Category Archives: Opposition-Resistance

Real Americans Question 9/11

Real Americans Question 9/11

These days it’s difficult to remember what values the American people share. That’s because the U.S. government does so many things that seem to contradict basic human values. Wars of aggression, torture, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and so many other oppressions have become standard operational procedure for the U.S. government. Those who recognize and seek to correct this system of abuse soon realize that the key to doing so is to reveal the truth behind the primary driver for all of them—the crimes of 9/11.

It’s important to know what makes someone an American and what does not. Here are some examples of what does not make someone an American.

  • Loyalty to the flag
  • Respect for the national anthem
  • Serving in the military or honoring military veterans
  • Paying taxes

A person can do these things to any extent possible and it will not make them any more American than they were before they began. Popular culture and corporate media make every effort to present American patriotism as a sum of these kinds of activities but it is easy to see through that false front.

Only one thing makes someone an American and that is support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States defined Americans as those who are committed to the ideals of the Constitution. To this day, anyone claiming to represent the nation must swear an oath to uphold those ideals.

Each president, when taking office, affirms that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” All congress members must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution.”

All new citizens of the United States and every member of the U.S. military must swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The U.S. Constitution is comprised of articles that spell out the government’s powers and the process of making amendments. It also includes the 27 amendments that exist today. The first ten amendments, ratified four years after the original text, are known as the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. Also, there are the rights to bear arms, to privacy, and to a speedy and public trial. The rejection of cruel and unusual punishment is another basic tenet of the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, virtually every Article and Amendment of the Constitution has been under attack since September 11, 2001. Yet very few people have risen to support or defend it. In fact, many so-called Americans have encouraged assaults on the core American values.

That abuse began with the violation of Article 1 of the Constitution that rejects starting wars of aggression without having been “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Instead of working to determine what actually happened on 9/11 and thereby defend the nation, the Bush Administration immediately invaded Afghanistan, a country that it had planned to invade long before the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen months later, the government invaded Iraq based on what everyone now knows was a pack of lies.

Americans who questioned that anti-American approach were silenced with claims that they were not “supporting the troops” if they did not consent to the growing greed-fueled militarism. The Afghanistan invasion was coupled with the passing of the Patriot Act—an attack on basic Constitutional rights and a failure to preserve those rights as described in Article 2.

In 2006, national polls showed that over one third of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East. At the same time, Americans witnessed a growing list of abuses of their Constitutional rights. These abuses violated the Bill of Rights in nearly every way and were driven by unproven claims about what happened on September 11, 2001.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights described how the Constitution had been shredded based on assumptions about the 9/11 attacks. By then, it had also become clear that the government was actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy (violating Article 3) through arming and training terrorists. One might think it obvious that stopping such actions would be the goal of all Americans but to do so one Congress member has had to spell it out in legislation.

Failing to protect Americans against domestic violence (a violation of Article 4), the FBI was found to actually be manufacturing terrorism. It was further learned that some FBI leaders had been facilitating or sponsoring terrorism since long before 9/11. This practice continues today and the manufactured plots have become so obvious that officials are finding it difficult to explain why Americans should take them seriously.

Attorney and author John W. Whitehead has detailed the continuing attacks on the Bill of Rights by writing that,

“What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.”

The attacks on American values have been so extensive that people often no longer notice how bad it has become. For example, the government has named those captured and tortured in the name of 9/11 as “forever prisoners”—a term that exemplifies the hatred of freedom represented by the new phony Americanism. The fact that one of these men was a central character in building the official account of 9/11 and has since been exonerated for any involvement in those crimes makes no difference.

How can real Americans respond to this ongoing assault against the Constitution by flag-waving, militaristic, greed-driven fools? How can we “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by “bearing true faith and allegiance to the same?”

To end the wave of anti-Americanism that began with the crimes of 9/11, Americans have two options. The first is to stand up publicly and fight the attacks on our Constitution by helping everyone understand that the crimes of 9/11 have not been solved. In fact, there are still so many unanswered questions about those crimes that everything done in “response” is almost certainly a crime in itself.

The second option is to end the tyranny through revolution. This was how America began, of course, and that great beginning is enshrined in the precursor to the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence. At the time, the founders stated that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

As Americans it is our duty to throw off the tyrannical abuses of power that are threatening to end America. That duty starts with questioning 9/11—the driver behind all of it.

The Anti-Empire Report #147

The Anti-Empire Report #147

By William Blum – Published November 30th, 2016

What can go wrong?

That he may not be “qualified” is unimportant.

That he’s never held a government or elected position is unimportant.

That on a personal level he may be a shmuck is unimportant.

What counts to me mainly at this early stage is that he – as opposed to dear Hillary – is unlikely to start a war against Russia. His questioning of the absolute sacredness of NATO, calling it “obsolete”, and his meeting with Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an outspoken critic of US regime-change policy, specifically Syria, are encouraging signs.

Even more so is his appointment of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser. Flynn dined last year in Moscow with Vladimir Putin at a gala celebrating RT (Russia Today), the Russian state’s English-language, leftist-leaning TV channel. Flynn now carries the stigma in the American media as an individual who does not see Russia or Putin as the devil. It is truly remarkable how nonchalantly American journalists can look upon the possibility of a war with Russia, even a nuclear war.

(I can now expect a barrage of emails from my excessively politically-correct readers about Flynn’s alleged anti-Islam side. But that, even if true, is irrelevant to this discussion of avoiding a war with Russia.)

I think American influence under Trump could also inspire a solution to the bloody Russia-Ukraine crisis, which is the result of the US overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014 to further advance the US/NATO surrounding of Russia; after which he could end the US-imposed sanctions against Russia, which hardly anyone in Europe benefits from or wants; and then – finally! – an end to the embargo against Cuba. What a day for celebration that will be! Too bad that Fidel won’t be around to enjoy it.

We may have other days of celebration if Trump pardons or in some other manner frees Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and/or Edward Snowden. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton would do this, but I think there’s at least a chance with the Donald. And those three heroes may now enjoy feeling at least a modicum of hope. Picture a meeting of them all together on some future marvelous day with you watching it on a video.

Trump will also probably not hold back on military actions against radical Islam because of any fear of being called anti-Islam. He’s repulsed enough by ISIS to want to destroy them, something that can’t always be said about Mr. Obama.

International trade deals, written by corporate lawyers for the benefit of their bosses, with little concern about the rest of us, may have rougher sailing in the Trump White House than is usually the case with such deals.

The mainstream critics of Trump foreign policy should be embarrassed, even humbled, by what they supported in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Instead, what bothers them about the president-elect is his lack of desire to make the rest of the world in America’s image. He appears rather to be more concerned with the world not making America in its image.

In the latest chapter of Alice in Trumpland he now says that he does not plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton, that he has an “open mind” about a climate-change accord from which he had vowed to withdraw the United States, and that he’s no longer certain that torturing terrorism suspects is a good idea. So whatever fears you may have about certain of his expressed weird policies … just wait … they may fall by the wayside just as easily; although I still think that on a personal level he’s a [two-syllable word: first syllable is a synonym for a donkey; second syllable means “an opening”]

Trump’s apparently deep-seated need for approval may continue to succumb poorly to widespread criticism and protests. Poor little Donald … so powerful … yet so vulnerable.

The Trump dilemma, as well as the whole Hillary Clinton mess, could have probably been avoided if Bernie Sanders had been nominated. That large historical “if” is almost on a par with the Democrats choosing Harry Truman to replace Henry Wallace in 1944 as the ailing Roosevelt’s vice-president. Truman brought us a charming little thing called the Cold War, which in turn gave us McCarthyism. But Wallace, like Sanders, was just a little too damn leftist for the refined Democratic Party bosses.

State-owned media: The good, the bad, and the ugly

On November 16, at a State Department press briefing, department spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning US charges of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the UN from delivering aid to the trapped population. When Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges, Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense ministry?”

GK: Do you – can you give any specific information on when Russia or the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering aid? Just any specific information.

KIRBY: There hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.

GK: And you believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the Syrian Government?

KIRBY: There’s no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.

MATTHEW LEE (Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say: Please be careful about saying “your defense minister” and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned -– from a state-owned –

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet, Matt.

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet that’s not independent.

LEE: The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.

KIRBY: I didn’t say the questions were out of line.

……

KIRBY: I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.

One has to wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about RT, declared: “The Russians have opened an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”

I also wonder how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the UK, broadcasting in the US and all around the world.

Or the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas … and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.”

There’s also Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty (Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all (US) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.

And let’s not forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio), which would have a near-impossible time surviving without large federal government grants. How independent does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.

As to the non-state American media … There are about 1400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe (February 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”. Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the US mainstream media?

In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent”.

If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to US foreign policy?

Soviet observation: “The only difference between your propaganda and our propaganda is that you believe yours.”

On November 25, the Washington Post ran an article entitled: “Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about how sources in Russia are flooding American media and the Internet with phoney stories designed as “part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders”.

“The sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on ‘fake news’.”

The Post states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.” (Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)

The story is simply bursting with anti-Russian references:

  • An online magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
  • “the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
  • “more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”
  • “stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
  • “The Russian campaign during this election season … worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.”
  • “Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience”
  • “They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
  • “Russian propaganda operations also worked to promote the ‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European Union.”
  • “Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports.”
  • “a variety of other false stories — fake reports of a coup launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories about how the United States was going to conduct a military attack and blame it on Russia”

A former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics. “They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]

The Post did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message. What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination. In the new Cold War the political spectrum in the mainstream media runs the gamut from A to B.

Cuba, Fidel, Socialism … Hasta la victoria siempre!

The most frequent comment I’ve read in the mainstream media concerning Fidel Castro’s death is that he was a “dictator”; almost every heading bore that word. Since the 1959 revolution, the American mainstream media has routinely referred to Cuba as a dictatorship. But just what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is (see the preceding essays), if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries. The Cuban president is chosen by the parliament, The National Assembly of People’s Power. Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since all candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have private corporations to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. Did we need the latest example of this travesty of democracy to convince us to finally get rid of it? If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba a dictatorship because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement of five years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

Hillary Laughed ‘I Came He Died’

The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals

The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals

Edward W. Said, 17 September 2001


In everyday usage in the languages and cultures with which I am familiar, a “writer” is a person who produces literature–that is, a novelist, poet, dramatist. I think it is generally true that in all cultures writers have a separate, perhaps even more honorific, place than do “intellectuals”; the aura of creativity and an almost sanctified capacity for originality (often vatic in scope and quality) accrues to writers as it doesn’t at all to intellectuals, who with regard to literature belong to the slightly debased and parasitic class of “critics.”

Yet at the dawn of the twenty-first century the writer has taken on more and more of the intellectual’s adversarial attributes in such activities as speaking the truth to power, being a witness to persecution and suffering, and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority.

Signs of the amalgamation of one to the other would have to include the Salman Rushdie case in all its ramifications; the formation of numerous writers’ parliaments and congresses devoted to such issues as intolerance, the dialogue of cultures, civil strife (as in Bosnia and Algeria), freedom of speech and censorship, truth and reconciliation (as in South Africa, Argentina, Ireland and elsewhere); and the special symbolic role of the writer as an intellectual testifying to a country’s or region’s experience, thereby giving that experience a public identity forever inscribed in the global discursive agenda.

The easiest way of demonstrating this is simply to list the names of some (but by no means all) recent Nobel Prize winners, then to allow each name to trigger in the mind an emblematized region, which in turn can be seen as a sort of platform or jumping-off point for that writer’s subsequent activity as an intervention, in debates taking place very far from the world of literature. Thus Nadine Gordimer, Kenzaburo Oe, Derek_Walcott Derek Walcott, Wole Soyinka , Gabriel García Márquez , Octavio_Paz , Elie Wiesel, Bertrand Russell, Günter Grass, Rigoberta Menchú, among several others.

Now it is also true, as Pascale Casanova has brilliantly shown in her synoptic book La République mondiale des lettres, that, fashioned over the past 150 years, there seems to be a global system of literature now in place, complete with its own order of literariness (littérarité), tempo, canon, internationalism and market values. The efficiency of the system is that it seems to have generated the types of writers that she discusses as belonging to such different categories as assimilated, dissident and translated figures–all of them both individualized and classified in what she shows is a highly efficient, globalized, quasi-market system. The drift of her argument is to show that this powerful and all-pervasive system can go even as far as stimulating a kind of independence from itself, as in cases like Joyce and Beckett, writers whose language and orthography do not submit to the laws either of state or of system.

Much as I admire it, however, the overall achievement of Casanova’s book is nevertheless contradictory. She seems to be saying that literature as globalized system has a kind of integral autonomy to it that places it in large measure just beyond the gross realities of political institutions and discourse, a notion that has a certain theoretical plausibility to it when she puts it in the form of un espace littéraire internationale, with its own laws of interpretation, its own dialectic of individual work and ensemble, its own problematics of nationalism and national languages. But she doesn’t go as far as Adorno in saying, as I would too, that one of the hallmarks of modernity is how, at a very deep level, the aesthetic and the social need to be kept in a state of irreconcilable tension. Nor does she spend enough time discussing the ways in which the literary, or the writer, is still implicated–indeed frequently mobilized for use–in the great post-cold war cultural contests of the world’s altered political configurations.

Looked at from that perspective, for example, the debate about Salman Rushdie was never really about the literary attributes of The Satanic Verses but rather about whether there could be a literary treatment of a religious topic that did not also touch on religious passions in a very, indeed in an exacerbated, public way. I don’t think that such a possibility existed, since from the very moment the fatwa was released to the world by Ayatollah Khomeini, the novel, its author and its readers were all deposited squarely inside an environment that allowed no room for anything but politicized intellectual debate about such socio religious issues as blasphemy, secular dissent and extraterritorial threats of assassination. Even to assert that Rushdie’s freedom of expression as a novelist could not be abridged–as many of us from the Islamic world did assert–was in fact to debate the issue of the literary freedom to write within a discourse that had already swallowed up and occupied (in the geographical sense) literature’s apartness entirely.

In that wider setting, then, the basic distinction between writers and intellectuals need not be made. Insofar as they both act in the new public sphere dominated by globalization (and assumed to exist even by adherents of the Khomeini fatwa), their public role as writers and intellectuals can be discussed and analyzed together. Another way of putting it is to say that we should concentrate on what writers and intellectuals have in common as they intervene in the public sphere.

First we need to take note of the technical characteristics of intellectual intervention today. To get a dramatically vivid grasp of the speed to which communication has accelerated in the past decade, I’d like to contrast Jonathan Swift’s awareness of effective public intervention in the early eighteenth century with ours. Swift was surely the most devastating pamphleteer of his time, and during his campaign against the Duke of Marlborough in 1711-12 was able to get 11,000 copies of his pamphlet The Conduct of the Allies onto the streets in two months. This brought the Duke down from his high eminence but nevertheless did not change Swift’s pessimistic impression (dating back to A Tale of a Tub, 1704) that his writing was basically temporary, good only for the short time that it circulated. He had in mind, of course, the running quarrel between ancients and moderns, in which venerable writers like Homer and Horace had the advantage over modern figures like Dryden by virtue of their age and the authenticity of their views of great longevity, even permanence.

In the age of electronic media such considerations are mostly irrelevant, since anyone with a computer and decent Internet access is capable of reaching numbers of people quantum times more than Swift did, and can also look forward to the preservation of what is written beyond any conceivable measure. Our ideas today of discourse and archives must be radically modified and can no longer be defined as Foucault painstakingly tried to describe them a mere two decades ago. Even if one writes for a newspaper or journal, the chances of digital reproduction and (notionally at least) an unlimited time of preservation have wreaked havoc on the idea of an actual, as opposed to a virtual, audience. These things have certainly limited the powers that regimes have to censor or ban writing that is considered dangerous, although there are fairly crude means for stopping or curtailing the libertarian function of online print. Until only very recently Saudi Arabia and Syria, for example, successfully banned the Internet and even satellite television. Both countries now tolerate limited access to the Internet, although both have also installed sophisticated and, in the long run, prohibitively expensive interdictory processes to maintain their control.

As things stand, an article I might write in New York for a British paper has a good chance of reappearing on individual websites or via e-mail on screens in the United States, Japan, Pakistan, the Middle East and South Africa as well as Australia. Authors and publishers have very little control over what is reprinted and recirculated. I am constantly surprised (and don’t know whether to be angry or flattered) when something that I wrote or said in one place turns up with scarcely a delay halfway around the world. For whom then does one write, if it is difficult to specify the audience with any sort of precision? Most people, I think, focus on the actual outlet that has commissioned the piece or on the putative readers we would like to address. The idea of an imagined community has suddenly acquired a very literal, if virtual, dimension. Certainly, as I experienced when I began ten years ago to write in an Arabic publication for an audience of Arabs, one attempts to create, shape, refer to a constituency. This is requisite now much more than during Swift’s time, when he could quite naturally assume that the persona he called a Church of England man was in fact his real, very stable and quite small audience.

All of us should therefore operate today with some notion of very probably reaching much larger audiences than any we could conceive of even a decade ago, although the chances of retaining that audience are by the same token quite chancy. This is not simply a matter of optimism of the will: It is in the very nature of writing today. This makes it very difficult for writers to take common assumptions between them and their audiences for granted, or to assume that references and allusions are going to be understood immediately. But writing in this expanded new space strangely does have a further and unusually risky consequence: being encouraged to say things that are either completely opaque or completely transparent (and if one has any sense of intellectual and political vocation, it should of course be the latter rather than the former).

On one side, a half-dozen enormous multinationals presided over by a handful of men control most of the world’s supply of images and news. On the other, there are the independent intellectuals who actually form an incipient community, physically separated from each other but connected variously to a great number of activist communities shunned by the main media but who have at their disposal other kinds of what Swift sarcastically called oratorical machines. Think of what an impressive range of opportunities is offered by the lecture platform, the pamphlet, radio, alternative journals, the interview form, the rally, church pulpit and the Internet, to name only a few. True, it is a considerable disadvantage to realize that one is unlikely to get asked onto the PBS NewsHour or ABC Nightline, or if one is in fact asked, that only an isolated fugitive minute will be offered. But then other occasions present themselves, not in the soundbite format but rather in more extended stretches of time.

So, rapidity is a double-edged weapon. There is the rapidity of the sloganeeringly reductive style that is the main feature of “expert” discourse–to-the-point, fast, formulaic, pragmatic in appearance–and there is the rapidity of response and expandable format that intellectuals and indeed most citizens can exploit in order to present fuller, more complete expressions of an alternative point of view. I am suggesting that by taking advantage of what is available in the form of numerous platforms (or stages-itinerant, another Swiftian term), an intellectual’s alert and creative willingness to exploit them (that is, platforms that either aren’t available to or are shunned by the television personality, expert or political candidate) creates the possibility of initiating wider discussion.

The emancipatory potential–and the threats to it–of this new situation mustn’t be underestimated. Let me give a very powerful example of what I mean. There are about 4 million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world, a significant number of whom live in large refugee camps in Lebanon (where the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres took place), Jordan, Syria and in Gaza and the West Bank. In 1999 an enterprising group of young and educated refugees living in Dheisheh camp, near Bethlehem on the West Bank, established the Ibdaa Center, whose main feature was the Across Borders project; this was a revolutionary way, through computer terminals, of connecting refugees in most of the main camps, separated geographically and politically by impossibly difficult barriers, to one another.

For the first time since their parents were dispersed in 1948, second-generation Palestinian refugees in Beirut or Amman could communicate with their counterparts inside Palestine. Some of what the participants in the project did was quite remarkable. Thus when Israeli closures were relaxed somewhat the Dheisheh residents went on visits to their former villages in Palestine, and then described their emotions and what they saw for the benefit of other refugees who had heard of but could not have access to these places. In a matter of weeks a remarkable solidarity emerged at a time when, it turned out, the so-called final-status negotiations between the PLO and Israel were beginning to take up the question of refugees and return, which along with the question of Jerusalem made up the intransigent core of the stalemated peace process. For some Palestinian refugees, therefore, their presence and political will was actualized for the first time, giving them a new status qualitatively different from the passive objecthood that had been their fate for half a century.

On August 26, 2000, all the computers in Dheisheh were destroyed in an act of political vandalism that left no one in doubt that refugees were meant to remain refugees, which is to say that they were not meant to disturb the status quo that had assumed their silence for so long. It wouldn’t be hard to list the possible suspects, but it is hard to imagine that anyone will ever be named or apprehended. In any case, the Dheisheh camp-dwellers immediately set about trying to restore the IbdaaCenter, and seem to some degree to have succeeded. To answer the question “why” individuals and groups prefer writing and speaking to silence is equivalent to specifying what the intellectual and writer confront in the public sphere. The existence of individuals or groups seeking social justice and economic equality–and who understand, in Amartya Sen’s formulation, that freedom must include the right to a whole range of choices affording cultural, political, intellectual and economic development–ipso facto will lead to a desire for articulation rather than silence. It almost goes without saying that for the American intellectual the responsibility is greater, the openings numerous, the challenge very difficult. The United States, after all, is the only global power; it intervenes nearly everywhere, and its resources for domination are very great, although far from infinite.

The intellectual’s role generally is to uncover and elucidate the contest, to challenge and defeat both an imposed silence and the normalized quiet of unseen power, wherever and whenever possible. For there is a social and intellectual equivalence between this mass of overbearing collective interests and the discourse used to justify, disguise or mystify its workings while at the same time preventing objections or challenges to it. In this day, and almost universally, phrases such as “the free market,” “privatization,” “less government” and others like them have become the orthodoxy of globalization, its counterfeit universals. They are staples of the dominant discourse, designed to create consent and tacit approval. From that nexus emanate such ideological confections as “the West,” the “clash of civilizations,” “traditional values” and “identity” (perhaps the most overused phrases in the global lexicon today). All these are deployed not as they sometimes seem to be–as instigations for debate–but quite the opposite, to stifle, pre-empt and crush dissent whenever the false universals face resistance or questioning.

The main goal of this dominant discourse is to fashion the merciless logic of corporate profit-making and political power into a normal state of affairs. Behind the Punch and Judy show of energetic debate concerning the West and Islam, for example, all manner of antidemocratic, sanctimonious and alienating devices (the theory of the Great Satan or of the rogue state and terrorism) are in place as diversions from the social and economic disentitlements occurring in reality. In one place, Hashemi Rafsanjani exhorts the Iranian Parliament to greater degrees of Islamization as a defense against America; in the other, Bush, Blair and their feeble partners prepare their citizens for an indeterminate war against Islamic terrorism, rogue states and the rest. Realism and its close associate, pragmatism, are mobilized from their real philosophical context in the work of Peirce, Dewey and James, and put to forced labor in the boardroom where, as Gore Vidal has put it, the real decisions about government and presidential candidates are made. Much as one is for elections, it is also a bitter truth that elections do not automatically produce democracy or democratic results. Ask any Floridian.

The intellectual can offer instead a dispassionate account of how identity, tradition and the nation are constructed entities, most often in the insidious form of binary oppositions that are inevitably expressed as hostile attitudes to the Other. Pierre Bourdieu and his associates have very interestingly suggested that Clinton-Blair neoliberalism, which built on the conservative dismantling of the great social achievements (in health, education, labor, social security) of the welfare state during the Thatcher-Reagan period, has constructed a paradoxical doxa, a symbolic counterrevolution that includes the kind of national self-glorification I’ve just mentioned. This, Bourdieu says, is conservative but presents itself as progressive; it seeks the restoration of the past order in some of its most archaic aspects (especially as regards economic relations), yet it passes off regressions, reversals, surrenders, as forward-looking reforms or revolutions leading to a whole new age of abundance and liberty (as with the language of the so-called new economy and the celebratory discourse around network firms and the internet).

As a reminder of the damage this reversal has already done, Bourdieu and his colleagues produced a collective work titled La misère du monde (translated in 1999 as The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society), whose aim was to compel the politicians’ attention to what in French society the misleading optimism of the public rhetoric had hidden. This kind of book therefore plays a sort of negative intellectual role, whose aim is, to quote Bourdieu again, “to produce and disseminate instruments of defense against symbolic domination which increasingly relies on the authority of science”–or on expertise or appeals to national unity, pride, history and tradition–to bludgeon people into submission.

Obviously India and Brazil are different from Britain and the United States; but the often striking disparities in cultures and economies shouldn’t obscure the even more startling similarities that can be seen in some of the techniques, and very often the aim, of deprivation and repression that compel people to follow along meekly. I should also add that one needn’t always present an abstruse and detailed theory of justice to go to war intellectually against injustice, since there is now a well-stocked international storehouse of conventions, protocols, resolutions and charters for national authorities to comply with, if they are so inclined. And in the same context I would have thought it almost moronic to take an ultrapostmodern position (like Richard Rorty while shadowboxing with some vague thing he refers to contemptuously as “the academic Left”) and say–when confronting ethnic cleansing, or genocide as it is occurring today in Iraq, or any of the evils of torture, censorship, famine, ignorance (most of them constructed by humans, not by acts of God)–that human rights are “cultural things,” so that when they are violated they do not really have the status accorded them by such crude foundationalists as myself, for whom they are as real as anything else we can encounter.

All intellectuals carry around some working understanding or sketch of the global system (in large measure thanks to world and regional historians like Immanuel Wallerstein, Anouar Abdel-Malek, J.M. Blaut, Janet Abu-Lughod, Peter Gran, Ali Mazrui, William McNeill); but it is during the direct encounters with it in one or another specific geography or configuration that the contests are waged (as in Seattle and Genoa) and perhaps even winnable. There is an admirable chronicle of the kind of thing I mean in the various essays of Bruce Robbins’s Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), Timothy Brennan’s At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (1997) and Neil Lazarus’s Nationalism and Cultural Practice in the Postcolonial World (1999), books whose self-consciously territorial and highly interwoven textures are in fact an adumbration of the critical (and combative) intellectual’s sense of the world we live in today, taken as episodes or even fragments of a broader picture, which their work and that of others is in the process of compiling.

What they suggest is a map of experiences that would have been indiscernible, perhaps invisible, two decades ago, but that in the aftermath of the classical empires, the end of the cold war, the crumbling of the socialist and nonaligned blocs, the emergent dialectics between North and South in the era of globalization, cannot be excluded either from cultural study or from the somewhat ethereal precincts of the humanistic disciplines.

I’ve mentioned a few names not just to indicate how significant I think their contributions have been but also to use them in order to leapfrog directly into some concrete areas of collective concern, where, to quote Bourdieu for the last time, there is the possibility of “collective invention.” He observes that the whole edifice of critical thought is thus in need of reconstruction. This work of reconstruction cannot be done, as some thought in the past, by a single great intellectual, a master-thinker endowed only with the resources of his singular thought, or by the authorized spokesperson for a group or an institution presumed to speak in the name of those without voice, union, party, and so on. This is where the collective intellectual [Bourdieu’s name for individuals the sum of whose research and participation on common subjects constitutes a sort of ad hoc collective] can play its irreplaceable role, by helping to create the social conditions for the collective production of realist utopias.

