies in the destruction of Syria and their designs for entrenching hegemonic control over the Middle East. That control is all about exploiting the resources of the region to enrich Western corporations and banks, paying off elite rulers and impoverishing the mass of people.”
As the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) concludes its emergency summit in Mecca this week with the suspension of Syria, its member states should now consider amending the body’s name – to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with United States Imperialism (OICUSI).
For the OIC stands as a violation of every principle it is supposed to represent. In calling for this conference with its flagrantly politicised agenda, Saudi Arabia emerges as the shame of the Islamic world.
Admittedly, the acronym OICUSI is a bit clunky, but it would be far more truthful than the present OIC. The 57-member organisation, founded in 1969, represents some two billion Muslims worldwide and is charged with “promoting solidarity among members and upholding peace and security”.
Far from promoting solidarity and peace, the OIC has shown itself to be a political instrument serving the geopolitical interests of Washington and its allies in the destruction of Syria and their designs for entrenching hegemonic control over the Middle East. That control is all about exploiting the resources of the region to enrich Western corporations and banks, paying off elite rulers and impoverishing the mass of people.
Of course the Syrian people want reform and more democracy. But they won’t achieve that so long as Saudi Arabia and the other Western proxies remain on their thrones of deception colluding with the foreign enemies of the people.
Just at the hour when the people of Syria are desperately in need of international solidarity and peace, the OIC delivers a kick in the teeth.
In this way, the OIC is following in the disgraceful footsteps of the 21-member Saudi-dominated Arab League, which suspended Syria last November.
These sanctions against Damascus are based on the entirely bogus claim fomented by Washington and the former colonial powers London and Paris that the conflict in Syria stems solely from repression and violence perpetrated by the government of President Bashar Al Assad against his people. This propaganda narrative turns reality completely on its head. The violence in Syria over the past 17 months has largely stemmed from armed groups that are supplied, directed and infiltrated by the Western powers in collusion with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.
The US-led axis is attempting to tear Syria apart by fuelling sectarian bloodshed between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and between Muslims, Christians, Druze and Kurds. The desecration of Islam is particularly vile. Mosques have been turned into sniper posts to fire on civilians, and whole villages have been massacred – the throats of children slit – by so-called Holy Warriors.
These jihadists, who have gravitated to Syria from Britain, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, among other countries, are directed by Washington, London and Paris in time-honoured fashion of these powers’ criminal involvement with Islamic fundamentalists under the catch-all nom de guerre of Al Qaeda. They are weaponised by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel; they are trained and based by Turkey and Jordan. And their brains are weaponised by Saudi Wahhabism, with all its intolerant pathological hatred to anyone who opposes its tyranny and Western objectives.
In the context of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, this conspiracy of terror and mass murder should be matter of diabolical shame for member states Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan. These supposedly Islamic countries are colluding with the Western powers and their criminal Zionist proxy in the murder of Muslims and other Syrians in the service of imperialist domination of the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia in particular is seen as abusing its historic role as custodian of the holy Islamic centre of Mecca to further a despicable political agenda. By calling the extraordinary meeting of the OIC in Mecca – supposedly to discuss the violence in Syria – Saudi Arabia is covering its blood-soaked hands with a mantle of religious sanctity.
By contrast, Iran’s delegation to the OIC conference, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stood out as upholding the principles of the organisation. Iran rightly pointed out the basic injustice that the Syrian government was not even invited to the Mecca conference to hear the charges being levelled against it, and to have the opportunity to defend itself against such charges. One shouldn’t be surprised by the absence of jurisprudence for Syria at the Saudi-orchestrated event. After all, thousands of ordinary Bahrainis are being dragged through military courts in Saudi-backed Bahrain solely on the basis of trumped up prosecutions with no right to defend themselves either.
Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi noted at the beginning of the three-day conference: “Every country, especially OIC countries, must join hands to resolve this issue in such a way that will help the peace, security and stability in the region.”
He warned: “By suspending [Syria’s] membership, this does not mean you are moving towards resolving an issue. By this, you are erasing the issue.”
Unfortunately, Salehi’s sound advice was ignored. With typical Wahhabist attitude of no discussion, no explanation, the Saudi-hosted conference ended with the formal suspension of Syria from the OIC. The heavy-handed conclusion achieves what it was meant to: to not give Syria a fair hearing, to further isolate the country in the eyes of the world, to conceal the violent involvement of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan in the destruction of Syria, and to give political cover for their imperialist masters in the dismemberment of Syria.
The Mecca summit has all the signs of a tawdry show trial, shamefully under the banner of Islam, conducted, of all places, in the holy city. Current OIC chief is Turkish national Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. He said the decision to suspend Syria sent “a strong message” to Damascus.
A statement issued at the end of the summit said participants had agreed on “the need to end immediately the acts of violence in Syria and to suspend that country from the OIC”.
The suspension was “also a message to the international community stating that the Muslim world backs a peaceful solution [in Syria], wants an end to the bloodshed and refuses to let the problem degenerate into a religious conflict and spill over into the wider region,” the OIC chief Ihsanoglu added.
Absolutely not true. First, if the OIC was serious about “ending immediately the acts of violence in Syria” then it would have suspended the memberships foremost of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey – the instigators of so-much bloodshed, terrorism and crimes against humanity in Syria that are inflaming the region.
Second, on the claim that “the Muslim world backs a peaceful solution in Syria”, it should be noted that the Geneva accord agreed by the UN Security Council at the end of June, which calls for an inclusive political dialogue in Syria, has been continually violated by the Western, Arab, Turk, Israeli backers of the Jihadist terror army assailing that country.
Indeed, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says these parties have sabotaged the Geneva accord.About the author:
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Many of his recent articles appear on the renowned Canadian-based news website Globalresearch.ca. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He specialises in Middle East and East Africa issues and has also given several American radio interviews as well as TV interviews on Press TV and Russia Today. Previously, he was based in Bahrain and witnessed the political upheavals in the Persian Gulf kingdom during 2011 as well as the subsequent Saudi-led brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests.
 

Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?

Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?

by Julie Lévesque, Global Research, February 14, 2015

http://www.globalresearch.ca/is-boko-haram-a-cia-covert-op-to-divide-and-conquer-africa/5431177

The objectives of the US military presence in Africa are well documented: counter Chinese influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than 8 years ago by the US State Department:

In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012)

At the beginning of February,  AFRICOM’s “head General David Rodriguez called for a large-scale US-led ‘counterinsurgency’ campaign against groups in West Africa during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC:

In similar remarks at a the US Army West Point academy last week, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) chief General Joseph Votel said that US commando teams must prepare for new deployments against Boko Haram and the Islamic State. ” (Thomas Gaist, US AFRICOM Commander Calls for “Huge” Military Campaign in West Africa, World Socialist Web Site, February 02, 2015)

Mark P. Fancher highlighted the hypocrisy and the “imperialist arrogance” of western countries, which “notwithstanding the universal condemnation of colonialism”, are evermore willing “to publicly declare (without apologies) their plans to expand and coordinate their military presence in Africa.” (Mark P. Fancher, Arrogant Western Military Coordination and the New/Old Threat to Africa, Black Agenda Report, 4 February 2015)

Now more troops from Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad are being sent to fight against Boko Haram.

This new war on yet another shadowy terrorist entity in Africa is reminiscent of the failed Kony 2012 propaganda campaign cloaked in humanitarian ideals. It is used as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the issue of the victims of the war on terror, the real causes of terrorism and to justify another military invasion. It is true that Boko Haram makes victims, however the goal of Western intervention in Africa is not to come to their rescue.

The deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War and still raging is happening in Congo and the Western elite and its media couldn’t care less. That alone shows that military interventions are not intended to save lives.

To understand why the media focuses on Boko Haram, we need to know what it is and who is behind it.  What is the underlying context, what interests are being served?

Is Boko Haram another US clandestine operation?

Boko Haram is based in northeast Nigeria, the most populated country and largest economy in Africa. Nigeria is the largest oil producer of the continent with 3.4% of the World’s  reserves of crude oil.

In May 2014, African Renaissance News published an in-depth report on Boko Haram, wondering whether it could be another CIA covert operation to take control of Nigeria:

[T]he greatest prize for AFRICOM and its goal to plant a PAX AMERICANA in Africa would be when it succeeds in the most strategic African country, NIGERIA. This is where the raging issue of BOKO HARAM and the widely reported prediction by the United States Intelligence Council on the disintegration of Nigeria by 2015 comes into perspective…(Atheling P Reginald Mavengira, “Humanitarian Intervention” in Nigeria: Is the Boko Haram Insurgency Another CIA Covert Operation? Wikileaks, African Renaissance News, May 08, 2014)

In the 70′s an 80′s Nigeria assisted several African countries “in clear opposition and defiance to the interests of the United States and its western allies which resulted in a setback for Western initiatives in Africa at the time.” (Ibid.)

Nigeria exerted its influence in the region through the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG, right), an army consisting of soldiers from various African countries and set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and which intervened in the Liberian civil war in the 90′s. Liberia was founded in 1821 by the US and led by American-Liberians for over a century.

The Western powers, first and foremost the US, are obviously not willing to let Africans have a multinational army in which they have no leading role. ACRI, which later became Africom, was formed in 2000 to contain Nigeria’s influence and counter ECOMOG, thus avoiding the emergence of an African military force led by Africans.

According to Wikileaks reports mentioned in Mavengira’s article above, the US embassy in Nigeria serves as an

operating base for wide and far reaching acts of subversion against Nigeriawhich include but [are] not limited to eavesdropping on Nigerian government communication, financial espionage on leading Nigerians, support and funding of subversive groups and insurgents, sponsoring of divisive propaganda among the disparate groups of Nigeria and the use of visa blackmail to induce and coerce high ranking Nigerians into acting in favour of US interests.” (Mavengira, op., cit., emphasis added)

Mavengira is part of the GREENWHITE Coalition, “a citizen’s volunteer watchdog made up of Nigerians of all ethnic groups and religious persuasions.” He writes that the ultimate goal of the American clandestine operations in his country is “to eliminate Nigeria as a potential strategic rival to the US in the African continent.” (Ibid.)

An investigation into Boko Haram by the Greenwhite Coalition revealed that the “Boko Haram campaign is a covert operation organized by the American Central Intelligence Agency, CIA and coordinated by the American Embassy in Nigeria.” The U.S has used its embassy for covert operations before. The one in Benghazi was proven to be a base for a covert gun-running operation to arm the mercenaries fighting against Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. As for the embassy in Ukraine, a video from November 2013 emerged recently showing a Ukrainian parliamentarian exposing it as the central point of yet another clandestine operation designed to foment civil unrest and overthrow the democratically-elected government.

The Greenwhite Coalition report on Boko Haram reveals a three stage plan of the National Intelligence Council of the United States to “Pakistanize” Nigeria, internationalize the crisis and divide the country under a UN mandate and occupying force. The plan “predicts” Nigeria’s disintegration for 2015. It is worth quoting at length:

The whole [National Intelligence Council] report actually is a coded statement of intentions on how [by] using destabilization plots the US plans to eventually dismember Nigeria […]

Stage 1: Pakistanizing Nigeria

With the scourge of Boko Haram as an existential reality, in the coming months the spate of bombings and attacks on public buildings are likely to escalate.

The goal is to exacerbate tension and mutual suspicion among adherents of the two faiths in Nigeria and leading to sectarian violence […]

Stage 2: Internationalizing the Crisis

[T]here will be calls from the United States, European Union and United Nations for a halt to the violence. […] For effect, there will be carpet bombing coverage by the International media on the Nigerian crisis with so-called experts discussing all the ramifications who will strive to create the impression that only benevolent foreign intervention could resolve the crisis.

Stage 3: The Great Carve out under UN Mandate

There will be proposals first for an international peace keeping force to intervene and separate the warring groups and or for a UN mandate for various parts of Nigeria to come under mandated occupying powers. Of course behind the scenes the US and its allies would have secretly worked out which areas of Nigeria to occupy guided as it were by naked economic interests […] (Ibid., emphasis added)

In 2012, Nile Bowie wrote:

The Nigerian Tribune has reported that Boko Haram receives funding from different groups from Saudi Arabia and the UK, specifically from the Al-Muntada Trust Fund, headquartered in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s Islamic World Society [8]. During an interview conducted by Al-Jazeera with Abu Mousab Abdel Wadoud, the AQIM leader states that Algeria-based organizations have provided arms to Nigeria’s Boko Haram movement “to defend Muslims in Nigeria and stop the advance of a minority of Crusaders” [9].

It remains highly documented that members of Al-Qaeda (AQIM) and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who fought among the Libyan rebels directly received arms [10] and logistical support [11] from NATO bloc countries during the Libyan conflict in 2011[…]

Image: Abdelhakim Belhadj, rebel leader during the 2011 war in Libya and former commander of the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

As covertly supporting terrorist organizations to achieve foreign policy aims appears to be the commanding prerequisite of foreign policy operations under the Obama Administration, Boko Haram exists as a separate arm of the US destabilization apparatus, aimed at shattering Africa’s most populous nation and biggest potential market. (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012)

Reports also indicate that some Nigerian commanders may be involved in fuelling the insurgency.

According to the report, a Nigerian soldier in Borno state confirmed that Boko Haram attacked Gamboru Ngala in their presence but their commander asked them not to repel the attack. The soldier told BBC Hausa Service that choppers hovered in the air while the attacks were ongoing. 300 people were killed, houses and a market burnt while soldiers watched and were ordered not to render assistance to those being attacked.  The soldier said that the Boko Haram insurgency will end when superior officers in the army cease to fuel it.

At the abductions of Chibok girls, one soldier in an interview told SaharaReporters,

“…we were ordered to arrest vehicles carrying the girls but just as we started the mission, another order was issued that we should pull back. I can assure you, nobody gave us any directives to look for anybody.”

Some soldiers suspect  that their commanders reveal military operations to the Boko Haram sect. (Audu Liberty Oseni, Who is Protecting Boko Haram. Is the Nigerian Government involved in a Conspiracy?, africanexecutive.com, May 28, 2014)

Could it be that these commanders have been coerced by elements in the U.S. embassy, as suggested by the aforementioned Greewhite Coalition investigation?

