“Truth and reason are eternal,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to Rev. Samuel Knox in 1810. “They have prevailed. And they will eternally prevail…” Jefferson was wrong. As the current media pack coverage of the 20th anniversary of the “Srebrenica massacre” indicates, his belief that “error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it” was somewhat naive.
It is noteworthy that “Srebrenica” in the mainstream media discourse is no longer a geographic location that needs to be preceded by a noun (“the massacre in…”). It has been developed into a stand-alone term that denotes horror, on par with “Auschwitz,” “Katyn,” or “Hiroshima.” In reality, unlike those very real horrors, it is a postmodern myth based on a distortion of facts and their willful omission.
In a Jeffersonian paradigm, two decades later we would have a reasonable, factually based debate on what happened in and around Srebrenica in July 1995, how and why; but the very term “debate” is rejected by an elite class in the West that treats “Srebrenica” as a metaphysical concept. Its luminaries deny as a matter of principle that there is anything to debate. They claim that eight thousand prisoners were executed in cold blood and that a UN-established judicial forum of unquestioned authority has found it to constitute “genocide.”
As it happens, many authoritative and reasonable people with no ethnic, religious or personal axe to grind in the Balkan quagmire disagree. They have spoken and written as if a Jeffersonian debate existed, only to be dismissed as “genocide deniers.”
The fact beyond dispute is that during the Bosnian war thousands of Muslim men were killed in the region of Srebrenica. Most of them died in July of 1995 when the enclave fell almost without a fight to the Bosnian Serb Army and the Muslim garrison—the 28th division of the (Muslim) Bosnia-Herzegovina Army—attempted a breakthrough. A significant number reached safety at the Muslim-held town of Tuzla, 40 miles to the north; some found shelter in Serbia, across the Drina River to the east. An unknown were killed while fighting their way through; and many others—numbers remain disputed—were taken prisoner and executed by the Bosnian Serb army.
The numbers remain unknown and misrepresented. With “8,000 executed” and thousands more killed in the fighting while trying to reach the Muslim lines, the column attempting to break out should have counted 15,000 men—an impossibly large number. There should have been huge gravesites and satellite evidence of executions, burials, and body removals. The UN searches in the Srebrenica vicinity, breathlessly frantic at times, still falls far short of the sanctified figure of 8,000. The Islamic shrine at Potocari, where the supposed victims are buried, includes those of soldiers killed in action and civilians who died of natural causes, Muslim and Serb, between May 1992 and July 1995.
The Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague (ICTY) never came up with a conclusive breakdown of casualties. That a war crime did take place is undeniable: many Muslim prisoners were killed. The number of actual victims remains forensically and demographically unproven. According to the former BBC reporter Jonathan Rooper, “from the outset the numbers were used and abused” for political purposes. The number of likely casualties from all causes corresponds closely to the ‘missing’ list of 7,300 compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Rooper says. But the early estimates were based on nothing more than the simple combination of an estimated 3,000 men last seen at the UN base at Potocari and an estimated 5,000 people reported “to have left the enclave before it fell,” Rooper says:
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the 7-8,000 figure is that it has always been represented as synonymous with the number of people executed. This was never a possibility: numerous contemporary accounts noted that UN and other independent observers had witnessed fierce fighting with significant casualties on both sides. It was also known that others had fled to Muslim-held territory around Tuzla and Zepa, that some had made their way westwards and northwards, and that some had fled into Serbia. It is therefore certain that nowhere near all the missing could have been executed.
The Red Cross reported at the time that some 3,000 Bosnian Army soldiers managed to reach Muslim lines near Tuzla and were redeployed by the Bosnian Army “without their families being informed.” The number of military survivors was also confirmed by Muslim General Enver Hadzihasanovic in his testimony at The Hague.
The last census results, from 1991, counted 37,211 inhabitants in Srebrenica and the surrounding villages, of which 27,118 were Muslims (72.8 percent) and 9,381 Serbs (25.2 percent). Displaced persons from Srebrenica registered with the World Health Organization and Bosnian government in early August 1995 totaled 35,632. With 3,000 Muslim men who reached Tuzla “without their families being informed” we come to the figure of over 38,000 survivors. The Hague Tribunal’s own estimates of the total population of the Srebrenica enclave before July 1995—notably that made by Judge Patricia Wald—give 40,000 as the maximum figure. It simply does not add up to support the sanctified figure of “8,000.”.
Having spent five days interviewing over 20,000 Srebrenica survivors at Tuzla a week after the fall of the enclave, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Henry Wieland declared urbi et orbi, “we have not found anyone who saw with their own eyes an atrocity taking place.” A decade later a Dutch field investigator, Dr Dick Schoonoord, confirmed Wieland’s verdict: “It has been impossible during our investigations in Bosnia to find any people who witnessed the mass murder or would talk about the fate of the missing men.”
A “PROTECTED ZONE”?—It is often pointed out that Srebrenica was an UN “protected zone,” but it is seldom noted that the enclave was simultaneously an armed camp used for attacks against Serb villages in the surrounding areas. Muslim General Sefer Halilovic confirmed in his testimony at the Hague Tribunal that there were at least 5,500 Bosnian Muslim Army soldiers in Srebrenica after it had obtained the “safe haven” status, and that he had personally arranged numerous deliveries of sophisticated weapons by helicopter.
French General Philippe Morillon, the UNPROFOR commander who first called international attention to the Srebrenica enclave, was adamant that the crimes committed by those Muslim soldiers made the Serbs’ desire for revenge inevitable. He testified at The Hague Tribunal on February 12, 2004, that the Muslim commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, “engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region.” Asked by the ICTY prosecutor how Oric treated his Serb prisoners, General Morillon, who knew him well, replied that “Naser Oric was a warlord who reigned by terror in his area and over the population itself… he didn’t even look for an excuse… One can’t be bothered with prisoners.”
Cees Wiebes, who wrote the intelligence section of the Dutch Government report on Srebrenica, has noted that despite signing the demilitarization agreement, Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica were heavily armed and engaged in provocations (“sabotage operations”) against Serbian forces. Professor Wiebes caused a storm with his book Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992-1995, detailing the role of the Clinton administration in allowing Iran to arm the Bosnian Muslims.
On 11 July, 1995, the Muslim garrison was ordered to evacuate the town which the Serbs entered unopposed. Local Deputy Director of UN Monitors, Carlos Martins Branco, wrote in 2004 a hugely important study based on his experiences and additional documents (“Was Srebrenica a Hoax?”). Branco asserts that Muslim forces did not even try to take advantage of their heavy artillery because “military resistance would jeopardize the image of ‘victim,’ which had been so carefully constructed, and which the Muslims considered vital to maintain.” His findings have been ignored by the mainstream media and the Western political class.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND—Two prominent local supporters of the late Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, his Srebrenica SDA party chairman Ibran Mustafic and police commander Hakija Meholjic, have subsequently accused Izetbegovic of deliberately sacrificing the enclave in order to trigger NATO intervention. Meholjic is explicit: in his presence, Izetbegovic quoted President Bill Clinton as saying that 5,000 dead Muslims would be sufficient to provide the political basis for an American-led intervention on the side of the Muslims.
Testifying at The Hague Tribunal, Muslim Generals Halilovic and Hadzihasanovic confirmed this theory by describing how 18 top officers of the Srebrenica garrison were abruptly removed in May 1995. Ibran Mustafic, the former head of the Muslim SDA party in Srebrenica, is adamant that the scenario for the sacrifice of Srebrenica was carefully prepared:
Unfortunately, the Bosnian presidency and the Army command were involved in this business … Had I received orders to attack the Serb army from the demilitarized zone, I would have rejected to carry out that order. I would have asked the person who had issued that order to bring his family to Srebrenica, so that I can give him a gun let him stage attacks from the demilitarized zone. I knew that such shameful, calculated moves were leading my people to catastrophe. The order came from Sarajevo.
Military analyst Tim Ripley agrees that Srebrenica was deliberately sacrificed by the Muslim political leaders for more lucrative purposes. He noted that Dutch UN soldiers “saw Bosnian troops escaping from Srebrenica past their observation points, carrying brand new anti-tank weapons [which] made many UN officers and international journalists suspicious.”
The term “genocide” is even more contentious than the exact circumstances of Srebrenica’s fall. Local chief of UN Monitors, Carlos Martins Branco, noted that if there had been a premeditated plan of genocide, instead of attacking in only one direction, from the south to the north—which left open escape routes to the north and west, the Serbs would have established a siege in order to ensure that no one escaped:
The UN observation posts to the north of the enclave were never disturbed and remained in activity after the end of the military operations. There are obviously mass graves in the outskirts of Srebrenica as in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia where combat has occurred, but there are no grounds for the campaign which was mounted, nor the numbers advanced by CNN. The mass graves are filled by a limited number of corpses from both sides, the consequence of heated battle and combat and not the result of a premeditated plan of genocide, as occurred against the Serbian populations in Krajina, in the Summer of 1995, when the Croatian army implemented the mass murder of all Serbians found there.
The fact that The Hague Tribunal called the massacre in Srebrenica “genocide” does not make it so. How can a “genocide” happen within a single municipality? What plan for genocide includes offering safe passage to women and children? And if this was all part of a Serb plot to eliminate Muslims, what about hundreds of thousands of Muslims living peacefully in Serbia itself, including thousands of refugees who fled there from Srebrenica and other parts of Bosnia? Or the Muslims in the neighboring enclave of Žepa, who were unharmed when the Serbs captured that town a few days after capturing Srebrenica?
To get around these common sense obstacles, the ICTY prosecution came up with a sociologist who provided an “expert” opinion: the Srebrenica Muslims lived in a patriarchal society, therefore killing the men was enough to ensure that the widows would not remarry and there would be no more young Muslims in Srebrenica. Such psychobabble turns the term “genocide” into a gruesome joke. Yet it was on the basis of this definition that in August 2001, the Tribunal found Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic guilty of “complicity in genocide.”
Even if the unproven figure of “8,000” is assumed, it affected less than one-half of one percent of Bosnia’s Muslim population in a locality covering one percent of its territory. On such form, the term “genocide” loses all meaning and becomes a propaganda tool rather than a legal and historical concept. On that form, America’s NATO ally Turkey – a major regional player in today’s Balkans – committed genocide in northern Cyprus in 1974. On that form, no military conflict can be genocide-free.
As Diana Johnstone explained in a seminal article a decade ago, the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ is part of a dominant culture discourse that is highly relevant to a host of U.S.-led or supported interventions in the Greater Middle East:
We people in the advanced democracies have reached a new moral plateau, from which we are both able and have a duty both to judge others and to impose our ‘values’ when necessary. The others, on a lower moral plateau, must be watched carefully, because unlike us, they may commit ‘genocide.’ … The subliminal message in the official Srebrenica discourse is that because ‘we’ let that happen, ‘we’ mustn’t let ‘it’ happen again, ergo, the U.S. should preventively bomb potential perpetrators of ‘genocide’.
The accepted Srebrenica story, influenced by war propaganda and uncritical media reports, is neither historically correct nor morally satisfying. The relentless 1990’s Western campaign against the Serbs and in favor of their Muslim foes—which is what “Srebrenica” is really all about—is detrimental to the survival of our culture and civilization. It seeks to give further credence to the myth of Muslim blameless victimhood, Christian “Islamophobic” viciousness, and alleged Western indifference. The myth is calculated to weaken our resolve in the global struggle once euphemistically known as “war on terrorism.” The former is a crime; the latter, a mistake.
I love Russia’s vetoes. Sparse, strong, hard hits, they mark the limits of the Empire’s power. They said “No”, and Zimbabwe remained at peace, its old maverick Robert Mugabe still alive and kicking and proposing Obama his hand in marriage. They said “No”, and Burma could grow at its own pace. They said “No”, and Syria… well, Syria still suffers immensely, but it was not destroyed by the Sixth Fleet. All US vetoes are similar, – usually for Israel; Russia’s vetoes are fewer and evenly spread. The recent Russian veto (last week) stopped misuse of this terrible cliché “genocide”, and this is a good thing. It would be good to ban this word altogether.
‘Genocide’ is a nasty invention. Just think of it: mankind lived for thousands of years, through raids of Genghis Khan and Crusades, through extermination of Native Americans, slave trade and WWI, happily butchering each other in millions, without being encumbered by the G word. This term was invented (or updated from Jewish traditional thought) by a Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer, in the wake of Holocaust, in order to stress the difference between murdering Jews and killing lesser breeds. The word is quite meaningless otherwise.
The best flower of Europe, a million of the youngest and brightest were killed at Verdun – sad, but that’s not G. Young and old, women and men were incinerated in millions in the fiery furnaces of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima – sorry, old chum, that’s not G. Millions starved to death in the brutal siege of Leningrad – well, you understand by now, that’s not G. It goes without saying that killing of five million Vietnamese or a million Iraqis were just “war is hell” business as usual.
In Israel, killing of five Jews by Palestinians has been qualified as G: the poor soldiers were murdered just because they were Jews. But killing of Palestinians by Jews is collateral damage. They were in the wrong place, in the wrong time, bad luck!
If so, why should one bother with G? This term was, and is a chosen weapon of war propaganda. Not surprisingly, Lemkin was a Cold War warrior, and he accused the USSR of multiple genocides: by providing Russian language education to natives of the Baltic states or by serving alcohol in a Muslim republic. No American misdeed would amount to G according to Lemkin, and according to the US reading of the G Convention, unless in an unlikely case of the US agreeing that it is guilty. European states say the US is not a participant to the G convention, for its many caveats amount to non-participation. However, the US speaks of G more often than most participants, usually in order to justify its intervention. The Big G became a mighty stick to unseat rulers and undermine regimes.
The G word is likely to cause more bloodshed, for a sad, rarely stated reason. If a victim of the crime is a nation, a tribe or an ethnic group, so is the criminal. Germans killed Jews, Turks killed Armenians, Hutu killed Tutsi etc. The moment you recognise G, you encourage the G of revenge. As the Jews considered themselves being the victims of G (this is an idea deeply ingrained in the Jewish tradition, though quite foreign to Christian thought) they tried to take revenge by poisoningmillions of Germans. (They failed but never apologised).
Armenians provide another example of people seriously disturbed by G politics. Lemkin used the 1915 atrocities to dissimulate the purely Jewish idea of G, and the Armenians eventually embraced it. As the idea of G took its place in the law of the nations, the Armenian fighters began to seek and extract revenge from Turks – after fifty years at peace. G propaganda produced a terrible fruit in 1990-1992, when tens of thousands of Azeri (deemed “Turks” by their Armenian neighbours) were massacred and exiled “in revenge for the 1915 G”. A new generation of Armenians was poisoned by victimhood and revenge feelings, thanks to Lemkin and his followers.
A Genocide is not about past. It is about future. Innocent people will die, and die, and die, whenever this term is applied. Without the term, the Lethe will cover all. A good example is provided by Greeks. They suffered probably more than Armenians during the WWI, but as nobody applied the term G to “their” atrocities, they are not obsessed with revenge and live rather peaceably with their Turkish neighbours.
In Africa the concept of G was applied most vigorously by the Western neo-colonisers. You will not be surprised that no Westerner has ever been tried for G despite impressive results. Millions of chopped off hands and heads, but like in Raymond Chandler’s LA, “only darkies are tried.” Now Africa prepares to leave the ICC, the main dealer of the G politics. “Despite having received almost 9,000 formal complaints about alleged war crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has chosen to indict 36 black Africans in eight African countries.” – wrote David Hoille, a leading international lawyer.
