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World Vision, Christian Organization?

May 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

I wrote about the controversy swirling around the so-called Christian organization World Vision here.  For those who are unaware of what occurred on March 24, WV announced that they had plans to hire “married” homosexuals.

The backlash was fast and furious. Christian leaders, Roman Catholics, the pro-family movement and others in the faith community made it abundantly clear that they opposed WV’s decision to hire people in counterfeit marriages on the grounds that the Bible teaches that homosexuality’s a sin.  It’s no secret that Bible-believers hold to the teaching that God established the marriagesacrament for the purpose of bringing Him glory; thus marriage other than that which He designed does not bring glory and honor to Him. One would assume that WV’s president and board members had an understanding of what the Bible teaches on marriage – but maybe not.

They learn fast, though.  The board noticed a storm brewing when donors began to withdraw their financial support and they quickly changed course.  The public’s reaction was so strong that they reversed their decision faster than greased lightning.

In part 2 we will examine whether or not World Vision’s truly a Christian organization.  I mean, that’s the burning question, isn’t it?   One way to find out is to take a look at its website.  On the homepage they make the claim that they are a,

Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

Perhaps because I’ve spent a number of years exposing false teaching in the Church, likewise the cults and the occult, when I read the phrase “full potential” Anthony Robbins immediately came to mind.  Robbins is one of many Human Potential magnets.  He has taken on the trendy title “life coach.”  The life coach’s aim is to get you to a place where you can tap into your full potential.  Robbins’ beliefs are rooted in the New Thought movement.  (Those who wish to know more about New Thought can do so here.)  In essence “Syncretism between Christianity and early New Thought was a hallmark of this movement,” says cult expert Marcia Montenegro.

So – why would a “Christian humanitarian organization” choose to define itself using anti-Christian language inspired by New Thought rubbish?

Any organization that calls itself Christian should have as its main goal reaching families and communities around the globe with the gospel of Christ.  And if that’s not its stated goal then how is it any different from other secular organizations such as the American Red Cross or the World Food Programme. What sets Christian relief organizations apart from all the others is that they have a biblical mandate to evangelize the lost.  Jesus commanded His followers to:

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  (Mark 16:15-16)

For many years my husband and I sponsored children through WV.  Because it calls itself a Christian organization we just assumed that those in the field would be about the business of providing relief as well as evangelizing lost souls bound for hell.  When it became apparent to us that WV was moving more toward what is deemed a “social justice” organization, we wrote to express our concerns.  No response was forthcoming.  Eventually we stopped sponsoring children through WV and chose another organization.

The social gospel is a false gospel. (Discover more about social justice here.)   What does Scripture tell us about spreading a false gospel?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

I fully expect WV’s supporters will want me to demonstrate that WF prohibits proselytizing (sharing the gospel of Christ.)  In the process of researching for this piece I discovered all the proof doubters will need — and it comes right from the horse’s mouth.   I visited the homepage…clicked on Our-Impact…clicked on Faith-in-action and unearthed their goals and accomplishments:

Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are, and we follow His example in working alongside the poor and oppressed. We serve every child in need that we possibly can, of any faith, or none. We partner with churches throughout the world, equipping them to meet the needs of their communities.

Scroll down the page to Our Approach and here’s what you’ll find:

Do You Talk To People About Jesus?

In all ways appropriate for a local context, we seek to witness to Christ — through our deeds of love and mercy, the character and conduct of our staff, and through our words of testimony. As we demonstrate the unconditional love of God to others, we are ready to give the reason for the hope within us, but expect people to evaluate the truth of our message by our actions.

God created men and women in His image, giving each of us a free will. Therefore, we respect individuals — including their culture, faith, and beliefs. We respect the dignity and the right of all people to maintain and change their religious beliefs. We seek in every instance to be faithful ambassadors of the good news of Jesus through our actions (2 Corinthians 5:20) and hope that our lives will reflect God’s generous love for people, ultimately bringing glory and praise to Him.

Do you expect the people you help to share your beliefs?

We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. We do not proselytize, and we pledge never to exploit vulnerability to obtain a profession of faith. We do not feed the hungry as a means to an end. We feed the hungry because God cares about people who are hungry, and He wants them to be fed (Psalm 145:13-17).

Insisting that people hear a certain message or affirm a specific belief as a prerequisite to receiving our assistance violates codes of conduct established for disaster, relief, and humanitarian groups of which we are a member. However, our hope is that our work and lives would contribute to people becoming followers of Christ.

How does being a Christian organization impact your work?

Our faith in Jesus Christ is core to who we are. As an expression of God’s unconditional love for all people, especially vulnerable children, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed. We hope to live as followers of Christ by being active, visible bearers of God’s love.

Relying on God’s grace and Spirit, we affirm the truth of the gospel and our hope in Christ through our character, speech, actions, and in the signs of God’s power at work in individual lives, in the communities where we work, and in all creation. (emphasis added – Source)

By its very words WV is a Christian organization that professes a belief in the gospel.  On its website it states that “Jesus is core of who we are.”  Yet its policy is not to proselytize?

Romans1:16-17 says:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Instead of sharing the good news with those who are perishing, WV is all about doing “good works.”  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t do good deeds and be “active, visible bearers of God’s love.”  But good works and sharing Christ with the lost go hand in hand.  Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, the meaning of “hearing” is explained:

When it is said that faith cometh by hearing, it is not meant that all who hear actually believe, for that is not true; but that faith does not exist unless there is a message, or report, to be heard or believed. It cannot come otherwise than by such a message; in other words, unless there is something made known to be believed. And this shows us at once the importance of the message, and the fact that people are converted by the instrumentality of truth, and of truth only. (Source)

Just prior to WV doing an about face, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, slammed the organization over its plans to hire unrepentant homosexuals.  Perhaps his, and articles like it, is the reason Richard Stearns and the board reversed their decision and decided to repent.  The question many people are asking at this juncture is how do we know that the leadership has sincerely repented of their willingness to mollify the radical homosexual lobby’s demand for them to hire gay people?  Time will tell.  However, it’s evident that at least for the time being, board members have decided it’s not in WV’s best interest to go against Bible believers and faith groups because they’re the ones who pay the bills!
I’m out of room so I’ll end with an excerpt from Albert Mohler’s stinging rebuke – before WV repented:

Writing to the Corinthian Christians, the Apostle Paul stated: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]

The leader of World Vision U.S. now claims that the Bible is not sufficiently clear on the sinfulness of same-sex sexuality and relationships, but he also claims a “mission of building the kingdom.”  The Apostle Paul makes homosexuality a kingdom issue, and he does so in the clearest of terms.

