The West’s attempts to destroy the Iranian economy through heightened sanctions—including most imports, oil exports and use of banks for trade operations—is having its affect. According to Johns Hopkins University Professor Steve Hanke, Iran is facing hyperinflation, with a monthly inflation rate of nearly 70% per month and its national currency, the rial, plummeting in value against western currencies. Iran is the latest casualty to be placed on his Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Index, which includes France (1795), Germany (1922), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1986), Argentina (1990), Russia (1992), Ecuador (1999) and Zimbabwe (2007), countries which experienced price-level increases of at least 50% per month.
Hanke, relishing his role as the world’s expert on this nightmarish phenomenon, has “played a significant role in stopping more hyperinflations than any living economist, including 10 of the 57 episodes” on his Index. He writes that Iran has three options: spontaneous dollarization (people unloading rials on the blackmarket for dollars, as happened in Zimbabwe), official dollarization (the government withdrawing the currency in favor of dollars, as in Ecuador), or a currency board issuing a new domestic currency backed 100% by—you guessed it—dollars. Hanke insists that the foreign currency doesn’t have to be US dollars. Pitcairn Island, for instance, uses New Zealand dollars.
The inflation doctor admits vaguely that there are “foreign factors”, without a hint of criticism of not only the sanctions, but the active subversion of Iran through everything from support of Iranian terrorists, assassinations of leading scientists, right up to war (the US encouraged Iraq to invade Iran in 1980). He emphasizes “Iran’s complex system of subsidies, capital controls, and multiple exchange rates”, but most of all “massive overprinting of money”, though he complains that “the Central Bank of The Islamic Republic of Iran has not reported any such statistics for some time”. As if a country living through a state of emergency is likely to divulge such sensitive information.
He coolly dismisses consumers’ expectations influencing prices, since “fear surrounding military tensions is nothing new for Iranians”. Indeed, the US has been targeting Iran for destruction ever since it threw off its colonial chains in 1979—a dangerous example for other, especially Muslim countries. It is miraculous that Iran has done so well economically since the revolution, given the unremitting victimization it has experienced. One can only marvel at the stubborn courage it has shown to build an Islamic society in the teeth of opposition by the world empire and even by other Muslim nations allied to the empire.
We indeed may ask why Iran’s inflation rate has jumped so dramatically precisely in recent times. Of course, it is because of the sanctions. And why the sanctions? Is it really fears that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, despite professions to the contrary and membership in the IAEA? No. Besides Iran’s role in inspiring the current ‘Islamic Reawakening’ in the Middle East, there is another very important reason, one which flies in the face of Hanke’s ‘three options’ for Iran.
Those ‘options’ all amount to one: accept US-dollar dictatorship. Iran has been trying to trade oil in non-US dollar currencies since 2008, when it opened its Oil Bourse. Iraq did this in 2000, and the US reaction was invasion—dollarization at gunpoint. The point of the sanctions today is a last-ditch attempt by the US to force Iran to comply with the US world order, as epitomized by continued acceptance of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Hanke insists it is not necessary for Iran to use US dollars as its substitute currency, which in any case would be ridiculous under the circumstances. However, the alternative of using, say, New Zealand dollars finesses the reality that all currencies are tied to the US dollar, as the de facto international reserve currency. This has been the case in reality since the 1930s, when the world abandoned the gold standard. Acknolwedging this fact, over 20 countries call their legal tender ‘dollars’.
Whether the government moves quickly to raise the white flag, as in Ecuador, or belatedly, as in Zimbabwe, or insists on printing pretty new paper scrip tied 100% to the US dollar through an exchange board, as did Argentina, merely confirms the obvious. In past cases, such as Chile, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, the message was: your socialist policies are unacceptable. In Iran’s case, the message is: take dollars for your oil.
Hanke’s monetarist credo—printing money causes inflation—ignores the underlying causes of inflation. As he admits, Iranians have faced war fears for over three decades. The exchange controls and subsidies, “government monopolies, price controls, and Soviet-style economic planning”, which Hanke calls “wrong-headed”, are not the cause of inflation, but a way for the government to keep it under control. However, at a certain point, the “foreign factors” become so egregious that even such measures fail. That is what has happened now, as sanctions have created extreme pain for the average Iranian. Bare shelves and panic in the face of invasion threats means that the currency will devalue, however many rials the government prints.
This is what happened in Germany in 1922, when it was forced to export everything to buy the gold to pay the extortionate reparations. It ended by resorting to Hanke’s currency board and marks issued against gold, but the underlying cause—the extortion practiced by Britain and France—only ended when Hitler took power and canceled the reparations. The devastation cause by “foreign factors” led in that instance to the rise of fascism.
University of Missouri Professor Michael Hudson maintains that “every hyperinflation in history stems from the foreign exchange markets. It stems from governments trying to throw enough of their currency on the market to pay their foreign debts.” Canadian commentator Stephen Gowans calls it “warfare by other means”. Devaluing the enemy’s currency was used as a war tactic by Napoleon against the Russians and by the British against the American colonists.
A consideration of all the countries on Hanke’s Hyperinflation Index can trace similar real causes and real ways to end the underlying problem that led to hyperinflation in each case. Ecuador finally took control of its economy and reduced its foreign debt in defiance of the IMF under President Rafael Correa, and is today the most popular political leader in all of the Americas. That is what created political stability and ended the ever-present threat of inflation there. The same goes for Argentina under President Nestor Kirschner and Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
Hanke is like the doctor telling the patient who was shot that he must have his leg amputated immediately. He refuses to condemn the sanctions as a violation of human rights, targeting the Iranian people without cause. He wants to cut off the patient’s leg to save him, which he can do in a matter of hours. The Iranian government is trying to remove the bullet and use a strict regime of rehabilitation, something that requires patience and grit. There is no magic cure to solve inflation under these circumstances.
The possibility looms that the US will undertake yet another criminal invasion of a Muslim country, recapitulating its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The real analogy for Iran is wartime. During war, all countries ration scarce goods, and people unite and accept sacrifice in the face of the enemy. This is the only solution for Iran today unless it agrees to join the US-dollar denominated empire as a junior member. Hanke’s patient could well die under the ‘anesthesia’ of US-Israeli bombs, but the Iranian people are proud and will fight for their dignity till their dying breath. The worries about hyperinflation will then pale in comparison to the real “foreign factors”, and the US will face the revenge of history for its criminal actions.
Most countries are too afraid of the US wolf to stand up to it. There are exceptions. China, Russia, India and South Korea have not abandoned ‘the patient’. Egypt is establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Iran in defiance of the US. Hopefully other ‘Arab Spring’ countries will join Iran in pursuing a policy of justice for the Middle East, working together to undo the horrendous legacy of US imperialism in the region. Someday, ‘dollarization’ will be a shibboleth, consigned to the ‘ash heap of history’.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ and is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html . You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante
The world watches as a nation is torn, slow motion, at the seams. Money and geopolitics has caused a feeding frenzy of western nations biting and tearing at Syria, all hoping to profit from the regime’s destruction.
Toward this effort, England, France, and the United States announced increased support to the “rebels” of Syria. The Obama administration promised $45 million more in funding for aid that has now totaled $175 million (is it any wonder there are budget problems inside the U.S.?).
And although much of the U.S. aid is designated as “humanitarian,” this money will directly help the military mission by bolstering the prestige of opposition groups, who will use the U.S. aid to gain adherents by being able to feed and house refugees fleeing the destruction (assuming that not all of this money will simply be used to buy guns).
Of course there is no accounting of the amount of money and arms the CIA is funneling into the country. But even The New York Times has admitted the CIA’s involvement; in June it wrote:
“A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers…the weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”
There you have the Syrian opposition in a nutshell: groups of mercenaries funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and France, and the Muslim Brotherhood inside Syria. All of these groups have their own self-interest in toppling the Syrian government, while destroying the country and its people in the process.
Saudi Arabia has used the Muslim Brotherhood as a key tool in its foreign policy for decades, funding the organization in countries all over the Middle East and North Africa. When Saudi Arabia beckons, the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups can be used to destabilize “unfriendly” regimes in the name of “jihad” — officially declared by clerics who work in tandem with the Saudi Arabian government to recruit fighters for the effort. This is why there are “terrorist” groups now fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, including Al Qaeda — itself born from the purse strings of Saudi Arabia, like the Taliban (there is an excellent chapter about this dynamic in Vijay Prashad’s book, the Darker Nations).
It is very revealing that, after the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and large amounts of weaponry has been trafficked into the country, the Syrian government still controls the vast majority of the country. This is because the majority of people inside Syria do not support the so-called Syrian Opposition. If this were the case, the Syrian government would have long since been overthrown. The revolutionaries of Egypt and Tunisia did not need any outside help in toppling their government, nor large amounts of money or weaponry.
Therefore, the steady destruction of Syria will continue until it reaches a Libya-like crescendo: a “no fly zone” will be the goal of the western powers, with the motive of toppling the regime.
But like in Libya, a no fly zone equals total war. Syria has advanced Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, which must be destroyed to enforce such a no fly zone. Syria also has fighter jets that must be destroyed. Additional ground support must be destroyed. And like Libya, once the bombs start dropping, the mission quickly changes from a “no fly zone” to “regime change,” i.e., war.
But Syria has a much more powerful army than Libya, requiring that the U.S. military become directly involved in the war, as opposed to outsourcing the conflict to England and France as they did in Libya. Only the U.S. military and its subordinate allies have the required weapons to deal with Syria’s Russian-made weaponry.
But the American people hate war, and thus the U.S. government must introduce the Syrian war slowly, through non-stop anti-Syria media coverage, in the hopes that opinion polls shift enough to allow direct military intervention, as opposed to the current indirect type.
What do the people of Syria really want? The New York Times revealed that, inside Syria, a group of twenty opposition groups recently met in Syria’s capital to demand that Syria’s democratic transition happen peacefully, in effect denouncing the armed rebels who are being funded by foreign nations.
The international implications of this war have already begun to manifest. Neighboring countries are experiencing stress and destabilization by the flood of refugees from Syria. The Kurds in Syria may soon call for independence, which will incite further violence from Turkey. Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, and Iran will work doubly hard to re-enforce the Syrian government as western powers do the opposite.
Ethnic and religious tensions are being stoked in all neighboring countries, which has already led to violence and will be used by politicians in those countries for political aims, leading to more violence. It’s also possible if an official war is declared against Syria, other powers will use the chaos as a shield to pursue their own interests —Israel for example, may opportunistically bomb Iran. Whatever the course of events, the emerging war in Syria has the potential not only to turn the Middle East into dust, but to drag larger powers like Russia — an ally of Syria — into conflict with the United States.
All working people in the United States have a duty to denounce this U.S.-made humanitarian tragedy and the future threat of war.
Almost a year has passed since we last took note of Turkey’s increasing clout in three key areas of neo-Ottoman expansion: the Balkans, the Arab world, and the predominantly Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. Each has played a significant part in reshaping the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East over the past decade. This complex project, which remains under-reported in the Western media and denied or ignored by policy-makers in Washington, is going well for Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP (Justice and Development Party).
On the external front, Ankara’s decision to support the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria has changed the equation in the region. Until last spring, Erdoğan’s team was advising Bashar to follow the path of political and economic reform in order to avoid descent into violent anarchy. Within months, however, Turkey has become a key player in Washington’s regime-change strategy by not only providing operational bases and supply channels to the rebels, but by simultaneously confronting Iran over Syria. The war of words between them is escalating. Earlier this week, Iranian Chief of Staff General Hassan Firousabadi accused Turkey of assisting the “war-waging goals of America. The AKP government has reinforced Turkey’s old position as a key U.S. regional partner. It is skillfully pursuing its distinct regional objectives, which in the long run are bound to collide with those of the U.S., while appearing to act at the behest of Washington and revamping its Cold War role as a reliable NATO-“Western” outpost in the region.
This newly gained credit has enabled Erdoğan to make a series of problematic moves with impunity, the most notable being Turkey’s growing support for Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and its treatment of Iraq as a state with de facto limited sovereignty. In a highly publicized symbolic gesture, on July 24 Erdoğan met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at his official residence to break the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Ties between Turkey and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have blossomed since Turkey’s alliance with Israel collapsed following a raid by Israeli troops on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010. At the same time, Ankara’s links with the more moderate Fatah movement, which rules the West Bank, are at a standstill; Turkey wants Hamas to prevail in the Palestinian power struggle.
In northern Iraq, Turkey has developed close relations with the Kurdish leadership in Kirkuk. It has made significant investments in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region as a means of exerting political influence and thus preempting demands for full independence, which could have serious implications for the Kurdish minority in eastern Turkey. In an audacious display of assertiveness, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq earlier this month without notifying the government in Baghdad, let alone seeking its approval. Turning the putative Kurdish statelet in Iraq into its client is a major coup for the government in Ankara. The partnership is based on the common interest of denying the Marxist PKK guerrillas a foothold on either side of the border. In a joint statement, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan warned the PKK that they would act jointly to counter any attempt to exploit the power vacuum in Syria. Another far-reaching albeit unstated common goal is to provide Iraq’s Kurds with a potential northwestern route for their oil and gas exports, which Al Maliki’s central government would not be able to control. The net effect is likely to be further weakening of an already unstable Iraq in the aftermath of U.S. withdrawal; yet Washington appears unperturbed by Turkey’s gambit. It is apparently unaware of the fact that, in Ankara’s worldview, “nothing can stand in the way of its dream of becoming the ultimate energy bridge between East and West.”
The Obama Administration has been equally indifferent to Prime Minister Erdoğan’s trouble-making in the Balkans. Most recently, his provocative statement last month that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the “care” of his country has caused no reaction in Washington. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is entrusted to us,” stated Erdoğan during a meeting of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) provincial heads held in Ankara on July 11,recalling the alleged statement of the late Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegović, whom Erdoğan visited on his deathbed in Sarajevo. “He whispered in my ear these phrases: ‘Bosnia is entrusted to you [Turkey]. These places are what remain of the Ottoman Empire’,” said Erdoğan. He went on to describe Izetbegović as “a legendary hero and captain,” and to declare that Turkey would “put this trust in God with high precision.”
The notion of Bosnia and Herzegovina being given as a ‘trust’ to Turkey in the name of its Ottoman legacy reflects an earlier statement by the outgoing leader of the Islamic community in Bosnia, Efendi Mustafa Cerić, who told Erdoğan that “Turkey is our Mother. That’s how it was always, and it will remain like that.” Erdoğan’s latest outburst was immediately welcomed by the leader of the biggest Muslim party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sulejman Tihić.
The notion that Bosnia has been bequeathed by its fundamentalist Muslim leader to the Turkish state is unsurprisingly anathema to the non-Muslim majority of Bosnia’s citizens. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a land to be inherited,” said Igor Radojičić, the Bosnian Serb Parliament speaker. Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Čović expressed puzzlement that Izetbegović could imagine Bosnia was his to give away as a trust. Analysts outside Bosnia also expressed outrage. Serbian historian Čedomir Antić, called the statement “an unprecedented provocation” that should be “officially renounced by Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia”. Professor Darko Tanasković, Serbia’s former ambassador to Turkey, was not surprised, however. The statement represents a political reality, he said, that Turkey sees the Balkans as a priority in its ambitious foreign policy.