No less authority than Christopher Black, the eminent international lawyer, proved beyond a shade of doubt that the familiar story of Ruanda genocide of Tutsi by Hutu was not only false, but had led to terrible revenge massacres of Hutu by Tutsi. And this story was utilised by Samantha Power and the interventionists of her ilk to bomb all over the world.
It is good that the nasty concept of genocide took a hit from the Russian veto. And now we can consider the particular case of Srebrenica.
The last thing I want and shall do it to tire you, my reader, with tedious Balkan stories of who slaughtered whom and where. If you want to know the gruesome details, read Diana Johnstone. I am sure they all tried their beastly best.
There is no reason to single out one party – that is, no good reason. The Yugoslav war, the war fought by Clinton against the Serbs, was a large social experiment: how do you sow discord among brothers (Proverbs, 6) and turn a multi-ethnic state into a warren of quarrelling communities. The result was satisfactory, for Clintons. The biggest US military base in Europe came into existence. A wealthy independent socialist state was broken into many miserable statelets; all of them applied for a place in the EU; Russia has lost its potential foothold on the Balkans.
The politics of genocide were played to its utmost extent in the Balkans, deligitimising one of the sides in the internal conflict. The Slavs were subjected to an international tribunal of total dishonesty and bias. Their leaders died in jail. No accusation of real genocide has ever been proven, but the West’s right to judge and decide has been affirmed.
There was a nice extra profit. The West asserted that its will for justice is stronger than its religious solidarity with Christians, right? Now every Muslim should remember that the West will side with Muslims, if they are persecuted, right? Wrong. The Eastern Orthodox Christians (such as Serbs, Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks) do not belong to the Western civilisation. They are as foreign to the Westerners as the Muslims are. Indeed, when the Crusaders fought for the Holy Land, they killed the local Christians, too, saying: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” So there was no hindrance to side with Muslims against Christians as long as they are Eastern Christians, but by sleigh of hand, the Muslims could be tricked into believing in the Western objectivity.
This feature has been used now. The vetoed draft was a clever and mischievous trap. Such drafts rarely get to the stage of a vote, as the powers (P5, the Big Five, or Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, choose the name) usually do not use the unique power of UNSC resolutions for propaganda purposes. Otherwise, they could vex the US with drafts calling for Gaza freedom. Being prudent, P5 avoid such brownie points. Now they did it, anyway. The result was predictable: Russia could not let the Christian Serbs being singled out in the “You are the Villain” competition. This Russian veto has been presented as “Russia is the enemy of Islam”, with the explicit intention to send the Daesh beasts down the Russian trail and undermine internal Russian cohesiveness.
Russia is not an enemy of Islam. Muslim steppe riders were the co-founders of Russia, together with Viking warriors, Slav ploughmen, Finn forest dwellers. The Muslim Kazan gave its title to the Russian crown. Tatars and Kazakhs are the mainstay of Russia. Russians proved themselves as benevolent rulers, good advisers, reliable friends to Muslims of Central Asia and Caucasus. They had build schools, educated native engineers, modernised these countries.
However, Russia considers its duty to protect the Eastern Christians. In a way, they inherited this responsibility from the Byzantines. For this reason Russia heavily invested in the Holy Land and in Greece, liberated Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia from the Turkish yoke.
In the terms of realpolitik, this policy has been extremely disappointing. Almost all the “liberated Eastern Christian” states eventually sided with Russia’s enemies, while the once-conquered Muslim states remained loyal to Moscow. Muslim Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and once-rebellious Chechnya are friends of Russians; so are Turkey and Iran.
The veto in the UNSC was supposed to protect Serbia from Western pressure, not to poke the Muslims. Remember that during the war, Russia was too weak to interfere and save Yugoslavia. Now Russia made its amends for 1999.
Hopefully, the Muslims will understand the Russian point. After all, the Turks and Azeris understood the Russian position on Armenia. In the recent commemoration of 1915 in Yerevan, Armenia, Putin was the only important guest – his French counterpart M Hollande made a brief appearance and flew away to Baku (to “Azeri Turks”, in Armenian parlance). Putin went there soon after an important and fruitful visit to Turkey, after an agreement with Erdogan. Visit to Armenia jeopardised this achievement, but Putin still did not shrink from the trip. Armenia for Russia is like Israel for the US. There is a very important Armenian diaspora in Russia, and the neighbours accept this reality like Israeli Arab neighbours accept the reality and inevitability of American support for Israel.
The Armenians and the Azeri soldiers marched together, one after another, on the Red Square on May 9 this year, approving the Russian position of the mediator and protector in the area. Perhaps it is a liability for Russia, but nobody promised them a rose garden.
ative of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.
After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.
In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.
Email at: email@example.com
Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice
Saudi Arabia has been dominating the Middle Eastern news recently. Its bombing of the Shia Houthis in Yemen, supported by Washington, and its ambivalent stand on ISIS, concealed in Washington, should raise questions about the nature and long-term ambitions of the desert kingdom. On those key issues there is an apparent conspiracy of silence in the American mainstream media and the policy-making community.
Saudi Arabia, the most authentically Muslim country in the world, is a polity based on a set of religious, legal, and political assumptions rooted in mainstream Sunni Islam. To understand its pernicious role in the ongoing Middle Eastern crisis, and to grasp the magnitude of its ongoing threat to America’s long-term strategic interests and security, we should start with the early history of that strange and unpleasant place.
MUHAMMAD IBN ABD AL-WAHHAB was born in central Arabia over three centuries ago, but his legacy is alive and well. Wahhab was a zealous Muslim revivalist who lived in the period of the Ottoman Empire’s early decline. He felt that Islam in general, and Arabia in particular, needed to be spiritually and literally re-purified and returned to the true tenets of the faith. Like Islam’s prophet he married a wealthy woman much older than himself, whose inheritance enabled him to engage in theological and political pursuits. His Sharia training, combined with a brief encounter with suffism – which he rejected – produced a powerful mix. From the suffis he took the concept of a fraternal religious order, but rejected initiation rituals and music in any form. He also condemned the decorations of mosques, however non-representational, and sinful frivolities such as smoking tobacco. This Muslim anabaptist rejected veneration of saints and sites and objects connected with them, and gave rise to a movement that sees itself as the guardian of true Islamic values. His ideas were espoused in the Book of Unity which gave rise to the name of the movement, al-Muwahhidun, or Unitarians.
By the middle of the 18th century Wahhab, like Muhammad eleven centuries earlier, found a politically powerful backer for his cause. In 1744 he struck a partnership with Muhammad ibn-Saud, leader of a powerful clan in central Arabia, and moved to his “capital,” the semi-nomadic settlement of ad-Dir’yah (Riyadh). Since that time the fortunes of the Wahhabis and the Ibn Said family have been intertwined. Under ibn-Saud’s successor Abdul-Aziz, the Wahhabis struck out of their desert base at Najd with the fury unseen in a millennium. In what looked for a while like the repetition of Muhammad’s and the Four Caliphs’ phenomenal early success a millennium earlier, they temporarily captured Mecca and Medina, marched into Mesopotamia – forcing the Ottoman governor to negotiate humiliating terms – and invaded Syria.
This was an unacceptable challenge to the Sultan, the heir to the caliphate and “protector of the holy places.” In 1811 he obtained the agreement of Ali Pasha, Egypt’s de facto autonomous ruler following Napoleon’s withdrawal, to launch a campaign against the Wahhabis. After seven years they were routed. Later in the century, however, the sect revived under Faysal to provide the focus of Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, which they considered degenerate and corrupt.
In 1902 a daring and bellicose prince of the ibn-Saud family, named after Abdul-Aziz “the warrior,” returned from exile with 40 horsemen and took control of Riyadh. He exploited the terminal weakness of the Ottoman Empire, soon to be embroiled in revolution and beset by external threats to its crumbling empire in the Balkans and Libya. Fired by the spirit of Wahhabism, Abdul Aziz embarked on a campaign to recover control over the whole of Arabia. In 1912 the Wahhabi revival prompted the founding of a religious settlement at Artawiyah, 300 miles north of Riyadh, under the auspices of theIkhwan, the Brotherhood. This was a stern Arabian variety of Plymouth, a Muslim New Jerusalem in which people were dragged from their homes and whipped for failing to attend Friday prayers.
IN THE CHAOTIC YEARS after the demise of the Ottoman Empire the Ikhwan proved to be an able and fanatical fighting force, securing victory for Ibn Saud, their leader and the founder of the present royal dynasty. In 1925 they carried out Ibn Saud’s order that all revered burial sites in Mecca and Medina be destroyed, including the “heavenly orchard” in Medina, where relatives and many early companions of Muhammad were buried. In 1926 they proclaimed Abdul-Aziz the King of Hejaz. Within a decade he had united the rest of Arabia and imposed the Wahhabist view of the world, man, law, and Allah, on most of the peninsula.
It is incorrect to say that the Wahhabi movement is to Islam what Puritanism is to Christianity, however. While Puritans could be regarded as Christianity’s Islamicists sui generis with their desire to turn Christianity into a druly scriptural, literalist theocracy, Wahhabism is unmistakably “mainstream” in its demand for the return to the original glory of the early Islamic Ummah. Their iconoclastic zeal notwithstanding, the Wahhabis were no more extreme or violent than the models for Islam – the “prophet” and his companions – have been in all ages and to this day.
THE HEIRS OF ABDUL WAHHAB are still heading the Saudi religious establishment. They resisted the introduction of “heathen” contraptions such as radio, cars, and television, and relented only when the King promised to use those suspect mediums to promote the faith. They stopped the importation of all alcohol, previously sold to foreigners (1952), and banned women driving motor vehicles (1957). The Kuran and Sunna are formally the country’s constitution and the source of its legal code. The original sources of Islamic orthodoxy – the Kuran and Hadith – provide ample and detailed evidence that Saudi Arabia is as close as we can get to an Islamic state and society. The State Department report on human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia published 15 years ago offers an accurate glimpse of that vision in action:
Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all citizens must be Muslims. Neither the Government nor society in general accepts the concepts of separation of religion and state, and such separation does not exist. Under Shari’a conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is a crime punishable by death -if the accused does not recant. Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels. All children receive religious instruction… Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars… reviews the Government’s public policies for compliance with Shari’a. The Government [views] Islamic law as the only necessary guide to protect human rights. There is legal and systemic discrimination based on sex and religion.
Nothing has changed since: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. While the Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, tens of thousands of Christians among the millions of foreign workers from Asia, Europe and America must worship in secret, if at all. They are arrested, lashed or deported for public display of their beliefs. The Saudi religious police, known as the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, continues to routinely intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners. In 2002 they pushed girls escaping from burning school buildings back into the inferno and certain death because they did not have their heads properly covered. Its detainees are routinely subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and torture. Punishments include flogging, amputation, and public execution by beheading, stoning, or firing squad – over 50 were performed so far this year.
Women are second class citizens: according to the CIA world factbook, 82.2% of females are literate, in comparison to 90.8% literacy rates in males. The testimony of one man equals that of two women, and female parties to court proceedings must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment (often for wounds resulting from domestic violence) without the consent of a male relative. In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face. Daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers. Women must demonstrate Sharia-specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce them without giving any cause. In addition women must not drive cars, must not be driven except by an employee, or husband, or a close relative, and even then must not occupy the front seat. Women may study abroad if accompanied by a spouse or an immediate male relative. Women may own a businesses, but they must deputize a male relative to represent it.
Political detainees commonly are held incommunicado in special prisons during the initial phase of an investigation, which may last weeks or months, without access to lawyers. Defendants usually appear without an attorney before a judge, who determines guilt or innocence in accordance with Shari’a standards. Most trials are closed, and crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims. A sentence may be changed at any stage of review, except for punishments stipulated by the Koran.
The only expanding industry in Saudi Arabia is that of Islamic obscurantism. Some examples are grotesque: in 1966 the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina complained that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University; it has been banned ever since. Three hundred years after the Christian theologians had to concede that the Earth went around the Sun, the geocentric theory was reaffirmed in the centers of Saudi learning. Segregation of the sexes at schools is set at age nine, which is the age for girls to start to wear the veil.
The opinions of the ullema are the only internal check and balance on the ruling family. Five Saudi Islamic universities produce thousands of clerics, many more than will ever be hired to work in the country’s mosques. Thousands end up spreading and promoting Wahhabism abroad. The King of the Saudis remains their Imam. He and the Wahhabi religious establishment see it as their sacred duty and purpose to evangelize the world. The petro-dollar windfall has paid for the construction of some ten thousand mosques and “Islamic centers” in the United States and other parts of the world. All along, needless to say, no churches (let alone synagogues) can be built in Saudi Arabia, and all non-Muslim religious practice is strictly forbidden.
“In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to plunge Eurasia into chaos, (and) to cut economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific Region … Russia is the only (country) within this potential zone of instability that is capable of resistance. It is the only state that is ready to confront the Americans. Undermining Russia’s political will for resistance… is a vitally important task for America.”
-Nikolai Starikov, Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, Russia Insider
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
-The Wolfowitz Doctrine, the original version of the Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992
The United States does not want a war with Russia, it simply feels that it has no choice. If the State Department hadn’t initiated a coup in Ukraine to topple the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, then the US could not have inserted itself between Russia and the EU, thus, disrupting vital trade routes which were strengthening nations on both continents. The economic integration of Asia and Europe–including plans for high-speed rail from China (“The New Silk Road”) to the EU–poses a clear and present danger for the US whose share of global GDP continues to shrink and whose significance in the world economy continues to decline. For the United States to ignore this new rival (EU-Russia) would be the equivalent of throwing in the towel and accepting a future in which the US would face a gradual but persistent erosion of its power and influence in world affairs. No one in Washington is prepared to let that happen, which is why the US launched its proxy-war in Ukraine.
The US wants to separate the continents, “prevent the emergence of a new rival”, install a tollbooth between Europe and Asia, and establish itself as the guarantor of regional security. To that end, the US is rebuilding the Iron Curtain along a thousand mile stretch from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Tanks, armored vehicles and artillery are being sent to the region to reinforce a buffer zone around Europe in order to isolate Russia and to create a staging ground for future US aggression. Reports of heavy equipment and weapons deployment appear in the media on nearly a daily basis although the news is typically omitted in the US press. A quick review of some of the recent headlines will help readers to grasp the scale of the conflict that is cropping up below the radar:
“US, Bulgaria to hold Balkans military drills”, “NATO Begins Exercises In Black Sea”, “Army to send even more troops, tanks to Europe”, “Poland requests greater US military presence”, “U.S. Army sending armored convoy 1,100 miles through Europe”, “Over 120 US tanks, armored vehicles arrive in Latvia”, “US, Poland to Conduct Missile Exercise in March – Pentagon”
Get the picture? There’s a war going on, a war between the United States and Russia.
Notice how most of the headlines emphasize US involvement, not NATO. In other words, the provocations against Russia originate from Washington not Europe. This is an important point. The EU has supported US-led economic sanctions, but it’s not nearly as supportive of the military build up along the perimeter. That’s Washington’s idea and the cost is borne by the US alone. Naturally, moving tanks, armored vehicles and artillery around the world is an expensive project, but the US is more than willing to make the sacrifice if it helps to achieve its objectives.
And what are Washington’s objectives?