Of course, Paul’s point is not that homosexuals are uniquely sinful, but that all of us are sinners in need of the grace and mercy of God that come to us in the gift of salvation. Thanks be to God, Paul follows those words with these: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Corinthians 6:11]

The worst aspect of the World Vision U.S. policy shift is the fact that it will mislead the world about the reality of sin and the urgent need of salvation. Willingly recognizing same-sex marriage and validating openly homosexual employees in their homosexuality is a grave and tragic act that confirms sinners in their sin — and that is an act that violates the gospel of Christ. (Source)

Recommended:

Part 1

Short list of Christian Leaders who have rebuked World Vision:

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/03/short-list-christian-leaders-whove-rebuked-world-vision/


Marsha West is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

She can be reached at: embrigade@aol.com

Genetically Modified Organisms: Unleashing 21st Century Frankenstein On The Natural World

April 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Part 1: Changing the DNA structure of the Mother Nature…

In the 20st century, the human mob re-arranged rivers, deserts, rainforests and the oceans to suit its voracious appetite for dominance over the Natural World. Stemming from that 100-year epic onslaught, we humans created communities around the globe featuring 10 million, 20 million to 36 million people piled up in mega-cities around the world.

We contaminated rivers with our poisons, the air with our fossil fuel exhaust and clear cut rainforests by the millions of acres. Our onslaught of the Natural World continues with 80 to 100 species of our fellow travelers losing their existence 24/7 to our encroachment upon their habitat. (Source: Norman Myers, Oxford University)

One of our most prolific acts continues on the bees and other pollinators around the world. In the past 50 years, we poisoned every crop with hundreds of chemical herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which, in turn, caused trillions of bees to suffer “Colony Collapse” throughout the world. Without the bees, which I wrote about earlier this year, our species cannot feed itself.

To add insult to injury, in the 21st century, in order to feed our 7.2 billion in numbers, we began tinkering with the structural DNA of plants and animals.

Today, our scientists change the DNA patterns of fish and plants in order to make them bigger, grow faster and yield more harvest: genetically modified organisms.

But we forgot to ask Mother Nature if our meddling in her business would cause any harm. Amazingly, we allow governments, scientists on the payroll of companies like ADM and Monsanto, to tell us that such activities work to make our lives better with no harm to the natural world.

With my research on GMOs connecting their horrific harm to the Natural World and ultimately to we humans, this series will show you the “GMO Frankenstein” being foisted upon us by ugly businessmen in high places to could care less about you, your family or the rest of the species sharing this planet with us.

My intention in writing this series: to educate you to the incredible damage GMO foods cause you along with your family and more important: the horrific destruction to the Natural World.

If you look at human cancers spreading like wildfire across America and the world and every physical ailment we face in America, along the accelerating damage to bees, other pollinators and to the fish in our oceans—you will become appalled at this onslaught and its final consequences.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Siefert said, “When people first hear about just the basic facts concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs or Genetically Engineered Foods) – the DNA of seeds altered with genes from other organisms like bacteria so food crops can withstand herbicides that will kill all other plants, patented by giant chemical companies and found in 80% of processed foods – the standard response is “Oh, my God.” For some, it’s just an exclamation, but for others, it’s the beginnings of a prayer. There’s a mixture of horror and disbelief, as if finding out we’re living inside a very strange sci-fi novel. Beyond that, it’s the sting of humiliation from being ignorant about something so big, mixed with the anger that comes from feeling like you’ve been duped.

“Even without understanding what a GMO is or why it matters, most of us believe as citizens of a supposedly free and democratic society that we have the right to know if GMOs are in the food we eat. The fact we don’t know, and that our right to know has been taken away by corporate greed and government collusion, should upset and mobilize people. When all the food and seed and water and air is owned and patented by giant multinational corporations, will we even protest? Do we have the wakefulness and willpower to take that first step and stand up for this basic right?” (Source: www.fairworldproject.org)

What I discovered in my research: ADM and Monsanto do not want you to know, along with high government officials, the deleterious effects on the Natural World that GMO food production causes in the long run. These mega-giant corporations “own” regulatory agencies, government officials (bribes or dandy trips to anywhere in the world), and other complicit chemical companies around the world.

Be warned, you will not like the kind of treachery being foisted upon you by your U.S. Congress and officials who should present a moral and ethical stance against GMOs, but fail us because of one item: money.

Thus, as we move through this series, you may choose to save yourself and your family by buying “Certified Organic Foods” along with “Certified Non-Genetically Modified Organism” foods that give you the nutrients of Mother Nature without the “Frankenization” of your food supply and of the planet’s natural systems. Additionally, Monsanto and other HUGE corporations work every angle to stop any “GMO” labeling of their poisonous foods. Why do you think the do that?

If this information educates you enough, you may take action provided in the organizations and leaders trying to rid the world of GMOs. Help them and ultimately, you will help your family.

Otherwise, if these “monsters” of Monsanto and ADM get their way, they will cripple this world, all living creatures and the structural systems that allow all life on Earth to remain in balance and allow us all to thrive.


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.

He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website: www.frostywooldridge.com

Frosty Wooldridge is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

World Vision – Christian Organization?

April 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Part 1

The dust has settled a bit since Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision’s March 24 announcement that it would hire gay couples who are legally married in the state in which they reside.  Since “World Vision-gate” remains a hot topic, it’s time for some introspection; likewise to do some digging to find out if WV truly is a Christian organization, as it claims.

When WV announced its decision to hire gay people, not surprisingly Bible believing Christians found the decision unsettling.  Clearly WV’s Board of Directors chose to ignore the plain teaching of Scripture regarding homosexuality.   As a result, a large number of believers, including some high-profile evangelical leaders, took to the blogosphere in protest and thousands stormed WV’s website.  Board members hadn’t counted on the huge uproar their unbiblical decision would cause.   Certainly they expected WV’s financial support to take a minor hit from unhappy sponsors. But evidently no one anticipated just how big the hit would be.  According one source 10,000 sponsors pulled out. (More on this in a moment.)

Within 2 days the board reversed its decision.  Immediately Richard Stearns, president of World Vision issued a public apology.  The following is an excerpt of his apology from Christianity Today:

“The last couple of days have been very painful,” organization president Rich Stearns told reporters this evening. “We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision’s commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be.”

“Rather than creating more unity [among Christians], we created more division, and that was not the intent. … Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake … and we believe that [World Vision supporters] helped us to see that with more clarity … and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.” 

“We listened to [our] friends, we listened to their counsel. They tried to point out in loving ways that the conduct policy change was simply not consistent … with the authority of Scripture and how we apply Scripture to our lives. … We did inadequate consultation with our supporters. If I could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders.”

“What we are affirming today is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian faith that we must take a strong stand on those beliefs. … We cannot defer to a small minority of churches and denominations that have taken a different position.”

“Yes, we will certainly defer on many issues that are not so central to our understanding of the Christian faith. … But on the authority of Scripture in our organization’s work [and employee conduct] … and on marriage as an institution ordained by God between a man and a woman—those are age-old and fundamental Christian beliefs. We cannot defer on things that are that central to the faith.”  

Here’s what Stearns said about the large number of child sponsorships that were cancelled:

“That grieves us, because the children we serve will suffer because of that.  … But our choice is not about money or income. It’s a sincere desire for us to do the right thing. To be consistent with our core values and to respond to the legitimate feedback and counsel we have received from supporters and friends of World Vision.” (Source)

Doing the right thing meant WV had to throw gay people under the bus.