Three months earlier the leader of the Islamic Community in Montenegro (Islamska zajednica Crne Gore, IZCG),Reis Rifat Fejzić, signed an agreement with the authorities in Podgorica on the status of the Muslim minority there. The Agreement stipulates that any disputes within the Islamic Community will be referred for arbitration to the Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Republic (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı). This is a remarkable development: the Republic of Montegnegro—a sovereign, non-Muslim Balkan state—has formally granted decision-making powers in matters affecting some of its citizens to an institution of another sovereign and nominally still secular state. Imam Fejzić’s explanation added an interesting twist to the story. Some disputes among Roman Catholics are referred to the Vatican, he said, so it is normal for Muslim disputes to be referred to Ankara. In other words, the Turkish state is to assume the role of an Islamic Vatican for the Muslim millets of the former Ottoman Empire. The Montenegrin precedent is the model Ankara will seek to apply elsewhere. Turkish politicians have already taken an active role in mediating between the rival factions of the Muslim religious and political establishment in Serbia’s Sanjak region.
The U.S. is sympathetic to Turkey’s Balkan ambitions not only because they seem to fit in with a Western strategy of long standing, but also because Turkey is seen as a counterweight to Iran’s influence in the region. As John Schindler, the author of the seminal book Unholy Terror pointed out recently, the close relationship between leading circles in Sarajevo and Tehran harks back to before the Bosnian war. During the war the Clinton Administration aided and abetted Iranian deliveries of arms to the Bosnian Muslim side, and the SDA has always had a soft spot for Tehran. Now, however, with a potential war with Iran looming, Schindler says,the U.S. and its European allies, who have done so much to help the Bosnian Muslims for a generation, have had enough. As reported by the Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz, last week Patrick Moon and Nigel Casey, the American and British ambassadors to BiH, jointly read the riot act to Sadik Ahmetović, the country’s powerful security minister, telling him that the SDA and Sarajevo must sever their secret ties—espionage, political, financial—with Tehran:
Sarajevo officially has been given a warning to reset its course in a European and Western direction as war with Iran looms. Hard decisions will have to be made by the SDA. They have been repeatedly deferred for nearly two decades but can be avoided no longer. If the Bosnian Muslims opt to stick with Iran as tensions rise, the ramifications for them and all Europe may be dire indeed.
Bosnia’s Muslims, ever mindful of the need for foreign support in their disputes with the country’s Serbs and Croats, will likely opt for even closer links with Ankara to compensate for an eventual weakening of the Iranian connection —and they will do so with Washington’s approval. Yet again Turkey will strengthen its position in the Balkans while relying on the Western powers to do its field work.
At home, the parallel process of re-Islamization of the Turkish state and society is well-nigh-irreversible. The Army has been decisively neutralized as a political factor. Last February, Erdogan declared that it is not the goal of the AKP government to raise atheist generations, and he certainly has been true to his word. Earlier this month, Turkey’s Board of Higher Education appointed Islamic scholar Suleyman Necati Akcesme as its secretary-general. His duties will include appointing professors and rectors, as well as overseeing universities. Akcesme will occupy a position of direct influence over Turkey’s higher education —unimaginable for an imam in the old Kemalist setup. The influence of the shadowy Gülen Movement, a fundamentalist sect calling for a New Islamic Age based on the “Turkish-Islamic Synthesis,” is becoming all-pervasive, with rich businessmen and senior civil servants donating an average of 10 percent of their income to the cemaat. According to the August 8 issue of Der Spiegel,
Gülen’s influence in Turkey was enhanced when … the AKP won the Turkish parliamentary election in 2002. Observers believe that the two camps entered into a strategic partnership at first, with Gülen providing the AKP with votes while Erdogan protected the cemaat. According to information obtained by US diplomats, almost a fifth of the AKP’s members of parliament were members of the Gülen movement in 2004, including the justice and culture ministers. Many civil servants act at the behest of the “Gülen brothers,” says a former senior member… In 2006, former police chief Adil Serdar Sacan estimated that the Fethullahcis held more than 80 percent of senior positions in the Turkish police force . . .
Sharia-inspired legislation is affecting the society at large. Turkey’s recent laws and taxes on alcohol sales are more rigorous than those in Egypt or Tunisia before last year’s revolutions. Employers are now authorized to fire any employer who comes to work having had a drink, as opposed to being drunk. Having a single glass of raki, wine or beer with lunch—perfectly common in the business community until a few months ago—may now abruptly end a career. More troublingly, Turkey now leads the world in “honor killings” of girls, with a murder rate five times that of Pakistan. As Turkish affairs expert Barry Rubin has noted, many Turks are astounded by Obama’s policy of favoring the current regime in Ankara: “the regime has thrown hundreds of people in prison without trial or evidence… and it is turning Turkey into a repressive police state,” yet the Department of State and the White House remain indifferent. Turkey’s secularists feel abandoned and betrayed.
Turkey’s shift from Kemalism via post-Kemalism to anti-Kemalism is a process of historic significance for the Greater Middle East. In 2005 senior State Department official Daniel Fried declared, absurdly, that Erdoğan’s AKP was simply the Islamic equivalent of a West European Christian Democratic party and that Turkey remains a staunch ally of the United States. The diagnosis was evidently mistaken seven years ago. Today it amounts to an unforgivable act of willful self-deception.
In the meantime Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares for discussions in Istanbul on August 11 that will focus on forming a “common operational picture” with the Turks “to guide a democratic transition in post-Assad Syria.”
The early 21st century is addicted to war porn, a prime spectator sport consumed by global couch and digital potatoes. War porn took the limelight on the evening of September 11, 2001, when the George W Bush administration launched the “war on terror” – which was interpreted by many of its practitioners as a subtle legitimization of United States state terror against, predominantly, Muslims.
This was also a war OF terror – as in a manifestation of state terror pitting urban high-tech might against basically rural, low-tech cunning. The US did not exercise this monopoly; Beijing practiced it in Xinjiang, its far west, and Russia practiced it in Chechnya.
Like porn, war porn cannot exist without being based on a lie – a crude representation. But unlike porn, war porn is the real thing; unlike crude, cheap snuff movies, people in war porn actually die – in droves.
The lie to finish all lies at the center of this representation was definitely established with the leak of the 2005 Downing Street memo, in which the head of the British MI6 confirmed that the Bush administration wanted to take out Iraq’s Saddam Hussein by linking Islamic terrorism with (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD). So, as the memo put it, “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
In the end, George “you’re either with us or against us” Bush did star in his own, larger-than-life snuff movie – that happened to double as the invasion and destruction of the eastern flank of the Arab nation.
The New Guernica
Iraq may indeed be seen as the Star Wars of war porn – an apotheosis of sequels. Take the (second) Fallujah offensive in late 2004. At the time I described it as the new Guernica. I also took the liberty of paraphrasing Jean-Paul Sartre, writing about the Algerian War; after Fallujah no two Americans shall meet without a corpse lying between them. To quote Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, there were bodies, bodies everywhere.
The Francisco Franco in Fallujah was Iyad Allawi, the US-installed interim premier. It was Allawi who “asked” the Pentagon to bomb Fallujah. In Guernica – as in Fallujah – there was no distinction between civilians and guerrillas: it was the rule of “Viva la muerte!”
United States Marine Corps commanders said on the record that Fallujah was the house of Satan. Franco denied the massacre in Guernica and blamed the local population – just as Allawi and the Pentagon denied any civilian deaths and insisted “insurgents” were guilty.
Fallujah was reduced to rubble, at least 200,000 residents became refugees, and thousands of civilians were killed, in order to “save it” (echoes of Vietnam). No one in Western corporate media had the guts to say that in fact Fallujah was the American Halabja.
Fifteen years before Fallujah, in Halabja, Washington was a very enthusiastic supplier of chemical weapons to Saddam, who used them to gas thousands of Kurds. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time said it was not Saddam; it was Khomeinist Iran. Yet Saddam did it, and did it deliberately, just like the US in Fallujah.
Fallujah doctors identified swollen and yellowish corpses without any injuries, as well as “melted bodies” – victims of napalm, the cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel. Residents who managed to escape told of bombing by “poisonous gases” and “weird bombs that smoke like a mushroom cloud … and then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. The pieces of these strange bombs explode into large fires that burn the skin even when you throw water over them.”
That’s exactly what happens to people bombed with napalm or white phosphorus. The United Nations banned the bombing of civilians with napalm in 1980. The US is the only country in the world still using napalm.
Fallujah also provided a mini-snuff movie hit; the summary execution of a wounded, defenseless Iraqi man inside a mosque by a US Marine. The execution, caught on tape, and watched by millions on YouTube, graphically spelled out the “special” rules of engagement. US Marine commanders at the time were telling their soldiers to “shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn’t move”; to fire “two bullets in every body”; in case of seeing any military-aged men in the streets of Fallujah, to “drop ‘em”; and to spray every home with machine-gun and tank fire before entering them.
The rules of engagement in Iraq were codified in a 182-page field manual distributed to each and every soldier and issued in October 2004 by the Pentagon. This counter-insurgency manual stressed five rules; “protect the population; establish local political institutions; reinforce local governments; eliminate insurgent capabilities; and exploit information from local sources.”
Now back to reality. Fallujah’s population was not protected: it was bombed out of the city and turned into a mass of thousands of refugees. Political institutions were already in place: the Fallujah Shura was running the city. No local government can possibly run a pile of rubble to be recovered by seething citizens, not to mention be “reinforced”. “Insurgent capabilities” were not eliminated; the resistance dispersed around the 22 other cities out of control by the US occupation, and spread up north all the way to Mosul; and the Americans remained without intelligence “from local sources” because they antagonized every possible heart and mind.
Meanwhile, in the US, most of the population was already immune to war porn. When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke out in the spring of 2004, I was driving through Texas, exploring Bushland. Virtually everybody I spoke to either attributed the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners to “a few bad apples”, or defended it on patriotic grounds (“we must teach a lesson to “terrorists”).
I Love A Man In Uniform
In thesis, there is an approved mechanism in the 21st century to defend civilians from war porn. It’s the R2P – “responsibility to protect” doctrine. This was an idea floated already in 2001 – a few weeks after the war on terror was unleashed, in fact – by the Canadian government and a few foundations. The idea was that the concert of nations had a “moral duty” to deploy a humanitarian intervention in cases such as Halabja, not to mention the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the mid-1970s or the genocide in Rwanda in the mid-1990s.
In 2004, a panel at the UN codified the idea – crucially with the Security Council being able to authorize a “military intervention” only “as a last resort”. Then, in 2005, the UN General Assembly endorsed a resolution supporting R2P, and in 2006 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1674 about “the protection of civilians in armed conflict”; they should be protected against “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.
Now fast-forward to the end of 2008, early 2009, when Israel – using American fighter jets to raise hell – unleashed a large-scale attack on the civilian population of the Gaza strip.
Look at the official US reaction; “Israel has obviously decided to protect herself and her people,” said then-president Bush. The US Congress voted by a staggering 390-to-5 to recognize “Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza”. The incoming Barack Obama administration was thunderously silent. Only future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We support Israel’s right to self-defense.”
At least 1,300 civilians – including scores of women and children – were killed by state terror in Gaza. Nobody invoked R2P. Nobody pointed to Israel’s graphic failure in its “responsibility to protect” Palestinians. Nobody called for a “humanitarian intervention” targeting Israel.
The mere notion that a superpower – and other lesser powers – make their foreign policy decisions based on humanitarian grounds, such as protecting people under siege, is an absolute joke. So already at the time we learned how R2P was to be instrumentalized. It did not apply to the US in Iraq or Afghanistan. It did not apply to Israel in Palestine. It would eventually apply only to frame “rogue” rulers that are not “our bastards” – as in Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011. “Humanitarian” intervention, yes; but only to get rid of “the bad guys.”
And the beauty of R2P was that it could be turned upside down anytime. Bush pleaded for the “liberation” of suffering Afghans – and especially burqa-clad Afghan women – from the “evil” Taliban, in fact configuring Afghanistan as a humanitarian intervention.
And when the bogus links between al-Qaeda and the non-existent WMDs were debunked, Washington began to justify the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq via … R2P; “responsibility to protect” Iraqis from Saddam, and then to protect Iraqis from themselves.
The Killer Awoke Before Dawn
The most recent installment in serial episodes of war porn is the Kandahar massacre, when, according to the official Pentagon version (or cover up) an American army sergeant, a sniper and Iraqi war veteran – a highly trained assassin – shot 17 Afghan civilians, including nine women and four children, in two villages two miles apart, and burned some of their bodies.
Like with Abu Ghraib, there was the usual torrent of denials from the Pentagon – as in “this is not us” or “we don’t do things these way”; not to mention a tsunami of stories in US corporate media humanizing the hero-turned-mass killer, as in “he’s such a good guy, a family man”. In contrast, not a single word about The Other – the Afghan victims. They are faceless; and nobody knows their names.
A – serious – Afghan enquiry established that some 20 soldiers may have been part of the massacre – as in My Lai in Vietnam; and that included the rape of two of the women. It does make sense. War porn is a lethal, group subculture – complete with targeted assassinations, revenge killings, desecration of bodies, harvesting of trophies (severed fingers or ears), burning of Korans and pissing on dead bodies. It’s essentially a collective sport.
US “kill teams” have deliberately executed random, innocent Afghan civilians, mostly teenagers, for sport, planted weapons on their bodies, and then posed with their corpses as trophies. Not by accident they had been operating out of a base in the same area of the Kandahar massacre.
And we should not forget former top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who in April 10, 2010, admitted, bluntly, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people” who were not a threat to the US or Western civilization.
The Pentagon spins and sells in Afghanistan what it sold in Iraq (and even way back in Vietnam for that matter); the idea that this is a “population-centric counter-insurgency” – or COIN, to “win hearts and minds”, and part of a great nation building project.
This is a monumental lie. The Obama surge in Afghanistan – based on COIN – was a total failure. What replaced it was hardcore, covert, dark war, led by “kill teams” of Special Forces. That implies an inflation of air strikes and night raids. No to mention drone strikes, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas, whose favorite targets seem to be Pashtun wedding parties.
Incidentally, the CIA claims that since May 2010, ultra-smart drones have killed more than 600 “carefully selected” human targets – and, miraculously, not a single civilian.
Expect to see this war porn extravaganza celebrated in an orgy of upcoming, joint Pentagon-Hollywood blockbusters. In real life, this is spun by people such as John Nagl, who was on General David Petraeus’ staff in Iraq and now runs the pro-Pentagon think-tank Center for New American Security.
The new stellar macho, macho men may be the commandos under the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). But this a Pentagon production, which has created, according to Nagl, an “industrial strength counter-terrorism killing machine”.