Interestingly, even political analysts on the far right seem to agree about that point. For example, check out this quote from STRATFOR CEO George Friedman who summed it up in a recent presentation he delivered at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs. He said:
“The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars–the First, the Second and Cold Wars–has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they’re the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” … George Friedman at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, Time 1:40 to 1:57)
Bingo. Ukraine has nothing to do with sovereignty, democracy or (alleged) Russian aggression. That’s all propaganda. It’s about power. It’s about imperial expansion. It’s about spheres of influence. It’s about staving off irreversible economic decline. It’s all part of the smash-mouth, scorched earth, take-no-prisoners geopolitical world in which we live, not the fake Disneyworld created by the western media. The US State Department and CIA toppled the elected-government in Ukraine and ordered the new junta regime to launch a desperate war of annihilation against its own people in the East, because, well, because they felt they had no other option. Had Putin’s ambitious plan to create a free trade zone between Lisbon to Vladivostok gone forward, then where would that leave the United States? Out in the cold, that’s where. The US would become an isolated island of dwindling significance whose massive account deficits and ballooning national debt would pave the way for years of brutal restructuring, declining standards of living, runaway inflation and burgeoning social unrest. Does anyone really believe that Washington would let that to happen when it has a “brand-spanking” trillion dollar war machine at its disposal?
Heck, no. Besides, Washington believes it has a historic right to rule the world, which is what one would expect when the sense of entitlement and hubris reach their terminal phase. Now check out this clip from an article by economist Jack Rasmus at CounterPunch:
“Behind the sanctions is the USA objective of driving Russia out of the European economy. Europe was becoming too integrated and dependent on Russia. Not only its gas and raw materials, but trade relations and money capital flows were deepening on many fronts between Russia and Europe in general prior to the Ukraine crisis that has provided the cover for the introduction of the sanctions. Russia’s growing economic integration with Europe threatened the long term economic interests of US capitalists. Strategically, the US precipitated coup in the Ukraine can be viewed, therefore as a means by which to provoke Russian military intervention, i.e. a necessary event in order to deepen and expand economic sanctions that would ultimately sever the growing economic ties between Europe and Russia long term. That severance in turn would not only ensure US economic interests remain dominant in Europe, but would also open up new opportunities for profit making for US interests in Europe and Ukraine as well…
When the rules of the competition game between capitalists break down altogether, the result is war—i.e. the ultimate form of inter-capitalist competition.” (The Global Currency Wars, Jack Rasmus, CounterPunch)
See? Analysts on the right and left agree. Ukraine has nothing to do with sovereignty, democracy or Russian aggression. It’s plain-old cutthroat geopolitics, where the last man left standing, wins.
The United States cannot allow Russia reap the benefits of its own vast resources. Oh, no. It has to be chastised, it has to be bullied, it has to be sanctioned, isolated, threatened and intimidated. That’s how the system really works. The free market stuff is just horsecrap for the sheeple.
Russia is going to have to deal with chaotic, fratricidal wars on its borders and color-coded regime change turbulence in its capital. It will have to withstand reprisals from its trading partners, attacks on its currency and plots to eviscerate its (oil) revenues. The US will do everything in its power to poison the well, to demonize Putin, to turn Brussels against Moscow, and to sabotage the Russian economy.
Divide and conquer, that’s the ticket. Keep them at each others throats at all times. Sunni vs Shia, one ethnic Ukrainian vs the other, Russians vs Europeans. That’s Washington’s plan, and it’s a plan that never fails.
US powerbrokers are convinced that America’s economic slide can only be arrested by staking a claim in Central Asia, dismembering Russia, encircling China, and quashing all plans for an economically-integrated EU-Asia. Washington is determined to prevail in this existential conflict, to assert its hegemonic control over the two continents, and to preserve its position as the world’s only superpower.
Only Russia can stop the United States and we believe it will.
It was a solution right up there with “Let them eat cake.” Addressing the issue of Jews fleeing Europe due to increasing Islamic terrorism and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for them to seek safety in Israel, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” had an interesting solution: “Get to know your neighbors.” The comment, made on Bill Maher’s show Real Time Feb. 20, was then followed by Nye’s interrogative, “What, does it take a century, something like that?”
This prompted some commentators, such as Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld, to say that Nye was blaming Jews for the Muslim threat. Get to know your neighbors? Yes, to pick up on a point Gutfeld made and run with it, perhaps a few dinner parties and other assorted soirees would inspire epiphanies such as, “You know, I was going to chop your head off, but you make a killer matzo ball soup.” The problem here, as Gutfeld said in so many words, is not Jews shooting up halal grocery stores. Nor are Muslims being taunted and spat upon while walking Paris streets as the Jewish man in this video was. But perhaps Nye is like those school administrators who punish a victimized child who tried physically defending himself just as harshly as his attacker in the thinking, “Hey, he was repeatedly punching the kid on top of him in the fist with his face, right?”
This commentary by Nye — who has invoked Holocaust terminology in branding climate-change realists “deniers” — caused Gutfeld to label him, “Bill Nye ‘the Denial Guy.’” It may be a more fitting moniker than one relating to science, too, as a real scientist is actually out there, you know, inventing stuff. Instead, Nye took his B.S. in mechanical engineering, cut his entertainment teeth on a Seattle sketch-comedy TV show, and then parlayed his credentials into his well-known children’s science program. Now he’s supposedly qualified to dismiss climate-change realism and pontificate as an Expert in the Area of Everything. But Nye has always been a left-wing guy; take Barney the dinosaur, put a bowtie around his neck, a beaker in his hand, starve him for two months and make him a quasi-Marxist — and you have Bill Nye.
In fairness to the Denial Guy, perhaps he would say that he’d counsel both Jews and Muslims, and everyone else, to get to know each other better. And maybe he meant that what takes a century is assimilation. Regardless, his commentary betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about man’s nature.
Nye reflects a common belief today: Just get people to know each other, and silly prejudices are dissolved by the solvent of reality. It’s easy for Americans to believe this not only because of Kumbaya-multiculturalism conditioning, but also because of the common impression that this has been our experience. After all, anti-Irish bigotry was once rife, but how much exists now?
And assimilation had worked to a great degree in America, but our relatively short, 239-year history is a mere snapshot of man’s story. In places such as Ruanda and the Balkans, there have been genocide and ethnic cleansing. Countless times in history peoples have been subsumed, as has largely happened to the Ainus in the Japanese islands. And in ancient Greece, the Spartans got to know their neighbors quite well — well enough to turn them into helots, a captive slave class. So, yes, sometimes it takes a century for assimilation.
And sometimes it takes a century to effect conquest.
There’s a funny joke that illustrates a common difficulty living up to the injunction “Love thy neighbor.” It goes: “You know, I basically love everyone in the whole world — everyone. I just have a problem with the 16 or 17 people who happen to be around me.” Sure, Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better,” but another saying to ponder is “Familiarity breeds contempt.” To know people is to love them? Sometimes it’s to hate them.
Of course, some interaction-induced irritation is inevitable. Being around people oftentimes means “bumping into them,” with their occupying the bathroom when you want it or slowing you down on the road; this is where tolerance, properly defined as abiding something you perceive as a negative, actually is a virtue. But then there’s the fact that getting to know people does dispel illusions — and that this includes illusions of goodness.
A family close to me once acquired a DVD of vintage cartoons, the kind they don’t show on TV anymore because, as the politically correct disclaimer stated at the disc’s opening (I’m paraphrasing), “WARNING: These cartoons contain stereotypes that may be offensive to some viewers.” They were referring to things such as depictions of turban-bedecked Arabs in traditional garb and Japanese speaking stereotypical pidgin English. They were the kinds of cartoons I watched Saturday mornings as a boy — and the politically correct critics have it all wrong. Far from inducing in me and my friends negative attitudes toward the groups in question, they instead were intriguing portrayals that might have piqued our interest in learning more about their cultures. What tends to happen, however, when a person from an “intriguing culture” moves in next door? Then you often find that in many ways he’s “just like us.”
“It’s the differences that kill you, though,” as least in certain cases, to quote Colonel Ralph Peters. It’s as when a man and woman marry and really get to know each other. While you usually have that normal bumping into each other, their deepening knowledge of one another can enrich their love. Then again, sometimes there are what many call irreconcilable differences. The husband may learn that his wife harbors a deep-seated hatred of men that sabotages their relationship, or the woman may find out that the man is a lecherous lout. And then there’s that occasional person who was unfailingly charming during courtship, and maintains a sterling public persona, but has a collection of shrunken heads in the attic.
A romantic may now say that love conquers all — and it does have transformative power — but sometimes being too softly loving can lead to being conquered. And, as someone I once knew put it, some people have to be loved from afar.
Speaking of which, why do liberals such as Nye judge situations and people (e.g., Muslim terrorism vis-à-vis the Jews) so wrongly? It’s because they deny the existence of Truth — the only thing that can reveal your emotions as wrong — and thus have deified their emotions, making them the ultimate arbiters of reality. And anyone governed by emotion, that irrational judge, will always fall sway to prejudice.
It takes a century? Sometimes the melting pot boileth over. For not everything melts. Some things just burn.
Putin’s Next Move Is Crucial…
The plunge of the Russian currency this week is the drastic outcome of policies implemented by the major imperialist powers to force Russia to submit to American and European imperialism’s neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia. Punishing the Putin regime’s interference with their plans for regime change in countries such as Ukraine and Syria, the NATO powers are financially strangling Russia.” Alex Lantier, Imperialism and the ruble crisis, WSWS
“The struggle for world domination has assumed titanic proportions. The phases of this struggle are played out upon the bones of the weak and backward nations.” Leon Trotsky, 1929
Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered a stunning defeat on Tuesday when a US-backed plan to push down oil prices sent the ruble into freefall. Russia’s currency plunged 10 percent on Monday followed by an 11 percent drop on Tuesday reducing the ruble’s value by more than half in less than a year. The jarring slide was assisted by western sympathizers at Russia’s Central Bank who, earlier in the day, boosted interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent to slow the decline. But the higher rates only intensified the outflow of capital which put the ruble into a tailspin forcing international banks to remove pricing and liquidity from the currency leading to the suspension of trade. According to Russia Today:
“Russian Federation Council Chair Valentina Matviyenko has ordered a vote on a parliamentary investigation into the recent activities of the Central Bank and its alleged role in the worst-ever plunge of the ruble rate…
“I suggest to start a parliamentary investigation into activities of the Central Bank that has allowed violations of the citizens’ Constitutional rights, including the right for property,” the RIA Novosti quoted Tarlo as saying on Wednesday.
The senator added that according to the law, protecting financial stability in the country is the main task of the Central Bank and its senior management. However, the bank’s actions, in particular the recent raising of the key interest rate to 17 percent, have so far yielded the opposite results.” (Upper House plans probe into Central Bank role in ruble crash, RT)
The prospect that there may be collaborators and fifth columnists at Russia’s Central Bank should surprise no one. The RCB is an independent organization that serves the interests of global capital and regional oligarchs the same as central banks everywhere. This is a group that believes that humanity’s greatest achievement is the free flow of privately-owned capital to markets around the world where it can extract maximum value off the sweat of working people. Why would Russia be any different in that regard?
It isn’t. The actions of the Central Bank have cost the Russian people dearly, and yet, even now the main concern of RCB elites is their own survival and the preservation of the banking system. An article that appeared at Zero Hedge on Wednesday illustrates this point. After ruble trading was suspended, the RCB released a document with “7 new measures” all of which were aimed at protecting the banking system via moratoria on securities losses, breaks on interest rates, additional liquidity provisioning, easier credit and accounting standards, and this gem at the end:
“In order to maintain the stability of the banking sector in the face of increased interest rate and credit risks of a slowdown of the Russian economy the Bank of Russia and the Government of the Russian Federation prepare measures to recapitalize credit institutions in 2015.” (Russian Central Bank Releases 7 Measures It Will Take To Stabilize The Financial Sector, Zero Hedge)
Sound familiar? It should. You see, the Russian Central Bank works a lot like the Fed. At the first sign of trouble they build a nice, big rowboat for themselves and their dodgy bank buddies and leave everyone else to drown. That’s what these bullet points are all about. Save the banks, and to hell the people who suffer from their exploitative policies.
Here’s more from RT:
“Earlier this week a group of State Duma MPs from the Communist Party sent an official address to Putin asking him to sack (Central Bank head, Elvira) Nabiullina, and all senior managers of the Central Bank as their current policies are causing the rapid devaluation of ruble and impoverishment of the majority of the Russian population.
In their letter, the Communists also recalled Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly in which he said that control over inflation must not be in the way of the steady economic growth.
“They listen to your orders and then do the opposite,” the lawmakers complained.” (RT)
In other words, the RCB enforces its own “austerity” policy in Russia just as central bankers do everywhere. There’s nothing conspiratorial about this. CBs are owned and controlled by the big money guys which is why their policies invariably serve the interests of the rich. They might not call it “trickle down” or “structural adjustment” (as they do in the US), but it amounts to the same thing, the inexorable shifting of wealth from working class people to the parasitic plutocrats who control the system and its political agents. Same old, same old.
Even so, the media has pinned the blame for Tuesday’s ruble fiasco on Putin who, of course, has nothing to do with monetary policy. That said, the ruble rout helps to draw attention to the fact that Moscow is clearly losing its war with the US and needs to radically adjust its approach if it hopes to succeed. First of all, Putin might be a great chess player, but he’s got a lot to learn about finance. He also needs a crash-course in asymmetrical warfare if he wants to defend the country from more of Washington’s stealth attacks.
In the last 10 months, the United States has executed a near-perfect takedown of the Russian economy. Following a sloppy State Department-backed coup in Kiev, Washington has consolidated its power in the Capital, removed dissident elements in the government, deployed the CIA to oversee operations, launched a number of attacks on rebel forces in the east, transferred ownership of Ukraine’s vital pipeline system to US puppets and foreign corporations, created a tollbooth separating Moscow from the lucrative EU market, foiled a Russian plan to build an alternate pipeline to southern Europe (South Stream), built up its military assets in the Balkans and Black Sea and, finally–the cherry on the cake–initiated a daring sneak attack on Russia’s currency by employing its Saudi-proxy to flood the market with oil, push prices off a cliff, and trigger a run on the ruble which slashed its value by more than half forcing retail currency platforms to stop trading the battered ruble until prices stabilized.
Like we said, Putin might be a great chess player, but in his battle with the US, he’s getting his clock cleaned. So far, he’s been no match for the maniacal focus and relentless savagery of the Washington powerbrokers. Yes, he’s formed critical alliances across Asia and the world. He’s also created competing institutions (like the BRICS bank) that could break the imperial grip on global finance. And, he’s also expounded a vision of a new world in which “one center of power” does not dictate the rules to everyone else. That’s all great, but he’s losing the war, and that’s what counts. Washington doesn’t care about peoples’ dreams or aspirations. What they care about is ruling the world with an iron fist, which is precisely what they intend to do for the next century or so unless someone stops them. Putin’s actions, however admirable, have not yet changed that basic dynamic. In fact, this latest debacle (authored by the RCB) is a severe setback for the country and could impact Russia’s ability to defend itself against US-NATO aggression.
So what does Putin need to do to reverse the current trend?