My reading of this is to stress the absence of any master plan or blueprint or grand theory for what intellectuals can do, and the absence now of any utopian teleology toward which human history can be described as moving. Therefore, one invents–in the literal use of the Latin word inventio, employed by rhetoricians to stress finding again or reassembling from past performances, as opposed to the romantic use of invention as something you create from scratch–goals abductively, that is, hypothesizes a better situation from the known historical and social facts.

So in effect this enables intellectual performances on many fronts, in many places, many styles, that keep in play both the sense of opposition and the sense of engaged participation. Hence, film, photography and even music, along with all the arts of writing, can be aspects of this activity. Part of what we do as intellectuals is not only to define the situation but also to discern the possibilities for active intervention, whether we then perform them ourselves or acknowledge them in others who have either gone before or are already at work, the intellectual as lookout. Provincialism of the old kind–e.g., I am a literary specialist whose field is early-seventeenth-century England–rules itself out and, quite frankly, seems uninteresting and needlessly neutered. The assumption has to be that even though one can’t do or know everything, it must always be possible to discern the elements of a struggle or tension or problem near at hand that can be elucidated dialectically, and also to sense that other people have a similar stake and work in a common project.

I have found a brilliantly inspiring parallel for what I mean in Adam Phillips’s recent book Darwin’s Worms, in which Darwin’s lifelong attention to the lowly earthworm revealed its capacity for expressing nature’s variability and design without necessarily seeing the whole of either one or the other, thereby in his work on earthworms replacing “a creation myth with a secular maintenance myth.” Is there some nontrivial way of generalizing about where and in what form such struggles are taking place now? I shall limit myself to saying a little about only three, each of which is profoundly amenable to intellectual intervention and elaboration.

The first is to protect against and forestall the disappearance of the past, which in the rapidity of change, the reformulation of tradition and the construction of simplified bowdlerizations of history is at the very heart of the contest described by Benjamin Barber (though rather too sweepingly) as “Jihad versus McWorld.”

The intellectual’s role is first to present alternative narratives and other perspectives on history than those provided by the combatants on behalf of official memory and national identity–who tend to work in terms of falsified unities, the manipulation of demonized or distorted representations of undesirable and/or excluded populations, and the propagation of heroic anthems sung in order to sweep all before them. At least since Nietzsche, the writing of history and the accumulations of memory have been regarded in many ways as one of the essential foundations of power, guiding its strategies and charting its progress.

Look, for example, at the appalling exploitation of past suffering described in their accounts of the uses of the Holocaust by Tom Segev, Peter Novick and Norman Finkelstein or, just to stay within the area of historical restitution and reparation, the invidious disfiguring, dismembering and disremembering of significant historical experiences that do not have powerful enough lobbies in the present and therefore merit dismissal or belittlement. The need now is for deintoxicated, sober histories that make evident the multiplicity and complexity of history without allowing one to conclude that it moves forward impersonally according only to laws determined either by the divine or by the powerful.

Second is to construct fields of coexistence rather than fields of battle as the outcome of intellectual labor. There are great lessons to be learned from decolonization; first, that, noble as its liberatory aims were, it did not often enough prevent the emergence of repressive nationalist replacements for colonial regimes; second, that the process itself was almost immediately captured by the cold war, despite the nonaligned movement’s rhetorical efforts; and thirdly, that it has been miniaturized and even trivialized by a small academic industry that has simply turned it into an ambiguous contest among ambivalent opponents.

Third, in the various contests over justice and human rights that so many of us feel we have joined, there needs to be a component to our engagement that stresses the need for the redistribution of resources and that advocates the theoretical imperative against the huge accumulations of power and capital that so distort human life. Peace cannot exist without equality: This is an intellectual value desperately in need of reiteration, demonstration and reinforcement. The seduction of the word itself–peace–is that it is surrounded by, indeed drenched in, the blandishments of approval, uncontroversial eulogizing, sentimental endorsement.

The international media (as has been the case recently with the sanctioned wars in Iraq and Kosovo) uncritically amplify, ornament, unquestioningly transmit all this to vast audiences for whom peace and war are spectacles for delectation and immediate consumption. It takes a good deal more courage, work and knowledge to dissolve words like “war” and “peace” into their elements, recovering what has been left out of peace processes that have been determined by the powerful, and then placing that missing actuality back in the center of things, than it does to write prescriptive articles for “liberals,” à la Michael Ignatieff, that urge more destruction and death for distant civilians. The intellectual can be perhaps a kind of countermemory, putting forth its own counterdiscourse that will not allow conscience to look away or fall asleep. The best corrective is, as Dr. Johnson said, to imagine the person whom you are discussing–in this case the person on whom the bombs will fall–reading you in your presence.

Still, just as history is never over or complete, it is also the case that some dialectical oppositions are not reconcilable, not transcendable, not really capable of being folded into a sort of higher, undoubtedly more noble, synthesis. The example closest to home for me is the struggle over Palestine, which, I have always believed, cannot really be simply resolved by a technical and ultimately janitorial rearrangement of geography allowing dispossessed Palestinians the right (such as it is) to live in about 20 percent of their land, which would be encircled by and totally dependent on Israel.

Nor, on the other hand, would it be morally acceptable to demand that Israelis should retreat from the whole of former Palestine, now Israel, becoming refugees like Palestinians all over again. No matter how I have searched for a resolution to this impasse, I cannot find one, for this is not a facile case of right versus right. It cannot be right ever to deprive an entire people of their land and heritage or to stifle and slaughter them, as Israel has been doing for the thirty-four years of its occupation. But the Jews too are what I have called a community of suffering, and brought with them a heritage of great tragedy. Yet unlike Zeev Sternhell, I cannot agree that the conquest of Palestine was a necessary conquest–the notion offends the sense of real Palestinian pain, in its own way also tragic.

Overlapping yet irreconcilable experiences demand from the intellectual the courage to say what is before us, in almost exactly the way Adorno, throughout his work on music, insisted that modern music can never be reconciled with the society that produced it; but in its intensely and often despairingly crafted form and content, music can act as a silent witness to the inhumanity all around. Any assimilation of individual musical work to its social setting is, says Adorno, false. I conclude with the thought that the intellectual’s provisional home is the domain of an exigent, resistant, intransigent art into which, alas, one can neither retreat nor search for solutions. But only in that precarious exilic realm can one first truly grasp the difficulty of what cannot be grasped, and then go forth to try anyway.

Full text of Xinhua’s exclusive interview with President Putin

Full text of Xinhua’s exclusive interview with President Putin
June 23, 2016 
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 23 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an hour-long exclusive interview with Xinhua President Cai Mingzhao ahead of his upcoming visit to China, elaborated his views on bilateral ties, China-Russia trade, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and international cooperation, among other issues.  The following is the full text of Xinhua’s exclusive interview with Putin:
Cai: Honorable President Putin, it is my great pleasure to have an exclusive interview with you here in your beautiful hometown St.Petersburg, ahead of your once-again visit to China. Please allow me to express our respect to you on behalf of Xinhua News Agency.

Putin: Thanks.

Cai: Thanks to the joint efforts made by Chinese President Xi Jinping and you, the China-Russia relationship is currently at its best in history. I believe that today’s interview will also be conducive to our bilateral relations. Shall we start the interview please?

Putin: Yes, please.

Cai: According to our calculation, President Xi had five meetings with you last year. And you are visiting China again very soon. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has been deepened thanks to the joint efforts made by President Xi and you.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, as well as 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination. What in your opinion are the highlights of China-Russia ties? What are their future prospects? What do you expect from this visit?

Putin: You said our bilateral relations are standing at a very high level, which is your comment on our bilateral ties. Here I want to remind Xinhua readers of two historical junctures:

Twenty years ago, we announced a new type of relations — a strategic partnership; 15 years ago we signed the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. As a lot of work has been done since then, trust between Russia and China has reached an unprecedented level and laid a solid foundation for bilateral cooperation.

Since it is a level that probably has never been reached in our relationship in the past, it is very hard for our experts to define today’s common cause that binds our two countries together. In fact, it is not enough now to simply call it a strategic coordination. Therefore, we started to call it “a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.” The word “comprehensive” means that we are cooperating on almost all vital areas, and “strategic” demonstrates the prime importance we are attaching to our relationship.

You mentioned the coordination between President Xi and me. Indeed, the work between us, the work at our level, serves without doubt as an engine for the development of bilateral relations. We are currently discussing together some basic issues in our cooperative strategy. President Xi himself values a lot the development of Russia-China relations. He is a very good friend and reliable partner.

However, the smooth growth of Russia-China ties can not merely depend on our efforts. It calls for further improving the working mechanism between the governments of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. The heads of government of our two countries meet on a regular basis. More than 20 sub-commissions and intergovernmental commissions have been set up — I believe there are 26 sub-commissions in fact. People in these commissions are working diligently and efficiently. Although the two countries are still far from being able to swiftly reach consensus on every complicated problem, we always share the common goal of pushing forward our cooperation no matter how complex the issues are. So we always find a solution.

The difficulties that the global economy is going through are widely known. They are also reflected in the coordination between the two countries. For instance, the trade volume between Russia and China has declined a bit. But we believe it is merely a temporary downtick resulting from the current market prices of certain commodities and differences in exchange rates.

Meanwhile, actions have been taken to solve the major problems. To optimize the bilateral trade structure, we have taken some substantial actions.

I may not remember correctly and may need to check up, over the past year, Russian export of mechanical and technical products to China has grown significantly, by 44 percent. This means a lot to us. We have been negotiating this with the Chinese partners for years. I want to thank our friends for making this a reality, which makes it possible for us to gradually realize our goals in the most important direction. This is our common goal, which we have consensus with. We are going forward together in the direction that we need to go.

Therefore, the most important task in bilateral relations is bringing diversities and higher quality to trade relations, particularly boosting cooperation in high-tech areas.

We are also working together in the fields of space projects and aviation, notably with a joint research on wide-body airplanes and heavy-weight helicopters. We are jointly seeking solutions to ecological problems and continue to launch giant programs in the field of energy, including nuclear energy.

Cai: Russia has a lot of strength in these sectors.

Putin: Indeed, yes. Rosatom (Russian state-owned nuclear corporation) has a remarkable orderbook. The two reactor units at Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant have been operating for eight years and have been recognized for their performance. We are building two more reactor units and I don’t think we will stop there. We should expand our cooperation, not just building more nuclear power plants in China but also broaden our technological collaboration in this respect.

China is now gradually strengthening its presence in our energy market. Not only it’s one of the main shareholders of the Yamal LNG plant, an important liquefied natural gas mega-project, but also China bought 10 percent of the shares of the Siberian-Ural Petrochemical and Gas Company, one of the top chemical shareholding companies in Russia. We welcome such investment by China, not only because of capital inflows but also because it helps deepen our partnership.

On the famous Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway line, we are seeing very good progress, and we are expecting a speed of up to 400 km per hour at some segments. We are closely following the work on the projects, and it may very well be only the beginning of our broad cooperation in infrastructure.

Our cooperation in culture is also of great value, including the Chinese Year and Russia Year, held alternately in our two countries, the Sino-Russian Youth Friendship Exchange Year, the Russian and Chinese Language Year, the Tourism Year, etc. Some of these were proposed by Russia while others were initiated by China. All of them have been very successful and will undoubtedly promote the mutual trust between our two peoples. The importance of these activities is no less than that of mega energy projects like the “Power of Siberia,” by which I am referring to the eastern gas pipe project between Russia and China that supplies China with 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually. Apart from this, we have also had steady progress in cooperation on international and military affairs and on military technologies.

We usually discuss all these cooperation when President Xi and I meet. You know, my upcoming visit had packed schedules, very packed actually. So I expect to have friendly meetings with President Xi on a broad range of topics, with mutual trust, as we have always had.

Cai: Thank you. You mentioned the growth of economic and trade cooperation, and a lot of the mega cooperation projects, which are very encouraging. You have said many times that we should align the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China. China’s economic sector is following this closely. So specifically what do you suggest the two countries do in this respect? How can we leverage on the alignment of these development plans to promote the economic and trade cooperation between China and Russia?

Putin: What you’ve raised is an interesting topic. We know that President Xi Jinping put forward the Silk Road Economic Belt. We think that Xi’s proposal is very well-timed and appealing, and the initiative holds great potential as it aims to expand China’s cooperation with the world. China’s neighbors naturally come first in such cooperation, as the road, wherever it leads to eventually, first goes through the neighboring countries.

We are undertaking two negotiations: one is bilateral between Russia and China, and the other is between China and the EEU. Just recently, the five member countries of the EEU discussed relevant issues in Astana (the capital of Kazakhstan). We all agreed to develop our cooperation with China within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.

I have to be absolutely frank with you. Of course, we do have to take care of the interests of our producers. But we share the consensus that our fundamental approach to world economic development and our cooperation with China is to gradually eliminate the various barriers to our common cause of opening up. So I think what we can do at the first stage is to establish a free trade area.

We are realists. We are aware that it is impossible at the first stage to rule out exceptions and special cases, but we should be clear about where we want to go. Given that more and more countries in our region are enthusiastic about our cooperation, in order to achieve our aim, we shall try to create favorable conditions for what we call Eurasian cooperation, and we shall try to avoid establishing a closed economic and trade bloc.

Cai: Thank you. The 16th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is to be held in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. Established 15 years ago, the SCO, with both China and Russia as founding member states, has played an important role in boosting regional security and development. What’s your anticipation for the upcoming summit? And what do you think of the SCO mechanism?

Putin: The SCO, at its early days, set itself pretty low-profile goals. I want to say those goals were both important and pragmatic, which were aimed at addressing various kinds of problems in cooperation along the borders. However, whether they are easy or not, those issues were still no more than cooperation along the borders. But we are aware that those issues would have stayed unsolved for decades without sincerity and could be easily solved with enough sincerity. Whether those issues could be solved or not depends on a country’s internal situation and how it conducts itself on the world stage, to a great extent.

It was based on their utmost sincerity that Russia, China and other SCO member states achieved all of the pre-set goals in this area. Obviously, it is advisable for us not to abandon this mechanism and to cherish our achievements as well as the current development level of the inter-relations among all the SCO member states. As a matter of fact, we have begun to solve other problems through the SCO mechanism, starting with cooperation in a number of fields. Such cooperation is not only political but also involves infrastructure construction. We have also begun to discuss issues concerning security and drug trafficking, among others.

I will not say that we have achieved many magical results or that we have carried out a series of exemplary operations. But I will say the SCO has become a popular and attractive organization in the region. Many countries around the world have expressed willingness to join it.

At the SCO Ufa Summit last year, we decided to initiate the procedure of admitting India and Pakistan into the bloc. At the Tashkent summit, we will implement the decision and hold discussions on other countries’ willingness to participate in the work of the organization.

The expansion of the SCO’s functions and the increase in its member numbers, particularly the inclusion of those important countries mentioned above, have made it an authoritative and popular international organization in the region and the world at large.

As the international situation is complex and diverse, some countries might differ from others in terms of stance and opinion over certain international issues. Although their inclusion into the SCO might not offer solution to their disagreements, we will make efforts in paving the way for the settlement of those issues. We are full of expectations for that.

Cai: Thank you. Today the world faces many grave challenges, including a sluggish global economic recovery, instability and volatility in some regions, rampant terrorist activities, and environmental problems such as climate change. As two influential and responsible major countries, China and Russia are important forces in maintaining world peace and stability, especially under such challenging international situations. So, what additional efforts do you think China and Russia should make to maintain world peace and improve global governance?

Putin: As you know, coordination between Russia and China on the global stage is itself a stabilizing factor in international affairs.

Let’s recall Chinese President Xi Jinping’s address at the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. Please recall his words. He advocated for all controversial issues to be resolved in accordance with international law and through peaceful means only. President Xi also said China stands ready to aid poor countries, and even put forward specific measures accordingly. He is one of the few national leaders who are dedicated to international poverty reduction. It is these positions, instead of just geographic proximity, that unite us in international affairs.

Apart from our cooperation within the framework of the SCO, we have been cooperating with each other within the BRICS framework as well. Actually, we jointly created the BRICS mechanism. We also have active cooperation with each other at the United Nations.

In retrospect, it was my country, the then Soviet Union, that tried its best to help the People’s Republic of China secure its permanent seat at the UN Security Council, a respectable place where we always think China should be. Until today, we have always been very happy that this happened, as our two countries, in the language of diplomacy, have the same or very similar viewpoints in international affairs. Such alignment of our stances is also substantiated at the technical level. We have maintained contact regularly, and carried out consultations on global and regional affairs. We see each other as close allies, so of course we always listen to each other, by this I mean we keep in mind each other’s interests.

I believe that during my visit to the People’s Republic of China, our cooperation will continue to follow this spirit.

Cai: Thank you Mr. President. We sincerely look forward to your visit to China and wish you enormous success. I would also like to tell you that during your visit, Xinhua News Agency and Tass News Agency will sign a new cooperative agreement.

Putin: You have been a great help on this front. Thank you. In today’s world, the work of news reporting is no less important than that of diplomats.

Putin’s Historical Speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, 2007

Vladimir Putin’s Historical Speech at the
Munich Conference on Security Policy

The Washington Post,
Monday, February 12, 2007; 11:24 AM

Putin (in Russian): Thank you very much dear Madam Federal Chancellor, Mr Teltschik, ladies and gentlemen!

I am truly grateful to be invited to such a representative conference that has assembled politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more than 40 nations.

This conference’s structure allows me to avoid excessive politeness and the need to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms. This conference’s format will allow me to say what I really think about international security problems. And if my comments seem unduly polemical, pointed or inexact to our colleagues, then I would ask you not to get angry with me. After all, this is only a conference. And I hope that after the first two or three minutes of my speech Mr Teltschik will not turn on the red light over there.

Therefore. It is well known that international security comprises much more than issues relating to military and political stability. It involves the stability of the global economy, overcoming poverty, economic security and developing a dialogue between civilisations.

This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic principle that “security for one is security for all”. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.

These words remain topical today. Incidentally, the theme of our conference — global crises, global responsibility — exemplifies this.

Only two decades ago the world was ideologically and economically divided and it was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers that ensured global security.

This global stand-off pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the margins of the international community’s and the world’s agenda. And, just like any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I am referring to ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects of Cold War bloc thinking.

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place either.

The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn’t happened in world history?

However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

Incidentally, Russia – we – are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today’s – and precisely in today’s – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.

Along with this, what is happening in today’s world – and we just started to discuss this – is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.

And with which results?

Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished. Mr Teltschik mentioned this very gently. And no less people perish in these conflicts – even more are dying than before. Significantly more, significantly more!

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?

In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this — no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force’s dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats – though they were also well-known before – have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security.

And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly – changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions.

Madam Federal Chancellor already mentioned this. The combined GDP measured in purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – surpasses the cumulative GDP of the EU. And according to experts this gap will only increase in the future.

There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centres of global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and will strengthen multipolarity.

In connection with this the role of multilateral diplomacy is significantly increasing. The need for principles such as openness, transparency and predictability in politics is uncontested and the use of force should be a really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial systems of certain states.

However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other, dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are killing people – hundreds and thousands of civilians!

But at the same time the question arises of whether we should be indifferent and aloof to various internal conflicts inside countries, to authoritarian regimes, to tyrants, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? As a matter of fact, this was also at the centre of the question that our dear colleague Mr Lieberman asked the Federal Chancellor. If I correctly understood your question (addressing Mr Lieberman), then of course it is a serious one! Can we be indifferent observers in view of what is happening? I will try to answer your question as well: of course not.

But do we have the means to counter these threats? Certainly we do. It is sufficient to look at recent history. Did not our country have a peaceful transition to democracy? Indeed, we witnessed a peaceful transformation of the Soviet regime – a peaceful transformation! And what a regime! With what a number of weapons, including nuclear weapons! Why should we start bombing and shooting now at every available opportunity? Is it the case when without the threat of mutual destruction we do not have enough political culture, respect for democratic values and for the law?

I am convinced that the only mechanism that can make decisions about using military force as a last resort is the Charter of the United Nations. And in connection with this, either I did not understand what our colleague, the Italian Defence Minister, just said or what he said was inexact. In any case, I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. If he really does think so, then we have different points of view. Or I didn’t hear correctly. The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. When the UN will truly unite the forces of the international community and can really react to events in various countries, when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied. Along with this, it is necessary to make sure that international law have a universal character both in the conception and application of its norms.

And one must not forget that democratic political actions necessarily go along with discussion and a laborious decision-making process.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

The potential danger of the destabilisation of international relations is connected with obvious stagnation in the disarmament issue.

Russia supports the renewal of dialogue on this important question.

It is important to conserve the international legal framework relating to weapons destruction and therefore ensure continuity in the process of reducing nuclear weapons.

Together with the United States of America we agreed to reduce our nuclear strategic missile capabilities to up to 1700-2000 nuclear warheads by 31 December 2012. Russia intends to strictly fulfil the obligations it has taken on. We hope that our partners will also act in a transparent way and will refrain from laying aside a couple of hundred superfluous nuclear warheads for a rainy day. And if today the new American Defence Minister declares that the United States will not hide these superfluous weapons in warehouse or, as one might say, under a pillow or under the blanket, then I suggest that we all rise and greet this declaration standing. It would be a very important declaration.

Russia strictly adheres to and intends to further adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as the multilateral supervision regime for missile technologies. The principles incorporated in these documents are universal ones.

In connection with this I would like to recall that in the 1980s the USSR and the United States signed an agreement on destroying a whole range of small- and medium-range missiles but these documents do not have a universal character.

Today many other countries have these missiles, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and Israel. Many countries are working on these systems and plan to incorporate them as part of their weapons arsenals. And only the United States and Russia bear the responsibility to not create such weapons systems.
It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own security.

At the same time, it is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, destabilising high-tech weapons. Needless to say it refers to measures to prevent a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy ¿ it is a reality. In the middle of the 1980s our American partners were already able to intercept their own satellite.

In Russia¿s opinion, the militarisation of outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear era. And we have come forward more than once with initiatives designed to prevent the use of weapons in outer space.

Today I would like to tell you that we have prepared a project for an agreement on the prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. And in the near future it will be sent to our partners as an official proposal. Let’s work on this together.

Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do.

Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometres that really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem countries. And in the near future and prospects, this will not happen and is not even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean rocket to American territory through western Europe obviously contradicts the laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear.

And here in Germany I cannot help but mention the pitiable condition of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed in 1999. It took into account a new geopolitical reality, namely the elimination of the Warsaw bloc. Seven years have passed and only four states have ratified this document, including the Russian Federation.
NATO countries openly declared that they will not ratify this treaty, including the provisions on flank restrictions (on deploying a certain number of armed forces in the flank zones), until Russia removed its military bases from Georgia and Moldova. Our army is leaving Georgia, even according to an accelerated schedule. We resolved the problems we had with our Georgian colleagues, as everybody knows. There are still 1,500 servicemen in Moldova that are carrying out peacekeeping operations and protecting warehouses with ammunition left over from Soviet times. We constantly discuss this issue with Mr Solana and he knows our position. We are ready to further work in this direction.

But what is happening at the same time? Simultaneously the so-called flexible frontline American bases with up to five thousand men in each. It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all.

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us ¿ these walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and dismantle these new walls?

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

We are unequivocally in favour of strengthening the regime of non-proliferation. The present international legal principles allow us to develop technologies to manufacture nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And many countries with all good reasons want to create their own nuclear energy as a basis for their energy independence. But we also understand that these technologies can be quickly transformed into nuclear weapons.

This creates serious international tensions. The situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme acts as a clear example. And if the international community does not find a reasonable solution for resolving this conflict of interests, the world will continue to suffer similar, destabilising crises because there are more threshold countries than simply Iran. We both know this. We are going to constantly fight against the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Last year Russia put forward the initiative to establish international centres for the enrichment of uranium. We are open to the possibility that such centres not only be created in Russia, but also in other countries where there is a legitimate basis for using civil nuclear energy. Countries that want to develop their nuclear energy could guarantee that they will receive fuel through direct participation in these centres. And the centres would, of course, operate under strict IAEA supervision.

The latest initiatives put forward by American President George W. Bush are in conformity with the Russian proposals. I consider that Russia and the USA are objectively and equally interested in strengthening the regime of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their deployment. It is precisely our countries, with leading nuclear and missile capabilities, that must act as leaders in developing new, stricter non-proliferation measures. Russia is ready for such work. We are engaged in consultations with our American friends.

In general, we should talk about establishing a whole system of political incentives and economic stimuli whereby it would not be in states¿ interests to establish their own capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle but they would still have the opportunity to develop nuclear energy and strengthen their energy capabilities.

In connection with this I shall talk about international energy cooperation in more detail. Madam Federal Chancellor also spoke about this briefly – she mentioned, touched on this theme. In the energy sector Russia intends to create uniform market principles and transparent conditions for all. It is obvious that energy prices must be determined by the market instead of being the subject of political speculation, economic pressure or blackmail.
We are open to cooperation. Foreign companies participate in all our major energy projects. According to different estimates, up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia – and please think about this figure – up to 26 percent of the oil extraction in Russia is done by foreign capital. Try, try to find me a similar example where Russian business participates extensively in key economic sectors in western countries. Such examples do not exist! There are no such examples.

I would also recall the parity of foreign investments in Russia and those Russia makes abroad. The parity is about fifteen to one. And here you have an obvious example of the openness and stability of the Russian economy.
Economic security is the sector in which all must adhere to uniform principles. We are ready to compete fairly.
For that reason more and more opportunities are appearing in the Russian economy. Experts and our western partners are objectively evaluating these changes. As such, Russia’s OECD sovereign credit rating improved and Russia passed from the fourth to the third group. And today in Munich I would like to use this occasion to thank our German colleagues for their help in the above decision.

Furthermore. As you know, the process of Russia joining the WTO has reached its final stages. I would point out that during long, difficult talks we heard words about freedom of speech, free trade, and equal possibilities more than once but, for some reason, exclusively in reference to the Russian market.

And there is still one more important theme that directly affects global security. Today many talk about the struggle against poverty. What is actually happening in this sphere? On the one hand, financial resources are allocated for programmes to help the world’s poorest countries – and at times substantial financial resources. But to be honest — and many here also know this – linked with the development of that same donor country’s companies. And on the other hand, developed countries simultaneously keep their agricultural subsidies and limit some countries’ access to high-tech products.

And let’s say things as they are – one hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilisation.