Boko Haram: The next chapter in the fraudulent, costly, destructive and murderous war on terror?

It has been clearly demonstrated that the so-called war on terror has increased terrorism. As Nick Turse explained:

[Ten] years after Washington began pouring taxpayer dollars into counterterrorism and stability efforts across Africa and its forces first began operating from Camp Lemonnier [Djibouti], the continent has experienced profound changes, just not those the U.S. sought. The University of Birmingham’s Berny Sèbe ticks off post-revolutionary Libya, the collapse of Mali, the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the coup in the Central African Republic, and violence in Africa’s Great Lakes region as evidence of increasing volatility. “The continent is certainly more unstable today than it was in the early 2000s, when the U.S. started to intervene more directly,” he told me. (Nick Turse, The Terror Diaspora: The U.S. Military and Obama’s Scramble for Africa, Tom Dispatch, June 18, 2013)

What exactly does the U.S. seek in Africa?

When it comes to overseas interventions, decades of history have shown that the stated intents of the U.S. Army are never its real intents. The real intent is never to save humans, but always to save profits and power. US-NATO interventions do not save. They kill.

US-led interventions since the beginning of the century have killed hundreds of thousands, if not over a million innocent people. It’s hard to tell because NATO does not really want to know how many civilians it kills. As The Guardian noted in August 2011, except for a brief period, there was “no high-profile international project dedicated to recording deaths in the Libya conflict”.

In February 2014, “at least 21,000 civilians [were] estimated to have died violent deaths as a result of the war” in Afghanistan according to Cost of War. As for Iraq, by May 2014 “at least 133,000 civilians [were] killed by direct violence since the invasion.”

As for Libya, the mainstream media first lied about the fact that Gaddafi initiated the violence by attacking peaceful protesters, a false narrative intended to demonize Gaddafi and galvanize public opinion in favour of yet another military intervention. As the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs reported, “violence was actually initiated by the protesters.”

It stated further:

The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed […]

The biggest misconception about NATO’s intervention is that it saved lives and benefited Libya and its neighbors. In reality, when NATO intervened in mid-March 2011, Qaddafi already had regained control of most of Libya, while the rebels were retreating rapidly toward Egypt. Thus, the conflict was about to end, barely six weeks after it started, at a toll of about 1,000 dead, including soldiers, rebels, and civilians caught in the crossfire. By intervening, NATO enabled the rebels to resume their attack, which prolonged the war for another seven months and caused at least 7,000 more deaths. (Alan Kuperman, Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, September 2013)

Despite these figures, the media will once again try to convince us that what the world needs most at the moment is to get rid of the terrorist group Boko Haram and that a military intervention is the only solution, even though the so-called war on terror has actually increased terrorism globally. As Washington’s Blog pointed out in 2013, “global terrorism had been falling from 1992 until 2004… but has been skyrocketing since 2004.”

The Guardian reported back in November 2014:

The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths last year, a jump of about 60% over the previous year. Four groups were responsible for most of them: Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; the Taliban in Afghanistan; and al-Qaida in various parts of the world. (Ewen MacAskill, Fivefold increase in terrorism fatalities since 9/11, says report, The Guardian, November, 18, 2014)

What the Guardian fails to mention is that all these groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State, have been, in one way or another, armed, trained and financed by the US-NATO alliance and their allies in the Middle East.

Thanks to the covert support of Western countries, arms dealers and bankers profiting from killing and destruction, the war on terror is alive and well. The West advocates for endless military interventions, pretending to ignore the real causes of terrorism and the reason why it expands, hiding its role in it and thereby clearly showing its real intent: fuelling terrorism to destabilize and destroy nations, thus justifying military invasion and achieving their conquest of the African continent’s richest lands under the pretext of saving the world from terror.


Selected articles on Boko Haram

Audu Liberty Oseni, Who is Protecting Boko Haram. Is the Nigerian Government involved in a Conspiracy?, africanexecutive.com, May 28, 2014

Kurt Nimmo, U.S. and France Target Boko Haram and Focus on Africa’s Strategic Minerals, Infowars, January 14, 2015

Emile Schepers, Boko Haram: An Extremism Firmly Rooted in Nigeria’s Colonial Past, Morning Star, May 17, 2014

Ajamu Baraka, The Destabilization of Africa and the Role of “Shadowy Islamists”. From Benghazi to Boko Haram, Black Agenda Report 14 May 2014

Glen Ford, Coming Soon: A U.S. Death Squad Program for West Africa Black Agenda Report, May 28, 2014

Adeyinka Makinde, Nigeria: Candidate for Political Destabilization and “Regime Change”?, adeyinkamakinde.blogspot.co.uk, June 15, 2013

Kurt Nimmo, Is Boko Haram An “Intelligence Asset”? Terror Attack in Nigeria Opens Door to Africom, Infowars.com, May 10, 2014

Prof. Horace Campbell, Boko Haram: “Economic Fundamentalism” and Impoverishment Send Unemployed Youths Into Religious Militias, Pambazuka News 4 June 2014

Abayomi Azikiwe, The Militarization of the African Continent: AFRICOM Expands Operations in Cooperation With Europe, Global Research, April 22, 2014

Macedonia faked ‘militant’ raid

Macedonia faked ‘militant’ raid

BBC, April 30, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3674533.stm

Macedonian officials have admitted that seven alleged Pakistani militants killed in March 2002 were in fact illegal immigrants shot in cold blood to “impress” the international community.

They said four officers in the security services had been charged with their murder, while former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski may also face charges.

At the time, the interior ministry said they had been killed after trying to ambush police in the capital, Skopje.

But a police spokeswoman said they had in fact been shot in a “staged murder”.

The Macedonians were apparently trying to show the outside world that they were serious about participating in the US-led war on terror, officials say.

“It was a monstrous fabrication to get the attention of the international community,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Mirjana Kontevska told a news conference.

Questions asked

When the incident was reported more than two years ago, it was claimed that a new front had opened up in the war on terror.

The Macedonian interior ministry said the seven men of Pakistani origin were killed after opening fire on a police patrol with machine guns.

Mr Boskovski said the dead men had been planning attacks on vital installations and embassies.

But questions soon began to be asked about the authorities’ version of events.

Now the public prosecutor’s office has brought charges against officers involved in the case and has asked parliament to waive Mr Boskovski’s immunity from prosecution.

The former interior minister denies any wrongdoing.

Gunned down

Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told the Associated Press news agency that the victims were illegal immigrants who had been lured into Macedonia by promises that they would be taken to western Europe.

She said they were transported to the Rastanski Lozja area, about 5km north of Skopje, where they were surrounded and gunned down by police.

“They lost their lives in a staged murder,” she said.

Ms Konteska told AP the investigation was continuing and more suspects could be charged.

If convicted, they face between 10 years and life in prison.

 

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40412.htm

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

By James Petras

December 08, 2014 “ICH” – The principle Nazi ideological prop that secured massive financial and political support from Germany’s leading industrialists was the Communist and Soviet threat.  The main Nazi military drive, absorbing two-thirds of its best troops, was directed eastward at conquering and destroying Russia.  The ‘Russian Threat’ justified Nazi Germany’s conquest and occupation of the Ukraine, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, with the aid of a substantial proportion of local Nazi collaborators.

After Germany’s defeat , division  and  disarmament, and with the extension of Soviet power,  the US reinstated the Nazi industrial and banking giants, officials and intelligence operatives. At first they were engaged in rebuilding their domestic economy and consolidating political power, in collaboration with the US military occupation forces.

By the late 1960’s Germany regained economic primacy in Europe and was at the forefront of European ‘integration’, in association with France and England. It soon came to dominate the principle decision – making institutions of the European Union(EU). The EU served as Germany’s instrument for conquest by stealth. Year by year, through ‘aid’ and low interest loans,the EU  facilitated German capitalist’s  market penetration and financial expansion,through out south and central Europe. Germany set the agenda for Western Europe, gaining economic dominance while benefiting from US subversion and encirclement of Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic and Balkan states.

Germany’s Great Leap Forward:  The Annexation of East Germany and the Demise of the USSR

Germany’s projection of power on a world scale would never have occurred if it had not annexed East Germany. Despite the West German claims of beneficence and ‘aid’ to the East, the Bonn regime secured several million skilled engineers, workers and technicians, the takeover of factories, productive farms and, most important, the Eastern European and Russian markets for industrial goods, worth  billions of dollars. Germany was transformed from an emerging influential EU partner, into the most dynamic expansionist power in Europe, especially in the former Warsaw Pact economies.

The annexation of East Germany and the overthrow of the Communist governments in the East allowed German capitalists to dominate markets in the former  Eastern bloc. As the major trading partner, it seized control of major industrial enterprises via corrupt privatizations decreed  by the newly installed pro-capitalist client regimes.  As the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgarian, the Baltic States “privatized” and “de-nationalized” strategic economic, trade, media and social service sectors, ‘unified’ Germany was able to resume a privileged place.  As Russia fell into the hands of gangsters, emerging oligarchs and political proxies of western capitalists, its entire industrial infrastructure was decimated and Russia was converted into a giant raw-material export region.

Germany converted its trade relations with Russia from one between equals into a ‘colonial’ pattern:  Germany exported high value industrial products and imported gas, oil and raw materials from Russia.

German power expanded exponentially, with the annexation of the “other Germany”, the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe and the ascendancy of client regimes eager and willing to submit to a German dominated European Union and a US directed NATO military command.

German political-economic expansion via ‘popular uprisings’, controlled by local political clients, was soon accompanied by a US led military offensive – sparked by separatist movements. Germany intervened in Yugoslavia, aiding and abetting separatists in Slovenia and Croatia .It backed the US-NATO bombing of Serbia and supported the far-right, self-styled Kosovo Liberation Army ( KLA),engaged in a terrorist war in  Kosovo .  Belgrade was defeated and regime change led to a neo-liberal client state.  The US built the largest military base in Europe in Kosovo. Montenegro and Macedonia became EU satellites.

While NATO expanded and enhanced the US military presence up to Russia’s borders, Germany became the continent’s pre-eminent economic power.

Germany and the New World Order

While President Bush and Clinton were heralding a “new world order”, based on  unipolar military supremacy, Germany advanced its new imperial order by exercising its  political and economic levers.  Each of the two power centers, Germany and the US, shared the common quest of rapidly incorporating the new capitalist regimes into their regional organizations –the European Union (EU) and NATO– and extending their reach globally. Given the reactionary origins and trajectory into vassalage of the Eastern, Baltic and Balkan regimes, and given their political fears of a popular reaction to the loss of employment, welfare and independence resulting from their implementation of savage neoliberal “shock policies”, the client rulers immediately “applied” for membership as subordinate members of the EU and NATO, trading sovereignty, markets and national ownership of the means of production for economic handouts and the ‘free’ movement of labor, an escape valve for the millions of newly unemployed workers.  German and English capital got millions of skilled immigrant workers at below labor market wages, and unimpeded access to markets and resources. The US secured NATO military bases, and recruited military forces for its Middle East and South Asian imperial wars.

US-German military and economic dominance in Europe was premised on retaining Russia as a weak quasi vassal state, and on the continued economic growth of their economies beyond the initial pillage of the ex-communist economies.

For the US, uncontested military supremacy throughout Europe was the springboard for near-time imperial expansion in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Latin America.  NATO was ‘internationalized’ into an offensive global military alliance: first in Somalia, Afghanistan then Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

The Rise of Russia, The Islamic Resistance and the New Cold War

During the ‘decade of infamy’ (1991-2000) extreme privatization measures by the client rulers in Russia on behalf of EU and US investors and gangster oligarchs, added up to vast pillage of the entire economy, public treasury and national patrimony.  The image and reality of a giant prostrate vassal state unable to pursue an independent foreign policy, and incapable of providing the minimum semblance of a modern functioning economy and maintaining the rule of law, became the defining view of Russia by the EU and the USA. Post-communist Russia, a failed state by any measure, was dubbed a “liberal democracy” by every western capitalist politician and so it was repeated by all their mass media acolytes.

The fortuitous rise of Vladimir Putin and the gradual replacement of some of the most egregious ‘sell-out’ neo-liberal officials, and most important, the reconstruction of the Russian state with a proper budget and functioning national institutions, was immediately perceived as a threat to US military supremacy and German economic expansion.  Russia’s transition from Western vassalage to regaining its status as a sovereign independent state set in motion, an aggressive counter-offensive by the US-EU. They financed a neo-liberal-oligarchy backed political opposition in an attempt to restore Russia to vassalage via street demonstrations and elections. Their efforts  to oust Putin and re-establish Western vassal state failed. What worked in 1991 with Yeltsin’s power grab against Gorbachev was ineffective against Putin. The vast majority of Russians did not want a return to the decade of infamy.

In the beginning of the new century, Putin and his team set new ground-rules, in which oligarchs could retain their illicit wealth and conglomerates, providing they didn’t use their economic levers to seize state power.  Secondly, Putin revived and restored the scientific technical, military, industrial and cultural institutions and centralized trade and investment decisions within a wide circle of public and private decision makers not beholden to Western policymakers.  Thirdly, he began to assess and rectify the breakdown of Russian security agencies particularly with regard to the threats emanating from Western sponsored ‘separatist’ movements in the Caucuses, especially, in Chechnya, and the onset of US backed ‘color revolutions’ in the Ukraine and Georgia.

At first, Putin optimistically assumed that, Russia being a capitalist state, and without any competing ideology, the normalization and stabilization of the Russian state would be welcomed by the US and the EU.  He even envisioned that they would accept Russia  as an economic, political, and even NATO partner.   Putin even made overtures to join and co-operate with NATO and the EU.  The West did not try to dissuade Putin of his illusions .In fact they encouraged him, even as they escalated their backing for Putin’s internal opposition and prepared a series of imperial wars and sanctions in the Middle East, targeting traditional Russian allies in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

As the ‘internal’ subversive strategy failed to dislodge President Putin, and the Russian state prevailed over the neo-vassals, the demonization of Putin became constant and shrill. The West moved decisively to an ‘outsider strategy’, to isolate, encircle and undermine the Russian state by undermining allies, and trading partners

US and Germany Confront Russia:  Manufacturing the “Russian Threat”

Russia was enticed to support US and NATO wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in exchange for the promise of deeper integration into Western markets.  The US and EU accepted Russian co-operation, including military supply routes and bases, for their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The NATO powers secured Russian support of sanctions against Iran. They exploited Russia’s naïve support of a “no fly zone” over Libya to launch a full scale aerial war. The US financed  so-called “color revolutions” in Georgia and the Ukraine  overt, a dress rehearsal for the putsch in 2014  Each violent seizure of power allowed NATO to impose anti-Russian rulers eager and willing to serve as vassal states to Germany and the US.