The first order of business should be a fundamental change in approach followed by a quick switch from defense to offense. There should be no doubt by now, that Washington is going for the jugular. The attack on the ruble provides clear evidence that the US will not be satisfied until Russia has been decimated and reduced to “a permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) The United States has launched a full-blown economic war on Russia and yet the Kremlin is still acting like Washington’s punching bag. You can’t win a war like that. You have to take the initiative; take chances, be bold, think outside the box. That’s what Washington is doing. The rout of the ruble is perhaps the most astonishingly-successful asymmetrical attack in recent memory. It involved tremendous risks and costs on the part of the perpetrators. For example, the lower oil prices have ravaged important domestic industries, created widespread financial instability, and sent markets across the planet into a nosedive. Even so, Washington persevered with its audacious strategy, undeterred by the vast collateral damage, never losing sight of its ultimate objective; to deprive Moscow of crucial oil revenues, to crash the ruble, and to open up Central Asia for imperial expansion and US military bases. (The pivot to Asia)
This is how the US plays the game, by keeping its “eyes on the prize” at all times, and by rolling roughshod over anyone or anything that gets in its way. That is why the US is the world’s only superpower, because the voracious oligarchs who run the country will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Does Putin have the grit to match that kind of venomous determination? Has he even adjusted to the fact that WW3 will be unlike any conflict in the past, that jihadi-proxies and Neo Nazi-proxies will be employed as shock troops for the empire clearing the way for US special forces and foot soldiers who will hold ground and establish the new order? Does he even realize that Barbarossa 2 is already underway, but that the Panzer divisions and 2 million German regulars have been replaced with high-powered computers, covert ops, color-coded revolutions, currency crises, capital flight, cyber attacks and relentless propaganda. That’s 4th Generation (4-G) warfare in a nutshell. And, guess what? The US attack on the ruble has shown that it is the undisputed master of this new kind of warfare. More important, Washington has just prevailed in a battle that could prove to be a critical turning point if Putin doesn’t get his act together and retaliate.
You mean nukes?
Heck no. But, by the same token, you can’t expect to win a confrontation with the US by rerouting gas pipelines to Turkey or by forming stronger coalitions with other BRICS countries or by ditching the dollar. Because none of that stuff makes a damn bit of difference when your currency is in the toilet and the US is making every effort to grind your face into the pavement.
There’s an expression is football that goes something like this: The best defense is a good offense. You can’t win by sitting on the sidelines and hoping your team doesn’t lose. You must engage your adversary at every opportunity never giving ground without a fight. And when an opening appears where you can take the advantage, you must act promptly and decisively never looking back and never checking your motives. That’s how you win.
Washington only thinks in terms winning. It expects to win, and will do whatever is necessary to win. In fact, the whole system has been re-geared for one, sole purpose; to beat the holy hell out of anyone who gets out of line. That’s what we do, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. So, if you want to compete at that level, you’ve got to have “game”. You’re going to have to step up and prove that you can run with the big kids.
And that’s what makes Putin’s next move so important, crucial really. Because whatever he does will send a message to Washington that he’s either up to the challenge or he’s not. Which is why he needs to come out swinging and do something completely unexpected. The element of surprise, that’s the ticket. And we’re not talking about military action either. That just plays to Uncle Sam’s strong hand. Putin doesn’t need another Vietnam. He needs a coherent gameplan. He needs a winning strategy. He needs to takes risks, put it all on the line and roll the freaking dice. You can’t lock horns with the US and play it safe. That’s a losing strategy. This is smash-mouth, steelcage smackdown, a scorched-earth event where winner takes all. You have to be ready to rumble.
Putin needs to think asymmetrically. What would Obama do if he was in Putin’s shoes?
You know what he’d do: He’d send military support to Assad. He’d arm rebel factions in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. He’d strengthen ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador providing them with military, intelligence and logistical support. He’d deploy his NGOs and Think Tank cronies to foment revolution wherever leaders refused to follow Moscow’s directives. He would work tirelessly to build the economic, political, media, and military institutions he needed to impose his own self-serving version of snatch-and-grab capitalism on every nation on every continent in the world. That’s what Obama would do, because that’s what his puppetmasters would demand of him.
But Putin must be more discreet, because his resources are more limited. But he still has options, like the markets, for example. Let’s say Putin announces that creditors in the EU (particularly banks) won’t be paid until the ruble recovers. How does that sound?
Putin: “We’re really sorry about the inconvenience, but we won’t be able to make those onerous principle payments for a while. Please accept our humble apologies.” End of statement.
Moments later: Global stocks plunge 350 points on the prospect of a Russian default and its impact on the woefully-undercapitalized EU banking system.
Get the picture? That’s what you call an asymmetrical attack. The idea was even hinted at in a piece on Bloomberg News. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Sergei Markov, a pro-Putin academic, wrote in a column on Vzglyad.ru. “Since the reasons for the ruble’s fall are political, the response should be political, too. For example, a law that would ban Russian companies from repaying debts to Western counterparties if the ruble has dropped more than 50 percent in the last year. That will immediately lower the pressure on the ruble, many countries have done this, Malaysia is one example. It’s in great economic shape now.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls? Chicago Tribune)
Here’s more background from RT:
“Major banks across Europe, as well as the UK, US, and Japan, are at major risk should the Russian economy default, according to a new study by Capital Economics. The ING Group in the Netherlands, Raiffeisen Bank in Austria, Societe General in France, UniCredit in Italy, and Commerzbank in Germany, have all faced significant losses in the wake of the ruble crisis…
Overall Societe General, known as Rosbank in the Russian market, has the most exposure at US$31 billion, or €25 billion, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts. This is equivalent to 62 percent of the Paris-based bank’s tangible equity, Bloomberg News reported.
Following the drop, Raiffeisen, which has €15 billion at risk in Russia, saw its stocks plummeted more than 10 percent. Raiffeisen also has significant exposure in Ukraine, which is facing a similar currency sell-off as Russia.” (Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions, RT)
So Putin defaults which nudges the EU banking system down the stairwell. So what? What does that prove?
It proves that Russia has the tools to defend itself. It proves that Putin can disrupt the status quo and spread the pain a bit more equitably. “Spreading the pain” is a tool the US uses quite frequently in its dealings with other countries. Maybe Putin should take a bite of that same apple, eh?
Another option would be to implement capital controls to avoid ruble-dollar conversion and further capital flight. The beauty of capital controls is that they take power away from the big money guys who run the world and hand it back to elected officials. Leaders like Putin are then in a position to say, “Hey, we’re going to take a little break from the dollar system for while until we get caught up. I hope you’ll understand our situation.”
Capital controls are an extremely effective of avoiding capital flight and minimizing the impact of a currency crisis. Here’s a short summary of how these measures helped Malaysia muddle through in 1998:
“When the Asian financial crisis hit, Malaysia’s position looked a lot like Russia’s today: It had big foreign reserves and a low short-term debt level, but relatively high general indebtedness if households and corporations were factored in. At first, to bolster the ringgit, Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pushed through a market-based policy with a flexible exchange rate, rising interest rates and cuts in government spending. It didn’t work: Consumption and investment went down, and pessimism prevailed, exerting downward pressure on the exchange rate.
So, in June 1998, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad… appointed a different economic point man, Daim Zainuddin. In September, on Daim’s urging, Malaysia introduced capital controls. It banned offshore operations in ringgit and forbade foreign investors to repatriate profits for a year. Analysts at the time were sharply critical of the measures, and Malaysia’s reputation in the global financial markets inevitably suffered.
According to Kaplan and Rodrik, however, the capital controls were ultimately effective. The government was able to lower interest rates, the economy recovered, the controls were relaxed ahead of time, and by May 1999 Malaysia was back on the international capital markets with a $1 billion bond issue.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls, Chicago Tribune)
Sure they were effective, but they piss off the slacker class of oligarchs who think the whole system should be centered on their “inalienable right” to move capital from one spot to another so they can rake-off hefty profits at everyone else’s expense. Capital controls push those creeps to the back of the line so the state can do what it needs to do to preserve the failing economy from the attack of speculators. Here’s a clip from a speech Joseph Stiglitz gave in 2014 at the Atlanta Fed’s 2014 Financial Markets Conference. He said:
“When countries do not impose capital controls and allow exchange rates to vary freely, this can give rise to high levels of exchange rate volatility. The consequence can be high levels of economic volatility, imposing great costs on workers and firms throughout the economy. Even if they can lay off some of the risk, there is a cost to doing so. The very existence of this volatility affects the structure of the economy and overall economic performance.”
That sums it up pretty well. Without capital controls, the deep-pocket Wall Street banks and speculators can simply vacuum the money out of an economy leaving the country broken and penniless. This nihilistic decimation of emerging markets via capital flight is what the kleptocracy breezily refers to as “free markets”, the unwavering plundering of civilization to fatten the coffers of the swinish few at the top of the foodchain. That’s got to stop.
Putin needs to put his foot down now; stop the outflow of cash, stop the conversion of rubles to dollars, force investors to recycle their money into the domestic economy, indict the central bank governors and trundle them off to the hoosegow, and reassert the power of the people over the markets. If he doesn’t, then the speculators will continue to peck away until Russia’s reserves are drained-dry and the country is pushed back into another long-term slump. Who wants that?
And don’t think that Putin’s only problem is Washington either, because it isn’t. He’s got an even bigger headache in his own country with the morons who still buy the hogwash that “the market knows best.” These are the fantasists, the corporate toadies, and the fifth columnists, some of whom hold very high office. Here’s a clip I picked up at the Vineyard of the Saker under the heading “Medvedev declares: more of the same”:
(Russian Prime Minister) “Medvedev has just called a government meeting with most of the directors of top Russian corporations and the director of the Russian Central Bank. He immediately announced that he will not introduce any harsh regulatory measures and that he will let the market forces correct the situation. As for the former Minister of Finance, the one so much beloved in the West, Alexei Kudrin, he expressed his full support for the latest increase in interest rates.”
This is lunacy. The US has just turned Russia’s currency into worthless fishwrap, and bonehead Medvedev wants to play nice and return to “business as usual”??
No thanks. Maybe Medvedev wants to be a slave to the market, but I’ll bet Putin is smarter than that.
Putin’s not going to roll over and play dead for these vipers. He’s got to much on the ball for that. He’s going to beat them at their own game, fair and square. He’s going to implement capital controls, restructure the economy away from the west, and aggressively look for ways to deter Washington from spreading its heinous resource war to Central Asia and beyond.
He’s not going to give an inch. You’ll see.
U.S. Meddling Dims Prospects for Peace…
“It’s Uncle Sam who’s pushing us into this slaughter. And let’s be frank, many politicians in Ukraine are just following his orders.”
– Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
The Minsk Ceasefire Protocol has very little chance of succeeding. In fact, the meeting between the warring parties was not convened to stop the violence as much as it was to buy time for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) to retreat and regroup. In the last two weeks, the junta’s army has suffered “catastrophic” losses leaving President Petro Poroshenko with the choice of either calling for a truce or facing the unpleasant prospect of complete annihilation. Poroshenko wisely chose to withdraw under cover of the ceasefire agreement. But let’s not kid ourselves, Poroshenko only accepted that humiliation because he had no other choice. Once he gathers his forces and rearms, he’ll be back with a vengeance.
A recent survey found that 57 percent of the Ukrainian people oppose Poroshenko’s so-called “antiterror operation”. Even so, the fratricidal campaign will continue for the foreseeable future because it’s all part of Washington’s grand plan for the region. What the Obama administration is trying to do, is draw Russia into a costly and protracted conflagration in Ukraine to prove to its European allies that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a dangerous aggressor and a serious threat to global security. The US needs this justification to move ahead with its plan of establishing NATO forward-bases on Russia’s western border where they’ll pose an existential threat to Moscow’s survival. The puppet Poroshenko’s role in this bloody farce is to exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe, crush the resistance, and try to provoke Putin into sending in the tanks. So far, the bumbling “Chocolate King” has only made matters worse by destroying his army and sabotaging US plans for NATO intervention. Obama’s frustration was apparent in the speech he gave at the NATO summit in Wales last weekend. Here’s a clip:
“Russia must stop its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Russia’s “brazen assault” on Ukraine “challenges the most basic of principles of our international system – that borders cannot be redrawn at the barrel of a gun; that nations have the right to determine their own future. It undermines an international order where the rights of peoples and nations are upheld and can’t simply be taken away by brute force.”
Obama’s fulminations were meant to torpedo the ceasefire by poisoning the atmosphere and inflaming passions. Even while the negotiations were underway, the US and NATO were busy rattling sabers trying to derail the process. The summit in Wales was not so much a conference on regional defense as it was a platform for slinging mud at Russia and denouncing its “evil dictator” Putin. Like we said, Obama and Co. are getting frustrated by the fact that Putin has out maneuvered them at every turn. Here’s a clip from the New York Times with some details about the truce:
“The cease-fire agreement called for amnesty for all those who disarm and who did not commit serious crimes; the release of all hostages; the disbanding of militias; and the establishment of a 10-kilometer buffer zone (about six miles) along the Russian-Ukrainian border, with compliance overseen by international monitors.
It also points the way to a possible political solution to the conflict. Mr. Putin, insistent that Ukraine be tied to Russia instead of the West, has pressed for regional autonomy for the southeastern regions, while the Ukrainian government has so far been open only to the idea of decentralization.” (“A Cease-Fire in Ukraine”, New York Times).
Naturally, one would expect NATO and the US to tone down the rhetoric and postpone further escalation in order to show their support for the fragile ceasefire. But that hasn’t happened.
On Sunday, two NATO warships entered the Black Sea through the Bosporus joining French and US destroyers already located in the area. According to Itar Tass:
“The NATO ships’ crews will conduct the Sea Breeze exercises from September 8 to September 10. It is expected that along with the four abovementioned ships the drills will involve Turkey’s frigate Oruc Reis, Romania’s frigate Regele Ferdinand and Georgia’s patrol boat Sukhumi,” the source added.” (“Two NATO warships enter Black Sea – source“, Itar Tass)
The Sea Breeze exercises will be conducted at the same time as NATO military drills in Latvia that will involve more than “2,000 soldiers from nine different countries…(and which) ” simulate the deployment of NATO soldiers and equipment during a crisis situation.”
“We want to send a clear message to everyone who wants to threaten NATO, that it’s not a thing you should do,” General Hans-Lothar Domrose, commander of the NATO military command in Brunssum, Netherlands, told reporters.” (“NATO stages massive military drills in Latvia.”)
The drills have nothing to do protecting civilians from foreign aggression. They’re a blatant attempt to intimidate Putin and show that the western alliance is willing to risk a Third World War to achieve its objectives in Ukraine. The same could be said about NATO’s new Rapid Reaction Force, which is a 4,000-man combat group that will be deployable to any place in Europe within 48 hours. The new “Spearhead” force creates the dangerous precedent of a NATO standing army which will be used by the same reckless organization that assisted in the destruction of Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya. NATO’s interventions have been nearly as disastrous as those of the United States.
Aside from the additional troop deployments, warships to the Black Sea, and Rapid Reaction Force; we should not forget that the US Air Force deployed two B-2 stealth bombers to be stationed in east Europe earlier in the year. The B-2′s, which are capable of delivering nuclear weapons to their targets, are a clear message to Moscow that Washington will take whatever steps it deems necessary to defend its interests in Eurasia.
Also, Poroshenko announced on Friday that he reached an agreement with a number of western governments on the delivery of lethal weapons. (Officials from the US have since denied that they will send arms to Kiev.)
In any event, the pattern is clear: Escalate, escalate, escalate. The United States is determined to establish a NATO beachhead in Ukraine consistent with its plan to pivot to Asia. The alarming buildup of military assets in the Balkans and the Black Sea, as well as the steady drumbeat of anti-Russia propaganda in the media, suggests that Washington is embarking on a major operation that could explode into a full-blown war.
