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The Year of Iran: Tehran’s Challenge To American Hegemony In 2014

February 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1979, Iran shocked the world—and directly confronted America’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East — by charting its own revolutionary course toward participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence.  Over the past thirty-five years the Islamic Republic of Iran has held dozens of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections and attained impressive developmental outcomes—including more progressive results at alleviating poverty, delivering health care, providing educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the last shah’s regime ever achieved.  Furthermore, the Islamic Republic has done these things while withstanding significant regional challenges and mounting pressure from the United States and its allies.  Below, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett suggest that like 1979, 2014 is likely to be, in unique ways, another Year of Iran, when Tehran’s foreign policy strategy will either finally compel Western acceptance of Iran’s sovereign rights—especially to enrich uranium under international safeguards—or fundamentally delegitimise America’s already eroding pretensions to Middle Eastern hegemony.

Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise.  Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely.  Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.  On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.

Of course, this consensus was wrong—as have been most of the consensus judgments on Iran’s politics advanced by Western analysts since the country’s 1979 revolution.  After Rohani’s victory, instead of admitting error, America’s foreign policy elite manufactured two explanations for it.  One was that popular disaffection against the Islamic Republic—supposedly reflected in Iranians’ determination to elect the most change-minded candidate available to them—had exceeded even the capacity of Khamenei and his minions to suppress.  This narrative, however, rests on agenda-driven and false assumptions about who Rohani is and how he won.

“The Islamic Republic aims to replace American hegemony with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and by leveraging participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”.”

At sixty-five, Rohani is not out to fundamentally change the Islamic Republic he has worked nearly his entire adult life to build.  The only cleric on the 2013 presidential ballot, Rohani belongs to Iran’s main conservative clerical association, not its reformist antipode.  While he has become the standard bearer for the Islamic Republic’s “modern” (or “pragmatic”) right, with considerable support from the business community, his ties to Khamenei are also strong.  After Rohani stepped down as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in 2005, Khamenei made Rohani his personal representative on the Council.

Backing Rohani was thus an unlikely way for Iranian voters to demand radical change, especially when an eminently plausible reformist was on the ballot—Mohammad Reza Aref, a Stanford Ph.D. in electrical engineering who served as one of reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s vice presidents. (Methodologically-sound polls showed that Aref’s support never exceeded single digits; he ultimately withdrew three days before Iranians voted.)  The outcome, moreover, hardly constituted a landslide—not for Rohani and certainly not for reformism: Rohani won by just 261,251 votes over the 50-percent threshold for victory, and the parliament elected just one year before is dominated by conservatives.

The other explanation for Rohani’s success embraced by American elites cites it as proof that U.S.-instigated sanctions are finally “working”—that economic distress caused by sanctions drove Iranians to elect someone inclined to cut concessionary deals with the West.  But the same polls that accurately predicted Rohani’s narrow win also show that sanctions had little to do with it.  Iranians continue to blame the West, not their own government, for sanctions.  And they do not want their leaders to compromise on what they see as their country’s sovereignty and national rights—rights manifest today in Iran’s pursuit of a civil nuclear program.

The Iranian Challenge

Iran’s presidential election and the smooth transfer of office to Rohani from term-limited incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stand out in today’s Middle East.  Compared to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia, the Islamic Republic is actually living up to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s description of Iran as “an island of stability” in an increasingly unsettled region.  And compared to some Gulf Arab monarchies, where perpetuation of (at least superficial) stability is purchased by ever increasing domestic expenditures, the Islamic Republic legitimates itself by delivering on the fundamental promise of the revolution that deposed the last shah thirty-five years ago: to replace Western-imposed monarchical rule with an indigenously generated political model integrating participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance.

“Partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests.”

These strengths have enabled the Islamic Republic to withstand sustained regional and Western pressure, and to pursue a foreign policy strategy likely to reap big payoffs in 2014.  This strategy aims to replace American hegemony, regionally and globally, with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence.  It seeks to achieve this by using international law and institutions, and by leveraging the Islamic Republic’s model of participatory Islamist governance, domestic development, and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”—not just with a majority of Iranians living inside their country, but (according to polls) with hundreds of millions of people across the Muslim world and beyond, from Brazil to China and South Africa.  Such soft power was on display, for example, in the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when, during a trip to China, he won a standing ovation from a large audience at Peking University, where a representative sample of next-generation Chinese elites showed themselves deeply receptive to his call for a more equitable and representative international order.

In the current regional and international context, the West is increasingly challenged to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as an enduring entity representing legitimate national interests.  In Tehran, the United States and its European allies could have a real partner in countering al-Qa’ida-style terrorism and extremism, in consolidating stable and representative political orders in Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, and in resolving the nuclear issue in a way that sets the stage for moving toward an actual WMD-free zone in the region.  But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests—something that Western powers have refused to accord to any Iranian government for two centuries.

President Obama’s highly public failure to muster political support for military strikes against the Assad government following the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 has effectively undercut the credibility of U.S. threats to use force against Iran.  On November 24, 2013, this compelled an American administration, for the first time since the January 1981 Algiers Accords that ended the embassy hostage crisis, to reach a major international agreement with Tehran—the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1—largely on Iranian terms.  (For example, the interim nuclear deal effectively negates Western demands—long rejected by Tehran but now enshrined in seven UN Security Council resolutions—that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment).

But recent Western recognition of reality is still partial and highly tentative.  The United States and its British and French allies continue to deny that Iran has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. They also demand that, as part of a final deal, Tehran must shut down its protected enrichment site at Fordo, terminate its work on a new research reactor at Arak, and allow Western powers to micromanage the future development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.  Such positions are at odds with the language of the interim nuclear deal and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  They are also as hubristically delusional as the British government’s use of the Royal Navy to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil on the high seas after a democratically-elected Iranian government nationalised the British oil concession in Iran in 1951—and as London’s continued threat to do so even after the World Court ruled against Britain in the matter.

If Western powers can realign their positions with reality on the nuclear issue and on various regional challenges in the Middle East, Iran can certainly work with that.  But Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Western powers may not be capable of negotiating a nuclear settlement grounded in the NPT and respectful of the Islamic Republic’s legal rights—just as Britain and the United States were unwilling to respect Iran’s sovereignty over its own natural resources in the early 1950s.  Under such circumstances, more U.S.-instigated secondary sanctions that illegally threaten third countries doing business with Iran will not compel Tehran to surrender its civil nuclear program. Rather, Iran’s approach—including a willingness to conclude what the rest of the world other than America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable nuclear deal—seeks to make it easier for countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic even if Washington does not lift its own unilaterally-imposed sanctions.

“Continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Likewise, Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Washington cannot disenthrall itself from Obama’s foolish declaration in August 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go—and therefore that America cannot contribute constructively to the quest for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict.  If the United States, Britain, and France continue down their current counter-productive path in Syria, Tehran can play off their accumulating policy failures and the deepening illegitimacy of America’s regional posture to advance the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.

How Will the West Respond?

Coming to terms with the Islamic Republic will require the United States to abandon its already eroding pretensions to hegemony in the Middle East.  But, if Washington does not come to terms with the Islamic Republic, it will ultimately be forced to surrender those pretensions, as it was publicly and humiliatingly forced to do in 1979.  Moreover, continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.  Less than a month after Rohani’s election, it was widely perceived that the United States tacitly supported a military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected (and Islamist) government.  The coup in Egypt hardly obviates the fact that, when given the chance, majorities in Middle Eastern Muslim societies reject Western intervention and choose to construct participatory Islamist orders.  Refusing to accept this reality will only accelerate the erosion of U.S. influence in the region.

The United States is not the first imperial power in decline whose foreign policy debate has become increasingly detached from reality—and history suggests that the consequences of such delusion are usually severe.  The time for American elites to wake up to Middle Eastern realities before the United States and its Western allies face severe consequences for their strategic position in this vital part of the world is running out.

About the Authors

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are authors of Going to Tehran: America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan, 2013), which has just been released in paperback, with a new Afterword. They had distinguished careers in the U.S. government before leaving their positions on the National Security Council in March 2003, in disagreement with Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. They teach international relations, he at Penn State, she at American University.

Source: The World Financial Review

Top Three Media Lies About The Syrian Peace Talks

January 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

he media spin machine is again kicking into high gear, perfectly timed to accompany the “Geneva II” Syria peace talks. The lies are necessary to give the Obama administration an upper hand in the peace negotiations, which are not being used to pursue peace, but instead, to accomplish the Obama administration’s longstanding goal of Syrian regime change. Here are the top three Western media lies about the Syrian peace talks.

1) The removal of Syrian Bashar al-Assad was an agreed upon “precondition” for the Geneva II peace talks.

This lie has been repeated over and over by government and media alike. It has zero basis. The Obama administration claims that this precondition was expressed in the “Geneva communiqué,” which was a road map agreement meant to guide the Geneva II peace talks, agreed upon by some of the major parties of the negotiations, including Russia.

The communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition cannot include President Assad. Such a condition would have been outright rejected by Russia.

In fact, the Geneva communiqué includes this crucial statement:

“[a transition government] could include members of the present [Syrian] government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” Nowhere does it specifically mention or imply President Assad would have to leave power first.

The Los Angeles Times recently stepped out of line and exposed this lie:

“[John] Kerry regularly cites the “Geneva communiqué,” a kind of peace road map hammered out in June 2012 during a United Nations-organized summit. But the document does not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster.”

The Obama administration’s constant repeating of this lie only causes divisions in the peace process, undermining the chances that the peace process will succeed.

The Obama administration is especially adamant about this “Assad must go” precondition because it knows that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow in Syria – as part of a UN-backed “transitional process” – President Assad would likely win. This is the result of the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria that have rallied behind President Assad, since they’ve witnessed the consistent religious sectarian atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed rebels (which the U.S. media loves to ignore or minimize).

Assad would probably win an election since there is also simply no one else on the government side or the opposition side with his name recognition or popularity. The U.S.-backed rebel war in Syria has vastly strengthened Assad’s political hand, but you wouldn’t know it from the Western, anti-Syrian media.

Demanding Assad’s ouster also does not reflect the situation on the ground. The U.S.-backed rebels have never controlled more than one Syrian city, namely Raqaa, which is dominated by al-Qaeda and is governed under a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law, which includes a strict ban on music. Thus, the rebels don’t have the ground power that would even enable them to make the demand that “Assad must go”.

2) The U.S.-backed rebel militias are “moderate” Islamic groups.

The fact that this lie can even be uttered publicly without encountering ridicule is a major success of Western media propaganda. The media narrative paints the U.S.-backed “good” rebels fighting both the Syrian government and the “bad” al-Qaeda linked rebels.

But the “good” rebels in the U.S.-backed Islamic Front share the same vision for Syria’s future as the al-Qaeda rebels: a fundamentalist version of Sharia law, where women live in virtual house arrest and where religious minorities are second class citizens (non-Sunni Muslims would simply be butchered, as they are on a regular basis in Syria, which is again minimized or ignored in the Western media.)

The “moderate rebel” lie was further exposed recently when a top leader in the most powerful militia, Ahrar al Sham, within the Islamic Front declared Ahrar al Sham to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria, as opposed to the rival al-Qaeda faction that the Islamic Front had recently begun fighting.

Ahrar al Sham has long been known to be an al-Qaeda type Islamist extremist group; the Western media simply chose to ignore it. But when it was recently made official, the US media chose to continue its ignoring stance, since actually reporting on it would destroy their “moderate rebel” lie. The Western media also continues to ignore the fact that the “moderate” U.S.-backed Islamic Frontissued a joint statement that aligned itself to the extremist views of Ahrar al Sham, the “real” al-Qaeda.

3) New Evidence of Syrian government “industrial scale” torture.

The Western media recently blasted the “breaking news” of brand new evidence showing massive “Nazi-like” torture and murder by the Syrian government, released at the beginning of the Syrian peace talks. This may or may not be true, but the lie here is that the Western media promoted the “evidence” as being unquestionably true, when the story doesn’t reach first base when it comes to evidence-based journalism.

All we really know is that there are hundreds of pictures of dead people that a “trusted source” says were killed by the Syrian government. The trusted source was designated as such by pro-Western intellectuals, who have earned professional “credibility” by helping convict war criminals in the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But as author Diane Johnstone pointed out in her excellent book “Fools Crusade,” about the war against Yugoslavia – as well as in other articles – the ICC has long been used by western powers as a tool to create a pretext for war, or a tool to justify a war after the fact.

The evidence of the “NAZI-like” atrocities was written in a study paid for by the government of Qatar, which has long funneled cash, guns, and Jihadis to Syria in aid of the anti-government rebels.

Again, we don’t know if the story is true or not. But such an important investigation should be conducted by the UN or another more objective institution. The same biased dynamic occurred in relation to the infamous chemical weapons attack, where no real evidence was provided, though an unending string of “experts” were quoted in the Western media, testifying to the guilt of the Syrian Government. But when Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the Obama administration lied about the rebels not having the capacity to perform such an attack, the Western media simply ignored the legend of journalism. The wrench in the propaganda machine was simply dislodged.

How do these lies become such permanent fixtures in the Western media? An excellent article in the Guardian newspaper recently discussed in depth the principal sources the Western media has used to understand the Syrian conflict.

The article exposed the incredible bias of some of the most important Western media sources on Syria, which is why they were handpicked in the first place to be “expert” sources: they had political agendas that were aligned with the US government’s foreign policy decisions. The other side of the conflict was completely ignored, except when it was targeted for ridicule. Thus, Americans and Europeans have a completely one-sided, if not fantasy-based perspective of what is happening in Syria. This has been systematic since the beginning of the conflict, as happened with the Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraq, and Libya wars.

The result of this media-led ignorance could result in yet more unnecessary deaths in a country that now has millions of refugees and over a 100,000 dead. Obama seems like he intends to exploit these peace talks with the intention of blaming the Syrian government for their failure. Having failed to defeat Assad on the battlefield in a proxy war, the Obama administration is trying to win the propaganda war. And once peace talks have failed, talk of war will resume, since “all other options have failed.”


