“It is essential to recognize that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program, nor does it possess a nuclear weapon. On February 26, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Ayatollah Khomenei, the supreme leader of Iran, ended his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “as far as we know, he’s not made the decision to go for a nuclear weapon.” This repeats the “high-confidence” judgement of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) that was first made in November 2007.” -Micah Zenko, Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context, Council on Foreign Relations
It always helps to start with the truth, and in Iran’s case, the truth is quite simple. Iran has no nuclear weapons, it has no nuclear weapons program, and it’s never been caught diverting nuclear fuel for other purposes. Iran has pursued nuclear technology for peaceful purposes alone.
These are the facts. They may not jibe with the lies propagated in the western media, but they are the facts all the same. Iran is not guilty of anything. It’s merely a victim of Washington’s power-crazy attempt to control vital resources in the Middle East and enhance Israel’s regional hegemony. That’s what’s really going on. It’s all geopolitics. It has nothing to do with nukes.
Media coverage of the so called nuclear negotiations in Laussanne and now in Vienna has focused maniacally on the number of centrifuges, IAEA monitoring programs, uranium enrichment capability, and myriad other arcane topics that are meant to divert attention from the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and no interest in developing one. By poring over the details of these issues in excruciating detail, the reader is left feeling that Iran must be hiding something and therefore must pose a real threat to US national security. But of course that’s precisely what the authors of these articles hope to achieve, they want to pull the wool over the public’s eyes and get people to believe something that is transparently false.. The fact is, Iran is not doing anything underhanded or illegal. They are merely demanding that their right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the terms of the NPT be respected. Iran will not allow itself to be bullied by the US or treated like a second class citizen. Iran has behaved honorably from the beginning, which is a helluva a lot more than can be said of the US.
The media doesn’t want to discuss the “additional protocols” that Iran accepted in order to build confidence among members on the United Nations, because then people would realize that Iran has gone the extra mile many times in the past only to be slapped with more spurious accusations of noncompliance or foul play. But where’s the evidence of noncompliance or foul play? There isn’t any. It’s all just fear-mongering speculation and vitriolic BS spewed by the dissembling media. There’s not a word of truth to any of it.
The media’s latest scam centers on the term “breakout time”, which refers to the amount of time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon if it was so inclined, which it isn’t.
“Breakout time” is the new propaganda buzzword reiterated thousands of times in the media suggesting that Tehran is just hours away from building an atomic weapon that it will immediately use to annihilate Israel. It’s a ridiculous fairy tale that assumes that–since the US is a rouge-homicidal state that goes around bombing the bejesus out of anything that moves–that other states are bound to behave the same if given half a chance. This is wrong on many levels. First of all, Iran doesn’t want nukes and, secondly, leaders in other countries are not power-mad megalomaniacs whose only joy in life is reducing broad swathes of the planet to smoldering rubble. That behavior is particular to US leaders alone. Others don’t suffer from the same sociopathic disorder.
The nuclear issue has nothing to do Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons program. That’s just a smokescreen. The real problem is that Iran is a sovereign country with an independent foreign policy. Washington doesn’t like independent nations. Washington likes nations that shut up and do what they’re told. Nations that refuse to take orders are Washington’s enemies, they’re placed on a hit list. And that’s where the sanctions come into play. Sanctions are the way that Washington weakens its enemies before bombing them to kingdom come. They’re the stick the US uses to beat its rivals into submission.
If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that something very strange is going on. The US has done an about-face and changed its policy towards Iran. It’s a shocking development. The US has maintained the same savage policy towards Cuba for 60 years without changing a thing. Whether the policy works or not, has never mattered; what matters is inflicting maximum pain on the people Washington’s doesn’t like. So why the sudden change with Iran? Why is Obama trying to reach an agreement with a country that US elites openly despise?
And, keep in mind, that what Obama’s doing is extremely unpopular with many powerful groups; the congress, the media, Israel and even high ranking officials in his own State Department. Could it be that the powerbrokers who pull Obama’s strings and tell him what to do have suddenly seen the light and want to open a new era of reconciliation and friendship with Iran?
Of course not. No one believes that. The only reason Obama would strike a deal with Iran is because the US wants something in return. And the US does want something in return. The US wants a substitute for Russian gas flowing to the Europe so it can destroy Russia economically and implement its strategic plan to spread US power across Asia so US mega-corporations can maintain their dominant position in the global economy. Obama is playing nice with Iran so he can pivot to Asia as easily as possible.
So how plausible is it for Iran to replace Russian gas in the lucrative EU market?
Check out this clip from an article written in 2014 that anticipated the very scenario we see developing today, that is, the US trying to prevent an integrated EU-Russian free trade zone that would dwarf the US GDP and leave the exceptional nation to face years of precipitous decline. The article is titled “EU turns to Iran as alternative to Russian gas”:
The European Union is quietly increasing the urgency of a plan to import natural gas from Iran, as relations with Tehran thaw, while those with top gas supplier Russia grow colder…
“Iran is far towards the top of our priorities for mid-term measures that will help reduce our reliance on Russian gas supplies,” the source said. “Iran’s gas could come to Europe quite easily and politically there is a clear rapprochement between Tehran and the West.”….
While sanctioned itself, Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia and is a potential alternative given talks between Tehran and the West to reach a deal over the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme.
“High potential for gas production, domestic energy sector reforms that are underway, and ongoing normalization of its relationship with the West make Iran a credible alternative to Russia,” said a paper prepared for the European parliament…
“Given Russia’s current strategy politically, which is one of confrontation with Europe, I see the EU having little choice but to find alternative gas supplies,” he added…
“Iran’s interest to deliver gas to Europe is very big. Parts of Iran’s economical and political elite as well as Western companies are preparing for an end of the sanctions,” said Frank Umbach, energy research director at King’s College in London…
Iran has long lobbied to build a designated pipeline that would connect its huge South Pars gas field with European customers – the so-called Persian Pipeline.
“It’s an extremely ambitious project,” Handjani said. “Even if half of it gets built it would be major accomplishment for both Europe and Iran.”…
Independent feasibility studies show that if sanctions were to be eased and investments started soon, Iran could supply 10-20 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year to Turkey and Europe by the early 2020s.
(EU turns to Iran as alternative to Russian gas, euractiv.com)
This is why Obama wants to ease sanctions; it’s because he needs to find an alternate source of gas for Europe while he prosecutes his war on Russia. Defeating Russia has become Washington’s top strategic priority. The United States is willing to risk everything –even nuclear war– to maintain its stranglehold on global power and to extend its hegemony into the next century.
“In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to plunge Eurasia into chaos, (and) to cut economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific Region … Russia is the only (country) within this potential zone of instability that is capable of resistance. It is the only state that is ready to confront the Americans. Undermining Russia’s political will for resistance… is a vitally important task for America.”
-Nikolai Starikov, Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, Russia Insider
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
-The Wolfowitz Doctrine, the original version of the Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992
The United States does not want a war with Russia, it simply feels that it has no choice. If the State Department hadn’t initiated a coup in Ukraine to topple the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, then the US could not have inserted itself between Russia and the EU, thus, disrupting vital trade routes which were strengthening nations on both continents. The economic integration of Asia and Europe–including plans for high-speed rail from China (“The New Silk Road”) to the EU–poses a clear and present danger for the US whose share of global GDP continues to shrink and whose significance in the world economy continues to decline. For the United States to ignore this new rival (EU-Russia) would be the equivalent of throwing in the towel and accepting a future in which the US would face a gradual but persistent erosion of its power and influence in world affairs. No one in Washington is prepared to let that happen, which is why the US launched its proxy-war in Ukraine.
The US wants to separate the continents, “prevent the emergence of a new rival”, install a tollbooth between Europe and Asia, and establish itself as the guarantor of regional security. To that end, the US is rebuilding the Iron Curtain along a thousand mile stretch from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Tanks, armored vehicles and artillery are being sent to the region to reinforce a buffer zone around Europe in order to isolate Russia and to create a staging ground for future US aggression. Reports of heavy equipment and weapons deployment appear in the media on nearly a daily basis although the news is typically omitted in the US press. A quick review of some of the recent headlines will help readers to grasp the scale of the conflict that is cropping up below the radar:
“US, Bulgaria to hold Balkans military drills”, “NATO Begins Exercises In Black Sea”, “Army to send even more troops, tanks to Europe”, “Poland requests greater US military presence”, “U.S. Army sending armored convoy 1,100 miles through Europe”, “Over 120 US tanks, armored vehicles arrive in Latvia”, “US, Poland to Conduct Missile Exercise in March – Pentagon”
Get the picture? There’s a war going on, a war between the United States and Russia.