Germany spearheaded the European imperial advance in the Balkans and  Moldavia, countries with strong economic ties to Russia.  High German officials “visited” the Balkans to bolster their ties with vassal regimes in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Croatia.  Under German direction, the European Union ordered  the vassal Bulgarian regime of Boyko “the booby” Borisov to block the passage of  Russian owned South Stream pipeline to Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and beyond.  The Bulgarian state lost $400 million in annual revenue . . .  Germany and the US bankrolled pro-NATO and EU client politicians in Moldavia – securing the election of Iurie Leanca as Prime Minister.  As a result of Leanca’s slavish pursuit of EU vassalage, Moldavia lost $150 million in exports to Russia.  Leanca’s pro-EU policies go counter to the views of most Moldavians – 57% see Russia as the country’s most important economic partner.  Nearly 40% of the Moldavian working age population works in Russia and 25% of the Moldavians’ $8 billion GDP is accounted for by overseas remittances.

German and the US empire-builders steamroll over dissenting voices in Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia, as well as Moldova and Bulgaria, who’s economy and population suffer from the impositions of the blockade of  the Russian gas and oil pipeline.  But Germany’s, all out economic warfare against Russia takes precedent over the interests of its vassal states: its theirs to sacrifice for the ‘Greater Good’ of the emerging German economic empire and the US – NATO military encirclement of Russia. The extremely crude dictates of German imperial interests articulated through the EU, and the willingness of Balkan and Baltic regimes to sacrifice fundamental economic interests, are the best indicators of the emerging German empire in Europe.

Parallel to Germany’s rabid anti-Russian economic campaign, the US via NATO is engaged in a vast military build-up along the length and breadth of Russia’s frontier.  The US stooge, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg, boasts that over the current year, NATO has increased 5-fold the warplanes and bombers patrolling Russian maritime and land frontiers, carried out military exercises every two days and vastly increased the number of war ships in the Baltic and Black Sea.

Conclusion

What is absolutely clear is that the US and Germany want to return Russia to the vassalage status of the 1990’s.  They do not want ‘normal relations’. From the moment Putin moved to restore the Russian state and economy, the Western powers have engaged in a series of political and military interventions, eliminating Russian allies, trading partners and independent states.

The emergent of extremist, visceral anti-Russian regimes in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania served as the forward shield for NATO advancement and German economic encroachment.  Hitler’s ‘dream’ of realizing the conquest of the East via unilateral military conquest has now under Prime Minister Merkel taken the form of conquest by stealth in Northern and Central Europe, by economic blackmail in the Balkans, and by violent putsches in the Ukraine and  Georgia.

The German economic ruling class is divided between the dominant pro-US sector that is willing to sacrifice lucrative trade with Russia today in hopes of dominating and pillaging the entire economy in a post-Putin Russia (dominated by ‘reborn Yeltsin clones’); and a minority industrial sector, which wants to end sanctions and return to normal economic relations with Russia.

Germany is fearful that its client rulers in the East, especially in the Balkans are vulnerable to a popular upheaval due to the economic sacrifices they impose on the population. Hence, Germany is wholly in favor of the new NATO rapid deployment force, ostensibly designed to counter a non-existent “Russian threat” but in reality to prop up faltering vassal regimes.

The ‘Russian Threat’, the ideology driving the US and German offensive throughout Europe and the Caucuses, is a replay of the same doctrine which Hitler used to secure support from domestic industrial bankers, conservatives and right wing overseas collaborators among extremists in Ukraine, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria.

The US-EU seizure of power via vassal political clients backed by corrupt oligarchs and Nazi street fighters in Ukraine detonated the current crisis. Ukraine power grab posed a top security threat to the very existence of Russia as an independent state.  After the Kiev take-over, NATO moved its stooge regime in Kiev forward to militarily eliminate the independent regions in the Southeast and seize the Crimea .thus totally eliminating Russia’s strategic position in the Black Sea. Russia the victim of the NATO power grab was labelled the “aggressor”. The entire officialdom and mass media echoed the Big Lie. Two decades of US NATO military advances on Russia’s borders and German-EU economic expansion into Russian markets were obfuscated.  Ukraine is the most important strategic military platform from which the US-NATO can launch an attack on the Russian heartland and the single largest market for Germany since the annexation of East Germany

The US and Germany see the Ukraine conquest as of extreme value in itself but also as the key to launching an all-out offensive to strangle Russia’s economy via sanctions and dumping oil and to militarily threaten Russia. The strategic goal is to reduce the Russian population to poverty and to re-activate the quasi-moribund opposition  to overthrow the Putin government and return Russia to permanent vassalage. The US and German imperial elite, looking beyond Russia, believe that if they control Russia, they can encircle ,isolate and attack China from the West as well as the East.

Wild-eyed fanatics they are not.  But as rabid proponents of a permanent war to end Russia’s presence in Europe and to undermine China’s emergence as a world power, they are willing to go to the brink of a nuclear war.

The ideological centerpiece of US-German imperial expansion and conquest in Europe and the Caucuses is the “Russian Threat”.  It is the touchstone defining adversaries and allies.  Countries that do not uphold sanctions are targeted.  The mass media repeat the lie.  The “Russian Threat” has become the war cry for cringing vassals – the phony justification for imposing frightful sacrifices to serve their imperial ‘padrones’ in Berlin and Washington –  fearing the rebellion of the ‘sacrificed’ population.  No doubt, under siege, Russia will be forced to make sacrifices.  The oligarchs will flee westward; the liberals will crawl under their beds.  But just as the Soviets turned the tide of war in Stalingrad, the Russian people, past the first two years of a bootstrap operation will survive, thrive and become once again a beacon of hope to all  people looking to get from under the tyranny of US-NATO militarism and German-EU economic dictates.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

War by media and the triumph of propaganda

 
http://johnpilger.com/articles/war-by-media-and-the-triumph-of-propaganda

War by media and the triumph of propaganda
John Pilger, 5 December 2014

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?
 
Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?
 
These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.
 
The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.
 
The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.
 
This power to create a new “reality” has been building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”
 
I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.
 
Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.
 
In the wake of the cold war, the fabrication of new “threats” completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.
 
In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist. We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier. I asked him, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channeling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
 
He replied that if we journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”
 
That’s a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, gave me the same answer.  David Rose of the Observer and senior journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous, gave me the same answer.
 
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.
 
Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live.
 
Those are the words of the senior British official responsible for sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s – a medieval siege that caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five, reported Unicef. The official’s name is Carne Ross. In the Foreign Office in London, he was known as “Mr. Iraq”. Today, he is a truth-teller of how governments deceive and how journalists willingly spread the deception. “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he told me, “or we’d freeze them out.”
 
The main whistleblower during this terrible, silent period was Denis Halliday. Then Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the senior UN official in Iraq, Halliday resigned rather than implement policies he described as genocidal.  He estimates that sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis.
 
What then happened to Halliday was instructive. He was airbrushed. Or he was vilified. On the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the presenter Jeremy Paxman shouted at him: “Aren’t you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?” The Guardian recently described this as one of Paxman’s “memorable moments”. Last week, Paxman signed a £1 million book deal.
 
The handmaidens of suppression have done their job well. Consider the effects. In 2013, a ComRes poll found that a majority of the British public believed the casualty toll in Iraq was less than 10,000 – a tiny fraction of the truth. A trail of blood that goes from Iraq to London has been scrubbed almost clean.
 
Rupert Murdoch is said to be the godfather of the media mob, and no one should doubt the augmented power of his newspapers – all 127 of them, with a combined circulation of 40 million, and his Fox network. But the influence of Murdoch’s empire is no greater than its reflection of the wider media.
 
The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times.
 
The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
 
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.
 
Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.
 
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.
 
And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. Citing no facts, no evidence, one journalist identified a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as the man who shot down the airliner. This man, he wrote, was known as The Demon. He was a scary man who frightened the journalist. That was the evidence.
 
Many in the western media haves worked hard to present the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
 
What the Russian president has to say is of no consequence; he is a pantomime villain who can be abused with impunity. An American general who heads Nato and is straight out of Dr. Strangelove – one General Breedlove – routinely claims Russian invasions without a shred of visual evidence. His impersonation of Stanley Kubrick’s General Jack D. Ripper is pitch perfect.
 
Forty thousand Ruskies were massing on the border, according to Breedlove. That was good enough for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Observer – the latter having previously distinguished itself with lies and fabrications that backed Blair’s invasion of Iraq, as its former reporter, David Rose, revealed.
 
There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.
 
“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
 
Parry, the journalist who revealed Iran-Contra, is one of the few who investigate the central role of the media in this “game of chicken”, as the Russian foreign minister called it. But is it a game? As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: “Let’s get ready for war with Russia.”
In the 19th century, the writer Alexander Herzen described secular liberalism as “the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. Today, this divine right is far more violent and dangerous than anything the Muslim world throws up, though perhaps its greatest triumph is the illusion of free and open information.
 
In the news, whole countries are made to disappear. Saudi Arabia, the source of extremism  and western-backed terror, is not a story, except when it drives down the price of oil. Yemen has endured twelve years of American drone attacks. Who knows? Who cares?
 
In 2009, the University of the West of England published the results of a ten-year study of the BBC’s coverage of Venezuela. Of 304 broadcast reports, only three mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the government of Hugo Chavez. The greatest literacy programme in human history received barely a passing reference.
 
In Europe and the United States, millions of readers and viewers know next to nothing about the remarkable, life-giving changes implemented in Latin America, many of them inspired by Chavez. Like the BBC, the reports of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the rest of the respectable western media were notoriously in bad faith. Chavez was mocked even on his deathbed. How is this explained, I wonder, in schools of journalism?
 
Why are millions of people in Britain are persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?
 
Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.
 
But within a few months – apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” – the message changed. The mugshots of guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people. Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?
 
Today, many of the premises of civilised life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks. The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion. That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK. Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100bn in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.
 
The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia. Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story? Who’s keeping record straight? Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?
 
In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks. In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in this country.
 
None of this is necessary today. I doubt that anyone paid the Washington Post and many other media outlets to accuse Edward Snowden of aiding terrorism. I doubt that anyone pays those who  routinely smear Julian Assange – though other rewards can be plentiful.
 
It’s clear to me that the main reason Assange has attracted such venom, spite and jealously is that WikiLeaks tore down the facade of a corrupt political elite held aloft by journalists. In heralding an extraordinary era of disclosure, Assange made enemies by illuminating and shaming the media’s gatekeepers, not least on the newspaper that published and appropriated his great scoop. He became not only a target, but a golden goose.
 
Lucrative book and Hollywood movie deals were struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and its founder. People have made big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.
 
None of this was mentioned in Stockholm on 1 December when the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, shared with Edward Snowden the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize. What was shocking about this event was that Assange and WikiLeaks were airbrushed. They didn’t exist. They were unpeople. No one spoke up for the man who pioneered digital whistleblowing and handed the Guardian one of the greatest scoops in history. Moreover, it was Assange and his WikiLeaks team who effectively – and brilliantly – rescued Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and sped him to safety. Not a word.
 
What made this censorship by omission so ironic and poignant and disgraceful was that the ceremony was held in the Swedish parliament – whose craven silence on the Assange case has colluded with a grotesque miscarriage of justice in Stockholm.
 
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
 
It’s this kind of silence we journalists need to break. We need to look in the mirror. We need to call to account an unaccountable media that services power and a psychosis that threatens world war.
 
In the 18th century, Edmund Burke described the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Was that ever true? It certainly doesn’t wash any more. What we need is a Fifth Estate: a journalism that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda and teaches the young to be agents of people, not power. We need what the Russians called perestroika – an insurrection of subjugated knowledge. I would call it real journalism.
 
It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
 
It’s time they knew.
 
Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger
 

Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork

http://www.globalresearch.ca/libya-then-and-now-an-overview-of-natos-handiwork/5415563

Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, November 22, 2014
New Dawn Magazine

In 2011, as the entire world watched the Arab Spring in amazement, the US and its allies, predominately working under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), militarily overran the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The peaceful civilian protesters they claimed to be intervening to protect were not really what the US and its cohorts presented to the world. Many of these so-called “protesters” were armed, and when this became apparent they eventually began to portray themselves as “rebel forces.” These so-called “rebels” in Libya were not a military force that emerged spontaneously for the most part, but an insurgency movement cultivated and organised before any opposition activities were even reported in Libya.

Victims of NATO bombings. May  2011

After Libya’s rapprochement with the US and the European Union, it was unthinkable to many that Washington and any of its allies could even have been preparing to topple the Libyan government. Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey had bloomed since 2003 after Colonel Muammar Qadhafi opted for cooperation with Washington. No one imagined that Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi’s “New Libya” with its neo-liberalism could be on a collision course with NATO.

Yet, the US and its EU partners for several years made preparations for taking over Libya. They had infiltrated the Jamahiriya’s government, security and intelligence sectors. Longstanding imperialist objectives existing since the Second World War, aimed at dividing Libya into three colonial territories, were taken out of government filing cabinets in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, and circulated at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

In league with these colonial plans, the US and its allies had been cultivating ties with different members of the Libyan opposition and had always reserved the option of using these opposition figures for regime change in Tripoli. Putting together their colonial designs and mobilising their agents, the US and its allies began organising the stage for establishing the Transitional National Council (TNC) – simply called the Transitional Council – and similar bodies to govern Libya as its new puppet leadership. The British and French even held joint invasion exercises months before the Libyan conflict erupted with the Arab Spring in 2011, while various intelligence services and foreign military commandos from NATO and GCC countries were also on the ground in Libya helping to prepare for the destabilisation of the North African country and the toppling of the Jamahiriya’s government and institutions.