Stearns now wants us to believe that the organization needed feedback and counsel from supporters and friends to help them realize that homosexuality is a sin and as such practicing homosexuals must repent and turn to God.

As previously stated, it was alleged that10,000 kids lost their sponsorship in those 2 short days after the original announcement. Who made this claim?   Far left blogger Matthew Paul Turner. And who did Turner blame for the loss of support?  “So-called born again Christians.”  In a blog post Turner grumbled:

Last Monday, the day of the announcement, World Vision’s call center received 7000 calls and a loss of 2000 child sponsorships. That’s just in 12 hours on Monday! The following day those numbers swelled. And then on Wednesday, within minutes of World Vision announcing that it was reversing its decision, the calls stopped and, according to Stearns, “the bleeding stopped.” …  It took several days to count the total loss of sponsorships, a number that eventually rose to “just about 10,000 children,” according to Stearns. A handful of people did call back, hoping to start up their sponsorships again. But the majority did not.

Later in his piece Turner cuts lose on the born again believers who dared to withdraw their sponsorship:

There’s nothing “moral” about using a kid as a bargaining chip to punish a Christian organization for making a decision that you don’t agree with. There’s nothing honoring about using children to force an organization’s hand. There’s nothing “pro life” about that. There’s nothing remotely “Christlike” about that. It’s downright disgusting, manipulative, and sad. If I was a Pentecostal, I might even call it demonic.  (Source)

Demonic?  No!  What really happened here is that Bible believing Christians sent a message to World Vision:  We will not sponsor organizations that compromise biblical truth.

Amy Spreeman of  Stand Up For the Truth who’s been closely following World Vision-gate isn’t buying Turner’s allegations.  She brings to light two things we need to ask and consider:

1. Is there proof that 10,000 kids are now abandoned?
2. Do “sponsorship fees” really go to the kids?

Nope and nope. First, WV president Richard Stearns this week gave out this figure via phone conference to a small group of hand-picked bloggers who are pro-gay marriage. The blogger with the biggest audience is Matthew Paul Turner. He works for World Vision. ‘Nuff said. (emphasis added – Source)

When it comes to the Bible’s clear teaches on homosexuality and marriage, WV board member Jacqueline Fuller appears to be as biblically ignorant as Matthew Paul Turner is.  On April 3 she resigned from the organization “because she disagreed with the agency backtracking on a policy that would have recognized employees’ same-sex spouses.” (Source)

Here’s the crux of the matter as stated by The Cripplegate’s Jesse Johnson:

The homosexual agenda continues to advance and Christians really ought to come to terms with the fact that it is only a matter of time when our view of marriage will be plainly illegal. As has been said elsewhere, as that agenda moves forward in our country at breakneck speed, ambivalence is not an option; you will be made to care. As World Vision’s recent announcements illustrates, it will soon not be practically possible to simply love others and preach the gospel, without having a clear explanation about what the Bible says about homosexuality. (emphasis and link in original – Source)

Spenser vs. World Vision

In 2007 WV found itself in Federal court defending its right to hire only those who shared in its Christian beliefs.  The lawsuit went on for four years.  Then in October 2011 the decision came down on the side of World Vision.  The headline in Christian Headline News read:

VICTORY FOR RELIGIOUS HIRING IN WORLD VISION CASE

According to the report:

As a requirement for employment, Silvia Spencer, Ted Youngberg and Vicki Hulse had acknowledged their agreement and compliance with World Vision’s statement of faith upon being hired. In November 2006, however, the three were terminated by World Vision after an internal investigation determined Spencer, Youngberg and Hulse did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and denied the doctrine of the Trinity (“There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit), a fundamental tenant of the organization’s core values.

Claiming discrimination, the disgruntled employees filed a complaint against the Federal Way-based humanitarian aid organization in 2007. The lower court granted World Vision a summary judgment and, in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed the district court’s decision.

Judges found the reason for firing was not in dispute. On August 23, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that World Vision was a “religious organization” and therefore exempt from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars religious discrimination in hiring.

From the same article:

“I am pleased, relieved and gratified with the court’s action,” said World Vision’s U.S. president, Richard Stearns, in a statement. “After four years of litigation, we at World Vision U.S. may now put this matter behind us, and continue our policy of hiring only Christians.” (Source)

Reading this statement from Sterns makes one wonder why, after battling for four years to have the right and freedom to hire only those who cling to WV’s supposed biblical views and values, would this professed Christian organization decide to hire “married” homosexuals?

Stay tuned for Part 2.


Marsha West is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

She can be reached at: embrigade@aol.com

Indoctrinating A New Generation

April 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

– “In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.

– “And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.

Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.

– “Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “

The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations  , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.

– “Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”

In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.

– “Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”

The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.

Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:

The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)

How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.

Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy.

NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:

“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.”

Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.

One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.

But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Cuba … Again … Still … Forever

Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”.  But nothing has ever come even close to succeeding. The horrid socialism keeps on inspiring people all over the world. It’s the darnedest thing. Can providing people free or remarkably affordable health care, education, housing, food and culture be all that important?

And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.”  It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.

Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.”  We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?

The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?

Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.

Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.

In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service.

Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.

The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”

On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”

USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.

 

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
  5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
  6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
  8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Update: The Syrian Disposal of Chemical Weapons

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

President Assad and Ayatollah Khomeini are keeping their word. Will President Obama keep his?

Recent reports from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the accuracy of which have been conceded by the White House, but denied in Tel Aviv, have it that slightly less than half of Syria’s chemical weapons have already left the country and 100% of the country’s stockpiles are believed to have been neutralized. Well along the path to meet the June 30 agreed discard date.

Both Iran and Russia have been credited with helping persuade the Syrian government that it is very much in the interest of Syria as well as the global community to discard its chemical weapons stockpiles which date back to the 1970s. A total of 11 consignments have been recently shipped out of Syria for decontamination and disposal, the latest from Latakia. Included is all of Syria’s sulphur mustard gas, a blister agent that was first widely used in WWI.

Captain Clyde Chester Lamb, the father of this observer, was a one of hundreds of victims of the deadly gas while fighting the Germans in front-line trenches in eastern France. Capt. Lamb survived, but never fully recovered, and when he did later speak about his experiences in the war, which was not often, he once told his horrified children at story time that he and his comrades had no gas masks so they used to improvise by urinating on scraps of uniforms which he would distribute to his men with instructions to hold it tightly over their nose and mouth. Somehow their pee seemed to reduce the effects of the poisonous gas.

Despite some delays due to security and logistical issues, few besides the Zionist lobby in the US Congress doubt that Syria’s work will be completed. Across Syria, according to information made available to this observer, specialists have accelerated the packing and transporting of the chemical weapons, sometimes even moving them through rebel territory to the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

In cooperation with Iran, Russia has supplied large-capacity containers and armored vehicles for the Latakia loading operation while China has sent 10 ambulances and surveillance cameras and Finland dispatched an emergency response team in case of accidents. Denmark and Norway are providing cargo ships and military escorts to take the chemicals to the container port of Gioia Tauro in Italy and the American government, among others, is also helping.