Notice how most of the headlines emphasize US involvement, not NATO. In other words, the provocations against Russia originate from Washington not Europe. This is an important point. The EU has supported US-led economic sanctions, but it’s not nearly as supportive of the military build up along the perimeter. That’s Washington’s idea and the cost is borne by the US alone. Naturally, moving tanks, armored vehicles and artillery around the world is an expensive project, but the US is more than willing to make the sacrifice if it helps to achieve its objectives.
And what are Washington’s objectives?
Interestingly, even political analysts on the far right seem to agree about that point. For example, check out this quote from STRATFOR CEO George Friedman who summed it up in a recent presentation he delivered at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs. He said:
“The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars–the First, the Second and Cold Wars–has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they’re the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” … George Friedman at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, Time 1:40 to 1:57)
Bingo. Ukraine has nothing to do with sovereignty, democracy or (alleged) Russian aggression. That’s all propaganda. It’s about power. It’s about imperial expansion. It’s about spheres of influence. It’s about staving off irreversible economic decline. It’s all part of the smash-mouth, scorched earth, take-no-prisoners geopolitical world in which we live, not the fake Disneyworld created by the western media. The US State Department and CIA toppled the elected-government in Ukraine and ordered the new junta regime to launch a desperate war of annihilation against its own people in the East, because, well, because they felt they had no other option. Had Putin’s ambitious plan to create a free trade zone between Lisbon to Vladivostok gone forward, then where would that leave the United States? Out in the cold, that’s where. The US would become an isolated island of dwindling significance whose massive account deficits and ballooning national debt would pave the way for years of brutal restructuring, declining standards of living, runaway inflation and burgeoning social unrest. Does anyone really believe that Washington would let that to happen when it has a “brand-spanking” trillion dollar war machine at its disposal?
Heck, no. Besides, Washington believes it has a historic right to rule the world, which is what one would expect when the sense of entitlement and hubris reach their terminal phase. Now check out this clip from an article by economist Jack Rasmus at CounterPunch:
“Behind the sanctions is the USA objective of driving Russia out of the European economy. Europe was becoming too integrated and dependent on Russia. Not only its gas and raw materials, but trade relations and money capital flows were deepening on many fronts between Russia and Europe in general prior to the Ukraine crisis that has provided the cover for the introduction of the sanctions. Russia’s growing economic integration with Europe threatened the long term economic interests of US capitalists. Strategically, the US precipitated coup in the Ukraine can be viewed, therefore as a means by which to provoke Russian military intervention, i.e. a necessary event in order to deepen and expand economic sanctions that would ultimately sever the growing economic ties between Europe and Russia long term. That severance in turn would not only ensure US economic interests remain dominant in Europe, but would also open up new opportunities for profit making for US interests in Europe and Ukraine as well…
When the rules of the competition game between capitalists break down altogether, the result is war—i.e. the ultimate form of inter-capitalist competition.” (The Global Currency Wars, Jack Rasmus, CounterPunch)
See? Analysts on the right and left agree. Ukraine has nothing to do with sovereignty, democracy or Russian aggression. It’s plain-old cutthroat geopolitics, where the last man left standing, wins.
The United States cannot allow Russia reap the benefits of its own vast resources. Oh, no. It has to be chastised, it has to be bullied, it has to be sanctioned, isolated, threatened and intimidated. That’s how the system really works. The free market stuff is just horsecrap for the sheeple.
Russia is going to have to deal with chaotic, fratricidal wars on its borders and color-coded regime change turbulence in its capital. It will have to withstand reprisals from its trading partners, attacks on its currency and plots to eviscerate its (oil) revenues. The US will do everything in its power to poison the well, to demonize Putin, to turn Brussels against Moscow, and to sabotage the Russian economy.
Divide and conquer, that’s the ticket. Keep them at each others throats at all times. Sunni vs Shia, one ethnic Ukrainian vs the other, Russians vs Europeans. That’s Washington’s plan, and it’s a plan that never fails.
US powerbrokers are convinced that America’s economic slide can only be arrested by staking a claim in Central Asia, dismembering Russia, encircling China, and quashing all plans for an economically-integrated EU-Asia. Washington is determined to prevail in this existential conflict, to assert its hegemonic control over the two continents, and to preserve its position as the world’s only superpower.
Only Russia can stop the United States and we believe it will.
Ukraine War Driven by Gas-Dollar Link…
“The Fed’s ‘need’ to take on an even more active role as foreigners further slow the purchases of our paper is to put the pedal to the metal on the currency debasement race now being run in the developed world — a race which is speeding us all toward the end of the present currency regime.” Stephanie Pomboy, MacroMavens
“No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on. NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.” Russian President Vladimir Putin
If there was a way the United States could achieve its long-term strategic objectives and, at the same time, avoid a war with Russia, it would do so. Unfortunately, that is not an option, which is why there’s going to be a clash between the two nuclear-armed adversaries sometime in the near future.
Let me explain: The Obama administration is trying to rebalance US policy in a way that shifts the focus of attention from the Middle East to Asia, which is expected to be the fastest growing region in the coming century. This policy-change is called the “pivot” to Asia. In order to benefit from Asia’s surge of growth, the US plans to beef up its presence on the continent, expand its military bases, strengthen bilateral alliances and trade agreements, and assume the role of regional security kingpin. The not-so-secret purpose of the policy is China “containment”, that is, Washington wants to preserve its position as the world’s only superpower by controlling China’s explosive growth. (The US wants a weak, divided China that will do what it’s told.)
In order to achieve its goals in Asia, the US needs to push NATO further eastward, tighten its encirclement of Russia, and control the flow of oil and gas from east to west. These are the necessary preconditions for establishing US hegemonic rule over the continent. And this is why the Obama administration is so invested in Kiev’s blundering junta-government; it’s because Washington needs Poroshenko’s neo Nazi shock troops to draw Russia into a conflagration in Ukraine that will drain its resources, discredit Putin in the eyes of his EU trading partners, and create the pretext for deploying NATO to Russia’s western border.
The idea that Obama’s proxy army in Ukraine is defending the country’s sovereignty is pure bunkum. What’s going on below the surface is the US is trying to stave off irreversible economic decline and an ever-shrinking share of global GDP through military force. What we’re seeing in Ukraine today, is a 21st century version of the Great Game implemented by political fantasists and Koolaid drinkers who think they can turn the clock back to the post WW2 heyday of the US Empire when the world was America’s oyster. Thankfully, that period is over.
Keep in mind, the glorious US military has spent the last 13 years fighting sheep herders in flip-flops in Afghanistan in a conflict that, at best, could be characterized as a stalemate. And now the White House wants to take on Russia?
Can you appreciate the insanity of the policy?
This is why Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was sacked last week, because he wasn’t sufficiently eager to pursue this madcap policy of escalating the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. Everyone knows it’s true, the administration hasn’t even tried to deny it. They’d rather stick with foam-at-the-mouth buffoons, like Susan Rice and Samantha Powers, then a decorated veteran who has more credibility and intelligence in his little finger than Obama’s whole National Security team put together.
So now Obama is completely surrounded by rabid warmongering imbeciles, all of whom ascribe to the same fairytale that the US is going to dust-off Russia, remove Assad, redraw the map of the Middle East, control the flow of gas and oil from the ME to markets in the EU, and establish myriad beachheads across Asia where they can keep a tight grip on China’s growth.
Tell me, dear reader, doesn’t that strike you as a bit improbable?
But, of course, the Obama claque think it’s all within their grasp, because, well, because that’s what they’ve been told to think, and because that’s what the US has to do if it wants to maintain its exalted position as the world’s lone superpower when its economic significance in the world is steadily declining. You see, here’s the thing: The exceptional nation is becoming more unexceptional all the time, and that’s what has the political class worried, because they see the handwriting on the wall, and the writing says, “Enjoy it while it lasts, buddy, cuz you ain’t gonna be numero uno much longer.”
And the US has allies in this wacky crusade too, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been particularly helpful lately by flooding the market with oil to push down prices and crush the Russian economy. (On Friday, Benchmark crude oil prices plummeted to a four-year low, with Brent crude sinking to $69.11 a barrel.) The Obama administration is using the classic one-two punch of economic sanctions and plunging oil revenues to bully Moscow into withdrawing from Crimea so Washington can move its nuclear arsenal to within spitting distance of Moscow. Here’s a bit of background from the Guardian:
“Think about how the Obama administration sees the state of the world. It wants Tehran to come to heel over its nuclear programme. It wants Vladimir Putin to back off in eastern Ukraine. But after recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has no desire to put American boots on the ground. Instead, with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)
And here’s more from Salon’s Patrick L. Smith at Salon:
“Less than a week after the Minsk Protocol was signed, Kerry made a little-noted trip to Jeddah to see King Abdullah at his summer residence. When it was reported at all, this was put across as part of Kerry’s campaign to secure Arab support in the fight against the Islamic State.