Realities have been turned upside down and the victims were grossly portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict. While the Transitional Council’s forces, augmented by mercenaries and foreign fighters, were torturing, raping, and murdering civilians and those that were standing in their way with the aid of NATO and the GCC, Muammar Qadhafi was inflexibly and exclusively blamed for all the violence inside Libya. Nor were the atrocities an exclusively Libyan versus Libyan matter. During the conflict, NATO committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in its effort to overrun and control the North African country. Not only did foreign journalists help justify and sustain the war, but they played major roles in assisting NATO’s war effort by passing on information about Libyan targets and checkpoint locations to the Jamahiriya’s enemies. The war, however, did not go as planned and Libyan resistance proved far stronger than the Pentagon and NATO initially imagined.

In the course of the confrontation and at the international level, a series of human rights organisations and think-tanks were utilised for preparing the stage for the conflict in Libya and the toppling of its government. These organisations were mostly part of a network that had been working to establish the mechanisms for justifying interventionism and creating the net of individuals and public faces needed for creating a proxy government in Libya in the false name of “democracy.” When the time came, these bodies coordinated with the NATO powers and the mainstream media in the project to isolate, castrate, and subjugate the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. These so-called human rights organisations and the mainstream media networks worked together to propagate lies about African mercenaries, Libyan military jet attacks on civilians, and civilian massacres by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime.

International news networks extensively quoted these human rights organisations in what would amount to a self-fuelled cycle of misinformation, while the same human rights organisations continued to make claims on the basis of the media’s reports. In other words, each side fed the other. It was this web of lies that was presented at the Human Rights Council in the United Nations Office at Geneva and then handed to the United Nations Security Council in New York City as the basis for the war in Libya. These lies were accepted without any investigation being launched by the United Nations or any other international bodies. Any Libyan requests for international investigation teams were ignored. It was from this point onward that NATO used the UN Security Council to launch its war of aggression against Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone over the Arab country. Although not officially accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine was being showcased as a new paradigm for military intervention by NATO.

All known advocates of Pentagon militarism and global empire demanded this war take place, including Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Elliott Abrahams, Leon Wieseltier, John Hannah, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the neo-conservative crowd was the realist foreign policy camp in Washington. The entire US establishment lined up to pick off Tripoli and reduce it a weak and divided African protectorate.

Libya & the New “Scramble” for Africa

To put NATO’s war in Libya within the framework of historic analysis, one only needs to be reminded that the main thrust of the sudden physical European colonisation of Africa, called the “Scramble for Africa,” started when an economic recession originally called the “Great Depression,” but in retrospect renamed as the “Long Depression,” hit much of Europe and North America from roughly 1873 to 1893. In this period the entire tempo of Western European contact with African nations transformed.

Prior to this economic recession, Western European companies and enterprises were content dealing with African leaders and recognising their authority. Few Western European colonies in Africa had existed aside from a few coastal strips based on strategically-placed trading posts in Sierra Leone and Lagos in the possession of Britain; Mozambique and Angola in the possession of Portugal; and Senegal in the possession of France. At this time the biggest external force in Africa was the Ottoman Empire, which was beginning its long decline as a great power.

Even with Western European colonial incursions into Africa by Britain, France, and Portugal, most of the African continent was still free of external or alien control. Intensified European economic rivalries and the recession in Western Europe, however, would change this. Britain would lose its edge as the world’s most industrialised nation as the industrial sectors of the USA, France and Germany all began to increasingly challenge British manufacturers. As a result of the recession and increased business rivalries, the corporations of Western European countries began to push their respective governments to adopt protectionist practices and to directly intervene in Africa to protect the commercial interests of these corporations. The logic behind this colonial push or “scramble” was that these Western European governments would secure large portions of Africa as export markets and for resource imports for these corporations alone, while these African territories would effectively be closed off to economic rivals. Thus, a whole string of Western European conquest began in Africa to secure ivory, fruits, copal (gum), cloves, beeswax, honey, coffee, peanuts, cotton, precious metals, and rubber.

Although appropriating Libya’s financial and material wealth were objectives of the NATO war in 2011, the broader objectives of the criminal war were part of the struggle to control the African continent and its vast wealth. The “Scramble for Africa” was repeating itself. Just like the first time, recession and economic rivalries were tied to this new round of colonial conquest in the African continent.

The emergence of Asia as the new global centre of gravity, at the expense of the nations of the North Atlantic in North America and Western Europe, has also primed the United States and its allies to start an endeavour to close Africa off from the People’s Republic of China and the emerging centres of power in Russia, India, Brazil, and Iran. This is why the Pentagon’s United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM/AFRICOM) played a major role in the war.

The London Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group was formed on 29 March 2011, was a modern version of the Berlin Conference of 1884, which attempted to solidify the gains made by European colonial powers in their first rush to control African societies and territory. The Istanbul Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time on 15 July 2011, was virtually a declaration of the intentions of the US and these countries to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. This is a template for usurping the wealth of other countries in Africa and beyond. In this regard, the Transitional Council has served as nothing more than a proxy that was designed to help embezzle Libya’s vast wealth.

Moreover, Libya had to be neutralised in line with the intentions of this project to reclaim Africa, because of Qadhafi’s pan-African ambitions to unify the African continent under Libyan leadership. Libya and its development and political projects were effectively erecting a barrier to the re-colonisation of the African continent. In this regard, the war was launched by “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” This name is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the campaign in Libya. ‘The Odyssey’ is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer that recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his voyage home. The main theme here is the ‘return home’. In other words, the military assault’s codename meant that countries like the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey were on their own odyssey of ‘return’ into Africa.

The Crown of Africa

Libya is a lucrative prize of massive economic value. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, important trade routes, substantial foreign investments, and large amounts of liquid capital. Up until 2011, Libya was blessed with a rare gift in regard to its national revenue in that it saved a significant amount. In fact Libya possessed more than US$150 billion in overseas financial assets and had one of the largest sovereign investment funds in the world at the start of 2011.

Until the conflict in Libya ignited, there was a very large foreign work force in the Jamahiriya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from places like the Philippines, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Latin America, Belarus, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and every corner of the Arab world. For years, these jobs inside Libya were an important source of economic remittances in the cases of some African economies, such as Niger. Moreover, many foreign workers from places like the Philippines and Italy even chose to make their lives in Libya and open their own local businesses.

Before the NATO war, Libyan society had come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent African country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described Libya on the dawn of its independence as a backward country saying: “When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.”

According to Habib, the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya that started with the Italians. He explained that, “[e]very effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” This colonial yoke, however, began its decline in 1943 after Italy and Germany were defeated in North Africa during the Second World War.

In 1959 Libya’s oil reserves were discovered. Despite political mismanagement and corruption, since 1969 these Libyan oil reserves were used to improve the standard of living for the country’s population. In addition to the revenue from Libyan energy reserves, the Libyan government played an important role in maintaining Libya’s high living standards. Although never fully nationalised, Libya’s oil would only, in progressive steps, fall under the control of Libyans after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy by Qadhafi and a group of young military officers. Before 1969 most of the country’s oil wealth was actually not being used to serve the general public. Under Qadhafi’s leadership this changed and the National Oil Company was founded on 12 November 1970.

To a certain extent the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state played a role in insulating Libya economically and maintaining its standards of living. From an economic standpoint, most of the Arab world and Africa have become globalised as components of an integrated network of regional economies tied to the United States and the European Union. Libyan integration into this global economic system was delayed because of the past political isolation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya when Washington, London, and Paris were openly at odds with Tripoli.

Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing and numerous subsidies, were available to the Libyan population. It has to be cautioned too that the apparatus of a modern welfare state does not mean that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty were not afoot in Libya, because they very much were. What this means is that economics was not the driving force for the internal dimension of the fighting in Libya. For years, up until 2011, Libya had the highest standards of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Arab world. There is an old Libyan proverb, “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this regard, Libya’s faults were not many in economic terms.

In 2008, Libya had protests that were reportedly caused by unemployment. Most protests in Libya from 2003 to 2011, however, did not have any real economic dimension dominated by breadbasket issues. This set the Jamahiriya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan where breadbasket issues were important factors behind the protests that erupted during the same period in 2011. This, of course, does not mean the protest movements in the latter Arab countries were strictly the result of breadbasket issues and economics either. Demands for personal freedoms and backlashes against corruption were major motivating factors behind the fuelling of public anger in all these Arab states. In Libya, if anything, the frustration tied to the rampant corruption rooted amongst Jamahiriya authorities and officials had created shifting tides of resentment towards the government.

As briefly mentioned, Libya also has vast amounts of underground water stored in the ancient Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is situated under the territories of Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Libya and Egypt hold the largest shares of this water source. In a joint initiative, called the Nubian Aquifer Project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the financial organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF), have all worked with the governments of these four African countries to study this vast source of underground water beneath the Sahara Desert. Using isotopes, the IAEA three-dimensionally mapped the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

In the Jamahiriya, the Great Man-Made River Project was initiated under the orders of Colonel Qadhafi followed by the establishment of the Great Man-Made River Authority in 1983 to exploit the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System for the benefit of Libya and the other regional countries in the Sahara and the Sahel regions. The project was domestically funded mostly by taxes on fuel, tobacco, and international travel, with the remainder of funding provided directly by the Libyan state. Up until 2008 the Libyan government had spent about US$19.6 billion dollars on the water project.

According to the Isotope Hydrology Section of the IAEA, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest fossil aquifer system and will be “the biggest and in some cases the only future source of water to meet growing demands and development” amongst Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. As fresh water supplies become limited globally, it was forecast Libya’s water supplies will be of greater value domestically and regionally. Huge water multinationals in the US, France and elsewhere were salivating at the idea of privatising Libyan fresh water and controlling the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) had shares and invested in major international corporations such as oil giant British Petroleum (BP), the world’s largest aluminium producer United Company RUSAL in Russia, the US conglomerate General Electric (GE), the Italian bank and financial giant UniCredit, the Italian oil corporation Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), the German engineering and electronic conglomerate Siemens, the German electricity and gas company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), British publishing giant Pearson, and British telecommunications giant Vodafone (UK). Libya had purchased Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary in the Kingdom of Morocco, Mobil Oil Maroc, and bought half of Kenya’s oil refinery. The LIA bought all of Royal Dutch Shell’s service stations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2008. Tripoli announced in the same year that it was buying a major share of Circle Oil, an international hydrocarbon exploration company with operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A Libyan agreement was also made with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to build a pipeline in the western part of its territory. Large investments were made by Libya in agricultural, industrial and service projects in Africa from Egypt and Niger to Mali and Tunisia.

In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs. To Tripoli and other observers it was clear Goldman Sachs had merely appropriated the Libyan investment as a cash injection, because it needed the funds due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, Jamahiriya officials and Goldman Sachs executives tried negotiating a settlement under which Goldman Sachs would give Tripoli huge shares in the Wall Street financial giant. These negotiations between Libya and Goldman Sachs for a settlement finally ended in 2009 with both sides failing to agree on a formula to replace the Libyan money that Goldman Sachs had effectively appropriated from Tripoli.

Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all. They and their governments were also not happy with Qadhafi’s ideas and proposal to the United Nations that the former colonial powers owed Africa almost US$800 trillion dollars.

The fact that Libya happened to be a rich country was one of its crimes in 2011. Oil, finance, economics, and Libyan natural resources were always tempting prizes for the United States and its allies. These things were the spoils of war in Libya. While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.

An Overview of the African Geopolitics of the War on Libya

NATO’s operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya have helped erode Libyan political unity, which has had clear implications for the North African country’s spatial unity and all the nations bordering Libya. Libya and its region have been destabilised. The domino effect can clearly be seen at work in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic where there has been fighting as a result, at least in part, of the NATO war on Libya.

Within a strictly African context, Libya sits at an important geographic point. The country is a geographic gateway into Africa and connects the northeast and northwest sections of the continent. Libya’s national territory falls within the Sahara and Sahel regions and events in Libya directly influence Sudan, Egypt and the regions of the Maghreb, West Africa, and Central Africa. Libya is also one of the states that provide access to the open sea for landlocked Chad and Niger. Aside from Tunisia, all of the countries on Libya’s borders touch and connect the bulk of Africa’s regions with the exception of the southern region of the continent. Casting out the Tunisian Republic, these bordering African states are Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Libya’s position is very special in this regard and this territorial embrace with these other large African states bordering multiple countries and regions is very important and would be pivotal if the Libyan project to connect the continent through a north to south and east to west transportation and trade corridor were to be developed fully.

From a socio-cultural standpoint, Libya has tribal and cultural ties to all of the bordering countries. Ethnic differences in Libya exist too, but are minor in degree. Libyans predominately consider themselves to be Arabs. The largest Libyan minority are the Berbers, which can roughly be divided into northern groups and southern groups. There was always awareness that tribalism in Libya, if given antagonistic political connotations, could be a very dangerous thing for Libya and the bordering countries. The tribes that Libyans belong go beyond Libyan borders and form a chain in an overlapping tribal network extending all the way from Niger into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Tribal fighting in Libya could destabilise countries like Senegal and Mali in West Africa, Chad in Central Africa, Algeria in North Africa, and Sudan in East Africa. It is in this context that NATO powers began speaking about an Arab-Berber divide in North Africa in 2011. Regime change in Tripoli has left a political vacuum where politics has fuelled tribalism and regionalism in Libya, which is now warily watched by all of the countries bordering Libya and affecting them.

“A New Beginning” in Cairo: Obama’s attempts to Manipulate Islam

Identity politics and faith have also wound up as factors in the competing exchange of geopolitical currents governing the sea of events surrounding Libya. The questions of what is a Libyan and what is an ethnic Arab have been superimposed as factors in the war on the Jamahiriya as a means of attacking the pan-African movement and separating Libya, and North Africa in broader terms, from the rest of Africa. Faith and religiosity have also been mounted as dynamics that are being sought as geopolitical tools and weapons of influence.