Reality, though, is much more prosaic. COIN techniques, applied by McChrystal, relied on only three components; 24-hour surveillance by drones; monitoring of mobile phones; and pinpointing the physical location of the phones from their signals.
This implies that anyone in an area under a drone watch using a cell phone was branded as a “terrorist”, or at least “terrorist sympathizer”. And then the focus of the night raids in Afghanistan shifted from “high value targets” – high-level and mid-level al-Qaeda and Taliban – to anyone who was branded as helping the Taliban.
In May 2009, before McChrystal arrived, US Special Forces were carrying 20 raids a month. By November, they were 90 a month. By the spring of 2010, they were 250 a month. When McChrystal was fired – because of a story in Rolling Stone (he was competing with Lady Gaga for the cover; Lady Gaga won) – and Obama replaced him with Petraeus in the summer of 2010, there were 600 a month. By April 2011, they were more than 1,000 a month.
So this is how it works. Don’t even think of using a cell phone in Kandahar and other Afghan provinces. Otherwise, the “eyes in the sky” are going to get you. At the very least you will be sent to jail, along with thousands of other civilians branded as “terrorist sympathizers”; and intelligence analysts will use your data to compile their “kill/capture list” and catch even more civilians in their net.
As for the civilian “collateral damage” of the night raids, they were always presented by the Pentagon as “terrorists”. Example; in a raid in Gardez on February 12, 2010, two men were killed; a local government prosecutor and an Afghan intelligence official, as well as three women (two of them pregnant). The killers told the US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command in Kabul that the two men were “terrorists” and the women had been found tied up and gagged. Then the actual target of the raid turned himself in for questioning a few days later, and was released without any charges.
That’s just the beginning. Targeted assassination – as practiced in Afghanistan – will be the Pentagon’s tactic of choice in all future US wars.
Pass The Condom, Darling
Libya was a major war porn atrocity exhibition – complete with a nifty Roman touch of the defeated “barbarian” chief sodomized in the streets and then executed, straight on YouTube.
This, by the way, is exactly what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before the fact. Gaddafi should be “captured or killed”. When she watched it in the screen of her BlackBerry she could only react with the semantic earthquake “Wow!”
From the minute a UN resolution imposed a no-fly zone over Libya under the cover of R2P, it became a green card to regime change. Plan A was always to capture and kill Gaddafi – as in an Afghan-style targeted assassination. That was the Obama administration official policy. There was no plan B.
Obama said the death of Gaddafi meant, “the strength of American leadership across the world”. That was as “We got him” (echoes of Saddam captured by the Bush administration) as one could possibly expect.
With an extra bonus. Even though Washington paid no less than 80% of the operating costs of those dimwits at NATO (roughly $2 billion), it was still pocket money. Anyway, it was still awkward to say, “We did it”, because the White House always said this was not a war; it was a “kinetic” something. And they were not in charge.
Only the hopelessly naïve may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO’s “humanitarian” 40,000-plus bombing which devastated Libya’s infrastructure back to the Stone Age as a Shock and Awe in slow motion. This never had anything to do with R2P.
This was R2P as safe sex – and the “international community” was the condom. The “international community”, as everyone knows, is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), plus the House of Saud in the shade. The EU, which up to extra time was caressing the helm of Gaddafi’s gowns, took no time to fall over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a “buffoon”.
As for the concept of international law, it was left lying in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner (he ended up on YouTube as well). Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan (no YouTube – so many don’t believe it). Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination. They are The Three Graceful Scalps of War Porn.
Syria is yet another declination of war porn narrative. If you can’t R2P it, fake it.
And to think that all this was codified such a long time ago. Already in 1997, the US Army War College Quarterly was defining what they called “the future of warfare”. They framed it as “the conflict between information masters and information victims”.
They were sure “we are already masters of information warfare … Hollywood is ‘preparing the battlefield’ … Information destroys traditional jobs and traditional cultures; it seduces, betrays, yet remains invulnerable … Our sophistication in handling it will enable us to outlast and outperform all hierarchical cultures … Societies that fear or otherwise cannot manage the flow of information simply will not be competitive. They might master the technological wherewithal to watch the videos, but we will be writing the scripts, producing them, and collecting the royalties. Our creativity is devastating.”
Post-everything information warfare has nothing to do with geopolitics. Just like the proverbial Hollywood product, it is to be “spawned” out of raw emotions; “hatred, jealousy, and greed – emotions, rather than strategy”.
In Syria this is exactly how Western corporate media has scripted the whole movie; the War College “information warfare” tactics in practice. The Syrian government never had much of a chance against those “writing the scripts, producing them, and collecting the royalties”.
For example, the armed opposition, the so-called Free Syrian Army (a nasty cocktail of defectors, opportunists, jihadis and foreign mercenaries) brought Western journalists to Homs and then insisted to extract them, in extremely dangerous condition, and with people being killed, via Lebanon, rather than through the Red Crescent. They were nothing else than writing the script for a foreign-imposed “humanitarian corridor” to be opened to Homs. This was pure theater – or war porn packaged as a Hollywood drama.
The problem is Western public opinion is now hostage to this brand of information warfare. Forget about even the possibility of peaceful negotiations among adult parties. What’s left is a binary good guys versus bad guys plot, where the Big Bad Guy must be destroyed at all costs (and on top of it his wife is a snob bitch who loves shopping!)
Only the terminally naïve may believe that jihadis – including Libya’s NATO rebels – financed by the Gulf Counter-revolution Club, also know as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are a bunch of democratic reformists burning with good intentions. Even Human Rights Watch was finally forced to acknowledge that these armed “activists” were responsible for “kidnapping, detention, and torture”, after receiving reports of “executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians”.
What this (soft and hard) war porn narrative veils, in the end, is the real Syrian tragedy; the impossibility for the much-lauded “Syrian people” to get rid of all these crooks – the Assad system, the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Syrian National Council, and the mercenary-infested Free Syrian Army.
Listen To The Sound of Chaos
This – very partial – catalogue of sorrows inevitably brings us to the current supreme war porn blockbuster – the Iran psychodrama.
2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq; and whatever the highway, to evoke the neo-con motto, real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop.
Perhaps only underwater in the Arctic we would be able to escape the cacophonous cortege of American right-wingers – and their respective European poodles – salivating for blood and deploying the usual festival of fallacies like “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map”, “diplomacy has run its course”, “the sanctions are too late”, or “Iran is within a year, six months, a week, a day, or a minute of assembling a bomb”. Of course these dogs of war would never bother to follow what the International Atomic Energy Agency is actually doing, not to mention the National Intelligence Estimates released by the 17 US intelligence agencies.
Because they, to a great extent, are “writing the scripts, producing them, and collecting the royalties” in terms of corporate media, they can get away with an astonishingly toxic fusion of arrogance and ignorance – about the Middle East, about Persian culture, about Asian integration, about the nuclear issue, about the oil industry, about the global economy, about “the Rest” as compared to “the West”.
Just like with Iraq in 2002, Iran is always dehumanized. The relentless, totally hysterical, fear-inducing “narrative” of “should we bomb now or should we bomb later” is always about oh so very smart bunker buster bombs and precision missiles that will accomplish an ultra clean large-scale devastation job without producing a single “collateral damage”. Just like safe sex.
And even when the voice of the establishment itself – the New York Times – admits that neither US nor Israeli intelligence believe Iran has decided to build a bomb (a 5-year-old could reach the same conclusion), the hysteria remains inter-galactic.
Meanwhile, while it gets ready – “all options are on the table”, Obama himself keeps repeating – for yet another war in what it used to call “arc of instability”, the Pentagon also found time to repackage war porn. It took only a 60-second video now on YouTube, titled Toward the Sound of Chaos, released only a few days after the Kandahar massacre. Just look at its key target audience: the very large market of poor, unemployed and politically very naïve young Americans.
Let’s listen to the mini-movie voice over: “Where chaos looms, the Few emerge. Marines move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair – with the courage and resolve to silence them. By ending conflict, instilling order and helping those who can’t help themselves, Marines face down the threats of our time.”
Maybe, in this Orwellian universe, we should ask the dead Afghans urinated upon by US Marines, or the thousands of dead in Fallujah, to write a movie review. Well, dead men don’t write. Maybe we could think about the day NATO enforces a no-fly one over Saudi Arabia to protect the Shi’ites in the eastern province, while Pentagon drones launch a carpet of Hellfire missiles over those thousands of arrogant, medieval, corrupt House of Saud princes. No, it’s not going to happen.
Over a decade after the beginning of the war on terror, this is what the world is coming to; a lazy, virtually worldwide audience, jaded, dazed and distracted from distraction by distraction, helplessly hooked on the shabby atrocity exhibition of war porn.
Source: Asia Times
Forget the past (Saddam, Osama, Gaddafi) and the present (Assad, Ahmadinejad). A bet can be made over a bottle of Petrus 1989 (the problem is waiting the next six years to collect); for the foreseeable future, Washington’s top bogeyman – and also for its rogue North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners and assorted media shills – will be none other than back-to-the-future Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And make no mistake; Vlad the Putinator will relish it. He’s back exactly where he wants to be; as Russia’s commander-in-chief, in charge of the military, foreign policy and all national security matters.
Anglo-American elites still squirm at the mention of his now legendary Munich 2007 speech, when he blasted the then George W Bush administration for its obsessively unipolar imperial agenda “through a system which has nothing to do with democracy” and non-stop overstepping of its “national borders in almost all spheres”.”
So Washington and its minions have been warned. Before last Sunday’s election, Putin even advertised his road map The essentials; no war on Syria; no war on Iran; no “humanitarian bombing” or fomenting “color revolutions” – all bundled into a new concept, “illegal instruments of soft power”. For Putin, a Washington-engineered New World Order is a no-go. What rules is “the time-honored principle of state sovereignty”.
No wonder. When Putin looks at Libya, he sees the graphic, regressive consequences of NATO’s “liberation” through “humanitarian bombing”; a fragmented country controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militias; backward Cyrenaica splitting from more developed Tripolitania; and a relative of the last king brought in to rule the new “emirate” – to the delight of those model democrats of the House of Saud.
More key essentials; no US bases encircling Russia; no US missile defense without strict admission, in writing, that the system will never target Russia; and increasingly close cooperation among the BRICS group of emerging powers.
Most of this was already implied in Putin’s previous road map – his paper A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making. That was Putin’s ippon - he loves judo – against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund and hardcore neo-liberalism. He sees a Eurasian Union as a “modern economic and currency union” stretching all across Central Asia.
For Putin, Syria is an important detail (not least because of Russia’s naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which NATO would love to abolish). But the meat of the matter is Eurasia integration. Atlanticists will freak out en masse as he puts all his efforts into coordinating “a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today’s world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region”.
The opposite roadmap will be Obama and Hillary’s Pacific doctrine. Now how exciting is that?
Putin plays Pipelineistan
It was Putin who almost single-handedly spearheaded the resurgence of Russia as a mega energy superpower (oil and gas accounts for two-thirds of Russia’s exports, half of the federal budget and 20% of gross domestic product). So expect Pipelineistan to remain key.
And it will be mostly centered on gas; although Russia holds no less than 30% of global gas supplies, its liquid natural gas (LNG) production is less than 5% of the global market share. It’s not even among the top ten producers.
Putin knows that Russia will need buckets of foreign investment in the Arctic – from the West and especially Asia – to keep its oil production above 10 million barrels a day. And it needs to strike a complex, comprehensive, trillion-dollar deal with China centered on Eastern Siberia gas fields; the oil angle has been already taken care of via the East Siberian Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline. Putin knows that for China – in terms of securing energy – this deal is a vital counterpunch against Washington’s shady “pivoting” towards Asia.
Putin will also do everything to consolidate the South Stream pipeline – which may end up costing a staggering $22 billion (the shareholder agreement is already signed between Russia, Germany, France and Italy. South Stream is Russian gas delivered under the Black Sea to the southern part of the EU, through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia). If South Stream is a go, rival pipeline Nabucco is checkmated; a major Russian victory against Washington pressure and Brussels bureaucrats.
Everything is still up for grabs at the crucial intersection of hardcore geopolitics and Pipelineistan. Once again Putin will be facing yet another Washington road map – the not exactly successful New Silk Road (See US’s post-2014 Afghan agenda falters, Asia Times Online, Nov 4, 2011.)
Ant then there’s the joker in the pack – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Putin will want Pakistan to become a full member as much as China is interested in incorporating Iran. The repercussions would be ground-breaking – as in Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran coordinating not only their economic integration but their mutual security inside a strengthened SCO, whose motto is “non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-interference in the affairs of other countries”.
Putin sees that with Russia, Central Asia and Iran controlling no less than 50% of world’s gas reserves, and with Iran and Pakistan as virtual SCO members, the name of the game becomes Asia integration – if not Eurasia’s. The SCO develops as an economic/security powerhouse, while, in parallel, Pipelineistan accelerates the full integration of the SCO as a counterpunch to NATO. The regional players themselves will decide what makes more sense – this or a New Silk Road invented in Washington.
Make no mistake. Behind the relentless demonization of Putin and the myriad attempts to delegitimize Russia’s presidential elections, lie some very angry and powerful sections of Washington and Anglo-American elites.
They know Putin will be an ultra tough negotiator on all fronts. They know Moscow will apply increasingly closer coordination with China; on thwarting permanent NATO bases in Afghanistan; on facilitating Pakistan’s strategic autonomy; on opposing missile defense; on ensuring Iran is not attacked.
He will be the devil of choice because there could not be a more formidable opponent in the world stage to Washington’s plans – be they coded as Greater Middle East, New Silk Road, Full Spectrum Dominance or America’s Pacific Century. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble.
Source: Asia Times
The Lord High Almighty Pooh-Bah of Threats…
As we all know only too well, the United States and Israel would hate to see Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. But — in the real, non-propaganda world — is USrael actually fearful of an attack from a nuclear-armed Iran? In case you’ve forgotten …
In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 1
2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington” asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.” 2
In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”
Early last month, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 3
A week later we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts — the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz — all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”
Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:
Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?
Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.
Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead. 4
Admissions like the above — and there are others — are never put into headlines by the American mass media; indeed, only very lightly reported at all; and sometimes distorted — On the Public Broadcasting System (PBS News Hour, January 9), the non-commercial network much beloved by American liberals, the Panetta quote above was reported as: “But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.” Flagrantly omitted were the preceding words: “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No …” 5
One of Israel’s leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, was interviewed by Playboy magazine in June 2007:
Playboy: Can the World live with a nuclear Iran?
Van Creveld: The U.S. has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China, so why not a nuclear Iran? I’ve researched how the U.S. opposed nuclear proliferation in the past, and each time a country was about to proliferate, the U.S. expressed its opposition in terms of why this other country was very dangerous and didn’t deserve to have nuclear weapons. Americans believe they’re the only people who deserve to have nuclear weapons, because they are good and democratic and they like Mother and apple pie and the flag. But Americans are the only ones who have used them. … We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons … thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.”