Stop right there. That is not all there was to the visit, my trustworthy sources tell me. The other half of the visit had to do with Washington’s unabated desire to ruin the Russian economy. To do this, Kerry told the Saudis 1) to raise production and 2) to cut its crude price. Keep in mind these pertinent numbers: The Saudis produce a barrel of oil for less than $30 as break-even in the national budget; the Russians need $105.
Shortly after Kerry’s visit, the Saudis began increasing production, sure enough — by more than 100,000 barrels daily during the rest of September, more apparently to come…
Think about this. Winter is coming, there are serious production outages now in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, other OPEC members are screaming for relief, and the Saudis make back-to-back moves certain to push falling prices still lower? You do the math, with Kerry’s unreported itinerary in mind, and to help you along I offer this from an extremely well-positioned source in the commodities markets: “There are very big hands pushing oil into global supply now,” this source wrote in an e-mail note the other day.” (What Really Happened in Beijing: Putin, Obama, Xi And The Back Story The Media Won’t Tell You, Patrick L. Smith, Salon)
The Obama team managed to persuade our good buddies the Saudis to flood the market with oil, drive down prices, and put the Russian economy into a nosedive. At the same time, the US has intensified its economic sanctions, done everything in its power to sabotage Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline (that would bypass Ukraine and deliver natural gas to Europe via a southern route), and cajole the Ukrainian parliament into auctioning off 49 percent of the leasing rights and underground storage facilities to privately-owned foreign corporations.
How do you like that? So the US has launched a full-blown economic war against Russia that’s been completely omitted in the western media. Are you surprised?
Washington is determined to block further Russo-EU economic integration in order to collapse the Russian economy and put foreign capital in control of regional energy distribution. It’s all about the pivot. The big money guys figure the US has to pivot to Asia to be a player in the next century. All of these unprovoked attacks on Moscow are based on that one lunatic strategy.
But aren’t people in the EU going to be angry when they can’t get the energy they need (at the prices they want) to run their businesses and heat their homes?
Washington doesn’t think so. Washington thinks its allies in the Middle East can meet the EU’s energy needs without any difficulty. Check out this clip from an article by analyst F. William Engdahl:
“…details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. ….
On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when.
The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.”
(The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)
So the wars in Ukraine and Syria are not really separate conflicts at all. They’re both part of the same global resource war the US has been prosecuting for the last decade and a half. The US plans to cut off the flow of Russian gas and replace it with gas from Qatar which will flow through Syria and onto the EU market after Assad is toppled.
Here’s what’s going on: Syria’s troubles began shortly after it announced that it was going to be part of an “Islamic pipeline” that would transfer natural gas from the South Pars gas field off the coast of Iran across Iraq and Syria, eventually connecting to Greece and the lucrative EU market. According to author Dmitri Minin:
“A gas pipeline from Iran would be highly profitable for Syria. Europe would gain from it as well, but clearly someone in the West didn’t like it. The West’s gas-supplying allies in the Persian Gulf weren’t happy with it either, nor was would-be no. 1 gas transporter Turkey, as it would then be out of the game.” (The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian “Opposition” Armed to Thwart Construction of Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline, Dmitri Minin, Global Research)
Two months after Assad signed the deal with Iraq and Iran, the rebellion broke out in Syria. That’s quite a coincidence, don’t you think? Funny how frequently those kinds of things happen when foreign leaders don’t march to Washington’s tune.
Here’s more from Minin:
“Qatar is doing all it can to thwart the construction of the pipeline, including arming the opposition fighters in Syria, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya…
The Arabic newspaper Al-Akhbar cites information according to which there is a plan approved by the U.S. government to create a new pipeline for transporting gas from Qatar to Europe involving Turkey and Israel…
This new pipeline is to begin in Qatar, cross Saudi territory and then the territory of Jordan, thus bypassing Shiite Iraq, and reach Syria. Near Homs the pipeline is to branch in three directions: to Latakia, Tripoli in northern Lebanon, and Turkey. Homs, where there are also hydrocarbon reserves, is the project’s main crossroads, and it is not surprising… that the fiercest fighting is taking place. Here the fate of Syria is being decided. The parts of Syrian territory where detachments of rebels are operating with the support of the U.S., Qatar and Turkey, that is, the north, Homs and the environs of Damascus, coincide with the route that the pipeline is to follow to Turkey and Tripoli, Lebanon. A comparison of a map of armed hostilities and a map of the Qatar pipeline route indicates a link between armed activities and the desire to control these Syrian territories. Qatar’s allies are trying to accomplish three goals: to break Russia’s gas monopoly in Europe; to free Turkey from its dependence on Iranian gas; and to give Israel the chance to export its gas to Europe by land at less cost.”
How do you like that; another coincidence: “The fiercest fighting (in Syria) is taking place” where there’s massive “hydrocarbon reserves” and along the planned pipeline route.
So the conflict in Syria isn’t really about terrorism at all. It’s about natural gas, competing pipelines and access to markets in the EU. It’s about money and power. The whole ISIS-thing is a big hoax to conceal what’s really going on, which is a global war for resources, more blood for oil.
But how does the US benefit from all of this, after all, won’t the gas revenues go to Qatar and the transit countries rather than the US?
Yep, they sure will. But the gas will also be denominated in dollars which will shore up demand for USDs thus perpetuating the petrodollar recycling system which creates a vast market for US debt and which helps to keep US stocks and bonds in the nosebleed section. And that’s what this is all about, preserving dollar supremacy by forcing nations to hold excessive amounts of USDs to use in their energy transactions and to service their dollar-denominated debts.
As long as Washington can control the world’s energy supplies and force the world to trade in dollars, it can spend well in excess of what it produces and not be held to account. It’s like having a credit card you never have to pay off.
That’s a racket Uncle Sam is prepared to defend with everything he’s got, even nukes.
Washington’s “Pivot” hits a Brick Wall…
“We are currently witnessing an epic and historic event. The Ukrainian regular army and the punitive battalions are suffering a catastrophic defeat to the south of Donetsk…..It still is not quite clear how the Junta intends to avoid a complete defeat here…. By squandering the most combat-capable brigades in systematic offensive operations, the Junta sustained enormous losses and at the same time suffered a crushing, purely military defeat. The southern front has collapsed.” – The Southern Front Catastrophe – August 27, 2014″, Colonel Cassad, Military Briefing, Novorossiya, Ukraine
“The reports out of Novorussia (New Russia) are nothing short of incredible… sources are reporting that Novorussian forces have bypassed Mariupol from the north and have entered the Zaporozhie region!” – News from the Front, Vineyard of the Saker
Barack Obama has pushed Ukraine to the brink of political, economic and social collapse. Now he wants to blame Russia for the damage he’s done. It’s absurd. Moscow is in no way responsible for Ukraine’s descent into anarchy. That’s all Washington’s doing, just as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria were Washington’s doing. If you want to blame someone, blame Obama.
Ukraine’s troubles began when the US State Department toppled the elected president in February and replaced him with a compliant stooge who agreed to follow Washington’s directives. The new “junta” government quickly launched a full-blown war against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east which split the civilian population and drove the country to ruin. The plan “pacify” the East was concocted in Washington, not Kiev and certainly not Moscow.
Moscow has repeatedly called for an end to the violence and a resumption of negotiations, but each request has been rebuffed by Obama’s puppet in Kiev leading to another round of hostilities. Washington doesn’t want peace. Washington wants the same solution it imposed on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, that is, a chaotic failed state where ethnic and sectarian animosities are kept at a boiling point so forward-operating bases can be established without resistance, so resources can be extracted at will, and so a formally-independent nation can be reduced to a “permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) That’s the basic gameplan wherever Washington goes. The same rule applies to Ukraine. The only choice the people have is to arm themselves and fight back. Which is what they’ve done.
Donetsk and Lugansk have formed militias and taken the war to the enemy. They’ve engaged Obama’s proxy-army on the battlefield and pounded it into mincemeat. That’s why Obama deployed his propagandists to lie about the fictitious “Russian invasion”. The administration needs a diversion because the Novorussia forces (aka-the “pro Russia separatists”) are kicking the holy crap out of Obama’s legions. That’s why Washington and Kiev are in full panic-mode, because none of this was supposed to happen. Obama figured the army would put down the insurrection, crush the resistance, and move him one step closer to his goal of establishing NATO bases and missile defense systems on Russia’s western flank.