It is obvious that the world’s leading countries should see this threat. And that they should therefore build a more democratic, fairer system of global economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the possibility to develop.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, speaking at the Conference on Security Policy, it is impossible not to mention the activities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As is well-known, this organisation was created to examine all – I shall emphasise this – all aspects of security: military, political, economic, humanitarian and, especially, the relations between these spheres.

What do we see happening today? We see that this balance is clearly destroyed. People are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE’s bureaucratic apparatus which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organisations are tailored for this task. These organisations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control.

According to the founding documents, in the humanitarian sphere the OSCE is designed to assist country members in observing international human rights norms at their request. This is an important task. We support this. But this does not mean interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and especially not imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop.

It is obvious that such interference does not promote the development of democratic states at all. On the contrary, it makes them dependent and, as a consequence, politically and economically unstable.

We expect that the OSCE be guided by its primary tasks and build relations with sovereign states based on respect, trust and transparency.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

In conclusion I would like to note the following. We very often – and personally, I very often – hear appeals by our partners, including our European partners, to the effect that Russia should play an increasingly active role in world affairs.

In connection with this I would allow myself to make one small remark. It is hardly necessary to incite us to do so. Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy.

We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.

Thank you for your attention.

Greece: Truth Committee on Public Debt – Preliminary Report

Truth Committee on Public Debt
 
Preliminary report
 
 
The Truth Committee on Public Debt (Debt Truth Committee) was established on April 4, 2015, by a decision of the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou, who confided the Scientific Coordination of its work to Dr. Eric Toussaint and the cooperation of the Committee with the European Parliament and other Parliaments and international organizations to MEP Ms Sofia Sakorafa.
 
Members of the Committee have convened in public and closed sessions, to produce this preliminary report, under the supervision of the scientific coordinator and with the cooperation and input of other members of the Committee, as well as experts and contributors.
 
The preliminary report chapters were coordinated by:
 
Bantekas Ilias
Contargyris Thanos
Fattorelli Maria Lucia
Husson Michel
Laskaridis Christina
Marchetos Spyros
Onaran Ozlem
Tombazos Stavros
Vatikiotis Leonidas
Vivien Renaud
 
With contributions from:
Aktypis Héraclès
Albarracin Daniel
Bonfond Olivier
Borja Diego
Cutillas Sergi
Gonçalves Alves Raphaël
Goutziomitros Fotis
Kasimatis Giorgos
Kazakos Aris
Lumina Cephas
Mitralias Sonia
Saurin Patrick
Sklias Pantelis
Spanou Despoina
Stromblos Nikos
Tzitzikou Sofia
 
The authors are grateful for the advice and input received from other members of the Truth Committee on Public Debt as well as other experts, who contributed to the Committee’s work during the public sessions and hearings and the closed or informal consultations.
 
The authors are grateful for the valuable assistance of Arnaoutis Petros Konstantinos, Aronis Charalambos, Bama Claudia, Karageorgiou Louiza, Makrygianni Antigoni and Papaioannou Stavros.
 
 
Executive Summary
 
In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroads of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programme began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until a few months ago no authority, Greek or international, had sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in the name of which nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.
 
There is an immediate democratic need and social responsibility to address a range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration. In response, the President of the Hellenic Parliament established the Truth Committee on Public Debt (Debt Truth Committee) in April 2015, mandating the investigation into the creation and the increase of public debt, the way and reasons for which debt was contracted, and the impact that the conditionalities attached to the loans have had on the economy and the population. The Truth Committee has a mandate to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Greek debt, both domestically and internationally, and to formulate arguments and options concerning the cancellation of the debt.
 
The research of the Committee presented in this preliminary report sheds light on the fact that the entire adjustment programme, to which Greece has been subjugated, was and remains a politically orientated programme. The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and debt projections, figures directly relating to people’s lives and livelihoods, has enabled discussions around the debt to remain at a technical level mainly revolving around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve its capacity to pay the debt back. The facts presented in this report challenge this argument.
 
All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
 
It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.
 
Bailout funds provided in both programmes of 2010 and 2012 have been externally managed through complicated schemes, preventing any fiscal autonomy. The use of the bailout money is strictly dictated by the creditors, and so, it is revealing that less than 10% of these funds have been destined to the government’s current expenditure.
 
This preliminary report presents a primary mapping out of the key problems and issues associated with the public debt, and notes key legal violations associated with the contracting of the debt; it also traces out the legal foundations, on which unilateral suspension of the debt payments can be based. The findings are presented in nine chapters structured as follows:
 
Chapter 1, Debt before the Troika, analyses the growth of the Greek public debt since the 1980s. It concludes that the increase in debt was not due to excessive public spending, which in fact remained lower than the public spending of other Eurozone countries, but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors, excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows, state recapitalization of private banks, and the international imbalances created via the flaws in the design of the Monetary Union itself. Adopting the euro led to a drastic increase of private debt in Greece to which major European private banks as well as the Greek banks were exposed. A growing banking crisis contributed to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. George Papandreou’s government helped to present the elements of a banking crisis as a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 by emphasizing and boosting the public deficit and debt.
 
Chapter 2, Evolution of Greek public debt during 2010-2015, concludes that the first loan agreement of 2010, aimed primarily to rescue the Greek and other European private banks, and to allow the banks to reduce their exposure to Greek government bonds.
 
Chapter 3, Greek public debt by creditor in 2015, presents the contentious nature of Greece’s current debt, delineating the loans’ key characteristics, which are further analysed in Chapter 8.
 
Chapter 4, Debt System Mechanism in Greece reveals the mechanisms devised by the agreements that were implemented since May 2010. They created a substantial amount of new debt to bilateral creditors and the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), whilst generating abusive costs thus deepening the crisis further. The mechanisms disclose how the majority of borrowed funds were transferred directly to financial institutions. Rather than benefitting Greece, they have accelerated the privatization process, through the use of financial instruments.
 
Chapter 5, Conditionalities against sustainability, presents how the creditors imposed intrusive conditionalities attached to the loan agreements, which led directly to the economic unviability and unsustainability of debt. These conditionalities, on which the creditors still insist, have not only contributed to lower GDP as well as higher public borrowing, hence a higher public debt/GDP making Greece’s debt more unsustainable, but also engineered dramatic changes in the society, and caused a humanitarian crisis. The Greek public debt can be considered as totally unsustainable at present.
 
Chapter 6, Impact of the “bailout programmes” on human rights, concludes that the measures implemented under the “bailout programmes” have directly affected living conditions of the people and violated human rights, which Greece and its partners are obliged to respect, protect and promote under domestic, regional and international law. The drastic adjustments, imposed on the Greek economy and society as a whole, have brought about a rapid deterioration of living standards, and remain incompatible with social justice, social cohesion, democracy and human rights.
 
Chapter 7, Legal issues surrounding the MoU and Loan Agreements, argues there has been a breach of human rights obligations on the part of Greece itself and the lenders, that is the Euro Area (Lender) Member States, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, who imposed these measures on Greece. All these actors failed to assess the human rights violations as an outcome of the policies they obliged Greece to pursue, and also directly violated the Greek constitution by effectively stripping Greece of most of its sovereign rights. The agreements contain abusive clauses, effectively coercing Greece to surrender significant aspects of its sovereignty. This is imprinted in the choice of the English law as governing law for those agreements, which facilitated the circumvention of the Greek Constitution and international human rights obligations. Conflicts with human rights and customary obligations, several indications of contracting parties acting in bad faith, which together with the unconscionable character of the agreements, render these agreements invalid.
 
Chapter 8, Assessment of the Debts as regards illegitimacy, odiousness, illegality, and unsustainability, provides an assessment of the Greek public debt according to the definitions regarding illegitimate, odious, illegal, and unsustainable debt adopted by the Committee.
 
Chapter 8 concludes that the Greek public debt as of June 2015 is unsustainable, since Greece is currently unable to service its debt without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations. Furthermore, for each creditor, the report provides evidence of indicative cases of illegal, illegitimate and odious debts.
 
Debt to the IMF should be considered illegal since its concession breached the IMF’s own statutes, and its conditions breached the Greek Constitution, international customary law, and treaties to which Greece is a party. It is also illegitimate, since conditions included policy prescriptions that infringed human rights obligations. Finally, it is odious since the IMF knew that the imposed measures were undemocratic, ineffective, and would lead to serious violations of socio-economic rights.
 
Debts to the ECB should be considered illegal since the ECB over-stepped its mandate by imposing the application of macroeconomic adjustment programmes (e.g. labour market deregulation) via its participation in the Troika. Debts to the ECB are also illegitimate and odious, since the principal raison d’etre of the Securities Market Programme (SMP) was to serve the  interests of the financial institutions, allowing the major European and Greek private banks to dispose of their Greek bonds.
 
The EFSF engages in cash-less loans which should be considered illegal because Article 122(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) was violated, and further they breach several socio-economic rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the EFSF Framework Agreement 2010 and the Master Financial Assistance Agreement of 2012 contain several abusive clauses revealing clear misconduct on the part of the lender. The EFSF also acts against democratic principles, rendering these particular debts illegitimate and odious.
 
The bilateral loans should be considered illegal since they violate the procedure provided by the Greek constitution. The loans involved clear misconduct by the lenders, and had conditions that contravened law or public policy. Both EU law and international law were breached in order to sideline human rights in the design of the macroeconomic programmes. The bilateral loans are furthermore illegitimate, since they were not used for the benefit of the population, but merely enabled the private creditors of Greece to be bailed out. Finally, the bilateral loans are odious since the lender states and the European Commission knew of potential violations, but in 2010 and 2012 avoided to assess the human rights impacts of the macroeconomic adjustment and fiscal consolidation that were the conditions for the loans.
 
The debt to private creditors should be considered illegal because private banks conducted themselves irresponsibly before the Troika came into being, failing to observe due diligence, while some private creditors such as hedge funds also acted in bad faith. Parts of the debts to private banks and hedge funds are illegitimate for the same reasons that they are illegal; furthermore, Greek banks were illegitimately recapitalized by tax-payers. Debts to private banks and hedge funds are odious, since major private creditors were aware that these debts were not incurred in the best interests of the population but rather for their own benefit. The report comes to a close with some practical considerations.
 
Chapter 9, Legal foundations for repudiation and suspension of the Greek sovereign debt, presents the options concerning the cancellation of debt, and especially the conditions under which a sovereign state can exercise the right to unilateral act of repudiation or suspension of the payment of debt under international law. Several legal arguments permit a State to unilaterally repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt. In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors, which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights. As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that augment the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselvesunilaterally insolvent where the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.
 
People’s dignity is worth more than illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable debt.
 
Having concluded its preliminary investigation, the Committee considers that Greece has been and still is the victim of an attack premeditated and organized by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. This violent, illegal, and immoral mission aimed exclusively at shifting private debt onto the public sector.
 
Making this preliminary report available to the Greek authorities and the Greek people, the Committee considers to have fulfilled the first part of its mission as defined in the decision of the President of the Hellenic Parliament of 4 April 2015. The Committee hopes that the report will be a useful tool for those who want to exit the destructive logic of austerity and stand up for what is endangered today: human rights, democracy, peoples’ dignity, and the future of generations to come.
 
In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, in the speech from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War).

Honor the Vietnamese, Not Those Who Killed Them

  • http://monthlyreview.org/2015/05/01/honor-the-vietnamese-not-those-who-killed-them/

    Michael D. Yates is Associate Editor of Monthly Review and Editorial Director of Monthly Review Press. He thanks John Bellamy Foster, John Marciano, Henry Giroux, and Elly Leary for helpful comments.

    Honor the Vietnamese, Not Those Who Killed Them

    by Michael D. Yates, May 2015

    In a letter to Vietnam War veteran Charles McDuff, Major General Franklin Davis, Jr. said, “The United States Army has never condoned wanton killing or disregard for human life.” McDuff had written a letter to President Richard Nixon in January 1971, telling him that he had witnessed U.S. soldiers abusing and killing Vietnamese civilians and informing him that many My Lais had taken place during the war.[1] He pleaded with Nixon to bring the killing to an end. The White House sent the letter to the general, and this was his reply.

    McDuff’s letter and Davis’s response are quoted in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, the most recent book to demonstrate beyond doubt that the general’s words were a lie.[2] Not only did the United States ravage Vietnam with unprecedented and murderous ferocity, committing war crimes in nearly every village, but this criminal conduct was official government policy. The United States prosecuted the war with a Frederick Taylor-like efficiency and an engineer’s impersonal input-output calculation, with maximum Vietnamese deaths as standard operating procedure.[3]

    In what follows, I use Turse’s work, along with several other books, articles, and films, as scaffolds from which to construct an analysis of how the war was conducted, what its consequences have been for the Vietnamese, how the nature of the war generated ferocious opposition to it (not least by a brave core of U.S. soldiers), how the war’s history has been whitewashed, and why it is important to both know what happened in Vietnam and why we should not forget it.

    McNamara’s Business Model of War

    Robert McNamara, President Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of defense, was the chief architect of the U.S. war strategy.[4] A logistics expert who streamlined Allied bombing runs during the Second World War, and later president of Ford Motor Company, McNamara believed that winning a war was simply a matter of setting a goal that would result in victory and then using the managerial techniques he had mastered to get the job done. The goal was to get the “kill ratio,” the proportion between enemy and U.S. dead, as high as possible, so that a “crossover point” was reached—that is, more enemy soldiers killed than could be replaced. Then, inevitably, the Vietnamese would no longer be able to resist the U.S. war machine, surrender, and sue for peace.

    A way to envision what McNamara did is to imagine the war in Vietnam in terms of a capitalist production process. Instead of the accumulation of money capital as the motor force of the system, substitute the accumulation of dead enemy bodies. The U.S. government, through its military, sought to maximize these. However, as McNamara and his superiors and generals knew, their enemy employed guerilla warfare, refusing to fight set battles, attacking and then disappearing into the rural landscape. U.S. troops could not easily distinguish soldiers from civilians. Every Vietnamese might be a soldier, even women and children. While no one would admit it, continuously increasing the kill ratio necessarily meant killing as many civilians as possible. And even if it were assumed that any given group of Vietnamese were civilians, the more of them murdered, the more enemy troops would be exposed, and the fewer replacements for those killed would be available.

    As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it in the context of the current “War on Terror,” the best way that the United States could combat the terrorists was “to drain the swamp they live in.”[5] Kill the noncombatants, and only the enemy soldiers will be left. They would no longer have a swamp in which to hide. From the beginning of the war, therefore, killing civilians was a U.S. policy that flowed directly from the goal of maximizing the kill ratio. Killing civilians violates the rules of engagement and is a war crime, so great pains were taken to disguise these as lives taken in battle, and Turse offers numerous examples of this. One common practice was to stage a dead civilian as a soldier by placing an enemy weapon nearby. However, this often was not necessary as commanding officers were almost always willing to simply take the word of a lieutenant or captain at the scene.

    Enemy dead minus U.S. dead (the kill ratio defined as a difference) is not the same as revenue minus cost (profits); it has to be monetized to keep the accumulation juggernaut rolling along. Monetization occurred through the auspices of the U.S. government, which we can think of as a gigantic firm with huge cash reserves and an unlimited line of credit, not just at home but around the world. Taxes could be increased, bonds could be sold, money could be printed, and—given the world’s use of the dollar as the primary reserve currency—payments deficits could be run indefinitely with just about any nation. Money would be provided until the war ended in victory.

    As any employer knows, the essence of management is control. Given the aim of a maximum kill ratio, every aspect of the production process had to be coordinated as finely as possible. Several kinds of control were important. First, there had to be enough workers (soldiers and support personnel). A virtually unlimited supply of soldiers was guaranteed through the draft. Young men whose families were well-situated and politically influential could avoid the draft through various means, so they would not likely be vocal opponents of the war, an assumption that later proved incorrect. Poor whites, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians were considered economically expendable and sending them off to war was a way to contain any discontent and agitation they might have exhibited at home.

    Once drafted, soldiers had to be taught to kill. It is not normal for one person to murder another, and there are powerful social taboos against doing so. Researchers had discovered that in nineteenth and twentieth-century wars, soldiers regularly failed to fire their rifles, or intentionally aimed to miss their targets. Military leaders responded to this by dramatically altering the methods used to train troops.[6] They sought to forge extreme group solidarity in two ways. First, drill instructors subjected new recruits to constant torment bordering on torture. If you deprive trainees of food and sleep, force them to make long marches under adverse conditions, punish them severely for any failure to obey orders no matter how ridiculous and demeaning, you break down their defenses and make them willing to do whatever you say, in other words forging them into a homogeneous mass, a unit that will act as one.[7] Not adhering to what any rational person would consider an insane regimen becomes unthinkable. Failure to do so marks you as a “sissy,” “fag,” “cunt,” or “girl,” and subjects you to physical and emotional torment from both superiors and comrades. Second, instructors then tied their charges’ misery to the evil intentions of subhuman foreigners, in the case of Vietnam, to the “gooks,” “slopes,” “slant eyes,” “yellow bastards,” and “the Cong.” Exhausted, angry, afraid, they gradually embrace the chants of “kill the gooks, kill the gooks.” By the time they got to the war zones, they were ready to kill, not for a noble cause but for their buddies and because those they were going to murder were no different than the animals they might have hunted back home. Is it any wonder that more than a few U.S. troops were willing to kill civilians? In a hostile country, hot, dirty, diseased from constant marches and firefights in jungle terrain, seeing their buddies blown to pieces, beginning to wonder why they were there, constantly pressured to keep their kills high and rewarded for doing so, they were not always averse to shooting people, torturing them, raping women, and generating as much violent mayhem as possible.[8]

    And lest we think that the rank-and-file soldiers were primarily to blame for the slaughter, their officers were too often bloodthirsty racist killers, seeing the war as the ticket to career advancement—Colin Powell, who helped cover up My Lai, is a case in point—and no doubt frequently believing that what they taught the grunts about the Vietnamese was true. As chief commanding officer William Westmoreland infamously said, “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner…. We value life and human dignity. They don’t care about life and human dignity.”[9] It was the officers who directed the soldiers; it was they who covered up the war crimes; it was they who devised the methods of torture employed in the field; and it was they who devised the evermore sadistic tactics that resulted in the orders to “kill anything that moves.”

    In addition to its own soldiers, the United States also employed troops (mercenaries, in effect) from South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, as well as civilian and quasi-military support personnel. It also paid for much of the military of South Vietnam, which while ostensibly independent, was in reality subject to U.S. control. All of these were onboard with the McNamara program, and some of them added their own unique talents to the killing. Psyops (psychological operations), the establishment of “strategic hamlets” to house those forced from their homes and farms, assassination campaigns, and torture techniques were employed by these personnel throughout the war.[10]

    A production process requires nonhuman inputs, what Marx calls constant capital. In Vietnam this mainly comprised weapons of mass destruction, from Claymore mines, tanks, helicopter gunships, battleships, and B-52 bombers to napalm, Agent Orange, white phosphorus, and other ingredients from the enormous U.S chemical arsenal. The United States had a virtually unlimited supply of these means of death, and it had a limitless willingness to employ them. Soldiers of all ranks were trained to utilize mass destruction machinery in every situation, even those where “collateral damage” to civilians was inevitable.

    So now, we have money capital (from the enormous funds of the U.S. government) transformed into capital in the form of labor power and constant capital. These were then combined on the battlefields as efficiently as possible, with a labor process controlled through the rigorous training of the soldiers and support personnel, who would do what they were told or would act automatically to make certain that the kill ratio was high and rising.

    Finally, the kill ratio had to be “sold” so that the accumulation of dead bodies could be expanded. This was not done, of course, in the traditional way of selling. Rather, it was sold through diligent and relentless propaganda, fed to the press, the general public, and the politicians who ultimately had to agree on continual funding. There was always “light at the end of the tunnel.” The United States was slowly but surely winning the “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese. The puppet governments the United States put in power in South Vietnam were committed to democracy and the people were flocking to their banners.

    To make these absurd claims plausible, all manner of lies had to be repeated to keep ugly truths from the light of day. The military and the state were adept at this. Few enlisted soldiers and almost no officers were prosecuted for the thousands of war crimes they committed. Those that were received minimal sentences. And no matter how dramatic the horrors that did get investigated and published, such as the mass murder at My Lai, the government was able to contain the damage by waiting for the certain waning of public interest and outrage, while trotting out the argument that such horrendous events were rare and the work of “a few bad apples.”

    Thus, the capital expended in the production of corpses was repeatedly monetized and the accumulation of capital proceeded apace.

    Judged by the carnage, McNamara’s war by “scientific management” was a great success. Turse sums up what U.S. forces did: “Murder, torture, rape, abuse, forced displacement, home burnings, specious arrests, imprisonment without due process—such occurrences were virtually a daily fact of life throughout the years of the American presence in Vietnam.”[11] He gives hundreds of examples, enough to convince us that these barbarous acts were official policy. Turse also made tours of the Vietnamese countryside and found that in every village, no matter how small and isolated, peasants had constructed memorials with the names of dead villagers, many victims of unreported, routine atrocities.

    Turse also gives several accounts of colonels and generals who monomaniacally pursued high kill ratios by whatever means possible. In February 1968, General Julian Ewell gained command of the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a densely populated area of more than 5 million people. Ewell and his subordinate, Colonel Ira Hunt, proceeded to go “berserk,” directing the killing of so many civilians that he won the nickname “Butcher of the Delta.” The 9th Infantry Division he commanded had been averaging a kill ratio of about nine, that is, nine dead enemy for every U.S. soldier killed. Spurred on by the government’s Operation Speedy Express—set in motion because President Johnson and his war planners wanted the Delta under the control of the South Vietnamese government pending upcoming peace talks with North Vietnam—as well as his own psychosis, Ewell initiated a reign of terror. Fourteen months later, the kill ratio was an astonishing 134. Given the way the Vietnamese liberation forces fought, refusing to engage in large-scale battles, nearly all of the dead had to be civilians.

    The Toll of the War on the Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians

    While it is important to provide verifiable evidence of the war crimes the United States committed in Vietnam, it is also useful to supply data on the overall tolls of death, injury, and social and ecological ruin heaped upon the Vietnamese and their country. The following summary data, which include damage done to Cambodia and Laos, countries to which the war spread as a result of secret U.S. bombing campaigns, still have the power to shock:[12]

  • As many as 1.7 million revolutionary forces were killed.
  • About a quarter-million South Vietnamese soldiers were killed.
  • More than 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians died, mainly victims of U.S. bombing raids, which targeted factories, hospitals, schools, and dikes, more or less indiscriminately killing people.
  • At least 4 million Vietnamese died as a direct result of the war, which means that at least 2 million civilians perished at the hands of U.S. forces and their mercenary brethren. When the war commenced in earnest in the 1960s, Vietnam’s population was 19 million. An incredible 21 percent of this population therefore perished. In 1960 the U.S. population was about 180 million. Imagine a war that killed nearly 38 million Americans.
  • Turse’s sources estimate the extent of civilian wounded as follows: “A brief accounting shows 8,000 to 16,000 South Vietnamese paraplegics; 30,000 to 60,000 South Vietnamese left blind; and some 83,000 to 166,000 South Vietnamese amputees.” Total civilian wounded were at least 5.3 million.[13]
  • More bombs were dropped on Vietnam than by all sides in all previous wars throughout history, and three times more than by all sides in the Second World War.
  • 19 million gallons of herbicide poisoned the land.
  • 9,000 of 15,000 hamlets were destroyed in South Vietnam.
  • In the North, all six industrial cities were devastated; twenty-eight of thirty provincial towns, and 96 of 116 district towns, were leveled by bombing.
  • The United States threatened to use nuclear weapons thirteen times. Nixon chided his national security advisor and soon-to-be secretary of state Henry Kissinger for being too squeamish about this and the massive bombing of the North Nixon ordered in 1972. Nixon said he, himself, just did not give a damn.[14]
  • After the war, unexploded bombs and mines permeated the landscape and took an additional 42,000 lives. Millions of acres have still not been cleared of live ordnance.
  • Agent Orange and other defoliants have caused severe health problems for millions of Vietnamese.
  • Nearly all of Vietnam’s triple canopy forests were destroyed.
  • 3 million tons of ordnance struck 100,000 sites during the “secret” war in Cambodia, causing widespread social dislocation, destruction of crops, and starvation. The U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia was directly responsible for the rise of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot and the genocide that took place afterward (The United States actually sided with Pol Pot when Vietnamese troops finally ended his reign of terror).
  • 2,756,941 tons of ordnance were dropped in Laos on 113,716 sites. Much of the Laotian landscape was blown to bits.
  • The Fatal Flaws in McNamara’s Business of War Model

    Yet, despite the carnage, the revolutionaries continued their fight for freedom, year after year, ultimately defeating the United States as they had done the French in the years following the Second World War. What went wrong with McNamara’s invincible plan? The most important flaw in it was the failure to conceptualize his grand production scheme in terms of social relationships, not just in the “workplace” but in the larger societies of Vietnam and the United States. The Vietnamese had a thousand-year history of resisting oppression by other nations and empires; they took a long view of life and were willing to sacrifice themselves in larger numbers than the United States imagined possible to secure their independence. As Francis Fitzgerald noted in Fire in the Lake, those who prosecuted the war knew precious little about Vietnamese history, culture, and language.[15]

    No folly could have been greater than believing that kill ratios were all that mattered. The war occurred during a period of a worldwide anti-imperialist struggle, providing the revolutionaries with needed moral support, even from millions of protesters in most of the rich capitalist countries. In the United States, a majority supported the war until the late 1960s, but a vibrant antiwar movement developed, often spearheaded by the middle-class youth who had avoided the draft. The Soviet Union and some other countries gave material aid to the Vietnamese revolutionaries. The United States could not risk the possible consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, given that its Cold War foe was well-armed with them.

    Inside the war “workplace,” contradictions abounded. Just as workers bear grievances against their bosses, grievances that sometimes led to collective action, rank-and-file soldiers came into conflict with their commanding officers. Black conscripts, influenced by the civil rights movement at home, including the rise of the anti-imperialist Black Panther Party—which specifically tied the imperialism underlying the war to the racism perpetrated by white America—began to question why they were fighting against non-white men and women waging a war of national liberation when they needed to free themselves from racist repression.[16] Some soldiers recoiled at the wanton violence they saw perpetrated by a military claiming to be fighting so that the Vietnamese were free to establish democracy.[17] GIs were not unaware of the protests at home or the hypocrisy of U.S. politicians and the corruption of the South Vietnamese military and government. The culture of the 1960s found fertile ground as well, and drug use became commonplace, if for no other reason than to escape the boredom and horror that was daily life in the field.

    As the war dragged on, morale plunged, and few wanted to risk their lives for nothing, especially as they got close to the end of their one-year tour of duty. Soldiers began to refuse orders to fight, and it was not altogether uncommon for soldiers to murder (“frag”) their officers. The astounding 1971 report of Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr. is instructive. He said:

    The morale, discipline and battle worthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States.