Despite Iranian cooperation with this major humanitarian project and, according to IAEA spokesmen, “solid progress has been made with the Iranian nuclear file”, the White House to date is still waffling on its pledged meager lifting of sanctions which continue to target the people of Iran. US sanctions also continue to compound and increase the nearly unfathomable suffering of the Syrian people all of whom have been targeted by Barack Obama Executive Orders ever tightening their noose of economic sanctions.
The White House has yet to explain its dilatoriness, but Congressional sources report that President Obama is still being targeted by Israel and its Congressional agents and that Obama does not yet want to lift sanctions “for now”, more than cosmetically. This applies to medicine and medical equipment. The same source claims that the White House is also signaling Tehran that it should continue to be patient while a sanctions review is getting started in Washington.Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Kerry has just assured Iran’s leadership that the White House appreciates the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month forbidding the production and use of nuclear weapons. Kerry agreed that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear program and he also credited the earlier statement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokes Ramin Mehman-Parast that Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa is binding for Iran, and that “There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader’s fatwa.”

A recent Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) prosecution of an American citizen seeking to ship potentially life-saving MRI medical equipment to Iran illustrates the weak knees of the Obama White House by allowing that Zionist dominated Federal agency to ramp up its targeting of the people of Iran.

There are dozens of cases like the one noted below and President Obama is presumably aware of them. The shameful case under review involves a University Medical Researcher who is being targeting with jail time for sending a medical device to Iran which his lawyers argued was completely innocent and clearly legal because medical equipment such as MRI’s are exempted by the ‘ humanitarian exceptions’ stated in Obama’s relevant Executive Orders imposing US sanctions against Iran.

Mr. Cliff Burns, a lawyer and law professor in Washington DC explained the case of Mr.Mohamad Nazemzadeh, who was a Research Fellow in the Neurology Department of the University of Michigan at the time of his arrest, and who is being federally prosecuted for sending a medical device to the Netherlands. At issue is a coil for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The coil is the assembly of wires that generates the necessary radio signals when electricity flows through them to permit imaging the part of the body within the coil. Mr. Nazemzadeh is currently doing research at the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and his area of specialty is, not surprisingly, magnetic resonance imaging.

As explained by Mr. Burns, “A part for an MRI machine would, under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, be eligible for an export license notwithstanding the embargo on Iran. Nazemzadeh’s failure to obtain a license would, of course, be a violation of the embargo.” Even assuming that it was a technical criminal violation in his case, one has to wonder why, as Burns does, Obama Administration prosecutorial resources are being consumed to prosecute a researcher for trying to send life-saving medical equipment to Iran. As one of the researchers lawyers noted: “Aren’t there dangerous people out there with guns and bombs who might warrant the attention instead?”

An affidavit in support of a search warrant for Nazemzadeh’s mobile phone casts doubt on whether Nazemzadeh actually had the criminal intent necessary to support an OFAC pushed criminal prosecution in the first place for the attempted export of the MRI part. According to the affidavit, Nazemzadeh was negotiating with the undercover federal agent sent in by OFAC to ship the MRI coil to Iran through a company in the Netherlands. It is not uncommon for people to believe, even if they study the vague wording of the Iranian sanction minutia, that if it is legal to ship an item to a particular country, no laws are broken if the item is then re-exported, without any involvement on their part, to a prohibited destination. Here, according to the affidavit, Mr. Nazemzadeh continued to say to the undercover agent that he believed the transaction was legal and says this is true because the export from the United States is to the Netherlands, not Iran. Mr. Nazemzadeh’s good faith legal mistake is not a criminal act. Instead, this is precisely the sort of case that ought to be evaluated, if at all, as an administrative matter by OFAC, were that Muslim targeting agency anywhere near fair-minded and objective. OFAC should have at the maximum issued a fine in this case notwithstanding Mr. Nazemzadeh’s mistaken belief that the transaction did not violate U.S. law.

If the White House truly wants to normalize relations with Iran and with Syria as it claims, it needs to do a lot better. A good start would be by calling off OFACs attack dogs who service other than the American people. Also it should honor its oft touted “Humanitarian sanctions against Iran and Syria that exempts medicines and medical equipment”. This language has not been implemented and it misleads the global community about the brutal and illegal nature of the White House promulgated civilian targeting, for political purposes, sanctions.

This weekend’s White House greetings to the people of the Islamic Republic for Nowruz the Iranian New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar are no doubt sincere and appreciated. But now it’s time to give substance to America’s New Year’s greetings that her citizens can be proud of and, that is accordant and consistent with their values.


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

Dr. Franklin Lamb is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Putin’s Triumph

March 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Nobody expected events to move on with such a breath-taking speed. The Russians took their time; they sat on the fence and watched while the Brown storm-troopers conquered Kiev, and they watched while Mrs Victoria Nuland of the State Department and her pal Yatsenyuk (“Yats”) slapped each other’s backs and congratulated themselves on their quick victory. They watched when President Yanukovych escaped to Russia to save his skin. They watched when the Brown bands moved eastwards to threaten the Russian-speaking South East. They patiently listened while Mme Timoshenko, fresh out of gaol, swore to void treaties with Russia and to expel the Russian Black Sea Fleet from its main harbour in Sevastopol. They paid no heed when the new government appointed oligarchs to rule Eastern provinces. Nor did they react when children in Ukrainian schools were ordered to sing “Hang a Russian on a thick branch” and the oligarch-governor’s deputy promised to hang dissatisfied Russians of the East as soon as Crimea is pacified. While these fateful events unravelled, Putin kept silent.

He is a cool cucumber, Mr Putin. Everybody, including this writer, thought he was too nonchalant about Ukraine’s collapse. He waited patiently. The Russians made a few slow and hesitant, almost stealthy moves. The marines Russia had based in Crimea by virtue of an international agreement (just as the US has marines in Bahrain) secured Crimea’s airports and roadblocks, provided necessary support to the volunteers of the Crimean militia (called Self-Defence Forces), but remained under cover. The Crimean parliament asserted its autonomy and promised a plebiscite in a month time. And all of a sudden things started to move real fast!

The poll was moved up to Sunday, March 16. Even before it could take place, the Crimean Parliament declared Crimea’s independence. The poll’s results were spectacular: 96% of the votes were for joining Russia; the level of participation was unusually high – over 84%. Not only ethnic Russians, but ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars voted for reunification with Russia as well. A symmetrical poll in Russia showed over 90% popular support for reunification with Crimea, despite liberals’ fear-mongering (“this will be too costly, the sanctions will destroy Russian economy, the US will bomb Moscow”, they said).

Even then, the majority of experts and talking heads expected the situation to remain suspended for a long while. Some thought Putin would eventually recognise Crimean independence, while stalling on final status, as he did with Ossetia and Abkhazia after the August 2008 war with Tbilisi. Others, especially Russian liberals, were convinced Putin would surrender Crimea in order to save Russian assets in the Ukraine.