Well, guess what? It’s not playing out that way and it probably never will. The Novorussia fighters are too tough, too smart and too motivated to be one-upped by Obama’s feckless troopers. (Check out this short video and you’ll see why the rebels are winning: Vineyard of the Saker)
Putin hasn’t sent tanks and artillery into Ukraine. He doesn’t need to. The militias are loaded with battle-hardened veterans who know how to fight and who are quite good at it. Just ask Poroshenko whose army has been taking it in the shorts for the last couple of weeks. Check out this blurb in Thursday’s Itar Tass:
“Over the week of August 16-23, the self-defense fighters of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics seized 14 T-64 tanks, 25 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 armored personnel carriers, one armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle, one Uragan multiple launch rocket system, two Gvozdika self-propelled artillery guns, four D-30 howitzers, four mortars, one ZU-23-2 air defense system and 33 vehicles.” (East Ukraine militias seize large amount of Ukrainian armor, Itar Tass)
Get the picture? The Ukrainian army is getting beaten to a pulp, which means that Obama’s glorious “pivot strategy” just slammed into a brick wall.
Bottom line: Russia has not invaded Ukraine. The propagandists in the media are just trying to hide the fact that the Novorussia Army Forces (NAF; aka-the pro Russia separatists) are kicking ass and taking names. That’s what’s really going on. That’s why Obama and his gaggle of miscreant neocons are in a furor. It’s because they don’t know what to do next, so they’ve returned to their default position on every issue; lie like hell until they settle on a plan.
Naturally, they’re going to blame Putin for the mess they’re in. What else can they do? They’re getting their heads handed to them by a superior army. How do you explain that to the folks at home? Check out this excerpt from the New York Times Number One fiction writer, Michael “aluminum tubes” Gordon (who, not surprisingly, co-authored pieces with infamous Judy Miller in the lead up to the Iraq War):
“Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.
The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)
“Stealth invasion”? In other words, Gordon has settled on a substitute for WMD. What a surprise.
This isn’t even good fiction; it’s more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And where are the photos? If you have evidence, Gordon, let’s see it. But, please, make sure it’s better than the last time, you know, those fake photos of Russian soldiers that were supposedly operating in Ukraine. That was another deceit, wasn’t it? (See: Another NYT-Michael Gordon Special?, Robert Parry, Consortium News)
This is like the Malaysia airlines crash, isn’t it? Remember how Kerry went on a five-TV-talk-show blitz the day after the crash, making all kinds of spurious accusations, about surface-to-air missiles and phantom Russian convoys, without a shred of evidence, and then— the very next day– Russian military experts calmly produced hard evidence, from radar and satellite data, that a Ukrainian fighter plane was seen closing in on MH17 just moments before it was downed. (BBC also interviewed eyewitnesses who saw the SU 25 approaching the passenger plane.)
So, who do you believe; Kerry or the facts? And who are you going to believe this time; “Aluminum tubes” Gordie or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitor Andrey Kelin who said yesterday:
“We have said that no Russian involvement has been spotted, there are no soldiers or equipment present.”
“Accusations relating to convoys of armored personnel carriers have been heard during the past week and the week before that. All of them were proven false back then, and are being proven false again now.” (RT)
Repeat: “No Russian involvement”. All the accusations “were proven false.” “False” as in fake, phony, propaganda, bunkum, lies which, by the way, appears to be Gordon’s area of expertise.
Anyone who has been following the conflict knows that the Washington-backed junta in Kiev has waged a war against its own people in the East, and that they’ve been bombing hospitals, schools, libraries, apartments, public buildings, residential areas, etc, all in an effort to drag Putin into a war that will sabotage EU-Moscow economic integration and further US interests in the area. It’s all geopolitics, every bit of it. Remember the pivot to Asia? This is what it looks like in real time. A lot of people get butchered so the big money guys in Washington can maintain their grip on global power for another century or so.
Well, you can put that pipedream to rest now, mainly because a group of scrappy ex-military types in east Ukraine gathered themselves into an effective and lethal militia which has turned things around pronto. If you follow developments on blogs that chronicle the daily events, you’ll know that what I’m saying is true. The disorganized and demoralized rabble they call the Ukrainian Army has been routed in nearly every dust up they have with the Novorussia militia. Here’s how blogger Moon of Alabama summed it up on a post on Thursday:
“Their moral is bad, their equipment old, ammunition is low and the entire aim of their campaign is dubious. Now even a few weak counterattacks, the “counteroffensive”, have them on the run.”
The only thing he could’ve added to the litany is the fact that they are led by the biggest moron to ever hold high office, Petro Poroshenko, the overstuffed buffoon who thinks he’s Heinz Guderian deploying his Panzers through the Ardennes and on to Paris. What a joke!
The Times even admits that the Ukrainian army is badly demoralized. Take a look at this:
“Some of the Ukrainian soldiers appeared unwilling to fight. The commander of their unit, part of the Ninth Brigade from Vinnytsia, in western Ukraine, barked at the men to turn around, to no effect. “All right,” the commander said. “Anybody who refuses to fight, sit apart from the others.” Eleven men did, while the others returned to the city.
Some troops were in full retreat: A city busload of them careened past on the highway headed west, and purple curtains flapped through windows shot out by gunfire.” (New York Times)
Have you ever heard of a commanding officer asking his men whether they want to fight or not? It’s ludicrous. This is a defeated army, that much is clear. And it’s easy to understand how the average grunt feels, too. The average working guy doesn’t have the stomach for killing his own people. That’s not something he’s going to feel good about. He just wants to see the war end and go home, which is why they’re getting whooped so bad. It’s because their hearts aren’t in it. In contrast, the farmers, shopkeepers and miners who make up the militia are highly-motivated, after all, this isn’t some geopolitical game for them. Most of these people have lived in these cities their entire lives. Now they’re watching neighbors get gunned down in the streets or pulling friends out of the wreckage of bombed out buildings. For these people, the war is real and it’s personal. They’re defending their towns, their families, and their way of life. That tends to build resolve and focus the mind. Here’s more from the NY Times:
“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.
Advanced air defenses, including systems not known to be in the Ukrainian arsenal, have also been used to blunt the Ukrainian military’s air power, American officials say. In addition, they said, the Russian military routinely flies drones over Ukraine and shares the intelligence with the separatists.” (Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times)
Photos? What photos? Gordon doesn’t have any photos. Ah, but he has heard about a New York Times reporter who saw a photo.
This is ridiculous, but, then again, isn’t that what you’d expect from a journalist who helped craft the pretext for invading Iraq?
Here’s how Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to the claims of a Russian invasion. He said:
“It’s not the first time we’ve heard wild guesses, though, so far, the facts have never been presented…
There have been reports about satellite imagery exposing Russian troop movements. They turned out to be images from videogames. The latest accusations happen to be much the same quality…
We’ll react by persisting in our effort to reduce the bloodshed and to support negotiations about the future of Ukraine, with participation of all Ukrainian regions and political forces, something that was agreed upon back in April in Geneva, but which is now being deliberately avoided by our Western partners.” (RT)
There you have it; there is no Russian invasion anymore than there were WMD, mobile weapons labs, aluminum tubes, Sarin gas etc, etc, etc. It’s all BS concocted by a servile media pursuing the agenda of a warmongering political establishment that wants to escalate the conflagration in east Ukraine at all cost. Even if it leads to a Third World War.
My Money’s On Putin…
“History shows that the United States has benefited politically and economically from wars in Europe. The huge outflow of capital from Europe following the First and Second World Wars, transformed the U.S. into a superpower … Today, faced with economic decline, the US is trying to precipitate another European war to achieve the same objective.”… Sergey Glazyev, Russian politician and economist
“The discovery of the world’s largest, known gas reserves in the Persian Gulf, shared by Qatar and Iran, and new assessments which found 70 percent more gas in the Levantine in 2007, are key to understanding the dynamics of the conflicts we see today. After a completion of the PARS pipeline, from Iran, through Iraq and Syria to the Eastern Mediterranean coast, the European Union would receive more than an estimated 45 percent of the gas it consumes over the next 100 – 120 years from Russian and Iranian sources. Under non-conflict circumstances, this would warrant an increased integration of the European, Russian and Iranian energy sectors and national economies.” Christof Lehmann,Interview with Route Magazine
The United States failed operation in Syria, has led to an intensification of Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine. What the Obama administration hoped to achieve in Syria through its support of so called “moderate” Islamic militants was to topple the regime of Bashar al Assad, replace him with a US-backed puppet, and prevent the construction of the critical Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That plan hasn’t succeeded nor will it in the near future, which means that the plan for the prospective pipeline will eventually go forward.