Shamus Cooke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

The Siege of Yarmouk

January 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Damascus – At the Palestine Embassy in Beirut recently, a young lady showed this observer a video of a gentleman in Yarmouk camp in Damascus. The video showed the man killing and eating a cat. Food ran out in Yarmouk weeks ago, and nearly 18,000 refugees are facing death from starvation and other conflict-related causes. This siege has been ongoing since July 2013, and it has become viciously lethal.

The Palestinians living here have been targeted. They are part of the quarter million people—children, women, and men—trapped and dying from hunger and illness all across Syria as a direct, predictable result of using the siege of civilians as a weapon of war. It isn’t just Yarmouk. Throughout Syria, neighborhoods are being blockaded. Residents are running out of supplies, unable to get basic services. Among the Syrian towns under siege at this time are Nubul and Al-Zahraa in Aleppo province, the old city of Homs, and the towns of Eastern Ghouta, Daraya and Moadamiyet al-Sham in rural Damascus.

Truly a crisis of horrifying proportions, yet perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in the systematic starvation of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp, where this past week eight more Palestinians died from malnutrition. These include 80-year-old, Jamil al-Qurabi, 40-year-old, Hasan Shihabi, and a 50-year-old woman named Noor. In addition, 10-year-old Mahmoud al-Sabbagh and two 19-year-olds—Majid Imad Awad and Ziad al-Naji—were killed while protesting the blockade of the camp. And reports have also emerged that two other men, Muhammad Ibrahim Dhahi and Hasan Younis Nofal, were tortured and killed.

In December 2013, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi, issued a statement concerning the situation in Yarmouk camp, in which he said: “Since September 2013 we have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies.”

Based on conversations with Palestinians who were able to literally crawl out of the area from sewage pipes on the South side of Yarmouk, more than 100 people, as of 1/15/14, have died from starvation in the past four months—that is since mid-August 2013. Other causes of death have included three dozen cases of death by dehydration, and also malnutrition (differing slightly from starvation in that it pertains to inadequate nutrition rather than a total absence of ingestible substances) (you still die from it, though). More than three dozen miscarriages have also resulted from the food shortages, while infants have succumbed due to lack of milk. There have also been deaths by hypothermia for lack of fuel, and recently I spoke with a gentleman whose niece, an infant girl, died of suffocation in her neonatal intensive care unit due to a power cut.

In January of 2013 the UN estimated that one million people needed urgent humanitarian assistance. Today, twelve months later, the figure is nearly ten million. That assessment is from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke last week at yet another aid conference. A commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council has found war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross human rights violations committed in Syria on a daily basis. According to its conclusion, “All sides in the conflict have shown a total disregard for their responsibilities under the international humanitarian and human rights law.”

International law relevant to situations of this nature was created specifically to stop the targeting of civilians. Its principles, standards and rules demand that such targeting cease, and they call for the prosecution of perpetrators irrespective of which side in the civil war in Syria they may support. A civil war is an armed conflict located on the territory of one state, between the armed forces of the State and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups under responsible command. These are groups that maintain control over part of the land, or that are able to carry out armed operations of a continuous and coordinated nature. The applicable statutes include Common Article 3 of Protocol II (1977) the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Whether it is regime armed forces and their allies, or anti-government militia, both are legally bound to respect the Geneva Conventions and must lift the siege on Yarmouk. If not, they risk prosecution at an existing international court or at a possible Special Tribunal for Syria being contemplated among some at the United Nations.

The following is from Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949: Part IV: Civilian Population:

Article 13.PROTECTION OF THE CIVILIAN POPULATION.

  1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations.
  2. To give effect to this protection, the following rules shall be observed in all circumstances.

  3. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
  4. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Part, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

Article 14. PROTECTION OF OBJECTS INDISPENSABLE TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE CIVILIAN POPULATION. Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.

Article 15. PROTECTION OF WORKS AND INSTALLATIONS CONTAINING DANGEROUS FORCES. Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives, if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.

This body of international law requires that all warring parties immediately end the siege of Yarmouk and allow the entry of food supplies, while permitting those who want to leave the camp to do so. The safety of those who wish to return to their homes is also mandated. Additionally the law requires guarantees of safe passages to relief teams, UN fact finding missions, and unobstructed entry of medicines, medical staff and medical equipment. Those today who are preventing this are subject to international criminal prosecution, and as noted above, they are subject to future prosecution at any time, as the level and nature of their crimes prevent the application of any Statute of Limitations.

According to human rights activists, attempts to evacuate civilians from Yarmouk camp failed in spite of efforts and agreements between the Syrian government and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Those attempting to leave were arrested, in some cases with serious bodily and mental harm inflicted on them. Others were shot at near the camp’s entry points. This occurred particularly in the last two months of 2013 and early January 2014. Several agreements between the warring parties, being the Syrian government forces and the rebels assaulting Yarmouk, have not been honored by either. Attempts to evacuate civilians from Yarmouk have consistently failed in spite of efforts and agreements between the regime and the PLO, and some who attempted escape were arrested, beaten or shot at.

The several attempts to lift the siege usually include versions of the following language from Yarmouk’s Popular Committee that “based on our principled position of positive neutrality and keeping the Palestinians and their camps out of the confrontations in Syria, we propose that all the Palestinian camps – and Yarmouk camp in particular – be secure and safe areas, free of weapons and fighters, by taking the following steps:

  • End all public display of weapons and fighters, with guarantees to those who wish to do so.
  • Avoid the use of the camps as areas of confrontation and cease all forms of fighting, including sniping and shelling.
  • Allow the free movement of people, food, medical supplies and vehicles in and out of the camp, which will encourage the return of the displaced to their homes.
  • Restore services, including electricity, water, telecommunications, schools, and hospitals.
  • Provide amnesty to all those camp residents who have been detained if their involvement in the fighting cannot be confirmed.”

Despite an official policy of neutrality announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and despite also unequivocal statements by Palestinian delegations acquitting the regime of any responsibility in the besieging, bombing and targeting of the camp and its inhabitants, it has not been enough to ensure the entry of humanitarian aid convoys.

But there is hope that relief may come. Against the backdrop of accusations and condemnations being circulated, many are looking to Russia to step in and, much as it did when it induced the Assad government to get rid of its chemical weapons, pressure the government to at least lift its own part of the siege.

There are critics of the idea, however. Mr. Ibrahim Amin, Editor in Chief of Lebanon’s Al Akbar daily newspaper, argues that somehow because Palestinians have been given many more civil rights in Syria than, for example, Lebanon—which to Syria’s great credit is true—then the refugees must somehow be at fault for their own slaughter and siege at Yarmouk. It is nonsense, of course, as also is his statement that, “In Syria, Palestinians were citizens.”—nonsense because, for example, Palestinians cannot vote in Syrian elections. Amin should know this, and he should know that they have never been made citizens of Syria, for this is common knowledge.

Nevertheless, writing in the January 13 issue of his newspaper, Editor Amin piles blame on the victims, rather than the perpetrators, by seeming to argue that they deserved it—the babies dying of malnutrition, the people suffering from dehydration and disease caused by the siege of their camp. He demands to know, “What pushed Palestinians in this camp to believe in toppling Bashar al-Assad? No sane person ever figured that much of the camp would raise their weapons in the face of Syria.”

More nonsense from the Editor-in-Chief since virtually every Palestinian organization and leader, and virtually every resident living in any one of UNWRA’s 54 camps, including the ten in Syria, have repeatedly proclaimed their non-involvement in the Syria conflict. Presumably in his line of work Mr. Amin would know this. And presumably, if he took the time to speak to any Palestinians about the conflict in Syria, he would likely be advised that they are grateful to the Syrian people for hosting them. He might also be advised that they regret that some of their leaders got involved with the conflict in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, since innocent Palestinian civilians paid dearly, and that they will not repeat the mistake in Syria. It is a fact that some individual Palestinians, following the intense December 12-17, 2012 shelling and bombing of parts of Yarmouk, turned against those who were blamed for targeting them.

“Those who stayed are the ones who refused to go through a new displacement, as well as members of armed groups and their families,” Mr. Amin states, though without offering any evidence. He goes on: “In a few months the camp was transformed into a haven for groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front.” Again his assertions are false and politically motivated. Those who stayed are overwhelmingly those refugees who cannot escape. The Syrian army to its credit has not invaded the camp, but it does surround and seals most of it. Some rebel groups are hiding inside and terrorizing the camp.

It is egregious for Mr. Amin to misrepresent the facts of Palestinian neutrality in Syrian camps; it is doubly egregious for him to do so apparently wishing to gain approval from Syrian or Resistance leaders. Neither is likely to be other than embarrassed by Mr. Amin’s gross misrepresentations or his gratuitous ad hominem attacks on refugee camp victims of war crimes. The Editor-in-Chief’s distortions do not help the Resistance but rather harm it. As does his insistence that the murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri eight years ago was done with a ‘secret missile’ fired from the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. There are a fair number of “Resistance groupies” and bloggers, well-meaning perhaps, but who in many cases actually aid enemies of the Resistance through their clumsy attempts at water carrying while ignoring reality.

But there is good news awaiting Mr. Amin if he will accept an invitation from one who considers himself to have been “Hezbollah” long before the 1985 “Open Letter” announcing the organizing of the Party of God next to where this observer gets his motorbike repaired in Ouzai. That is to say “Hezbollah” in the sense that since studying international law in law school this observer has supported the liberation of Palestine while rejecting the last of the 19th century’s colonial enterprise still occupying Palestine, and in the sense that this observer shares Hezbollah’s resistance goals and their declared responsibility to continue the struggle until achieving the full Right of Return. Oh yes, to be sure, this observer is not a card-carrying member of the Resistance, as I want to remind dear friend Jeff Feltman, who swore at an embassy Christmas party a while back that “Lamb faces ten years hard time in the feds when he dares to set foot on American soil for hobnobbing with terrorists”—though given the fact that Jeff had been imbibing some Christmas cheer when he made that statement to an embassy staffer, he has perhaps forgotten it now, which would be good news.

But at any rate, for Mr. Amin, here is what a fellow supporter of the Resistance is willing to do to possibly help him re-assess his conclusion about what is going on in Yarmouk: I invite Mr. Amin to appear in the lobby of the Dama Rose hotel in Damascus at 9 a.m. sharp on January 24. I will buy him breakfast, and as we dine, two contacts from Yarmouk will brief him on our morning program—a program that will include Mr. Amin discretely accompanying us to the south side of Yarmouk, where, depending on conditions that morning, we will arrive in front of the Zakerin Mosque in Al-Buweida, maybe 300 yards from the Az-Zain neighborhood. Mr. Amin will then need to join us crawling through a rather claustrophobic and smelly 30” diameter drain pipe that is approximately 40 yards in length. We will at this point hopefully end up safely in the basement of “Abu Ali’s” remaining half-house, where several refugees are still trapped. Mr. Amin can also visit with others next door. He should bring some cash, however, because his host doesn’t have much and we may need a bit to bribe a couple of gun-kids from one of the militias to facilitate our exit in case we are ratted out, so to speak.

Finally Mr. Amin will be able to see for himself, and listen to direct testimony, about what presently is, and has been, happening inside Yarmouk. He can ask the weakened residents about the conclusions he confidently presented in his Al Akbar article in which he claimed that the Yarmouk tragedy and crimes are their fault, or, as he so confidently put it, “Today, the unfolding events (in Yarmouk) are 100 percent a Palestinian responsibility.” He may be surprised at what he learns about camp residents still trapped there, people scrabbling to feed themselves, and who have had no say or active role in the deplorable events that have overtaken them.

Just maybe, then, Mr. Amin will be motivated to edit a bit his earlier ridiculous broadside attacking the victims of the Yarmouk siege. And should he feel any contrition, maybe he will devote some of his energy and space in his newspaper to actually working for two elementary civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon—the right to work and home ownership. Their achievement will benefit Lebanon and the Resistance, both of which Mr. Amin claims to support.


Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

Dr. Franklin Lamb is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Putin Scores A New Victory In The Ukraine

January 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?

It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.

A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.

The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.

But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.

For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).

The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.

Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?

The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.

The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.

Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.

Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.

After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.

However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.

For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.

For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.

While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…

Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.

Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.

Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”

In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.

There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.

***

What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.

I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.

Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.

Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.

While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.

Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.


A native 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: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Bitcoin: The Sexiest Non-Solution of All Time?

January 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years back, at the end of 2009, I was approached on two separate occasions by people claiming to be “representatives” of a digital alternative currency format. I was, of course, intrigued by the initial proposal, being that I had been writing for some time on the concept of non-participation as a way to insulate average Americans from the dangers of our unstable fiat driven mainstream economy. Before that, I had already dealt with just about every currency alternative one could imagine; from paper scripts backed by goods, to scripts backed by time or labor, to gold and silver laden currency cards, etc, etc. All of them had the advantage of NOT relying on private Federal Reserve notes, and all of them had flaws as well. The proposed digital script, which the representatives called “Bitcoin”, was no different.

The idea was to recruit my website as a promoter for bitcoin, but I had many questions before I would stick my neck out on a brand new high-tech anti-currency, and most of these question were not answered in any satisfactory manner.

There is no shortage of “solutions” in Liberty Movement circles, but many of these solutions require that we work within the system according to establishment rules (which they can change at any given moment). They assume that the system will abide by some kind of internal code, that our candidates will be treated fairly, that elections will not be rigged, that a better methodology or technology will be acknowledged and eventually adopted, that the “majority” of the public will someday see the light and back our cause, that the elite will not simply decide to put a bullet in our head.

The reality is, if a solution is dependent on a paradigm controlled by the corrupt system you are trying to change, it is no solution at all. Because of this, my focus has always been on methods that separate Americans from reliance on the system as much as possible.

When first confronted with bitcoin activism, I recognized almost immediately that this was NOT a method that operated outside the system, even though it tried very hard to appear that way. It was high-tech, it was sexy (admittedly far sexier in its presentation than gold and silver), and it catered to the egos of the digital generation, the loudest voices in media today. This thing was certainly marketable. However, just because something is highly marketable does not make it a good idea, or a meaningful alternative.