President Barack Hussein Obama was elected by tapping into the hopes of the US public and presenting himself as a “prince of peace” and “messiah of hope.” Amongst his elegant speeches, he claimed to have a desire to reengage with the so-called Muslim World. Since 2009 Obama has consistently tried to utilise what he sees as both his African and Muslim credentials on the basis of having a Kenyan father who was a Muslim, to present himself as a “Son of Africa” and as someone sympathetic to Muslims. As part of his outreach to Muslims, President Obama gave a highly promoted speech at Cairo University on 4 June 2009. Obama’s presidential speech was named “A New Beginning” and was supposedly meant to repair the damages in the relationship between the US and the so-called Muslim World. The speech is described as such by the White House:

“On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Specifically, the President said that the U.S. would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people by expanding partnerships in areas like education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, while continuing to work together to address issues of common concern.”

Many people in predominantly Muslim states were fooled by his pledges of peace and mutual respect. In his actions, Barack Obama proved to be no less of a war hawk than his predecessors in the Oval Office. His Cairo speech was significant because it actually marked the start of a new campaign by the US to geopolitically use Muslims and their hopes and aspirations. In the same timeframe as his speech, the US State Department began to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood and even prior to the speech asked for members to attend Cairo University to hear him.Almost as if foreshadowing the coming of the so-called Arab Spring, the speech in Cairo’s fourth point was about the rise of democracy and the instability of regimes suppressing democratic values. Many of the organisations and figures that became involved in the Arab Spring and supportive of the war in Libya would all hasten to Obama’s calls for a “New Beginning.” Amongst them was Aly (Ali) Abuzaakouk, who helped found the Transitional Council.

From Jakarta, Indonesia, in late-2010, Obama would go on with his themes of engagement with the Muslim World and speak about democracy, faith, and economic development in his second speech addressing Muslims. From that point on Al-Qaeda faded from the spotlight of US foreign policy and, well into the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the US worked to put the ghost of Osama bin Laden to rest by declaring in statements that were altered several times that the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a team of CIA agents and US Navy commandos on 2 May 2010. What this all amounted to was the preparations for the fielding of US agents amongst opposition groups in the predominately Muslim countries of the Arab world and an attempt to subordinate the faith of Islam as a tool of US foreign policy by using fighters and proxy political parties that used the banner of Islam. Thus, Washington’s alliance with deviant militant groups claiming to fight under the banner of Islam was rekindled in 2011. This alliance manifested itself in the fighting in Libya and later further east on the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon.

Libya Now: Destitute, Divided, & in Conflict

The historic project to divide Libya dates back to 1943 and 1951. It started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to that established over Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had not accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951.

During the Second World War the Libyans aided and allowed Britain to enter their country to fight the Italians and the Germans. Benghazi fell to British military control on 20 November 1942, and Tripoli on 23 January 1943. Despite its promises to allow Libya to become an independent country, London intended to administer the two Libyan provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica separately as colonies, with Paris to be given control over the region of Fezzan, which is roughly one-third of Libya, the area to the southwest of the country bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad (see map on page 60). Following the end of the Second World War, the victors and Italy attempted to partition Libya into territories that they would govern as trust territories. The American, British, French, and Soviet governments referred the matter to the UN General Assembly on 15 September 1945. There, the British and the Italians made a last-ditch proposal on 10 May 1949, called the Bevin-Sfora Plan for Libya, to have Libyan territory divided into an Italian-controlled Tripolitania, a British-controlled Cyrenaica, and a French-ruled Fezzan. This failed because of the crucial single vote of Haiti, which opposed the partition of Libya.

The British then turned to King Idris to softly balkanise Libya through the establishment of a federal emirate. A National Assembly controlled by King Idris and an unelected small circle of Libyan chieftains was to be imposed. This type of federalist system was unacceptable to most Libyans as it was intended to be a means of sidestepping the will of the Libyan people. The elected representatives from the heavily populated region of Tripolitania would be outweighed by the unelected chieftains from Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

This did not sit well with many Arab nationalists. Cairo was extremely critical of what the US and its allies were trying to do and called it diplomatic deceit. Nevertheless, even with the opposition of most Libyans, federalism was imposed on Libya in 1951 by Idris. Libyans popularly viewed this as Anglo-French treachery. Idris was forced to abolish the federalist system for a unitary system on 27 April 1963.

The imperialist project to divide Libya was never abandoned; it was just temporarily shelved by different foreign ministries in the Western bloc and NATO capitals. In March 2011, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that at the end of the conflict in Libya, the North African country would revert to its previous monarchical federalist divisions and that it would have two or three different administrations. NATO’s Supreme Commander, Admiral Stravridis, also told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in the same month that Libyan tribal differences would be amplified as the NATO war carried on. There were even multilateral discussions held about dividing the country, but the exact lines were never completely agreed upon and negotiations kept on waxing and waning with the frontlines in the desert and mountains.

US plans to topple the Libyan government that were put together in 1982 by the US National Security Council under the Reagan Administration were also revised or renovated for NATO’s war in 2011. One can clearly see how these plans played out through the dual use of an insurgency and military attack. According to Joseph Stanik, the US plans involved simultaneous war and support for CIA-controlled opposition groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to bring significant pressure to bear on Qadhafi.” To execute the US plan, Washington would first have to encourage a conflict using the countries around Libya “to seek a casus belli for military action” while they would take care of the logistical needs of CIA-controlled opposition groups that would launch a sabotage campaign against the economy, infrastructure, and government of Libya. The code name for these secret plans was “Flower.” In the words of Stanik:

“The NSC restricted access to the top-secret plans to about two-dozen officials. Flower contained two subcomponents: “Tulip” and “Rose.” Tulip was the code name for the CIA covert operation designed to overthrow Qadhafi by supporting anti-Qadhafi exile groups and countries, such as Egypt, that wanted Qadhafi removed from power. Rose was the code name for a surprise attack on Libya to be carried out by an allied country, most likely Egypt, and supported by American air power. If Qadhafi was killed as a result of Flower, Reagan said he would take the blame for it.”

It also just so happened that the Obama Administration’s US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who was the deputy director for intelligence at the time, endorsed Rose, the military subcomponent of Flower.

Since NATO toppled the Jamahiriya government, this is exactly what has happened in Libya. A free for all has come about, which has spilled over into neighbouring states such as Niger. There are multiple factions and different administrations including the Transitional Council in the District of Tripoli, the Misrata Military Council in the District of Misrata, several self-styled Emirates in Cyrenaica, and Jamahiriya loyalist and tribal governments in the Western Mountains and Fezzan. There have even been fusions where Jamahiriya loyalists and anti-Jamahiriya militias have joined to fight all others. The end product has been lawlessness and Somali-style civil war. The state has basically been “failed” by the US and its allies. Post-Jamahiriya governmental authority is only exercised by those in power outside of their offices and a few spaces. Violent crime has proliferated. Tripoli and other major cities are being fought for by different factions and Libyan weapons are being smuggled into different countries. Even US officials, which helped midwife the groups running rampant in Libya, have not been safe from the turmoil they helped create; the murder of US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on 12 September 2012 is testimony to this.

Oil and gas production has been stopping. National assets have been sold off to foreign corporations and privatised. Libya is no longer a competitive economic power in Africa anymore. Nor is Libya a growing financial power. Tripoli virtually transformed from a debtless country to an indebted one overnight.

There is also a great irony to all this. The warplanes of the US-supported Libyan regime that has replaced the Jamahiriya began bombing Libyan citizens in 2014 as battles for control of Tripoli raged. The US, European Union, and NATO have said nothing about this whereas in 2011 they started a bombing campaign and war on the basis of false accusations the Jamahiriya government was doing exactly this. The deceit of these players is more than evident.

The above article first appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 5

Jewish volunteers for racial supremacy in Palestine

http://electronicintifada.net/content/jewish-volunteers-racial-supremacy-palestine/13695

Jewish volunteers for racial supremacy in Palestine

by Joseph Massad
The Electronic Intifada
4 August 2014

The European Christian fight for anti-Semitism was always a fight to grant Christians superior rights to Jews and to institutionalize that superiority as racial and religious supremacy.

In response, the European Jewish fight against anti-Semitism was and remains a fight against the reduction of the rights of Jews (if not their elimination altogether in the case of the Nazis), against the project to render European Jews an inferior species of citizens, and against white European Christian supremacy.

This has been a historical fight that multitudes of non-Jews have joined on both sides. However, ultimately it was European Jewish fighters against anti-Semitism and their gentile allies who won this key battle against inequality, oppression, racial and religious discrimination and genocide.

The European Jewish and Protestant fight (the latter preceded the former by three centuries) for Zionism, in contrast, has been and remains a fight to grant European Jews more rights than non-Jews (and non-European Jews) on a religious, ethnic and racial basis.

This superiority would be granted especially vis-à-vis Palestinian citizens of the Jewish settler-colony (if not eliminating their rights altogether as many Zionist Jews call for), as well as eliminating the rights of the Palestinians in the territories Israel occupied and colonized since 1967 and those it expelled and exiled since 1948 outside the borders of their homeland.

Multitudes of Jews and non-Jews have also joined this historical fight for racism, discrimination and colonialism. The Palestinians and their Jewish and non-Jewish allies refuse to give up and continue to resist Zionism’s insistence that European (and other) Jews must have superior and supremacist colonial, racial and religious rights in Palestine.

The Jewish fight for Zionism (which has never included and still does not include all Jews) is the exact opposite of the Jewish fight against anti-Semitism (which also never included all Jews); the former is a fight for European Jewish supremacy while the latter is against European Aryan and Christian supremacy.

This in a nutshell exposes the outright Zionist lie that claims that the struggle against anti-Semitism and the struggle for Zionism are one and the same.

Recruiting Jews to kill Palestinians

This is important to consider when we examine the international Zionist Jewish brigades that have volunteered to join the Israeli colonial army with much eagerness to kill Arabs and Palestinians. This has been a successful project in light of the mobilizational Zionist and Israeli Jewish propaganda in the last seven decades among the Jewish communities of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Argentina, to name the most prominent Jewish communities outside Israel.

This propaganda campaign aimed at transforming members of these communities from fighters against white Christian supremacy into fighters for European Jewish racial and colonial supremacy.

The dissemination of racist Israeli Jewish culture internationally goes hand-in-hand with Zionism’s pan-Jewishism, whereby, just as anti-Semitism speaks against all Jews, Zionism claims to speak for all of them — and reassures Jews that Israel is their country and that they should move to colonize it, failing which it would function as a spare country awaiting their arrival on a need to colonize basis.

That the major North American and European organizations that claim to speak for Jews have endorsed Israel’s right to speak for them and have been the major conduits for the hateful racist Israeli Jewish propaganda against the Palestinian people makes them fully complicit in the ongoing slaughter and oppression of the Palestinians. This is especially so given that they openly support anti-Palestinian Israeli colonial policies and urge their respective governments and media to do the same. (We must keep in mind these organizations and their wealthy leaders are not elected by members of the Jewish communities but appoint themselves as their representatives and speak for them in these organizations’ newspapers, which constitute what is referred to as the “Jewish” press.)

This is not to say that members of the Jewish communities are not pro-Israel and fervently anti-Palestinian, which they are in their majority, but it is to say that polls have shown them to be less murderous and hateful than the organizations claiming to represent them.

Thus, Israel has created a hegemonic racist Jewish culture that does not only dominate Israeli Jewish communities but also Jewish communities in Europe and its settler colonial extensions (in the Americas, in Australia and in South Africa). This, however, was never sufficiently successful to produce millions of Jewish volunteers for Israel’s colonial cause (no matter how much European and American Jews support Zionism and Israel, few would want to fight or die for it). But it did create the conditions for thousands of young Jewish (mostly male) fighters for European racial supremacy to join the Israeli colonial army seeking to prove the superiority of European Jewishness (and a concomitant European Jewish manliness) by slaughtering Palestinians.

The Israeli colonial army advertises several programs to accommodate international Jewish volunteers for the oppression of the Palestinians. It provides them with the option to serve in the Israeli army in “full combat and support roles,” namely in its “Mahal” program, to fulfill their commitment to the Zionist cause of European Jewish supremacy without necessarily having to become Israeli citizens.
There is also the smaller “Marva” program in which young teenage Jewish recruits for Zionist Jewish supremacy can participate “in this immersive army program, serving alongside fellows from countries around the world.”

Israel’s killing machine proudly declares that “over 300 Jewish teens from all around the world volunteer to serve” in the Israeli colonial army annually as part of the four thousand “Jewish and non-Jewish” volunteers who “fly to Israel and volunteer in the IDF [Israeli military] for several weeks.” These may not be impressive numbers, but there are more.

One of the programs engineered to recruit Jewish youth for racial and religious supremacy is the “Garin Tzabar” project. Garin Tzabar means “cactus seed,” or “Sabra seed,” in reference to Palestine-born Israeli Jews, hence the importance of this program as a reproductive and masculinist project aimed at populating the Jewish settler-colony with more Zionist Jews committed to the superiority of European (and other) Jews over Palestinians.

Garin Tzabar, according to the Israeli colonial army, has “already helped over 1,500 teens from all around the world join the IDF and approximately 70 percent of the immigrants have stayed in Israel after their service.”

Garin Tzabar is not the only volunteer program. There are others like the “Sar-El” program, which claims that it has brought between 1983 and 2011 “more than a hundred thousand volunteers to Israel … 
Staying in Israel for several weeks, the participants share a true IDF experience on IDF bases” (Israel refers to these European and American volunteers for Jewish racial supremacy as “lone soldiers”).
The Israeli military claimed that in 2012, “5,500 lone soldiers” were serving in its colonial forces whereas today it claims to have 4,600 volunteers, one-third of whom are Americans.

In the ongoing barbaric slaughter of Gaza Palestinians, two of the Palestinian baby-killing Jewish soldiers (as I’ve written previously, targeting and killing Palestinian children is an old Zionist tradition) who were killed by the Palestinian resistance were American Jewish volunteers for Jewish racial and colonial supremacy.
They quickly became heroes for the American press, “Jewish” and “gentile” alike. Indeed an article appeared in The Washington Post to show how these baby-killers are different from Muslim foreign fighters who volunteered to overthrow the Afghani communist government and more recently several Arab governments (“‘Foreign Fighters’ for Israel,” David Malet, 22 July 2014). Few, however, mention the White European and American Christian mercenary foreign fighters who have served tyrannies around the word since the Second World War.