Why is that a problem?
It’s a problem because–according to Dr. Lehmann–”Together with the Russian gas… the EU would be able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.” As the primary suppliers of critical resources to Europe, Moscow and Tehran would grow stronger both economically and politically which would significantly undermine the influence of the US and its allies in the region, particularly Qatar and Israel. This is why opponents of the pipeline developed a plan to sabotage the project by fomenting a civil war in Syria. Here’s Lehmann again:
“In 2007, Qatar sent USD 10 billion to Turkey´s Foreign Minister Davotoglu to prepare Turkey´s and Syria´s Muslim Brotherhood for the subversion of Syria. As we recently learned from former French Foreign Minister Dumas, it was also about that time, that actors in the United Kingdom began planning the subversion of Syria with the help of “rebels”’ (Christof Lehmann, Interview with Route Magazine)
In other words, the idea to arm, train and fund an army of jihadi militants, to oust al Assad and open up Syria to western interests, had its origins in an evolving energy picture that clearly tilted in the favor of US rivals in the region. (Note: We’re not sure why Lehmann leaves out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the other Gulf States that have also been implicated.)
Lehmann’s thesis is supported by other analysts including the Guardian’s Nafeez Ahmed who explains what was going on behind the scenes of the fake civil uprising in Syria. Here’s a clip from an article by Ahmed titled “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern”:
“In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria”…
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:
“I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”
… Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.”
(“Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern“, The Guardian)
Apparently, Assad was approached by Qatar on the pipeline issue in 2009, but he refused to cooperate in order “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally.” Had Assad fallen in line and agreed to Qatar’s offer, then the effort to remove him from office probably would have been called off. In any event, it was the developments in Syria that triggered the frenzied reaction in Ukraine. According to Lehmann:
“The war in Ukraine became predictable (unavoidable?) when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. …In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the ”Libyan Brigade” was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army.
It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.
The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report ”Tentative Jihad”. Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself ”politically” from the ”extremists”. Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore.” (“The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine“, New eastern Outlook)
There were other factors that pushed the US towards a conflagration with Moscow in Ukraine, but the driving force was the fact that US rivals (Russia and Iran) stood to be the dominant players in an energy war that would increasingly erode Washington’s power. Further economic integration between Europe and Russia poses a direct threat to US plans to pivot to Asia, deploy NATO to Russia’s borders, and to continue to denominate global energy supplies in US dollars.
Lehmann notes that he had a conversation with “a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country” who clarified the situation in a terse, two-sentence summary of US foreign policy. He said:
“American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK’s political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe”.
This is the crux of the issue. The United States is not going to allow any state or combination of states to challenge its dominance. Washington doesn’t want rivals. It wants to be the undisputed, global superpower, which is the point that Paul Wolfowitz articulated in an early draft of the US National Defense Strategy:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
So the Obama administration is going to do whatever it thinks is necessary to stop further EU-Russia economic integration and to preserve the petrodollar system. That system originated in 1974 when President Richard Nixon persuaded OPEC members to denominate their oil exclusively in dollars, and to recycle their surplus oil proceeds into U.S. Treasuries. The arrangement turned out to be a huge windfall for the US, which rakes in more than $1 billion per day via the process. This, in turn, allows the US to over-consume and run hefty deficits. Other nations must stockpile dollars to purchase the energy that runs their machinery, heats their homes and fuels their vehicles. Meanwhile, the US can breezily exchange paper currency, which it can print at no-expense to itself, for valuable imported goods that cost dearly in terms of labor and materials. These dollars then go into purchasing oil or natural gas, the profits of which are then recycled back into USTs or other dollar-denominated assets such as U.S. stocks, bonds, real estate, or ETFs. This is the virtuous circle that keeps the US in the top spot.
As one critic put it: “World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy.”
The petrodollar system helps to maintain the dollar’s monopoly pricing which, in turn, sustains the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It creates excessive demand for dollars which allows the Fed to expand the nation’s credit by dramatically reducing the cost of financing. If oil and natural gas were no longer denominated in USDs, the value of the dollar would fall sharply, the bond market would collapse, and the US economy would slip into a long-term slump.
This is one of the reasons why the US invaded Iraq shortly after Saddam had switched over to the euro; because it considers any challenge to the petrodollar looting scam as a direct threat to US national security.
Moscow is aware of Washington’s Achilles’s heel and is making every effort to exploit that weakness by reducing its use of the dollar in its trade agreements. So far, Moscow has persuaded China and Iran to drop the dollar in their bilateral dealings, and they have found that other trading partners are eager to do the same. Recently, Russian economic ministers conducted a “de-dollarization” meeting in which a “currency switch executive order” was issued stating that “the government has the legal power to force Russian companies to trade a percentage of certain goods in rubles.”
Last week, according to RT:
“The Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “The draft document between the Central Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China on national currency swaps has been agreed by the parties…..The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.
Currently, over 75 percent of payments in Russia-China trade settlements are made in US dollars, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.” (“De-Dollarization Accelerates – China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement“, Zero Hedge)
The attack on the petrodollar recycling system is one of many asymmetrical strategies Moscow is presently employing to discourage US aggression, to defend its sovereignty, and to promote a multi-polar world order where the rule of law prevails. The Kremlin is also pushing for institutional changes that will help to level the playing field instead of creating an unfair advantage for the richer countries like the US. Naturally, replacing the IMF, whose exploitative loans and punitive policies, topped the list for most of the emerging market nations, particularly the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who, in July, agreed to create a $100 billion Development Bank that will “will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size.
According to RT:
“The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within…
“This mechanism creates the foundation for an effective protection of our national economies from a crisis in financial markets,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.”
(“BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance“, RT)
It’s clear that Washington’s aggression in Ukraine has focused Moscow’s attention on retaliation. But rather than confront the US militarily, as Obama and Co. would prefer, Putin is taking aim at the vulnerabilities within the system. A BRICS Development Bank challenges the IMF’s dominant role as lender of last resort, a role that has enhanced the power of the wealthy countries and their industries. The new bank creates the basis for real institutional change, albeit, still within the pervasive capitalist framework.
Russian politician and economist, Sergei Glazyev, summarized Moscow’s approach to the US-Russia conflagration in an essay titled “US is militarizing Ukraine to invade Russia.” Here’s an excerpt:
“To stop the war, you need to terminate its driving forces. At this stage, the war unfolds mainly in the planes of economic, public relations and politics. All the power of US economic superiority is based on the financial pyramid of debt, and this has gone long beyond sustainability. Its major lenders are collapsing enough to deprive the US market of accumulated US dollars and Treasury bonds. Of course, the collapse of the US financial system will cause serious losses to all holders of US currency and securities. But first, these losses for Russia, Europe and China will be less than the losses caused by American geopolitics unleashing another world war. Secondly, the sooner the exit from the financial obligations of this American pyramid, the less will be the losses. Third, the collapse of the dollar Ponzi scheme gives an opportunity, finally, to reform the global financial system on the basis of equity and mutual benefit.”
Washington thinks “modern warfare” involves covert support for proxy armies comprised of Neo Nazis and Islamic extremists. Moscow thinks modern warfare means undermining the enemy’s ability to wage war through sustained attacks on it’s currency, its institutions, its bond market, and its ability to convince its allies that it is a responsible steward of the global economic system.
I’ll put my money on Russia.
Turkey seems fond of so-called ‘false flag’ operations. In 1955, for example, the Turkish government covertly bombed its own consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece and blamed it on Greeks. The following day, Turkey stage-managed massive anti-Greek riots in Istanbul that killed over a dozen Christians and caused hundreds of millions in damage.
Fast forward to March 2014. A leaked audiotape caught Turkish officials plotting to stage ‘false flag’ military attacks on their own territory and blame them on Syrians. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, General Yaşar Gürel, and Intelligence chief Hakan Fidan planned to use the attacks as an excuse to invade Syria. The title of this article could easily apply to that plot.
To close observers of the Caucasus, however, it could also describe a failed covert Turkish plan to attack Armenia two decades ago and turn the geopolitics of the region upside down.
In October 1993, two years after the USSR had splintered, an ethnic Chechen Muslim named Ruslan Khasbulatov – the Speaker, believe it or not, of the Russian Parliament – led a coup against beleaguered Russian President Boris Yeltsin. According to American, French, and Greek officials, Khasbulatov and Muslim Turkey had a secret agreement.