But Putin justified the Russian proverb: the Russians take time to saddle their horses, but they ride awfully fast. He recognised Crimea’s independence on Monday, before the ink on the poll’s results dried.  The next day, on Tuesday, he gathered all of Russia’s senior statesmen and parliamentarians in the biggest, most glorious and elegant St George state hall in the Kremlin, lavishly restored to its Imperial glory, and declared Russia’s acceptance of Crimea’s reunification bid. Immediately after his speech, the treaty between Crimea and Russia was signed, and the peninsula reverted to Russia as it was before 1954, when Communist Party leader Khrushchev passed it to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

This was an event of supreme elation for the gathered politicians and for people at home watching it live on their tellies. The vast St George Hall applauded Putin as never before, almost as loudly and intensely as the US Congress had applauded Netanyahu. The Russians felt immense pride: they still remember the stinging defeat of 1991, when their country was taken apart. Regaining Crimea was a wonderful reverse for them. There were public festivities in honour of this reunification all over Russia and especially in joyous Crimea.

Historians have compared the event with the restoration of Russian sovereignty over Crimea in 1870, almost twenty years after the Crimean War had ended with Russia’s defeat, when severe limitations on Russian rights in Crimea were imposed by victorious France and Britain. Now the Black Sea Fleet will be able to develop and sail freely again, enabling it to defend Syria in the next round. Though Ukrainians ran down the naval facilities and turned the most advanced submarine harbour of Balaclava into shambles, the potential is there.

Besides the pleasure of getting this lost bit of land back, there was the additional joy of outwitting the adversary. The American neocons arranged the coup in Ukraine and sent the unhappy country crashing down, but the first tangible fruit of this break up went to Russia.

A new Jewish joke was coined at that time:

Israeli President Peres asks the Russian President:

           
  • Vladimir, are you of Jewish ancestry?
  •       

  • Putin: What makes you think so, Shimon?
  •        

  • Peres: You made the US pay five billion dollars to deliver Crimea to Russia. Even for a Jew, that is audacious!

Five billion dollars is a reference to Victoria Nuland’s admission of having spent that much for democratisation (read: destabilisation) of the Ukraine. President Putin snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and US hegemony suffered a set-back.

The Russians enjoyed the sight of their UN representative Vitaly Churkin coping with a near-assault by Samantha Power. The Irish-born US rep came close to bodily attacking the elderly grey-headed Russian diplomat telling him that “Russia was defeated (presumably in 1991 – ISH) and should bear the consequences… Russia is blackmailing the US with its nuclear weapons,” while Churkin asked her to keep her hands off him and stop foaming at the mouth. This was not the first hostile encounter between these twain: a month ago, Samantha entertained a Pussy Riot duo, and Churkin said she should join the group and embark on a concert tour.

The US Neocons’ role in the Kiev coup was clarified by two independent exposures. Wonderful Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek showed that the anti-Russian campaign of recent months (gay protests, Wahl affair, etc.) was organised by the Zionist Neocon PNAC (now renamed FPI) led by Mr Robert Kagan, husband of Victoria “Fuck EC” Nuland. It seems that the Neocons are hell-bent to undermine Russia by all means, while the Europeans are much more flexible. (True, the US troops are still stationed in Europe, and the old continent is not as free to act as it might like).

The second exposé was an interview with Alexander Yakimenko, the head of Ukrainian Secret Services (SBU) who had escaped to Russia like his president. Yakimenko accused Andriy Parubiy, the present security czar, of making a deal with the Americans. On American instructions, he delivered weapons and brought snipers who killed some 70 persons within few hours. They killed the riot police and the protesters as well.

The US Neocon-led conspiracy in Kiev was aimed against the European attempt to reach a compromise with President Yanukovych, said the SBU chief. They almost agreed on all points, but Ms Nuland wanted to derail the agreement, and so she did – with the help of a few snipers.

These snipers were used again in Crimea: a sniper shot and killed a Ukrainian soldier. When the Crimean self-defence forces began their pursuit, the sniper shot at them, killed one and wounded one. It is the same pattern: snipers are used to provoke response and hopefully to jump-start a shootout.

Novorossia

While Crimea was a walkover, the Russians are far from being home and dry. Now, the confrontation moved to the Eastern and South-Eastern provinces of mainland Ukraine, called Novorossia (New Russia) before the Communist Revolution of 1917. Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his later years predicted that Ukraine’s undoing would come from its being overburdened by industrial provinces that never belonged to the Ukraine before Lenin, – by Russian-speaking Novorossia. This prediction is likely to be fulfilled.

Who fights whom over there? It is a great error to consider the conflict a tribal one, between Russians and Ukrainians. Good old Pat Buchanan made this error saying that “Vladimir Putin is a blood-and-soil, altar-and-throne ethno-nationalist who sees himself as Protector of Russia and looks on Russians abroad the way Israelis look upon Jews abroad, as people whose security is his legitimate concern.” Nothing could be farther away from truth: perhaps only the outlandish claim that Putin is keen on restoring the Russian Empire can compete.

Putin is not an empire-builder at all (to great regret of Russia’s communists and nationalists). Even his quick takeover of Crimea was an action forced upon him by the strong-willed people of Crimea and by the brazen aggression of the Kiev regime. I have it on a good authority that Putin hoped he would not have to make this decision. But when he decided he acted.

The ethno-nationalist assertion of Buchanan is even more misleading. Ethno-nationalists of Russia are Putin’s enemies; they support the Ukrainian ethno-nationalists and march together with Jewish liberals on Moscow street demos. Ethno-nationalism is as foreign to Russians as it is foreign to the English. You can expect to meet a Welsh or Scots nationalist, but an English nationalist is an unnatural rarity. Even the English Defence League was set up by a Zionist Jew. Likewise, you can find a Ukrainian or a Belarusian or a Cossack nationalist, but practically never a Russian one.

Putin is a proponent and advocate of non-nationalist Russian world. What is the Russian world?

Russian World

Russians populate their own vast universe embracing many ethnic units of various background, from Mongols and Karels to Jews and Tatars. Until 1991, they populated an even greater land mass (called the Soviet Union, and before that, the Russian Empire) where Russian was the lingua franca and the language of daily usage for majority of citizens. Russians could amass this huge empire because they did not discriminate and did not hog the blanket. Russians are amazingly non-tribal, to an extent unknown in smaller East European countries, but similar to other great Eastern Imperial nations, the Han Chinese and the Turks before the advent of Young Turks and Ataturk. The Russians did not assimilate but partly acculturated their neighbours for whom Russian language and culture became the gateway to the world. The Russians protected and supported local cultures, as well, at their expense, for they enjoy this diversity.

Before 1991, the Russians promoted a universalist humanist world-view; nationalism was practically banned, and first of all, Russian nationalism. No one was persecuted or discriminated because of his ethnic origin (yes, Jews complained, but they always complain). There was some positive discrimination in the Soviet republics, for instance a Tajik would have priority to study medicine in the Tajik republic, before a Russian or a Jew; and he would be able to move faster up the ladder in the Party and politics. Still the gap was small.