And throughout these years, regularly, Israeli and American officials have been assuring us that Iran is World Nuclear Threat Number One, that we can’t relax our guard against them, that there should be no limit to the ultra-tough sanctions we impose upon the Iranian people and their government. Repeated murder and attempted murder of Iranian nuclear scientists, sabotage of Iranian nuclear equipment with computer viruses, the sale of faulty parts and raw materials, unexplained plane crashes, explosions at Iranian facilities … Who can be behind this but USrael? How do we know? It’s called “plain common sense”. Or do you think it was Costa Rica? Or perhaps South Africa? Or maybe Thailand?
Defense Secretary Panetta recently commented on one of the assassinations of an Iranian scientist. He put it succinctly: “That’s not what the United States does.” 6
Does anyone know Leon Panetta’s email address? I’d like to send him my list of United States assassination plots. More than 50 foreign leaders were targeted over the years, many successfully. 7
Not long ago, Iraq and Iran were regarded by USrael as the most significant threats to Israeli Middle-East hegemony. Thus was born the myth of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the United States proceeded to turn Iraq into a basket case. That left Iran, and thus was born the myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat. As it began to sink in that Iran was not really that much of a nuclear threat, or that this “threat” was becoming too difficult to sell to the rest of the world, USrael decided that, at a minimum, it wanted regime change. The next step may be to block Iran’s lifeline — oil sales using the Strait of Hormuz. Ergo, the recent US and EU naval buildup near the Persian Gulf, an act of war trying to goad Iran into firing the first shot. If Iran tries to counter this blockade it could be the signal for another US Basket Case, the fourth in a decade, with the devastated people of Libya and Afghanistan, along with Iraq, currently enjoying America’s unique gift of freedom and democracy.
On January 11, the Washington Post reported: “In addition to influencing Iranian leaders directly, [a US intelligence official] says another option here is that [sanctions] will create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”
How utterly charming, these tactics and goals for the 21st century by the leader of “The Free World”. (Is that expression still used?)
The neo-conservative thinking (and Barack Obama can be regarded as often being a fellow traveler of such) is even more charming than that. Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 8
What are we to make of that and all the other quotations above? I think it gets back to my opening statement: Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. Is USrael willing to go to war to hold on to that card?
Please tell me again … What is the war in Afghanistan about?
With the US war in Iraq supposedly having reached a good conclusion (or halfway decent … or better than nothing … or let’s get the hell out of here while some of us are still in one piece and there are some Iraqis we haven’t yet killed), the best and the brightest in our government and media turn their thoughts to what to do about Afghanistan. It appears that no one seems to remember, if they ever knew, that Afghanistan was not really about 9-11 or fighting terrorists (except the many the US has created by its invasion and occupation), but was about pipelines.
President Obama declared in August 2009: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” 9
Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.
Never mind that the “plotting to attack America” in 2001 was devised in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t the United States bombed those countries?
Indeed, what actually was needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does “an even larger safe haven” mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere, with Afghanistan probably being one of the worst places for them, given the American occupation.
The only “necessity” that drew the United States to Afghanistan was the desire to establish a military presence in this land that is next door to the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia — which reportedly contains the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world — and build oil and gas pipelines from that region running through Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is well situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of south Asia, pipelines that can bypass those not-yet Washington clients, Iran and Russia. If only the Taliban would not attack the lines. Here’s Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in 2007: “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south.” 10
Since the 1980s all kinds of pipelines have been planned for the area, only to be delayed or canceled by one military, financial or political problem or another. For example, the so-called TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) had strong support from Washington, which was eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. TAPI goes back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with the California-based oil company Unocal Corporation. These talks were conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and were undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society. Taliban officials even made trips to the United States for discussions. 11 Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca discussed the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties in dealing with the Taliban:
The region’s total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels … From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company.
When those talks stalled in July, 2001 the Bush administration threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands. The talks finally broke down for good the following month, a month before 9-11.
The United States has been serious indeed about the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil and gas areas. Through one war or another beginning with the Gulf War of 1990-1, the US has managed to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.
The war against the Taliban can’t be “won” short of killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States may well try again to negotiate some form of pipeline security with the Taliban, then get out, and declare “victory”. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech from his teleprompter. It might even include the words “freedom” and “democracy”, but certainly not “pipeline”.
Love me, love me, love me, I’m a Liberal (Thank you, Phil Ochs. We miss you.)
Angela Davis, star of the 1960s, like most members of the Communist Party, was/is no more radical than the average American liberal. Here she is recently addressing Occupy Wall Street: “When I said that we need a third party, a radical party, I was projecting toward the future. We cannot allow a Republican to take office. … Don’t we remember what it was like when Bush was president?” 12
Yes, Angela, we remember that time well. How can we forget it since Bush, by all important standards, is still in the White House? Waging perpetual war, relentless surveillance of the citizenry, kissing the corporate ass, police brutality? … What’s changed? Except for the worse. Where’s our single-payer national health insurance? Nothing even close. Where’s our affordable university education? Still the most backward in the “developed” world. Where’s our legalized marijuana — I mean really legalized? If you think that’s changed, you must be stoned. Where’s our abortion on demand? What does your guy Barack think about that? Are the indispensable labor unions being rescued from oblivion? Ha! The ultra-important minimum wage? Inflation adjusted, equal to the mid-1950s.
Has the American threat to the environment and the world environmental movement ceased? Tell that to a dedicated activist-internationalist. Has the 50-year-old embargo against Cuba finally ended? It has not, and I can still not go there legally. The police-state War on Terror at home? Scarcely a month goes by without the FBI entrapping some young “terrorists”. Are more Banksters and Wall Street Society-Screwers (except for the harmless insider-traders) being imprisoned? Name one. The really tough regulations of the financial area so badly needed? Keep waiting. How about executives of the BP Oil Spill Company being arrested? Or war criminals, mass murderers, and torturers with names like … Oh, I don’t know, let’s see … maybe like Cheney or Bush or Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz or someone with a crazy name like Condoleezza? All walking completely free, all celebrated.
“A major decline of progressive America occurred during the Clinton years as many liberals and their organizations accepted the presence of a Democratic president as an adequate substitute for the things liberals once believed in. Liberalism and a social democratic spirit painfully grown over the previous 60 years withered during the Clinton administration.” — Sam Smith13
“A change of Presidents is like a change of advertising campaigns for a soft drink; the product itself still tastes the same, but it now has a new ‘image’.” — Richard K. Moore
- Haaretz.com (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26
- Washington Post, March 5, 2009
- “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012; see video
- The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012″
- “PBS’s Dishonest Iran Edit”, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), January 10, 2012
- Reuters, January 12, 2012
- Video of Pletka making these remarks
- Talk given by the president at Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009
- Talk at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, September 20, 2007
- See, for example, the December 17, 1997 article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas“. For further discussion of the TAPI pipeline and related issues, see this article by international petroleum engineer John Foster.
- Washington Post, January 15, 2012
- Sam Smith was a longtime publisher and journalist in Washington, DC, now living in Maine. Subscribe to his marvelous newsletter, the Progressive Review.
The blunders of U.S. politicians have inspired jokes and parodies for decades. With the Presidential election campaign heating up, there’s a whole new supply of ammunition. But as Marina Portnaya reports, some believe the comments are displays of ignorance and disregard for world affairs … and no laughing matter.
The first ever lawsuit concerning risks of nanotechnology was filed in federal court last month when several groups jointly sued the US Food and Drug Administration for its lack of response to a 2006 petition demanding that products with nanomaterials be labeled and their affects tested for safety. [Image]
Led by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), plaintiffs also include Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch, the Center for Environmental Health, the ETC Group, and the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP).
“It is unacceptable that the FDA continues to allow unregulated and unlabeled nanomaterials to be used in products consumers use every day,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It is past time for this agency to live up to its mission and protect public health by assessing the health and environmental risks of nanomaterials, and to require labeling so that consumers know where these new materials are being used.”
Based on the scientific literature so far, several hundred products should be recalled due to their toxicity to lab animals and bacteria. Much of the 2011 complaint argues that because nanomaterials are patented, and exhibit novel characteristics unique to their size, they clearly represent new substances requiring regulation and safety tests. Plaintiffs demand a recall on all such products until their safety is proven.
Consumer groups including some of the same plaintiffs in the current lawsuit also filed petitions urging nanotech regulation with the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2006 and 2008, reports the Chemical Regulation Reporter.
Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale, measured in billionths of a meter. Nanotech-engineered materials (NEMs) are used in food, cosmetics (including toothpaste and sunscreen), drugs, fertilizers, and home cleaning products with little regulation in the U.S. They are found in ice cream and the coating sprayed on fruits and vegetables, and even line bottles and cans, reported Andrew Schneider in his 2010 exposé on the subject.
NEMs are also used in industry processes and military applications including drones, combat gear and miniature devices. The Dept. of Defense has spent billions on nanotech R&D. Per its 2007 report, nanotech is used in “chemical and biological warfare defense; high performance materials for platforms and weapons; unprecedented information technology [like smart clothes]; revolutionary energy and energetic materials; and uninhabited vehicles and miniature satellites.” (Also see the2011 National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan.)
In June 2011, both the FDA and the EPA issued draft guidelines on NEMs. Though nano-pesticides are already on the market, the EPA made its first approval last month. The Swiss firm, HeiQ, now sells its composite nanosilver and nano-silica for use in clothing (to reduce microbial odor) with EPA approval.
Upon publication of the FDA’s voluntary guidlines, the Alliance for Natural Healthimmediately demanded that nanomaterials be banned from organic certification, as they are in Canada.
The FDA has done nothing on NEM regulation since last June. Prior to that, the FDA absurdly denied that any nanofoods were being sold in the U.S.
“Not true, say some of the agency’s own safety experts, pointing to scientific studies published in food science journals, reports from foreign safety agencies and discussions in gatherings like the Institute of Food Technologists conference,” reports Schneider.
Several of the plaintiffs have issued public reports on nanotech, including IATP. InRacing Ahead: U.S. Agri-Nanotechnology in the Absence of Regulation, IATP notes that as of March 2011, there were over 1,300 products known to contain NEMs. That’s up from 200 in 2006, but the number is conservatively expected to rise to 3,400 by 2020. The ETC Group estimates well over 1,600 products in its 2010 report, The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics.
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), a partnership of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a U.S. government research center, notes that there is no registry of nano-scale ingredients and materials used in products or industrial processes.
“Establishing such a registry, as well as consumer products registry,” advises IATP, “would be necessary components of the eventual regulation of nanotechnology.”
Meanwhile, some products containing nanomaterials can be found with PEN’s iPhone application for using the Nanotechnology Products Inventory.
“There is a dependent relationship between size and surface area and nanoparticle toxicity; as particles are engineered smaller on the nano-level, they are more likely to be toxic,” plaintiffs wrote in their 2006 petition. “Many relatively inert and stable chemicals, such as carbon, pose toxic risk in their nano-scale form.”
That small of a size makes nanoparticles capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier noted food research scientist Ellin Doyle. In 2006, she published a literature review on nanotechnology advising, “Nanoparticles are readily taken up by many types of cells in vitro and are expected to cross the blood-brain barrier that excludes many substances that might harm the brain.”
Despite this, in 2006, the FDA ruled that “particle size is not an issue” for regulation. Basic chemistry teaches the opposite. At that small of a scale, a particle’s electrochemical features more heavily influence its interactions with nearby substances, including viruses, bacteria and DNA. The small nanosize means there are more atoms on its surface than inside the particle.
Both the US Patent Office and the National Nanotechnology Initiative, an agency of the US National Science Foundation, refuted the FDA’s stance, explaining that the small size of nanoparticles enable “unique and novel characteristics” that impact not only electrochemical interactions, but also their optical, photoreactive, magnetic, persistence, bio-accumulation, toxicity and explosiveness features.
Nanosized aluminum, a suspected ingredient in chemtrails, has been shown to spontaneously combust, reports ETC. Texas-based Quantum Logic Devices holdsPatent No. 7,338,711, which is an “enhanced nanocomposite combustion accelerant” used in fuels, propellants and explosives.
In its 2007 Nanotechnology Task Force Report, the FDA finally reversed itself admitting that, “at this scale, properties of a material relevant to the safety and (as applicable) effectiveness of FDA-regulated products might change repeatedly as size enters into or varies within the nanoscale range.”
In addition to several studies showing nanosize-induced harm cited in the 2006 petition, ETC listed ten studies from 1997 through early 2004 that showed DNA and brain damage, lung dysfunction, and bioaccumulation (whereby earthworms and other creatures absorb, inhale or ingest the nanoparticles and pass them up the food chain).
This is especially significant as nanopollution grows with the release of thousands of pounds of nanomaterials into the environment, notes Friends of the Earth in its 2006 report, Nanomaterials, sunscreens and cosmetics. (More studies can be found at this companion FOE report.)
ETC also pointed to studies showing that nanoparticles can break down in the body causing metal poisoning, and can cross the placenta from mother to unborn fetus.
A 2010 British study confirmed that anything smaller than 100 nm poses even greater health risks because it can “access all areas of the body” and can even penetrate the nucleus of cells where DNA is located.
Under its 2011 guidelines, the FDA will consider particles that are from 1 to 100 nanometers in size, but up to one micron if the end products “exhibit properties or phenomena, including physical or chemical properties or biological effects, that are attributable to its dimension(s).”
By dragging its feet on nanotech regulation for the past several years, the FDA and EPA have allowed the proliferation of nanomaterials into consumer products without disclosure. Similar to the federal government’s refusal to label genetically modified foods, US consumers are once again lab animals for the biotech industry. Hopefully, this lawsuit will spur appropriate safety testing and the removal of unsafe products from the market.
Palestine is important not because it is as beautiful as Tuscany, nor because the Palestinians are suffering, and not even because it is occupied by a Jewish state. What we need to understand is that the Jews have been handed Palestine not because they were so smart or so strong or so devoted, but by Imperial design.
Palestine is important because it is believed to be a linchpin of Empire, one of the key points necessary to control the world. Such was the conviction of the 19th century British Empire-builders of the Rhodes variety, and this conviction has been recently and continuously reformulated into the terms of modern geopolitics. Once an arcane theory developed by HJ Mackinder, it has grown up to become a driving force behind globalism. We shall not go into its rational interpretation of mythological imagery; we must simply accept that this is the way the world’s powerful elite think.
Mackinder planned the subjugation of the whole planet to the Empire. He noted that the Arab world (apassage-land, in his terms) is central for this enterprise, and declared that “the hill citadel of Jerusalem has a strategic position with reference to world-realities not differing essentially from its ideal position in the perspective of the Middle Ages, or its strategic position between ancient Babylon and Egypt.” He believed that the “ideal position” of Jerusalem as the centre of the world of the medieval Crusader maps is no religious quirk, but an inspired understanding of the inherent quality of the place. In his exact words, “In a monkish map, contemporary with the Crusades, which still hangs in Hereford Cathedral, Jerusalem is marked as at the geometrical centre, the navel, of the world, and on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem they will show you to this day the precise spot which is the centre… The medieval ecclesiasts were not far wrong”.