If his coup succeeded, Khasbulatov would order Russian troops to withdraw from Armenia, where they helped guard the latter’s border with Turkey. That would pave the way for Turkey to invade the landlocked Christian nation of just three million inhabitants.
History tells us that Turkey has always wanted to overrun Armenia. Doing so would create a path to Turkic-speaking Muslim Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and, eventually, Central Asia. It’s called pan-Turkism.
In 1993, of course, Azerbaijan was losing its war with Armenians over the ancient, majority-Armenian province of Karabagh. Azerbaijan was, therefore, eager for Turkey to attack Armenia, and Turkey was ready to help Azerbaijan turn the tide.
The Plot Fails
Harkening back to the Armenian genocide, Turkish President Turgut Özal had threatened to teach Armenia “the lessons of 1915.” Tansu Çiller, Turkey’s prime minister, warned Armenia that she wouldn’t “sit back and do nothing.” Turkey was massing forces on Armenia’s western border and supplying Azerbaijan with weapons, military advisors, and paramilitary forces. Chechen militants and Afghan Mujahideen were already fighting alongside Azeris.
A successful Turkish attack on Armenia – Russia’s only military partner in the Caucasus – would have all but destroyed Russian influence in the region. That, in turn, would have increased the likelihood that Chechnya, and much of the Muslim North Caucasus, would eventually escape the Russian Bear’s grip. For a native-born Chechen like Khasbulatov, it would all be a dream-come-true.
But bombarded by Russian tanks, Speaker Khasbulatov, V.P. Alexander Rutskoi, and hundreds of rebel parliamentarians and supporters surrendered the Parliament building on October 4, 1993. The coup and the plot to invade Armenia had failed.
The Secret Pact
The Khasbulatov-Turkish pact was first revealed by Leonidas T. Chrysanthopoulos in his book Caucasus Chronicles (London: Gomidas, 2002). He was Greece’s ambassador to Armenia from July 1993 to February 1994. Chrysanthopoulos, now 68, has served as ambassador to Canada and Poland, and was recently Secretary General of the 12-country, Istanbul-based Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization.
France’s ambassador to Armenia, Mme. France de Harthing, told him that “French intelligence sources” confirmed that “the Turkish incursion into Armenia would take place immediately after Khasbulatov would have withdrawn the Russian troops from Armenia.” “This information,” wrote Chrysanthopoulos, “was later confirmed to me by my United States colleague,” Ambassador Harry J. Gilmore.
As a “pretext,” Turkey would claim to be targeting Kurdish PKK militant bases, which in fact have never existed, in Armenia. Such a “pretext” is similar, though not identical, to a ‘false flag.’
The Turkish strike would be “incursions of a limited nature,” though it’s unclear what “limited” meant. More likely, as Turkey wouldn’t find any PKK, the aim was to forge a permanent corridor across Armenia, link up with Azeri forces, and cleanse Karabagh of Armenians.
The U.S. and France have never, as far as is known, publicly denied the existence of the Khasbulatov-Turkish plot. Moreover, Chrysanthopoulos gives no indication that any country tried to talk Turkey out of its deal with Khasbulatov.
Is any of this relevant today?
Yes, because current Turkish, American, and NATO policies in the Caucasus strongly echo the 1993 Khasbulatov-Turkish plot. For two decades, the West has been trying to penetrate and dominate the Caucasus – Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia –and eventually cross the Caspian Sea into energy-rich Central Asia.
One piece of the plan has already been partially implemented: constructing oil and gas pipelines from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey.
NATO’s remaining goal: absorb the entire Caucasus. NATO would thereby threaten Russia from the south, just as it now pressures Russia from the west with its absorption of much of Eastern Europe (and, NATO hopes, Ukraine).
Georgia and Azerbaijan are inclined to eventually join NATO. Armenia, however, is not, though it has excellent relations with NATO and the West. Armenia has little choice but to ally itself with Russia because the former faces an ongoing existential threat from NATO member Turkey, the 1993 plot being one example.
Armenia is the Caucasus’s linchpin. Had the Khasbulatov – Turkish quasi-‘false flag’ operation against Armenia succeeded, Russia would probably have lost, and NATO would have gained, the entire Caucasus. New provocations, including ‘false flags,’ by Turkey and NATO cannot, therefore, be ruled out.
Turkish, American, and NATO leaders must also be interrogated as to whether their policies in the Caucasus are leading to peace or war.
New and Old…
Even the definition of “asymmetric war” is controversial, because it can concern at least three drivers and methods of conflict, usually between large organized fighting forces and the opposite. Firstly there is the political-economic or other motivation, second the tactics, and thirdly the weapons utilised in asymmetric war – which itself is usually defined by the negative. Some writers say the term was first used by Andrew J. Mack in a 1975 book titled “Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars”. Some military historians conversely say asymmetric war dates from Antiquity, and included the surprise outcome of larger fighting forces losing an asymmetric war with smaller insurgent, militia, terrorist or tight knit politically motivated forces and entities in specific theaters of conflict.
Other than wars of Antiquity like the Ancient Greek Pelopennesian war series which lasted about 30 years in the 5th century BC, and certainly included asymmetric war and “surprise defeats” for larger forces, the 200-year Crusader war series (about 1095-1299) had recurring battles and campaigns where asymmetric war featured, and sometimes dominated. Our problem is that certainly for a near-century from the late 19th century to about 1980-2000, the Clausewitz doctrine of “God is with the big battalions” held firm. This in turn can be traced to the nature as well as the goals of war following the Industrial Revolution. Drivers of change included European nationbuilding, colonialism, mass migration and by 1948 the later “bipolar world” of the so-called Soviet Empire opposing the Western liberal-capitalist democracies. The collapse of the USSR was naively believed to mean “the end of history and of warfare itself”.
Although not defined as an asymmetric war campaign leading to total victory, by historians like Andrew Mack, the Long March of Mao Zedong culminating in total victory in 1949 was for most of its time called “terror war” by external major powers, including the US, Japan, the UK and other European nations. This only underlines the fact that asymmetric war for losers is often called terrorism, but also underlines the wider tactics and strategy, and weapons used by smaller insurgent forces during an asymmetric war campaign or series. It also underlines that like the asymmetric wars of the distant past, these are generally long series of wars, not setpiece short-term frontline battlefield warfare.
Strategy and Tactics
Strategy above all means command and control because decisive gains and losses need close combat at some stage for any type of war excluding setpiece formal warfare of the pre-Cold War type or paradigm. The Cold War “bipolar paradigm”, we should note, was not for nothing subtitled Mutually Assured Destruction because a charred, radioactive wasteland was the booty or logical peace dividend for any hypothetical “winner”. Also, the MAD paradigm more subtly underlined the role of economic and military infrastructures, which as they become more sophisticated, become more vulnerable. Often scenarized by US and Soviet military strategists during the Cold War, the utilization of a small number of missile-launched airburst nuclear weapons would instantly paralyse the enemy’s command and control infrastructure, electric power and telephone systems, water supplies, fuel supplies, road transport and so on. There could be no winner, only two losers.
Discussion of military infrastructure, and its fragility, however shifts the spotlight away from a key element of asymmetric war the role of ideology and personal commitment. Command and control operated by for example Mao Zedong in his Long March war campaign, was primarily ideological at its beginnings. Conversely in nearly all conventional setpiece wars, which are now likely a thing of the past, the belligerents deployed forces that were essentially of similar type. The war’s outcome could normally be predicted by the physical size, quantity and control of the forces in play. Where the forces are essentially equal, with access to the same technology, the outcome is usually stalemate. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 was a classic example.
This already makes it possible to define probably the most decisive motivating role for asymmetric fighting forces technological superiority is canceled by infrastructure fragility. Alternately stated technological inferiority is often canceled by the enemy’s vulnerable military, ideological and economic infrastructures. The Afghan war of 1979-88 was a classic example.
Including vulnerable economic infrastructures, asymmetric wars such as this Afghan war (and the US-Afghan war of 2001-2014) will heavily feature urban insurgency and the destruction of economic infrastructures, which either directly support the more-powerful enemy’s military capability or provide indirect aid to the enemy’s ideological action, attempting to maintain a semblance of “normal life”. Asymmetric wars, we can again note, are often very long and measured in decades, not years, and in part due to this can include a major element of attrition, both economic and ideological.