Europeans Oppose Arming Ukraine
Despite the nonstop demonization of Russia in the media, there’s no indication that the European people support the current policy in Ukraine. Check this out:
“The Journal du dimanche reported yesterday that the German Marshall Fund think-tank is preparing to release a poll showing that 81 percent of Frenchmen and 85 percent of Germans oppose arming the Ukrainian regime. The same poll found that in every European country except Poland, a majority of the population opposes the entry of Ukraine into either NATO or the European Union.”…..(“Fighting flares in eastern Ukraine despite ceasefire”, Johannes Stern and Alex Lantier, WSWS)
Finally, after 13 years of continuous warfare, the people have lost their appetite for US-NATO adventurism. Maybe there’s reason for hope, after all.
SANCTIONS: No Proof Needed
On Monday, the EU stepped up its economic war on Moscow by announcing a forth round of sanctions that could go into effect as early as Thursday. (The sanctions have been temporarily delayed so EU members can judge the effectiveness of the ceasefire.) The new measures will be the most painful to date and are aimed primarily at “three major state-run oil companies – Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft, as well as several companies of the military industrial sector.” The objective is to inflict maximum damage on the Russian economy by cutting off access to the capital markets, pushing the economy into recession, and triggering political instability. (The ultimate goal is regime change.) Not surprisingly, there won’t be any sanctions on the gas sector, particularly, Gazprom, which is Europe’s biggest gas supplier. EU leaders have shown repeatedly that they are only too willing to stand on principal as long as their own interests aren’t effected.
It’s worth noting that the new sanctions will be imposed without any evidence of wrongdoing and without any legal process for Russia to defend itself. The US and EU cannot be bothered with anything as trivial as due process or the presumption of innocence, which are the cornerstones upon which English Law rests dating back 500 years. Simply put: Russia is guilty because, well, because we say so.
There’s only the slimmest chance that the ceasefire in Ukraine will last, mainly because Washington needs a war to achieve its broader strategic objectives. What Obama and his lieutenants really want is “to break up Russia, subjugate its economic space, and establish control over the resources of the giant Eurasian continent. They believe that this is the only way they can maintain their hegemony and beat China.” (Quote: Sergei Glaziev, Putin’s economic advisor) That means, there won’t be peace in Ukraine until Washington’s puppets in Kiev are removed and Ukrainian sovereignty is restored.
The belief that calling for and instituting sanctions against Russia is a sound policy, illustrates the economic disconnect of the Obama administration. With the fervor for starting a new cold war, the propaganda machine is working overtime to paint a picture that ignores real economic synergism. Note the conflicting reports regarding the EU. Nine EU countries ready to block economic sanctions against Russia, quotes a diplomatic source to ITAR-TASS:
“France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, and EU President Italy see no reason in the current environment for the introduction of sectorial trade and economic sanctions against Russia and at the summit, will block the measure.”
“According to the source, the US sees slapping Russia with sanctions as a way to promote its own trade agenda with Europe, a side rarely explored in mainstream media. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe would create the world’s largest free trade zone, but some worry it could balloon into an “economic NATO” or could end up putting corporation interest above national.”
An article, EU and the USA have adopted new sanctions against Russia reports that the European Council has agreed to extend the restrictive measures for the entities in the Russian Federation. Romanian president Traian Basescu believes the EU needs to adopt tougher sanctions against Russia.
“My point of view was that unless the European Union takes tougher actions and moves on to the third stage of these sanctions, Ukraine might no longer be ready to move towards the European Union and would end up in a situation like that in the Republic of Moldova, currently facing the breakaway tendencies of the region of Transdniester, only with a greater impact for the EU, because Ukraine is a bigger country.”
This contradiction between individual national economic interests and the quest for a technocrat administered system of trade that fosters and facilitates an internationalist foreign policy under NATO and EU rule, is the actual objective of Washington and Brussels interventionism. This arrogance and self-delusion treats economic commerce as conducted in a vacuum. As The Hill article cites Putin. “Sanctions are “driving into a corner” relations between the two countries and will damage the interests of U.S. companies and “the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people.”
Russian warns that the US campaign will have consequences as the Alliance News writes, that Moscow Blasts US Sanctions As “Primitive,” Promises Retaliation.
“Sergei Ryabkov, a deputy Foreign Minister, told the Interfax news agency that Moscow will hit back with measures that “will be felt in Washington painfully and sharply.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said US measures against a number of state corporations are “a primitive attempt at revenge because events in Ukraine are not developing according to Washington’s scenario,” and added that it reserves the right to retaliate.”
The preposterous strategy that international finance can force a country like Russia, with the world’s largest energy resources, into a capitulation dependent status is absurd. The minimal effect according to Russia’s Finance Ministry, Says Harsher Sanctions Would Cost Russia 0.3% of GDP, does not sound like much of a threat. Then consider the counter response of Russian Sanctions Retaliation Escalates: Dumps Intel/AMD And Now Foreign Cars.
The cavalier and condescending manner by which the Western central banks assist the New World Order’s goal of global dominance has fortified opposition with the emergence of theBRICS Development Bank. Use your common sense, when Putin Wants Measures to Protect BRICS Nations From U.S. Sanctions, much of the rest of the world is listening.
“In an interview published as a two-day BRICS summit got under way in Brazil on Tuesday, Putin said he would urge Brazil, China, India and South Africa to draw “substantive conclusions” from sanctions imposed on Russia over its actions in the Ukraine crisis, and said it was time to dilute the dominance of the U.S.-led West and the U.S. dollar by boosting the role of the BRICS on the global stage.”
The American press and media, especially is fueling the fires to demonize Putin’s Russia as a resurrected Stalinist Soviet belligerent. Absent in this narrative is an honest chronicle of NATO’s expansion to encircle the Russian Federation. At what point will Western journalists and academic scholars admit that the convergence of EU authoritarianism and American hegemony propagates an internationalist foreign policy, designed to isolate and destroy any opposition to this New World Order.
The lesson of these failed attempts for economic bullying a country, with real weapons of mass destruction, has the potential of starting a hot war. The essay, IMF and EU Capture of Ukraine, explains the circumstances and false justification of initiating “regime change“. This Ukraine flashpoint may well commence a tangible economic union among countries, who recognize that American sanctions are nothing more than a desperate attempt to prop up a decaying globalist economic structure.
EU antagonism towards the citizens of their member countries is growing expediently. Within this context, US sanctions hurt Europe more than America.
“The Association of European Businesses (AEB), a Moscow-based business lobby, said that new US sanctions against Russia have a more severe effect on European than on American business.
The AEB says it “regrets” the US sanctions, and warns that they will stunt economic growth “not only in Russia“.
“These sanctions are more focused on the partners of European businesses than on the partners of American companies,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.”
Obama’s State Department bears a heavy responsibility for promoting a civil war in Ukraine. Using sanctions to push Russia into accelerating a BRICS economic block will have far more adverse effects than can be envisioned by the lunatic proponents of “selective” Free Trade. The moneychanger’s financial system is imploding and their rescue plan requires a massive global crisis to bail out their “To Big to Fail” model. Mutually productive commerce will be among the first causalities of the prelude to World War III. Soon clamors for sanctions against American companies will begin, as the blame game diverts the real cause of this fabricated debacle.
“While Russia has been making efforts to de-escalate and resolve the crisis, the Kiev regime has chosen to launch airstrikes on peaceful residential areas, literally destroying the last hope for preserving the Geneva accords.” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman
“The crisis in Ukraine is not the result of ‘Russian aggression,’ but of a criminal strategy by the US and its European allies to install a hostile regime on Russia’s borders in Ukraine and, ultimately, dismember Russia itself.” Johannes Stern, NATO boosts military build-up against Russia as protests spread in east Ukraine, WSWS
Fighting broke out on Friday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk when Kiev’s coup government deployed military helicopters to fire on the city while troops and armored vehicles stormed checkpoints. At the time this article went to press, two helicopters had been shot down killing at least two pilots while one was captured. In an impassioned statement on Russian TV, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, appealed to allies in the EU to do whatever they could to persuade Ukrainian authorities to call off the operation and stop the violence.
“We are calling on the European capitals, the United States of America to give an assessment of the current events and are of course calling on those carrying out airstrikes on residential areas to…immediately end the punitive operation and any violence against its own people…”
So far, there has been no response from Washington although it’s clear that the Obama administration had a hand in organizing the crackdown. Not only were the State Department and CIA directly involved in the putsch that removed democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych from office, but Washington has also been implicated in punitive operations directed against ethnic Russian protestors in east Ukraine. Both CIA Director John Brennan and Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev just hours before two previous crackdowns were ordered by imposter-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. As Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blandly noted, It’s clear that Washington is “calling the shots”.
On Thursday, it looked like violence might be avoided when coup-President Oleksandr Turchynov said that he had lost control of the situation. In an exasperated message to the media, Turchnov said, “It is hard to accept but it’s the truth, but the majority of law enforcers in the east are incapable of performing their duties.”
Turchynov was referring to the fact that Ukrainian troops have refused to attack their own countrymen. The mutiny has reportedly spread from elite airborne units to local police who sympathize with the protestors. The only group that’s willing to carry out Washington’s proxy war is the Right Sector neo-Nazis who helped topple the Yanukovych government. Just last week, members of this openly fascist party, commemorated “the perpetrators of the massacre of Yanova Dolina,” where “600 Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in what is now Bazaltovoye. The massacre marked the beginning of ethnic cleansing in what is now western Ukraine, where tens of thousands of Poles were killed within a few months.” (World Socialist Web Site)
These are Obama’s new allies in America’s war against Russia. Now check this out from Reuters:
“The International Monetary Fund warned that if Ukraine lost territory in the east it would have to redesign a $17 billion bailout of the country, probably requiring additional financing.” (Ukraine attacks rebel city, helicopter shot down, Reuters)
Tell me, dear reader, when was the last time you heard of the IMF threatening to withhold funds if a political leader didn’t wage war on his own people? Anyone with half a brain can see that the IMF is just acting on orders from the White House. This is Obama’s war. His fingerprints are all over the policy. Obama is determined to draw Russia into a bloody guerilla war that leaves Ukraine in the same condition as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria.
Here’s a clip from the New York Times:
“Through stealth and misdirection, and in defiance of Western sanctions, Russia has managed to achieve its immediate goal of what Western and Ukrainian officials believe is rendering Ukraine so chaotic that it cannot guarantee order, mend its teetering economy or elect new leaders to replace Mr. Turchynov.” (Not Getting Through to Mr. Putin, New York Times)
Putin wants a “chaotic” failed state on Russia’s border? Have you ever read such nonsense in your life?
Putin didn’t topple the Ukrainian government. The US State Department did. (Victoria Nuland’s hacked phone calls prove it.) And Putin didn’t violate the Geneva agreement less than 24 hours after the deal was signed by launching a crackdown on civilian protestors in the east. That was US-puppet Yatsenyuk. Nor did Putin deploy the military to surround cities, cut off their water supplies and deploy helicopter gunships to fire missiles at civilian infrastructure and terrorize the local population. That was the work of Obama’s fascist junta in Kiev. Putin had nothing to do with any of the trouble in Ukraine. It’s all part of the US “pivot to Asia” strategy to encircle and (eventually) dismember Russia in order to seize vital resources and control the flow of energy to China. Washington wants to reduce Ukraine to Mad Max-type pandemonium to justify establishing NATO bases on Russia’s perimeter. It’s all part of the plan to control Central Asia and rule the world.
Putin has acted as peacemaker throughout the crisis, but Obama is determined to provoke the Russian president by attacking and killing ethnic Russians. Consider the statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry following the helicopter incident on Friday morning:
“As we have warned many times before, the use of the army against its own people is a crime and is leading Ukraine to catastrophe…By supporting the organizers of the Kiev coup in their strategy of violently putting down protests, the US and EU are taking on a huge responsibility, essentially closing the door to a peaceful solution to the crisis.” (Putin says Geneva agreement no longer viable after Ukrainian military action, Guardian)
It’s clear now that Obama merely used the Geneva agreement to buy time to move troops and military hardware to Poland and the Balkans. It’s also clear that Obama invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington so that it would appear that Europe is united behind the US in its proxy war on Russia. But what does Obama hope to achieve by stirring up this hornet’s nest? He knows that Putin cannot afford to back down on Crimea, so what’s the point? And, more importantly, what is Ukraine going to look like when Washington is finished using it as a staging-ground for its geopolitical landgrab? Here’s an insightful piece by Russian academic, Andrei Fursov, who thinks he knows what Obama wants and explains the impact the policy is going to have on Ukraine for years to come.
“The Americans need controlled chaos and civil war…Moreover, it is clear that this country (post-coup Ukraine) is intended to be absolutely anti-Russian, nationalist, Banderite and neo-Nazi. So the dual goal of establishing this anti-Russian state is to constantly apply pressure on the Russian Federation…
As Bismarck (said) ‘We must cultivate among the Ukrainians, a people whose consciousness is altered to such an extent, that they begin to hate everything Russian.’ …
Thus we are talking about a historical psy-op, an information-psychological sabotage, whose purpose is to establish Russophobic Slavs… They are the means to separate Ukraine from Russia and to oppose Russia as a kind … totalitarian empire. This was all devised under the Galician Project, on which the intelligence services of Austro-Germany and Kaiser German worked, followed by the intelligence service of the Third Reich, later – CIA and BND…
Banderastan, if that’s what Ukraine is fated to become, as designed by the puppet-masters across the ocean, is to be an oligarchic, terroristic, Russophobic state…An oligarchic Banderite…oligarchy is the ideal vehicle for external control. Clearly, this will suit both the oligarchs and the West.” (Battleground Ukraine: A Comprehensive Summary, Zero Hedge)
So, there it is: Divide and rule. We saw the Bush administration pull it off with the Shia and Sunnis in Iraq, and now Obama wants to do the same with the Ukrainians and Russians. Same strategy, different continent.
This is Obama’s plan for the “New Ukraine” a fascist-ruled failed state that follows Washington’s directives and puts pressure on Russia thorough endless provocations, belligerence, and war. Ukraine will be Washington’s pit bull in the East, separating Moscow from crucial sources of revenue and thwarting efforts at greater EU-Russia economic integration. This is how Washington hopes to insert itself into Eurasia, to improve its prospects in the Great Game, and to establish global hegemony into the next century.
(Note: “Banderite” refers to Stepan Bandera, who was a Ukrainian nationalist leader who collaborated with the Nazis. Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) According to the World Socialist Web Site: “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out numerous massacres of the Polish population in western Ukraine…The UPA served as a military executive organ of the OUN. It was founded in the spring of 1943 and recruited primarily from Nazi collaborators who were previously active in the SS.”)
New and Old…
Even the definition of “asymmetric war” is controversial, because it can concern at least three drivers and methods of conflict, usually between large organized fighting forces and the opposite. Firstly there is the political-economic or other motivation, second the tactics, and thirdly the weapons utilised in asymmetric war – which itself is usually defined by the negative. Some writers say the term was first used by Andrew J. Mack in a 1975 book titled “Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars”. Some military historians conversely say asymmetric war dates from Antiquity, and included the surprise outcome of larger fighting forces losing an asymmetric war with smaller insurgent, militia, terrorist or tight knit politically motivated forces and entities in specific theaters of conflict.