The Tantalizing Allure Of Non-Solutions

When a person invests a sizable amount of capital into an idea, not to mention a sizable amount of philosophical faith, they tend to lose a measure of objectivity. This is not just a struggle for proponents of bitcoin but for proponents of ALL methodologies. I do believe that many bitcoin promoters have the best of intentions, and that they are seeking some way to break from what they understand is a corrupt financial structure. That said, there is an escalating streak of elitism within the bitcoin culture, and I have witnessed on numerous occasions the kind of anger and immediate dismissal the average statist would spew when they are confronted with criticism. If you dare to question the greater details behind Bitcoin, be prepared to be accused of anything from “conspiracy theory”, to “jealousy” for missing the boat on bitcoin profits, to “ignorance” of the genius of cryptography.

What I came to realize through my questions to bitcoin followers was that many of them were not actually involved in the deeper aspects of the Liberty Movement, constitutional activism, sound money, self defense, and so on. Almost none of them had a preparedness plan, few of them had experience with precious metals, none of them owned firearms, and none of them had any inclination towards the building of local networks for mutual aid. Worst of all, many of them had no understanding of the wider threat of economic collapse that America faces today. In fact, when the possibility of full spectrum collapse is brought up, many Bitcoiners actually respond with the same brand of shallow dismissals that one would expect from the Paul Krugman’s and Ben Bernanke’s of the world.

This reaction is not necessarily shocking. Most people imagine themselves accomplishing heroic feats, and why not? It is one of the more noble and beautiful traits of mankind. For the crypto-engineers of the new century and the digital generation overall, heroics have felt unattainable. Elections are finally being recognized as the sham they represent, while protest activism has fallen flat on its face. The concept of peaceful redress of grievances has been met with rather frightening displays of state violence and censorship to which a physical response for the common protestor is unthinkable. The signs and slogan chants may have inspired the education of some, but in the meantime, they have accomplished very little in terms of political or social change. The bottom line is that the establishment LOVES non-aggression protests – they have no plan, few concrete goals, and present no overt threat to the elite.

The system only grows more despotic, more invasive, and more dangerous. Anti-establishment champions have been searching for something that goes beyond mere “education”, or clamoring like caged monkeys for media attention. They want to storm the castle, they want to fight back, but they haven’t the slightest clue how. They desire an intellectual method of combat, something with far less fear, far less risk, and far less pain. Enter Bitcoin.

Bitcoin gives the digital generation the chance to feel heroic where they never could before. They don’t have to face the machine head on. They don’t have to fight. They don’t have to suffer. They don’t have to die. All they have to do is utilize some cryptographic wizardry within the supposedly anonymous safety of the web, buy bitcoins en masse, and the system would crumble at their feet, rebuilt in the name of free markets by the electronic commons and without a shot fired. Again, very sexy…

Unfortunately, the real world does not necessarily lend itself to the demands of the digital. The digital world is at the mercy of physical. The real world is rarely sexy; often it is ugly, brutal, hypocritical, illogical, and psychotic. The real world, at times, can break, and when it does the digital will break with it. The digital world is in large part a fantasy supported by the whims of the real. Which leads me to the core failings of the bitcoin adventure…

Bitcoin Theater

We’ve all heard praises lavished on bitcoin, not only from the web activists but from the mainstream media itself. Establishment controlled outlets like Reuters and Bloomberg have an astonishing number of bitcoin stories per week, and most of these stories paint the crypto-currency in a positive light. We’ve heard about bitcoin’s “unbreakable” cryptography. Its finite supply. The inability to duplicate the currency from thin air. Its rising acceptance in the corporate world. The Cinderella stories of bitcoin investors buying Lamborghinis and New York brownstones. Even Ben Bernanke seems to have a soft spot for bitcoin:

http://www.businessinsider.com/ben-bernanke-on-bitcoin-2013-11

But is bitcoin’s rise really all it’s cracked up to be? Here are just a few of the problems which lead me to believe the digital currency is ultimately a clever distraction.

Who really started Bitcoin?

One of my first questions to bitcoin representatives back in 2009 was WHO, exactly, founded the operation? Well, Satoshi Nakamodo, everyone knows that, right? But who the hell is Satoshi Nakamodo? Who is the original designer of bitcoin? Who holds the foundational key to the structure of bitcoin’s cryptography? Is Nakamodo a person, or a group? Why should we trust him, or them, to safeguard our wealth any more than the Federal Reserve? The fact is no one except maybe Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, knows who is behind the digital currency. We actually know more about the banking elites behind the Fed than we do about the founders of bitcoin.

The common response to this concern is to suggest that it doesn’t really matter, bitcoin is secure, it is open source, it is cryptography’s holy grail, the creators are protecting their identities against retribution from the establishment, and the excuses go on…

I’m sorry, but this attitude constitutes an act of blind faith in a currency mechanism, which is exactly what proponents of the dollar are guilty of. If an activist individual or group is going to offer a solution to the movement, then they had better be willing to take the risk of being personally available to the movement. If you don’t have the balls to show your face to help legitimize your idea, I can’t take your idea seriously. Maybe I’m just old fashioned…

For all we know, bitcoin is a creation of the establishment, not a creation countering the establishment.  After all, the globalists WANT the destruction of the dollar – why not let the public destroy the dollar using a mechanism that ultimately does not represent a threat to the greater bankster cartel?

The Media Love Affair With Bitcoin

During the first and second Ron Paul campaigns, the mainstream media made a blatant and obvious effort to purposely ignore the candidate, his arguments, and his successes. Coverage was next to nil. His expansive crowds of supporters were edited out of news footage. His high polling numbers were censored. If not for the independent media, you wouldn’t have known the guy existed. When someone or something presents a legitimate threat to the establishment, the establishment’s first tactic is to make sure no one knows.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, has received a steady flow of positive media attention, with the random critical piece thrown in for good measure. Overall, the establishment has embraced, if not directly fueled, the bitcoin trend. This is rather surprising to me considering the “destroyer of the dollar” has only been around for four years.

When an anti-establishment vehicle suddenly becomes the center focus of establishment affections, and when globalist monsters like Ben Bernanke throw flower petals in its path, I have to wonder if Bitcoin is a real threat, or just a ruse.

Bitcoins Can Indeed Be Confiscated

Some of the early hype surrounding Bitcoin claimed that the currency could not be confiscated, making it “better than gold” (the better than gold motto has been widely espoused by Gavin Andresen). This claim turned out to be false when the FBI became the holder of the world’s LARGEST Bitcoin wallet:

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/12/fbi_wallet/

I find arguments that this is only a temporary condition and that the feds will eventually auction off their holdings a bit laughable, but indicative of the denial inherent in Bitcoin culture.

Bitcoin Values Can Be Manipulated

Another claim heard was the assertion that bitcoins cannot be created out of thin air, they must be “mined” using powerful computers, which removes centralized manipulation of value. This may be true in certain respects (for now), but anything digital can be exploited in one way or another.

Bitcoin malware, for instance, hijacks the computers of unwitting people and uses them to artificially “mine” the currency.

http://about-threats.trendmicro.com/us/webattack/93/Cybercriminals%2BUnleash%2BBitcoinMining%2BMalware

The bitcoins mined are then transferred into the hands of anonymous hackers. This represents a serious threat to the stability of bitcoin because it creates an invasive form of attack speculation. Bitcoins can be removed from the market and deliberately hoarded. Hackers, or governments could conceivably kill bitcoin by mining a large portion of them out of circulation, artificially hyperinflating the value of the remaining coins (like a speculator would do with commodities), or dumping a large portion and abruptly cutting the value. Major bitcoin hoarders could use their massive bitcoin stakes to shift values at will. As long a Bitcoin operates on supply and demand, it can be threatened through speculation like ay other commodity (if you consider digitized numbers floating around the web a commodity).

Bitcoin Is Not Private

While bitcoins can apparently be stolen or criminally mined by anonymous persons or organizations, honest users are subject to considerable scrutiny. A disturbing aspect of bitcoin is the group surveillance that goes into tracing transactions, otherwise known as the “proof of work system”. The bitcoin network is constantly dependent on decoders who track and verify bitcoin trades in order to ensure that the same bitcoins are not used during multiple trades or purchases. Anyone with the desire could decode the transaction history of the network, or “block chain”, including governments. Though Bitcoiners are considered “partially anonymous”, tracking the individual identity of a bitcoin trade is not difficult for entities such as the NSA because every transaction leaves a digital trail..

The use of anonymising browsers like Tor also have not produced the kind of privacy that was promised when bitcoin was introduced.

This is exactly the kind of currency system global bankers have sought for some time – total information awareness of all financial transactions and purchases within the system. While bitcoin proponents claim that their currency is a revolution against centralized oversight of monetary transactions, the truth is they have built the perfect centralized surveillance solution. Paper dollar purchases are difficult to trace. Gold, silver, and barter purchases are nearly impossible to track. Bitcoin, though, is the most traceable form of currency on the planet, and this is basically REQUIRED by the network itself. The entire trade history of every bitcoin is recorded. The digital landscape is the ultimate form of privacy invasion, especially for the likes of super computer wielding agencies like the NSA. Bitcoin aids the development of this intrusive system.

Bitcoin Relies On The Continued Survival Of The Open Web

Yes, bitcoins can be stored on physical wallet devices, but the majority portion of bitcoin trading and bitcoin mining requires the continued operation of the web. The internet is NOT a creative commons, as many believe. It is in fact a controlled networking system that we have simply been allowed to use. The exposure by Edward Snowden of NSA activities has proven once and for all that nothing you do on the web is private. Everything is tracked and recorded. Period.

Web access can also be easily denied by governments, and power centers around the globe have been utilizing this option more and more. During a national crisis, whether real or engineered, the continued function of the internet as we know it is not guaranteed. A currency relying on a government dominated internet is not truly independent. A grid down situation would also make bitcoin stores virtually useless.

The Suspicious Nature Of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is consistently touted as a superior option to precious metals as a way to decouple from central bank fiat. Under examination, though, it appears to me that bitcoin is instead a deliberate distraction away from gold and silver, and other tangible solutions; in other words, I believe it to be a form of controlled opposition.

A vital aspect of physical gold and silver investment is not only to break from the dollar, but to also remove physical metal from the system and starve international banks that issue millions of fraudulent unbacked paper certificates. The strategy, which I still stand by, is for the public to absorb as much of the precious metals market as possible until manipulators like JP Morgan finally have to admit that they don’t have the coins and bars to back all the fake ETF’s they have been issuing investors for years. In the process, we decouple from the dollar AND do damage to the banking cartel itself. The bitcoin fad, in my opinion, is designed to lure the public away from overtaking the metals market while banks and foreign governments vacuum up remaining physical in preparation for a dollar collapse.

Bitcoin’s market value is not only extremely volatile, the currency is also subject to replacement at any time. Anyone with an interest can create a cryptocurrency. There is nothing particularly special about the bitcoin design, and if someone offered a digital currency tomorrow that was truly anonymous, it could quickly supplant bitcoin. Though its cryptography makes it difficult to artificially inflate (again, for now), other digital currencies can still be produced out of thin air. Bitcoiners desperately want to equate cryptography with tangibility, but the truth is that there is no comparison. Physical gold and silver cannot be artificially produced by anyone, anywhere. Digital currencies can be produced at will and hyped like Dutch tulip mania.

The most unsettling aspect of bitcoin, however, is not its distraction away from precious metals. Rather, it is the distraction away from localized solutions. Bitcoin proponents may be searching for decentralization, but they seem to have forgotten the most most important part of the process – localism. The trade of digital mechanisms over impersonal web networks and online marketplaces is not conducive to local economic stability or sustainability. Bitcoin does not encourage people to build local markets, to adopt useful trade skills, to prepare for a grid down scenario, or circulate wealth within one’s community. Bitcoin only furthers the removal of independence and self sustainability from local economies by fooling activists into thinking that buying things without dollars is enough.

If Americans in particular want to pursue any solution to the threat of globalism or dollar collapse, they are going to have to start with themselves, and the community around them. Online trade is the last thing they should be worried about. Only when neighborhoods, towns, and counties become producers and self suppliers will they be safe from financial instability. Only when those same communities band together for mutual aid and self defense will they be safe from tyrannical political entities. Bitcoin accomplishes nothing in either of these categories, making it possibly the most popular non-solution for liberty to date.

Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market

Democracy Syrian-Style

January 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One thing about the ongoing crisis in Syria almost never mentioned in our media – even the alternative media – is the role of the nonviolent opposition to the Baathist regime. After the uprising began in the spring of 2011, the government engaged this opposition in discussions about reform of the Syrian political system. Out of these discussions came a new constitution, approved in February 2012 by 90% of the electorate in a popular referendum with a 57% turnout rate.

Prior to the new constitution, Syria was officially a one-party state: the Baathist party, to which the current and former president belonged, being that party. In 2007 the nomination by the Syrian parliament of Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria was approved by 98% of the electorate with a 96% turnout rate – just the sort of mandate you would expect of an authoritarian regime. Under the new constitution Syria became a multiparty state; elections to parliament were open to any political party.

In May of last year parliamentary elections under the new constitution were held. There were two blocs contending for the vote: the pro-government National Progressive Front, comprised of 6 parties, and the oppositional Popular Front for Change and Liberation, which included two parties. Of the 250 seats in the assembly, the Baathists won 134 seats with 34 seats distributed among the other parties in the National Front, including 6 seats for the two factions of the Communist Party. The opposition shared 5 seats. Seventy-seven members of the new parliament were not affiliated with any party. The constitution stipulates that at least half of the members of the assembly must be workers or farmers.

In other words, the Syrian parliament encompasses a diversity of opinion we can only dream of seeing in our own Congress – quite a coup for the nonviolent opposition. An election for President is scheduled for next May, quite a concession for a man our media labels a “thug”, “dictator”, “tyrant”, especially as most governments, including our own, when facing a stressful situation become more authoritarian (e.g., Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, Palmer Raids of the 1920s, the Patriot Act, etc.) . It can be argued that the Syrian peaceful revolution is the most successful transition to democracy of the Arab Spring. What more does the violent opposition want? No wonder they have to rely on foreign Jihadists to do their fighting!