Terrain and Proxies
Certainly the case in asymmetric wars of Antiquity, small inferior forces fighting the opposite can “trump the enemy” using terrain which today includes and features urban areas. As I have noted in recent articles concerning Syrian war geopolitics, one basic reason why “Syria” is a non-nation or a geopolitical metastase of the Sykes-Picot era of Great Power diplomacy, is the extreme geological folding of the mountainous coastal strip with peaks higher than 2000 meters, where more than 90% of the population lives. This rough, hilly terrain has always favored small autonomous or semi-autonomous population groupings, all of them with a long tradition of conflict including “asymmetric” combat. Ideological differences are often extreme, for example the age-old conflict between traditional Alawites and the Assassin heretic sect of the Alawites.
During the long Crusader war series, for example, the Assassins turned their fighting skills against the invading European crusaders. After this 200-year war series, they returned to fighting any centralising power based in Damascus. The same applies to the Druzes, and to other “mountain fighters”. On numerous occasions, often for decades, fighting groups in what is called “Syria” served as proxies in and for highly complex military campaigns. One examples was the period through about 1204-1260 when a loose alliance of southern powers or “statelets” opposed the larger, better armed Latin Empire of the Byzantines.
No power, either great or small can change geology and geomorphology. To be sure, Stalin-era Soviet campaigns against Chechens, Daghestanis and other small, ideologically tight-knit “mountain fighters”, and the campaign waged in this geopolitical rimland or shatterbelt since the 1990s by Russia, have attempted their eradication. In Afghanistan, as the USSR and later the US found out, so-called mountain fighters can easily urbanize and rapidly shift to urban theater conflict, broadening their warfare tactics with ease.
The major and increasing role of proxy fighting itself favors a shift to asymmetric war. Since the end of World War II, some military historians claim the majority of wars on a numerical basis fought since 1945 have either included, or been dominated by proxy fighters. This in turn means more belligerants, with usually different motivations, staying power, weapons and tactics, will be operating in any warfare. This also means that “surprise outcomes” become more commonplace, for example when proxies turn against their original partners or actively side with their former enemy or enemies.
Deed Horses and Stynking Beestes
Widely used in the Crusader war series, and imported back to Europe with returning Crusaders by the start of the 14th century, early biological warfare featured the catapulting of diseased putrefying corpses, often of horses or other animals, sometimes of humans into castle moats. By the time of the so-called Hundred Years War starting about 1340, biological war was commonplace in siege warfare. With the Black Death (bubonic plague) epidemic which spread from the western Balkans and killed an estimated 25%-33% of the total population of Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, bodies of bubonic plague victims were utilised as weapons as commonly as munitions, arrows and other weapons in the majority of European wars. Death rates obtained using these “asymmetric weapons”, according to military historians could often exceed 950 killed for every 1000 enemy attacked.
Today we hear about the Syrian regime of Bashr al-Assad, and-or rebel forces, utilizing chemical weapons, but chemical weapons akin to napalm were utilized on a common basis in warfare opposing the Byzantime Empire and sometimes-insurgent, often small scale Muslim forces, by 670 AD. These early chemical weapons increasingly used additives including chalk powder, arsenic sulfide, copper oxides and other toxic suffocants to increase lethality.
By the early 18th century, the UK Royal Society was theater to recurring debates on how to protect land armies against biological warfare, in particular protection against smallpox bacteria due to smallpox being already known as a biological weapon. By about 1715, the technique of variolation, or immunization against smallpox was developed, firstly with a view to protecting British fighting forces despite early immunization by variolation causing an estimated 2%-3% mortality of treated soldiers. As we know, the conquest of the US Wild West in the 18th-19th centuries made frequent use of smallpox bacteria to kill Indian fighters and peoples who were not immunized. Historians contend that General George Washington who had warned his troops that English forces might use smallpox as a weapon in the Battle of Quebec (1775) which was lost by the Americans, was himself killed by smallpox poisoning in 1776.
It is therefore either by hypocrisy, ignorance or blindness that mainstream media and many politicians pretend that CBW (chemical and biological weapons) are both strange and repulsive. For numerically inferior forces, they can provide a decisive advantage similar to the historical role of crossbows, in the Middle Ages. Their utilization in asymmetric war has been more the rule, than exception. This logic certainly extends to the broad group of asymmetric arms called NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons – the arsenals held by the small nations North Korea and Israel reflect their political rulers’ fear of numerically superior enemy forces. As we know, both mass-produced pesticides and relatively abundant nuclear wastes, among others, are major potential asymmetric weapons.
The Coming Global Asymmetric War
Andrew J. Mack made the point that big nations can easily lose small wars. He did not add that due to weapons technology and MAD, they can only lose big wars. This standoff or new weakness – of the great powers whether they describe themselves as “great” or not, has certainly been observed and noted by the large number of their asymmetric war-oriented opponents and rivals.
When added to the impacts of economic and industrial technology change, described in other recent articles by myself, the concept of either one or a select few hegemonic powers dominating world political-strategic relations is consigned to trashcan of History. Probably since as early as 1980, certainly in the coming decades from today, this observation will be put to the test.
The Syrian civil war which is a showcase of asymmetric war and proxy war could be taken as an example. Neither Russia nor the US can win this war. Iran’s supposed interest in this war can be questioned. European influence in any outcome to this war is small and weak. Chinese, Indian and other Asian interest in this war is very low. Only extremely massive and sustained, therefore very expensive military occupation on a long-term basis could create or restore any simulacre or surrogate for “the nation state of Syria”. No major external power has any interest in this outcome. The staying power of KSA, Qatar, UAE and other sunni-minority small states paying for Syrian theatre proxy fighters, called “djihadis”, despite the petrodollars and the Wahabism, can easily be questioned.
What was called “Syria” therefore become a shatterbelt zone in modern geopolitical parlance, very comparable with the pre-1914 Balkan states, and pre-1917 Middle Eastern and North African states. Formerly called “rimland states”, shatterbelt zones can also be called the Funeral Pyres of Empire due to these intrinsically volatile and ungovernable zones often being gateways to larger zones of major economic significance, drawing repeated attempts at dominance by the great powers.
Multiple examples exist outside the zone including southern Russia, the Balkans (of 2014), western Asia, and the MENA. Under certain hypotheses, zones like the Europe of the EU28, engaged in an undeclared power struggle with Russia to win power over the Ukraine, may be an example.
More important for this article, most definitely intensified by asymmetric war ideology, tactics and weapons, world shatterbelt zones of “permanent instability” are growing and they are necessarily growing. Sometimes called “multipolarity” and presented as the positive spinoff from economic globalisation, and above all presented as consensual by the great powers (and would-be great powers), the loss of centre and the growth of periphery is a stark fact of the coming world.
This stark fact is of course denied by the so-called great powers. However, when there is no longer a ruling centre and the central power or Hegemon, there is only periphery and no Hegemon in a series of complex rimlands and shatterbelts.
Source: Andrew McKillop
With everything on the line, no country hosting a Olympiad can afford to take it easy on security – especially Russia.
With terror threats already made openly and through back channels, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has already been ramped-up as one of the biggest security operations in events history. But there’s a bigger story unfolding here – a tectonic shift in world geopolitics.
Putin Winds Back His Gains of 2013
News reports now place the probable cost of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia at more than $51 billion making them the most expensive-ever. Security costs help explain this. Vladimir Putin’s ironclad determination to make the games a success – makes them a rising political risk, not only for domestic political consumption but also a challenge to Russia’s federal unity and relations with its Asian neighbors, and internationally. Making the Sochi games a PR disaster is the goal of Putin’s enemies.
The Islamic Bomb Lady was officially seen by Russian police. They identified her as 22 year old terrorist Razmena Ibragimova, displayed on Russia’s official Sochi blog sites like the one above. Her terrorist credentials were bolstered by a clumsily falsified side-profile photograph, portraying her bulging neck probably hiding explosives behind her scarf. Officially she was part of the Volgograd bombing conspiracy and Razmena is now the Most Wanted Lady in Russia.
Once Upon a Time There was Pingpong Diplomacy
Cold war-era diplomacy of the 1960s included the “ping-pong diplomacy” US-China phase, but today’s Russia-Saudi Arabia jousting is measured by the number of body parts on the pavement after each designer bomb attack by a throwaway human suicide bomber. To date, Saudi Arabia has scored several direct hits against Putin’s Russia, but the ex-KGB chief is unlikely to take that lying down. Revenge hits against Saudi-backed Arab capitals, and against Riyadh-backed forces active in Syria are either certain or not impossible, to ram home the Putin message that Saudi Arabia is a small country on the edge of “The World Island” that talks a lot too loud – only thanks to oil.