Other than wars of Antiquity like the Ancient Greek Pelopennesian war series which lasted about 30 years in the 5th century BC, and certainly included asymmetric war and “surprise defeats” for larger forces, the 200-year Crusader war series (about 1095-1299) had recurring battles and campaigns where asymmetric war featured, and sometimes dominated. Our problem is that certainly for a near-century from the late 19th century to about 1980-2000, the Clausewitz doctrine of “God is with the big battalions” held firm. This in turn can be traced to the nature as well as the goals of war following the Industrial Revolution. Drivers of change included European nationbuilding, colonialism, mass migration and by 1948 the later “bipolar world” of the so-called Soviet Empire opposing the Western liberal-capitalist democracies. The collapse of the USSR was naively believed to mean “the end of history and of warfare itself”.
Although not defined as an asymmetric war campaign leading to total victory, by historians like Andrew Mack, the Long March of Mao Zedong culminating in total victory in 1949 was for most of its time called “terror war” by external major powers, including the US, Japan, the UK and other European nations. This only underlines the fact that asymmetric war for losers is often called terrorism, but also underlines the wider tactics and strategy, and weapons used by smaller insurgent forces during an asymmetric war campaign or series. It also underlines that like the asymmetric wars of the distant past, these are generally long series of wars, not setpiece short-term frontline battlefield warfare.
Strategy and Tactics
Strategy above all means command and control because decisive gains and losses need close combat at some stage for any type of war excluding setpiece formal warfare of the pre-Cold War type or paradigm. The Cold War “bipolar paradigm”, we should note, was not for nothing subtitled Mutually Assured Destruction because a charred, radioactive wasteland was the booty or logical peace dividend for any hypothetical “winner”. Also, the MAD paradigm more subtly underlined the role of economic and military infrastructures, which as they become more sophisticated, become more vulnerable. Often scenarized by US and Soviet military strategists during the Cold War, the utilization of a small number of missile-launched airburst nuclear weapons would instantly paralyse the enemy’s command and control infrastructure, electric power and telephone systems, water supplies, fuel supplies, road transport and so on. There could be no winner, only two losers.
Discussion of military infrastructure, and its fragility, however shifts the spotlight away from a key element of asymmetric war the role of ideology and personal commitment. Command and control operated by for example Mao Zedong in his Long March war campaign, was primarily ideological at its beginnings. Conversely in nearly all conventional setpiece wars, which are now likely a thing of the past, the belligerents deployed forces that were essentially of similar type. The war’s outcome could normally be predicted by the physical size, quantity and control of the forces in play. Where the forces are essentially equal, with access to the same technology, the outcome is usually stalemate. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 was a classic example.
This already makes it possible to define probably the most decisive motivating role for asymmetric fighting forces technological superiority is canceled by infrastructure fragility. Alternately stated technological inferiority is often canceled by the enemy’s vulnerable military, ideological and economic infrastructures. The Afghan war of 1979-88 was a classic example.
Including vulnerable economic infrastructures, asymmetric wars such as this Afghan war (and the US-Afghan war of 2001-2014) will heavily feature urban insurgency and the destruction of economic infrastructures, which either directly support the more-powerful enemy’s military capability or provide indirect aid to the enemy’s ideological action, attempting to maintain a semblance of “normal life”. Asymmetric wars, we can again note, are often very long and measured in decades, not years, and in part due to this can include a major element of attrition, both economic and ideological.
Terrain and Proxies
Certainly the case in asymmetric wars of Antiquity, small inferior forces fighting the opposite can “trump the enemy” using terrain which today includes and features urban areas. As I have noted in recent articles concerning Syrian war geopolitics, one basic reason why “Syria” is a non-nation or a geopolitical metastase of the Sykes-Picot era of Great Power diplomacy, is the extreme geological folding of the mountainous coastal strip with peaks higher than 2000 meters, where more than 90% of the population lives. This rough, hilly terrain has always favored small autonomous or semi-autonomous population groupings, all of them with a long tradition of conflict including “asymmetric” combat. Ideological differences are often extreme, for example the age-old conflict between traditional Alawites and the Assassin heretic sect of the Alawites.
During the long Crusader war series, for example, the Assassins turned their fighting skills against the invading European crusaders. After this 200-year war series, they returned to fighting any centralising power based in Damascus. The same applies to the Druzes, and to other “mountain fighters”. On numerous occasions, often for decades, fighting groups in what is called “Syria” served as proxies in and for highly complex military campaigns. One examples was the period through about 1204-1260 when a loose alliance of southern powers or “statelets” opposed the larger, better armed Latin Empire of the Byzantines.
No power, either great or small can change geology and geomorphology. To be sure, Stalin-era Soviet campaigns against Chechens, Daghestanis and other small, ideologically tight-knit “mountain fighters”, and the campaign waged in this geopolitical rimland or shatterbelt since the 1990s by Russia, have attempted their eradication. In Afghanistan, as the USSR and later the US found out, so-called mountain fighters can easily urbanize and rapidly shift to urban theater conflict, broadening their warfare tactics with ease.
The major and increasing role of proxy fighting itself favors a shift to asymmetric war. Since the end of World War II, some military historians claim the majority of wars on a numerical basis fought since 1945 have either included, or been dominated by proxy fighters. This in turn means more belligerants, with usually different motivations, staying power, weapons and tactics, will be operating in any warfare. This also means that “surprise outcomes” become more commonplace, for example when proxies turn against their original partners or actively side with their former enemy or enemies.
Deed Horses and Stynking Beestes
Widely used in the Crusader war series, and imported back to Europe with returning Crusaders by the start of the 14th century, early biological warfare featured the catapulting of diseased putrefying corpses, often of horses or other animals, sometimes of humans into castle moats. By the time of the so-called Hundred Years War starting about 1340, biological war was commonplace in siege warfare. With the Black Death (bubonic plague) epidemic which spread from the western Balkans and killed an estimated 25%-33% of the total population of Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, bodies of bubonic plague victims were utilised as weapons as commonly as munitions, arrows and other weapons in the majority of European wars. Death rates obtained using these “asymmetric weapons”, according to military historians could often exceed 950 killed for every 1000 enemy attacked.
Today we hear about the Syrian regime of Bashr al-Assad, and-or rebel forces, utilizing chemical weapons, but chemical weapons akin to napalm were utilized on a common basis in warfare opposing the Byzantime Empire and sometimes-insurgent, often small scale Muslim forces, by 670 AD. These early chemical weapons increasingly used additives including chalk powder, arsenic sulfide, copper oxides and other toxic suffocants to increase lethality.
By the early 18th century, the UK Royal Society was theater to recurring debates on how to protect land armies against biological warfare, in particular protection against smallpox bacteria due to smallpox being already known as a biological weapon. By about 1715, the technique of variolation, or immunization against smallpox was developed, firstly with a view to protecting British fighting forces despite early immunization by variolation causing an estimated 2%-3% mortality of treated soldiers. As we know, the conquest of the US Wild West in the 18th-19th centuries made frequent use of smallpox bacteria to kill Indian fighters and peoples who were not immunized. Historians contend that General George Washington who had warned his troops that English forces might use smallpox as a weapon in the Battle of Quebec (1775) which was lost by the Americans, was himself killed by smallpox poisoning in 1776.
It is therefore either by hypocrisy, ignorance or blindness that mainstream media and many politicians pretend that CBW (chemical and biological weapons) are both strange and repulsive. For numerically inferior forces, they can provide a decisive advantage similar to the historical role of crossbows, in the Middle Ages. Their utilization in asymmetric war has been more the rule, than exception. This logic certainly extends to the broad group of asymmetric arms called NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons – the arsenals held by the small nations North Korea and Israel reflect their political rulers’ fear of numerically superior enemy forces. As we know, both mass-produced pesticides and relatively abundant nuclear wastes, among others, are major potential asymmetric weapons.
The Coming Global Asymmetric War
Andrew J. Mack made the point that big nations can easily lose small wars. He did not add that due to weapons technology and MAD, they can only lose big wars. This standoff or new weakness – of the great powers whether they describe themselves as “great” or not, has certainly been observed and noted by the large number of their asymmetric war-oriented opponents and rivals.
When added to the impacts of economic and industrial technology change, described in other recent articles by myself, the concept of either one or a select few hegemonic powers dominating world political-strategic relations is consigned to trashcan of History. Probably since as early as 1980, certainly in the coming decades from today, this observation will be put to the test.
The Syrian civil war which is a showcase of asymmetric war and proxy war could be taken as an example. Neither Russia nor the US can win this war. Iran’s supposed interest in this war can be questioned. European influence in any outcome to this war is small and weak. Chinese, Indian and other Asian interest in this war is very low. Only extremely massive and sustained, therefore very expensive military occupation on a long-term basis could create or restore any simulacre or surrogate for “the nation state of Syria”. No major external power has any interest in this outcome. The staying power of KSA, Qatar, UAE and other sunni-minority small states paying for Syrian theatre proxy fighters, called “djihadis”, despite the petrodollars and the Wahabism, can easily be questioned.
What was called “Syria” therefore become a shatterbelt zone in modern geopolitical parlance, very comparable with the pre-1914 Balkan states, and pre-1917 Middle Eastern and North African states. Formerly called “rimland states”, shatterbelt zones can also be called the Funeral Pyres of Empire due to these intrinsically volatile and ungovernable zones often being gateways to larger zones of major economic significance, drawing repeated attempts at dominance by the great powers.
Multiple examples exist outside the zone including southern Russia, the Balkans (of 2014), western Asia, and the MENA. Under certain hypotheses, zones like the Europe of the EU28, engaged in an undeclared power struggle with Russia to win power over the Ukraine, may be an example.
More important for this article, most definitely intensified by asymmetric war ideology, tactics and weapons, world shatterbelt zones of “permanent instability” are growing and they are necessarily growing. Sometimes called “multipolarity” and presented as the positive spinoff from economic globalisation, and above all presented as consensual by the great powers (and would-be great powers), the loss of centre and the growth of periphery is a stark fact of the coming world.
This stark fact is of course denied by the so-called great powers. However, when there is no longer a ruling centre and the central power or Hegemon, there is only periphery and no Hegemon in a series of complex rimlands and shatterbelts.
Source: Andrew McKillop
Most “NGOs” fomenting regime-changes and color-coded revolutions, promoting “pride marches” and similar “human rights issues,” are in reality Western (mostly U.S.) funded conspiracies pursuing the agenda of their paymasters. That much has been known for years, but in recent days we have witnessed a particularly egregious example of their politically-motivated duplicity.
On December 17 Egypt’s military-backed government filed additional criminal charges against former president Mohamed Morsi, accusing him of being a party to a major terrorist plot that involved killing demonstrators and leaking state secrets to Iran. The authorities described the case against Morsi and several of his close advisors as the biggest of its kind in Egyptian history. Prosecutors additionally accused the former Muslim Brotherhood leader of having made illegal arrangements with the Hezbollah in Iran, with Hamas in Gaza, and with extremists whose goal is to establish an Islamic emirate in Sinai. The scheme allegedly involved smuggling arms into the country and arranging for Brotherhood activists to obtain military training from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.
Human rights groups were quick to condemn the charges, calling them preposterous “because of their vast scale and complexity,” The New York Times reported a day later. “They are pretty fantastical, to say the least,” the NYT duly quoted one Sarah Leah Whitson, the North African Programs Director for Human Rights Watch, as saying of the accusations. “Through both legal processes and their control of the media, the government has been trying to generate this notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization carrying out violent acts, with the absence of any evidence, and these charges really underscore the extent to which the government is focused on exterminating the Muslim Brotherhood as a political opposition. It is an all-out campaign to destroy it.” Two weeks earlier, the same HRW official complained that the military in Egypt was illegally holding members of Morsi’s government in secret locations.
By contrast, the arrest, trial, and sentencing of hundreds of Turkish military officers on dozens of far more preposterous charges in recent years has passed almost unnoticed in the Western media, and was barely commented upon by the “human rights community.” They were accused of involvement in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer plots, dating back to 2003-4. The result was the largest show trial ever in the non-Communist world. The charges, too, were worthy of Moscow 1937.
The Sledgehammer plot, the government alleged, was a military conspiracy which should have included bombings of historic mosques in Istanbul, an attack on a museum, and the provocation of military tensions with neighboring Greece, including air attacks on Greek islands by Turkish planes. Such acts of terrorism and outright military aggression were supposedly designed to plunge Turkey into utter chaos and provide an opportunity for the military to step in and remove the Islamist AKP government from power.
The Sledgehammer was connected to the earlier Ergenekon conspiracy, supposedly the Mother of All Plots, the mega-conspiracy in which the “Deep State”—a shadowy coalition of senior military officers, the intelligence services, the judiciary, and organized crime—allegedly planned terrorist attacks to foment unrest, also leading to a military takeover. Arch-secular nationalists, the prosecutors said, had been in bed with the Maoist PKK, the extreme-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party, the Islamist Hizbullah and Milli Görüþ, the ultranationalist Turkish Revenge Brigades, the Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army, and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Turkey.
Prime Minister Erdogan and other AKP leaders provided political support for the prosecutions. There were countless inconsistencies in the accusations, however. Dozens of entities—hospitals, NGOs, companies, and even military units—were referred to by names or acronyms which they acquired many years after the dates cited, in some cases as late as August 2009. The Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases were no “cases” at all, but a brazen attempt by the AKP regime to neutralize Turkey’s once-powerful military once and for all. The government’s specific objective was to discredit the officer corps, and thus facilitate the abolition of the Army’s traditional role as the guardian of the country’s secular political system.
In 2012, after what amounted to a show trial, over 300 of the 365 “Sledgehammer” suspects were sentenced to prison terms, and 34 suspects were acquitted. (The case is being appealed.) On 5 August 2013, final verdicts were announced in the Ergenekon case. A dozen “consecutive” or “aggravated” life sentences were passed, as well as over two hundred lengthy prison sentences. Only 21 of the 275 defendants were acquitted. All told, 640 were charged, 55 acquitted—impressive even by Soviet standards.
In view of its concern for Morsi and his cohorts, the reaction from Human Rights Watch to the spectacle in Turkey could not have been more different. In 2009, with the trial just starting, it announced that the Ergenekon case “gives Turkey a chance to make clear that it will hold security forces accountable for abuse, but that can only happen if the investigation follows the evidence wherever—and to whomever—it leads.” It did not comment on the course of the trial or the sentences. Remarkably, it did not comment on the “Sledgehammer Case” charges, trial, or sentences at all.
As for The New York Times, last August 6 it commented that “the Ergenekon trial played an important role in efforts to lay to rest a history of military meddling in democratic politics. Much of Turkey’s modern history has been dominated by a secularist military-bureaucratic alliance that regularly derailed the democratic process when confronted with governments or political movements that threatened its political control.” “Some saw the trial as no more than a witch hunt by the governing A.K.P. against its political opponents,” it noted curtly, and added, in sorrow more than anger, that an opportunity was missed “to prove those critics wrong by ensuring a scrupulous commitment to fairness throughout the process.”
As it happens, the Open Society Foundation—belonging to that noted philanthropist George Soros—is the primary donor of the Human Rights Watch, contributing $100 million of $128 million of contributions and grants received by the HRW in the 2011 financial year. And The New York Times is the flagship of America’s journalism.
After four years and three months of unprecedented carnage, the Great War ended 95 years ago on November, 11th 1918. The most tragic event in the history of mankind, that war destroyed a vibrant, magnificently creative civilization. A fundamentally decent and well-ordered world was shattered forever. The floodgates of hell in which we live now were opened.