Colonial recruitment

These Israeli volunteer programs build on the legacy of the four thousand Jewish volunteers who came to fight the Zionist colonial war of 1948 that captured Palestine and expelled its population and established the European Jewish-supremacist settler-colony. Known as Mahal, the main volunteer program included American Jews as prominent and important members assisting in Israel’s colonial conquest.

They included Mickey Marcus, an American Jewish US Army colonel who became Israel’s first brigadier general. Marcus’ Second World War experience was instrumental in breaking the 1948 “siege of Jerusalem.”

Other important Jewish volunteers included the Canadian officer Ben Dunkelman and US pilot Milton Rubenfeld, as well as British Jewish Major Wellesley Aron who helped in the recruitment of American Jews for Zionism’s colonial war. European and American Christian Zionist mercenaries also helped, especially in the Zionist air force. These colonial volunteers fighting for racism, especially from the UK, constituted almost two-thirds of the settler-colony’s air force during the 1948 war.

David Ben-Gurion, the Jewish settler-colony’s first prime minister, was so thankful to them that he stated that “the Mahal [volunteer] Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel.” Indeed they were: 123 of them died in that colonial war.

Jews in the struggle against Israeli racism

But unlike Jews inside Israel, Jewish communities in Europe, North and South America, and even in Australia, live in cultures that are not fully controlled by Zionist propaganda and therefore are not fully under the sway of the racist culture that Israel seeks to impose on them. It is this that explains how an increasing number of prominent members in the Jewish communities of the US and the UK, among intellectuals and academics, are in the forefront of the struggle against Israeli Jewish racism and colonialism (in contrast with apartheid South Africa which had a substantial number of white anti-racist activists and intellectuals, only a few Israeli Jewish intellectuals have been able over the decades to escape Israeli racist brainwashing — a feat unto itself).

Today many American Jewish luminaries in academe oppose Israeli policies unreservedly. Whereas once Noam Chomsky was a lone Jewish academic voice critical of Israel, he is today joined by scores of Jewish academics and intellectuals in opposing Israeli policies (of course these Jewish academics along with anti-Zionist gentile academics remain a minority and are outflanked by the much larger Jewish and gentile academics who are militant enemies of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims).

Some, like the prominent American Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, have surpassed Chomsky in their opposition to Zionist and Israeli racism and colonialism, and are vocal supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and call for a one-state solution, both of which Chomsky does not support. In fact, a few Palestinian-American academics have also opposed both of these important positions or remained “neutral” on them (some used the rhetorical strategy, of “on the one hand this and on the other hand that”). Though in the last year some, fearing being left outside the leftist mainstream which has adopted these positions, have decided to show a belated “courage” in adopting these positions more than a decade after everyone else has.

And this is not limited to Jewish intellectuals but extends also to Jewish activists, especially groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (which, among many of its anti-racist activities, played an important role in helping Palestinians and others persuade the Presbyterian Church USA to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation), and the countless Jewish students joining, and in a good number of cases, leading groups like Students for Justice in Palestine based on their commitment to fight racism and colonialism, values that are the diametrical opposite of Zionist colonial racism and fascist tribalism.

It is these Jewish fighters against Zionism and Israeli colonialism and racism that are continuing the Jewish fight against anti-Semitism but who remain unsung heroes in the American “Jewish” and “gentile” press that prefers to celebrate baby-killing Zionist Jewish volunteers for Israeli Jewish supremacy instead.

These Jewish fighters against racism have joined the Palestinian people and their international allies (Jewish and gentile alike) in fighting this ongoing historical battle against the forces of racial supremacy and colonial conquest. They understand well, as the Palestinian national movement has always understood, that the fight for Palestinian rights and liberation from the Jewish settler-colony is the latest phase of the historic fight against anti-Semitism and that the fight for Zionism is part of the war for European racial supremacy and colonialism.

The carnage that Israeli Jewish soldiers and international Zionist Jewish brigades of baby-killers are committing in Gaza (and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, let alone against Palestinian citizens of Israel) is but the starkest reminder of this unshakeable conviction.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is author of the forthcoming Islam in Liberalism.

Egypt’s propagandists and the Gaza massacre

http://electronicintifada.net/content/egypts-propagandists-and-gaza-massacre/13662

Egypt’s propagandists and the Gaza massacre

Joseph Massad
The Electronic Intifada
29 July 2014

Sisi’s “ceasefire” offered a week into the Gaza slaughter was spurned by Palestinians in favor of a valiant military resistance.
(ActiveStills)

As Israel’s murderous machine inflicts terror and death on the Palestinian people with the collaboration of the US government and its principal Arab allies, not least of which is the Saudi clan of 20,000 princes and princesses, a huge campaign of hate on the official and unofficial level has been launched in Egypt.

Egypt’s regime is one of the two principal jailers of Gaza Palestinians in the largest concentration camp in the world.

Hosni Mubarak’s heir on the Egyptian throne, General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, expressed well the lies that the Egyptian ruling class of thieves has been propagating in Egypt since the anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian campaigns of the mid to late 1970s under President Anwar Sadat.

The uncharismatic Sisi, whose oratorical abilities rival those of Yasser Arafat, announced with much pomp in his 23 July speech marking the anniversary of the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy that Egypt had already sacrificed “100,000 Egyptian martyrs” for the Palestinian cause.

While few people doubt the sacrifices that Egyptian soldiers have made to defend Egypt in the last 67 years, to claim that these sacrifices were made on behalf of Palestine and the Palestinians is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

It is a line of argument that the ruling class of Egyptian thieves has been propagating in order to claim that Egypt’s terrible economy and state of poverty are not the product of this class’ outright pillage of Egypt with the help of their American and Saudi sponsors since the 1970s, but on account of Egypt’s alleged defense of Palestine and the Palestinians and President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s alleged commitment to liberate the Palestinians from Israel’s colonial occupation.

Tawdry pillaging class

Since the 1970s, Palestinians have been subjected to these lies and to the vacuity and utter tawdriness of this Egyptian class of the ignorant and the illiterate. This class’ lack of education and worldliness was on full display during the last three years of counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation on its television stations and in its press.

The form and content of this output would embarrass and scandalize any self-respecting community of intellectuals, journalists and artists, except that the majority of Egyptian intellectuals, journalists and artists have either been conscripted or fully bought off to defend this class’ interests (though some of those conscripted in support of the regime, especially academics, started to backpedal more recently and to rewrite their history denying their cheerleading for it).

The degradation of Egyptian intellectual and aesthetic cultures and products in the last four decades is a direct outcome of this class’ tyrannical rule. One only has to sit with these businessmen and women, or visit their homes, or watch their representation in Egyptian serials and films and the culture they want to impose through them, or listen to their conversations in Cairo’s five-star hotel bars and restaurants, or watch their interviews on Egypt’s scandalously substandard television stations, to realize their utter mediocrity on every level of economic and political thinking and of aesthetic taste, not to mention their ignorance of Egyptian, Arabic and world literatures and arts, let alone their utter contempt for Egypt’s poor who constitute more than eighty percent of the population.

That this envious and jealous super-wealthy class resents and begrudges the poorest of the poor for their meager possessions, especially the Palestinians of Gaza, illustrates the kind of moral compass that guides its actions.

I still remember my horror when I had dinner in Cairo in October 2010 with billionaire Nassef Sawiris, the richest man in the country, when he announced with much pride to the small dinner party of seven persons that he keeps three TV screens on at all times, in his office, at home and while traveling, set to three different US news channels simultaneously (if memory serves, he listed CNN, CNBC and Fox News) that clearly function as his major sources of education.

Sawiris, who is much less exhibitionist than either of his two older brothers, seemed in disbelief when I informed him that I opposed the right-wing policies of US President Barack Obama, both domestic and foreign, as he seemed unable to conceive of a political position left of Obama.

In a just-published interview with the pro-Sisi newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sawiris commended Sisi for lifting fuel subsidies on the poor (while keeping the price of gasoline for luxury cars down for the rich), and made a series of neoliberal recommendations, including devaluing the Egyptian pound further; privatizing public transportation; removing taxes imposed on the rich (which he claims the government of deposed president Muhammad Morsi had illegally imposed on his company); shielding ministers and government employees from legal prosecution and allowing coal to be used to fuel cement factories despite the massive opposition of health and environmental activists.

Such measures would surely continue to enrich the rich one percent and impoverish the poor (Nassef’s more flamboyant older but poorer brother Naguib just started to write a weekly column for Egypt’s Al-Akhbar in which he reiterates his brother’s neoliberal recommendations. He also calls on Sisi, in a TV interview, to grant Mubarak amnesty and release him from prison).

“Fiction and fabrication”

What Sisi and this class with which he is allied want to claim is that all of Egypt’s wars with Israel were launched to defend Palestine and the Palestinians and that they were hugely costly to Egypt financially and in the lives of soldiers lost. But none of this is true.

In 1956, Israel invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and the Egyptian soldiers who were killed died while engaged in defending their country and their land; in 1967, Israel again invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against foreign invasion; between 1968 and 1970, Israel and Egypt fought the “War of Attrition” in which Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against continuing Israeli aggression and the preservation of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Sinai, a war that was fought on Egyptian soil; and in 1973, Egypt launched a war to liberate Sinai, not Palestine, and Egyptian soldiers were again killed defending their country against foreign occupation.

This leaves us with the 1948 war in which, depending on sources, anywhere from one thousand to two thousand Egyptian soldiers and volunteers were killed. This Egyptian military intervention to stop Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians and the Zionist theft of the land of the Palestinians was launched not by Nasser, who is blamed for his rhetorical support of the Palestinians, but by King Farouq.

As most studies of the motives behind Farouq’s and his government’s intervention in Palestine attest, it was on account of Farouq’s concern about Egypt’s leading regional role and fear of Iraqi rivalry and less so as some form of Arab nationalism or solidarity.

These motives aside, most Palestinians do not doubt that the Egyptian soldiers and volunteer fighters who died had indeed died defending Palestine and the Palestinians even if the soldiers among them were doing so based on orders that sought to defend Egyptian regional hegemony. But this remains the only war where Egyptian soldiers and volunteers died defending Palestine and for whom the Palestinian people and their national movement have expressed much gratitude.

But the way these one to two thousand soldiers and volunteers multiply to the tune of “100,000 martyrs,” as Sisi falsely claimed, is the stuff of fiction and fabrication, which the ruling Egyptian class of thieves and their intellectuals-for-hire and paid propagandists in the press have concocted following Sadat’s 1978 Camp David accords, which sacrificed the rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestinians of Gaza, in return for Egyptian non-sovereign, partial police control of Sinai.

This is not to suggest that millions of Egyptians, civilians and soldiers, do not or would not support Palestine and the Palestinians, or that they would not fight for Palestine and the Palestinians, as they often avow and declare that they would; it is to say that aside from the 1948 battles, they have never been given a chance to defend the Palestinians on the battleground. This is precisely what galls the Egyptian ruling class of thieves and what propels the ongoing anti-Palestinian propaganda and hate speech on the television stations owned by this class.

Hearing their propaganda, one would think that it was the Palestinians who had occupied Sinai, not Egypt that had taken over and ruled Gaza from 1948 to 1967 and had laid siege to it intermittently since, imposing a full, continuing siege for the last eight years.

Despite these massive media campaigns, Egyptians are not deterred in their support of the Palestinians, whether by demonstrating against the Sisi regime’s complicity in the massacres as they have been doing in the last two weeks, or by sending medical relief convoys to Gaza, which Sisi’s soldiers turn back, refusing them passage.

Intellectual mass suicide

In this context, it is crucial to understand that this Egyptian ruling class of thieves is the primary enemy not of the Palestinian people, but of most Egyptians whom it oppresses, exploits, robs and humiliates on a daily basis. That the enemies of the Palestinians in Egypt are also the enemies of most Egyptians has recently been obscured by the role played by the cheerleaders of Sisi’s regime.

The intellectual mass suicide that the majority of Egypt’s intellectuals and artists (Nasserists, Marxists, liberals and Salafists) have committed in their abdication of their critical faculties when they supported or remained silent on the massacres and repression of the new regime, let alone their silence on the campaigns against the Egyptian poor and the Palestinians, is reminiscent of the suicide committed by Egyptian communists who disbanded their party in 1964 to join Nasser’s Socialist Union.

This class extends from the Marxist economist and indefatigably pro-Sisi Samir Amin to much less illustrious figures like novelist and Mubarak critic Alaa al-Aswany, and everyone in between including economist Galal Amin and writers and poets Sonallah Ibrahim, Abd al-Rahman al-Abnudi, Bahaa Taher, and scores more.

The suicide of Egyptian communists in 1964, however, was staged due to the communists’ understanding that Nasser’s repression, while unwelcome and regrettable, was ultimately aimed to serve their common project of nationalization and socialization of property in order to eradicate Egyptian poverty. It remains unclear what the rationale of Egypt’s contemporary intellectuals is in committing suicide in order to support Egypt’s ruling class of thieves.

Gaza massacre is “plan B”

That Sisi has outdone Mubarak’s policies in allying himself with Israel and coordinating with it against the besieged Palestinians is hardly surprising, since he serves the very same class and interests which Mubarak served. What is different, however, is Hamas’ erstwhile quiescence and submission to Mubarak’s diktat out of a sense of entrapment, which Hamas has since abandoned.

It is now clear that Israel’s ongoing slaughter of the Palestinians turns out to be plan B, wherein plan A had been a possible Egyptian ground invasion of Gaza that Sisi’s government had threatened to carry out a few months ago after it had destroyed Gaza’s lifeline tunnels (and this was before Sisi’s sham elections), presumably with Israeli help, with the ostensible purpose to re-install Muhammad Dahlan as Gaza’s warlord and get rid of Hamas and Palestinian resistance.

That the Egyptian head of intelligence was on a visit to Israel a few days before Israel’s massacres were launched, and that three Israeli intelligence officials visited Egypt a few days later, are only tiny indicators of the high level of coordination between the two countries.