A strategist-mystic, Mackinder was a great supporter of Balfour declaration: “The Jewish national seat in Palestine will be one of the most important outcomes of the war. That is a subject on which we can now afford to speak the truth … a national home at the physical and historical centre of the world”.
In his fresh-from-the-presses book, The Great Games (rush out and buy it while stocks last, dear reader!), our friend and fellow Counterpuncher Eric Walberg says it best: “Mackinder’s inspiration was not Zionist but rather imperial, and by putting Jews in a Palestinian homeland he was assembling the pieces in today’s imperial order”.
Clearly, his imperialism, and his geography have had religious antecedents. Geopolitics is a secularised sacred geography, and its drive towards “the hill citadel of Jerusalem” and “Shambala” is not a coincidence. But then, every ideology is a crypto-religious doctrine; or in words of Carl Schmitt, «all of the most pregnant concepts of modern doctrine are secularized theological concepts».
People argue that geopolitics has more than a touch of mumbo-jumbo, but this doctrine is being applied by the elites. One can rationalise the fateful Imperial attachment to Afghanistan by a vague possibility to build there a pipeline; it is easier to see in the US drive to Afghanistan a new version of the search of Shambala. Mackinder rationalised his feelings, he referred to Jerusalem’s army being able to defend the Suez, but the old maps influenced him – and other Empire-builders – more than he was ready to admit.
For this reason it is difficult to imagine that the Empire will ever voluntarily release Palestine; it is far too important ideologically, religiously, geopolitically, and strategically in the eyes of the Imperial elites. But why has the Empire chosen the Jews to be the shock troops in Palestine? Indiana University’s Professor of Geography, Mohameden Ould-Mey provides some explanation in a scholarly paper, a paper that was never successfully published. The paper had been duly reviewed and accepted by Political Geography’schief editor David Slater, but two years later a new chief editor came along who knew better on which side lies the butter, and he quickly spiked the paper. He used his position to instead commission some celebratory articles about Israel’s Independence Day.
In the never-published paper, Professor Ould-Mey revealed that the Zionist movement was not created by Jews in the 19th century: they were busy looking closer to home. These starry-eyed Jews once dreamt of forming a homeland inside Ukraine or Poland, to build there an independent state “just like Serbia”. It was the British who had a different idea, namely, to turn the Jews into English colonists in the Middle East. They needed manpower to man the Hill Citadel, and “they wanted the Jews to fill in the blank for the non-existing native Protestants in the Holy Land”. The idea was tried earlier and failed: Napoleon toyed with the idea of planting Jews in Palestine as France’s foot soldiers, but there were no takers among Jews. The Brits achieved what the French could not.
Enter William Henry Hechler (1845- 1931), “the British agent who actually fathered Zionism in Eastern Europe and Russia”. Hechler is the man who turned Leo Pinsker into a Zionist; Pinsker later became author of the first and most influential pre-Zionist pamphlet, Auto-Emancipation. “This is when and how the British began to inject their Zionism into an otherwise local and normal emancipation movement of Eastern European Jewry in their own ancestral homeland” in Eastern Europe, writes Ould-Mey.
After winning over Pinsker and establishing the first Jewish movement for settlement in Palestine (Hibath Zion), Hechler went to Vienna to entice Theodor Herzl. At that time, Hechler was already “described as an agent working for German and English interests and particularly as a ‘secret agent’ working for the Intelligence Service”.
“Hechler actively participated in the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in August 1897…Hechler-Herzl relations (like the Hechler-Pinsker ones before them and the Balfour- Weizmann ones after them) would seem to resemble the tutor-tutored relations rather than prophet-prince relations as suggested by Zionist historiography. Beyond tutoring Herzl on what Zionism is all about, Hechler introduced both Herzl and Zionism to the German Emperor, the Russian Czar, the Ottoman Sultan, the Pope (Pie X)” and other luminaries.
“Herzl was essentially a British envoy to the Germans, the Russians, the Ottomans, and the Jews. It was said that Herzl was fitted to lead Zionism precisely because he knew neither the Jews nor Palestine or Turkey…”
Ould-Mey concludes: “The British wanted Palestine for imperial and religious motives and used the Zionist Jews as willing surrogates and proxies who down the road became more active agents.”
This makes sense, for it solves the mystery: why was the Jewish Zionist movement such a Johnny-come-lately? Jewish Zionism was still in its infancy when Russians, French and Germans had been buying up lands and building houses all over the Holy Land for 40 years. Ould-Mey’s theory answers all the pertinent questions nicely. It was an English coup de grace.
This discovery is very exciting, but a trifle short of sensational: the British Intelligence Service is known to have rocked the cradle of The Muslim Brotherhood, the CIA fostered the Taliban, Shabak fathered Hamas. There is no doubt that all these bodies became wildly independent, unleashed themselves from their masters and ended up causing them a lot of trouble. Ould-Mey’s discovery that the Zionist movement was established by the British Secret service does not necessarily imply that it remained under their control – or anybody’s external control.
Since then, Jews have become doubly integrated into the fabric of the Empire: as the holders of the geopolitical “hill citadel of Jerusalem”, and as the bearers of neo-liberal post-modern ideology, the ideology of the “islanders” in Mackinder’s terminology — which is surprisingly close to “the traditional Jewish ideology” in the view of Milton Friedman as expounded by Gilad Atzmon. The first group is located mainly in Israel; the second group is mainly in the US.
The Zionist conception that the Jews are natural placeholders of the “hill citadel of Jerusalem” is now under review. The Middle East has sprung forth new forces with which the Empire is already actively collaborating. Foremost are the aggressive Saudi Wahhabis whom Thierry-Meyssan has identified as theSudairi. Qatar’s Al-Jazeera is a powerful weapon that is in their hands. They play along with Israel but they are not Zionist stooges. They are quite a nasty lot and are friends of the Empire by their own right.
Obama’s May speech has made this clear. Israel is no longer the only outpost in the wilderness of the Middle East, no longer a bastion of the West in the East. Obama’s proposal was similar to that made by Jimmy Carter to China and Taiwan in 1979, when the United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing while carrying on commercial, cultural, and other unofficial contacts with Taiwan. Over 30 years have passed since then, and Taiwan has not suffered from being downgraded. Likewise, Obama offered Israel a similar deal: shrink a bit, and you will live a long and happy life. Contraction should be not only territorial, but strategic and ideological as well. You are welcome to stay a favorite son of the US in the Middle East, but as a son among other sons, not as a pampered baby among slaves. In short, be a Taiwan – don’t try to be a China.
As we know, Israel quickly neutralized this proposal by mobilising pro-Jewish American politicians. This has effectively humiliated Obama – and energized the new pro-Imperial Arab forces to action. Their new confidence was expressed in Prince Turki’s opinion piece and has been widely commented upon. This is one reason why Israel has been acting hysterically recently, as is evident from the attacks on the Flotilla, the detention of the fly-in tourists, and the massacre of the unarmed Palestinians upon the anniversary days of the Nakba and Naksa.
Israelis have a feeling that their position is being re-evaluated, and they are freshening up their connections with the Jews abroad and flexing the power of their lobbies, playing up anti-semitism hysteria. The most recent orchestrated surges of pro-Jewish sentiments have surfaced in the harsh treatment of film director Lars von Trier and designer John Galliano, but are by no means over.
Now an important debate of the last decade can be addressed. Noam Chomsky explained America’s obsession with Israel by hard-nosed Imperial interests, while John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt inter alia have explained it by activity of the Israel Lobby. Now we can try to square this circular argument.
Indeed, the imperial plans for conquest of the world as they were laid upon in the end of 19th century included creation of the “hill citadel of Zion” manned by “ranging” (Mackinder’s term) Jews. New data proves that these plans were not inspired by Jews, but given to Jews by imperial planners. These plans passed from generation to generation, and presumably they are now accepted by the imperial elites as given.
During the Cold War this idea figured less prominently, but “since the end of the Cold War, as regional strategic concerns have replaced those of the global bipolar confrontation of the twin superpowers, the relevance of Mackinder’s study [and of his concepts] is once again apparent”, in words of Leut.-Gen Ervin Rokke.
So apparently, Chomsky was right? Not so fast. We can reword the old argument in new terms: M&W argument can be read as “the old ideas of Mackinder are so much of old bunkum, and in reality the citadel became rather a hindrance than a useful defence, like Belfort”. This coincides with the Arab pro-Imperialist view of the Saudis. Perhaps it is a convincing opinion, but the Lobby is still instrumental in blocking it.
The last and final answer to the “Jews and Empire” question was proposed by the modern Russian author, Viktor Pelevin:
- Everything is in the hands of Allah, – said the girl.
- I beg your pardon, – a young man turned to her rather unexpectedly, – How can it be? What about Buddha’s mind? Hands of Allah exist only in the mind of Buddha, you would not deny that, would you?
The girl smiled politely.
- Surely I wouldn’t. The hands of Allah exist only in Buddha’s mind. But the whole point is that the mind of Buddha is in the hands of Allah.
Current speculation that falling US birth rates are connected to genetically modified foods is debunked by a historical review of US birth rates. We cannot tie GM foods to falling US birth rates, yet anyway, since a look at the rate over the past 100 years shows much sharper drops than the one seen since 1996 when GM foods were deployed.
Spermicidal corn has been developed, as William Engdahl points out, and likely deployed somewhere (he suggests in Latin America or other “Third World countries”). If deployed in the US, its effects cannot be teased out from other environmental and cultural factors that contribute to a nation’s birth rate, given lack of GM food labels and subsequent safety testing.
Faulty assumptions about vaccine safety aside, Bill Gates’ advice to use GMO vaccines to reduce population is based on his thinking that women will not feel the need to keep reproducing if child survival rates improve.
The following charts were prepared from crude birth rate data supplied by the Centers for Disease Control. The first one of relevance comprises the entire 100 years since records have been kept (1909-2009). Prior to 1970, birth rates were estimated. Since then, the CDC uses data legally required to be submitted from all 50 states.
The peak occurs in 1910: 30.1 live births per 1,000 residents; and the nadir occurs in 2009: 13.5 live births per 1,000 residents. [Click here for large image.]
From 1909 thru 1933, the birth rate dropped a whopping 39 percent (from 30.0 to 18.4).
During the Great Depression, the birth rate hovered around 18.8 from 1933 thru 1940. Once the depression officially ended in 1941, and women entered the workforce in mass numbers (as in Rosie the Riveter), the birth rate climbed to its next major peak of 26.6 in 1947. For the next decade, the US birth rate hovered around 25.2 — the “baby boom” years.
From 1957 thru 1976, the birth rate plummeted again — this time, by a shocking 42 percent. There were a couple slight upticks in there, but in 1975 and ’76, the crude birth rate was 14.6, the lowest it had ever been. And this is 20 years before the commercialization of GMO foods.
We then see a slight rise thru 1990 when the rate peaked at 16.7, and next a general decline thru 2009 when it bottomed at 13.5 live births – the lowest it’s ever been in 100 years of record keeping, but a drop of only 1.1 from the 1976 rate — the previous all-time low.
It might be easier to see 100 years of data if we just look at ten-year increments (without the cute baby pic): [Large image]
Now let’s consider whether 15 years of GM foods have reduced the US birthrate. Without labeling and follow up testing, we may never know. We do know that many factors contribute to infertility, including cultural factors, agrochemicals and other industrial pollutants – many of which are endocrine disrupters that affect reproduction, as well as parental health, and perhaps vaccines and pharmaceuticals, most of which contain GMOs.
Keeping all this in mind, let’s look at the US birth rate since its last peak in 1990 (16.7 live births per 1,000 residents): [Large image]
From 1990 thru 2009, the birthrate dropped 19 percent. Of course, the effects of spermicidal food would not be immediate, and 2009 does show a serious drop when the birthrate fell to 13.5. As has now been shown, though, this latest decline (from 1990) is not the biggest drop since records have been kept. In fact, the rate of decline has slowed since GMO deployment.
I’m not saying mass sterilization isn’t underway (I have no evidence either way), just that GM foods cannot yet be tied to declining birth rates. Toxic aerial sprays and industrial pollutants cause infertility, as well, and hasn’t deregulation of pollutive industries proceeded swiftly the past several years? Wasn’t it in 2004 that the EPA said fracking posed no health risk, and so exempted the drilling industry from the Clean Water Act?
An important aside: The idea that increased wealth reduces the birth rate is contradicted by US numbers. Once the Great Depression officially ended in 1941, the US birth rate climbs. Also, since the late 1960s when real personal wealth declined for most Americans, the birth rate also declined. In fact, maternal education level may be a more significant factor.
By comparing the US to other nations, we can begin to tease out the impact of GM foods — by analyzing the birthrates of other nations and the number of years (and to what extent) they’ve been eating GM foods, if any. While some experts estimate that 70% of the foods we eat in the US contain GMOs, that percentage is not as high in other countries with lower birth rates.
At the international level, of the 196 nations whose 2009 birth rates were reported by the World Bank, 57 had lower birth rates than the US, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the UK. Of those 57 nations with lower birth rates than the US, 44 do not permit GMO crops (see list of GM nations at the pro-GM group, ISAAA).
US teen birth rates are probably even more important to watch, as some of these kids have been ingesting GMOs their entire lives, from the moment of conception. Comparing that to other nations’ teen birth rates might be most revealing, especially when factoring how much GM food those teens are eating and for how long.
In sum, the US crude birth rate has generally declined since 1909 when records were first kept. There have been two substantial plummets in our birth rate: from 1909 thru 1933, when it dropped 39 percent; and from 1957 thru 1976, when it dropped 42 percent. Between these two dips is the baby boom era.
Since more accurate records were kept starting in 1970, the US crude birth rate has fallen 26 percent. From 1996, when genetically modified foods were deployed, to the present, the birthrate has fallen six percent.
From this data, we can derive no information about the birth rate impact of any spermicidal GM foods that the US may have ingested.
The appeal of the Knowledge Society is apparent. Who could object to nations preparing their citizens for the 21st century? Yet unless knowledge is changed, the result could worsen an already dangerous situation.
The sharing of values and knowledge has long been the best way to bridge cultures and promote peace. That strategy is now essential to counter the success of those promoting The Clash of Civilizations.
Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are breaking new ground with education models that build on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.
This is the inevitable path for the Middle East and North Africa. Yet despite the best of intentions, if knowledge itself is not changed, the impact on Arab societies could aggravate trends that undermine progress.
Just consider the costs when knowledge is corrupted….
How Zionists Corrupt Knowledge
Those who induced the U.S. to war in the Middle East deployed knowledge like a weapon. With lengthy pre-staging, a narrative emerged that made it appear plausible—even desirable—to invade Iraq in response to the provocation of 911.
In retrospect, we now know that the knowledge on which the U.S. relied was false. All of it.