    By every conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous.[18]

    And he goes on to provide a remarkably large number of examples: fragging (in one division such incidents were occurring at a rate of one per week in 1971), bounties for the killing of officers, mass refusals to obey orders or even report for combat, refusal to wear uniforms, open agitation on military bases against the war, lawsuits against officers, widespread addiction to heroin, and desertion (sometimes involving joining the enemy forces). The absolute control necessary for McNamara’s strategy had become a shambles. Wars can only be won by troops on the ground fighting; if the troops will not fight, a war is lost.

    The Soldiers’ Revolt

    Unlike workers fired in a strike and barred from the employer’s property, dissident soldiers eventually were discharged and came back to the United States as citizens with the same formal rights as everyone else. While most veterans simply wanted to forget the war and return to normal lives, a sizeable number had become so disenchanted with it and traumatized by what they had seen and done that they felt the need to make amends. They began to seek each other out, and from there, sometimes in alliance with the burgeoning antiwar movement but mostly on their own, formed organizations aimed at making the public aware of the horrors of the war. These dealt with specific issues like the treatment of veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals, something later made famous by the movie Born on the Fourth of July, as well as the larger matter of ending the war. The organizations established by veterans also served cathartic purposes; by talking with one another, former combatants could begin to come to grips with their often ghastly experiences. The most well-known and enduring group was the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Founded in 1967, it was over the next decade, “a vanguard group for Maoists; a campaign headquarters for Democrats; a vehicle for activists to plan large-scale demonstrations; a meeting place for rap groups; an information center for war crimes hearings; a gathering spot for poets; a rehabilitation home for drug addicts.”[19]

    VVAW consistently agitated to increase opposition to the war, and it employed a wide array of tactics to do so: participation in antiwar demonstrations; publicly throwing away Purple Hearts and other medals of valor; circulating petitions; conducting long marches, complete with guerilla theater that mimicked war atrocities; protests at national political conventions; occupations of public buildings and monuments, including the Statue of Liberty; publishing newsletters; and the famous Winter Soldier Investigation held in Detroit in 1971 in which veterans bore witness to the war crimes and atrocities committed by U.S. troops and the U.S. government in Vietnam. Membership peaked at about 25,000, but the VVAW’s influence was much greater. It reinvigorated the antiwar movement; won adherents to the antiwar banner simply because veterans had instant credibility with much of the public, and could not be accused of elitism as most of them were solidly working class; and brought home to normally complacent Americans, including some of the veterans’ parents, exactly what their sons had done in the war. It was the first time in U.S. history that large numbers of soldiers spoke openly, honestly, and publicly about the folly of war and the costs to human beings and societies of allowing young men (and today young women) to engage in senseless murder.

    Andrew E. Hunt ends The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War by stating that the VVAW “contributed significantly to ending the war in Vietnam.”[20] Much the same can be said about all of the activities of the antiwar veterans. They participated in teach-ins, taught classes, produced vibrant art and literature, organized antiwar coffee houses near military bases, published an abundance of newspapers, pamphlets, and posters, helped on-duty soldiers form unions and fight legal battles, aided those seeking asylum in Canada and other countries, and much more. They were in the forefront of those who visited Vietnam after the war to make common cause with the Vietnamese and do what they could to aid in the rebuilding of the nation. They have been tireless reminders of what was done in the name of the United States.[21]

    Michael Uhl, a longtime veteran activist and author of Vietnam Awakening, rightly criticizes Nick Turse for both ignoring and downplaying the significance of what thousands of antiwar veterans did. First, Turse’s discoveries were not new. Much of what he tells us was made public by veterans more than forty years ago. In a recent essay, Uhl wrote:

    In his [Turse’s] account antiwar veterans appear, not as a movement making history, but as a handful of individual “whistle-blowers within the ranks or recently out of the army…” whose denunciations were “marginalized and ignored.” For the rest, Turse buries our unprecedented story in a thicket of footnotes, devoid of their original contexts, and where only a disciplined scholar might be able to reassemble them into anything approximating what actually occurred. A reader may judge for herself, if the public testimonies[22] on U.S. war crimes policies in Vietnam delivered by antiwar veterans during the final years of the conflict were, as Turse suggests, “marginalized and ignored.” She might discover that the veterans were being heard at the time, if not listened to, much more than Turse is today…. He characterizes as pitiful Movement efforts to reveal the true nature of the war through “pamphlets, small press books and underground newspapers,” that, if even glancingly noticed by empowered insiders, were dismissed as “leftist kookery.”[23]
    Uhl also chastises Turse for focusing more attention on atrocities committed by individual soldiers and not enough on the more deadly consequences of decisions made by those with power. Again, there is truth in this. While most soldiers must have observed or known about atrocities, only a small minority committed them. The major war criminals were presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, their advisors like McNamara and Kissinger, and the top military commanders, almost none of whom showed remorse—much less fought to end the war, as many veterans did. These men should all have been marched off to prison. People were executed for less during the Nuremburg trials after the Second World War. In any event, the principled response of the antiwar veterans did as much as anything to end the war, surely as much as what the rest of the movement accomplished. It is no accident that, as Hunt points out, Nixon and his warmongering staff were obsessed with the VVAW. One of the reasons why the Watergate burglary took place was to connect Nixon’s presidential election opponent George McGovern to the antiwar veterans.[24] Those “empowered insiders” Turse references might have seen the veterans and the complete breakdown of military command as proof positive that the war was a lost cause.

    Whitewashing the War from Jimmy Carter to Obama’s Vietnam War Commemoration

    In his article, Uhl asks whether we will ever come to grips with Vietnam. He informs us that today a majority of young Americans, age eighteen to twenty-nine, think that sending troops to Vietnam was not a mistake. This is sad, though my long experience as a teacher, who lectured often about the war, tells me that it is not a surprise. Our political rulers, much of the mainstream media, along with some scholars, filmmakers, right-wing think tanks, and the military establishment, have continued ever since 1975, when the North Vietnamese Army and the National Liberation Front achieved final victory and liberated their country, to both extinguish the truth of the war from public memory and construct a false history in its place. First, President Jimmy Carter declared, without an ounce of shame, that the United States had nothing for which to apologize because the destruction had been “mutual.”[25] Then, President Ronald Reagan called the war “a noble cause.”

    Now President Barack Obama has proclaimed a “Vietnam War Commemoration.”[26] The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act empowered the Secretary of Defense to organize events to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the War in Vietnam. The act envisions a thirteen-year commemoration, from Memorial Day 2012 until November 11, 2025. Obama issued a proclamation on the first day of this celebration, containing these remarkable words:

    As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved. From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.[27]

    This is a lie from beginning to end. We would never know from this that, in addition to the carnage enumerated above,

  • The CIA in its Phoenix Program assassinated tens of thousands of Vietnamese suspected of being insurgents or sympathizers. U.S. social scientists, engineers, and scientists participated in this.[28]
  • More than 5 million Vietnamese were forcibly removed from their villages and compelled to live in squalid “Strategic Hamlets.”
  • Thousands of Vietnamese political prisoners were jailed and tortured in “tiger cages,” left either to die or to suffer debilitating physical and mental illnesses.

    What kind of valorous efforts were these? What kind of grand ideals did these embody?

    The Commemoration website tells us that the secretary of defense is to organize all of the Commemoration’s programs to satisfy these objectives:

  • To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.
  • To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces.
  • To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.
  • To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.
    To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.
  • These are all awful, but the fourth one would make the Nazis proud. Someday, no doubt, there will be a commemoration of the War on Terror (if it ever ends), and we will learn how this war gave us the marvel of drones.

    Protests against this celebration of the war have been mounted, especially as we approach the beginning of events on Memorial Day this year (2015) when, according to Lieutenant General Claude M. Kicklighter, “we will begin to recruit the nation to get behind this effort in a very big way.”[29] Famed antiwar protester Tom Hayden has spearheaded a petition drive to compel the government to give an accurate account of what happened during the war and to provide room in the remembrance for those who opposed it and to correct the egregious errors and omissions on the website’s timeline of the war. The My Lai massacre was initially called an “incident”; as a result of protest, this has been changed but the word “massacre” was not added. Historians have been critical as well, especially of the turmoil the war caused in the United States. Some antiwar veterans have called for an “alternative commemoration.”

    Other than the plans for separate oppositional events, these protests seem tepid, especially in light of the efforts to end the war noted in this essay. Hayden, for example, is not opposed to honoring the valor of U.S. soldiers, and he worries mainly that the military that got the country into the war is now in charge of memorializing it. But why should the valor of veterans be honored? Only the courage of those who opposed it, including the soldiers who did so at great risk, should be respected. And it is not true that the military got the United States into the war. Our political, economic, and intellectual elites did that. The qualms of the academics mirror those of Hayden; they seem nitpicky. The timeline, indeed the entire celebration, are exercises in imperial propaganda. What did anyone expect? Do not forget that President Carter quipped that “the destruction was mutual.” Why worry overmuch that these materials are, as the web site suggests, suitable for schools? Our kids are fed daily doses of falsehoods by their teachers, including those who teach in colleges. I will be heartened when as school districts accept materials prepared by those in charge of the commemoration, teachers and their unions refuse, en masse, to use them. I may have a long wait.

    It would be wonderful if the war were critically studied and its glorification subjected to massive public opposition combined with teach-ins, multimedia presentations, marches, and demonstrations. These could be directly tied to the interminable and deadly war on terror and the ongoing conversion of the United States into a police state.[30] They would serve as an estimable example of critical education, a counter to the hegemony, the pervasive influence of our political economy on all aspects of our lives. As Henry Giroux reminds us, one of the major functions of critical education is to keep historical memory alive, to give witness to the truth of the past so that the politics of today is vibrantly democratic. We must always be suspicious of what the powerful tell us and supportive of all that is egalitarian and liberating. Historical memory in this instance functions as a form of public pedagogy that challenges not only the dominant narratives of “America’s disimagination machine” and its glorification of war but also attempts to change the way in which the American public thinks about the horrors committed in Vietnam and the scourge of state violence and militarism.[31] However, as we take Giroux’s arguments to heart, we should stress foremost what the United States did to the Vietnamese and how these valiant people resisted and defeated the most powerful military on earth. Great damage was done to U.S. soldiers, and those who survived still suffer the agony of that long ago war. However, these pale by comparison to the brutality suffered by the Vietnamese, a violence still very much alive in the daily lives of the people in that much tried nation. It is they we should honor, commemorate, remember. They fought more valiantly and suffered more for their liberation from foreign rule than we ever did for our own. What they suffered and what they did should inspire us to redouble our efforts to combat U.S. war-making and imperialism and to educate, agitate, and build new organizations aimed at the construction of an egalitarian society worthy of human beings.

    Notes

    ↩On March 16, 1968, U.S. Army soldiers slaughtered perhaps as many as 500 unarmed civilians in two Vietnamese hamlets, one of which the Army had on its maps as My Lai. Hence the name “My Lai massacre.”
    ↩Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2013).
    ↩Turse’s book took shape by accident. While researching post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Vietnam veterans, Turse was asked by an archivist at the National Archives if PTSD could be triggered by witnessing war crimes. He led Turse to a trove of old files describing investigations into such transgressions by a secret Pentagon task force, charged with investigating them so that the military would be prepared for the next My Lai massacre. With this as the foundation for what would become his book, the author began a search for war crimes in Vietnam. This led him to other public archives, private archives and letters, scores of interviews with public officials, more than one hundred interviews with U.S. war veterans, trips to Vietnam where he interviewed Vietnamese who suffered grave personal mistreatment and family losses and where he visited many village war memorials, and all of the relevant secondary literature. The result is a searing indictment of the U.S. government and its top military officers, and descriptions of torture, murder, and the ruination of the Vietnamese landscape that are difficult to read.
    ↩McNamara was also President Kennedy’s secretary of defense. While there are those who believe that Kennedy would never have sent in the troops that Johnson did, Kennedy was a committed Cold Warrior. The fact that McNamara did what he did under Johnson suggests that Kennedy, by choosing him, was hardly a dove on Vietnam.
    ↩Kathleen T. Rhem, “Rumsfeld on Terrorists: Drain the Swamp They Live In,” September 18, 2001, http://defense.gov.
    ↩See Vicki Haddock, “The Science of Creating Killers,” August 13, 2006, http://sfgate.com.
    ↩The training of soldiers has much in common with the training of torturers, that is, the conversion of ordinary human beings into people willing to commit horrendous acts of violence. See Janice T. Gibson and Mika Haritos-Fatouros, “The Education of a Torturer,” Psychology Today 20, no. 6 (November 1986): 246–51.
    ↩According to Turse, incentives for producing dead bodies “ranged from ‘R& R’ (rest and recreation) passes, which might allow a soldier several days of fun in the sun at a beach resort, to medals, badges, extra food, extra beer, permission to wear nonregulation gear, and light duty at base camp.” Turse, Kill Anything That Moves, Kindle Edition, 44.
    ↩Westmoreland made this statement in the film Hearts and Minds (1974).
    ↩As Graham Greene’s novel, The Quiet American, makes clear, “support personnel” had been in Vietnam for many years before the major troop buildup in the mid-1960s. Graham Greene, The Quiet American (London: Penguin Classics, 2004), originally published in 1955.
    ↩Turse, Kill Anything That Moves, Kindle Edition, 6.
    ↩Ibid, 11–13; Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States (New York: Gallery Books, 2012), chapter 10.
    ↩Turse, Kill Anything That Moves, Kindle Edition, 13.
    ↩Stone and Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States, Kindle Edition, Location 8714-8729.
    ↩Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Americans and Vietnamese in Vietnam (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972).
    ↩Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, Black Against Empire: the History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013). As Muhammad Ali said in explaining his refusal to be inducted into the army in 1967: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” “Muhammad Ali Explains His Refusal to Fight in Vietnam (1967),” http://alphahistory.com.
    ↩A few brave soldiers reported atrocities to superiors. This was dangerous to do; the person who did it risked retribution from superiors and fellow soldiers, including violence, even death. The film Casualties of War (1989), based on actual events, gives a frightening depiction of this.
    ↩Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr., “The Collapse of the Armed Forces,” Armed Forces Journal, June 7, 1971, https://msuweb.montclair.edu.
    ↩Andrew E. Hunt, The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (New York: NYU Press, 1999), Kindle Locations 4005-4007.
    ↩Ibid, Kindle Locations 4160-4161.
    ↩Good accounts of the work of the antiwar veterans can be found in the films, Sir! No Sir! (2005) and Winter Soldier Investigation (1972), as well as the Hunt book cited above, and James Simon Kunen, Standard Operating Procedure: Notes of a Draft-age American (New York: Avon, 1971). The two films were generously sent to me by David Sladky. The documentary film Same, Same but Different tells the moving story of veterans who have returned to Vietnam to aid in the rebuilding of the country.
    ↩Uhl provides a link here to Michael Uhl, “A Clipping File of Veteran War Crimes Testimony Circa 1969–1971,” April 5, 2013, http://inthemindfield.com.
    ↩Michael Uhl, “An Enfant Terrible Stumbles Upon the Vietnam War,” April 9, 2013, http://counterpunch.org. See also Michael Uhl, Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2007).
    ↩Hunt, The Turning, Kindle Location 4136-4144.
    ↩Jimmy Carter, “The President’s News Conference,” March 24, 1977, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu.
    ↩The information in the next three paragraphs, unless otherwise noted, is taken from the Commemoration’s web site: http://vietnamwar50th.com/. I first reported on this in 2013; see Michael D. Yates, “Oliver Stone, Obama, and the War in Vietnam,” January 11, 2013, http://cheapmotelsandahotplate.org.
    ↩President of the United States of America, “Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War,” May 25, 2012,
    ↩http://vietnamwar50th.com. This is the opening paragraph. It gets worse: “As a grateful Nation, we honor more than 58,000 patriots–their names etched in black granite–who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know. We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen. With more than 1,600 of our service members still among the missing, we pledge as a Nation to do everything in our power to bring these patriots home. In the reflection of The Wall, we see the military family members and veterans who carry a pain that may never fade. May they find peace in knowing their loved ones endure, not only in medals and memories, but in the hearts of all Americans, who are forever grateful for their service, valor, and sacrifice.”
    ↩Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (Bloomington, IN: iUnivererse: 2000).
    ↩Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, and War Over Truth,” New York Times, October 9, 2014, http://nytimes.com.
    ↩The film The Kill Team shows that the same kind of training and the same killing of civilians as in Vietnam is still standard operating procedure in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more on the war on terror and the incipient U.S. police state, see Henry A. Giroux, Zombie Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism, 2nd edition (New York: Peter Lang, 2014).
    ↩Current government expenditures, excluding interest on government debt, are less than tax revenues. There can be a primary surplus but an overall deficit if total government spending, including interest payments, is more than tax revenues.
    References

    In preparing this essay, I was aided by the following works:

    Books

    Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, Black Against Empire: the History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).
    Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War (New York: Macmillan, 1977).
    Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Americans and Vietnamese in Vietnam (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972).
    Võ Nguyên Giáp, The Military Art of People’s War (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970).
    Graham Greene, The Quiet American (London: Penguin Classics, 2004 Reprint Edition; originally published in 1955).
    David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Random House, 1972).
    Michael Herr, Dispatches (New York: Knopf, 1977).
    Andrew E. Hunt, The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (New York: NYU Press, 1999).
    James Simon Kunen, Standard Operating Procedure: Notes of a Draft-age American (New York: Avon, 1971).
    Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990).
    Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States (New York: Gallery Books, 2012)
    Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2013).
    Michael Uhl, Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2007).
    Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (Bloomington, IN: iUnivererse: 2000).
    Articles

    Leo Cawley, “An Ex-Marine Sees Platoon,” Monthly Review 39, no. 2 (June 1987): 6–18.
    Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr., “The Collapse of the Armed Forces,” Armed Forces Journal, June 7, 1971, https://msuweb.montclair.edu.
    Neil Sheehan, “Should We Have War Crimes Trials?,” New York Times Book Review, March 28, 1971, https://msuweb.montclair.edu.
    Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, and War Over Truth,” New York Times, October 9, 2014, http://nytimes.com.
    Films

    Anderson Platoon, The (1967)
    Apocalypse Now (1979)
    Berkeley in the Sixties (1990)
    Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
    Casualties of War (1989)
    Deer Hunter, The (1978)
    Fog of War, The (2003)
    Full Metal Jacket (1987)
    Hearts and Minds (1974)
    Kill Team, The (2013)
    Most Dangerous Man in America, The (2009)
    Platoon (1986)
    Quiet American, The (1958 and 2002)
    Same, Same But Different (2012)
    Sir! No Sir! (2005)
    Untold History of the United States, The, Showtime Television series (2012)
    Vietnam: American Holocaust (2008)
    Winter Soldier Investigation (1972)

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 4th Moscow International Security Conference, Moscow, April 16, 2015

http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/5AE629B1C7B4097543257E2900647345

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 4th Moscow International Security Conference, Moscow, April 16, 2015

729-16-04-2015

Mr Shoigu, Mr Patrushev, colleagues, and friends,

The Moscow conference, organised by the Russian Defence Ministry, has firmly established itself as an important platform for an open and constructive exchange of opinions on key aspects of global security. This conversation is highly relevant, taking into account the ongoing buildup of forces of instability and conflict in international relations.

I would like to cite one quotation: “There can be no middle ground here. We shall have to take the responsibility for world collaboration, or we shall have to bear the responsibility for another world conflict.” These words were delivered by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. I believe that they formulated one of the main lessons of the most devastating global conflict in history: it is only possible to meet common challenges and preserve the peace through collective, joint efforts based on respect for the legitimate interests of all partners.

This year we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Great Victory. Leaders, delegations, and national military contingents from a large number of countries will participate in the events taking place in Moscow on May 9. By celebrating the anniversary of the Great Victory we are not only paying tribute to the heroic feat of the soldiers who freed the world from the madness of the Nazis, but are also reaffirming the great importance of the historic decisions that laid the groundwork for the postwar international system, including, of course, the UN.

Unfortunately, soon after the founding of the UN, the opportunities for global governance based on genuine partnership were undermined by the head-on bipolar confrontation. However, a quarter of a century ago it seemed that the end of the Cold War, for the first time in the history of humankind, had opened the prospect for a transition to a stage of broad cooperation and constructive development. Russia has been actively and consistently working toward this, among other things, calling for serious efforts in the Euro-Atlantic region to put into practice a principle of equal and undivided security and form a common economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Unfortunately, they refused to even listen to us, let alone heed our call. As a result, the events on the European continent have followed a totally different, negative path.

The shortsighted logic of Cold War victors prevailed in Washington and later in NATO. Our partners fell into a state of euphoria caused by false notions that the Western world had forever secured itself a place in the global political and economic “Olympus.” All this runs counter to facts, and to objective and obvious processes concerning the distribution of global power and influence and the assertion of diversity of culture and civilisation as a key aspect of the contemporary world. Therefore, all of us have once again approached a boundary where, just like after World War II, it is once again necessary to choose between cooperation and conflicts.

Russia is invariably guided by a sober-minded and pragmatic approach, and we are far from deliberately inciting any alarmist moods. Nevertheless, I’d like to note that one should not underestimate the prospects of a dangerous deterioration of the international situation. The world has made considerable headway on the road towards globalisation, and the threat of security problems in various regions, and even on different levels, forming one tight knot is becoming more apparent. But where is that wall which would make it possible to divide growing confusion, the whipping up of confrontation in European affairs and the incipient “arc of instability” stretching from North Africa to Afghanistan? In these conditions, one can hardly rely on the so-called principle of “compartmentalisation” which allows countries to confront each other on some issues and to cooperate productively on others. The creation of regional security systems built on common principles of equality, mutual consideration for each other’s interests, and a refusal to strengthen one’s security to the detriment of the security of others should become a more effective and natural option that would heed the current, growing interdependence. In our opinion, systematic cooperation between these regional systems would help create a global system by prioritising the UN Charter and collective actions for coping with common challenges.

Much is being said about Ukraine, and it is probably impossible to avoid this issue. It is impossible to resolve the conflict in Ukraine by military force. As such, there is no reasonable alternative to peacefully settling the domestic Ukrainian crisis on the basis of full and unconditional compliance with the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015. Above all, the ceasefire should be unfailingly observed, heavy weapons should be withdrawn as soon as possible, and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine should verify this process. At the same time, we need to remove artificial obstacles hampering solutions to extremely acute humanitarian problems, to persuade Kiev to stop the economic blockade of Donbass, to launch a real (not decorative) political process, and implement a constitutional reform that takes the interests of all Ukrainian regions and citizens into account. Kiev’s compliance with amnesty obligations and a renunciation of attempts to reinterpret the Minsk Agreements have particular significance for preserving the unity of the Ukrainian state. I am confident that the West should and can force authorities in Kiev to scrap destructive policies aimed at glorifying the Nazis and persecuting those who saved Europe from Nazism. We discussed all this in great detail at a meeting of the Normandy Four foreign ministers in Berlin on April 13, 2015.

The Ukrainian political settlement should significantly expedite efforts to overcome systemic problems that have accumulated in the area of European security and which ultimately became the main cause of the Ukrainian crisis. So far, we have observed diametrically opposite trends and attempts to formalise new demarcation lines in Europe. Washington is either using the term “front-line states” with reference to our neighbours or saying that Russia has found itself at “NATO’s gates”. As if it is Russia moving towards the West, rather than the other way round, that is, NATO coming right up to Russian borders and deploying a powerful military infrastructure there. US military equipment is everywhere in Europe, and US Navy ships have basically settled in the Black Sea.

The US ABM programme remains a cause for serious concern. Ground-based missile-defence systems will be deployed in Romania this year and in Poland by 2018. More ships with missile-defence systems are being deployed. We perceive all this as part of a global project that is creating risks for Russia’s strategic deterrence forces and upsetting regional security balances. If the global missile-defence programme continues to be implemented without any adjustments, even as talks on the Iranian nuclear programme are making headway (as NATO representatives have already said), then the specific motives for establishing the European missile-defence system will become obvious for everyone. It is already clear that they misled us when they announced the so-called “adaptive” approach for setting up the missile-defence system. According to US President Barack Obama, the entire essence of this approach implied Washington’s readiness to adapt missile-defence plans to the situation on the ground at the talks on the Iranian nuclear programme. Although considerable success has been achieved at these talks, missile-defence plans continue to expand, rather than adapt to the situation.

Washington tries not to remember Russian proposals for equal cooperation in neutralising missile threats.

It is not our intention to force anyone to cooperate. However, it should be clear that by weakening partnerships among leading states we waste time in countering really serious [threats], not the perceived threats, above all, in the Middle East and North Africa. The sharp escalation of the situation there, the rise in terrorism and extremism, the expansion of the territory controlled by the so-called “Islamic State,” and the mounting interethnic and interreligious conflicts pose a direct threat to international stability and security and, of course, erode the prospects of stable development for nations in this region, which is close to us.

What raises particular concern are the attempts to artificially ratchet up the Sunni-Shiite disagreements and use religious differences to achieve political goals, among other things, by imposing schemes on the UN Security Council to approve outside interference. I would like to make an appeal for the current situation to be treated very seriously, guided by the ideas of tolerance, mutual respect, and the search for compromise as was formulated in the Amman Message that was agreed upon in July 2005 on the initiative of King Abdullah II of Jordan. Perhaps the time has come to reassert unequivocally the principles of the Amman Message. I am confident that the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation understand perfectly well all the dangers involved in a split of the Islamic world.

Effective external efforts to facilitate a resolution to intra-state conflicts should be based on international law and push the sides toward dialogue while organising a consolidated rebuff to extremist forces. Under these circumstances, there should be no room for attempts to impose internal political solutions or double standards on sovereign states. A situation where, in Yemen, the US looks favourably upon and directly encourages the forceful operation conducted by the coalition to bring the fleeing president back to power, whereas in Ukraine, quite on the contrary, Washington actively supported and helped organise an anti-constitutional coup d’etat, is bound to raise questions.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, a unilateral dictate and the imposition of external models bring a result opposite to the one intended: escalation instead of conflict resolution, and growing chaos instead of sovereign, stable states. Meaningful and positive results can only be achieved through concerted efforts “without any hidden agendas.” I should mention the successful completion of the unprecedented international operation to remove all components of and precursors to chemical weapons from Syria and the political framework agreement on the final resolution of Iran’s nuclear programme. Incidentally, this opens the way for abandoning the vicious policy of isolating Iran, and, in turn, involving it in collective efforts, on the basis of equality, in the search for solutions to the proliferating regional security issues. These include a political settlement in Syria and Yemen, facilitating national accord in Lebanon and Iraq, promoting the inter-Palestinian reconciliation, and, of course, helping overcome the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the existing international legal framework and the Arab peace initiative.