After 1991, this universalist world-view was challenged by a parochial and ethno-nationalist one in all ex-Soviet republics save Russia and Belarus. Though Russia ceased to be Soviet, it retained its universalism. In the republics, people of Russian culture were severely discriminated against, often fired from their working places, in worst cases they were expelled or killed. Millions of Russians, natives of the republics, became refugees; together with them, millions of non-Russians who preferred Russian universalist culture to “their own” nationalist and parochial one fled to Russia. That is why modern Russia has millions of Azeris, Armenians, Georgians, Tajiks, Latvians and of smaller ethnic groups from the republics. Still, despite discrimination, millions of Russians and people of Russian culture remained in the republics, where their ancestors lived for generations, and the Russian language became a common ground for all non-nationalist forces.

If one wants to compare with Israel, as Pat Buchanan did, it is the republics, such as Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Estonia do follow Israeli model of discriminating and persecuting their “ethnic minorities”, while Russia follows the West European model of equality.

France vs Occitania

In order to understand the Russia-Ukraine problem, compare it with France. Imagine it divided into North and South France, the North retaining the name of France, while the South of France calling itself “Occitania”, and its people “Occitans”, their language “Occitan”. The government of Occitania would force the people to speak Provençal, learn Frederic Mistral’s poems by rote and teach children to hate the French, who had devastated their beautiful land in the Albigensian Crusade of 1220. France would just gnash its teeth. Now imagine that after twenty years, the power in Occitania were violently seized by some romantic southern fascists who were keen to eradicate “800 years of Frank domination” and intend to discriminate against people who prefer to speak the language of Victor Hugo and Albert Camus. Eventually France would be forced to intervene and defend francophones, at least in order to stem the refugee influx. Probably the Southern francophones of Marseilles and Toulon would support the North against “their own” government, though they are not migrants from Normandy.

Putin defends all Russian-speakers, all ethnic minorities, such as Gagauz or Abkhaz, not only ethnic Russians. He defends the Russian World, all those russophones who want and need his protection. This Russian World definitely includes many, perhaps majority of people in the Ukraine, ethnic Russians, Jews, small ethnic groups and ethnic Ukrainians, in Novorossia and in Kiev.

Indeed Russian world was and is attractive. The Jews were happy to forget their schtetl and Yiddish; their best poets Pasternak and Brodsky wrote in Russian and considered themselves Russian. Still, some minor poets used Yiddish for their self-expression. The Ukrainians, as well, used Russian for literature, though they spoke their dialect at home for long time. Nikolai Gogol, the great Russian writer of Ukrainian origin, wrote Russian, and he was dead set against literary usage of the Ukrainian dialect. There were a few minor Romantic figures who used the dialect for creative art, like Taras Shevchenko and Lesya Ukrainka.

Solzhenitsyn wrote: “Even ethnic-Ukrainians do not use and do not know Ukrainian. In order to promote its use, the Ukrainian government bans Russian schools, forbids Russian TV, even librarians are not allowed to speak Russian with their readers. This anti-Russian position of Ukraine is exactly what the US wants in order to weaken Russia.“

Putin in his speech on Crimea stressed that he wants to secure the Russian world – everywhere in the Ukraine. In Novorossia the need is acute, for there are daily confrontations between the people and the gangs sent by the Kiev regime. While Putin does not yet want (as opposed to Solzhenitsyn and against general Russian feeling) to take over Novorossia, he may be forced to it, as he was in Crimea. There is a way to avoid this major shift: the Ukraine must rejoin the Russian world. While keeping its independence, Ukraine must grant full equality to its Russian language speakers. They should be able to have Russian-language schools, newspapers, TV, be entitled to use Russian everywhere. Anti-Russian propaganda must cease. And fantasies of joining NATO, too.

This is not an extraordinary demand: Latinos in the US are allowed to use Spanish. In Europe, equality of languages and cultures is a sine qua non. Only in the ex-Soviet republics are these rights trampled – not only in Ukraine, but in the Baltic republics as well. For twenty years, Russia made do with weak objections, when Russian-speakers (the majority of them are not ethnic Russians) in the Baltic states were discriminated against. This is likely to change. Lithuania and Latvia have already paid for their anti-Russian position by losing their profitable transit trade with Russia. Ukraine is much more important for Russia. Unless the present regime is able to change (not very likely), this illegitimate regime will be changed by people of Ukraine, and Russia will use R2P against the criminal elements in power.

The majority of people of Ukraine would probably agree with Putin, irrespective of their ethnicity. Indeed, in the Crimean referendum, Ukrainians and Tatars voted en masse together with Russians. This is a positive sign: there will be no ethnic strife in the Ukraine’s East, despite US efforts to the contrary. The decision time is coming up fast: some experts presume that by end of May the Ukrainian crisis will be behind us.

English language editing by Ken Freeland.


A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.

After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.

In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Elitism, Not Liberalism, Is The Real Problem

March 21, 2014 by · 4 Comments 

You have to hand it to the game-makers in the two major parties: they have done an outstanding job of putting the problems of the world into a convenient left-right paradigm. To the average conservative out there, Republican equals conservative, which equals good–while Democrat equals liberal, which equals bad. And to the average liberal out there, Democrat equals liberal, which equals good–while Republican equals conservative, which equals bad. So, all the party game-makers have to do is paint the other guys as liberal or conservative and all of the sheeple within the two parties will blindly and robotically go to the voting booth and pull the party lever, believing that they have just had a hand in defeating the “bad” guys.

But it’s not just the game-makers of the two major parties that participate in this charade; the majority of talking heads on the radio and television talk shows, as well as most newscasters from the network news shows, also participate. The entire political world is seen through the jaded lenses of left and right. Granted, liberal game-makers control the vast majority of the print and television media (with the exception of FOX News), but conservative game-makers dominate the radio talk show circuit.

So, why is it that no matter which political party wins the election (congressional or presidential), nothing changes? Nothing changes with out-of-control deficit spending. Nothing changes with foreign policy. Nothing changes with the Federal Reserve. Nothing changes with federal entitlements. Nothing changes with continuing federal encroachment on personal liberties and State sovereignty. Nothing changes. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, left or right: nothing changes. Nothing!

It is an absolute fact that, for all intents and purposes, there has been virtually no discernable difference in presidential administrations since Ronald Reagan left office. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, G.W. Bush, and now Barack Obama have been nothing more than one very long and continuous administration. Yet, supposedly both the left and the right have had almost equal terms in office. But, as the game-makers in “The Hunger Games” movies use illusion and manipulation to control people, so, too, the game-makers in Washington, D.C., and New York City use illusion and manipulation to control us. The left-right, conservative-liberal paradigm is an illusion, folks.

Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly believes in limited government. Their only disagreements surround how increasing federal expenditures will be spent and who will decide how it’s spent. Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly gives two-cents for what the Constitution says about anything. Most of them never even mention the Constitution–except when they are on the campaign trail. Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly gives a tinker’s dam about the erosion of the Bill of Rights. The only time they even talk about reclaiming freedom is when the other party is in power. To most of them, tyranny is fine–as long as the tyrant is a member of their political party.

The reality of the situation is that a very real caste-system has developed in this country. Once most of them (Republican or Democrat) are ensconced in Washington, D.C., they see themselves as having become part of the ruling class. From then on, everything that happens–and I mean EVERYTHING–is designed to augment the pleasure, prosperity, and power of the ruling class. In a word, this is ELITISM. The problem is not liberalism or conservatism; the problem is elitism.

Have you noticed how much time and money is spent on campaigning? Even after a politician wins office, he or she continues to campaign. Constituents are bombarded constantly with mailers, phone calls, emails, television and radio addresses, etc. What motivates most politicians? Defending freedom? Reducing government overreach? Preserving the Constitution? Maintaining the Bill of Rights? No, no, no! A thousand times, no! The only thing that motivates the vast majority of our elected office holders is staying elected. Why? So that they might enjoy the perks of power for the rest of their lives. Honest patriots such as Ron Paul, Steve Stockman, the late Helen Chenoweth, the late Jesse Helms, and the late Larry McDonald are as rare as hen’s teeth in Washington, D.C.

Do you really think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are worrying about the medical tsunami that Obamacare is producing? Are you kidding? They, and their families, have the finest medical insurance (and care) in the world. Do you really think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are worried about whatever gun control legislation might be enacted? Were you born yesterday? They enjoy the benefits of the tightest security–including armed security–money can buy. Do you think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are concerned about your loss of liberty? Come on! They make a living exempting themselves from the restrictive laws to which the rest of us are expected to submit.

Again, the problem is elitism. Elitism dominates the politics of both major parties inside the Beltway. It also dominates the newscasters and talking heads–from both the left and the right–that you are watching on television.

Bob Costas rails against our right to keep and bear arms, while every day of his life, he is protected by a host of armed security personnel. The same is true for the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough. These multi-millionaires (and billionaires, in some cases) sit in their ivory towers completely insulated from the problems that the rest of society must endure every day.

Most of the time, elitists are absolutely superb at masking their feelings of superiority, but, occasionally, one of them will slip up and put their elitism on display for all to see. Such an event happened last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate. And the only report I saw about it came from overseas: The London Guardian newspaper. Remember, the newscasters and talking heads in this country are mostly elitists, too, and they will not be quick to shame a fellow elitist–regardless of his or her political persuasion. Their brotherhood among the elite is vastly more important than whatever political disagreements they may have.

Not only was the story covered by an overseas newspaper, the man who went public with the story was none other than the man that most of the elitists declare to be a traitor: Edward Snowden.

According to The Guardian, “The whistleblower Edward Snowden accused the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee of double standards on Tuesday, pointing out that her outrage at evidence her staff were spied on by the CIA was not matched by concern about widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens.

“Snowden, the former contractor whose disclosures to journalists revealed widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, was responding to an explosive statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein about the CIA’s attempts to undermine a congressional investigation into interrogation and detention.

“In a surprisingly combative statement on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feinstein, who has been widely criticised by privacy experts for failing to hold the NSA to account, accused the CIA of conducting potentially unconstitutional and criminal searches on computers used by her staff.”

See the report here:

Edward Snowden Accuses Feinstein Of Hypocrisy 

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the public display of an angry elitist. Senator Feinstein doesn’t give a plug nickel whether the NSA (or any other government agency) is spying on the American people, but when they start spying on her–or her staff–it has suddenly become a constitutional crisis. So, why does it take a foreign newspaper and a man who fled the country for fear of his life to notice Feinstein’s hypocrisy? Again, it’s because the majority of the American media is controlled by Feinstein’s fellow elitists.

But, the story gets even more comical. According to the New York Daily News:

“California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday that her fight against the unregulated use of drones is now personal after one of the surveillance devices got a bit too close to her for comfort.

“The Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that a drone peeked into her window when a group of protestors from Code Pink recently gathered outside her house to rally against government surveillance.”

The News report continued saying,

“‘I’m in my home and there’s a demonstration out front, and I go to peek out the window and there’s a drone facing me,’ she said of the incident. ‘When is a drone picture a benefit to society? When does it become stalking? When does it invade privacy? How close to a home can a drone go?’

“According to Politico, Code Pink members have claimed that the device that flew by Feinstein’s house was just a toy helicopter.

“Feinstein, who has defended the general use of drones to gather government intelligence, nevertheless stressed the importance of regulating their operation.”

See the report at:

Senator Dianne Feinstein Pushes Drone Regulation After One Flies Up To Her Window 

Now, the elitist Dianne Feinstein–the one who sees nothing wrong with the government spying on you and me–is so paranoid about the government spying on her that she mistakes a toy helicopter for a drone and goes on national television to complain about it? Someone, please help me get off of the floor!

The fact is it is not adherence to the Constitution, or commitment to liberty, or compassion for the common man that drives and motivates these elites in Washington, D.C., and New York City. It is kickbacks, and favors, and contacts, and greed, and lust, and payoffs, and wining and dining, and yacht trips, and trips to foreign countries, ad infinitum, that motivates them.

As long as the American people continue to be duped by the game-makers by falling into this left-right, conservative-liberal, Republican-Democrat paradigm, nothing is going to change in this country. Nothing! If you want to restore the republic, forget what you hear from the political and media elite. Their only job is to continue the illusion; and their only desire is to continue to bask in the benefits of being part of the ruling class.


Chuck Baldwin is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

You can reach him at: chuck@chuckbaldwinlive.com
Please visit Chuck’s web site at: http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com

Obama Backs Down On Crimea

March 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“I never thought I’d live to see the day when the US State Department whitewashed the neo-Nazi views and heritage of a gang of thugs who had seized power in a violent coup d’état. In Iraq, Libya, and Syria, US policymakers empowered radical Islamists of one sort or another. That was bad enough. Today, however, in Ukraine they are empowering the heirs of Adolf Hitler. How is this not a scandal?”