It was truly the first global war—la Grande Guerre, der grosse Krieg. Tens of millions of men were mobilized. In France and Germany four fifths of all men between 18 and 50 donned the uniform. The entire human, physical and moral resources of Europe’s major powers and a host of smaller nations were strained like never before in history. The weapons were deployed on a massive scale, killing machines that only a generation earlier did not exist: airplanes, tanks, poison gasses, submarines. The lethal mix of the machine gun and barbed wire made “going over the top” tantamount to a death sentence.
The war claimed close to 20 million lives, soldiers and civilians in roughly equal proportion. Millions of young men were maimed and damaged forever. Epidemics during and immediately after the war claimed millions more. Even more horrendous are that war’s moral and spiritual consequences. Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, the sequel known as the Second World War, and the wounded civilization we now live in, are its poisoned fruits.
How it actually happened, or, as Ranke would put it, wie es eigentlich gewesen?
As we near the centennial of its outbreak, it is not uncommon for educated non-historians who think about such matters to assume that the war in 1914 was the result of a series of blunders and miscalculations in various Great Power courts, foreign offices, and chancelleries. The key interwar American text on the subject, Sidney B. Fay’s Origins of the World War, suggested that nobody wanted the war but—like in a Greek drama—forces beyond the actors’ control and understanding drove everyone into the maelstrom. Implicit in this narrative was the view that the European system was so inherently unstable that a single terrorist act by a troubled Serb adolescent in a troubled Balkan city could fatally disrupt it.
That view was wrong. As one of the most prominent German historians of the 20th century, Fritz Fischer, demonstrated in his masterly Griff nach der Weltmacht (Germany’s Bid for Global Dominance), the Kaiserreich military and political elite welcomed the prospect of war resulting from the attentat in Sarajevo as an opportunity to make Germany the hegemon of the Old Continent. Fischer established beyond reasonable doubt that Berlin manipulated the July crisis in 1914 to revise her 1871 borders and establish dominance in Europe, whereby France and Russia would be degraded to powerlessness and territorial insignificance.
To that end, after Sarajevo Germany encouraged Austria to pursue what Vienna believed would be a local war against Serbia in order to engineer a wider European conflagration which would eliminate France and Russia from the scene for decades. The record is clear: as (by then former) German chief of general staff Moltke confided to his friend Colmar von der Goltz as early as 1915, it was the war of Germany’s making, “this war that I prepared and initiated.” Had the murdered Archduke Francis Ferdinand—who did not want war—been alive, Austria’s Chief of Staff Konrad von Hetzendorf mused when the war started going badly for the Dual Monarchy, “he would have had me shot.”
Moltke and other Junkers were not acting alone. Having betrayed Bismarck’s legacy by tying Germany to the decaying Habsburg Monarchy and by conducting a reckless foreign policy in the early years of the 20th century, having alienated Britain by building an unnecessary and ultimately useless high seas fleet, the Wilhelmine establishment found itself in the encirclement of its own making. That establishment blundered to the point of prompting Britain and Russia to become de facto (albeit not as yet formal) allies in 1907—unthinkable in the days of the Iron Chancellor. At times Germany acted on the global stage like a bunch of McCains with manners: when Berlin got needlessly involved in Morocco in 1911, even Vienna withdrew support.
A “preventive” war against Russia and France, based on the Schlieffen Plan, was seen as a way out of Germany’s chronic diplomatic isolation and as a means of preempting Russia’s economic, demographic and military rise, which obsessed Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, who complained that it was useless to plant oaks on his Brandenburg estate since some Cossacks would rest in their shade. To that end Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to issue an impossible ultimatum to Serbia blaming her for Sarajevo—the famous blank check of July 5, 1914—with both Central Powers knowing full well that this would lead to an all-out war unless Russia climbed down at the last minute and thus abdicated her role as a great power. As David Fromkin concluded in his excellent Europe’s Last Summer, it takes two or more to keep the peace but only one to start the war: “The international conflict in the summer of 1914 consisted of two wars, not one. Both were started deliberately.” One was Austria’s war against Serbia, the other Germany’s war against France and Russia. Britain inevitably and predictably entered the fray when Germany violated Belgium’s neutrality—as postulated by the Schlieffen Plan—thus making the war global. It was frivolously assumed in Berlin that in any event the British could not field an army capable of affecting the outcome until it was too late.
It was not possible for German politicians and soldiers simply to declare the European system created by Bismarck null and void. They could not admit that they wanted to revise it by force in favor of an extended Mitteleuropa, dominated by Germany, with an emaciated France to the west and a humbled Russia—minus the Ukraine and the Baltic provinces—to the east. The Prussian elite needed a seemingly righteous cause, the latter-day Ems Telegram, to unite the nation and, in particular, to persuade its millions of Social Democrats and Roman Catholics that the coming war was just, and the Vaterland’s cause worth dying for. The scenario was simple, mendacious, and effective: encourage Austria to present Serbia with an outrageous ultimatum that had to be rejected; let Russia threaten Austria in Serbia’s defense; present Germany’s subsequent move against Russia as a gallant and selfless rescue of Germany’s aggrieved Danubian ally; and attack France first, on whatever grounds, in order to kick her out of the war before turning the might of the entire army against the slow-mobilizing Russians.
This was a reckless scenario full of incalculable risks. The British duly declared war when Liege was attacked and the Schlieffen Plan collapsed with the Miracle on the Marne. But in July 1914 both military planning and the political rationale behind it reflected Berlin’s establishment’s obsession with the notion of “encirclement.” Just as the political paradigm was unduly pessimistic, its military “solution” was based on an optimistic scenario that had many elements that could, and did, go wrong. Determined to break out of this self-imposed, intellectually wanting and largely imagined “encirclement,” the Second Reich discarded Bismarck’s flexibility of external liaisons in favor of an implacable hostility to France, a self-generated sense of existential danger from Russia, and—perhaps worst of all—an alliance with Austria-Hungary that was debilitating in its implications and disastrous in its consequences.
The Iron Chancellor would never have allowed the worn-out Viennese tail to wag the dynamic German dog, and in the 1880s and 90s he repeatedly warned that the Balkans must never be allowed to release its potential as Europe’s proverbial powder keg. His successors of 1914 disregarded that advice on both counts. In this they encountered no effective opposition, and even the seemingly middle-of-the-road Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, joined the fray with an air of fatalistic determination, only once or twice interrupted by pangs of fearful lucidity.
By 1914 Germany’s ruling stratum’s understanding of the State reason was fatally corrupted by a host of ideological mantras which were Wilhelmine Germany’s equivalent of America’s global interventionists today: the naval lobby, the colonial lobby, the annexationist lobby, the Voelkisch lobby. Like the proponents of the war against Iran, they branded all moderation weakness and all doubt treason. Germany’s criminal blunder of 1914 was a sinister precursor of her crime of 1939. As per Fischer, these are the “ideologies, values, and ambitions that led our country to destruction in the space of two generations.”
In addition to being gripped by a self-fulfilling and gloomy Weltanschauung that demanded aggressively proactive policies, the Central Powers’ political elites were unable and unwilling to question the dictates of military planning. As Fischer’s old foe, conservative German historian Gerhard Ritter, readily admitted, a desperate gamble, va-banque Spiel, replaced policy making: in Vienna Conrad presented the Cabinet with a rosy and unrealistic assessment of Austria’s military capabilities that were soon demolished in a series of humiliating defeats in Serbia. In Berlin the German plan of campaign—which relied on a great Austrian offensive in the East which never happened—suffered from an over-estimation of German capability. Mobilization schedules and railway timetables took over. The lights went out all over Europe, never to be lit again.
Four awful years later President Wilson’s Fourteen Points—the device that was allegedly meant to end the war—espoused the principle of self-determination. It threw a revolutionary doctrine thrown at an already exhausted Europe, a doctrine almost on par with Bolshevism in its destabilizing effect. It unleashed competing aspirations among the smaller nations of Central Europe and the Balkans that not only hastened the collapse of transnational empires, but also gave rise to a host of intractable ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes that remain unresolved to this day. Wilson’s notions of an “enlarging democracy” and “collective security” signaled the birth of a view of America’s role in world affairs which has created—and is still creating—endless problems for both America and the world. It was Wilson, speaking through President George W. Bush a decade ago, who declared that America not only “created the conditions in which new democracies could flourish” but “also provided inspiration for oppressed peoples.”
Two decades after the Armistice, burdened by Clemenceau’s harsh revenge at Versailles, Europe staggered into a belated sequel in September 1939. After 1918 it was very badly wounded; after 1945, mortally so. The result is a civilization that is aborting and birth-controlling itself to death, a civilization that is morally bankrupt, culturally spent, and spiritually comatose. Ninety five years later we are living—if life it is—with the consequences, and on the ruins, of the Great War.
New York – Jeremy Hammond sat in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center last week in a small room reserved for visits from attorneys. He was wearing an oversized prison jumpsuit. The brown hair of the lanky 6-footer fell over his ears, and he had a wispy beard. He spoke with the intensity and clarity one would expect from one of the nation’s most important political prisoners.
On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon.
Four others involved in the hacking have been convicted in Britain, and they were sentenced to less time combined—the longest sentence was 32 months—than the potential 120-month sentence that lies before Hammond.
Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once
Jeremy Hammond is shown in this March 5, 2012 booking photo from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Chicago
made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. He got none.The email exchanges Hammond made public were entered as evidence in my lawsuitagainst President Barack Obama over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 1021 permits the military to seize citizens who are deemed by the state to be terrorists, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and journalist who co-founded US Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process, was one of my co-plaintiffs. Stratfor officials attempted, we know because of the Hammond leaks, to falsely link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as to jihadist ideology, putting her at risk of detention under the new law. Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled, in part because of the leak, that we plaintiffs had a credible fear, and she nullified the law, a decision that an appellate court overturned when the Obama administration appealed it.
Freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by the corporate state. The resulting self-exile of investigative journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras, along with the indictment of Barret Brown, illustrate this. All acts of resistance—including nonviolent protest—have been conflated by the corporate state with terrorism. The mainstream, commercial press has been emasculated through the Obama administration’s repeated use of the Espionage Act to charge and sentence traditional whistle-blowers. Governmental officials with a conscience are too frightened to reach out to mainstream reporters, knowing that the authorities’ wholesale capturing and storing of electronic forms of communication make them easily identifiable.
Elected officials and the courts no longer impose restraint or practice oversight. The last line of defense lies with those such as Hammond, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who are capable of burrowing into the records of the security and surveillance state and have the courage to pass them on to the public. But the price of resistance is high.
“In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution—transparency,” wrote Sarah Harrison, the British journalist who accompanied Snowden to Russia and who also has gone into exile, in Berlin. “If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.”
“When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged,” she went on. “When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it. Courage is contagious.”
Hammond knows this contagion. He was living at home in Chicago in 2010 under a 7-a.m.-to-7-p.m. curfew for a variety of acts of civil disobedience when Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was arrested for giving WikiLeaks secret information about military war crimes and government lies. Hammond at the time was running social aid programs to feed the hungry and send books to prisoners. He had, like Manning, displayed a remarkable aptitude for science, math and computer languages at a young age. He hacked into the computers at a local Apple store at 16. He hacked into the computer science department’s website at the University of Illinois-Chicago as a freshman, a prank that saw the university refuse to allow him to return for his sophomore year. He was an early backer of “cyber-liberation” and in 2004 started an “electronic-disobedience journal” he named Hack This Zine. He called on hackers in a speech at the 2004 DefCon convention in Las Vegas to use their skills to disrupt that year’s Republican National Convention. He was, by the time of his 2012 arrest, one of the shadowy stars of the hacktivist underground, dominated by groups such as Anonymous and WikiLeaks in which anonymity, stringent security and frequent changes of aliases alone ensured success and survival. Manning’s courage prompted Hammond to his own act of cyber civil disobedience, although he knew his chances of being caught were high.
“I saw what Chelsea Manning did,” Hammond said when we spoke last Wednesday, seated at a metal table. “Through her hacking she became a contender, a world changer. She took tremendous risks to show the ugly truth about war. I asked myself, if she could make that risk shouldn’t I make that risk? Wasn’t it wrong to sit comfortably by, working on the websites of Food Not Bombs, while I had the skills to do something similar? I too could make a difference. It was her courage that prompted me to act.”
Hammond—who has black-inked tattoos on each forearm, one the open-source movement’s symbol known as the “glider” and the other the shi hexagram from the I Ching—is steeped in radical thought. As a teenager, he swiftly migrated politically from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to the militancy of the Black Bloc anarchists. He was an avid reader in high school of material put out by CrimethInc, an anarchist collective that publishes anarchist literature and manifestos. He has molded himself after old radicals such as Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman and black revolutionaries such as George Jackson, Elaine Brown and Assata Shakur, as well as members of the Weather Underground. He said that while he was in Chicago he made numerous trips to Waldheim Cemetery to visit the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, which honors four anarchists who were hanged in 1887 and others who took part in the labor wars. On the 16-foot-high granite monument are the final words of one of the condemned men, August Spies. It reads: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voice you are throttling today.” Emma Goldman is buried nearby.
Hammond became well known to the government for a variety of acts of civil disobedience over the last decade. These ranged from painting anti-war graffiti on Chicago walls to protesting at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York to hacking into the right-wing website Protest Warrior, for which he was sentenced to two years in the Federal Correctional Institute at Greenville, Ill.
He said he is fighting as “an anarchist communist” against “centralized state authority” and “exploitative corporations.” His goal is to build “leaderless collectives based on free association, consensus, mutual aid, self-sufficiency and harmony with the environment.” It is essential, he said, that all of us work to cut our personal ties with capitalism and engage in “mass organizing of protests, strikes and boycotts.” Hacking and leaking, he said, are part of this resistance—“effective tools to reveal ugly truths of the system.”
Hammond spent months within the Occupy movement in Chicago. He embraced its “leaderless, non-hierarchical structures such as general assemblies and consensus, and occupying public spaces.” But he was highly critical of what he said were the “vague politics” in Occupy that allowed it to include followers of the libertarian Ron Paul, some in the tea party, as well as “reformist liberals and Democrats.” Hammond said he was not interested in any movement that “only wanted a ‘nicer’ form of capitalism and favored legal reforms, not revolution.” He remains rooted in the ethos of the Black Bloc.
“Being incarcerated has really opened my eyes to the reality of the criminal justice system,” he said, “that it is not a criminal justice system about public safety or rehabilitation, but reaping profits through mass incarceration. There are two kinds of justice—one for the rich and the powerful who get away with the big crimes, then for everyone else, especially people of color and the impoverished. There is no such thing as a fair trial. In over 80 percent of the cases people are pressured to plea out instead of exercising their right to trial, under the threat of lengthier sentences. I believe no satisfactory reforms are possible. We need to close all prisons and release everybody unconditionally.”
He said he hoped his act of resistance would encourage others, just as Manning’s courage had inspired him. He said activists should “know and accept the worst possible repercussion” before carrying out an action and should be “aware of mass counterintelligence/surveillance operations targeting our movements.” An informant posing as a comrade, Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as “Sabu,” turned Hammond and his co-defendants in to the FBI. Monsegur stored data retrieved by Hammond on an external server in New York. This tenuous New York connection allowed the government to try Hammond in New York for hacking from his home in Chicago into a private security firm based in Texas. New York is the center of the government’s probes into cyber-warfare; it is where federal authorities apparently wanted Hammond to be investigated and charged.