Of increasing importance is the goal of establishing dialogue to create a framework for security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf with the participation of Arab countries and Iran, supported by the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The situation in Afghanistan calls for the consolidation of efforts. Stabilisation is a long way off there. The country remains a source of terrorism and drug trafficking that can spill over into neighbouring states, including Central Asia.

We are also interested in ensuring peace, security, and cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region, our country being an inalienable part of it. The initiative to build a regional architecture of equal and undivided security, which was put forward by Russia and China in 2010, is designed to formulate generally accepted rules of conduct to ensure reliable stability and sustained development in the Asia Pacific Region. In conjunction with other states in the region, we have launched a multilateral dialogue on this subject within the scope of the East Asia Summit.

As I said earlier, it is important to move toward the creation of a network of regionally based structures responsible for ensuring security in their regions. If we advance toward the once proclaimed goal of creating a system of equal and undivided security in the Euro-Atlantic zone and search for ways of putting in place a broad [security] architecture in the Asia Pacific Region, unrelated to [military and political] blocs, then the value of the efforts that Russia and its allies and partners are making to ensure security in the area covered by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will grow.

We would like to reiterate the initiatives that were once put forward by the UN secretary general and the OSCE leadership, when the heads of regional security organisations were invited to share opinions and establish dialogue between them. I believe that the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, which, on the initiative of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has become an effective platform for cooperation, can serve as a good basis for the continuation of these efforts.

We are committed to continuing our active efforts, in conjunction with our friends and partners, in the interests of normalising international relations. Strengthening international and regional stability is an important part of the agenda for Russia’s BRICS and SCO presidencies. Russia is open to dialogue and cooperation with all those who are willing to cooperate.

I would like to wish the conference participants productivity in their work.

Interview with President Bashar al-Assad with TASS News Agency, March 2015

http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=33642

President al-Assad: The West has not changed policy, intervention in terrorists’ favor must stop for a solution to succeed

27/03/2015

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Russian media in which he hailed the Russian initiative for inter-Syrian dialogue as positive and denied any direct dialogue between Syria and the US, stressing that there has been no real change in the American or Western policies on Syria so far.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Thank you, Mr. President. I am Gregory from TASS News Agency. What is you assessment of the next round of Syrian-Syrian talks scheduled to be held in Moscow next April, and who will represent Syrian in these talks? In your opinion, what is the essential factor to ensure the success of Syrian-Syrian dialogue?

President Assad: Our assessment of this new round of talks, and of the Russian initiative in general, is very positive, because the initiative is important; and I can say that it is necessary. As you know the West, or a number of Western countries, have tried, during the Syrian crisis, to push towards a military war in Syria and the region sometimes under the title of fighting terrorism, and at other times under the title of supporting people who rose for freedom, and other lies which have been circulating in Western media.

The Russian initiative was positive because it emphasized the political solution, and consequently preempted the attempts of warmongers in the West, particularly in the United States, France, and Britain, as they have done in the Ukraine. You know that warmongers have been pushing towards arming different parties in Ukraine in order to change regimes, first in Ukraine, then in Russia. That’s why the principle behind this initiative is good and important. We have always believed and spoke publicly that every problem, however big, should have a political solution. This is in principle. However, its success depends very much on the substance genuinely reflecting the title which you have spoken about. The title is: a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. In order for this dialogue to succeed, it should be purely Syrian. In other words, there shouldn’t be any outside influence on the participants in this dialogue. The problem is that a number of the participants in the dialogue are supported by foreign Western and regional countries which influence their decisions. As you know, only a few days ago, one of these parties announced that they will not participate in the dialogue. They didn’t participate in the first round.

So, for this dialogue to succeed, the Syrian parties taking part in it should be independent and should express what the Syrian people, with all their political affiliations want. Then, the dialogue will succeed. That’s why the success of this initiative requires that other countries not interfere, as Moscow proposed in the first round; for the dialogue to be among the Syrians with the Russians facilitating the dialogue among the Syrians without imposing any ideas on them. If things happen this way, I believe this dialogue will achieve positive results for stability in Syria.

Question 2: Abu Taleb al-Buhayya from RTV Arabic. Mr. President, within the framework of the steps taken to achieve a political solution, there is an initiative proposed by the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura concerning a fighting freeze in Aleppo. After a number of meetings and trips, and there is information that some of de Mistura’s staff in Damascus went to Aleppo, but in the end, there were statements made by some outside opposition factions which rejected this initiative. Nevertheless, there are safe neighborhoods in Aleppo which have come in recent days under a fierce attack and mortar shelling on safe neighborhoods. In general terms, Mr. President, how do you see the prospects of this initiative proposed by de Mistura and is it going to succeed in the coming days?

President Assad: Since the first meeting with Mr. de Mistura, we supported his ideas. And when we agreed with him on the basic elements of the initiative, which he announced later, Mr. de Mistura’s team started working in Syria in order to implement this initiative. We continued our support and continued our discussions with him about the details of this initiative. In principle, the initiative is good because it deals with reality on the ground. It is similar to the reconciliation deals which have been achieved in Syria. The objective is to alleviate pressure and avert the dangers facing civilians specifically in the city of Aleppo, as a first stage for his mission. But de Mistura’s initiative depends on more than one party. Obviously, it depends on the Syrian state’s cooperation, as a major party to this initiative, including the state’s institutions. But, on the other hand, it depends on the response of the terrorists or the armed groups who operate in different neighborhoods in Aleppo.

Another problem is similar to that concerning the Syrian-Syrian dialogue. Some of these armed groups are controlled by other countries. In the city of Aleppo in particular, all the armed groups or terrorist forces are supported directly by Turkey. That’s why these forces, and from the beginning of de Mistura’s initiative, declared that they refuse to cooperate with him and rejected the initiative altogether. They confirmed their rejection of the initiative about a week ago, and enforced their rejection by shelling civilians in the city of Aleppo and a large number of martyrs fell as a result. De Mistura’s initiative is important in substance, and we believe that it is very realistic, and it has significant prospects of success if Turkey and the other countries supporting and funding the armed groups stop their interference. One of the most important factors of its success is that most Syrians want to get rid of the terrorists. Some of these terrorists will return to their normal lives or leave the neighborhoods in which civilians live, so that civilians can come back to these neighborhoods.

Question 3: Mr. President, on the political solution, the Syrian government took significant steps which have been applauded by Syria’s friends and allies concerning national reconciliation attempts. These attempts have been successful, from what we hear from the Syrian population, and from our coverage in Damascus and other Syrian governorates. In general, Mr. President, what is your vision for the prospects of these national reconciliation attempts, whether in Damascus Countryside or in other governorates, particularly that we have been informed that the Syrian government released, a few days ago, over 600 prisoners, in order to ensure the success of national reconciliation?

President Assad: We started the national reconciliation endeavors over a year ago, or maybe two years ago. It is a parallel track to the political solution. As I said, every problem has a political solution. But the political solution is usually long, and might be slow, and there might be obstacles which hinder the process or push it towards failure, although this failure might be temporary. But every day innocent people die in Syria, and we cannot wait for the political solution to materialize in order to protect people’s lives. So, we have to move on other tracks. Of course, there is the track of fighting terrorists and eliminating them. But there has been a third track which consists of national reconciliation attempts. They include returning people to their neighborhoods, and for armed men leaving these neighborhoods, or remaining without their weapons in order for them to return to their normal lives.

In this case, the state offers amnesty to those and brings them back to their normal lives. Part of this process is releasing a number of prisoners. So, this is part of national reconciliation. What happened yesterday is part of this endeavor which has proved so far that it is the most important track. The truth is that national reconciliation in Syria has achieved great results, and led to the improvement of security conditions for many Syrian people in different parts of the country. So, what happened yesterday comes within this framework, and we will continue this policy which has proved successful until progress is achieved on the political track which we hope will be achieved in this consultative meeting in Moscow next April.

Question 4: Yevgeny Reshetnev from Russia 24. In the context of the civil war and armed conflict, some politicians made statements to the effect that your days as president were numbered, and some expected that you will no longer be there in a few months’ time. But you have stood fast for a long time, and here we are sitting and talking with you. There are European politicians who say that the peaceful political solution in Syria will be without President Bashar al-Assad. In your opinion, how will it be possible to establish peace in Syria and to achieve reconciliation among the Syrians?

President Assad: The statements we have been hearing since the beginning of the crisis reflect the Western mentality, which is colonialist by nature. The West does not accept partners. If they don’t like a certain state, they try to change it, or replace its president. When they use this reasoning, they do not see the people. As far as they’re concerned, there is no people. They don’t like the president, so they replace him. But when they made these statements, they based them on wrong assumptions. This way of thinking might have suited the past, but is not fit for this age. Today, people do not accept for their future or destiny or rulers to be decided by the outside world.

The same thing is happening now in Ukraine. And this is what they aim for in Russia. They don’t like President Putin, so they demonize him. The same applies everywhere. However, I would like to stress that what determines these things in the end is the Syrian people. All the statements made by Western countries or their allies in the region about this issue did not concern us in the least. We do not care if they say the president will fall or remain in power, nor do we care whether they say that the president is legitimate or illegitimate. We derive our legitimacy from the people, and if there is any reason for the state’s steadfastness in Syria, it is popular support. We shouldn’t waste our time with European statements, because they are prepared to make statements which contradict each other from day to day.

The Syrian crisis can be solved. It’s not impossible. If the Syrians sit and talk to each other, we will achieve results. We talked about national reconciliation, which is the most difficult thing: when two parties which used to carry guns and fight each other sit down and talk. This is much more difficult than sitting with those who are involved in political action. In the first case there is blood, there is killing; nevertheless, we succeeded in this endeavor. We succeeded when we conducted these reconciliation attempts without foreign interference.

I say that for the Syrians to succeed, foreign intervention should stop. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some European countries should stop arming the terrorists. This was actually acknowledged publically by the French and by the British. They said they have been sending weapons to the terrorists. They should stop funding the terrorists, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Then, the political solution will be easy, and reconciliation with the armed groups will be easy, because the Syrian society supports reconciliation now and supports all these solutions. The Syrian society has not disintegrated as they expected. What is happening in Syria is not a civil war; in a civil war there should be lines separating the parties, either on ethnic, religious, or sectarian grounds. This doesn’t exist in Syria. People still live with each other, but most people escape from the areas in which the terrorists operate to the safe areas controlled by the state. This is what we believe to be the foundation for reaching this solution. This is in addition to initiatives made by our friends like the consultative meeting which will be held in Moscow next month.

Question 5: Mr. President, in every state, in general, a pretext can be found to create sectarian or ethnic conflict, and Syria and the Ukraine are examples of that. How can we stop this?

President Assad: If you have in the beginning a sectarian problem which creates a division in society, it will be easy for other countries to manipulate this division and lead to unrest. You know that this is one of the things which some foreign countries have tried to manipulate, even in Russia, by supporting extremist groups which are conducting terrorist acts. Their objective is not to kill some innocent people. They rather aim at creating a division in Russian society which leads to weakening the country and the state and maybe dividing Russia itself. This is what they had in mind for Russia and this is what they had in mind for Syria. This is why I think there are many similarities.

So it has to be based on the state’s performance before the crisis: preserving the unity of the homeland, religious freedom, freedom of belief. No group in any country should feel they are forbidden to exercise their religious rituals and hold their beliefs. This is the case in Syria; and this is one of the most important factors behind the steadfastness of Syrian society in facing this attack.

Nevertheless, the titles used at the beginning of the Syrian crisis by foreign media or by the terrorists called for dividing Syria, particularly along sectarian lines. Some people in Syria believed this propaganda in the beginning. But through the dialogue we conducted in the state, and by using different forms of awareness raising, particularly through the religious establishment, we were able to overcome this. People discovered quickly that this has nothing to do with sects or religions. They concluded that the problem is a form of terrorism supported by foreign countries. Here we succeeded and were able to overcome this very dangerous problem which you have suggested in your question.

Question 6: Mohammad Maarouf from Sputnik news agency. In the beginning, Mr. President, allow me on behalf of my colleagues at Sputnik news agency and Rossiya Segodnya to thank Your Excellency for availing us of this opportunity to meet you. Mr. President, you indicated previously that had you accepted what was offered to you before the crisis, you would have been the most favored and most democratic president in the region. Could you please explain to us what you were offered at the time, and what is required by the West of Syria, for the West to stop arming the Syrian opposition and start the political solution?

President Assad: Let me go back to the Western mentality, which I described as colonialist. The West does not accept partners. It only wants satellite states. The United States does not even accept partners in the West. It wants Europe to follow the United States. They didn’t accept Russia, although it was a superpower. They didn’t accept it as a partner. Russian officials talk all the time about partnership with the West, and talk positively about the West. In return, the West does not accept Russia as a great power and as a partner on a global level. So, how could they accept a smaller state like Syria which could say no to them? When anything contradicts Syrian interests, we say no. And this is something they do not accept in the West. They asked us for a number of things in the past.

They used to put pressure on us to abandon our rights in our land occupied by Israel. They wanted us not to support the resistance in Lebanon or Palestine which defends the rights of the Palestinian people. At a later stage, a few years before the crisis, they put pressure on Syria to distance itself from Iran. In another case, some of them wanted to use Syria’s relationship with Iran to influence the nuclear file. We have never been a part of this issue, but they wanted us to convince Iran to take steps against its national interests. We refused to do that. There were other similar things.

That’s why they wanted in the end to make the Syrian state a satellite state which implements Western agendas in this region. We refused. Had we done these things, we would have become, as I said, a good, moderate, and democratic state. Now, they describe our state as being anti-democratic, while they have the best relations with the Saudi state which has nothing to do with democracy or elections and deprives women of their rights, in addition to many other things well known to the world. This is Western hypocrisy.

Question 7: So, what does the West require of Syria today in order to stop arming the Syrian opposition and start the political solution?

President Assad: Simply, to be a puppet. And I’m not convinced that the West has a political solution. They do not want a political solution. When I say the West, I mean a number of countries like the United States, France, and Britain. The other countries play a secondary role. For them, the political solution is changing the state, bringing the state down and replacing it with a client state, exactly like what happened in Ukraine. As far as they are concerned, what happened in Ukraine was a political solution. But, had the former president, who was elected by the people, remained, they would have said that this president is bad, dictatorial, and kills his people. It is the same propaganda. So, the West is not interested in a political solution. They want war, and they want to change states everywhere in the world.

Question 8: Mr. President, you are confirming that there were no American under-the-table requests from you?

President Assad: No, there has been nothing under the table.

Question 9: Konstantin Volkov from Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Mr. President, a few days ago, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said in an interview with CNN television, I believe, that he is prepared to negotiate with the Syrian authorities. But other officials at the State Department contradicted these statements. Concerning U.S attempts to initiate negotiations with you, have there been any such attempts, and if so, what does Washington want?

President Assad: As for the American statements, or statements made by American officials, I think the world has become used to American officials saying something today, and saying the opposite the next day. We see this happening all the time. But there is another phenomenon which is for one official to say something and another official, in the same administration, saying the exact opposite. This is an expression of conflicts inside the American administration and also within the lobby groups working in the United States. These lobbies have different perceptions of different issues. We can say that the most important conflict today for Syria and Ukraine is between two camps: one which wants war and direct military intervention in Syria and Iraq. They might also talk about sending armies to Ukraine, through NATO, or sending arms to the subversive party within Ukraine. There is another camp which opposes intervention because it learned the lessons of previous wars.

As you know, from the Vietnam war to the Iraq war, the United States has never succeeded in any war. It succeeded in one thing, which is destroying the country. But in the end, it always came out defeated after having destroyed the country. But it seems that these groups are still in the minority. In any case, and despite these statements, so far we haven’t seen any real change in American policies and it seems that the hardliners still define the direction of American policies in most parts of the world. As far as we in Syria are concerned, the policy is still going on. There is no direct dialogue between us and the Americans. There are ideas sent through third parties but they do not constitute a serious dialogue and we cannot take them seriously. We have to wait until we see a change in the American policy on the ground. Then we can say that there is a policy shift and clear demands. So far, the U.S. demands are what I described earlier concerning their wish to bring down the Syrian state and replace it with a client state which does their bidding.

Question 10: I am from Rossiya Segodnya. My question will be on the same subject and the same context. There are certain ideas which are being discussed in the West these days like having a peacekeeping force or a military force deployed on Syrian territories to fight ISIS. A number of ‘hawks’ in the U.S., whom you talked about suggested this. This might be just an idea, but today we see that there are airstrikes against ISIS. What is your opinion and assessment of the effectiveness of these airstrikes? And I would like to point out that these airstrikes may not only target ISIS, but positions of the Syrian Arab Army. Thank you.

President Assad: When you follow media reports on daily or weekly basis, you see that the rate of the airstrikes conducted by what they call a coalition against terrorism is sometimes less than ten strikes a day or a little more, in Syria or in Iraq, or in both Syria and Iraq. We are talking about a coalition which includes 60 countries, some of which are rich and advanced. On the other hand, the Syrian air force, which is very small in comparison to this coalition, conducts in a single day many times the number of the airstrikes conducted by a coalition which includes 60 countries.

Although you are not a military man, it is self evident that this doesn’t make sense. This shows the lack of seriousness. Maybe some of these countries do not want ISIS to grow larger than it has become in Syria and Iraq, but at the same time they don’t want to get rid of ISIS completely. They want to retain this terrorist force to be used as a threat to blackmail different countries. That’s why we say simply that there is no serious effort to fight terrorism, and what is being achieved by the Syrian forces on the ground equals in one day what is being achieved by these states in weeks. Once again, this shows that these countries are not serious, not only militarily, but politically speaking. An anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of countries which are themselves supporters of terrorism. So, there is a political side and a military side, and the two are linked to each other. The result is the same: ISIS still exists. It is struck in one place but expands in another.

Question 11: I would like to check again about the positions of the Syrian Arab Army. Have they incurred any damage? And also about the peacekeeping force or a military presence in the area on your territories.

President Assad: No. No positions of the Syrian Army have been bombarded. What has been bombarded is infrastructure belonging to the Syrian people, and the results have been bad for us as a people and a state. But, as to deploying peacekeeping forces, such forces are usually deployed between warring states. So, when they talk about deploying peacekeeping forces in the fight against ISIS, this means that they recognize ISIS as a state, which is unacceptable and dangerous, particularly that terrorists, whether ISIS or al-Nusra, are terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda. These organizations infiltrate communities. Most of the communities and the areas are against these extremist and terrorist ideas. So, there is no state on the other side in order to deploy peacekeeping forces between two parties. This doesn’t make sense.

Question 12: Igor Lutzman from Sputnik radio. Mr. President, when I talked to the Press Secretary of the President of the Chechen Republic, Alvi Karimov, he said that Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov shares your interpretation of the Quran, the basics of Islam, culture, and traditions. He tells young people that terrorists do not belong to any race or any religion. He warns Chechens that if they turn into terrorists and join the ranks of ISIS or other terrorist organizations, they will never be allowed to go back to the Chechen Republic. Can you please tell us how you deal with young people and how you explain to them that Islam is a religion of peace, as Mr. Kadyrov does?

President Assad: What is being done from a systematic perspective is correct and accurate. The problem is ideological in the first place. Some states deal with terrorism as if it were a gang operating somewhere and should be eliminated. This is a final solution. However, the real solution for terrorism is an intellectual and ideological one, and consequently the involvement of those responsible directly is essential and I support it.

Of course, this is not the first time we confront this ideology. We started confronting it since the early 1960s through our confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood who were the real predecessors of al-Qaeda in the Muslim world. The apex of these confrontations happened in the 1980s. At that time, we conducted an educational campaign and fought the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically by promoting the true Islam. But today, the situation is different, because in those days there was no internet, no social media, and no satellite TV stations. It was easy to control the cultural aspect of the problem. What we face today and what you face in your country, and most Muslim countries and the other countries which have Muslim communities, is the problem of extremist satellite TV stations which promote Wahhabi ideology and are funded by Wahhabi institutions and the Saudi state, which is allied to the Wahhabi establishment.

The same applies to the social media on the internet. That’s why the danger we are facing now is tremendous and that’s why we in Syria focused first of all on religious institutions which have played an important role by developing religious curricula and produced religious leaders who promote the real Islamic thought which is moderate and enlightened. We worked on satellite TV stations and established one which promotes moderate Islam and addresses not only the Muslim public but Muslim scholars as well. Religious leaders in Syria have also conducted different activities in the mosques and in their classes by communicating with people and explaining the reality of what is happening.

Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. Whether we call it Islamic terrorism or give it any other name, it has nothing to do with religion. Terrorism is terrorism wherever it is; and Islam is a peaceful religion like any other heavenly religion. But unfortunately, we see many cases in Syria where some children or young people shift very quickly from a state of moderation to a state of extremism and terrorism. The reason is that moderate religion hasn’t been enshrined in the families and the communities in which these young people live. That’s why I believe this work is essential anywhere there is a Muslim community because they are targeted by Wahhabism and Wahhabi institutions.

Question 13: Fedor Ivanitsa from Izvestia newspaper. Mr. President, I would like to ask you about Syrian-Russian relations. Despite the difficult situation and the conflict in Syria, the supply and maintenance site for the Russian navy in Tartous is still functioning. Is there any idea to turn this site in the future into a full-fledged Russian naval military base? Have you received such a proposal, and if so are you studying it, and have there been new military contracts signed between Moscow and Damascus during the crisis?

President Assad: Concerning Russian presence in different parts of the world, including the Eastern Mediterranean and the Tartous port, it is necessary to create a sort of balance which the world lost after the disintegration of the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago. Part of this existence, as you said, is in Tartous port. As far as we are concerned, the stronger this presence is in our region, the better it is for the region’s stability, because the Russian role is important for the stability of the world.

Of course, in this context I can say that we certainly welcome any expansion of the Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and specifically on the Syrian shores and in Syrian ports for the same objectives I mentioned. But this of course depends on Russian political and military plans for the deployment of their forces in different regions and different seas and their plans for the expansion of these forces. If the Russian leadership intends to expand Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Syria, we certainly welcome such expansion.

As to contracts and military cooperation between Syria and Russia, as you know, it is quite old and has been going on for more than six decades, and nothing will change, as far as this cooperation is concerned, in this crisis. There were Russian contracts with Syria signed before the crisis and which started to be implemented after the beginning of the crisis. There are also other new contracts on weapons and military cooperation signed during the crisis and their implementation is ongoing. The nature of these contracts has of course changed given the nature of the battles conducted by the Syrian armed forces in facing the terrorists. But in essence the nature of these relations has not changed and has continued as before.

Question 14: Mr. President, I have another question. I would like to touch on the disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria during the crisis. We watch on the news, and we ourselves write about this, that ethnic and religious minorities in Syria have been targeted or been subject to violations by the terrorist organization. Does the Syrian government have plans to move these minorities to other areas, to provide a new environment for these displaced people where they can live? There are larger numbers of people belonging to minorities running away from ISIS. What is the number of those who became displaced in and outside Syria fleeing from ISIS and other organizations?

President Assad: As for the first part of the question, as I said earlier, the terrorists and the propaganda which helped them used divisive, sectarian, and ethnic language. The objective was to push components of the Syrian society to emigrate and to realize the terrorist plan in making Syria an undiverse country. Whenever there’s no diversity, there is always extremism.

In fact, the terrorists have not attacked minorities. They attack everybody in Syria, and the minorities have not been singled out in themselves, but this language has been necessary for them to create divisions within Syrian society. Now, if we do this, i.e. protect what are called minorities, it means that we are doing what the terrorists want. The Syrian state must be a state for all Syrian citizens, taking care of all, and defending all. This is what the Syrian Arab Army should do. That’s why I believe there should be only one plan which is protecting the homeland and protecting the Syrian people. When you protect the people, it is no longer important whether there are minorities or majorities in the Syrian people, because the people are one unit and all of them are targeted.

On the number of the displaced, there are no accurate statistics, and the figure changes every day. There are many people who leave certain areas and move to other areas where they have relatives. These people are not registered as displaced people. Of course the number inside and outside Syria is several millions, but it is greatly exaggerated in foreign media to be used to justify military intervention under a humanitarian slogan. What’s more important is that the Syrian state is providing care to all those who do not have a home. There are shelters for these displaced people, they are provided with medical care, food, and education for their children. Of course these things cannot be at the same level that they were used to in their lives before, but this is a temporary stage until their areas are freed from terrorists and they’re returned to their areas.

Question 15: Mr. President, how do you see Syrian-Arab relations when there are indications of closer Syrian-Egyptian relations and general coordination between Syria and Iraq? What is your position towards the Arab Summit being held without Syria’s participation?

President Assad: Arab Summits, at least since I attended the first one, have not achieved anything in the Arab world. This has to do with inter-Arab relations, because the Arab League consists of Arab states, some of which implement the Western agenda and hinder any progress in the work of the Arab League. Other countries do not play any role. They are neutral. A small number of these countries try to play a role. For example, when there was a vote in the Arab League to ask the Security Council to facilitate or conduct military action in Libya, Syria was the only country which objected. This was before the crisis, and was one of the reasons which made other Arab countries, which are in the Western sphere of influence, start an incitement campaign against Syria and push the problems, or the crisis, in this direction from the very beginning. That’s why inter-Arab relations are now subject to the desires of inter-Western relations. They are not independent. They are non-existent on the inter-Arab level and equally non-existent on the Syrian-Arab level.

As to our relation with Egypt, Egypt suffered from the same terrorism from which Syria suffered, but in a different way. It suffered from the attempts of Arab countries to interfere and fund terrorist forces, but of course to a much lesser degree than what happened in Syria. But there is a great degree of awareness in Egypt in general, on the level of the Egyptian state and people, of what happened in Syria recently. There is a relation but in a very limited framework between the two states, practically on the level of the security services. But we do not talk about real relations or about having closer ties unless there is a direct meeting between the concerned political institutions in the two countries. This hasn’t happened so far, and we hope to see a closer Syrian-Egyptian relation soon because of the importance of Syrian-Egyptian relations for the Arab condition in general. Relations with Iraq are good of course, and we coordinate with Iraq because we have the same terrorist arena.

Question 16: Mr. President, in a number of reports for RT, we said that after things settled down in Damascus, this year will be a year of great changes. After a number of foreign parliamentary and political delegations visited Syria, what is your reading of the near future, politically and militarily, particularly after your meetings with these delegations?

President Assad: The delegations which visited Syria recently, some publically and others secretly, express two things: first, they show the lack of credibility of the media campaign in the West towards what is happening in the region. Repeating the same lies for four years cannot continue because it is no longer convincing. Realities on the ground are changing, and there are things which we in Syria used to say from the beginning of the crisis which have proved to Western people to be true.