Critics of the Syrian regime will claim the elections were fraudulent, or, as the Obama administration put it, “ludicrous”. I have no idea whether this is the case and would welcome the views of those better informed than me. I suspect critics of the elections seldom offer any supporting evidence for their claims. Every country grapples with seeing that their elections are fair (cf. Voter ID laws). Before we dismiss the newfound democracy in Syria as a sham, maybe we should give it a chance, especially as the lives of thousands of people – mostly Syrian but perhaps some of our own – are at risk. If the administration’s goal in Syria is regime change, maybe it should wait and see whether the Syrian people effect it in a peaceful manner next spring or, if the incumbent is re-elected, accept the fact that democracy doesn’t always work out the way we would like.

Postscript: If you didn’t know about recent political developments in Syria, don’t feel bad. I attended an event the other day where none of the speakers – neither Cole Bockenfeld and Stephen McInerney of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) nor Shadi Hamid, Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution – were aware of the elections held under the new Syrian constitution.


Ken Meyercord is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice.

Ken Meyercord produces a public access TV show called Worlddocs which “brings the world to the people of the Washington, DC area through documentaries you won’t see broadcast on corporate TV.” He has a Master’s in Middle East History from the American University of Beirut. He can be contacted at kiaskfm@verizon.net.

Violence In The Face Of Tyranny Is Often Necessary

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It was the winter of 1939, only a few months earlier the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Third Reich had signed a partially secret accord known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; essentially a non-aggression treaty which divided Europe down the middle between the fascists and the communists. Hitler would take the West, and Stalin would take the East. Stalin’s war machine had already steamrolled into Latvia. Lithuania, and Estonia. The soviets used unprecedented social and political purges, rigged elections, and genocide, while the rest of the world was distracted by the Nazi blitzkrieg in Poland. In the midst of this mechanized power grab was the relatively tiny nation of Finland, which had been apportioned to the communists.

Apologists for Stalinist history (propagandists) have attempted to argue that the subsequent attack on Finland was merely about “border territories” which the communists claimed were stolen by the Finns when they seceded from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. The assertion that the soviets were not seeking total dominance of the Finns is a common one. However, given the vicious criminal behavior of Russia in nearby pacified regions, and their posture towards Finland, it is safe to assume their intentions were similar. The Finns knew what they had to look forward to if they fell victim to the iron hand of Stalin, and the soviet propensity for subjugation was already legendary.

The Russian military was vastly superior to Finland’s in every way a common tactician would deem important. They had far greater numbers, far better logistical capability, far better technology, etc, etc. Over 1 million troops, thousands of planes, thousands of tanks, versus Finland’s 32 antiquated tanks, 114 planes which were virtually useless against more modern weapons, and 340,000 men, most of whom were reservists rallied from surrounding farmlands. Finland had little to no logistical support from the West until the conflict was almost over, though FDR would later pay lip service to the event, “condemning” soviet actions while brokering deals with them behind the scenes. Russian military leadership boasted that the Finns would run at the sound of harsh words, let alone gun fire. The invasion would be a cakewalk.

The battle that followed would later be known as the “Winter War”; an unmitigated embarrassment for the Soviets, and a perfect example of a small but courageous indigenous guerrilla army repelling a technologically advanced foe.

 

To Fight, Or Pretend To Fight?

Fast forward about seven decades or so, and you will discover multiple countries around the globe, including the U.S., on the verge of the same centralized and collectivized socialist occupation that the Finnish faced in 1939. The only difference is that while their invasion came from without, our invasion arose from within. The specific methods may have changed, but the underlying face of tyranny remains the same.

In America, the only existing organization of people with the slightest chance of disrupting and defeating the march towards totalitarianism is what we often refer to as the “Liberty Movement”; a large collection of activist and survival groups tied together by the inexorable principles of freedom, natural law, and constitutionalism. The size of this movement is difficult to gauge, but its social and political presence is now too large to be ignored. We are prevalent enough to present a threat, and prevalent enough to be attacked, and that is all that matters. That said, though we are beginning to understand the truly vital nature of our role in America’s path, and find solidarity in the inherent values of liberty that support our core, when it comes to solutions to the dilemma of globalization and elitism, we are sharply divided.

While most activist movements suffer from a complete lack of solutions to the problems they claim to recognize, constitutional conservatives tend to have TOO MANY conceptual solutions to the ailments of the world. Many of these solutions rely upon unrealistic assumptions and methods that avoid certain inevitable outcomes. Such strategies center mostly on the concepts of “non-aggression” or pacifism idealized and romanticized by proponents of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and the anti-war movements of the 1960′s and 1970′s. The post-baby boomer generations in particular have grown up with an incessant bombardment of the “higher nature” of non-violence as a cure-all for every conceivable cultural ailment.

We have been taught since childhood that fighting solves nothing, but is this really true?

I can understand the allure of the philosophy. After all, physical confrontation is mentally and emotionally terrifying to anyone who is not used to experiencing it. The average “reasonable” person goes far out of their way on every occasion to avoid it. Most of the activists that I have met personally who deride the use of force against tyrannical government have never actually been in an outright confrontation of any kind in their lives, or if they have, it ended in a failure that scarred them. They have never trained for the eventuality. Many of them have never owned a firearm. The focus of their existence has been to hide from pain, rather than overcome their fears to achieve something greater.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with becoming an “intellectual warrior”, unless that person lives under the fantasy that this alone will be enough to defeat the kind of evil we face today.

Non-aggression methods rely on very specific circumstances in order to be effective. Most of all, they rely on a system of government that is forced to at least PRETEND as if it cares what the masses think of it. Gandhi’s Indian Independence Movement, for example, only witnessed noticeable success because the British government at that time was required to present a semblance of dignity and rule of law. But what happens if a particular tyranny reaches a point where the facade of benevolence disappears? What happens when the establishment turns to the use of the purge as a tool for consolidation? What happens when the mask comes completely off?

How many logical arguments or digital stashes of ethereal Bitcoins will it take to save one’s life or one’s freedom then?

Arguments For And Against Violent Action

The position against the use of “violence” (or self defense) to obstruct corrupt systems depends on three basic debate points:

1) Violence only feeds the system and makes it stronger.

2) We need a “majority” movement in order to be successful.

3) The system is too technologically powerful – to fight it through force of arms is “futile”, and our chances are slim to none.

First, violence does indeed feed the system, if it is driven by mindless retribution rather than strategic self defense. This is why despotic governments often resort to false flag events; the engineering of terrorist actions blamed on scapegoats creates fear within the unaware portions of the population, which generates public support for further erosion of freedoms. However, there is such a thing as diminishing returns when it comes to the “reach, teach, and inspire” method.

The escalation of totalitarianism will eventually overtake the speed at which the movement can awaken the masses, if it has not done so already. There will come a time, probably sooner rather than later, when outreach will no longer be effective, and self defense will have to take precedence, even if that means subsections of the public will be shocked and disturbed by it. The sad fact is, the faster we wake people up, the faster the establishment will degrade social stability and destroy constitutional liberties. A physical fight is inevitable exactly because they MAKE it inevitable. Worrying about staying in the good graces of the general populace or getting honest representatives elected is, at a certain point, meaningless. I find it rather foolish to presume that Americans over the next decade or two or three have the time needed to somehow inoculate the system from within. In fact, I’m starting to doubt that strategy has any merit whatsoever.

Second, the idea that a movement needs a “majority” of public backing to shift the path of a society is an old wives tale. Ultimately, most people throughout history are nothing more than spectators in life, watching from the sidelines while smaller, ideologically dedicated groups battle for superiority. Global developments are decided by true believers; never by ineffectual gawkers. Some of these groups are honorable, and some of them are not so honorable. Almost all of them have been in the minority, yet they wield the power to change the destiny of the whole of the nation because most people do not participate in their own futures. They merely place their heads between their legs and wait for the storm to pass.

All revolutions begin in the minds and hearts of so-called “outsiders”. To expect any different is to deny the past, and to assume that a majority is needed to achieve change is to deny reality.

Third, I’m not sure why non-aggression champions see the argument of statistical chance as relevant. When all is said and done, the “odds” of success in any fight against oligarchy DO NOT MATTER. Either you fight, or you are enslaved. The question of victory is an afterthought.

Technological advantage, superior numbers, advanced training, all of these things pale in comparison to force of will, as the Finnish proved during the Winter War. Some battles during that conflict consisted of less than a hundred Finns versus tens-of-thousands of soviets. Yet, at the end of the war, the Russians lost 3500 tanks, 500 aircraft, and had sustained over 125,000 dead (official numbers). The Finns lost 25,000 men. For every dead Finn, the soviets lost at least five. This is the cold hard reality behind guerrilla and attrition warfare, and such tactics are not to be taken lightly.

Do we go to the Finnish and tell them that standing against a larger, more well armed foe is “futile”? Do we tell them that their knives and bolt action rifles are no match for tanks and fighter planes? And by extension, do we go to East Asia today and tell the Taliban that their 30 year old AK-47′s are no match for predator drones and cruise missiles? Obviously, victory in war is not as simple as having the biggest gun and only the uneducated believe otherwise.

The Virtues Of Violence

The word “violence” comes with numerous negative connotations. I believe this is due to the fact that in most cases violence is used by the worst of men to get what they want from the weak. Meeting violence with violence, though, is often the only way to stop such abuses from continuing.

At Alt-Market, we tend to discuss measures of non-participation (not non-aggression) because all resistance requires self-sustainability. Americans cannot fight the criminal establishment if they rely on the criminal establishment. Independence is more about providing one’s own necessities than it is about pulling a trigger. But, we have no illusions about what it will take to keep the independence that we build. This is where many conceptual solutions are severely lacking.

If the system refuses to let you walk away, what do you do? If the tyrants would rather make the public suffer than admit that your social or economic methodology is better for all, how do you remove them? When faced with a cabal of psychopaths with deluded aspirations of godhood, what amount of reason will convince them to step down from their thrones?

I’m sorry to say, but these questions are only answered with violence.

The Liberty Movement doesn’t need to agree on the “usefulness” of physical action because it is coming regardless. The only things left to discern are when and how. Make no mistake, one day each and every one of us will be faced with a choice – to fight, or to throw our hands in the air and pray they don’t shoot us anyway. I certainly can’t speak for the rest of the movement, but in my opinion only those who truly believe in liberty will stand with rifle in hand when that time comes. A freedom fighter is measured by how much of himself he is willing to sacrifice, and how much of his humanity he holds onto in the process. Fear, death, discomfort; none of this matters. There is no conundrum. There is no uncertainty. There are only the chains of self-defeat, or the determination of the gun. The sooner we all embrace this simple fact, the sooner we can move on and deal with the dark problem before us.

Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market

Corruption Scandal Rocks Turkey

December 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Turkey is a democracy in name only. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling despot.

He’s led Ankara’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since August 2001. He’s been prime minister since March 2003. Why Turks put up with him they’ll have to explain.

Last spring, anti-government protests rocked Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Police violence followed. Brutality is longstanding policy. Corruption is deep-seated.

It’s rife in Turkey’s construction sector. Erdogan established a land sales office. Ostensibly it was to build affordable public housing.

Widespread privatizations followed. Billions of dollars worth of government assets were sold.

Sweetheart deals and bribes accompanied them. Well-connected companies got no-bid contracts. State banks provided generous financing.

Projects developed had nothing to do with public housing. Berat Albayrak heads Calik Holding. He’s well connected. He’s Erdogan’s son-in-law.

He may be linked to the corruption probe. He builds power plants in Turkmenistan. He’s involved in an AKP backed oil pipeline project. He has other government related business.

The current scandal stems from a year ago anonymous letter. It was sent to police. It alleged Ankara and local government authorities illegally facilitated construction projects. Huge profits were involved.

Surveillance, phone tapping, and other investigatory methods followed. They produced considerable evidence of corruption. Government ministers are involved. Million dollar bribes were paid.

State-run Halk Bank head was found with about $4.5 million in cash. It was at home. It was stashed in shoe boxes.

Millions more were seized from other suspects. Over a dozen are accused of bribery and money laundering, as well as gold and antiques smuggling.

On December 17, Turkey’s Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department detained 47 people.

Sons of Ankara’s Economy, Interior and Environment and Urban Planning ministers are involved.

So is Fatih district municipality major Mustafa Demir and real estate tycoon Ali Agaoglu. Minister of European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis is being investigated.

Whether scandal touches Erdogan remains to be seen. He claims attempts to do so will be “left empty handed.”

On Christmas day, he reshuffled his cabinet. Three ministers resigned. He sack 10 others. He replaced them. Events are fast-moving.

Erdogan Bayraktar was Minister of Environment and Urban Planning. He was a member of parliament. He felt forced to resign both posts.

He said Erdogan should do so. He claimed suspect construction projects under investigation were approved with Erdogan’s full knowledge.

“With your permission, I want to make very short statements in the form of a press statement,” he said.

“It is of course a right and an authority for Mr. Prime Minister to work with whichever minister he wants and to remove whichever minister he wants from office.”

“But I do not accept the pressure being put on me which says, ‘Resign because of an operation in which there are statements of bribery and corruption and release a declaration that will relieve me.’ “

I do not (accept it) because a big part of the zoning plans that are in the investigation file and were confirmed were made with approval from Mr. Prime Minister.”

“For the sake of the well-being of this nation, I believe the prime minister should resign.”

He accused him of involvement in suspect property deals. He’s linked to profiteering business interests.

Scandal heads closer to directly connecting him. Perhaps it will as investigations continue. Turkish Professor Soli Ozel called Bayraktar’s call for Erdogan’s resignation “extraordinarily dramatic.”

He’s “someone who was very close to the prime minister. This is someone you’d expect to fall on his sword without question.”

Other analysts see things potentially spinning out of control. Whether Erdogan can prevent it remains to be seen.

He may end up victimized by his own transgressions. It depends on how much public anger grows. He weathered previous crises. It’s hard to know if this one is too great to contain.

Investigations targeted over 90 suspects. Over two dozen were arrested. Dozens of police chiefs were sacked. Erdogan is far from squeaky-clean.

On December 21, Ankara’s police department Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Unit head Hakan Yuksekdag was found dead in his car. Officially it was pronounced suicide.

Further investigation is being conducted. The incident occurred a day after 14 senior Ankara National Police Department officials were removed from their posts.

 

Erdogan blamed ongoing events on an international conspiracy. He vowed revenge on figures connected to Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.

He heads the movement bearing his name. He claims a million or more followers. They include judges and senior police officials.