At home in Russia, the Islamic kamikaze bombing scare, which in fact may have been Soviet-era agitprop not needing any Saudi petro-dollars or American nods to be executed, enables Putin to further seal the power of his New State apparatus. The new state is little changed from the old USSR, which set the southern Caucus Republics as the acid test arena for total power by Moscow.
Today, Razmena is placarded on wanted posters all across Sochi. According to one poster on display at all security checkpoints in Sochi’s airport, Ibragimova is “currently located on Sochi territory” and ‘could attempt a suicide bombing’ at any time, according to the poster.
Ramming home the fear message for visitors who will pay at least $500-a-day to be in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, she is described as having been spotted on the street near the Russian foreign ministry building, and in streets near the upmarket hotels of Sochi. Imagine that. Not great in terms of events marketing, but the Russian Bear can ill-afford to be shy this time around.
Stalingrad and the Terror Republic
Under its former name Stalingrad, today’s Volgograd was the Martyr City for Soviet resistance to Nazi Germany, but security analysts estimate that hundreds of the 2000-odd Islamic terror attacks on Russian Federal territory since 1990 have been in or around Volgograd. Veterans of the 1990s-era conflict waged by Moscow against breakaway independence movements state that at the time most of them flew the Islamic flag and were eager to receive Saudi petrodollars. The theater was however already widening across the Caucasian Republics including Chechnya, Ingueshetia, Daghestan, Tatarstan, and in Russian satrape republics such as Azerbaijan, and the 1990s veterans recall that in that period, ruthless terror-versus-terror tactics and strategy became the norm.
These veterans, some of them now Douma parliamentarians say the intensity of conflict has moved up, from that previous terror war level to a much wider “conflict of civilizations”, even a threat to the continued existence of Russia. Tom Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College cited by Stripes .com 15 January said the intensity of conflict.. “ has made the Russians — who already are used to a strong state security apparatus — far more willing to empower its internal security forces way beyond anything Americans would ever allow”.
Saudi terror strategy may be comfortable for its Riyadh purveyors, players and payers safe in Riyadh, when it concerns Mali, Niger, South Sudan, the Central African Republic or Riyadh’s other low-income Black African asymmetric war theaters, but in the Russia Caucuses this is a high risk gambit and historic conflict that Islam always lost. Inside the Russian Federation, longstanding political conflicts are already sufficient to make government difficult. Adding a layer of Saudi-financed and American-tolerated Islamic extremism may create a runaway process of domestic conflict – which for Putin and his oligarchs is exactly what they want to intensify and seal their total power.
For Russian leaders, the calls by some Syrian rebels for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in their homeland sound uncomfortably similar to the goals of Doku Umarov, the Chechen leader of the so-called, ‘Caucasus Emirate’. The stated aim of Umarov’s group, designated by Moscow, and by Washington as a terrorist organization, is to establish an Islamic state on Russian territory. Chechen fighters like Omar Abu al-Chechen, who leads an expatriate jihadist force known as the Faithful Immigrant Brothers in Syria, have sparked Kremlin fears that the real goal of extremists is to make Syria into a base for future terror operations inside Russia.
Chechnya has become ever more critical to Kremlin strategists, the front line theater for Russian-Saudi conflict with Sochi an easy ride from its borders. This theater is particularly acute due to the fact that Syria has thousands of fighters who, according to the Russian Spetznaz special services, are a serious and real threat for the country. Ramzan Kadyrov, the former Chechen rebel placed in charge by Kremlin and an adept at counter-terror war, has on many recent occasions said that Islamist insurgents in Chechnya have reached “plague proportions” and in his view are only biding their time before moving north to Russia – and to Europe.
Syria Split Could Set Russia Alight
State Douma deputy and Foreign relations commission chief Anatoly Ermolin, with a long military track record in Chechnya and the Caucuses during the 1990s bluntly says : “I think this is one of the most dangerous things for any government. They (the Islamists) are very serious and believe they can organize an Islamic state….They consider (Russia) to be their territory. We are dry wood; it’s very easy to set fire to the situation.”
Ermolin is openly alarmed and alarmist because he believes the disastrous conflict in Syria divided Russia and NATO-member countries into two camps, with the US-led west leaning to support or at least tolerance of the Islamists, despite the increasingly frenzied extremist nature of Syria’s opposition. For Russia this means it is next in line for destabilization, by Islam under the guise of, and stoked by Western-Russian rivalry and conflict. Ermolin says there can soon be a major realignment of international relations and vital interests.
Add the Saudi terror chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan (photo, left) into this mix and the fuse is nearly lit. The London Telegraph reported back in October about Saudi Arabia’s under the table offer to Russia for a chance to ‘control the world’s oil market’ in some type of strategic alliance between OPEC and Russia – but only if Russia would wash its hands of the Assad regime in Syria. That was the carrot. The stick was somewhat more barbaric:
Bandar threatened to unleash his Chechen terrorists in order to shutdown, and possibly kill civilians at Sochi. He is alleged to have said:
‘‘I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Games are controlled by us’’
Beyond Saudi Arabia international racketeering and extortion, in there is fear in Germany, France, the UK and Italy – as there is in Russia, of what happens when thousands of young “jihadis” return from the Syrian war. Russian foreign relations experts like Ermolin say this will be the acid test, and in the Middle East will surely and certainly coincide with the equally rising threat of more open and wider conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Shia Iran. The dangers of another Iran-Sunni war like the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war are claimed by Russian policy experts to have been completely underestimated in the west. As they and Russian military analysts say, the potential for a repeat of the 1980-88 war “going nuclear” is high.
Russian experts also say the dangers of Iran itself destabilizing and “turning to terror” have been ignored or underestimated in the west. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel, backed by the US and several EU countries, especially France give either open or covert support to anti-Iranian Sunni terror movements, making all out Iran-versus-Sunni war the logical follow-up. In the case of Iranian defeat, spillover will, the Russians say, be large scale regional, not contained. As a result, although never stated as a driver for US and European thawing towards Iran, the risk of Iran being destabilized have to be taken seriously.
Whistling in the Dark
To date, western understanding of the war theater’s dimensions and component drivers is, Russians say, woeful. The USA’s Boston Bombings, for example, were laughably unprofessional pinpricks. European domestic experience of eradicating Islamist insurgents, they add, is close to zero making for permanent underestimation of the threat.
Reasons for this western blind spot to the insurgent threat, which in Russia now straddles both ethnic religious and nationalist political lines – notably in Tartarstan – can be traced to different Russian and western interpretations of geopolitics. For Russians, even in the 1930s Stalin era, Halford Mackinder’s theory of “The World Island”, centered on Russia but spreading south through the Caucuses to Arabia, North Africa and Europe was taken as a game plan and threat – or prize – for the USSR. Putin’s Russian Federation of today is driven by geopolitical hopes and fears linked to the Mackinder theory.
To be sure, Washington has decided the dispatch of a small anti-terror group of experts to Sochi, more for protecting US athletes and comforting domestic political opinion than aiding Moscow, but soon, analysts and Russian leaders say, Moscow and Washington will have to collaborate better. To do this, they will have to set aside other issues that get in the way. The USA’s new isolationism, however, may also hamper this needed collaboration, and like the Europeans, the US may be tempted to turn Russia’s difficulties to its advantage – by pouring oil and Saudi petro-dollars on the fire.
Senior Russian political figures like Alexander Khinshtein, Vice chairman of the State Douma’s Security and anti-corruption commission, make it plain that formerly contained, localized and specific Islamic terror threats and action have massively changed since the 1990s. Khinshtein says that “Terrorism cannot be a local problem; it is not a problem for just one place.” Russian news releases and investigations concerning the Volgograd bombings already say these attacks – which are part of a longstanding organized campaign – link closely to non-Islamic political independence movements in Russia’s Caucasian republics.
The challenge from the Islamic south, to Russia’s “world island” has now mutated and coalesced with other movements and issues that, in the 1990s, were totally separate. The Sochi theater for terror war and counter-terror war concerns the whole world.
Source: 21st Century Wire
Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. “Control food and you control the people.”
Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.
Profits Before Populations
Genetic engineering has made proprietary control possible over the seeds on which the world’s food supply depends. According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.
Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.
The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.
Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.
A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.
Roundup’s Insidious Effects
Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in food are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.
Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.
Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.
Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:
Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.
Politics Trumps Science
In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.
In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.
Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:
In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.
Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda,widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.
In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”
The TPP and International Corporate Control
As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .
The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:
No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .
If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .
Return to Nature: Not Too Late
There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:
Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.
In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Source: Ellen Brown | CounterPunch
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.