Iraqi WMD. Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda. Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda. Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger. Iraqi mobile biological laboratories. All false, all traceable to pro-Israelis and all portrayed as true by media outlets dominated by pro-Israelis.
The Knowledge Society holds great potential to connect the Arab world globally. And to build with the West cross-border understanding and empathy. That is the Knowledge Society at its best. At its worse, knowledge can be exploited to manipulate behavior.
The ongoing manipulation of thought and emotion in the U.S. typifies the danger. When Arab nations grasp the common source of the false knowledge that brought war to the region, both the perils and the promise of the Knowledge Society will become apparent.
Yet even the risk of being seduced to war understates the threat. In the modern era, psychological operations (“psy-ops”) are routinely deployed to create consensus opinions and generally accepted truths—akin to the truth of Iraqi WMD.
The modern-day battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Where else could consensus opinions reside? Or generally accepted truths. There too are found “field-based” phenomena such as credibility and celebrity that are also deployed to exploit thought and emotion.
When waging field-based warfare, the power of association ranks near the top as effective weaponry. For example, with global public opinion the target, Zionists arranged for U.N. testimony in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell who vouched for intelligence showing that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories.
When the U.N. Security Council and a global television audience watched the testimony of this former four-star general, what they saw was his reputation for honesty. By the power of association, his credibility “bled over” to grant legitimacy to phony intelligence.
General Powell was only a celebrity prop in an elaborately staged play meant to enhance the plausibility of a global war on terrorism. That war began six weeks later.
Where other than in plain sight could such duplicity succeed? You can be watching field-based warfare and still not see it.
Even now, Powell may not yet grasp how two field-based properties (credibility and celebrity) were key to the psy-ops that seduced the U.S. to war for an Israeli agenda.
Freedom from Deceit
Mental and emotional exploitation lie at the heart of how knowledge is corrupted to catalyze conflicts, manipulate behavior and influence affairs from afar.
With a solid grasp of the methodology of deceit, the Knowledge Society can expose and, by design, displace those complicit in this cunning form of combat.
In preparing for the 21st Century, Arab nations have an opportunity to free their citizens from the exploitation of those who for centuries have abused knowledge for their selfish ends.
Much of that abuse now proceeds through the unfettered freedom allowed finance. Educated over decades in a “consensus” mindset, lawmakers worldwide now believe in financial freedom as a proxy for personal freedom—regardless of the real-world results.
For the Knowledge Society to realize its potential, modern-day information and communication technologies must make these various forms of duplicity apparent and the perpetrators transparent.
Only with widespread knowledge of how facts can be displaced with false beliefs can the Knowledge Society be protected from such treachery.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Con me consistently for six decades and the relationship is over, as is Israel’s credibility as a legitimate nation state.
Tel Aviv knows this. But what can the Zionist state do about it? Answer: Wikileaks.
Why now? Misdirection. Shine the spotlight on Washington to take it off Tel Aviv. That’s good old-fashioned psy-ops. And challenge the credibility of the U.S. That’s Wikileaks.
Any credible forensics would start by asking: to whose benefit? Then look to means, motive and opportunity plus the presence of stable nation-state intelligence inside the U.S.
Other than Israel, who else is a credible candidate? Notice how quickly Israel’s role in the peace process vanished from the news. Now it’s Iran, Iran and more Iran. To whose benefit?
Tel Aviv knows that the phony intelligence on Iraq leads to those skilled at waging war “by way of deception”—the motto of the Israeli Mossad. Wikileaks are noteworthy for what’s missing: the absence of any material damaging to Israeli goals.
But still Tel Aviv faces an unprecedented peril: transparency. Americans know they were duped. And Israel rightly fears that Americans will soon realize by whom.
Tepid Support will not Suffice
Obama has behaved as anticipated by those who produced his presidency. Anyone surprised at the lack of change in U.S. policy in the Middle East fails to grasp the power of the Israel lobby.
Did he hesitate to support their latest Israeli strategy for scuttling peace negotiations? Absent peace, the U.S. will continue to be the target of those outraged at America’s unflinching support for Israel’s thuggish behavior in pursuit of its expansionist goals.
Confirming the lobby’s influence, Netanyahu announced he would not agree to halt settlements on Palestinian land until Obama reduced to writing a $3 billion bribe.
In return for a proposed 90-day freeze, what form of bribe will America provide? Twenty F-35 jets at $150 million each plus parts, maintenance, training and armaments.
That’s $231 million per week or $1,373,626 per hour. What will the U.S. receive in return? A temporary partial freeze on settlements. How many more times can this ruse work?
Israel has evaded a peace agreement since it drove Palestinians from their land in 1948 and seized more land in 1967 to shape today’s geopolitics.
Should Israel reach an agreement with the Palestinians, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposes a “comprehensive security agreement.” At what cost no one knows. The U.S. Congress has already budgeted $30 billion for Israel over 10 years. This latest $3 billion is on top of that.
That doesn’t include the cost to American credibility posed by an offer to veto U.N. recognition of Palestine as a state. And a pledge Never Again to pressure Israel on settlements. Plus the freeze omits East Jerusalem where Tel Aviv insists on moving ahead with new housing starts.
Timing Is Everything
By scheduling its latest incursion into Gaza between Christmas 2008 and the January 2009 Obama inaugural, Tel Aviv ensured only muted opposition during political down time in the U.S. Thus it came as no surprise to see an agent provocateur operation on Thanksgiving Day 2010 as Israel demolished a West Bank Mosque and a Palestinian village.
After seven hours of nonstop talks, Hillary Clinton praised Netanyahu as a “peacemaker.” In return, he agreed only to “continue the process.” Meanwhile, U.S. elections marked a major victory for Israel when incoming Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Jewish Zionist, announced that the new majority would “serve as a check on the Obama administration.”
The Israel lobby has good reason to gloat. Confirming ongoing duplicity, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman proclaimed: “a permanent agreement is impossible.”
Wikileaks’ release of confidential diplomatic cables provides Israel an opportunity to undermine U.S. relations worldwide while also inflicting lasting damage on U.S. interests in the Middle East. After this, what nation would trust the U.S. to maintain a confidence?
In October, Turkey asked that the U.S. not share intelligence with Israel. Now who dares share intelligence with the U.S.?
This may signal the beginning of the end for the Obama presidency his domestic policy failures are eclipsed by his failures in foreign policy.
This may also signal pre-staging for the 2012 presidential primary with a weakened Obama forced to name Clinton as his running mate or stepping aside so she can lead the ballot.
Her 2008 presidential campaign promised recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” and promised an “undivided Jerusalem as the capital.” Tel Aviv was elated. A second Clinton presidency would ensure another victory for Israel—and no peace.
Israeli psy-ops typically serve multiple purposes. Wikileaks is no exception.
Seductive, fascinating and frightening, Countdown to Zero motivates the public to support complete nuclear disarmament and to fear Iran, which is conveniently the next country the US wants to invade. Framed in no-nuke rhetoric, Countdown to Zero is not-so-subtle agitprop. The film relies on conventional geopolitics to whip up conventional audiences into another conventional state of panic. Islamo-terrorists just can’t acquire this technology! This is painfully similar to what we were told prior to the invasion of Iraq.
In 2002, Condoleezza Rice warned the world, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Invading forces never found weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. They did find plenty of oil, though, which corporations seized for pennies on the dollar.  The same reason – WMDs – is now being used against Iran. When Zero mentions Islamo-terrorists seeking nuclear technology, it spotlights Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Repeatedly.
Zero features war hawks Tony Blair, Ronald Reagan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Baker, and Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf, as well as spies and analysts, including Valerie Plame. Past or current members of the Carlyle Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations share the screen with well-financed groups ostensibly focused on nuclear nonproliferation.
Some of the film’s talking heads promoted, engaged in and/or profit from the “War on Terror,” which critics deem a euphemism for Western resource wars in the Middle East. James Baker, who served under both Bushes, makes a brief appearance. Until 2005, he legally represented the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm dominated by former heads of state who profit enormously on Middle East wars. 
Joe Cirincione of the Council on Foreign Relations (and of Ploughshares, a non-proliferation group)  delivers most of the Iran-is-bad message:
“Iran is the tip of the spear. It’s the big problem that we have to solve.”
This marks a 180-degree reversal from his position in 2007 when he described to Asia Times:
“‘a group of people inside the administration who view Iran as Nazi Germany’ and who are ‘constantly exaggerating’ the threat from Iran.” 
But that isn’t the only inconsistency.
Nine nations reportedly have nuclear weaponry: the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Of these, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are not current signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). 
Leaving India and Israel free of criticism, Zero disparages nuclear members Pakistan and North Korea. Key information on these two nations presented in the film conflicts with other information publicly available – in some cases for over a decade.
First keep in mind that invading Iran is part of the “Long War” in which the US and its allies seek control of the entire region for access to its gas, oil and minerals. Long War proponent, Zbigniew Brzezinski, briefly appears in Zero. In 1997, he published The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.  Among those imperatives is the need to control Iran, a “primarily important geopolitical pivot.” [p.47]
Iran stands in the way. India does not. Neither does Pakistan or Israel. Brzezinski writes of the Central Asian states:
“Moreover, they are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.” (p.124, emphasis added)
Johannes Koeppl, a former German defense ministry and NATO official, called Grand Chessboard “a blueprint for world dictatorship.”  Iran is pivotal in those plans; Zero demonizes Iran. This is precisely the same fear mongering elites used when leading us into war on Iraq.
Zero isn’t even wholly anti-nuke; it only condemns nuclear arms. The film spends time, for example, on the Reagan-Gorbachev nuclear disarmament talks without mentioning what drove Gorbachev to the table: the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion.  The Ukraine government reports that the explosion released 100 times more radiation than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But Zero doesn’t mention this or any other civilian nuclear accident.  The goal is not to ban all nuclear use, even though a nuclear power incident (by accident or sabotage) is just as deadly.
And, it presents absurdities. According to Zero, Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in Pakistan, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also recently asserted.  Never mind that a dialysis-dependent man  on the run in rugged terrain for nine years would have likely died by now.  Elites refuse to give up their bogeyman.
A closer look into those nations that refuse to sign the NPT reveals different treatment by the US based on corporate investment deals. That difference is reflected in Zero. Though sanctions are applied against North Korea on the grounds it refuses to reach a nuclear accord, the U.S. trades nuclear technology with Israel, India and Pakistan, according to sources enumerated below.
A Look at India
It’s hard to take the nuclear powers seriously about disarmament, writes Russ Wellen in Foreign Policy in Focus.  India refused to sign not only the NPT, but also the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. India is now gearing up its anti-satellite system for deployment by 2015.
In India’s Quest for Dual-Use Technology,  nuclear research scientist Matthew Hoey mentions an India defense paper “that demonstrated a clear interest within the Indian military of deploying not only a space-based [directed-energy] laser but also a hypersonic suborbital delivery system with global-strike capability.”
Yet, somehow, India escapes “rogue state” status, with its attendant economic sanctions. Wellen cites Hoey who reported that the Bush Administration lifted the 1998 sanctions against India for its nuclear tests, “and then progressively loosened export and commerce laws against India.” Going even further:
“[In 2008] the United States approached the Nuclear Suppliers Group … to grant a waiver to India to commence civilian nuclear trade.… The implementation of this waiver makes India the only known country with nuclear weapons which is not a party to the Non Proliferation Treaty … but is still allowed to carry out nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.” (emphasis added)
So why the focus on Iran in this film? Why no concern about India, with its internal “insurgencies” necessitating ‘Operation Green Hunt’ (as the natives call it)? Wellen explains:
“As Andrew Lichterman and M.V. Ramana write in Beyond Arms Control (2010, Critical Will), ‘… the nuclear deal is part of a broader set of [US-Indian] agreements [which] US-based multinationals are … hoping to use … as a wedge to further open India to foreign investment and sales.’”
Oh, corporate profits are at stake. Zero’s talking heads don’t condemn India for refusing to sign the NPT, likely because India has opened its tribal areas to multinational mining companies.  Once those pesky tribes are removed (via Operation Green Hunt), massive profits can be made in destroying ecosystems for the underlying minerals.
A Look at Pakistan
Nuclear member Pakistan also refused to sign the NPT, but its relationship with the US has been fitful. In 1979, President Carter suspended aid after discovering a nuclear enrichment facility. After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan later that year, aid resumed in 1981 under President Ronald Reagan. In 1990, President Bush suspended all aid after confirming that Pakistan had acquired a nuclear bomb. 
In good graces once again, Pakistan just learned it will receive $7.5 billion in aid from the US.  Since 2001, Pakistan has received at least $12 billion in aid and “military reimbursements” from the U.S.
While speaking at the Brecht Forum last year,  Noam Chomsky (not in the film) accused the US of facilitating both India and Pakistan’s development of nuclear weaponry.
“Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals were developed with Reagan’s crucial aid. And India’s nuclear weapons program got a major shot in the arm with the recent US-India nuclear agreement.”
Former CIA expert on Pakistan’s nuclear secrets, Richard Barlow, may be the source of Chomsky’s accusation. In the 1980s, Barlow blew the whistle “that senior officials in government were … breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to … sell it banned WMD technology.” 
Zero makes no mention of US involvement in Pakistan acquiring nuclear capability. It tells us that China gave Pakistan a blueprint for a nuclear bomb, and that Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, provided the rest. We’re told that A.Q. Khan set up a “full service” nuclear trade “in the early 1980s.” CIA operative Valerie Plame then tells us that the US didn’t begin focusing on Khan “until the late 1990s,” long after Pakistan joined the nuclear club.
This is simply not plausible, even if Richard Barlow was not the expert on Pakistan nuclear secrets in the 1980s as he asserts. Someone in the US was watching Khan in the 1980s or Bush would not have had been inspired to suspend aid to Pakistan in 1990.
Another discrepancy between these two sources: Zero reports that Pakistan joined the nuclear club in 1990, whereas Barlow asserts it was in 1984, two years after Reagan renewed aid to the country. Regardless, US aid was not cut off until after Pakistan acquired the bomb.
A Look at Israel
Zero also does not condemn Israel for its nuclear program, despite its refusal to sign the NPT. The film asserts Israel has 80 nuclear weapons, which contradicts revelations made by nuclear technician, Mordechai Vanunu, in 1986.  An independent nuclear physicist examined Vanunu and his documents and reported that, in 1986, Israel had enough material for 150 nuclear bombs. 
Of note, Obama expanded nuclear trade with Israel last month. 
Another absurdity asserted by Valerie Plame in Zero is that “Hamas is a terrorist organization.” But, since when is defending your homeland from invasion an act of terrorism? Take a look at this map of Palestine lands seized by Israel over the past 60 years:
Plame won global sympathy when the Bush Administration outed her as a CIA spy.  Then, it was that Iraq had obtained yellowcake uranium from Nigeria, which her husband, former US Ambassador Joe Wilson, refuted in a New York Times piece in 2003.  For this, she was outed as a spy. How ironic that she would now help advance the cause of war today with terrorist fear mongering – the same propaganda that Bush used.