He’s currently in self-imposed exile. He’s in Pennsylvania. He’s a writer, former imam, and Islamic opinion leader. He’s an important figure.

He’s involved with issues relating to Turkey’s future. He and Erdogan haven’t gotten along for years.

Former Minister of Internal Affairs Idris Naim Sahin said Erdogan’s actions fall short of law and justice. He’s trying to defuse public anger, he said. He’s shifting blame to do it.

Thousands of Istanbul, Ankara, and Ismir protesters demanded Erdogan’s resignation. They did so on Christmas. They did it in other cities. They protested last spring.

They’re justifiably outraged. Their longstanding anger hasn’t waned. Erdogan works against their well-being. Clashes with police erupted. Arrests followed.

Protesters chanted; “Three ministers aren’t enough. The whole government should resign. Corruption is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.”

Opposition party members accused Erdogan of deepening despotic rule. Critics use the term “deep state.” It refers to a shadowy power structure. It lacks checks and balances.

Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) is Erdogan’s main rival. It’s Turkey’s oldest political party. It’s AKP’s Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads it.

“Erdogan has a ‘deep state,’ ” he said. His AKP “has a ‘deep state.’ ” Efkan Ala is new Interior Minister.

He’s an Erdogan crony. He formerly was Diyarbakir Province governor. He’s part of what’s ongoing, said Kilicdaroglu.

He believes Ala’s appointment is part of an Erdogan power grab. He wants greater police control. Outgoing Interior Minister Muammer Guler fired hundreds of police officers. Senior commanders were sacked.

Erdogan’s new ministers were carefully chosen. He appointed officials “that will not show any opposition to him,” said Kilicdaroglu.

Turkey is more police state than democracy. Press freedom is compromised. Censorship is standard practice. Dissent is verboten. Challenging government authority is called terrorism.

No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Corruption is deep-seated. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy. Popular interests are spurned.

Erdogan represents wealth, power and privilege. It’s hard imagining he’s not involved in corruption in some way. He’s gotten his son-in-law business tycoon sweetheart deals.

He prioritizes Turkey’s business model. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It includes unrestrained profit-making, privatizations, cheap labor, deregulation, corporate-friendly tax cuts, marginalized worker rights, and speculative capital inflows.

Economic conditions are inherently unstable. Turkey suffers rolling recessions, crisis conditions, and fragile largely jobless recoveries. It’s increasingly dependent on imports of resources and capital goods.

Youth unemployment tops 22%. An entire generation is affected. Conditions are socially and economically unstable.

Privation fuels public anger. Eventually it may spiral out-of-control. It may be just a matter of time. Turkey has a long history of rebellion.

Erdogan is increasingly hated. He weathered last spring’s anti-government protests. It remains to be seen what’s next.

Nicolas Spiro heads Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough,” he said. “The corruption probe is escalating by the day.”

It’s “causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey.” Erdogan’s new cabinet includes four deputy prime ministers.

Ayse Islam is the only woman appointed. She’s Family and Social Policy Minister. Others include:

Deputy prime minister: Bulent Arinc

 

Deputy prime minister: Ali Babacan

 

Deputy prime minister: Besir Atalay

 

Deputy prime minister: Emrullah Isler

 

Justice: Bekir Bozdag

 

Defense: Ismet Yilmaz

 

Interior: Efkan Ala

 

Foreign Affairs: Ahmet Davutoglu

 

European Union: Mevlut Cavusoglu

 

Finance: Mehmet Simsek

 

Economy: Nihat Zeybekci

 

Energy and Natural Resources: Taner Yildiz

 

National Education: Nabi Avci

 

Labour and Social Security: Faruk Celik

 

Environment and Urban Development: Idris Gulluce

 

Health: Mehmet Muezzinoglu

 

Transport: Lutfi Elvan

 

Food, Agriculture and Husbandry: Mehmet Mehdi Eker

 

Science, Industry and Technology: Fikri Isik

 

Culture and Tourism: Omer Celik

 

Forestry and Water Affairs: Veysel Eroglu

 

Customs and Trade: Hayati Yazici

 

Development: Cevdet Yilmaz

 

Youth and Sports: Akif Cagatay Kilic

Scandal erupted months ahead of next March’s local elections. Parliamentary elections involving Erdogan are scheduled in 2015.

If held today, voters might oust him. It’s way too early to know how they’ll react in 2015. Istanbul-based Global Source Partners analyst Atilla Yesilada said ongoing events suggest Erdogan is losing control.

“Forced to act, (he) tried to get rid of his burdens,” he said. “But this is a political crisis, and it is hard to tell how it will unfold. These investigations may expand in coming months.”

Doing so perhaps may link Erdogan to deep-seated corruption. If so, he may be forced to resign. The fullness of time will tell.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Barack Obama and the Legacy of American Capitalism

December 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you cannot face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says It.” – Malcolm X

I have been reading political commentary on Black Agenda Report (BAR) regularly of late. The site, which purveys a black leftist perspective, regularly excoriates President Obama, as well they should. BAR has become a trusted source in my quest to understand history and current events. This is the home of the real left, not the pseudo left that pervades the corporate airwaves masquerading as champions of equality. Here, no one is paying homage to Obama or calling him a liberal or progressive simply because he is a black democrat. No one is calling him a socialist, either. The political commentators at BAR hold Obama to the same standard to which they held George W. Bush and his fascist predecessors.

Most of the self-proclaimed liberals who castigated Bush and Cheney for their neoconservative polices are giving Obama, whose polices are no less regressive or extreme than those of his precursors, a free ride. This is because the president belongs to the Democratic Party, which continues to be associated with traditional liberalism in the minds of contemporary faux progressives and liberals, rather than the neoliberalism that defines its policies.

Those who continue to support Obama and his backsliding pro-corporate regime obviously have no conception about what classical liberalism and progressivism are. They are at least half a century behind the times.

Although I may lack the political acumen to concisely define terms such as liberalism, progressivism, and leftist, which are somewhat subjective anyway, it is apparent to me that neoliberalism, the form of liberalism that is actually practiced by today’s Democratic Party, bears much in common with the neoconservatism that is associated with contemporary Republicans. There is nothing progressive about either ideology, and nothing in them that is beneficial to workers. To call Obama a liberal or a socialist, as so many people do, is beyond farcical. It strains one’s credulity to the breaking point.

I distrust Barack Obama for the same reasons that I spurn George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the Clintons, and any other war mongering capitalist. My criticism has nothing to do with race or gender. It stems from ideological differences, class conflict, and radically dissimilar values from the ruling clique.

Among some black folk, charges of racism are leveled against any white folks who criticize the black president in the same way that charges of anti-Semitism are used against anyone who is critical of Israel’s Zionist polices of apartheid that, with the aid of the U.S., are being carried out against the Palestinians. This is not to deny the racism that is directed against the president. It is to philosophically and morally disassociate myself from any and all groups of white supremacists engaged in bigotry.

If a policy is morally reprehensible and unjust, just people have a moral obligation to criticize it, regardless of who is responsible for formulating and enacting such policies. Every socially conscious human being has an ethical responsibility to take action against criminal government or any corporation that is harming one’s community, or for that matter, the planet.

From my perspective, BAR and WPFW’s Jared Ball are ethically consistent and accurate in their critiques of Barack Obama and American capitalism. These venerable warriors are true leftists who do not compromise their principles for political expediency, cost them what it may.

The virtually defunct radical left was once a formidable and organized political force in the U.S. Today’s leftists are treated like pariahs by the pseudo left and its neocon brethren. Radical leftists pose a viable threat to the established orthodoxy. Anyone who refuses to carry forth the performative role assigned to them by the dominant culture is a threat to those in power. As true combatants for justice, today’s leftwing dissidents are worthy of being associated with iconic revolutionaries like Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Mumia Abu Jamal, all of whom happen to be black.

By contrast, Barack Obama, who mouths an endless stream of pseudo liberal platitudes, is an unabashed disciple of Milton Friedman and the market fundamentalism he revered. This identifies the president as a corporate fascist and thus a promoter of inequality. It allies him with America’s ruling class. Obama and his supporters should not be identified in any way, shape or form with thereal left. Whatever minutia one uses to differentiate between contemporary neoliberals and neoconservatives is akin to splitting hairs.

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are not mortal enemies, as portrayed in the corporate media; they are in collusion against the world’s working class and the poor. Together, they are raping and pillaging the Earth Mother and repressing workers through economic violence and imposed austerity. Like costumed wrestlers performing on television, the acrimony is not real; it is vitriolic political theater, an enthralling puppet show for diehard believers.

We must somehow move beyond party politics, beyond the simplicity of liberal versus conservative dichotomy, beyond left against right, and see things as they really are rather than as we wish them to be.

Voting doesn’t change anything in a system flush with corporate money. The structures that put the money into politics cannot be used to extract it. Without proportional representation or corporate money, third parties are not a viable option in state and federal elections. They are just another distraction from reality, a mild form of symbolic protest. Voting for justice does nothing to actually attain it. Direct action directly applied to a problem offers the best hope for revolutionary change.

Conversely, political dualism keeps us fighting the wrong people. It has us believing in people and institutions that do not promote justice and do us harm. These institutions are not what they purport to be. They are at best a mirage; something that appears real but only exists in the mind of the beholder.

Belief in the American Dream and perverted systems of power as a means to justice provides a method for directing and cajoling the masses to do the biding of the super-wealthy and all-powerful corporate state. Faith, hope, and belief in phony people and bogus institutions function as a form of mass hypnosis that keeps the people from organizing in class struggle against a common oppressor—the capitalist system.

Despite reams of contradictory historical evidence, most people in the U.S. continue to associate democracy with capitalism. It is reckless of us to allow anyone to use these terms interchangeably without contesting them at every opportunity. Let me be clear: Democracy is the antithesis of capitalism! But capitalism is the product the U.S. government, the Pentagon, and the commercial media are marketing to us as democracy. And thus the inequality gap, the disparity between rich and poor, is growing wider rather than shrinking.

The nemesis of all working people, regardless of where they live or their political affiliation, is capitalism and its linear, hierarchal, male-dominated power structures. This is why we must have a truthful critique of capitalism and patriarchy and create alternatives that promote the public wellbeing above corporate profits. Many promising alternatives, such as Professor Richard Wolff’s Worker Self-Directed Enterprise (http://www.democracyatwork.info), already exist.

When the richest and most powerful people on earth, the primary beneficiaries of capitalism, invest so many resources into demonizing and subverting the writings of one man—Karl Marx—and the various economic and philosophic alternatives to capitalism, inquisitive minds want to know why. There are elements of Marxism that makes the power elite quake in their shoes. This is what led me to read Marx years ago. I have been reading him ever since.

Marx has helped me to comprehend why capitalists fear and loathe him. Deep down, they know that he was right. If workers understood capitalism from a Marxist perspective, not one in ten thousand would voluntarily accept their performative role in this exploitative economic system. There would be widespread conflict and social upheaval. There would be global revolution. The power elite spends trillions of dollars to maintain the façade of capitalism as a manifestation of democracy. In fact, I would argue that nothing could be more opposed to democracy than American capitalism.

The key point to understand is that capitalism, a system based upon the ruthless exploitation and commodification of workers and the relentless rape of our Earth Mother, stifles and represses democracy. Capitalists abhor all forms of egalitarianism. Marx embraced them. The mere possibility of an empowered work force troubles the capitalist’s sleep, as did the possibility of slave rebellion, albeit it small, distress the slaveholder.

Consider the vitriol, not to mention counter revolutionary forces that are levied against the alternatives to capitalism. What is their source? Who but wealthy capitalists fund America’s propaganda apparatus? Working people in the U.S. are conditioned to reflexively recoil against ideas they do not understand. They are psychologically programmed to detest that which could potentially set them free. American workers are led to believe that economic servitude and wage slavery is freedom.

Why does a government that calls itself a democracy systemically spy on its citizens? Why does it punish its whistle blowers but materially reward the vilest white-collar criminals? Why is the majority of the U.S. budget spent on funding an insatiable war machine? Why do we raise classrooms of meat puppets rather than critical thinkers and political dissidents? It is all done for the benefit of capitalists at the expense of society.

It is by these means that capitalism survives and spreads like an aggressive malignancy to every organ of the planet. Furthermore, the majority of the wealth produced by labor is subverted to prop up the capitalist system and to indoctrinate and oppress the worker. To the detriment of us all, freethinking and critical analysis are discouraged and often reprimanded in academia and elsewhere. And thus hundreds of millions of human beings are transformed into herd animals that are led to slaughter in the military and the world’s sweat shops. We celebrate our freedom and patriotism on our march to the scalding pots, singing “God Bless America.” There is no fight in us. We go too quietly and too obediently into the good night of eternity.

Yet, despite everything and the repressive weight of history, Americans still have a propensity to believe in myths and fairy tales. Hope and faith in phony leaders and bogus institutions keep us servile and docile. Irrational faith requires nothing from us. Delusion has become the norm because too many of us are incapable of grappling with reality. We can and must do better than capitalism or we are doomed to an ignominious fate.


Charles Sullivan is a free-lance writer, educator, and citizen activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia.

Charles Sullivan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Who Else Is Paying For Their Endless War?

December 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Let’s think about all those trillions of dollars that have been constantly pouring into war profiteers’ pockets ever since they invented Vietnam.  All those trillions must have come from somewhere.  Of course we all know that some of them came from the Federal Reserve where they print Monopoly money like crazy.  And, ironically, some of them have also come from multiple humungous loans from China.  Plus some of that money also found its way into the pockets of War Street at approximately the same time that “all the gold in Fort Knox” mysteriously disappeared.  And a few trillion also seems to have just materialized out of thin air — as if there was some ethereal war-profiteer fairy out there happily waving her magic wand.  But a lot of this destructive blood-money also came out of the pockets of us American taxpayers.  Trillions of dollars.  From you and me.

All too many of us hard-working Americans have been forced to gird up our loins and go without so that war profiteers can afford to live like kings, buy multiple yachts, drink Veuve Clicquot champagne and smoke Cuban cigars.

You and I have gone without jobs, schools, roads, police, fire departments, hospitals, etc. in order to pay handsomely for War Street’s right to kill babies and Live Large.