When we used to talk about the spread of terrorism, they used to say there was no terrorism. The delegations which visit Syria include journalists, civil society organizations, and parliamentarians. They wanted to come to Syria in order to know what is going on. On the other hand, there is something related to the states. More than one Western official we met told us that Western officials climbed the tree and are no longer capable of coming down. We have to help them come down through these meetings. They have lied a great deal to us for four years, and now they are saying the exact opposite. It won’t be possible for these politicians to say the opposite and say the truth, because they will end politically. That’s why they send delegations, and when the delegations return, they attack them, saying that they were private visits and have nothing to do with the state.

Despite the fact that these delegations include parliamentarians, but they include people who represent the executive authority, whether in the intelligence services, the ministries of defense, or the like. This shows that the Western countries still persist in their lies but they want a way out and do not know how to get out of the dilemma they have got themselves into.

Question 17: Once again, Mr. President, it’s Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The Syrian crisis has been going on for four years. I believe it has been a difficult experience for you as a leader of this state in order to help the state itself survive. Could you please tell me about this new experience you have acquired during this difficult period. What are the things you concluded concerning foreign relations, for instance? What are the principles you adopt in leading the state?

President Assad: It is self evident that the role of any state is to work for the interests of the people and the interests of the country. It is only normal that its role should be to act in order to achieve these interests. The conflict for the past decades, including this crisis, is actually linked to what is happening in Ukraine, first because Syria and Ukraine concern Russia, and second because the objective is clear: weakening Russia. The objective is to create client states. When the task of the state or the official is to work for the interests of the people, it is self evident that this should be the guiding principle in managing domestic and foreign policies. This requires continued dialogue between officials and the population, all the officials and all the population. It’s normal to have different viewpoints in every country, but ultimately there should be one general line which identifies the public policy of the state. In that case, even if there were mistakes, and even if there was some deviation, the people will support you in such crises because your intentions are good and because you do not implement the policies of other countries. You implement the policies of this people, a little better, a little worse, this is the nature of things.

This is why I say that what we have succeeded in doing during these four years is that we haven’t paid attention to the Western campaign, haven’t cared about Western statements. We have cared a great deal about what the different sections of the Syrian people think, particularly when there was an intellectual polarization in Syria, between those who support the state, those who oppose it, and those in the middle.

Many people now support the state after they discovered the truth, not because they support the state politically – they might have great differences with the state in terms of political, economic, cultural, and foreign policies – but they are convinced that this is a patriotic state which acts in the best interest of the people, and that if they want to change these policies, it should happen through constitutional and legal ways. This is what we have succeeded in doing, and this is what has protected our country. Had we gone in any other direction, we would have failed from the early months of the crisis, and what they proposed in terms of the state and the president would fall, would have been true, because they believed that we would move away from people and follow our own way, and this is what we haven’t done.

Question 18: With your permission, I have another question from Russia 24 TV channel. You talked about foreign attempts to change regimes in a number of countries, and there are moves and acts on the part of Western or foreign intelligence agencies to overthrow certain regimes. Did they try something like this with you before the crisis?

President Assad: Of course, and for decades. At least these attempts have not stopped for the past five decades. They used to have two trends: sometimes changing the state, and when these attempts fail, and they always do, they used to move in another direction which is weakening the state from within, and sometimes from the outside, through sanctions, in the same way they are behaving towards Russia now.

The sanctions against Russia aim at weakening Russia from the inside. We also have been subject to sanctions for decades, like Cuba, and they also failed. There have been other attempts through people inside the country, people who belong in their minds and aspirations to the West, not to the country. They admire the West and have an inferiority complex towards it, and that’s why they implement its agendas.

There was another method used through the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance. The organization was created in Egypt at the beginning of the last century with British support, not Egyptian support. The British created it in order to make it one of the tools used to destroy Egypt when Britain needs it. Of course, the organization spread to other Arab countries, including Syria. These methods will not stop as long as the West continues to think in a colonialist manner, and as long as there are states which speak the national language and do not accept foreign intervention. These countries include Russia, Syria, Iran, and many other countries in the world. They will continue to try, and I think they will not stop, because that is the logic of history: there are countries which want to dominate and control other countries, if not through war, then through the economy, and if not through the economy, then through creating problems and blackmail.

Journalists: Thank you, Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you very much for visiting us in these circumstances, and I hope that this discussion has been useful to you and to your Russian audiences. When we talk to the Russians, we know that they know exactly what is happening in Syria, because what is happening in Syria and Russia is similar. And of course there are historical relations and Syrian-Russian families. I hope to see again you under different circumstances. Thank you.

The Anti-Empire Report #137

The Greek Tragedy: Some things not to forget, which the new Greek leaders have not.

The Anti-Empire Report #137 by William Blum

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup.

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail.

Will the United States, Germany, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – collectively constituting the International Mafia – allow the new Greek leaders of the Syriza party to dictate the conditions of Greece’s rescue and salvation? The answer at the moment is a decided “No”. The fact that Syriza leaders, for some time, have made no secret of their affinity for Russia is reason enough to seal their fate. They should have known how the Cold War works.

I believe Syriza is sincere, and I’m rooting for them, but they may have overestimated their own strength, while forgetting how the Mafia came to occupy its position; it didn’t derive from a lot of compromise with left-wing upstarts. Greece may have no choice, eventually, but to default on its debts and leave the Eurozone. The hunger and unemployment of the Greek people may leave them no alternative.

The Twilight Zone of the US State Department

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop … the Twilight Zone.” (American Television series, 1959-1965)

State Department Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015. Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, questioned by Matthew Lee of The Associated Press.

Lee: President Maduro [of Venezuela] last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?

Psaki: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.

Lee: Sorry. The US has – whoa, whoa, whoa – the US has a longstanding practice of not promoting – What did you say? How longstanding is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a longstanding practice.

Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history –

Lee: Not in this case.

Psaki: – is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.

Lee: In this specific case.

Psaki: Correct.

Lee: But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime, even – (laughter)

Psaki: The last 21 years. (Laughter.)

Lee: Well done. Touché. But I mean, does “longstanding” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is –

Psaki: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.

Lee: I understand, but you said it’s a longstanding US practice, and I’m not so sure – it depends on what your definition of “longstanding” is.

Psaki: We will – okay.

Lee: Recently in Kyiv, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government at the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and you supported it. The constitution was –

Psaki: That is also ludicrous, I would say.

Lee: – not observed.

Psaki: That is not accurate, nor is it with the history of the facts that happened at the time.

Lee: The history of the facts. How was it constitutional?

Psaki: Well, I don’t think I need to go through the history here, but since you gave me the opportunity –- as you know, the former leader of Ukraine left of his own accord.

………………..

Leaving the Twilight Zone … The former Ukrainian leader ran for his life from those who had staged the coup, including a mob of vicious US-supported neo-Nazis.

If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War. None of the attempts were democratic, constitutional, peaceful, or legal; well, a few were non-violent.

The ideology of the American media is that it believes that it doesn’t have any ideology

So NBC’s evening news anchor, Brian Williams, has been caught telling untruths about various events in recent years. What could be worse for a reporter? How about not knowing what’s going on in the world? In your own country? At your own employer? As a case in point I give you Williams’ rival, Scott Pelley, evening news anchor at CBS.

In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.”

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein himself told CBS’s Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.”

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world, before the 2003 American invasion, that the WMD were non-existent.

Enter Scott Pelley. In January 2008, as a CBS reporter, Pelley interviewed FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?

For a journalist there might actually be something as bad as not knowing what’s going on in his area of news coverage, even on his own station. After Brian Williams’ fall from grace, his former boss at NBC, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying: “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.”

I think it’s safe to say that members of the American mainstream media are not embarrassed by such a “compliment”.

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter made the following observation:

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Cuba made simple

“The trade embargo can be fully lifted only through legislation – unless Cuba forms a democracy, in which case the president can lift it.”

Aha! So that’s the problem, according to a Washington Post columnist – Cuba is not a democracy! That would explain why the United States does not maintain an embargo against Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt and other distinguished pillars of freedom. The mainstream media routinely refer to Cuba as a dictatorship. Why is it not uncommon even for people on the left to do the same? I think that many of the latter do so in the belief that to say otherwise runs the risk of not being taken seriously, largely a vestige of the Cold War when Communists all over the world were ridiculed for blindly following Moscow’s party line. But what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is, if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. (They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries). Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have the Koch Brothers to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba not a democracy because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement two years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

The Ministry of Propaganda has a new Commissar

Last month Andrew Lack became chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees US government-supported international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Asia. In a New York Times interview, Mr. Lack was moved to allow the following to escape his mouth: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram.”

So … this former president of NBC News conflates Russia Today (RT) with the two most despicable groups of “human beings” on the planet. Do mainstream media executives sometimes wonder why so many of their audience has drifted to alternative media, like, for example, RT?

Those of you who have not yet discovered RT, I suggest you go to RT.com to see whether it’s available in your city. And there are no commercials.

It should be noted that the Times interviewer, Ron Nixon, expressed no surprise at Lack’s remark.

Speech by Hizb’allah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, February 16, 2015

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41054.htm

Those Who Bet on the Americans are Bargaining on a Mirage

By Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah


How do you bet on the very side which robs you, conspires against you, and had fabricated these and dispatched them to you?
 
Full speech delivered by Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during the memorial anniversary of the Resistance Leader Martyrs held in Sayyed Ashuhada Compound on February 16, 2015.
 
Video and Transcript – February 20, 2015 “ICH” –
 
Transcript
 
I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be upon the Seal of Prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad, on his chaste and pure Household, on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets.

Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.

First, I would like to welcome you all in this dear and solemn occasion – the anniversary of the Leader Martyrs.

However, allow me first to tackle a really grave incident. I find myself obliged to express our as well as your strong condemnation of the brutal and savage crime perpetrated by the Takfiri Daesh organization against the oppressed Egyptian workers in Libya. This crime cannot be tolerated or bore by the mind, heart, conscience, religion or humanity. In your name, we extend our condolences to their oppressed and deemed-weak families, the Egyptian people, the Egyptian government, and the Coptic Church. We also express our consolation and deep sorrow for this calamity which afflicted them. In fact, it afflicted us all – Islam and Christianity, Muslims and Christians, and every human being who has a mind, a conscience, and an intact nature. We will return to this topic again in the course of the speech.

First, I would like to talk about the occasion and the act of commemorating this occasion. Then, I will talk a little about the Lebanese affairs before making a general overview and a general stance on the situation of the region.

Every year, on this very day, together we mark the anniversary of the Leader Martyrs, the family of leaders, Martyr Sayyed Abbass Mussawi – our Secretary General, leader, master, beloved, and inspirer -, his well-educated, resisting wife Martyr Sayyeda Um Yasser, and his small child Hussein, the Sheikh of the Islamic Resistance Martyrs – His Eminence Martyr Sheikh Ragheb Harb, and the senior jihadi Leader Martyr Hajj Imad Moghniyeh who are the symbol of our steadfastness and victory. We mark their anniversary for our sake and our good and not theirs. We mark their anniversary to teach our children, grandchildren and future generations. We commemorate this occasion so that the near past which we lived and partook in making remains connected to the present and overlooking the future.

This period of time must remain in our minds – we who have lived this era -, and it must dwell in the minds of our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.

This period of time extends from the establishment of the State of “Israel” in 1948, the wars which were staged later in 1967 and 1973, the events that took place in Lebanon, the resistance announced by the Palestinian people, the resistance announced later on by His Eminence Sayyed Mussa Sadre (May Allah return him back safe and sound along with both his companions), Camp David Agreement, the divine and historic victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran which took place in like these days under the leadership of His Eminence Imam Khomeini (May Allah sanctify his secret), the “Israeli” invasion in 1982, and the post-invasion era to our day including the wars, confrontations, events, and conspiracies.

This era is pregnant with events and development, and no one – neither we nor our children or the generations to come – can approach the present and the challenges of the day in a logical, objective, scientific, intact, and sound way apart from all of this past and the equations and achievements made: the facts and illusions, logic and lunacy, desperate bargains and sound options, waiting a mirage that did not and will never come true and waiting for victories made by the determination, sacrifices, tears, blood, aspirations, and pains of men and women. This time era with all what it comprises represents a great humanistic, fiducial, cultural, and jihadi school for our people and nation.

These leader martyrs were among its most prominent figures and leaderships and its martyred witnesses. Second, we always and all year long need to resort to them. We need to turn to Sayyed Abbass, Um Yasser, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad as ideals to follow. We need to learn from them to abstain from this world when it ornaments to us its vanities: prestige, wealth, and luxury. We need to learn from them to be modest and even humble when we become strong. We need to learn from them to be strong when we confront quaking and hurricane-like calamities. We need to learn from them wisdom when we are fought with ordeals and seditions that disperse minds and insight. We take from them and are inspired by their ardor and zeal when tired, by their boldness when hesitating, and by their unlimited sacrifices when the position requires that. We learn from them to trust in Allah, our nation, our people, ourselves, and our resistance fighters when people feel frustrated as hardships, difficulties, and challenges target them from all sides. We take from them hope, confidence, and insight. As you heard a while ago, when “Israel” was occupying our land, Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad first and later on expressed their vision that “Israel” would not only withdraw from our land but also will be eliminated from the world. That is at a time “Israel” was occupying our land, our men and women were in prison, and we were weak and “Israel” was strong. As such, we take from them a clear vision and intact insight, confidence and hope, and most importantly we learn from them to be faithful and loyal, to have tolerance, to be up to the level of the tough and difficult current challenges we are facing, and to be competent at shouldering the responsibility of making a decent, noble, and prideful future that befits our people, homeland, and nation. Thus we always take pains to talk about them, their biography, their morals, their conduct, their achievements, their jihad, and their sacrifices so that we as well our children, grandchildren, and the future generations come to know and learn.

This is what we must take pains to achieve when we broadcast the names, photos, biographies, and wills of all the martyrs every day and around the year. That’s because they truly present an integrated, intellectual jihadi school which we must introduce and with which we must be acquainted. For 32 years by now, a generation of young men who were 18, 19, 20, 23, and 25 at most by that time and who were scholars and fighters whether men or women took the initiative and shouldered the responsibility. Some of them were martyred in the different stages of the path.

Many of our veteran cadres were mighty in the fields of jihad and enduring difficulties and wounds and then died of a long struggle with illness the last of whom was a dear leader of the pioneer Resistance leaders late Hajj Mustafa Shehadeh (May Allah have mercy on him). Some were detained and suffered from the cuffs of detention. Some were wounded and are still suffering from their injuries. Some are still moving in this path holding their blood on their palms. The slogan held by this first generation which included Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad, and Hajjeh Um Yasser is {Among the Believers are men who have been true to their Covenant with Allah: othem some have completed their vow, and some atill wait: but they have never changed their determination in the least}.

Among the young men today are children of the first generation who in their turn pledged, lived up to their pledge, and adhered to their pledge, and many of them passed away as martyrs the last of whom were those who were killed in the “Israeli” aggression in Quneitra.

The children of the first generation were also senior partakers in making victory. The anniversary of the leader martyrs comes this year with evidence on what I am saying. The son of Leader Martyr Imad Moghniyeh – Jihad – stood on this podium to pledge his allegiance and willingly declare his affiliation, identity, and option. No one obliged him to do so. He could have continued his university education. He was a young gentle man. His life and his future were before him. The entire world was before him. However, the son of Hajj Imad carried Hajj Imad’s spirit, soul, knowledge, and love. He abandoned all of that. Where did he go? He went to Golan and to Quneitra where his life was sealed in martyrdom. As such are the martyrs the sons of martyrs. The blood of martyr Jihad and his brethrens in Quneitra days ago forcefully revived the anniversary of the martyrdom of Hajj Imad Moghniyeh.

It brought him back to life again. At that moment we felt as if Hajj Imad was martyred anew. People had this emotional, spiritual, and moral feeling. The people sympathized with the incidents what brought this matchless, brilliant, and historic leader to the forefront of events again emphasizing that his memory and presence is still the most forceful and supreme in the conscience of the friend and foe who is still haunted by the blood of Imad Moghniyeh and will always be haunted by the blood of Imad Moghniyeh.

Brothers and sisters! On this great and dear day to us and in a show of loyalty to these leader martyrs and as responsible people, we tackle some issues that concern us in Lebanon and some issues that concern us also in the region.
First I will tackle some Lebanese affairs.

First: We are in the month of February in which many incidents took place especially on February 14th. On this occasion, I extend my condolences and consolation to the family of Martyr Premier Rafiq Hariri, his lovers, his party, and his supporters for the sorrowful event of his martyrdom that shook Lebanon and the region, and the repercussions of which are still taking place to our very day. I also extend my consolations to all the families and lovers of all the martyrs – whether men and women – who fell on that day in that painful, sorrowful, and very dangerous incident.

Second: Today and before the danger of terror that is threatening Lebanon and the region, we in Hizbullah support the call for devising a national anti-terror strategy. I believe that the Lebanese political forces and Lebanese leaderships may agree on an enemy that is terrorism. That may not be as difficult as agreeing on a defense strategy in face of “Israel” for, unfortunately, we disagree over another enemy, which is “Israel”. Anyway, we support the call for devising a national strategy against terrorism. Now how are we to achieve that?

Now I received the result of whether there was shooting in the air or not as I started my speech. It is supposed that in the compound you haven’t heard anything. I thank all our honorable people in Dahiyeh, Beirut, and all regions for abiding by our call and appeal. This is always expected from you, and you always live up to our expectations. We must always cooperate, and Inshallah we will come to an end with this phenomenon so that we don’t find ourselves obliged to issue a statement for every ceremony and request from you not to shoot in the air.

We must cooperate as far as this issue is concerned. It is an old tradition in Lebanon to shoot in the air in funerals of martyrs, martyr processions, and in the various occasions, and we must cooperate on the media, cultural, and political levels to put an end to it Inshallah. Many thanks to all those who answered our call and adhered to our recommendations. I am very thankful to you all.

So we are with devising a national anti-terror strategy. Now who is to work on this? It is the government. The parliament presents an initiative. A national unity session may be held. This needs follow up. The mechanism needs discussion. Anyway, in principle, we call for that, and we support that.

The third point has to do with the security plan in Bekaa. We renew our ultimate support for the plan which we believe came late. The security plan must continue and must be activated. So it must not last for a week or two or a month or two. The Bekaa region has been suffering from thieves, criminals, corruptive people who kidnap people to receive ransoms, and outlaws who terrorize people.

We hope that this era had come to an end Inshallah. Between parentheses, I say that there were popular requests that we – Hizbullah, Amal Movement, and the political forces in Bekaa – assume this responsibility but this was not a right step. Here I am telling our people in Bekaa that this is not right and will not be right in the future.

What is right is that the state is the most able and the most competent side of assuming this responsibility which is its obligation in fact. All of us must support and back the army, the security forces, and the government in controlling the security situation. Thus the security plan needs follow up. It was said that the wanted fled. Well that is good. Now let the army and the security forces be aware and serious so that they do not come back. As long as they are away from the region, the region will be free of thieves, criminals, corruptive people, and killers. As such no such things will be tolerated in the future.

Alongside the security plan in Bekaa, two other things are needed. I will only mention topics so that I can cover all the points. The first point is the development plan in Bekaa. If the state wants to control that area, it is not enough to dispatch the army and the security forces. It must develop the area: a hospital, a school, roads, water, electricity, job opportunities and anything possible so that these honorable people live in dignity and stay and stick to their land. The north and especially Akkar needs development and not only security.
The second point is resolving the problem of tens of thousands of people who are wanted for trivial, minor or old offenses. This issue is still unresolved, and it must be addressed after all. It is not right that tens of thousands remain wanted and are arrested on check points for very trivial reasons.

There is a third point which is lurking and upcoming. I will not tackle it in details. I will leave it for another occasion. I will only mention it because we are talking about Bekaa. This will take place when the snow melts. Today on the other side of the eastern mountain range, and in the hills and mountains of Arsal, Daesh and al-Nusra are found. Daesh extends from Libya to all the regions it wishes to be found in until reaching the barren mountains of Arsal. Well, now the mountains are covered with snow. The windy weather and weather conditions have limited or prevented confrontations. However, when the snow melts, there is something waiting to take place there. The state as well as the Lebanese people must decide on how to deal with this threat and danger on the hills and mountains that intimidates the villages and everyone. Man must take a position. When we tackle the regional issues we will return to this topic again. These can easily be defeated but that requires a decision and a national will.

We are coming to that stage, and we must take a position accordingly. Now we are in the month of February. There are storms with many names, and it has become difficult for us to memorize the name of each storm. There is snow, and it is freezing cold. Our brave men are on the top of mountains of elevations between 2000 and 2500 meters. On this occasion, we must renew our tribute to the officers of the Lebanese Army and the security forces as well as to the Resistance men. Also on the other side there are the officers and soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army and the Resistance men. These men in that area are preventing terrorist attacks and preventing dispatching bomb-laden vehicles to the various Lebanese regions. On the Day of the Leader Martyrs, we give all our regards and high-esteem for their patience, determination, and steadfastness in face of storms and freezing snow.

Fourth: On the anniversary of the understanding between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement which also took place in February, the importance of this great achievement is manifested more and more day after day. Its consequences are also made clear on the political situations in Lebanon and even in the region. That’s because one of the most important consequences of the understanding is the impact of the stance related to the Resistance which is a part of all the challenges, consequences, and victories of the region. We call for deepening and strengthening the relationship between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement. We also call for making similar understandings on the national level. At that time, we dreamed that the very understanding would widen to include the others. Well, some clauses may be sensitive or there might be some pro forma protocols. Let’s keep such clauses aside. Any two or three sides or movement may reach an understanding similar to this national understanding in which all of us may join.

So it would not hold the name of Hizbullah or the Free Patriotic Movement. We would rather be among those partaking in making it and inking it. It would be a whole new agreement that includes everything that closes ranks, achieves accord, addresses the dilemmas of dialogue, and ensures great national interests.

Fifth, as for presidential elections, we call for exerting internal efforts in this perspective as there is not any such internal effort in fact. No side is making any move except for remote or insignificant steps. Thus we call for resuming internal national efforts, and it is well known where, how, and with whom. So there is no need to go more into details. The concerned persons are well known. Again I tell all those who care for putting an end to vacuum and for remaking institutions in Lebanon: Do not wait for the changes in the region and foreign changes. Do not wait for the Iranian nuclear file or the US-Iranian talks or the Saudi-Iranian talks. Do not wait for anything in the region. On the contrary, the region is moving towards more crises and confrontations. New fronts are being opened. I will tackle the regional affairs later in my speech.

Previously, we used to say that no one is free enough to be bothered with us. In the future too, no one will be free to be preoccupied with us. So let’s not let this vacuum stay for long. If we are serious and independent, sovereign, and a decision-maker in his bloc and can vote for the person of his choice as everyone of us claims to be, let’s resume this internal national effort to resolve the issue of presidential elections.

Sixth, regarding the government, we support it and back it in resuming its work. This is a national need. In fact, the Lebanese have no other choice. The alternative is vacuum and forfeiture. I believe that no one agrees on this alternative. There are problems facing the work of the government; we must cooperate to resolve these problems. As for the issue of the mechanism of taking a decision, we will deal positively with some of the presented solutions. Some of these solutions are logical and appropriate, and we call on the forces partaking in the government to deal positively with this issue to overcome this crisis so that the government convene anew, resume its work, and assume its responsibilities.

Seventh, Hizbullah will continue the dialogue with the Future Movement Inshallah as we see that this dialogue has so far led to good and positive results within the ceilings of expectations set at the very beginning. That means from the very beginning, they and we knew the magnitude of expectations. Well, let’s not handle this issue on platforms. The expectations are clear. The agenda is agreed upon. It is clear too, and it is within the expectations. Within the agenda, the results are good, and with the seriousness characterizing both sides, we hope we will reach a good and positive result that would be to the interest of Lebanon and all the Lebanese Inshallah. We will move forward in this dialogue. Well some people may bother us; others may be annoyed by the dialogue; some people still talk inappropriately. Still we along with our masses must tolerate and endure all of that to the interest of the country.

The last point on the domestic level has to do with us renewing our encouragement and support to any form of dialogue between any Lebanese political forces no matter under what title it comes or what results it may yield. Even if the results are humble, dialogue remains the best option before us as Lebanese.

This is as far as Lebanon is concerned. Let’s move now to the region though through a Lebanese prelude. There is a critical and crucial point which I hope we all would contemplate on. For decades by now and all through the stage we lived and passed through to our very day, there has always been a dispute in Lebanon. There are two logics which you hear in ceremonies and occasions.

The first logic says that we want Lebanon apart from the region and apart from the events taking place in the region. It is the policy of isolating it from what is taking place in the entire region. This policy is against interfering in the affairs of the region. This logic is nice regardless of whether those saying this are committing themselves to it or not. We are talking in theory. In theory, there is a logic that goes against interfering in what is taking place in the region whether on the political, media, or military level. This is the policy of staying apart. Lebanon cannot tolerate interfering. Lebanon’s conditions are complicated and difficult. Thus Lebanon must remain away, and it must not be hurled in any of the axes. I reiterate that some sides – no matter who they may be – say so though in practice that may not be the case. That’s because many sides in the country may or may not be parts of an axes. They may or may not be interfering in the affairs of the region. This is another field of study.

The other logic theoretically says that is impossible. The logic you are talking about is nice. This Arabic composition you are making is nice; however allow me to say that it is unrealistic. The true status quo, the land, the field, history, geography, demography, security, peace, and livelihood say against that. That is similar to natural phenomena. When a snowy storm is approaching you can’t stand in its face and tell it: Cool down. We are Lebanese. We want to stay isolated from storms, snow, and rain. We have our own snow, our own rain, and our own climate. We are a piece from Heaven, and we have nothing to do with anyone else. Well how is this translated into action? Is such logic realistic or right?

Whether the Lebanese like it or not, Lebanon has always been effected by what takes place in the region: the establishment of the state of “Israel” and the usurp of Palestine have had great repercussions on Lebanon and the region. All what takes place in the region has its repercussions on Lebanon. No one can say: Hold on. We cannot tolerate. We do not want to be influenced by your repercussions. Here we have to say. Here one may be logical or illogical. What is the truth? What is the true situation? This is the truth. On the contrary, Lebanon today is under the impact of what is taking place in the region more than in any time in the past. Today the destiny of Lebanon is not made in Lebanon only. Now the fate of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen among other countries is made in the region as a region. No fate is made in one country alone. The region has been molded anew. The entire region was shocked and scattered. It is now being recreated from scratch. Whoever wants to decide the fate of Lebanon must partake in making the fate of the region, and whoever is absent in making the fate of the region is in fact telling others to make our fate as we cannot do anything. No, today the fate of the states in the region is made in the region. Even more, the fate of the world is now being made in the region.