Hammond said he will continue to resist from within prison. A series of minor infractions, as well as testing positive with other prisoners on his tier for marijuana that had been smuggled into the facility, has resulted in his losing social visits for the next two years and spending “time in the box [solitary confinement].” He is allowed to see journalists, but my request to interview him took two months to be approved. He said prison involves “a lot of boredom.” He plays chess, teaches guitar and helps other prisoners study for their GED. When I saw him, he was working on the statement, a personal manifesto, that he will read in court this week.
He insisted he did not see himself as different from prisoners, especially poor prisoners of color, who are in for common crimes, especially drug-related crimes. He said most inmates are political prisoners, caged unjustly by a system of totalitarian capitalism that has snuffed out basic opportunities for democratic dissent and economic survival.
“The majority of people in prison did what they had to do to survive,” he said. “Most were poor. They got caught up in the war on drugs, which is how you make money if you are poor. The real reason they get locked in prison for so long is so corporations can continue to make big profits. It is not about justice. I do not draw distinctions between us.”
“Jail is essentially enduring harassment and dehumanizing conditions with frequent lockdowns and shakedowns,” he said. “You have to constantly fight for respect from the guards, sometimes getting yourself thrown in the box. However, I will not change the way I live because I am locked up. I will continue to be defiant, agitating and organizing whenever possible.”
He said resistance must be a way of life. He intends to return to community organizing when he is released, although he said he will work to stay out of prison. “The truth,” he said, “will always come out.” He cautioned activists to be hyper-vigilant and aware that “one mistake can be permanent.” But he added, “Don’t let paranoia or fear deter you from activism. Do the down thing!”
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, has previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Radioactive Warfare in Iraq and the Balkans…
At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.
But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.
It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death” — leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.
“We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.
Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.
“The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”
Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.
This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.
Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.
Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.
Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.
When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert windsfor decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.
In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.
After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.
Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.
The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.
If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”
The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.
Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller:
“The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”
Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports:
“during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”
But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame.
“There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”
Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.
Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch and the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature, Grand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. This essay is adapted from a chapter in his latest book, Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Jeffrey St. Clair | CounterPunch
“U.S. hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s divided rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed political opposition coalition and announced the formation of an alliance dedicated to creating an Islamist state. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group.” 1
Pity the poor American who wants to be a good citizen, wants to understand the world and his country’s role in it, wants to believe in the War on Terrorism, wants to believe that his government seeks to do good … What is he to make of all this?
For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game. Washington and its main Mideast allies in the conflict – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – have not impeded the movement to Syria of jihadists coming to join the rebels, recruited from the ranks of Sunni extremist veterans of the wars in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, while Qatar and the Saudis have supplied the rebels with weapons, most likely bought in large measure from the United States, as well as lots of of what they have lots of – money.
This widespread international support has been provided despite the many atrocities carried out by the jihadists – truck and car suicide bombings (with numerous civilian casualties), planting roadside bombs à la Iraq, gruesome massacres of Christians and Kurds, grotesque beheadings and other dissections of victims’ bodies (most charming of all: a Youtube video of a rebel leader cutting out an organ from the chest of a victim and biting into it as it drips with blood). All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator, although in actuality the United States has fought on the same side as al Qaeda on repeated occasions before Syria. Here’s a brief survey:
Afghanistan, 1980-early 1990s: In support of the Islamic Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”), the CIA orchestrated a war against the Afghan government and their Soviet allies, pouring in several billions of dollars of arms and extensive military training; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year; pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.
It worked. And out of the victorious Moujahedeen came al Qaeda.
Bosnia, 1992-5: In 2001 the Wall Street Journal declared:
It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. 2
A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. 3
In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe”, were always the main enemy.
Kosovo, 1998-99: Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. 4
However, when US-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the US terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” 5 , and the 1999 US-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.
In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.
The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. 6
Libya, 2011: The US and NATO to the rescue again. For more than six months, almost daily missile attacks against the government and forces of Muammar Gaddafi as assorted Middle East jihadists assembled in Libya and battled the government on the ground. The predictable outcome came to be – the jihadists now in control of parts of the country and fighting for the remaining parts. The wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, presumably CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Caucasus (Russia), mid-2000s to present: The National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House have for many years been the leading American “non-government” institutions tasked with destabilizing, if not overthrowing, foreign governments which refuse to be subservient to the desires of US foreign policy. Both NGOs have backed militants in the Russian Caucasus area, one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s. 7
“Omission is the most powerful form of lie.” – George Orwell
I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple. The American media’s gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of omission than their errors of commission. It’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich organization can easier provide than the alternative media.
A case in point is a New York Times article of October 5 on the Greek financial crisis and the Greeks’ claim for World War Two reparations from Germany.
“Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations,” writes theTimes, but Germany “should pay off its own debts to Greece. … It is not just aging victims of the Nazi occupation who are demanding a full accounting. Prime Minister Antonis Samarass government has compiled an 80-page report on reparations and a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. … The call for reparations has elicited an emotional outpouring in Greece, where six years of brutal recession and harsh austerity measures have left many Greeks hostile toward Germany. Rarely does a week go by without another report in the news about, as one newspaper put it in a headline, ‘What Germany Owes Us’.”
“The figure most often discussed is $220 billion, an estimate for infrastructure damage alone put forward by Manolis Glezos, a member of Parliament and a former resistance fighter who is pressing for reparations. That amount equals about half the country’s debt. … Some members of the National Council on Reparations, an advocacy group, are calling for more than $677 billion to cover stolen artifacts, damage to the economy and to the infrastructure, as well as the bank loan and individual claims.”
So there we have the morality play: The evil Germans who occupied Greece and in addition to carrying out a lot of violence and repression shamelessly exploited the Greek people economically.
Would it be appropriate for such a story, or an accompanying or follow-up story, to mention the civil war that broke out in Greece shortly after the close of the world war? On one side were the neo-fascists, many of whom had cooperated with the occupying Germans during the war, some even fighting for the Nazis. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions – whose main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews – on active service in the new Greek army. 8
On the other side was the Greek left who had fought the Nazis courageously, even forcing the German army to flee the country in 1944.
So guess which side of the civil war our favorite military took? … That’s right, the United States supported the neo-fascists. After all, an important component of the Greek left was the Communist Party, although it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the Greek left had not included any Communists. Support of the left (not to be confused with liberals of course) anywhere in the world, during and since the Cold War, has been verboten in US foreign policy.
The neo-fascists won the civil war and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency, named and modeled after itself, the KYP. For the next 15 years, Greece was looked upon much as a piece of real estate to be developed according to Washington’s political and economic needs. One document should suffice to capture the beauty of Washington’s relationship to Athens – a 1947 letter from US Secretary of State George Marshall to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to Aid Greece, said:
During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence, disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of cooperation which is necessary if the objectives of your Mission are to be achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials. 9
Where is the present-day Greek headline: “What The United States Owes Us”? Where is the New York Times obligation to enlighten its readers?
The latest step in the evolution of America’s Police State
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
So say many Americans. And many Germans as well.
But one German, Ilija Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online surveillance conducted by the NSA. Trojanow and the other authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, September 30. Without any explanation.
Trojanow, who was on his way to speak at a literary conference in Denver, told the Spiegel magazine online website that the denial of entry might be linked to his criticism of the NSA. Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has contacted US authorities “to resolve this issue”. 10
In an article published in a German newspaper, Trojanow voiced his frustration with the incident: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free’.”11
Further irony can be found in the title of a book by Trojanow: “Attack on freedom. Obsession with security, the surveillance state and the dismantling of civil rights.”
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who oversees the NSA and other intelligence agencies, said recently that the intelligence community “is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” 12
It’s difficult in the extreme to see how this criterion would apply in any way to Ilija Trojanow.
The story is a poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.
Very few Americans, however, will even be aware of this story. A thorough search of the Lexis-Nexis media database revealed a single mention in an American daily newspaper (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), out of 1400 daily papers in the US. No mention on any broadcast media. A single one-time mention in a news agency (Associated Press), and one mention in a foreign English-language newspaper (New Zealand Herald).
- Washington Post, September 26, 2013 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 ↩
- The Guardian (London), April 22, 2002 ↩
- RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 ↩
- New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page ↩
- Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post, “Barbarians at the Gate: Terrorism, the US, and the Subversion of Russia”, August 30, 2012 ↩
- Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, October 16, 1946, column 887 (reference is made here to Bevin’s statement of August 10, 1946) ↩
- Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), pp. 222-3. See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 3 for further details of the US role in postwar Greece. ↩
- Associated Press, October 2, 2013 ↩
- Huffington Post, “Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA”, October 1, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, October 5, 2013 ↩
The ”responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ”responsibility to attack” (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so.
On Sunday, the White House said it had ”very little doubt” that the Bashar al-Assad government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry ramped it up to ”undeniable” – and accused Assad of ”moral obscenity”.
So when the US bombed Fallujah with white phosphorus in late 2004 it was just taking the moral high ground. And when the US helped Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in 1988 it was also taking the moral high ground.
The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors’ hotel. If you don’t believe it, you subscribe to a conspiracy theory.
Evidence? Who cares about evidence? Assad’s offer of access for the inspectors came ”too late”. Anyway, the UN team is only mandated to determine whether chemical weapons were deployed – but not by who, according to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman.
As far as the Obama administration and UK Prime Minister David ”of Arabia” Cameron are concerned – supported by a barrage of corporate media missiles – that’s irrelevant; Obama’s ”red line” has been crossed by Assad, period. Washington and London are in no-holds-barred mode to dismiss any facts contradicting the decision. Newspeak – of the R2A kind – rules. If this all looks like Iraq 2.0 that’s because it is. Time to fix the facts around the policy – all over again. Time for weapons of mass deception – all over again.
The Saudi-Israeli axis of fun
The window of opportunity for war is now. Assad’s forces were winning from Qusayr to Homs; pounding ”rebel” remnants out of the periphery of Damascus; deploying around Der’ah to counterpunch CIA-trained ”rebels” with advanced weapons crossing the Syrian-Jordanian border; and organizing a push to expel ”rebels” and jihadis from suburbs of Aleppo.
Now, Israel and Saudi Arabia are oh so excited because they are getting exactly what they dream just by good ol’ Wag the Dog methods. Tel Aviv has even telegraphed how it wants it: this Monday, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper headlined with ”On the Way to Attack” and even printed the ideal Order of Battle. (see photo)
Months ago, even AMAN, the Intelligence Directorate of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) concluded that Assad was not a fool to cross Obama’s chemical weapon ”red line”. So they came up with the concept of ”two entwined red lines”, the second line being the Syrian government ”losing control of its chemical weapons depots and production sites”. AMAN then proposed different strategies to Washington, from a no-fly zone to actually seizing the weapons (implying a ground attack).
It’s now back to the number one option – air strikes on the chemical weapons depots. As if the US – and Israel – had up-to-the-minute intelligence on exactly where they are.
The House of Saud had also telegraphed its wishes – after Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, was appointed by King Abdullah as head of Saudi General Intelligence. Abdullah’s hard on is explained by his mother and two of his wives coming from an influential, ultra-conservative Sunni tribe in Syria. As for Bandar Bush, he has more longevity than Rambo or the Terminator; he’s back in the same role he played in the 1980s Afghan jihad, when he was the go-to guy helping the CIA to weaponize president president Ronald Reagan’s ”freedom fighters”.
Jordan – a fiction of a country totally dependent on the Saudis – was easily manipulated into becoming a ”secret” war operation center. And who’s in charge? No less than Bandar’s younger half-brother, and deputy national security adviser, Salman bin Sultan, also known as ”mini-Bandar”. Talk about an Arab version of Dr Evil and Mini Me.
Still, there are more CIA assets than Saudis in the Jordanian front.
The importance of this report cannot be overstated enough. It was initially leaked to Lebanon’s Al-Safir newspaper. Here’s Bandar’s whole strategy, unveiled in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, already reported by Asia Times Online. After trying – for four hours – to convince Putin to drop Syria, Bandar is adamant: ”There is no escape from the military option.”
Mix Kosovo with Libya and voila!
Former president Bill Clinton resurfaced with perfect timing to compare Obama’s options in Syria to Reagan’s jihad in Afghanistan. Bubba was right in terms of positioning Bandar’s role. But he must have inhaled something if he was thinking in terms of consequences – which include everything from the Taliban to that mythical entity, ”al-Qaeda”. Well, at least al-Qaeda is already active in Syria; they don’t need to invent it.
As for that bunch of amateurs surrounding Obama – including R2P groupies such as Susan Rice and new Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, all of them liberal hawks – they are all suckers for Kosovo. Kosovo – with a Libya add-on – is being spun as the ideal model for Syria; R2P via (illegal) air strikes. Right on cue, the New York Times is already frantically parroting the idea.
Facts are, of course, absent from the narrative – including the blowing up of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (a remix in Syria with the Russian embassy?) and getting to the brink of a war with Russia.
Syria has nothing to do with the Balkans. This is a civil war. Arguably the bulk of the Syrian urban population, not the country bumpkins, support Damascus – based on despicable ”rebel” behavior in places they control; and the absolute majority wants a political solution, as in the now near-totally torpedoed Geneva II conference.
The Jordanian scheme – inundating southern Syria with heavily weaponized mercenaries – is a remix of what the CIA and the Saudis did to AfPak; and the only winner will be Jabhat al-Nusra jihadis. As for the Israeli solution for Obama – indiscriminate bombing of chemical weapons depots – it will certainly result in horrendous collateral damage, as in R2A killing even more civilians.
The prospects remain grim. Damn another coalition of the willing; Washington already has the British and French poodles in the bag, and full support – in air-con safety – from the democratic Gulf Cooperation Council petro-monarchies, minion Jordan and nuclear power Israel. This is what passes for ”international community” in the newspeak age.
The Brits are already heavily spinning that no UN Security Council resolution is needed; who cares if we do Iraq 2.0? For the War Party, the fact that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said Syrian ”rebels” could not promote US interests seems to be irrelevant.
Washington already has what it takes for the Holy Tomahawks to start flying; 384 of them are already positioned in the Eastern Mediterranean. B-1 bombers can be deployed from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. And bunker-busting bombs will certainly be part of the picture.
What happens next requires concentric crystal balls – from Tomahawks to a barrage of air strikes to Special Ops commandos on the ground to a sustained air campaign lasting months. In his long interview to Izvestia, Assad gives the impression he thinks Obama is bluffing.
What’s certain is that Syria won’t be a ”piece of cake” like Libya; even depleted on all fronts, Gaddafi resisted for eight long months after NATO started its humanitarian bombing. Syria has a weary but still strong army of 200,000; loads of Soviet and Russian weapons; very good antiaircraft systems; and full support from asymmetrical warfare experts Iran and Hezbollah. Not to mention Russia, which just needs to forward a few S-300 air defense batteries and relay solid intelligence.
So get used to how international relations work in the age of newspeak. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s army in Egypt can kill hundreds of his own people who were protesting against a military coup. Washington couldn’t care less – as in the coup that is not a coup and the bloodbath that is not a bloodbath.
No one knows for sure what exactly happened in the chemical weapons saga near Damascus. But that’s the pretext for yet another American war – just a few days before a Group of 20 summit hosted by Putin in St Petersburg. Holy Tomahawk! R2A, here we go.
Source: Pepe Escobar | Asia Times