And, apparently, we are also being forced to live without the high-quality court system that we here in California had grown accustomed to.  How do I know this?  Because the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association just told me so!

At a recent luncheon meeting of BABA at the famed Berkeley City Club (designed by Julia Morgan herself) and over roast chicken, fruit salad and pie, a judge from the Alameda County Superior Court gave us a talk on the struggles that Alameda County is going through just to keep its court system working and its courthouse doors open these days.

“One billion dollars was lost in the budget last year,” the speaker told us.  “This is the toughest time financially in the history of this court.  We have never has to worry about money before — but now we worry about money all of the time.  It is very difficult to juggle to keep all of our programs alive.”  http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/12/55621.htm

“For instance, there have been 26 furlough days this year, where court employees didn’t get paid.  Courthouses are closed.  We used to have 72 judges and nine commissioners.  Now there are 18 vacancies this year.  We went from 940 employees to 720 employees.  We need 104 more just to operate.  There used to be seven civil court locations.  Now there are only two.  Four family courts have been reduced to one family court.  Four probate locations have been reduced to one.”  Heaven forbid that you should have to die and your ghost be forced to stand in line for hours at probate court.

“And if you get a traffic ticket anywhere in the county, you will have to drive all the way down to Fremont to contest it.  People stand in line for blocks at 5 am to get their tickets handled — and may still have to come back.  And the only reason Alameda County is barely keeping its head above water right now is because we have so many employees who are dedicated to bringing access to justice for all.  Sacramento County, for instance, doesn’t even have a civil filing office bull pen.  You just leave your unfiled summonses, pleadings and other documents in a drop-box.  Some counties have over 5000 unfiled documents right now.”

And where is the money from all those unpaid salaries going?  As far as I can tell, it is going into the pockets of tax-dodging corporate welfare queens and heartless and immoral war profiteers.  Christmas is coming up.  Would Jesus approve of all this random bloodshed and not-random greed?  Can you actually imagine Him saying, “I am Jesus and I approve this message.”  No way!

“Then there is the problem of criminal realignment.  30,000 prisoners have been released but next year there will be no money for their realignment — so more petty thefts will occur.  This will be very interesting to see.”  In other words, 30,00 prisoners will get out of jail with only bus fare and the clothes on their backs.

And also court electronic data systems have suffered.  “In some smaller counties, the filing system consists of putting papers in a box.  And our county no longer has the personnel to support inter-court filing of documents either.”  So you have to go to one specific court if you want to file a complaint or a probate document or a traffic ticket protest or an unlawful detainer.

And speaking of unlawful detainers (that’s where people who don’t pay their rent get invited to court by their landlord), the California court system has been flooded with them.  “There are so many banks with foreclosures.  These are our priority cases.  And 95% of them are getting settled because judges from other departments volunteer to help out and get these cases heard — because where else are people being threatend with foreclosure evictions going to go if they lose their homes?”

PS:  At its next monthly luncheon meeting, BABA asked a federal judge to speak — only he talked about an excess of money in America instead of a dearth of it, and how there have been whole tornadoes and hurricanes of money, flooding down on the USA like hailstorms ever since Citizens’ United took effect.

“And there is the additional problem of having individuals with unlimited personal bank accounts now running for office,” said the judge.  “When all this money flows into the election system, only wealthy people are elected.”  And why shouldn’t rich people invest in buying elections?  For every dollar a huge corporation or war profiteer spends on buying an election, he gets a 5000% return in pork-barrel dollars sent his way.

“Swing states are already saturated with money on the presidential-campaign level,” and so any more money being poured into those campaigns will have decreasing effectiveness.  “But large sums of money have an overwhelming effect on local elections.  But even though voters aren’t stupid, even when being constantly  bombarded with expensive ads, fair elections are still impossible under the current system,” said the judge as I happily ate roast beef, baby spinach and cheesecake.

“We in America have a very narrow view of what constitutes corruption.”  It’s not corrupt to buy an election any more — just as long as you use the new Supreme Court guidelines or have a friend at Diebold.  You can’t just slip a poll-worker a fin any more.  That’s corrupt.  You gotta be new-school about it.  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/20755-top-10-ways-the-us-is-the-most-corrupt-country-in-the-world

“Chief Justice Roberts stated that, ‘The Supreme Court doesn’t make the laws.  We just call balls and strikes’.  That is wrong.”  Especially when the current Supreme Court continuously calls out “strike!” even after a batter has obviously hit a home run.  http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2010/01/2009-supreme-court-decisions-i-know.html

PPS:  “So, Jane.  What’s your moral here?”  The moral here is that we need to protect the integrity of our court system at any cost — even if it means that a few more war profiteers have to go without one of their yachts.  And also that I love all those Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheons.


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

Digging In: Why US Won’t Leave Afghanistan

November 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

We came, we saw, we stayed. Forever. That’s the essence of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to be struck between the Obama administration and Afghanistan – over 12 years after the start of the never-ending War on Terror.

President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry define it as a ‘strategic partnership’. If that’s the case, it’s one of the most lopsided in history; Afghan President Hamid Karzai is no more than a sartorially impeccable American puppet.

Kerry announced the so-called BSA in Washington on Wednesday even before a Loya Jirga (‘Grand Council’, in Pashto) of 2,500 Afghan tribal leaders, clerics, members of parliament and merchants started their four-day deliberations in a tent on the grounds of the Polytechnical University in Kabul on Thursday.

But then Karzai, probably in his last major speech as president, pulled off a fabulous stunt. He knows he is, and will be, accused of selling Afghanistan down the (Panjshir) river. He knows he is sacrificing Afghan sovereignty for years to come – and there will be nasty blowback for it.

So once again he channeled Hamid the Actor, and played his best honest broker impersonation, stressing the BSA should be put off until the Afghan presidential elections in April 2014, and be signed by his successor.

It was high drama

“There’s a mistrust between me and the Americans. They don’t trust me and I don’t trust them. I have always criticized them and they have always propagated negative things behind my back,” he claimed.

I have been to Jirgas in Afghanistan; even looking at those inscrutable, rugged tribal faces is a spectacle in itself. So what were they thinking in Kabul? Of course they did not trust the Americans. But did they trust Karzai? Could they see this was all an act?

A consultative Loya Jirga cannot veto the BSA. Even the Jirga chairman, Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, stressed Karzai may sign without any consultation. Yet Karzai insists he will not sign without the Loya Jirga’s approval.

Many members of the Afghan parliament and the entire Afghan opposition already voted with their feet, boycotting the Jirga. Not to mention the Taliban – essential to any agreement on the future of Afghanistan – and the still fully weaponized Hezb-e-Islami. Everyone is eagerly waiting to hear Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s take on the whole kabuki.

Counter-terror free-for-all

The BSA ‘negotiation’ has been like an extended Monty Python sketch. Washington has always insisted US soldiers can break into Afghan homes at will and remain immune to any sort of Afghan prosecution. Otherwise the Americans will leave for good at the end of 2014, leaving just the poorly trained and largely corrupt Afghan National Army (ANA) to fight the Taliban.

Up until Karzai’s latest stunt, the Obama administration considered the deal was in the bag. Just look at the letter Obama sent to Karzai.

And by the way, no apologies. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Washington does not need to apologize for killing and injuring tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan since 2001, not to mention occupying vast swathes of the country. Earlier, a Karzai spokesman said that would be the case.

If in doubt, just listen to super-hawk US Senator Lindsay Graham, who told Reuters, “I’m stunned. Apologize for what? Maybe we should get the Afghan president to apologize to the American soldiers for all the hardship he’s created for them.”

There’s nothing ‘residual’ about a US occupation to be disguised as ‘forces’ necessary to train and ‘advise’ the roughly 350,000 soldiers and police which are part of ANA, built from scratch over the last few years.

And what we’re talking about here is a deal starting in 2015 and in effect up to 2024 ‘and beyond’.

The final agreement is not much different from this previously leaked working draft.  An update has been circulating this week in the Pentagon and the US Congress. The Pentagon, via Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, justifies the whole thing by the proverbial need to ‘maintain Afghanistan’s security’ and make sure foreign aid is not being squandered (as it has always been).

There will be plenty of US military outposts and bases; Afghan bases and other bases of which the US has ‘exclusive use’. Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif are inevitably on the list. Once again, this is the US Empire of Bases – so well characterized by the late Chalmers Johnson – in pristine form.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the current US/NATO military commander in Afghanistan, wants up to 13,000 troops to stay, not including security guards and the cream of the crop, the counterterrorism gang. In theory, these forces won’t engage in combat “unless otherwise mutually agreed.” The draft text emphasizes, “US military operations to defeat Al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism.”

Translation: a future festival of raids by Special Forces, and a counter-terror free-for-all.

The draft text only mentions, vaguely,” full respect for Afghan sovereignty and full regard for the safety and security of the Afghan people, including in their homes,” as Obama also mentioned in his letter to Karzai.

And there’s absolutely nothing on the critical issue of drones based in Afghan bases that have been used for incinerating the odd commander but also scores of innocent civilians in the Pakistani tribal areas.

All about pivoting to Asia

The Maliki government in Baghdad had the balls to confront the Pentagon and veto the immunity for US forces – effectively kicking out the occupying force in Iraq. Hamid Karzai, for his part, caved in on virtual every US demand. The key question in the next few months is for what; Mob-style protection if he stays in Afghanistan, or the equivalent of the FBI’s witness protection program if he moves to the US?

Even assuming the Loya Jirga endorses the BSA (not yet a done deal) and Karzai’s successor signs it (with Karzai removing himself from the tight spot), to say this opens a new Pandora’s box is an understatement.

The occupation, for all practical purposes, will continue. This has nothing to do with fighting the War on Terror or jihad. There’s no Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The few remnants are in Waziristan, in Pakistani territory. The US is – and will remain – essentially at war with Afghan Pashtuns who are members of the Taliban. And the Taliban will keep staging their spring and summer offensives as long as there are any foreign occupiers on Afghan soil.

The drone war will continue, with the Pentagon and the CIA using these Afghan bases to attack Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Not to mention that these US bases, to be fully operational, need unrestricted access to the Pakistani transit routes from the Khyber Pass and the Quetta-to-Kandahar corridor. This means Islamabad keeps profiting from the scam by collecting hefty fees in US dollars.

No one knows yet how the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will respond to this. Not only Russia and China – who are adamantly opposed to US bases in Afghanistan – but also Iran and India, SCO observers and two countries that can sway Afghanistan away from the Taliban in a non-military way.

We just need to picture, for instance, a practically inevitable future development; Washington deciding to deploy the US missile defense system in Afghanistan (it already happened in Turkey). Russia and China already see that the US may have lost the economic race for Central Asia – as China clinches deal after deal in the context of expanding its New Silk Road(s) grand strategy. What’s left for Washington is – guess what – bits and pieces of the same old Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, as in military bases to ‘monitor’ both China and Russia very close to their borders.

What’s certain is that both Russia and China – not to mention Iran – all see this Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever for what it is; yet another (military) chapter of the American ‘pivoting to Asia’.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Source:  RT

ObamaCare Lawbreaker In Chief: Barack Obama

November 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly,” said Abraham Lincoln. It’s ironic that Barack Obama has claimed to pattern himself after Lincoln, because his modus operandi is just the opposite: perpetuate a bad law by enforcing it loosely.

Or in a targeted fashion that suits political necessities.

With millions losing health coverage Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Gang promised they could keep and with the ObamaCare rollout a washout, the president’s answer to his bad law is quintessential Obama. Don’t end it. Don’t mend it.

Violate it.

His latest expedient: Give insurance companies the option to let people keep health plans that the government claims are “substandard” for another year. Note that Obama doesn’t want to do this legislatively. Rather, in a move that even screaming socialist Howard Dean suggests is unconstitutional, the king will grant you a stay of execution. Of course, this only delays the inevitable.

But Obama has done this before. He proceeds with the confidence of a man who says, “My law is so darn good that it doesn’t work when actually enforced.” Thus did the president early on offer more than 1000 ObamaCare waivers to various entities.

Have clout? Waiver.

Can grease palms? Waiver.

Little guy with bupkis? Don’t ever waver.

That is, until throwing the commoners a few crumbs accomplishes something. What would that be? Consider that a one-year waiver would delay the inevitable until just after the 2014 mid-term elections.

Coincidence?

Obama has done this before, too. While ObamaCare was passed in 2010, its implementation was delayed a few years until — also coincidentally, I’m sure — Obama had safely won re-election.

This brings us to a little thought exercise. If 2012 had seen ObamaCare’s rollout, how badly would the president have been rolled over? Forget about Mitt Romney — Obama would have lost to Clint Eastwood’s chair.

The truth is that Obama’s one-year-stay offer is a cynical ploy. The president couldn’t care less about the people who’ve lost insurance; he knows well that he needs them and others to pay higher premiums so that their wealth can be redistributed throughout the system. Obama’s law is Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large and needs, as he would put it, “fundamental” change to have hope, yet he won’t even tweak it. But he will tweak the enforcement of it — especially when an election is nigh.

Perhaps Obama is smart enough to understand that where revolutionary change boils violently, evolutionary change is a slow simmer. The people are that proverbial frog in a frying pan full of water: full implementation of Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large is a high flame that might provoke a jump for the safety of repeal. Gradual implementation, however — with malleable law enforcement — is an incremental burner increase that can allow the people to become inured to the new healthcare normal. That’s the idea, anyway.

Moreover, will “permitting” insurance companies to maintain the old plans for a year do even a year’s worth of good? I’d think that since they now have to cover people with pre-existing conditions (which is like having to offer fire “insurance” to a guy whose house is already burning down), they’ll have to recoup the money that costs by raising premiums on the low-risk pool.

But the one-year stay does do some good — for Obama. After all, the president can now say when insurance providers cancel people’s policies, “Hey, these companies had the option to let you keep your plan, but while you’re needy they’re greedy.” All these policies would have to be canceled a year from now, but it suits Obama to have the insurance companies do as much of his dirty work as possible “voluntarily” in the interim.

If a law is worth making, it’s worth enforcing; and if it’s not worth enforcing, it’s not worth making. So my solution here is Lincoln’s:

Enforce Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large strictly.

To the letter.