In a while we will start talking about Daesh, Libya, Italy, and Europe. However now and in the light of this labor pain, the fate of entities will be determined. Some entities may continue or stop to exist. On light of this labor pain, some people will continue or stop to exist. Will things remain as such or will there be a kind of rejoining or disintegration, or are we heading to years and decades of destruction? What is the future? All of this is being made in the region? States and peoples in the region as well as the entire world are being influenced by that. No one can say I am Lebanese or whatever. That is unrealistic. The issue is not intellectual luxury or political luxury. The fate of our people and of our country is at stake. Our dignity and the future of our generations are at stake.

In this framework and as a joke I say that in the past, we faced the problem of convincing some Lebanese that we are part of the Arab region, the Levant, the Middle East, and the Arab-“Israeli” struggle when having discussions with them. They used to say that is not the case; Lebanon is an island in the Pacific Ocean. We live at ease, we are not influenced by anything, and we are not concerned with anything. Their stance today has taken a more negative course because we now have to convince them that Lebanon is part of Planet Earth, not of Mars. Today the Globe – the entire Globe – is influenced by what is taking place in the region. This logic has, in fact, always been a point of disagreement that used to cause further disagreements. Well, we approach this issue with such a mentality because we believe that the fate of Lebanon, the fate of the people of Lebanon, the future of Lebanon, the will of Lebanon, the security of Lebanon, the ability to live in Lebanon, and the economy of Lebanon cannot be isolated from the developments and events taking place in the region. When I talk about the region, I will talk in general and not in details.

However, still I have a brief comment which I find appropriate to say. To those who criticize our stance from what is taking place in Bahrain for example saying that such a stance harms the relation with a dear fraternal country called Bahrain I say:

Indeed, Bahrain is a dear fraternal country exactly like any other Arab country is for us. I accept that they criticize our stance, and they have the right to criticize our stance only if they abide by this policy – the policy that goes against interfering in the affairs of others. But that is not accepted from those who interfere in the affairs of another Arab country the relation of which with Lebanon is by far more important and more critical than Lebanon’s relations with Bahrain. I mean Syria.

Security, economy, path, horizons, sea, water, people and families are common between Lebanon and Syria. Since the beginning of the events in Syria up till now, some have interfered and even been part of the battle on Syria and its government, regime, army, and the choice of a wide section of its people, and they were part of the media and political war against it. Arms were led in to Syria, and money was paid and is still. Those acting as such pertaining to Syria have no right to criticize our stance on Bahrain. After all, what did we do as far as Bahrain is concerned? We issued a political position. We did not send arms to Bahrain. We did not instigate violence in Bahrain. We did not call for toppling the regime in Bahrain. On the contrary, we always used to back the callers for the peaceful movement, to call for dialogue and reform in Bahrain, to reject violence, and to avoid violent reactions and suppression practiced by the regime.

The stance we took must be met by appreciation by the deaf and blind government of Bahrain. It must be appreciated by everyone who cares for any Arab country. That’s because when a political side in any Arab country addresses another Arab country saying:

Your demands are rightful. Resort to peaceful means. Do not head to violence. Go towards dialogue. Accept any settlement.

Such a stance should be highly evaluated. However, because the government in Bahrain is afraid of any rightful word, it is frightened by any call believing {that every cry is against them}. As such it becomes tense and starts threatening you. By what? By expelling the Lebanese from Bahrain. This is the means resorted to by the weak and feeble authorities. Such authorities act as such. They threaten that they will expel the Lebanese in Bahrain if so and so carry on talking in such a way.

Anyway, we are now in the month of February which also witnesses the anniversary of the peaceful, civil, and civilized uprising of the people of Bahrain whom we salute and hail for their patience, steadfastness, awareness, and wisdom. So whoever gives advice and preaches must first observe them himself. Then we can talk together if we are to observe them or not and whether what we are doing is right or wrong.

I will tackle the situation in the region besides the “Israeli” threat in a couple of words. We will talk about what is new as we do not want to reiterate what is old. The threat and danger represented by the Takfiri current with its most prominent form – Daesh – has been forcefully evident in new fields and domains.

Previously we have said that this is not a threat to some governments only but rather to all governments. It is not a threat to some regimes only but rather to all regimes, entities, peoples, and armies. It is not a threat to religious, or factional, or racial minorities. It is a threat to everyone.

We have said that very early. We also said that it is a threat to Islam as a religion and as a divine mission. Since that day to this day, all the events that took place assert this concept that we have talked about together very early.

Now, the entire world has admitted that yes the Takfiri current under the name of Daesh is posing a threat to the security of the region and to world security. Does anyone in this world argue this point? There is only “Israel” because it does not consider Daesh a threat or a danger. You have seen “Israeli” War Minister Yaalon making an inspection visit to Golan a couple of days ago and saying that Daesh does not pose a threat or danger. He also said that al-Nusra does not pose any threat or danger.

Well, “Israel” alone considers that Daesh and al-Nusra do not pose a threat. Still all world countries consider – even if apparently – that Daesh poses a threat and a danger to the security of the region and to world security. Later on we will talk about al-Nusra.
“Israel” has the right to say that Daesh does not form a threat because all what Daesh had made so far and is still making absolutely serves the interests of “Israel” whether Daesh is aware of that or not.

What is taking place now? New fronts are being opened. There are new forms of brutality and criminality they brought along from Hollywood or from other places. The way in which the Jordanian pilot Maaz Kassabah was burnt is catastrophic. The way in which the oppressed deemed-week Egyptian workers were slaughtered which we saw on TV screens is disgraceful and frightful. Hostages are being slaughtered in such a way. Even more, new fronts are being opened and new targets are being set.

Daesh has nothing to do in Palestine or in al-Quds.

That’s why Yaalon says that Daesh forms no threat. In fact, the true and absolute target of Daesh is Mecca and Medina. I call on the brethrens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to calm down a little. The absolute goal is Mecca and Medina. Today I watched that in the news. I am not very much sure whether new rulers were appointed today or whether they are talking about an old report. I am saying so to be precautious but what I heard today says that Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi – the Caliph of Daesh – appointed a prince on Mecca and ruler on Medina.

So the goal is Mecca and Medina and not al-Quds. It’s because the caliphate of Daesh would not be completed without the Two Holy Shrines of Mecca and Medina.

What did those who slaughtered the Egyptian Copts in Libya say? They said that their goal is Rome! Their options are very remote!

Mecca and Medina remain relatively nearer than Rome. They may say that we can go to Mecca and Medina, and from there we move through Jordan to Palestine. Still they want to go to Rome! What do they have to do in Rome?!

These are new wars and fronts. Whom are they serving? For whose interest are they fighting? Here and for the first time I dare to say: Consider the “Israeli” Mossad, the CIA, and the British intelligence. Previously, we did not pose the theory of a conspiracy. But now we say let’s take that into consideration.
Everything that the Takfiri current and Daesh do serves “Israel”, “Israel’s” hegemony over the region, and the US hegemony over the region.

They are also provoking Europe. Imagine for example that a couple of days ago Italian Defense Minister said: We are ready to lead an international coalition against terrorism in Libya. Between parentheses we ask the Italian Defense minister: Why do you want to lead an international attack on terrorism in Libya?
Listen very well to the answer of the Italian Defense Minister. I hope that March 14 Bloc would hear the answer very well. It is because “terrorism is now only 350 kilometers away from the Italian border.” She says only 350 kilometers.

The Defense Minister, Italy, and the European Union are civilized, and still they are thinking of staging a military action against Libya because terrorism is now 350 kilometers away. As for us, terrorism is on the barren mountains at the border, in al-Qseir and Qalamoun. Terrorism is on our hills and in bomb-laden cars. Still some parties are arguing whether I am right or wrong.
Before this status quo which is in fact not exaggerated, there is a truth called a true serious danger.


The threat was in Syria. Now it is in Syria and Iraq. It also reached Libya. Also in Sinaa they say that Ansar Beit Al Maqdes has pledged allegiance to Daesh or something of this sort. Similar things are taking place in other places too. Today in Tunisia, there is a state of full mobilization. In Yemen, a branch of al-Qaeda had pledged allegiance to Daesh Caliph and are proceeding and occupying camps in southern provinces in the country.

There is a true threat. They are slaughtering and killing. These are not films. They are producing true films. It is absolutely sure that their mind, spirit, and brutality come from Hollywood. This is the culture of Hollywood.

What is the culture of Hollywood? Is there anything other than killing and slaughtering? Is this from here, from the Orient, from Islam, from Christianity, from prophets, from the caliphs, from the companions of the Prophet, or from the Household of the Prophet (Peace be upon them)? God forbids. It is not from any of these.

The origin of what we are seeing now before our eyes on TV screens is clear. In face of this danger which is threatening everyone, we call on the peoples and the governments of the region to join efforts to confront this vast, dangerous, terrorist Takfiri threat.

I reiterate that we are all able to defeat this threat as well as to defeat those standing behind it whether the “Israeli” Mossad, the Americans or the English.

Brothers and sisters! The strategies followed by the international coalition and the international community are minor – that is if we thought good of them. If we thought bad of them, we wonder whether they really want to get rid of Daesh or not. Let’s be serious. I will refer to this again in a separate clause. Thus the nation, the peoples of the nation, the governments, the scholars, the political parties, the resisting forces, and the armies are all concerned in confronting this threat which is the most dangerous threat except for the “Israeli” threat.

Thus I have a couple of clauses to say briefly.

Clause One: The intellectual, political, media, and field confrontation of this Takfiri current must be considered a kind of defense – a defense of Islam. It is not anymore a defense of a definite axis or regime or state or faction or sect or minority. They are threatening everyone. They are threatening Islam above all.

I hope that everyone understands very well what I am saying. Any conduct made by a Muslim who claims to be a Muslim that disagrees with human nature cannot be from Islam. It is impossible to be from Islam. Allah Al Mighty says {So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith (establish) Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind; no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah: that is the standard Religion}. This is the nature which does not change since Allah created man}.

From the very beginning to Doom’s Day there is one and only one human nature. {That is the standard Religion}. The standard religion is the religion that agrees and is in harmony with human nature. Such deeds which sicken the minds, hearts, and spirits and which all humanity with its various and diversified doctrinal and political ideas, visions and directions loathes cannot be Islamic deeds or deeds pertaining to any religion.

So this battle is a battle in defense of Islam. And today, I will tell you with pride: As we form or consider ourselves part of this battle in face of this Takfiri current, we consider ourselves defending the Islam of Mohammad Bin Abdullah (Peace be upon him and his Household). We are not defending Shiites, Sunnites, this sect, or that sect.

Everyone knows that when the battle becomes a battle in defense of the religion of Allah Al Mighty and of the sanctities of Allah, then our sacrifices will have no limits, our patience will have no limits, our tolerance will have no limits, and our willingness to go to the end is with no limits as our Master Imam Abu Abdullah Al Hussein did in Karbala.

Here I am saying that we are doing so. I further call on everyone – on all Muslims – to defend their religion no matter if they are scholars, authorities, journalists, or authors. So arms are not a must. The worst deformation in human history for a divine religion is what Daesh is perpetrating now. No such thing ever took place in history.

Second: The entire world – or at least the states in our region which are living this threat and this danger – must tell some regional states which are still supporting Daesh with arms, money, facilities, and media that the game is over. Apparently such satellite channels may not seem to be defending Daesh. But if you listen carefully, you find that in fact they are defending Daesh. I am not going to explain this now. The game is over. The region, the peoples of the region, and the governments of the region will not be able to tolerate this level of criminality and brutality which is being perpetrated in the name of Islam against all the peoples of the region.

Third: This is a very important point. I will be frank and mention names. We must not fool ourselves or allow anyone to fool us by trying to differentiate between Daesh and al-Nusra Front. As we have always said in the past. I do not want to reiterate. They are one reality. They have the same essence, ideology, culture, spirit, conduct, and goal. I hope that one of the Lebanese or the Arabs would explain to us the difference between al-Nusra and Daesh. How is Daesh a terrorist and al-Nusra Front rebels? I wish I can find someone especially in Lebanon who may explain this to us on the TV or when sitting with our brethrens.

We must not be fooled. They are the very current. Their dispute was organizational. It was over leadership. However, the outcome is one and the same. Thus today, there are calls to confront the Takfiri currents with no discrimination. That is true. This is a sound stance. As for Jordan, it cannot fight Daesh in Iraq and support al-Nusra Front in Syria. Some Gulf countries cannot partake in an international coalition to fight Daesh in Iraq while offering money, arms, capabilities, and facilities to al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra is, in fact, the other face of Daesh. The entire current which poses a real threat must be confronted.

Fourth: The governments in the region and the states in the region must limit and address the ongoing struggles. We must help, and we must take initiatives too. Some may say that I am exaggerating in my theories. However, after all, we must be responsible when talking about this stage. What can we do or what can others do? I do not know. Today there are two priorities: The priority to confront the Zionist scheme which is proceeding in Palestine in demolishing houses and building settlements and in threatening Gaza and the region. The second priority is the Takfiri scheme which is threatening us all. Well, this must be a priority too. This means that we must be realistic in the other files too.

Some Arab countries, especially Gulf countries, must approach the region’s problems in a different manner, because they are in the circle of danger. So do not {be led by arrogance to perpetrate more crimes}. Do not get agitated and nurture anger and grudge. Cool down and sit and contemplate. After all, in Iraq for example, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi troops, the Kurd troops, the Shiite as well as the Sunnite tribes fought Daesh and rendered it inactive. In fact, they prevented Daesh from reaching Kuwait. They prevented Daesh from reaching Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, its eyes are not on Baghdad only. Its eyes are on Mecca and Medina as we said before. So approach Iraq from another perspective.

Today in Iraq there is a political operation. The Shiites, Sunnites, and Kurds met one way or another. At times, there are some flaws. At times, crimes take place. However, instead of instigating sectarian and factional ordeals in Iraq through your satellite channels, do play an active role in keeping the Iraqis united together that they would be able to prevent Daesh from expanding again and to be able to confront and crush Daesh. The Iraqis are defending you as well as your thrones and oil.

You have to approach Iraq in a different way. Enough with your Sunnite-Shiite-sectarian grudge.

You also failed to achieve your goals in Yemen. Search for the reasons behind your failure after you have spent billions of dollars. Power is not found on financial corruption through buying consciences….

Still, you can approach Yemen in a different way. Today, there is a true popular revolution which cannot be ignored. In fact, this revolution is standing in face of al-Qaeda and Daesh that are threatening all of you. All of these documents talk about al-Qaeda’s original scheme which was to control Yemen and Syria and thereof move to Mecca and Medina. O rulers of the Gulf. If you do not want to read, don’t you have people who may read for you? Why don’t you read a little?

Approaching Yemen is not to the effect of pushing Yemen towards an internal explosion or to the effect of instigating the Yemenis against each other or to the effect of seeking help from the Security Council in face of the Yemeni people or a large section of the Yemeni people. The approach must be peaceful and quiet. Ansarullah and its leadership are brave, wise, aware, and responsible enough to lead dialogue and make agreements. As such the entire situation would be under control. As for agitation and wrath, that would lead Yemen to unfavorable results, and the Gulf countries will pay the price for that because they will turn Yemen to a neighboring volcano and they will widen the field where Al Qaeda and Daesh act.

As for Bahrain, go and talk with Al Khalifa Monarchy. Let them calm down a little and act reasonably. Let them stop acting with suppression and open the gate for dialogue. Let them set the detainees free. The people in Bahrain want a settlement and reforms. Indeed some people in Bahrain do not accept what I am saying. But the majority does.

Let’s move to Syria now. The game is over in Syria. The continuation fighting in Syria is just a stubborn act to the effect that some said a word and they want their word to be done even if all of Syria was ruined and casualties increased.

Be realistic in viewing the status quo in Syria. Open the gate for a political solution. Allow the opposition to partake in a settlement. Here I do not mean the Takfiri opposition which is not allowed to partake in a settlement. The regime is ready to partake in a settlement. Let’s see if it’s possible for people to calm down a little, sit together and address the affairs of the region. So we can create a situation that helps all sides to confront the danger that is threatening everyone.

Even in Lebanon, lift the veto on the presidential issue and allow the Lebanese to sit down and negotiate to reach an agreement over a president and over the entire composition in the country. What is the problem in that? In another word as far as this clause is concerned, do us a favor and allow the people reorganize their priorities and act accordingly.

Fifth: The peoples of the region and the governments of the region must not wait for an international strategy or a NATO strategy or an American strategy or anything of this sort. They must take the initiative as we did in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, and as initiatives are being taken in more than one Arab country. We must take the initiative to confront this current, and we must not allow it to expand, gain power, and become deep-rooted and the like.

Saying that America wants to get rid of Daesh is disputable. Who says that America wants to get rid of Daesh? Have a look at the status quo and see how it is to the interest of America under the pretext of America defending the states of the region. This is a conspiracy of regimes. They lowered the price of oil and opened the fire on themselves and on all their friends and foes.

It is robbing the oil of the region and the wealth of the region. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being robbed under the pretext of the burden of war of the international coalition troops. Through Daesh only, America is robbing our oil and our wealth.

America is exhausting us as well as our armies, peoples, states, and nerves.
Through Daesh, America is planting grudges and enmities which might not end in decades. It is ruining the entire region for its interest and for the interest of keeping “Israel” powerful, prominent, and protected.

Why is America in a hurry? In best cases, if America finds out that it wants to get rid of Daesh, it can still do that slowly and later on when the American presidential elections approach. So why should it get rid of Daesh now? When the American presidential elections are due, they would make several moves and hit Daesh so that the Democratic Party wins. So the knife of Daesh must remain on our neck – we the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Lebanese whom Daesh is at their borders in Qalamoun, Irsal barren mountains, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Tunisians, the Yemenis, and all the peoples of the region – until the American presidential elections approach to know whether the Americans want to make any move in this perspective.

Brothers and sisters! Those who bet on the Americans are bargaining on a mirage. How do you bet on the very side which robs you, conspires against you, and had fabricated these and dispatched them to you? It is not allowed that we wait for the Americans or the international community. Act as the resistance acted.

The Resistance of Imam Sayyed Mussa Sadre, the resistance of the Lebanese, the Lebanese resistance, the national resistance, the Islamic resistance, the resistance of Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Abbass, the resistance in Lebanon, the resistance in Gaza, and the resistance in Palestine did not wait for a united Arab strategy or a united international strategy and still the resistance made victory.

Why are we to wait for the Americans? We will not wait for the Americans or the NATO. In Iraq, they did not wait. In Iraq, the religious authority, scholars, the government, the army, the security forces, and popular masses that included Shiites, Sunnites, Kurds, and tribes held arms and fought. So far, the Americans haven’t handed them the arms they paid for beforehand. The arms and the ammunition come from Iran and from other sources.

They did not wait for anyone. They defeated Daesh in Diala Province; they defeated it in most provinces – Salaheddine and Jarf Sakher; now they are defeating it in Anbar; and they will defeat it in Mosul. Why not?

In Syria too, this is taking place. It is taking place every day with the good Daesh and the bad Daesh because they are both Daesh whether in al-Qseir, Qalamoun, or Irsal barren mountains.

So it is not allowed to wait for anyone. We must take the initiative. We must assume the responsibility. Thus I have something to say. You will find what I will say strange. It is in fact the conclusion we draw from this look over the situation of the region. I tell those who call on us to withdraw from Syria: I in my turn call on you to join us in going to Syria.

I further call on you to go to Iraq too. We did not talk about Iraq previously though we are humbly present there now in this first and critical stage. Let’s go together to Iraq too.

They may say that I am going too far but I will say it anyway. Let’s go to any place to confront this threat that is threatening our nation and our region because as such we will be defending Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. This is the way major powers, decent states, and strong armies in the world act.

However, we will not take you to Ukraine!

On the light of the situation in the region, let’s reconsider and discuss your logic as well as our logic and your evidence as well as our evidence. Let no one be afraid that in case things are settled in Syria, the Syrian rule will return. This is part of the past, and you know all the conditions that accompanied this past. You know it better than we do. There is no need to put such fears before true and serious dangers that threaten us all.

I call for coordination between the Lebanese Army and the Arab Syrian Army before the snow melts on the eastern mountain range borders. I call on the Lebanese government to coordinate with the Syrian government as per the refugees, the displaced, and security.

Today the danger is by far greater than any party, sectarian, or factional considerations. In this framework, we also call for a comprehensive view to this issue.

It is our fate to fight in defense of Lebanon and the nation since 1982. We were young men then. Our beards were not visible yet. However, we assumed this responsibility, and we proceeded. Some among us were martyred, and we continued in our path from 1982 to 2000 to 2006.

Today, on the path of our leader martyrs – the symbol of our steadfastness and victory – the caravans of martyrs move along to make victory with their blood. The Resistance has always been and will always be the answer. We will always assume the responsibility and make victories with our steadfastness, blood, and inspiration from our leader martyrs – Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, Hajj Imad, Um Yasser, and all the martyrs until {Allah commands; and He is the best to command}. Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
Source: al-Ahed news

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.

A new documentary on colonial legacies in Africa raises questions about the colonialisms of today

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/violence-fanon-lives-2014125111554934867.html

Concerning Violence’: Fanon lives on

A new documentary on colonial legacies in Africa raises questions about the colonialisms of today

Belen Fernandez

Al Jazeera, 05 Dec 2014

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazineþ After all, violence is the prerogative of empire, writes Fernandez [AP]

In one of the more haunting scenes from Swedish documentary director Goran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes From the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense, a young Mozambican woman with a stump of a right arm breastfeeds a baby with a stump of a right leg.

Like the rest of the footage in the film, the scene was unearthed from Swedish television archives dating from the era of African anti-colonial struggles. The woman and child were recorded in the immediate aftermath of an aerial bombing raid in 1972, one of Portugal’s many responses to the Mozambican desire for liberation.

In typical fashion, the Portuguese and their imperial colleagues instead portrayed the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) as violent terrorists, despite the merely reactive nature of anti-colonial violence to centuries of oppression.

After all, violence is the prerogative of empire.

Concerning Violence is inspired by The Wretched of the Earth, the 1961 book of Martinique-born psychiatrist and revolutionary Frantz Fanon, excerpts of which serve as the film’s narrative and are read by singer and activist Lauryn Hill.

Among Fanon’s sober assessments is that colonialism “is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence”. Decolonisation, he writes, “is always a violent phenomenon”. “Decolonisation, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously, a program of complete disorder”.

The film corroborates these assertions with footage from former European colonial possessions in Africa. Scenes variously depict the subjugation and impoverishment of native populations, juxtaposed with Europeans sun-tanning and playing golf in picturesque African settings in between wantonly extracting resources and imprisoning and torturing people.

This, in turn, provides the proper context for scenes of militant African resistance.

Particularly illustrative of the prevailing “order of the world” is an interview with a white settler in then-Rhodesia who addresses his black servant boy as “you stupid thing, you” and laments the impending African reclamation of the territory: “The gooks have got it”.

When asked by the interviewer to clarify his derogatory slang, he elaborates with more slang: “The terrs… The whole world is supporting the terrorists”.

The refuse of empire

Concerning Violence premieres in New York on December 5 and provides us with a good opportunity to ask ourselves: Has the world order changed much since Fanon?

To be sure, we’ve superficially done away with the whole colonialism business, it being generally understood that colonies are bad and archaic things. There are, however, notable exceptions to the rule, as in the case of state of Israel, which is granted a de facto exemption from ceasing colonial operations and is furthermore regularly lauded as a beacon of democracy.

But the same oppressive structures that underpinned colonialism continue to flourish in the age of neoliberal globalisation, which functions according to the idea that there is a class of human beings – often but not always determined by skin colour – entitled to a level of wealth and comfort that is only attainable by depriving the global masses of a dignified existence.

And as always, a violent apparatus is required to secure the arrangement.

In recent years, the African continent has witnessed an ever-amplified United States military presence. Writing in Jacobin magazine, David Mizner describes the scenario as a “soft occupation correspond[ing] with a battle between China and the [US] over the spoils of Africa, which has massive natural resources and six of the world’s fastest growing economies”.

Poor Africans might be forgiven for failing to detect enormous differences between this and previous intrusions from abroad.

In other parts of the world that the US prefers to think of as its own personal military base – such as Central America – the imperial power has backed the security forces of various repressive and illegitimate leaders committed to violently squelching popular protest.

Reasons for protest have included government insistence on catering to foreign corporations rather than to indigenous and peasant communities opposed to the usurpation and contamination of their lands by mining operations and the like.

Of course, imperially sanctioned violence is not only military in nature. The inherent cruelty and savagery that characterise the global neoliberal system are acutely visible in places like India, where the supposed “miracle” of free trade has led to a situation in which nearly 300,000 farmers have committed suicide after being driven into insuperable debt.

But the victims are largely invisible, the dehumanised refuse of empire and the price to be paid for securing corporate profit.

‘Reduced to violence’

In her spoken preface to Concerning Violence, renowned Columbia University professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak explains that in “reading between the lines” of The Wretched of the Earth, one sees that Fanon does not in fact endorse violence but rather “insists that the tragedy is that the very poor is reduced to violence, because there is no other response possible to an absolute absence of response and an absolute exercise of legitimised violence from the colonisers”.

Spivak goes on to make a telling comparison regarding the earth’s “wretched”: “Their lives count as nothing against the death of the colonisers: unacknowledged Hiroshimas over against sentimentalised 9/11’s”.

For another modern-day example of legitimised violence and self-victimisation by the very purveyors of said violence, it seems appropriate to once again bring up the state of Israel, which shares the ex-Rhodesian resident’s knack for hallucinating himself into a position of unparalleled suffering at the hands of “terrorists”.

Following last month’s Jerusalem synagogue attack in which two Palestinians murdered five Israelis, there was a typical upsurge in terror-hysteria from the Israeli establishment and sympathetic governments and media. Studiously ignored were the various Israeli crimes that directly preceded the event, not to mention this summer’s slaughter of more than 2,100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, the only surprising thing about violent acts on the part of Palestinians is that more of them have not occurred, as might be expected given asphyxiating conditions of apartheid and legitimised terror.

Meanwhile, Israel’s primary benefactor – the nation described by Fanon as the “former European colony [that] decided to catch up with Europe” – should find much to reflect on in Concerning Violence, particularly given Fanon’s conclusion regarding the European experiment: “It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness, and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions”.

Contemporary manifestations of the American sickness include the recent decision by a Missouri grand jury not to indict a police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager in the city of Ferguson – far from an isolated instance of fatal bigotry.

Anything but a cure

Drawing on several of Fanon’s texts, journalist Roqayah Chamseddine penned an essay on the aftermath of the Ferguson decision for Al-Akhbar English, in which she condemned the liberal American tradition of placing the onus of non-violence on those oppressed by the state rather than the state itself – an entity that engages in “unfettered police brutality and judicial discrimination” against black communities.