Why even mention Hamas? Gaza’s popularly elected government clearly has no capability of acquiring and deploying WMDs. It’s barely alive under Israel’s military strikes and continual (and deadly ) blockade of food, medicine and building materials.
That statement – ‘Hamas is a terrorist organization’ – stands alone in the film, with no further comment. It’s pure psyops. The U.S.’s unending support  of Israel’s ongoing genocide in Palestine  does more to create instability than it does to secure peace in the region.
A Look at North Korea
Zero mocks nuclear club member North Korea, using old black and white footage of a stern Kim Jong II, yet worries about its potential to trade nuclear secrets regionally. Its fears are realized as North Korea may be assisting Myanmar (Burma) in achieving nuclear capability, according to several sources reported in Bloomberg recently. 
Hillary Clinton just increased sanctions against North Korea for its continuing refusal to sign nuclear accords, but the US may have a tougher time in Myanmar, given Chevron’s lucrative arrangement with the military junta.  The Carlyle Group, with its many business interests in South Korea,  also held (and may still hold) business interests in Myanmar. 
Given US handling of India and Israel, and its massive infusion of cash into Pakistan, three states which have not signed the NPT, can we expect a similar pass on a nuclear Myanmar (but not North Korea) given corporate interests in that regime?
A Well-Made Film
Put aside for the moment Islamo-terrorist bashing, elite plans for invading Iran, and the deadly hypocrisy of the US using depleted uranium in Iraq after finding it did not have its own WMDs. Watching war hawks demand complete nuclear disarmament is sobering.
Filmmaker Lucy Walker uses potent imagery, like the tennis ball representing how much highly enriched uranium is needed to destroy an entire city.
She also shows numerous accidents with planes carrying nuclear weapons. Citizens do need to be concerned that nuclear accidents are possible. This is one of the supporting themes of the film. “If the probability isn’t zero, it will happen,” warns nuclear physicist Frank von Hippel.
Mentioned in Zero under “Accidents” is the B-52 flight over the US in 2007, which carried six nuclear warheads. News reports in the film assert, “nobody knew – not the aircraft’s crew, not the commanders on the ground.” Six nuclear warheads could never be loaded onto a plane and flown 1,500 miles across the U.S. without anyone having a clue. This was no accident.
One unintended message may be that rogue forces within the US military are a threat. Indeed, former UN Ambassador Gordon Duff recently speculated about such a frightening scenario.  Decommissioning the US arsenal is just as important as all other nuclear arsenals. The US, in fact, is the only nation confirmed to have used all three WMDs: nuclear, biological and chemical. This is a claim that not even the immortal Osama bin Laden can make.
“Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fallujah. And so it turns out that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, though not until we arrived and started using them.”
~Bob Koehler, “The suffering of Fallujah.” 
As presented, the history of nuclear proliferation is morbidly fascinating. Rare video footage offers a glimpse into the eyes of Robert Oppenheimer, the man who understood – and yet created – the means to end life on Planet Earth. He admits that the technology will spread; that it cannot be made secure.
Mikhail Gorbachev also appears, calling for complete nuclear disarmament. He put it most succinctly in a 2007 article: “It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious.” 
We can all agree on complete nuclear disarmament. We can all take Zero’s suggestion to pressure our public servants into bringing the number of nuclear weapons down to zero, a process begun in 1963.
But, let us also recognize war propaganda when it surfaces. The film’s sincerity in promoting complete nuclear disarmament is undermined by its transparent promotion of war on Iran and by its failure to condemn nuclear energy. By not condemning all nuclear power, Countdown to Zero misses a golden opportunity to unite peace activists with safe-energy ones to rid the world of such a dangerous, destructive technology. Nuclear fallout is deadly – whether from weapons or energy plants.
Director and writer: Lucy Walker
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media, The History Channel, World Security Institute
 Iraq Revenue Watch, “Iraqi Fire Sale: CPA Rushes to Give away Billions in Iraqi Oil Revenues,” June 2004. http://www.iraqrevenuewatch.org/reports/061504.shtml
Also see: Terry Macalister, “Iraqi government fuels ‘war for oil’ theories by putting reserves up for biggest ever sale,” The Guardian, 13 Oct 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/13/oil-iraq
 Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, “The ex-presidents’ club,” The Guardian, 31 Oct 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/31/september11.usa4
See also: Dan Briody, “Carlyle’s Way,” Red Herring, 10 Dec 2001. http://www.redherring.com/Home/6793
 SourceWatch, “Joseph Cirincione.” Accessed July 2010. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Joseph_Cirincione
 Gareth Porter, “US frets at Iran’s ‘strategic dominance’” Asia Times, 28 Sep 2007. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/II28Ak01.html
 Wikipedia, “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” Accessed July 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Non-Proliferation_Treaty
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives,” Basic Books, 1997. http://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119973.pdf
 Michael C. Ruppert, “A War in the Planning for Four Years” From the Wilderness, 7 Nov 2001. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/zbig.html
 Richard Rhodes, “Arsenals of Folly,” Knopf, 2007, as reviewed by Charles Matthews in “Life and death in the Bomb’s shadow,” The Houston Chronicle, 19 Oct 2007. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/books/reviews/5226743.html
 Ukraine Chernobyl InterInform, “The explosion of the reactor,” n.d. Accessed July 2010. (The site is now being administered by the United Nations Development Programme.) http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php?userhash=&navID=10&lID=2
 Wikipedia, “List of civilian nuclear accidents.” Accessed July 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nuclear_accidents
 Regional Times, “US-Pak nuke deal unlikely without satisfying Int’l community: Hillary—Bin Laden & Mullah Omar are hiding in Pakistan,” 20 Jul 2010 http://regionaltimes.com/20jul2010/frontpagenews/uspak.htm
 Adam Sage, “Ailing bin Laden ‘treated secretly for kidney disease,’” London Times, 1 Nov 2001. Reposted at http://www.wanttoknow.info/011101londontimes
 Lionel U. Mailloux, MD and William L. Henrich, MD, “Patient survival and maintenance dialysis,” 2010. http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~s4PPbmdadYoEaMP
 Russ Wellen, “Would You Trust a Country that Named Its First Nuke Test ‘Smiling Buddha’?” Foreign Policy in Focus, 28 Jun 2010. http://www.fpif.org/blog/smiling_buddha
 Matthew Hoey, “India’s Quest for Dual-Use Technology,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept-Oct, 2009. http://cryptome.org/in-dual-tech.pdf
 Arundhati Roy, “Walking with the Comrades,” Outlook India, 29 Mar 2010. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264738
Also see Roy’s speech opposing Operation Green Hunt, India’s ongoing genocide of tribal people to seize their lands scheduled for mining, 2 Jun 2010. Video and transcript. http://coto2.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/arundhati-roy-resists-operation-green-hunt-transcript-and-video/.
 K. Alan Krondstadt, “U.S.-Pakistan Relations, Congressional Research Service, 6 Feb 2009. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33498.pdf
 Matthew Lee, “Clinton cajoles Pakistan on security, offers $7.5-billion in aid,” Associated Press, 19 Jul 2010. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/clinton-cajoles-pakistan-on-security-offers-75-billion-in-aid/article1644492/
 Noam Chomsky, “Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours” speaking at Riverside Church in Harlem 12 Jun 2009. Transcript by Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/3/noam_chomsky_on_crisis_and_hope
 Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, “The man who knew too much,” The Guardian, 13 Oct 2007. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/13/usa.pakistan
 The Sunday Times, “Revealed – the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal/ Atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu reveals secret weapons production,” 5 Oct 1986, web posted 21 Apr 2004 at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article830147.ece
 Charles F. Barnaby, Ph.D., “Expert Opinion of Charles Frank Barnaby in the Matter of Mordechai Vanunu,” Federation of American Scientists, 14 Jun 2004. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/barnaby.pdf
 Haaretz Service, Barak Ravid, Reuters, “Report: Secret document affirms U.S.-Israel nuclear partnership” Haaretz, 07 Jul 2010. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/report-secret-document-affirms-u-s-israel-nuclear-partnership-1.300554
 SourceWatch, “Valerie Plame.” Accessed July 2010. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Valerie_Plame
 Joseph C. Wilson, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” New York Times, 6 Jul 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/06WILS.html?pagewanted=all
 Cultures of Resistance, “Israeli Navy Attacks Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” 11 Jun 2010. http://www.culturesofresistance.org/gaza-freedom-flotilla
 111th U.S. Congress, “House Resolution 867: Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora.” Passed 3 Nov 2009. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr111-867
 United Nations, “Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” UN Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 15 Sep 2009. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf
 Peter S. Green, “Myanmar Nuclear Weapon Program Claims Supported by Photos, Jane’s Reports,” Bloomberg, 21 Jul 2010. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-21/myanmar-nuclear-weapon-program-claims-supported-by-photos-jane-s-reports.html
 Gemma Richardson, “Corporations in Burma: Companies Operating in Myanmar Profit at the Expense of the People,” Social Corporate Responsibility, 22 Mar 2009. http://social-corporate-responsibility.suite101.com/article.cfm/corporations_in_burma
 Moon Ihlwan, et al., “Carlyle Group’s Asian Invasion,” Bloomberg, 14 Feb 2005. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_07/b3920143_mz035.htm
Also see: Ellen Sheng, “Carlyle Group Invests US$140 Mln in Four Asian Companies,” Wall Street Journal, 7 Jun 2010. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100607-700192.html
 Norwatch, “Drilling for the Burmese Junta,” 7 July 2006, translated into English at Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, http://www.business-humanrights.org/Categories/Individualcompanies/C/CarlyleGroup
 Gordon Duff, “Did the Military Stop Cheney from Destroying the World?” Veterans Today, 7 Jul 2010. http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/07/07/gordon-duff-did-the-military-stop-cheney-from-destroying-the-world/
 Robert C. Koehler, “The Suffering of Fallujah,” 29 Jul 2010. http://coto2.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/the-suffering-of-fallujah/
 Mikhail Gorbachev, “The Nuclear Threat,” Wall Street Journal, 4 Jan 2007, reposted at http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2007/01/31_gorbachev_nuclearthreat.htm.
The hero of “freedom of speech”, boycotted by the corporate, mainstream media that are irresistible against the astringent truth: this is the most precise and accurate introduction which I can present about Carlos Latuff. Born in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he is an artist of conscience whose artistic commitment and morality prevented him from becoming the pawn of imperialism. Carlos Latuff is a world-renowned cartoonist who has long brought into existence artistic works and cartoons in which the footsteps of creativity, novelty, intelligence and decency can be traced noticeably. He has never been given the opportunity to showcase his matchless cartoons in the New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, BBC or CNN; however, the narrow hallways of personal blogs and independent media outlets which allowed his cartoons to breathe in the atmosphere of publicity, made him a man of genuineness and reality, known by those who seek something beyond the outdated, obsolete propaganda of “all options are on the table”.
Carlos Latuff has drawn numerous cartoons which depict the pains of oppressed nations around the world; from the Palestinians being suffocated under the Israeli occupation to the Iranians receiving the spates of psychological operation co-manufactured by the White House and Tel Aviv.
Here is the complete text of my interview with Carlos Latuff, conducted for Iran’s best-selling newspaper Jame-Jam, where we elaborately discussed his intellectual mission and the prospect of his artistic trajectory.
Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Carlos; it seems that you’ve dedicated your entire mission to independent, freelance journalism and one can clearly figure out that you are not usually paid in lieu of what you draw for the magazines, newspapers and websites since a complete set of your cartoons and caricatures are available on your website for free. Do you accede to draw cartoons which are contrary to your ideological mindset should you be offered remarkable, irresistible payments?
Carlos Latuff: No way! I will only make artworks according my own beliefs. I don’t trade ideology for money. I work for trade union (workers) press since 1990, that’s what I make for a living. Mainstream media would never pay me for making anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist artworks. But I have what I call “artistic activism”, producing cartoons and making them available on the Web for free of charge reproduction; cartoons with a different point of view from the Western mainstream media; cartoons exposing what Michael Moore would call “the awful truth”. I already refused payments for my drawings about Palestine. Solidarity can’t be measured by dollars.
KZ: You’ve received serious death threats from the Zionist circles and Israeli groups a number of times. Would you please explain for us a little about the details of these threats and the consequential events that followed them? Have you ever thought of putting aside your professional and artistic mission in order to preserve your safe, tranquil life?
CL: In 2006 a website associated to Likud (Likudnik) published a long article about me, my art, my support to Palestinians and labeled me as an agent at the service of a supposed “Iranian propaganda machine”, comparing me with Nazi propagandists. The author of the article argued why Israel didn’t take care of me before and urged readers to take steps against me. Let me be straight, I really don’t care about threats. Along the Palestinian cause I also support human rights organizations against police brutality in Brazil. This kind of activism alone could put me in high risk of life. But, as I said, I don’t care; I will continue with my artistic support, ’cause if Zionists worldwide are pissed off about my cartoons, it’s because I’m doing something right. Death can stop me yes, but not my cartoons. That’s why I make them run free around the world through Internet.
KZ: You belong to a prosperous country which is the 8th economic power of the world and the 10th trade partner of the United States. Brazil also maintains normal ties with Israel and this is something which many anti-war and anti-imperialism activists dislike. Coming from such a country, you profoundly grasped the essence of oppressed nations’ suffering and sympathized with them wholeheartedly. How did you rise from Brazil and came to assist the oppressed nations?
CL: I grown up in the suburbs of Rio and my parents worked hard to give me study and a humble but decent life. Being the 8th economic power makes no difference to the ordinary people in Brazil. We have poverty, corruption, criminal and police violence, influent and strong landowners in countryside, people dying of dengue fever and malaria, and a mainstream media which is always trying to convince public opinion that everything is ok with capitalism. As someone living in a Third World country I can’t turn a blind eye to this situation here and in other parts of the world. Last year I was in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, places very similar to Brazilian slums (favelas). It wasn’t hard to realize that the language of poverty is universal, as universal must be the solidarity with people in need.
KZ: You’ve for years cooperated with a number of media outlets in the Western countries and can precisely estimate the veracity of the slogan of “freedom of expression” in the countries who introduce themselves as the harbingers of liberty and tolerance. I clearly remember the spates of verbal and political attacks on the artists who had participated in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Even the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had condemned the contest and this could simply demonstrate the lopsidedness of “freedom” which they claim to be the pioneers thereof. What’s your idea about that? Are the western media outlets really free?
CL: Still today I’ve been accused of denying Holocaust because of that artwork for which I won the second place in the Iranian cartoon contest. It’s funny since the cartoon shows a Palestinian elderly wearing a concentration camp uniform, which not only affirms the existence of the Nazi Holocaust as well as making a comparison between it and the suffering of the Palestinians. I believe that this contest had exposed the Western’s double standard. When you ridicule and attack Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islam or Muslims, then this is called “satire”, “humor”, “freedom of speech”, whatever. Joking about Islam is pretty acceptable. Islamophobia is popular in the US and Europe, specially after September 11. However the same freedom you have for making cartoons about Islam and its Prophet you won’t have while dealing with Holocaust and Israel. If you dare draw Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians (isn’t a fact?), you will be automatically labeled as anti-Semitic. While Muhammad cartoons were wide spread in Europe, Holocaust cartoons weren’t not reproduced in any European newspaper.