No, this isn’t a cynical ploy to give the GOP a perhaps unassailable 2014 election advantage at the expense of the common man. The fact is that unless the ObamaCare dragon is slain, its fiery breath will consume all the current low-cost plans one way or another, sooner or later. And all delaying the inevitable does is give Obama the chance to slow-boil that frog.

And, really, why should there be any argument? Contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s wisdom, you don’t find out what’s in a law by passing it. You find out by implementing it. Let the voters find out, now — with a full dosage. Then they can decide at election time if the Republicans should get the Dr. Kevorkian treatment — or if Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large itself should.


Selwyn Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work has appeared in Pat Buchanan’s magazine The American Conservative and he writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.

He can be reached at: SelwynDuke@optonline.net

Selwyn Duke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Significance of the JFK Assassination

November 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“There exists in this country a plot to enslave every man, woman, and child. Before I leave this high and noble office I intend to expose this plot.” John F Kennedy, just before his Assassination…

For those who were of age and alive at the time of the Dallas killing, a fresh memory of the times and era are integral to their assessment. Those who were born later, have no firsthand experience of the actual change that took place to the body politics. Comparing before and after is mostly forgotten by the history accounts. For those who remember, the country started on a downward spiral that continues to the present. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was a political coup d’état and has been described as an enigma with many layers of disinformation. However, peeling back this onion exposes a rot that very much explains the current condition of our country.

When raising the subject of a conspiracy, it is both amusing and tragic that establishment defenders are quick to discredit the investigator, while avoiding facts, evidence and common sense. Solving the mystery to the satisfaction of competing and often conflicting factions is not necessary. However, understanding the course of events that took hold after the Camelot myth was buried is intensely valuable. The end of innocence became an existential awakening to the perceptive, while believing the conclusions of the Warren commission provided reassurance for not facing reality.

 

Why did powerful elites fear Kennedy? The Entire John F. Kennedy Secret Society Speech provides the motive behind the mask of the media filter.

From this “President and the Press” Speech (April 27, 1961)

“The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.”

wink.jpg

Remember that most famous of all winks at the LBJ swearing in? Look to None Dare Call It Conspiracy!, and put the pieces of the puzzle in place.

“The significance of the Stone film, JFK, is demonstrated by the assault that the established order heaped upon his portrayal. Believe it or reject it, but investigate the questions that have never been answered. If logic has meaning, have Arlene Spector explain that magic bullet again. That ‘Man X’ was real – his name, colonel Fletcher Prouty, a true ‘black bag’ magician.”

Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the Reign on Terror that continues to this day. His involvement into the plot is supported in the new book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ by Roger Stone with Mike Colapietro.

“The notable individuals that knew and said Johnson was involved in murderous acts is also well-documented… they include Oswald murderer Jack Ruby, Dexter Scott King, son of Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as LBJ associate Billy Sol Estes, LBJ mistress Madeleine Brown, Texas Governor Allan Shivers, renowned Texas Ranger Clint Peoples, CIA asset E. Howard Hunt and US Senator and 1964 Republican nominee for President Barry Goldwater. The KGB, fearing that they or their puppet state Cuba would be falsely blamed conducted their own investigation and concluded LBJ killed JFK at the same to time French Intelligence would tell Jackie Kennedy LBJ murdered her husband.”

If this is just too much to accept, look at the “Skull and Bones” operative, who just happened to be a Texas Oilman. Similarly, he was Vice President at the time of an assassination attempt that almost was successful. Sure, such a coincidence should be fodder for an Oliver Stone sequel – Reagan.

Now consider the CIA component in the “Big Event”. Did George H.W. Bush Coordinate a JFK Hit Team?

“Next, George Bush can be seen in photos of Dealey Plaza, next to the TSBD doorway and Ed Lansdale, shortly following the assassination (see below). These photos, unmistakably George Bush, tell us where he went after he left the Dallas Sheriff’s Office: back to the crime scene to get an update on all that he had missed. He must have made his call to the FBI reporting James Parrot from the Dallas Sheriff’s Office, at 1:45 PM, because Bush is seen in Dealey Plaza with Lansdale, who would leave the plaza at about 2 PM and walk past “the three tramps” toward the parking lot. Bush obviously had to go straight back to Dealey Plaza for him to be photographed with Lansdale, who remained around Dealey Plaza until Oswald was arrested at the Texas Theater at 1:50 PM.”

J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI was up to his ears in the investigation. He certainly was no friend of the Kennedy’s. Therefore, when eyewitness testimony from scores of witnesses was ignored or discarded by the Bureau, no one should be surprised that the final report will be suspect. The Mary Ferrell Foundation site furnishes the following:

“The Church Committee in the 1970s analyzed the CIA’s role in supporting the Warren Commission, and found it lacking. The Committee “developed evidence which impeaches the process by which the intelligence agencies [CIA and FBI] arrived at their own conclusions about the assassination, and by which they provided information to the Warren Commission.”

 

Now watch the video from Jim Marrs & St. John Hunt - E. Howard Hunt Deathbed Confession JFK Assassination. A dying admission once held legal merit. But in this disinformation world of government scripted deflection, the public needs to be kept in tranquil ignorance. The Daily Paul site provided additional information.

“One of most explosive under-reported stories of the last 50 years is the deathbed confession of E. Howard Hunt, who was personal assistant to Allen Dulles, head of the CIA at the time, to knowledge that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone and that he, Hunt, had been personally involved in the assassination. Hunt said in his written confession that the assassination was code-named “the Big Event.”

Whatever determination you maintain on the actual circumstances, the results from JFK’s elimination are dramatic. Five Fiendish Ways the Kennedy Assassination Warped Our World list is an effective analysis.

1. LBJ Unleashed – Johnson’s profligate Great Society spending strategies, which took the New Deal and accelerated it into hyper-drive.

2. Vietnam – in October of 1963, Kennedy issued National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263, which detailed his plan to withdraw U.S. advisers from Vietnam while gradually scaling back our involvement in Southeast Asia. But within four days of the assassination, Lyndon Johnson had already signed and submitted NSAM 273, which reversed course and basically pledged to stand by the government in South Vietnam come hell or high water.

3. The Federal Reserve Survives – In June of 1963, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110, which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue certificates backed by silver as an alternative form of money to Federal Reserve notes. But when President Kennedy was killed, LBJ suspended this program immediately, and the Federal Reserve’s control over the U.S. economy has never once been challenged since.

4. The CIA and Our Culture of Secrecy – Kennedy’s statement to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind”, his death allowed the CIA to continue and preserve its culture of secrecy.

5. Mainstream Nonsense and the Mainstream Media – The vast majority of the Fourth Estate took the path of least resistance, and the idea of an independent media that would fearlessly search for the truth no matter where it led died a painful and difficult death.

So what is the significance of the JFK Assassination? In an interview, Roger Stone answers the question: How did JFK’s death affect society, people’s minds? Is the impact still present in your opinion?

“I think it certainly changed our policy very dramatically – I think we moved it back into the Cold War. After the death of John F. Kennedy the important conversations between the Russian State and the United States were damaged. We know, because it was historically recorded that Nikita Khrushchev wept, when he heard of the death of Kennedy. There was an American journalist who was with Fidel Castro, when he was distraught what he learned: he said over and over again “this is very bad, this is very bad”… I think we were engaged – we were beginning to engage in some fruitful conversations in terms of easing the tensions between our countries and I think there were those in the Pentagon, those in the US military, those in our US-based intelligent services who were very unhappy about that direction. I think it is a major factor – not the factor, – but a major factor in getting John F. Kennedy killed.”

It is the contention of this “Reign of Terror” series to provide accounts and evidence that the nation has endured under a shadow government of ruling elites; especially, since the elimination of a President, who dared challenge the interests of the true masters of the establishment.

The deplorable circumstance of a society, so ignorant to make distinctions, of real history from invented official fairy tales, explains largely why Americans are in serial denial. The article JFK retrospectives adnauseam, makes this point.

“People never learn. After the sanctioned assassination, healing the country provided the necessary cover to implement the goals of the coup. Most of the evidence that explains the background that led up to the removal of Kennedy fails to address the breakdown of the entire historic underpinning of the nation, since WWII. The seeds of the Great Society were sown in the idiocy of being dragged into that global contrived conflict. Those who should know best, since they lived during that era, often deny their own blind faith in a misguided allegiance to a central government.”

jjfk_stry_b_0.jpg

As for the population that never knew or heard actual accounts of this age, “so called” news reporting usually sugar coats or distorts the facts, ignorance really is not bliss. Today’s electronic media is a hodgepodge of government talking points or press releases.

The constant drumbeat to blame Lee Harvey Oswald solely for the Kennedy assassination intends to make patsies of the American people. The greater fool theory works in elections. In a New poll finds that belief in JFK assassination conspiracy still strong, but slipping slightly may be a trend worth noting. Reflecting the goals of the “Great Society” means, that acceptance of government authoritarianism became easier.

Deconstructing the JFK Myth offers this distinction. ”Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.“ The invocation needed to read: ”Ask not what you can do for your country — Ask what we can do together to insure individual Liberty

Propagandists of the ilk of Sargeant Shriver and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., designed a legend that defied factual references”, but the martyrdom of a slain President misses the point. John Kennedy was not a saint, but was an obstacle. What better message to future aspirant reformers that a magic bullet awaits their demise.

Few institutional government critics were known for rocking the boat, especially when Kennedy’s ”a rising tide lifts all boats” might upset his elitist executioners. The system is much bigger than any individual. Bucking the sub-rosa interests that seek greater concentrated control can be deadly. America was condemned to a Reign of Terror on November 22, 1963.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Obama Purchase: Liberals Still Can’t Admit They Bought A Clunker

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Many years ago I knew a couple who adopted the habit of being gratuitously defensive about one another. If you made even the slightest comment questioning one of them in the other’s presence, that party would say something such as “Watch it!” The admonition, however, would lack a certain conviction.

Not long after they were divorced.

Their earlier behavior then made sense: They couldn’t accept that their marriage was in trouble. And each spouse would react defensively to even mildly negative feedback about the other not because he knew it was false, but because he feared it was true. It validated feelings each was having about the other but desperately wanted to keep repressed.

I’m reminded of this when considering the intellectual contortions of liberals who defend Barack Obama. No, it’s not perfectly analogous: liberals are driven more by political ambitions and ego than by a desire to make their “marriage” work. But the denial is similar.

A good example is a Vanity Fair piece by someone named Todd S. Purdum. Titled “The Lonely Guy: He’s a community organizer who works alone. What was once his greatest strength — he kept his cool and didn’t need feedback — is now a liability,” the subtitle says it all. The article is a somewhat tedious apologia, providing this or that example of how Obama doesn’t engage people, of how Daddy Big-Guv thinks he knows best.

In justifying Obama’s attitude, Purdum writes:

Self-containment is not simply Obama’s political default mode. Self-possession is the core of his being, and a central part of the secret of his success. It is Obama’s unwavering discipline to keep his cool when others are losing theirs….

But this quality, perhaps Obama’s greatest strength in gaining office, is his greatest weakness in conducting it.

Nonsense. First, keeping your cool (at least publicly) isn’t unusual for aspirants to higher office. The few thought lacking in this area, such as Bob Dole and John McCain, found it a liability come election time.

Second, Obama’s greatest strength in gaining office was a servile media that suppressed every scandal and ugly truth, every sordid association, every risible mistake and radical position. It’s easy being cool when nine wide phalanxes of fawning human shields stand between you and the flak, but one wonders how cool Obama would’ve been had he not benefitted from the regular affirmative action that got him established and the cultural affirmative action that got him elected. Of course, we’d never have known because his coolness would have been confined to passing the bong with the Choom Gang. We never would’ve heard of him.

Moreover, many forget that in 2008 his campaign was sometimes faulted for amateurish stumbling. The myth of Obama the Great Campaigner was manufactured after the fact.

But the myth of Obama the Nice Guy is only being questioned after the fact. As to this, Purdum writes, “Five years into their tenure, the [First] couple has a social reputation few would have envisioned when they came to town: more standoffish than the Bushes, and ruder than the Clintons.”

Let me correct you, Mr. Purdum: few in your echo chamber of fawning fellow travelers would have envisioned it. Millions of people, however, had Obama’s number all along. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They’re called traditionalists.

Cutting through the nonsense, the real explanation for Obama’s “self-containment” was provided by former Obama aide Neera Tanden. Explaining her boss’s refusal to call Bill Clinton she said, “The truth is, Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people.”

He doesn’t like people.

Ponder that for a moment. It’s sort of a problem because people are exactly who a leader has to govern. But Tanden is wrong on one point: It’s not at all stunning Obama is in politics, as few politicians enter the field because they “like people.” Oh, liking people — or at least being able to fake it — helps you succeed, and if Obama prevailed despite visible misanthropy, it is again a testimonial to the power of media manipulation. But an individual is more likely to enter politics to be lauded by people (glory), or to control people (power), or because he hates the people’s handiwork (society) and wants to punish them and/or reshape them in his own image. Leaders thus disposed have had names such as Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

Returning to Vanity Fair writer Purdum, the reality about Obama he’s struggling to reconcile is explained well by the first part of his magazine’s name. After all, he also wrote, “‘I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,’ Obama told his 2008 campaign political director, Patrick Gaspard…. ‘I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.’” As per his subtitle, Purdum sloughs this attitude off by claiming Obama “didn’t need feedback.” The correct explanation is a bit different.

Obama is a self-centered, arrogant, and quite probably megalomaniacal and narcissistic — and possibly sociopathic — jerk.

Truth: everyone needs feedback. A good leader knows this and is wise enough to both surround himself with competent people and to separate good counsel from bad. He exhibits what Confucius spoke of when saying, “Wisdom is, when you know something, knowing that you know it; and when you do not know something, knowing that you do not know it.” And Obama? He’s not dumb, as some suggest, though his intelligence is overrated. It’s that he doesn’t know much that is true — and, more significantly, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

This is when even intelligent people can do profoundly stupid things. For example, Adolf Hitler, a master manipulator who could mesmerize masses, thought he knew better than his generals and was best suited to choose battlefields, strategies and tactics on the Soviet front. Evil people, you see, tend to be ridden with that intellect-occluding thing called pride; they consequently make bad decisions and eventually sink their own ship. And if at the helm of a nation, it can be a mighty big ship they sink.