The sadism and narcissism that are traits of mainstream Israeli Jewish colonial culture and which manifest in pervasive street mobs crying “death to the Arabs” and propel segments of the country’s colonial Jewish population to watch from the hilltops and cheer the slaughter of the native Palestinians is only matched by the sadistic and hateful propaganda of the Sisi regime media and that of the Egyptian ruling class of thieves.

Indeed, even while Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza continues, the Egyptian army announced on 27 July that it had just destroyed thirteen more tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, presumably as part of its own heroic contribution to the ongoing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

As for the “ceasefire” that Sisi offered a week into the Gaza slaughter, which was dictated to him by his Israeli allies, it has been appropriately spurned by the Palestinian people in favor of a valiant military resistance to their Israeli colonial captors’ criminality and a courageous political and diplomatic resistance in facing up to their Egyptian jailers’ cruelty.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history. He is author of the forthcoming book Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press).

Is media just another word for control?

http://johnpilger.com/articles/is-media-just-another-word-for-control

Is media just another word for control?

by John Pilger, 2 January 2014
 
A recent poll asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The answers they gave were shocking. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That’s the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.
 
What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this ‘normalising the unthinkable’. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: ‘worthy victims’ and ‘unworthy victims’. ‘Worthy victims’ are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. ‘Worthy victims’ qualify for what we call ‘humanitarian intervention’. ‘Unworthy victims’ are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the ‘good dictators’ we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a ‘good dictator’ but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to ‘bad dictator’.
 
In Indonesia, General Suharto was a ‘good dictator’, regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.
 
When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with ‘shock and awe’. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East. This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups… worldwide”. And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They’re good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.
 
I use the first person ‘we’ and ‘our’ in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say ‘we’, preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama’s White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela’s 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela’s cell on Robben Island – he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.
 
What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this “reconciliation”.
 
We all live in an information age – or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We’re wired; we’re on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in ‘Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media’s wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.
 
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” But, said Pinter, “it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
 
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission – that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
 
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state – not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It’s why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it’s an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied”.
 
Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq – perhaps a million people would be alive today.
 
This is a transcript of John Pilger’s contribution to a special edition of  BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey. You can listen to the above transcript here
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18spvWk1qko

In a 24/7 world, the U.S. isn’t keeping up with its enemies in the communication battle

War in the Information Age
In a 24/7 world, the U.S. isn’t keeping up with its enemies in the communication battle.
By Donald H. Rumsfeld

DONALD H. RUMSFELD is the secretary of Defense.

February 23, 2006

OUR NATION IS engaged in what promises to be a long struggle in the global war on terror. In this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq but in newsrooms in New York, London, Cairo and elsewhere.

Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part we – our government, the media or our society in general – have not.

Consider that violent extremists have established "media relations committees" and have proved to be highly successful at manipulating opinion elites. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communication to break the collective will of free people.

Our government is only beginning to adapt its operations for the 21st century. For the most part, it still functions as a five-and-dime store in an EBay world.

I have just returned from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. In Tunis, the largest newspaper has a circulation of roughly 50,000 – in a country of about 10 million people. But even in the poorest neighborhoods you can see satellite dishes on nearly every balcony or rooftop.

Regrettably, many of the TV news channels being watched using these dishes are extremely hostile to the West. The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world still have relatively immature standards and practices that too often serve to inflame and distort rather than to explain and inform. Al Qaeda and other extremist movements have utilized these forums for many years, successfully adding more poison to the Muslim public’s view of the West, but we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.

The standard U.S. government public affairs operation was designed primarily to respond to individual requests for information. It tends to be reactive, rather than proactive, and it operates for the most part on an eighthour, five-days-a-week basis, while world events – and our enemies – are operating 24/7 across every time zone. That is an unacceptably dangerous deficiency.

In some cases, military public affairs officials have had little communications training and little, if any, grounding in the importance of timing, rapid response and the realities of digital and broadcast media. Let there be no doubt that the longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by hostile news sources who most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.

We have become somewhat more adept in these areas, but progress is slow.

In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military command, working closely with the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy, has sought nontraditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation.

Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate: for example, the allegations of "buying news." The resulting explosion of critical media stories then causes all activity, all initiative, to stop. Even worse, it leads to a "chilling effect" among those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.

Improving our efforts will likely mean embracing new institutions to engage people around the world. During the Cold War, institutions such as the U.S. Information Agency and Radio Free Europe proved to be valuable instruments for the United States. We need to consider the possibility of new organizations and programs that can serve a similarly valuable role in the war on terror.

Although the enemy is increasingly skillful at manipulating the media and using the tools of communications to its advantage, it should be noted that we have an advantage as well. And that is, quite simply, that truth is on our side. Ultimately, the truth wins out.

I believe with every bone in my body that free people, exposed to sufficient information, will, over time, find their way to the right decisions.

We are fighting a battle in which the survival of our free way of life is at stake. It is a test of wills, and it will be won or lost with our public and the publics of free nations around the world. We need to do all we can to correct the lies being told, shatter the appeal of the enemy and attract supporters to our noble and necessary efforts to defeat violent extremism around the globe.

PR in a post-September 11 environment

Crisis management: PR in a post-September 11 environment – Breakfast briefing


http://www.amcham.org.eg/Operation/Committees/CommitteesBriefing2002/Marketing.asp#6
American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt

Weber Shandwick chairman Jack Leslie spoke at a breakfast briefing on June 17 (2002) at the Marriott Hotel about crisis management and public relations in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Leslie said that a "sense of normalcy" was difficult to achieve in an age of instant communication where nothing stays the same for very long. He added that while many Americans now feel vulnerable, they are experiencing the kind of fear people in other parts of the world experience on a daily basis. A recent poll indicated that 63 percent of Americans still feel very shaken about their personal safety.

In the 1980s, after working on political campaigns for US presidential candidates, Leslie worked in Latin America on campaigns promoting democratic political development. The international political scene, he said, was transformed by the advance of modern communications in many parts of the world. When TV became a part of every household, for example, candidates in US elections were able to bypass the traditional political parties and speak directly to voters. Leslie contended that there has, consequently, been a decline in the power of political parties, while the power of the individual voter has increased.

The rise of "business media," meanwhile, added urgency to such issues as shareholder rights and employee rights. Today, every business leader is faced with the need to manage communications, Leslie said, adding that there is a new appreciation of what PR is all about: working with corporate leaders to understand their business objectives.

Summarizing lessons he has learned over the years, Leslie said that "whoever controls dialogue wins." Second, he said, speed is everything in the corporate world. Third, he stressed the importance of being aware of a desired outcome, and fourth, of "moving the movable," in the sense of identifying people who might change their minds rather than going for a hard sell.

Most importantly, research must drive any strategy. "Pre-search," as Leslie called it, is crucial for understanding where you want to go. The best way to deal with crisis, he added, was through communication, noting that the first 24 hours were vital to the outcome of any crisis.

Two of Leslie’s clients were especially hard-hit by September 11: one was the Marriott Hotel located between the twin towers; the other was American Airlines.

Weber Shandwick was guided these clients throughout the crisis period, emphasizing the importance of maintaining credibility. "Facts must be distributed quickly," he said. "Truth is always the best weapon, even if it’s painful."

Companies, as well as countries, need to protect their reputations and maintain a strong marketing presence, Leslie concluded. Although Egypt has a good textile-cotton industry, this is not successfully marketed in the United States, he said. As for the American public’s view of Islam and Arabs in general, he said that moderate voices had to be given greater exposure. "The only way for Americans and the Arab world to understand each other," he said, "is through meaningful dialogue that creates understanding."

In the question and answer session that followed, Leslie’s response to a question about whether Arab and Muslim organizations should to try to set up a TV channel in the United States to explain Islam to the American public, Leslie advised that the "clutter" existing now on American TV would be an obstacle in reaching a significant viewing audience. He said that the Arab world would be better off developing a PR program in the US to seek time on major networks in order to address misperceptions.

The briefing, organized under the auspices of AmCham Egypt’s Marketing Committee, was attended by around 80 guests.

Biography:
Jack Leslie is the Chairman of Weber Shandwick, the world’s largest public relations firm, with more than 3,000 professionals in 60 offices around the globe. Mr. Leslie is a veteran communications strategist; he has been the architect of some of the most visible communications campaigns of the last two decades, as well as serving as a high-level strategist for nationwide political campaigns on three continents. Mr. Leslie specializes in helping prominent corporations and public institutions to transform public attitudes rapidly on divisive, high profile issues. Political and business leaders have sought his counsel during several crises, and he has advised companies and trade groups during public policy battles ranging from health care reform to telecommunications reform to tax reform.

The New Imperialism

Central Asia/Russia  

COMMENTARY

The New Imperialism  
By Pepe Escobar

 ISLAMABAD – Joseph Conrad was the first modern writer to fully understand that in extreme situations the distinctions and nuances between civilization and the "heart of darkness" collapse with a bang. Conrad showed how the sublime heights of European civilization could fall into the pit of the most barbarous practices – without any sort of preparation or transition (no wonder that Belgium still has not officially acknowledged the genocide of millions during King Leopold’s possession of the Congo).

 Now more than ever it is rewarding to re-read Conrad – and as an added bonus to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s reading of Conrad in the recently released director’s cut of Apocalypse Now. The New Afghan War increasingly runs the risk of being configured as The New Vietnam. Washington has said from the beginning this is not Gulf War II. But now, deeply frustrated because they are unable to break the Taliban – those medieval architects of a pan-Islamic utopia – the Pentagon is contemplating a Desert Storm-style invasion the next Afghan spring. This won’t be Gulf War II: this will be Vietnam II.

 Most of the Muslim world’s uneducated masses suffer from political and social underdevelopment and extremely corrupt elites. Osama bin Laden capitalized on this dysfunction. Osama and the Al-Qaeda, in their warped world-view, would have the Muslim world believe that we are now facing a war between Islam and the West. It may come as a striking revelation that the West also has its hordes of fundamentalists, of the armchair kind – but although they don’t resort to jet-turned-to-missile suicide squads, they are just as deadly.

 When Samuel Huntington came up with his Clash of Civilizations reductionist classic in 1993, he relied heavily on The Roots of Muslim Rage, a 1990 essay by the Orientalist Bernard Lewis. Professor Edward Said, a most acute critic of Orientalists, has pointed out that neither Huntington nor Lewis were careful enough to examine the fact that "the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture". This goes way beyond a simplistic clash of cultures. Huntington’s clash became a road map for American foreign policy because it is basically an ideology: a very handy ideology to fill the vacuum created by the end of the ideology-heavy Cold War.

 We don’t even have to invoke Freud and Nietzsche – as Said does – to realize that "there are closer ties between apparently warring civilizations than most of us would like to believe". Huntington’s clash – although a dangerous warring ideology – must be ridiculed for what it is: mere defensive self-pride. As any urban youth in any world city can attest, the name of the game in the 21st century is interdependence: cultures are not monolithic, they interact in an orgy of cross-fertilization.

 Bush the elder was wrong – or his formulation was ahead of his time. Not the Gulf War, but the Afghan War, fought by young Bush, is the preamble to a New World Order. The signs are already in print – and they are all offshoots of Huntington’s clash.

 An otherwise obscure opinion page editor of the Wall Street Journal is in favor of "colonization of wayward nations", including "the application of a dose of US imperialism". Not beating around the bush either, British historian Paul Johnson has also published in the Journal a piece titled "The Answer to Terrorism? Colonialism". The Financial Times, not to be upstaged by American competition, has carried its own "The Need for a New Imperialism". So what are all these self-important paragons of free speech and exchange of ideas basically saying? They’re saying that the future, ladies and gentleman, is the past.

 The New Imperialism according to the Financial Times is "defensive" – as defensive as Huntington’s clash. It is based on the arbitrarily-defined concept of a "failed state". Afghanistan is given as a prime example. The FT cleverly omits to examine how Afghanistan failed because of relentless Russian and American armed interference since the late 1970s.

 In The New Imperialism, the "coercive apparatus" must be provided by the West. To disguise the imperialist thrust, the FT suggests that the United Nations should be in charge of these "temporary protectorates". This is exactly what the US has in mind for Afghanistan. Obviously, nobody is listening to the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, Algerian diplomat Lakdar Brahimi, who said in Islamabad last week that the heavily-publicized utopia of a "broad-based government" cannot be forced down the Afghani people’s throats: it will take time, it will have to come from within. Otherwise the end result will be, again, chaos.

 Paul Johnson theorizes that the war against terrorism will lead to a new form of colonialism – of the benign or "respectable" kind – by "the great civilized powers". He can only mean America and its blind follower Britain – because the last time we checked France, Germany, Italy, Japan and China, to name but a few, are extremely civilized but not exactly keen on turning back the digital clock of history.

 What Johnson really wants is to keep again arbitrarily-defined "terrorist states" under "responsible supervision" – meaning "unavoidable" political interference from the West. He even provides a list of eligible countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria. No coincidence: they are all Islamic. But if Johnson abandoned his leather armchair to do a bit of traveling, he could verify that at least three of these have better fish to fry.

 Tony Blair bent over backwards on his recent visit to Damascus to engage Syria: Bashar Assad may not be a paragon of democracy, but he is more interested in education and information technology than bombs. Libya – not South Africa – is the new Eldorado for millions of black western and central Africans: Gaddafi, the Great Survivor, prefers to seduce African youth with economic opportunities rather than with bombs. Iran is torn between hardliners and moderates, but the young generation is fully behind Khatami and his "dialogue of civilizations" – a splendidly articulated cultural platform that strikes a chord all over the developing world.

 Billions of people in Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East , Eastern Europe or even Western Europe were not consulted about the designs of the New Imperialism. But it is no coincidence that the New Imperialism is being proposed exactly at this historical juncture. The current Pentagon production on the word’s screens has turned out to be essentially a relentless bombing of innocent, starving civilians as punishment for terrorist attacks. It is widely regarded – not only in the Muslim world – as a very expensive and ultimately apalling exercise in futility. Apart from America, public support around the world is vanishing at an alarming rate.