This tradition entails an obsession with containing potentially “violent” black reactions to state violence (e..vandalism and looting), and ultimately prescribes a superior concern for private property and material goods than for black life. Writes Chamseddine:

“Today in the United States many will be grieving for buildings burned and windows broken, while the bourgeoisie will cry out ‘calm!’ and hurriedly search for Martin Luther King Jr. quotes to guilt Black protesters into supporting their deadly liberal pacifism”.

Suffice it to say Concerning Violence should concern us all.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Anti-Empire Report, November 19, 2014

Russia invades Ukraine. Again. And again. And yet again … using Saddam’s WMD

“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”

None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.

“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”

Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Times apparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.

“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”

This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”

Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?

Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:

PFLP salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within

http://pflp.ps/english/2014/08/19/pflp-salutes-the-black-struggle-in-the-us-the-empire-will-fall-from-within/

PFLP salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within

August 2014

In light of the police murder of the martyr Michael Brown and the ongoing struggle in Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes and stands firmly with the ongoing struggle of Black people and all oppressed communities in the United States.

Comrade Khaled Barakat said in an interview with the PFLP media outlets that “Police brutality, oppression and murder against Black people in the U.S., and against Latinos, Arabs and Muslims, people of color and poor people, has never been merely ‘mistakes’ or ‘violations of individual rights’ but rather are part and parcel of an integral and systematic racism that reflects the nature of the political system in the U.S.”

“Every time a crime is committed against Black people, it is explained away as an ‘isolated incident’ but when you see the massive number of ‘isolated incidents’ the reality cannot be hidden – this is an ongoing policy that remains virulently racist and oppressive. The U.S. empire was built on the backs of Black slavery and the genocide of Black people – and upon settler colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people,” said Barakat. “The people of Ferguson are resisting, in a long tradition of Black resistance, and we support their legitimate resistance to racist oppression.”

“As people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab World see the brutality of the United States outside its borders, these communities confront its racist and colonial oppression within the borders of the U.S. The two are inextricably linked,” said Barakat. “We also see U.S. exploitation and plunder of people’s resources around the world. And inside the United States, Africans, Latinos, Filipinos, Afghans, Arabs who have suffered war and imperialism at the hands of the United States outside its borders are the same communities who face criminalization, brutality, exploitation, isolation and killings and murder at the hands of the state. We see the targeting of migrants and refugees inside the U.S. after their countries have been ravaged by imperialism, war and exploitation by the same ruling forces.”

Barakat noted that “Mass imprisonment and incarceration has been a central tool of racist control in the United States. One out of every three Black men in the U.S. will be imprisoned; every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the state or someone protected by the state. Palestinians know well the use of mass imprisonment to maintain racist domination and oppression and breaking the racist structures of imprisonment is critical to our liberation movement. We salute Mumia Abu-Jamal and all of the political prisoners of the Black liberation movement in U.S. jails and call for their immediate freedom.”

Furthermore, he said, “since the earliest days of the Black movement in the U.S., from slaves revolting for freedom to the civil rights movement and beyond, Black people, organizations and movements have faced severe state repression, targeting, incarceration and killings at the hands of the state. U.S. domestic intelligence agencies such as the FBI, who target Palestinian and Arab communities for state repression, have for years focused on attacking Black movements, leaders and communities as a central project.”

“Racism, poverty and oppression are the predominant scene faced by oppressed nations and communities in the United States. Black people in the United States are in fact under siege. And just as we demand the end of the siege on our Palestinian people, in Gaza and everywhere, we demand an end to the siege of institutionalized racism and oppression in education, jobs, social services and all areas of life, and support the Black movements struggling to end that siege.”

“When we see the images today in Ferguson, we see another emerging Intifada in the long line of Intifada and struggle that has been carried out by Black people in the U.S. and internationally. The Palestinian national liberation movement salutes the Black liberation movement, and has learned so much from the experiences of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, the Black Panthers, Sojourner Truth, and generations of Black revolutionaries who have led the way in struggling for liberation and self-determination,” said Barakat.

“The struggle inside the United States is an integral part of the struggle against imperialism – in fact it is central, as it is taking place ‘in the belly of the beast.’ This is also the case for the struggle of Indigenous peoples and nations throughout North America, where settler colonial powers have been built through land theft and genocide, yet where indigenous people have always resisted and continue to resist today,” he said.

“Every victory inside the United States and political achievement by popular movements and liberation struggles is a victory for Palestine and a victory for a world of human liberation. Those who think that the fate of people in the United States lies with the ruling class parties, the Republicans and Democrats, until the end of time, are living in an illusion. So too are those who believe Palestine can find freedom by seeking alliances or guarantees by those who oppress Black people,” said Barakat.

“The Black struggle is leading the world in the struggle for an alternative political system that will bring U.S. empire to defeat. We know that this will happen only through struggle, through organization of people, emerging from uprisings and communities rising in anger against injustice,” said Barakat.

“The anti-racist movement and anti-Zionist movement are not and cannot be separated. Fighting against racism means fighting capitalism; fighting against capitalism means fighting for socialism,” Barakat said.

The Front encourages all Palestinians, and especially our Palestinian community in the United States, to continue and intensify their efforts in support of the Black liberation movement, from joining actions in support of Ferguson and in honor of Michael Brown, to long-term and sustained joint struggle and mutual solidarity with the Black movement. There are long histories of this work, and it is critical for all of our communities to expand and deepen our links of struggle and solidarity.

The PFLP sends its revolutionary greetings, its solidarity message and its salutes to the struggling people of Ferguson on the front lines confronting U.S. empire, and to the generations upon generations of Black struggle. Our Palestinian liberation movement is part of one struggle with the Black liberation movement. This has been a position of principle for the Front since its founding; we reaffirm this stand today and will always do so until both of our peoples – and our world – are liberated.

Anti-Empire Report #131, August 11, 2014

Cold War Two

During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.

E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:

Dear Editor,

Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”

Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.

– William Blum

I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. Do they have something to hide?

The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”

Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.

My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”

As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.

The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.

It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:

“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”

“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”

“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.”

There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?

There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned.

Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.

The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …

Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naiveté? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?

One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”

It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting.

The United States and torture

Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders and has led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America.

Thus it is somewhat to the credit of President Obama that at his August 1 press conference he declared “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

And he actually used the word “torture” at that moment, not “enhanced interrogation”, which has been the euphemism of preference the past decade, although two minutes later the president used “extraordinary interrogation techniques”. And “tortured some folks” makes me wince. The man is clearly uncomfortable with the subject.

But all this is minor. Much more important is the fact that for several years Mr. Obama’s supporters have credited him with having put an end to the practice of torture. And they simply have no right to make that claim.

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ – picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”

The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely because they were willing and able to torture them.

No official in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for torture or other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture they inflicted upon us all beginning in 2008. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning.

In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:

The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable.

I’d like at this point to once again remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity.

The Convention Against Torture has been and remains the supreme law of the land. It is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.

“Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” – United States Attorney General Eric Holder, July 26, 2013

John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in January 2013 to be Director of the CIA, has defended “rendition” as an “absolutely vital tool”; and stated that torture had produced “life saving” intelligence.

Obama had nominated Brennan for the CIA position in 2008, but there was such an outcry in the human-rights community over Brennan’s apparent acceptance of torture, that Brennan withdrew his nomination. Barack Obama evidently learned nothing from this and appointed the man again in 2013.

During Cold War One, a common theme in the rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the US system might be – we were all taught – it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.

Just because you have a right to do something does not make it right.

The city of Detroit in recent months has been shutting off the supply of water to city residents who have not paid their water bills. This action affects more than 40% of the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, bringing great inconvenience and threats to the health and sanitation of between 200 and 300 thousand residents. Protests have of course sprung up in the city, with “Water is a human right!” as a leading theme.

Who can argue with that? Well, neo-conservatives and other true believers in the capitalist system who maintain that if you receive the benefit of a product or service, you pay for it. What could be simpler? What are you, some kind of socialist?

For those of you who have difficulty believing that an American city could be so insensitive, allow me to remind you of some history.

On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.

These votes took place under the Reagan administration.

Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.

The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another UN-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.

I’m waiting for a UN resolution affirming the right to oxygen.

Notes

  1. See various examples at RT.com, such as “Jen Psaki’s most embarrassing fails, most entertaining grillings”, or simply search the site for “Ukraine Jen Psaki”
  2. Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12, 1966, pp. 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News
  3. “Letter dated 22 July 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General”, released by the UN 24 July, Document No. A/68/954-S/2014/524
  4. “Pre-WWIII German Pilot Shocker, MH17 ‘Not Hit By Missile’”, Before It’s News, July 31 2014
  5. Associated Press, August 4, 2014
  6. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
  7. New York Times, February 6, 2009
  8. Associated Press, November 17, 2008
  9. Associated Press, November 26, 2008
  10. Washington Post, November 18, 1996
  11. Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Anti-Empire Report #130

William Blum

Official website of the author, historian, and U.S. foreign policy critic.

The Anti-Empire Report #129, June 2014

Edward Snowden

Is Edward Snowden a radical? The dictionary defines a radical as “an advocate of political and social revolution”, the adjective form being “favoring or resulting in extreme or revolutionary changes”. That doesn’t sound like Snowden as far as what has been publicly revealed. In common usage, the term “radical” usually connotes someone or something that goes beyond the generally accepted boundaries of socio-political thought and policies; often used by the Left simply to denote more extreme than, or to the left of, a “liberal”.

In his hour-long interview on NBC, May 28, in Moscow, Snowden never expressed, or even implied, any thought – radical or otherwise – about United States foreign policy or the capitalist economic system under which we live, the two standard areas around which many political discussions in the US revolve. In fact, after reading a great deal by and about Snowden this past year, I have no idea what his views actually are about these matters. To be sure, in the context of the NBC interview, capitalism was not at all relevant, but US foreign policy certainly was.

Snowden was not asked any direct questions about foreign policy, but if I had been in his position I could not have replied to several of the questions without bringing it up. More than once the interview touched upon the question of whether the former NSA contractor’s actions had caused “harm to the United States”. Snowden said that he’s been asking the entire past year to be presented with evidence of such harm and has so far received nothing. I, on the other hand, as a radical, would have used the opportunity to educate the world-wide audience about how the American empire is the greatest threat to the world’s peace, prosperity, and environment; that anything to slow down the monster is to be desired; and that throwing a wrench into NSA’s surveillance gears is eminently worthwhile toward this end; thus, “harm” indeed should be the goal, not something to apologize for.

Edward added that the NSA has been unfairly “demonized” and that the agency is composed of “good people”. I don’t know what to make of this.

When the war on terrorism was discussed in the interview, and the question of whether Snowden’s actions had hurt that effort, he failed to take the opportunity to point out the obvious and absolutely essential fact – that US foreign policy, by its very nature, regularly and routinely creates anti-American terrorists.

When asked what he’d say to President Obama if given a private meeting, Snowden had no response at all to make. I, on the other hand, would say to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, in your time in office you’ve waged war against seven countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect, sir: What is wrong with you?”

A radical – one genuine and committed – would not let such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by unused. Contrary to what his fierce critics at home may believe, Edward Snowden is not seriously at war with America, its government or its society. Does he have a real understanding, analysis, or criticism of capitalism or US foreign policy? Does he think about what people could be like under a better social system? Is he, I wonder, even anti-imperialist?

And he certainly is not a conspiracy theorist, or at least keeps it well hidden. He was asked about 9-11 and replied:

The 9/11 commission … when they looked at all the classified intelligence from all the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed … to detect this plot. We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.

Whereas I might have pointed out that the Bush administration may have ignored the information because they wanted something bad – perhaps of unknown badness – to happen in order to give them the justification for all manner of foreign and domestic oppression they wished to carry out. And did. (This scenario of course excludes the other common supposition, that it was an “inside job”, in which case collecting information on the perpetrators would not have been relevant.)

The entire segment concerning 9/11 was left out of the television broadcast of the interview, although some part of it was shown later during a discussion. This kind of omission is of course the sort of thing that feeds conspiracy theorists.

All of the above notwithstanding, I must make it clear that I have great admiration for the young Mr. Snowden, for what he did and for how he expresses himself. He may not be a radical, but he is a hero. His moral courage, nerve, composure, and technical genius are magnificent. I’m sure the NBC interview won him great respect and a large number of new supporters. I, in Edward’s place, would be even more hated by Americans than he is, even if I furthered the radicalization of more of them than he has. However, I of course would never have been invited onto mainstream American television for a long interview in prime time. (Not counting my solitary 15 minutes of fame in 2006 courtesy of Osama bin Laden; a gigantic fluke happening.)

Apropos Snowden’s courage and integrity, it appears that something very important has not been emphasized in media reports: In the interview, he took the Russian government to task for a new law requiring bloggers to register – the same government which holds his very fate in their hands.

Who is more exceptional: The United States or Russia?

I was going to write a commentary about President Obama’s speech to the graduating class at the US Military Academy (West Point) on May 28. When he speaks to a military audience the president is usually at his most nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist – wall-to-wall platitudes. But this talk was simply TOO nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist. (“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”) To go through it line by line in order to make my usual wise-ass remarks, would have been just too painful. However, if you’re in a masochistic mood and wish to read it, it can be found here.

Instead I offer you part of a commentary from Mr. Jan Oberg, Danish director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden:

What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?

  1. Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.
  2. A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.
  3. Every element of a grand strategy for America for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetoric is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.
  4. Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.
  5. Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.

Ironically, on May 30 the Wall Street Journal published a long essay by Leon Aron, a Russia scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The essay took Russian president Vladimir Putin to task for claiming that Russia is exceptional. The piece was headed:

“Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional”

“Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home.”

It states: “To Mr. Putin, in short, Russia was exceptional because it was emphatically not like the modern West – or not, in any event, like his caricature of a corrupt, morally benighted Europe and U.S. This was a bad omen, presaging the foreign policy gambits against Ukraine that now have the whole world guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions.”

So the Wall Street Journal has no difficulty in ascertaining that a particular world leader sees his country as “exceptional”. And that such a perception can lead that leader or his country to engage in aggression abroad and crackdowns at home. The particular world leader so harshly judged in this manner by the Wall Street Journal is named Vladimir Putin, not Barack Obama. There’s a word for this kind of analysis – It’s called hypocrisy.

“Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, (1828-1910) Russian writer

Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failing of the intellect?

The New Cold War is getting to look more and more like the old one, wherein neither side allows the other to get away with any propaganda point. Just compare any American television network to the Russian station broadcast in the United States – RT (formerly Russia Today). The contrast in coverage of the same news events is remarkable, and the stations attack and make fun of each other by name.

Another, even more important, feature to note is that in Cold War I the United States usually had to consider what the Soviet reaction would be to a planned American intervention in the Third World. This often served as a brake to one extent or another on Washington’s imperial adventures. Thus it was that only weeks after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the United States bombed and invaded Panama, inflicting thousands of casualties and widespread destruction, for the flimsiest – bordering on the non-existent – of reasons. The hostile Russian reaction to Washington’s clear involvement in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in February of this year, followed by Washington’s significant irritation and defensiveness toward the Russian reaction, indicates that this Cold War brake may have a chance of returning. And for this we should be grateful.

After the “communist threat” had disappeared and the foreign policy of the United States continued absolutely unchanged, it meant that the Cold War revisionists had been vindicated – the conflict had not been about containing an evil called “communism”; it had been about American expansion, imperialism and capitalism. If the collapse of the Soviet Union did not result in any reduction in the American military budget, but rather was followed by large increases, it meant that the Cold War – from Washington’s perspective – had not been motivated by a fear of the Russians, but purely by ideology.

Lest we forget: Our present leaders can derive inspiration from other great American leaders.

White House tape recordings, April 25, 1972:

President Nixon: How many did we kill in Laos?

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen [thousand] …

Nixon: See, the attack in the North [Vietnam] that we have in mind … power plants, whatever’s left – POL [petroleum], the docks … And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?

Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.

Nixon: No, no, no … I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?

Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.

Nixon: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.

May 2, 1972:

Nixon: America is not defeated. We must not lose in Vietnam. … The surgical operation theory is all right, but I want that place bombed to smithereens. If we draw the sword, we’re gonna bomb those bastards all over the place. Let it fly, let it fly.

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” – Michael Ledeen, former Defense Department consultant and holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Help needed from a computer expert

This has been driving me crazy for a very long time. My printer doesn’t print the document I ask it to print, but instead prints something totally unrelated. But what it prints is always something I’ve had some contact with, like an email I received or a document I read online, which I may or may not have saved on my hard drive, mostly not. It’s genuinely weird.

Now, before I print anything, I close all other windows in my word processor (Word Perfect/Windows 7); I go offline; I specify printing only the current page, no multiple page commands. Yet, the printer usually still finds some document online and prints it.

At one point I cleared out all the printer caches, and that helped for a short while, but then the problem came back though the caches were empty.

I spoke to the printer manufacturer, HP, and they said it can’t be the fault of the printer because the printer only prints what the computer tells it to print.

It must be the CIA or NSA. Help!

Notes

  1. William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50
  2. Jonah Goldberg, “Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two”, National Review, April 23, 2002

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Rwanda’s massacres preceded by a false-flag operation covered-up by the UN

Evidence of Kagame’s Crimes Suppressed by Chief Rwanda Prosecutor Louise Arbour – Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan

http://www.globalresearch.ca/evidence-of-kagames-crimes-suppressed-by-chief-rwanda-prosecutor-louise-arbour-testimony-of-michael-andrew-hourigan/5377200

COMPLETE DOCUMENT

Date of document:                                          27 November 2006

Filed on behalf of the Plaintiff by:            

Michael Hourigan

Carrington House

61-63 Carrington Street

Adelaide South Austrlia 5000

AUSTRALIA

Ph: (08) 8237 0584

Mobile: 0415 668 732

Fax: (08) 8237 0555

Email: mikehourigan@gmail.com                                                                    

Date and time of filing or transmission:    27 November 2006

AFFIDAVIT

I, MICHAEL ANDREW HOURIGAN Lawyer of 61-63 Carrington Street Adelaide 5000 in the State of South Australia Solicitor MAKE OATH AND SAY as follows:

1                    I am a qualified legal practitioner in the State of South Australia. I was also a former police detective before completing a law degree in 1995 after which time I took up a post as a Crown Prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecutions (D.P.P. Adelaide).

2                    In April, 1996 I left the D.P.P. in Adelaide and took up a position as an investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

3                    Soon after my arrival in Rwanda I was put made a team leader in charge of a team consisting of about 20 members and the team was to be known as ‘the National Team’.

4                    I was directed by Judge Richard Goldstone (the then Chief Prosecutor) and Judge Honoré Rakotomana (the then ICTR Prosecutor) and Mr. Alphonse Breau (the then Director of Investigations) to focus my teams investigations on the following matters:-

4.1.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and then locate and arrest him;

4.2.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and then locate and arrest him;

4.3.            Investigate the murder of thousands of Rwandan elite in the first days of the genocide by the Rwandan Presidential.

4.4.            identify the person(s) responsible for the fatal rocket attack on 6 April 1994 killing President Habyarimana and all others on board;

5                    Together with my investigators we conducted investigations into these matters throughout the next year. During the course of 1996 I was called upon to brief Judge Goldstone and then his replacement Judge Louise Arbour and other senior prosecutors on the progress of our investigations into Bagosora, Nsengiyumva, the Presidential Guard and the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

6                    At no time did Judge Goldstone, Judge Arbour or any other member of the ICTR ever indicate to me that our investigations into the downing of the President Habyrimana’s aircraft were outside the ICTR mandate. On the contrary, it was made clear to me that our investigations into the rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft was an act of international terrorism which clearly fell within the ICTR statute Article 4 Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions:-

Article 4: Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II

The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons committing or ordering to be committed serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, and of Additional Protocol II thereto of 8 June 1977. These violations shall include, but shall not be limited to:

a) Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment;

b)

c)

d) Acts of terrorism;

e)

f)

g)

h)

7                    I am pleased to say that the National Team was successful and we achieved the following results:-

7.1.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Theoneste Bagosora with Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.2.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.3.            Gathered evidence against senior members of the Presidential Guard in relation to the killing of key Rwandan citizens, including but not limited to, UNAMIR-protected VIPS  Justice Joseph Kavaruganda, (President of the Constitutional Court) and Vice President  Lando Ndasingwa (the head of the Parti liberal);

7.4.            In late January or early February 1997 members of the National Team were approached by three (3) informants (either former or serving member of the R.P.F.) claiming direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft. Their evidence specifically implicated the direct involvement of President Paul Kagame, members of his administration and military. The informants also advised that the Kagame administration was actively involved in covert operations aimed at murdering high profile expatriate Rwandans – once such murder was the death of Seth Sedashonga in Nairobi.

8                    With respect to the highly sensitive information from the three informants regarding the plane crash I immediately informed my Commander Jim Lyons. My Director Mr. Alphonse Breau was out of the country and I arranged for him to be told by telephone.

9                    The information from the sources was very detailed and seemed very credible. I was very concerned about the sensitivity of the information and arranged for an urgent ‘secure’ telephone call to Judge Arbour.

10                Commander Jim Lyons and I attended at the US Embassy in Kigali and I made a call to Judge Arbour at the US Embassy in the Hague using an encrypted (‘secure’) STU III telephone. I informed Judge Arbour in considerable detail about the information implicating President Kagame. She was excited by the break through and advised me that the information corroborated some other information she had just learnt from Alison Des Forge the week before. At no time did she suggest that our investigations were improper. On the contrary, I would describe her mood as upbeat and excited that at last we were making significant progress into the events surrounding the plane crash.

11                Judge Arbour was concerned about the safety of the informants and my men. I advised her that the informants’ identities had been kept secure and if she so directed me I would arrange for my investigators involved in the plane crash to leave Rwanda. She directed that my investigators should leave and I agreed to have them travel from the country on suitable inquiries inNairobi. As for me I declined to leave Rwanda and advised her that I wanted to stay with my team and assist them complete other important investigations. She consented to this  but asked me to keep in touch with her while she considered what to do with this sensitive information.

12                During the next week I was directed by senior members of the UN in Kigali that I was required to travel to the ICTY in the Hague in order to meet with Judge Arbour and brief on her on our investigations in the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

13                Some days later I was approached at the ICTR headquarters in Kigali by Mr. Michael Hall, UN Deputy Security (NY). He advised me that I would be flying to Arusha the next day on the ICTR aircraft and from there board an international KLM flight to Amsterdam. Mr. Hall asked me to give him any information that I had on air crash and he would convey it to the airport in a UN diplomatic pouch. I then gave Mr. Hall a single floppy disc containing a memorandum I had prepared for Judge Arbour.

14                The next day Mr. Hall conveyed me to the Kigali airport where I checked in for the UN flight. There Mr. Hall and I were told that the flight was overbooked and that I could not to Arusha. Mr. Hall became agitated and told the UN flight officer that the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan had personally ordered my attendance in Arusha for an international connection the next day. As a consequence I was given a seat on the UN flight and flew to Arusha.

15                The next day I flew to the Hague and over-knighted in a hotel near the ICTY.

16                The following morning I met with Mr. Al Breau and briefed him on the information concerning the plane crash. Together we discussed forming a special ICTR investigations unit based outside of Kigali to investigate the plane crash.

17                Following breakfast Mr. Breau and I attended at the ICTY and met with Judge Arbour. Also present was Mr. Mohammed Othman, Acting ICTR Prosecutor.

18                I briefed Judge Arbour on the informants and their information regarding the involvement of President Kagame and members of the RPF in the downing of President Habyrimana’s aircraft.

19                I presented her with a copy of a memo I had prepared entitled ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’ and this document which is undated is attached to this statement. This document detailed the information provided by the three informants.

20                To my surprise Judge Arbour was aggressive and questioned me about the source of the information regarding the informants and the quality and potential reliability of their information. I advised her that the information was given to me by members from my team – the National Team. Those members were Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistriansky. I advised her that I held both investigators in the highest regard. I did say that I was not able to provide any advice as to the reliability of their information as it had not been tested. However, I did suggest that it was very detailed and this is itself meant that it could be subjected to considerable forensic examination.

21                Mr. Al Breau also expressed his strong view that both Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistrianksy were highly effective and reliable men.

22                Judge Arbour then advised me that the National Team investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our mandate. She suggested that the ICTR’s mandate only extended to events within the genocide, which in her view began ‘after’ the plane crash.

23                I was astounded at this statement. I pointed to the temporal mandate of the ICTR being 1 January 1994 until 31 December 1994 and this clearly covered the time of the plane crash. I also addressed the ‘terrorism’ and ‘murder’ provisions of the ICTR statute.

24                More particularly I also told her that this was the first time she had ever suggested that this was outside the ICTR mandate. I reminded her that I had personally briefed her before about our investigations  into the plane crash and that she had never ever expressed a view that this matter should be part of an ICTR inquiry.

25                I expressed my strong view to her that these Rwandan informants were courageous and were deserving of our protection. I cautioned her that the UN had a history of abandoning informants in Rwanda and I specifically reminded her of the UN’s abandonment of Jean Pierre Turatsinze in 1994.

26                Judge then became hostile and asked me if I was challenging her authority to direct to end our investigations into the plane crash.

27                I told her that I was not questioning her authority only her judgement. I informed her that I was her servant and I would obey her direction.

28                Judge Arbour then asked me if the memo that I had prepared for her was the only copy. I told her that it was and she said she was pleased to hear that and placed in her office filing cabinet.

29                She then asked me to leave the room.

30                I was extremely concerned at Judge Arbour’s decision and felt that it was wrong both in law and policy.

31                I returned to Kigali and a short time later resigned from the ICTR.

32                After my resignation from the ICTR I was offered a position as an investigator with the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. Soon after taking up my appointment I was asked to provide OIOS  investigators investigating corruption within the ICTR with a statement re my service in Rwanda for the ICTR.

33                On 1 August 1997 I prepared an internal memorandum detailing various issues which I felt lay behind some of the difficulties with the ICTR. A copy of this memorandum is attached here.

34                The OIOS leadership were not at all interested in the memorandum and they expressed their concern at some of the contents of the document implicating the Secretary General in some of the serious events inRwandain1994.

35                I completed six months with OIOS and resigned.

36                I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team’s investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.

37                Following my resignation my National Team was dismembered – the National Team investigations into the plane crash were brought to an end.

38                I have suffered at the hands of Judge Arbour and the UN because my career with the ICTR was brought to an untimely and ignominious end. I was proud of serving with the ICTR but I felt that I could not work for Judge Arbour when, in my view, she acted for personal reasons against the interests of the ICTR, the UN and world community which we served.

39                I know the facts deposed to herein to be true of my own knowledge, information and belief except where otherwise plainly appears.