Speaking of pride, G.K. Chesterton once said, “[A] great man knows he is not God, and the greater he is the better he knows it.” This is brought to mind by an interview Obama gave to Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani in 2004. When asked if he prayed often, Obama offered this curious response: “It’s not formal, me getting on my knees. I have an ongoing conversation with God. Throughout the day I’m constantly asking myself questions….”

So a “conversation with God” = “asking [himself] questions”? Literally interpreted, this means Obama considers himself God. Of course, allowing for loose talk, there’s no saying the president is like an Egyptian pharaoh and actually believes he is a deity. But was his comment akin to a Freudian slip? Did it reflect not only how he is at the center of his own world, but how he naturally assumes he should be the center of the world?

Purdum, seeking to explain Obama’s dysfunction — for which he euphemistically uses terms such as “self-sufficiency” — points out that due to parental neglect, Obama has “always been alone.” But this warrants elaboration.

Children have a strong need to bond with their parents, so strong, in fact, that if a mother to whom a toddler is attached must leave him even for a time, he may cry in distress. And when a child is continually abandoned — as Obama was by his father and, to an extent, by a mother who left him with grandparents — the pain can be so severe that to ensure he won’t be hurt again, he will keep people at arm’s length and avoid bonding in the first place. In addition, he can become distrustful of others and even develop a dislike for them; after all, those who should have cared about him most broke his heart. First impressions are powerful, and this child’s first experiences with “people” were bad ones.

Therapist Peter Gerlach, who specializes in “bonding wounds,” had this to say about such individuals:

Such children increasingly depend on themselves to get key needs met. This becomes normal, reflexive, and unremarkable. They neither expect [n]or ask for help.

They observe how loving adults and kids behave, and become skilled at sounding and acting just like them — but they don’t feel attached, empathic, or committed.

These wounded people are often very attractive socially and professionally.

Sound familiar?

Of course, this is psycho-analysis from a distance, but it certainly would explain why Obama “really doesn’t like people.”

It may sound old-fashioned today, but this is why parents in ages past would try to ensure that a child’s prospective spouse came from a “good family.” But five years ago millions of Americans refused to look beneath the wrapper and married their nation to damaged goods. And he turned out to be an abuser who will leave nothing but damaged goods in his wake.


Selwyn Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work has appeared in Pat Buchanan’s magazine The American Conservative and he writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.

He can be reached at: SelwynDuke@optonline.net

Selwyn Duke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Economics of Non-Governmental Organizations

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

What is the first thing that comes to mind when the term NGO appears? Well, many will respond, the United Nations. Directly from a UN site is their definition for Non-governmental organizations. How uplifting and benign the altruistic effort, the deep-seated purpose and intention of such associations, frequently projects that noble endeavors need to enhance the governance process. The term governance essentially is a loaded political concept that benefits a model of economic activity that requires a managed society as opposed to a free, independent and individualistic economy.

“A non-governmental organization (NGO, also often referred to as “civil society organization” or CSO) is a not-for-profit group, principally independent from government, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good. Task-oriented and made up of people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring public concerns to governments, monitor policy and programme implementation, and encourage participation of civil society stakeholders at the community level.

Some conduct research and analysis in the legal and other fields (e.g. sociology, economics) relevant to the rule of law. In many cases, they produce reports with policy recommendations, for use in their advocacy.”

Of course, not all NGO’s fall into an identical pattern. Some can and do provide valuable services. However, exponents of coordinated liaison with civil authority that develops legal eminence for a social vision that defies the basic human nature of inherent autonomy, is dangerous. NGO’s seldom practice real charity, although they excel in social engineering.

Looking at the money trail provides evidence of actual intents. Investopedia explains How do NGOs get funding?

“The annual budget of an NGO can be in the hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars, fundraising efforts are important for the NGO’s existence and success. Funding sources include membership dues, the sale of goods and services, private sector for-profit companies, philanthropic foundations, grants from local, state and federal agencies, and private donations.”

That sounds all well and good. Nevertheless, when you get into the weeds on how funding actually works, the touchy feely aspects of raising money have a very different look. One example is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), funding programs.

“Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are critical change agents in promoting economic growth, human rights and social progress. USAID partners with NGOs to deliver assistance across all regions and sectors in which we work and to promote inclusive economic growth, strengthen health and education at the community level, support civil society in democratic reforms and assist countries recovering from disasters.”

Among the types of NGOs that the Agency partners with are:

1. Cooperative Organizations

2. Foundations

3. Local and Regional Organizations

4. Private Voluntary Organizations

5. U.S. and International Organizations

Government grants presumably for promoting or enacting democratic reforms, discloses an ulterior motive behind the funding. That is natural and understandable in an era of competing political and economic systems. However, with the emergence of a unified New World Order agenda, the practice of doling out government money that undercuts the very existence of national sovereignty has taken a nefarious turn.

The always perceptive, Pat Buchanan weighs in and provides the evidence. US Funding NGOs to Advance New World Order?

“Cairo contends that $65 million in “pro-democracy” funding that IRI, NDI, and Freedom House received for use in Egypt constitutes “illegal foreign funding” to influence their elections. Yet this is not the first time U.S. “pro-democracy” groups have been charged with subverting regimes that fail to toe the Washington line.”

The motive to change political, social and economic relationships goes beyond countries influencing foreign policy objectives. When the likes of Ted Turner, George Soros, Warren Buffet and Bill & Melinda Gates use their foundation funds to back NGO’s that carry out the globalist agenda, private sector multi billionaires become an existential threat to humanity.

Add to this band of bandit brothers, who all have transformational goals, fostered with the wealth they accumulated by practicing crony corporatism, that diminishes our domestic standard of living, with their internationalization sentiments – Jeffrey Walker, Vice Chairman, United Nation’s Secretary General’s Envoy for Health Finance and Malaria, who proposes Building Generosity Networks.

“It’s time for us to turn our attention to building and growing Generosity Networks that link the philanthropic passions of major donors with others who share those passions and are willing to work, collaboratively, to address the major causes of our day.”

Oh, that United Nations record of peaceful philanthropy for universal serfdom has worked so well. The pandemic resolutions for eugenic terminations are often the real intent behind many NGO front organizations.

The economics of world population dictate that market based businesses have no place in a world dominated by transnational monopolies and corporatist cartels. Non-governmental organizations are liberated to advance the “philanthropic passions” of the donors that would normally be suspect if implemented by mega corporations.

Those “so called” generosity networks are used as subsiding endowments for the integration of third world communities into the NWO feudal system of minimal expectations.

That old Peace Corp attitude that was based upon helping others to help themselves is now a mission for global vassal induction. So much for the myth of self-determination, in the land of the rationed and expendable economy, where only the conglomerate matters.

As affluence disparity widens from the mega rich, the former middle class recedes into subsistence level, on a path resembling those that international NGO’s are supposed to help. A true merchant based economy, with broad based business ownership, is the only solution to the controlled slave state.

Actual non-governmental organizations, that provide useful functions, must shed their tax-exempt preferences and government subsidies. Helping individuals with volunteer charity under a viable free enterprise economic model is preferable and necessary.

Breaking up monopoly trusts, eliminates the need for generosity networks, because individuals would be able to earn a livable way of life, independent of government and globalist welfare. Most NGO’s schemes are fronts for NWO causes.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Dissecting U.S. Elections – The People vs. The Politicians

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The establishment has an entrenched interest in convincing the public that their vote in elections actually decides who is selected for public office. That same power elite runs and controls both Republican and Democratic political parties. Only a neophyte or a delusional idealist believes that the voting cycle reflects the will of the people. When reform candidates engage in the primary process, hoping to win the nomination from either of the two major parties, they face the stark reality that playing ball with the money bundlers means obeying the directives of masters of the universe. These overlords own politicians, especially those who continue in office by winning predetermined elections.

Democracy as expressed by the ballot box is a fairy tale. Anyone with experience within the Tweedledum and Tweedledee party organizations, understands that the comic book characters, who populate the ranks of politics just want to become a Mini-Me version of “Boss” Tweed.

Dispensing the fruits of power and patronage, while fostering the crony corporatist culture, is integral to maintaining the levers of political administration over a society of inconsequential serfs. When people’s frustration mounts, and party leadership blocks even modest attempts of populist reform, voting participation declines.

The GOP once was described, as Rockefeller or Country Club Republicans, is really a deranged asylum of NeoCons whose primary purpose is to purge genuine conservatives and libertarians from their ranks. A party that would nominate a John McCain for President and continue to support him in Senate elections is not worthy of trust. Written in 2004, John McCain: The Man Who Would Be President sums up the dilemma.

“McCain’s a full fledged phony without an ounce of conservative values running in his veins. Bush has proven himself to be a fraud and the tool of the NeoCons. This election is a charade of a sham called democracy. There are no surprises left, only the substitution of a name; while the same policies remain. Spell it Bush or McCain; but don’t use the designation conservative. Kerry is Bush’s brother, in the only society that selects those who are granted the nominations. McCain can only settle for second place, in service of the powers, that host the parlor game – picking a President.”

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Now that the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the toast of the town, the praises and speculation begins. Chris Christie landslide: Template for a Republican presidential win in 2016? “The governor won an impressive 57 percent of women and took a majority of Latino voters. He even garnered 21 percent of black voters – a significant inroad for a Republican. He also won nearly half of union voters and those under the age of 30.”

The press would have you believe that the next Republican candidate for President needs to adopt a “political correctness” love fest to be elected. Please . . . dump on the Tea Party and disparage traditional conservatives is no formula for any politicians who deserves support.

That Republican 2010 Landslide and What It Means concludes.”The Republican Party’s attempt to co-opt the spontaneous spirit of the Tea Party geneses illustrates the panic that both entrenched parties have from a true populist movement. The mind dead voters who continually vote for the lesser of two evils, or adhere to the squishy William Buckley rule guarantee perpetual servitude. “The Buckley Rule is, ostensibly, that you vote for the most electable conservative option (in the primary) against a Democrat in November”.

The quest for that illusory electability is the trouble with every recent election. When will a true conservative/libertarian populist win the nomination? The apparent answer is never in a party of RINO’s and establishment gatekeepers.

Where can a true believer turn? That leaves Hillary Clinton as the apparent frontrunner nominee for the Democrats. The problem with that presumption is that she got the cold shoulder in 2008 in favor of Barry Soetoro, the CIA’s Manchurian Candidate. The Republicans are supposed to be the party of next in line Presidential torch carriers.

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So why would the Democrats want HilLAIRy as their, Woman of the Year, or is it? The obvious appeal does not go unnoticed. “All you have to do is look under the dress and you will find the stuff that dreams are made from. Hillary is a man’s woman that appeals to the trendy tender gender on both coasts. She’s has a lock on the fear factor and will be the survivor of all the village people.”What better way to succeed Obama, the beyond race President, with a legendary bisexual voice, who will distribute her racism against white rural America as a condition of perpetuating the multicultural collectivism, which is so necessary for the total destruction of traditional values.

Just how well did all those underprivileged minorities do under Barack Hussein Obama? Surely, a first female President Clinton would add to such striking gains in the quality of life and standard of government dependency income.

All this Great Society II would make the LBJ administration look like spendthrifts.

The people, all the people no matter their race, ethnicity or social identity are not benefiting from a New World Order economy and political authoritarianism. Yet, with each election cycle the grip of both outlaw parties continue to expand their extortion policies. Every ten years the gerrymandering of redistricting divides the territory so that the spoils will continue to be shared.

How dumb are the electorate to allow this corrupt process to continue? Inevitably, stupidity knows no bounds. The Meaning of Third Parties in America describes the dilemma.

“If elections are an expression of consent, why is turn out so low for Third Parties? And if discontent was heightened, why are there not more Third Parties? The answer lies in the election returns. The fact that a majority of eligible voters no long take part in the process speaks volumes of their support. The public is stating their choice loud and clear: “NONE of the ABOVE”. This is the Third Party that wins the election. When the public deems that there is no ‘real’ difference between the two parties and that their self-interests cannot be furthered with their vote, the electoral system breaks down. Yes, the public is frustrated; but they conclude that their vote will never, effectively, change the status quo among the choices that are available. Their lack of participation, should not be misread as satisfaction for the current condition.”

The misuse of power by both parties illustrates the breakdown in the two tier party system. Having twins with different spots only means that the look of the predator will camouflage their direction for the kill. The Third Parties segment on “Dueling Twins” reminds the nature of the feeding frenzy.

“The duopoly rivalry that emerged over the centuries, grew from the reality of being ‘in or out’ of power, more than deep seeded ideological principles. For in its bare raw brute reality, politics is about power. How you get it, what you do when you have it, and how you keep it.”

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When the Obama administration targets conservative Christian groups with IRS retribution, progressive ideologues remain silent. Protecting civil liberties only apply for the faithful of the congregation of state worship.

In addition, when the RINO’s mark patriotic groups and activist individuals for banishment from the ranks of the loyal opposition within their own party, they serve the masters of the same establishment that want a pervasive police state.

U.S. Elections are all too often a joke. The election commissions that administer the ballot process are nothing but extensions of the two corrupt parties.

What if a real grassroots national movement emerged that supersedes all ideology with a singular purpose – remove all careerist ”pols” from office. Forget about the phony No Labels effort to diffuse popular disgust. The solution is to attract the very citizens who NEVER vote in elections.A national campaign – No Confidence – would be the clear message that the arrogant confidence game crooks could understand.

Term limits will never be voted upon much less adopted until the entire nation strikes against the establishment with a unified proclamation of revolt.

The organization Grassfire urges that people need to confront the system. Time is short and if the following scandals are allowed to be swept under the rug, the candidates in 2014 and 2016 will just continue with their lying ways.

1. “Fast and Furious”

2. The deadly Benghazi attacks

3. The IRS targeting of Tea Party Americans

4. The NSA security breaches

5. The truth about ObamaCare

Populism requires citizen involvement. Elections are meaningless without active accountability.

With the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, corporations and labor unions can spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate. With all this money going into media campaigns between sibling spotted leopards, the public never gets to choose honest and transformational constitutional candidates. A vote for a Third Party aspirant is never a waste. Consent for RepubliCANTS and DemocRATS is idiotic.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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