KZ: Your stance towards Iran’s nuclear program (Iran intends to meet its energy, electricity needs through nuclear reactors) and Israel’s nuclear program (Israel possess up to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists) is delicately accurate and specific, indicating your extensive acquaintance with the regional equations and developments. Iran is being lethally pressured to halt its civilian nuclear program and Israel has been unconditionally safeguarded by Washington to keep up with its military atomic program. What’s your take on this?
CL: In fact all this turmoil about Iranian nuclear program has more to do with the fear of US, Europe and Israel of having a country in Middle East with nuclear capability. It will change the geopolitics in the region, since no Arab country was ever allowed by US of having anything nuclear. Only Israel can have not only nuclear plants but also nukes, immune to inspections and international law. If Iran will develop nuclear capabilities for civilian or military use, it doesn’t matter. The point is, if US, Europe and Israel are so concerned about threats to peace, why don’t they start proposing sanctions against Pakistan and India, since both countries have a nuclear arms race since long time? Because both countries are allies of Washington? Why not a single word about the Israeli nuclear program? Why Mordecai Vanunu is prevented to speak about it?
KZ: Most of your critics accuse you of arising anti-Semitic sentiments by drawing cartoons which condemn the State of Israel and its leaders for the atrocities and felonies they commit. Is this the case that you’re opposed to Jews as the followers of a divine religion, or do you simply go up against the expansionist Zionists who commit crimes against humanity and massacre the defenseless people of Palestine?
CL: I’m not a religious man, and none of my cartoons deal with Judaism. You won’t find any of my artworks attacking the Jewish. My issue with Israel and their supporters is only about politics, imperialism. Even not being Muslim, I do support Muslims against Islamophobia, since I can’t agree with prejudice against religion. Of course anything that may be slightly perceived as criticism towards Israel will be associated with hatred towards Jews. This old trick is applied to anyone who dares speak against Israeli apartheid. But everyday more activists understand this misuse of anti-Semitism and keep the struggle regardless of the false allegations and smear campaigns from Zionists.
KZ: Have the global mainstream media outlets (the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press and so forth) which universally rule the public opinions ever published your cartoons? Why don’t such media outlets which assert to be the pioneers of freedom of expression accept allowing the publication of disparate viewpoints which are contrary to their focal approach?
CL: Reuters made a video interview with me last year about my art and views. I had some of my cartoons shown on Al Jazeera and George Galloway show at Press TV, but this is an exception. Usually only Arab media outlets are interested in my opinions. Western mainstream media isn’t interested in giving space to a Leftist artist who supports people’s struggle in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. But in a way or another, I find a place to make my opinions visible. Internet is my best ally. You see, even not being a famous artist promoted by mainstream media, you and your newspaper know about me and my cartoons. Internet has broken the obstacles imposed by corporate media. And I won’t make concessions for mere 15 minutes of fame; will keep fidelity with my principles.
KZ: The subjugated people of Palestine and other countries which have been subject to the brutality of imperialism throughout the history will be encouraged and hopeful when they find conscientious artists like you sympathizing with them. Have you ever felt the courage and valor you present to the people of Palestine with your artistic endeavors?
CL: I’m very suspicious for talking about the Palestinians. I have never seen such a brave and courageous people like them. I started making cartoons about Palestinians since my trip to West Bank in 1999 and since then my sympathy for their cause only grow up. After my recent visit to Jordan and Lebanon, invited by Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture, I realized that my relation with Palestinians is not only political. I have pure love for that people.
KZ: Please tell us about your latest activities. How was the experience of winning a prize in the Iran-based International Holocaust Cartoon Competition? Do you like to come to Iran once again and touch the pains and difficulties of the Iranian people in person?
CL: Usually I don’t participate in contests, since I’m not interested in the prizes and stuff. The purpose of my art is supporting social movements, rather than feeding my own ego. But I saw the Holocaust cartoon competition as a timely opportunity for making visual comment about Palestinian suffering. In that occasion, I was invited by my good friend Massoud Tabatabai to attend the prize award ceremony in Teheran but unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel. But of course if I had another chance, I would be more than glad to visit Iran.
“THE US SHOULD TAKE A LESSON FROM THE PAGES OF RUSSIAN HISTORY,” scolded Russian Prime Minister during a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland on January 28, 2009.
Continuing his lecture to Zionist-occupied America, Putin said that America should not exercise “excessive intervention in economic activity having blind faith in the state’s omnipotence.”
Then pointing to a few of the tragic events of Russia’s economic woes during its occupation by Communism during its Soviet Union days, Putin issued this pointed message to the US: “Because the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute, it made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.”
Putin’s rebuke of Zionist America comes at a time when Obama is initiating the largest expanse of American government in the history of the US. With his latest appointment of the Zionist-Jew, Kenneth Feinberg, as “pay czar” to monitor the compensation of private businessmen – Obama should be listening to the sage advice of Vladimir Putin:
“We must not turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of business people, investors, and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility on to the state.” View Entire Story Here & Here.
With the US deficit climbing to over 2 trillion dollars – an extremely conservative figure – under the Obama administration, Putin’s words are coming home to roost: “We must assess the real situation and write off all hopeless debts. True, this will be an extremely painful and unpleasant process. However, we would only prolong the crisis unless we clean up our balance sheets.”
OBAMA MEETS PUTIN ‘NOT A ROCK STAR IN RUSSIA’
ON THE EVE OF HIS FIRST VISIT TO RUSSIA – JULY 6-8 2009, Obama accused Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of having “one foot” in the Cold War. (It is Obama who is waging Cold War policies with his wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and blowing hot & cold towards Iran.)
In his interview with the Associated Press, Obama not only made the mistake of alienating Putin by calling him a “cold war” politician, (suggesting that Russian president Medvedev’s outlook differs from Putin’s), but made an attempt to pit Medvedev against his mentor and boss, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin:
“As we move forward with President Medvedev it is important that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to US-Russian relations is outdated — that it’s time to move forward in a different direction.
Putin responded to Obama’s attack quickly with an obvious jab at Obama’s ‘rock star’ posturings: “We don’t know how to stand so awkwardly with our legs apart. We stand solidly on our own two feet and always look into the future.”
And responding to Obama’s attempt to drive a wedge between himself and Medvedev, (which demonstrated a total misreading of relations in the Kremlin…Medvedev is in office but not in power), Putin announced: “Dimitri Medvedev is no less of a Russian nationalist than I am!”
Indeed, Medvedev’s role as Russia’s president depends entirely on Putin’s support and intentions. As the Times Online reported, “Medvedev may represent a more accommodating face of Russia but this is only because Putin wants him to.”
Coming to Russia with all the hoopla that the Jewish-occupied press could muster, the superstar president talked of “resetting relations” with Russia in hopes of wooing the Russian people. But nowhere was rock star Obama greeted with the adulation that he has received on other foreign trips — few Russians lurked around venues in hopes of glimpsing the ’superstar’ president.
PUTIN TRUMPS OBAMA
IN HIS TWO-HOUR BREAKFAST MEETING WITH PUTIN on July 7, 2009, Obama was made subject to a one hour uninterrupted monologue by Putin about Russia’s view of the world.
And it is Russia’s “view of the world” that Obama must take second seat to. For Putin, being fully aware that Obama came to Russia to secure air space passage through southern Russia to transport US military supplies into Afghanistan, (which Putin granted), found opportunity to demonstrate to Obama that it is Russia who is really in charge of Eurasian geopolitics, not Zionist-occupied America. (Russia just signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to receive gas deliveries which the US-backed Nabucco Project depends on.) View The Russia-US Afghanistan Agreement Here & The Russia-Azerbaijan Agreement Here.
As planned by Putin, only one week prior to Obama’s visit, the US was granted the right to continue using the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan, which was previously denied to America in February of 2009. Putin is believed to be behind the Central Asian nation’s decision to originally evict US troops, and his approval was sought when the US and Kyrgyzstan announced the move’s surprise reversal.
Obama unconsciously admitted to Putin’s growing dominance when in an interview with Fox News, Obama said: “I found Putin to be tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental and very pragmatic.”
The “tough, smart and unsentimental” Putin is dead set on re-establishing Russia’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics. And Putin will continue to use Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies as a card to divide Europe against Zionist-occupied America. And surely, while Obama and his handlers attempt to get the Nabucco Project off the ground, Putin will be working behind the scenes to see the project scrapped.
Obama came to the Russian table like a card sharp to a casino, ready to charm his hosts and pull aces from his sleeve to win support from Europe for America’s aim of continued (but waning) hegemony. But Putin is a master chess player, cautious and calculating. The unsentimental Putin does not respond to charm — and he has just closed Russia’s casinos in his efforts to build a Christian Russia …while Obama continues to follow his orders to build a Soviet America.
And amateur card players like Obama are simply tools — rather fools — for Putin to use in his new and expanding Russia…
“The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population has built for the last fifteen years.” Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, Democracy Now
Up until a month ago, no one in the Bush administration showed the least bit of interest in the incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Now that’s all changed and there’s talk of sending in the Navy to patrol the waters off the Horn of Africa and clean up the pirates hideouts. Why the sudden about-face? Could it have something to do with the fact that the Ethiopian army is planning to withdrawal all of its troops from Mogadishu by the end of the year, thus, ending the failed two year US-backed occupation of Somalia?
The United States has lost the ground war in Somalia, but that doesn’t mean its geopolitical objectives have changed one iota. The US intends to stay in the region for years to come and use its naval power to control the critical shipping lanes from the Gulf of Aden. The growing strength of the Somali national resistance is a set-back, but it doesn’t change the basic game-plan. The pirates are actually a blessing in disguise. They provide an excuse for the administration to beef up it’s military presence and put down roots. Every crisis is an opportunity.
There’s an interesting subtext to the pirate story that hasn’t appeared in the western media. According to Simon Assaf of the Socialist Worker:
“Many European, US and Asian shipping firms – notably Switzerland’s Achair Partners and Italy’s Progresso – signed dumping deals in the early 1990s with Somalia’s politicians and militia leaders. This meant they could use the coast as a toxic dumping ground. This practice became widespread as the country descended into civil war.
Nick Nuttall of the UN Environment Programme said, “European companies found it was very cheap to get rid of the waste.”
When the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2005 washed ashore on the east coast of Africa, it uncovered a great scandal. Tons of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals drifted onto the beaches after the giant wave dislodged them from the sea bed off Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalis fell ill after coming into contact with this cocktail. They complained to the United Nations (UN), which began an investigation.
“There are reports from villagers of a wide range of medical problems such as mouth bleeds, abdominal hemorrhages, unusual skin disorders and breathing difficulties,” the UN noted.
Some 300 people are believed to have died from the poisonous chemicals.
In 2006 Somali fishermen complained to the UN that foreign fishing fleets were using the breakdown of the state to plunder their fish stocks. These foreign fleets often recruited Somali militias to intimidate local fishermen. Despite repeated requests, the UN refused to act. Meanwhile the warships of global powers that patrol the strategically important Gulf of Aden did not sink or seize any vessels dumping toxic chemicals off the coast.
So angry Somalis, whose waters were being poisoned and whose livelihoods were threatened, took matters into their own hands. Fishermen began to arm themselves and attempted to act as unofficial coastguards.” (Socialist Worker)
The origins of piracy in Somalia is considerably different than the narrative in the media which tends to perpetuate stereotypes of scary black men who are naturally inclined to criminal behavior. In reality, the pirates were the victims of a US-EU run system that still uses the developing world as a dumping ground for toxic waste regardless of the suffering it causes. (just ask Larry Summers) In fact, the dumping continues to this day, even though we have been assured that we’re living in a “post racial era” following the election of Barak Obama. Unfortunately, that rule doesn’t apply to the many black and brown people who still find themselves caught in the imperial crosshairs. Their lives are just as miserable as ever.
ETHIOPIA’S PLAN FOR WITHDRAWAL
In 2006, the Bush administration supported an alliance of Somali warlords known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa. With the help of the Ethiopian army, western mercenaries, US Navy warships, and AC-130 gunships; the TFG captured Mogadishu and forced the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to retreat to the south. Since then the resistance has coalesced into a tenacious guerrilla army that has recaptured most of the country.
The Bush administration invoked the war on terror to justify its involvement in Somalia, but their case was weak and full of inconsistencies. The ICU is not an Al Qaida affiliate or a terrorist organization despite the claims of the State Department. In fact, the ICU brought a high level of peace and stability to Somalia that hadn’t been seen for more than sixteen years.
Political analyst James Petras summed it up like this:
“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.”
The Bush administration is mainly interested in oil and geopolitics. According to most estimates 30 per cent of America’s oil will come from Africa within the next ten years. That means the Pentagon will have to extend its tentacles across the continent. Washington’s allies in the TFG promised to pass oil laws that would allow foreign oil companies to return to Somalia, but now all of that is uncertain. It is impossible to know what type of government will emerge from the present conflict. Many pundits expect Somalia to descend into terrorist-breeding, failed state for years to come.
The latest round of fighting has created a humanitarian disaster. 1.3 million people have been forced from their homes with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs. Over 3.5 million people are now huddled in tent cities in the south with little food, clean water or medical supplies.
According to the UN News Center: “Nearly half the population is in crisis or need of assistance….Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance. In addition, one in six children under the age of five in southern and central Somalia is currently acutely malnourished.” (UN News Center)
The war between the occupying Ethiopian army and the various guerrilla factions has steadily intensified over the last two years. Fighters from the ICU, Al-Shabaab and other Islamic groups have moved from the south to the vicinity of Mogadishu where fighting could break out at any time. It’s “game-over” for Bush’s proxy army and the transitional federal government. They cannot win, which is why the Ethiopian leaders announced a complete withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. By January 1, 2009, the occupation will be over.
In a recent Chicago Tribune article, “US Appears to be Losing in Somalia”, journalist Paul Salopek sums it up like this:
“(Somalia) is a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants…and secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships. The British civil-rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as floating prisons since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks…
“Somalia is one of the great unrecognized U.S. policy failures since 9/11,” said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar at Davidson College in North Carolina. “By any rational metric, what we’ve ended up with there today is the opposite of what we wanted.” (Paul Salopek, “US Appears to be Losing in Somalia” Chicago Tribune)
The CIA has done its job well. It’s created a beehive for terrorism and the potential for another catastrophe like 9-11.
Currently, negotiations are underway between the guerrilla leaders and the TFG over a power-sharing agreement. But no one expects the talks will amount to anything. The moderate ICU may regain power but the country will still be ungovernable for years to come. At best, Somalia is a decade away from restoring the fragile peace that was in place before Bush’s bloody intervention.
Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org