 This war was imposed from above on the Afghan population. They were never consulted about its legitimacy. They are not responsible for it. They are helpless victims. A cartoon in the Pakistani press explained the real meaning of "carpet bombing": American bombs fall on an Afghan carpet while a group of unflappable Taliban pose on the side for an Al Jazeera TV crew.

 The proponents of New Imperialism conveniently forget to examine how the Taliban got to the ruined top of "failed" Afghanistan in the first place. The Taliban are eminently an Afghan, Pastun and tribal movement. It is easy to forget they are a direct product of the Saudi-American-financed anti-USSR jihad of the ’80s. They took power in Kabul in 1996 with the absolute blessing of the US.

 Afghanistan was beyond "failed" as a state in 1996. But at the time the Taliban were regarded as a convenient tool for the implementation of another classic American business plan: the construction of oil and gas pipelines from the Central Asian republics through Afghanistan, with Karachi as a major destination. The Taliban would theoretically control the whole country, impose law and order, and guarantee a safe trading environment.

 The US had high hopes for the Taliban. They would clear Afghanistan of drugs. They would act against Russian and Iranian economic and geopolitical interests. They would get rid of terrorist training camps. They would pave the way for the return of former king Zahir Shah (no joke: this is what Washington thought way back in 1996). And most of all they would open the gates for the mega-pipelines from Central Asia.

 So the whole thing was a sub-plot of the New Great Oil Rush: how America would win against the stiff competition of Russia and Iran. The American-Saudi coalition of Unocal and Delta was the main Western player. Then came the fall of Kabul – mostly financed by none other than Osama bin Laden himself. Unocal at the time was madly in love with the Taliban: an official statement praised the Taliban and the prospect of "immediately" doing business with them. In Afghanistan in 1996, as Afghan veterans comment in Peshawar, the perception was that the Taliban were supported or even financed by Washington.

 Unocal was actively negotiating with the Taliban the construction of pipelines from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unocal officials were extensively briefed by CIA agents. The positioning of Unocal in relation to Pakistani sources was equivalent to the positioning of the CIA during the jihad in the ’80s. Unocal’s main source of information was the disinformation-infested US Embassy in Islamabad.

 Apart from all the by-products of their demented version of Islam, the Taliban in the end dealt a major blow to Washington. They did not control all of Afghanistan as expected. They did not bring peace: on the contrary, they installed a police state and engaged in ethnic cleansing (against the Hazaras). Average Afghans stress that the Taliban version of "peace" soon degenerated into an internal jihad against the civilian population.

 They did not end poppy cultivation: on the contrary, they made a lot of money out of it. They treated women in the most repulsive way. And – the ultimate reason for their current predicament – they extended a precious red Afghan carpet to Osama bin Laden and his Arab-Afghans.

 From courting this irascible lover, America is now bombing it to oblivion. But as millions in the Muslim world keeps on repeating, not a single piece of evidence has been produced in public to suggest that the Taliban are totally, partially, or even marginally responsible for September 11. Not a single piece of a so-called unimpeachable evidence was "independently verified" – as BBC and CNN are so fond of saying (even when they are verifying something during a Taliban-sponsored tour of Kandahar).

 Any talk of a future broad-based Afghan government is a smoke screen. As far as American interests are concerned, it has to be a government that no matter what facilitates the American perspective of the Last Great Oil Rush. If push comes to shove, America may even contemplate an occupation of Afghanistan, more or less disguised via the UN. Before that happens, policy makers had better listen to Afghan professor Jamalluddin Naqvi, who says, "History is witness to the fact that Afghanistan is a human and territorial Bermuda Triangle from where no one ever comes out – at any rate in one piece."

 Henry Kissinger would grumble that this is just realpolitik. It would certainly be an instance of the New Imperialism in action. The international community should thank the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times for informing us all in advance.

 Another imperialist with impeccable credentials, globalization’s puppy dog Thomas Friedman, wrote in the New York Times that "the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps". Globalization does not work without the New Imperialism. But another reading of history is always possible. In their seminal book Empire, Tony Negri and Michael Hardt argue that the process of globalization has generated a universal and oppressive New Imperialism – but stress that a real humanist alternative to imperialism and war is more than possible.

 Ibn Khaldun, a Muslim historian of the 14th century, would agree. He was not deterministic like Huntington, Fukuyuma and assorted cohorts. He said that civilizations follow a process – they go through different stages. Centuries before Adam Smith, Ibn Khaldun came up with an extremely sophisticated analysis of free trade, the role of the market, and the rule of law. The Muqaddimah – the introduction to his immense Universal History, is a prodigy of humanism: nothing remotely similar to the intolerant Islam of the Taliban or the confrontational Islam of Al-Qaeda.

 If Ibn Khaldun were alive today, he would tell us that American civilization – like the Caliphates, or the Umayyad dynasty of his time – has expanded to almost limitless power. And when you reach Absolute Power, the only way is down. Not only the eminent Muslim reached this conclusion, but also Western icons like Gibbon – talking about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – and more recently Professor Paul Kennedy, who excelled in his examination of the concept of overextension of great powers.

 In a fruitful "dialogue among civilizations" – an Iranian idea – Ibn Khaldun and Professor Kennedy would probably agree that America is now overextended. And they would certainly agree that civilizations do decline. America still is by all means a civilization of boundless, fascinating energy and dynamism. But it must beware of hubris – the essential element in Greek tragedy, the cultural foundation of Western civilization. Unfortunately, some dreamers of New Imperialism and assorted Pentagon generals have never heard of Sophocles. They’d better get their act together before they plunge America into another heart of darkness.

 ((c)2001 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact ads@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.) 

Should the administration draw on the propaganda models of past conflicts ?

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: Should the administration draw on the propaganda models of past conflicts to communicate the current war against terrorism?

Douglas Quenqua – 3 Dec 2001
PRWeek

In the weeks after a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the British cruise ship Lusitania in 1915, killing 128 American civilians and starting the US down the road to World War I, public opinion in this country galvanized. Sympathy for the Germans evaporated, and a determination to enter the war in Europe took its place. But President Woodrow Wilson, a lover of all things diplomatic, decided to wait.

Eventually, public opinion began to drift. By the time America finally entered the war two years later, much of America sat by unconvinced. Wilson knew that that was no way to send out troops. So in 1917, six days after declaring war, he created a committee that would tend to America’s morale.

He called it the Committee on Public Information (CPI).

With a pushy, muckraking journalist named George Creel at the helm, the CPI waged a war of words, images, and ideas to fortify support for the war, domestically and overseas. The earnest posters and racially simplistic caricatures of foreign enemies may look quaint now, but Creel ran a sophisticated campaign, putting publicists, novelists, academics, advertising executives, and filmmakers to work all over the world. He once boasted that CPI employed 150,000 people.

It was a communications effort unprecedented in ambition, and the tactics – if not the numbers – set the standard for propaganda campaigns throughout the 20th century.

Of course, all centuries come to an end.

In the first few months of our current conflict, we have seen countless entities – government and otherwise – launch individual attempts at diplomacy.

The Pentagon has hired its own PR firm. Navy planes are dropping leaflets on Afghanistan. The White House and British Prime Minister Tony Blair set up Coalition Information Centers (CIC) in their respective countries and Pakistan. Presidential advisor Karl Rove flew to Beverly Hills to discuss the war effort with Hollywood execs. Congress, the State Department, and the Defense Department are taking turns asking advertising and PR hotshots what they should do. Yet there is almost universal agreement that our message isn’t getting across. What exactly are all these experts doing?

Ironically, many of them have been doing the same thing: telling the government it needs to coordinate its PR efforts. Too many messengers are muddling the message, they say, and they should all be getting their marching orders from a centralized source – one with the power of the President behind it, just like it was in the old days.

Land of propaganda

But such comparisons are complicated at best, and at worst, dangerous.

America and its government have changed. The federal workforce has exploded in size, as have regulations for hiring private citizens to do its work.

Post-Watergate reforms erected firewalls between departments making some coordination difficult, if not illegal. The American mindset – particularly regarding race and violence – renders old tactics offensive and obsolete.

And this conflict is fundamentally different than those that have come before it. Maybe the old, proven model is no longer applicable.

But America has always been good at churning out effective propaganda (a word that didn’t pick up its derogative baggage until the Nazis tried their hand at it in the ’30s and ’40s). So good, in fact, that Americans are by and large unaware that many of its favorite works of art are artifacts of the government’s propaganda program (Casablanca, anyone?). It is worthwhile to examine what made those campaigns so effective, if for no other reason than to extract whatever elements might still apply.

Many believe the keys to Creel’s success were his direct line to the President – he was hand-picked by Wilson – and the latitude of that relationship afforded him to operate unrestrained. He staffed the agency with his own people, and divided it into dozens of divisions and subdivisions, each focusing on its own agenda and audience. Among these groups were the Division of News, the Division of Films, the Division of Advertising, and the Division of Women’s War Work. Creel’s workers and volunteers held "mass-meetings" in small towns all over the country. "Four Minute Men" would give short speeches in movie theaters about the virtue of enlisting. Volunteer translators fed news to the foreign-language press "designed to combat ignorance and disaffection," as Creel put it. "(We) organized and directed 23 societies and leagues designed to appeal to certain classes and particular foreign-language groups." The Committee even issued "voluntary guidelines" to the press.

After the war ended, the CPI was disbanded, and individual government agencies took on the task of doing America’s talking. But when World War II erupted, once again a single organization was created for the task. Coincidentally, it was another famously outspoken journalist – hand-picked by the President – who suggested and then led the effort.

Different war, same message

Elmer Davis was a radio personality with CBS news. On the evening of March 2, 1942, he launched into an on-air diatribe against the government for having too many agencies conducting their own communications campaigns.

"Why they are not centralized, why no unified program is followed, is beyond the private citizen’s comprehension," Davis cried.

President Roosevelt took the suggestion seriously, creating the Office of War Information (OWI), and installing Davis as its leader, with "full authority to eliminate all overlapping and duplication, and to discontinue in any department any informational activity which is not necessary or useful to the war effort."

Davis’ campaign resembled Creel’s in many ways. He sought help from the brightest minds in every field of communications or entertainment, and had free reign to use them as he pleased. But the OWI put a much greater emphasis on overseas communication than did the CPI. Its Overseas Operations Branch had special bureaus for publications, radio, news, and movies, among others. It established outposts in more than 20 neutral and allied nations, dropped leaflets over enemy territory, and doggedly fed its side of the story to foreign journalists.

At home, the OWI again issued guidelines to the press, and advised Hollywood on how to make more "helpful" movies. Compared to the CPI, however, the OWI practically manhandled Hollywood. Studios were requested to submit all screenplays to the federal government so that it could ask for changes at an early and inexpensive stage in the production process. The OWI even distributed a list of questions to all studio heads that they should ask themselves before making a film. First among those question was, "Will this picture help win the war?"

While such extremes seem impossible in today’s censorship-sensitive climate, the tactics being employed all have the ring of familiarity. The White House has asked for help from Hollywood and journalists (though both have spent more time publicly debating their own cooperation than actually helping). Leaflet drops have resumed throughout the bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Advertising and PR execs have been consulted, and are eagerly cooperating in various ways. Relationships with foreign and particularly Muslim journalists are being tended to like they haven’t been in years, with foreign outposts opening in hostile territories.

Who’s in charge here?

But the primary difference remains: No single person or entity is running the show. What in the past was always done under authority of a pushy professional with the President’s blessing is now done by at least four different entities with varying levels of authority and little coordination – a three-ring circus with no emcee.

Which might be exactly right.

One person talking a lot about this lately is Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick Worldwide. One of the private sector’s most prominent consultants in America’s newest propaganda campaign, he recently testified before the House Committee on International Relations, and has advised under secretary of state Charlotte Beers.

He applauds specific steps the government has taken to coordinate its campaign, chief among them the CIC, the Office of Homeland Security, and the authority given to Beers. But given the nature of this conflict, he says, that may be as much coordination as America should have.

"There is a complexity to the nature of this war, where things are not nearly as black and white, and objectives change and will continue to change," he says. "The natural instinct is that everything should be coordinated, but things are very different now. You can’t just rely on the old model." Perhaps, Leslie says, the construct we have is precisely what we need for this war. A fluid model for a fluid conflict, a deft machine of many parts going where a homogenous, lumbering unit cannot.

It is just one suggestion among many, but it does have the advantage of momentum. It seems unlikely that the government can or will create another CPI or OWI. People complained about those organizations in their time as well, but the criticism faded when the wars were won. If America emerges from this war as fortunate as it did from those, the various departments who conducted the communications effort will most likely reap that same benefit.

KEY PLAYERS IN THE NEW PROPAGANDA WAR

Charlotte Beers

Under secretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy. A lifelong staple of Madison Avenue, Beers started her new role on October 2. As such, the queen of advertising is now responsible for most of the government’s overseas PR efforts concerning the perception of America.

Karen Hughes

Advisor to President Bush One of Bush’s closest and most trusted advisors, Hughes (ex-White House communications director) is in charge of the Coalition Information Centers (CIC). She initiates conference calls between several key figures in the propaganda campaign, and continues to help shape White House messages.

Torie Clarke

Assistant secretary of state for public affairs, Department of Defense Clarke leads the Pentagon’s own PR effort, which is outsourced to The Rendon Group for four months. Formerly of Bush Sr.’s administration and Hill & Knowlton, Clarke is a rare sight at the podium, preferring to allow the folksy secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld face the media himself.

Kenton Keith

CIC spokesperson. A former diplomat, Keith has considerable knowledge of local values and fears in the Middle East, and can speak Arabic. Hence he appears often on Al-Jazeera TV to convey the US’ message.

Laura Bush

First lady Bush has earned the nickname comforter-in-chief for her efforts to allay fears at home. She is also at the helm, with British Prime Minister’s wife Cherie Blair, of an effort to spread the word of the Taliban’s record of abuse toward women.

Karl Rove

White House advisor and administration’s liaison to Hollywood. As the unlikely liaison to Hollywood, Rove recently flew to Beverly Hills to discuss the film industry’s role in the war effort.

Tom Ridge

Director, Office of Homeland Security Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, was recently made the US’ first director of the newly created Office of Homeland Security. The Bush administration hopes to brand him as the face of national security.

Truth – Justice – Peace