–Justin Raimondo, From Iraq to Ukraine: A Pattern of Disaster

The Obama administration suffered its worst foreign policy defeat in 5 years on Sunday when the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to reject Washington’s Nazi-backed junta government in Kiev and join the Russian Federation. The balloting, in which more than 93 percent of voters “approved splitting off and joining Russia” reflects the strong ethnic, cultural and historic ties its people share with Moscow as well as the understandable fear that being “liberated” by the US could lead to grinding third world poverty and widespread mayhem the likes of which are manifest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

The Obama administration rejected the nearly-unanimous referendum opining that they would not accept the results and would push for economic sanctions on Russia as early as Monday. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the referendum “complied with international law” and that he would honor the will of the people. Putin, who was attending the Paralympic games in Sochi, has wisely stayed above the fray throughout the crisis brushing off the hysterical accusations and threats issued almost daily by President Obama or his vaudevillian sidekick John Kerry, the most incompetent buffoon to ever serve as US Secretary of State. Between Obama, Kerry and the irascible John McCain, who traipses from one media venue to the next spouting his cold war fulminations like an old man shooing kids off the front lawn, the US has made a spectacular hash of things leaving US foreign policy in a shambles. The Crimea fiasco shows that while Team Obama may be chock-full of fantasists, spin-doctors and crystal-gazing globalists it is sadly lacking in geopolitical pragmatists with a solid grasp of the way the world works. Obama has been no match for Putin who has tromped him at every turn. Here’s a clip from an article by the Associated Press:

“Moscow… called on Ukraine to become a federal state as a way of resolving the polarization between Ukraine’s western regions — which favor closer ties with the 28-nation EU — and its eastern areas, which have long ties to Russia.

In a statement Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Ukraine’s parliament to call a constitutional assembly that could draft a new constitution to make the country federal, handing more power to its regions. It also said country should adopt a “neutral political and military status,” a demand reflecting Moscow’s concern about the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO.” (Crimea declares independence, seizes property, AP)

So, this is how Putin intends to play the game, eh; by using basic democratic institutions to block Washington from implementing its plan to deploy NATO and US missile bases in Ukraine? It sounds like a smart move to me.

Once again, Putin has made every effort to downplay his role in deciding policy so as not to embarrass the bungling Obama claque who seem determined to make themselves look foolish and impotent at every opportunity. Here’s how analyst Michael Scheuer summed up Putin’s behavior in an article at the Ron Paul website:

“The difference in the Ukraine intervention from others the West has conducted is that the terminally adolescent political leaders who run the West have run smack dab into a decisive, realistic, and nationalistic adult, in the person of Vladimir Putin, and they do not know what to do. They are learning that the Ukraine is not Libya or Egypt in that Putin will not to let the West make of Ukraine — or at least of Crimea — the same unholy mess its earlier unwarranted interventions made of Egypt and Libya. Putin has a very clear view of Russia’s genuine national interests, and reliable access to the Crimean base of the Black Sea fleet is one of them, it has been for centuries, and it will remain so in the future…

U.S. and Western leaders should be lining up to thank Vladimir Putin for a painful but thorough lesson in how the adult leader of a nation protects his country’s genuine national interests.” (Russia Annexing Crimea is the Cost of US/EU intervention in Ukraine, Michael Scheuer, Ron Paul Institute)

Putin realizes that derailing Washington’s strategy to control the Crimea will have serious consequences. He must now prepare for the typical litany of asymmetrical attacks including covert operations, special ops, arming Tatar jihadis to incite violence in Crimea, US-backed NGOs fomenting unrest in Moscow, etc etc, as well as stepped up US military and logistical support for Kiev’s thriving fascist element which has already morphed into the imposter-government’s security apparatus, a scary remake of Hitler’s Gestapo. Here’s the rundown from the World Socialist Web Site:

“On Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament voted to establish a 60,000-strong National Guard recruited from “activists” in the anti-Russian protests and from military academies. The force will be overseen by the new security chief, Andriy Parubiy, a founder in the early 1990s of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine. His deputy, Dmytro Yarosh, is the leader of the paramilitary Right Sector. It is the Ukrainian equivalent of Hitler’s storm troopers.

In addition to aiding the West in its provocations against Moscow, the main responsibility of these elements will be to carry through a social onslaught against the Ukrainian working class at the behest of international capital…” (What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)

And here’s a bit more from the same article on the radical austerity program the IMF is planning to impose on Ukraine in order to shrink the government, reduce pensions, cut social services, and leave the country in a permanent state of Depression:

“Behind incessant rhetorical invocations of a “democratic revolution,” Ukraine’s newly-installed government of former bankers, fascists and oligarchs is preparing draconian austerity measures.

The plans being drawn up are openly described as the “Greek model,” i.e., the programme of savage cuts imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) that has caused Greece’s economy to collapse by nearly 25 percent in five years and produced a massive growth in unemployment and poverty…” (“What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)

So, Putin definitely has his work cut out for himself. Fortunately, he appears to be getting sound advice from his political and military advisors who have avoided pointless grandstanding, gamesmanship or incendiary rhetoric the likes of which erupt from the White House and State Department on a daily basis.

Despite the fact that the Kremlin does not want to see Washington “lose face”, sometimes events make that impossible, as the astute political analysts at Moon of Alabama pointed out on Sunday. Here’s a blurb from a post at MoA that shows how Washington has essentially capitulated to Moscow and accepted its basic framework for resolving the crisis while trying to dupe the public into thinking the policy was their idea. Here’s the excerpt:

“There was another phone call today between Secretary of State Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The call came after a strategy meeting on Ukraine in the White House. During the call Kerry agreed to Russian demands for a federalization of the Ukraine in which the federal states will have a strong autonomy against a central government in a Finlandized Ukraine. Putin had offered this “off-ramp” from the escalation and Obama has taken it. The Russian announcement:

(Reuters) – “Lavrov, Kerry agree to work on constitutional reform in Ukraine: Russian ministry…

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on Sunday to seek a solution to crisis in Ukraine by pushing for constitutional reforms there, the Russian foreign ministry said.

It did not go into details on the kind of reforms needed except to say they should come “in a generally acceptable form and while taking into the account the interests of all regions of Ukraine”.

“Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov and John Kerry agreed to continue work to find a resolution on Ukraine through a speedy launch of constitutional reform with the support of international community,” the ministry said in a statement.” (Ukraine: U.S. Takes Off-Ramp, Agrees To Russian Demands, Moon of Alabama)

Can you believe it? The goofy Obama team wants the public to believe that the whole “constitutional reform”-thing was their idea so people don’t notice that the clunker administration and President Featherweight have run up the white flag and headed for the hills. This is classic Barack “lead from behind” Obama trying to make a full-blown retreat look like a victory.

It’s pathetic!


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Ukraine Bosnified, Putin Hitlerized

March 16, 2014 by · 2 Comments 


On March 6 President Obama said in Washington that the Crimean authorities’ plans for a referendum “violate the Ukrainian Constitution and violate international law.” “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratically elected leaders,” he added. “Crimea is Ukraine,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Rome on the same day.

Interesting. Six years ago the United States enthusiastically recognized the Kosovo Albanian authorities’ self-proclaimed independence, which violated the Serbian constitution and violated international law. The legitimate government of Serbia was not included in any discussions which preceded the American decision. The United States initiated the redrawing of Serbia’s borders with an act of armed aggression in 1999, and then formally condoned it in February 2008, over the heads of Serbia’s democratically elected President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica. Furthermore, in September 2012 Obama’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “the boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set.” A few days earlier Obama himself claimed, incredibly, that “Kosovo has made significant progress in solidifying the gains of independence and in building the institutions of a modern, multi-ethnic, inclusive and democratic state.”

A President capable of thus characterizing that KLA-run black hole of thuggery and lawlessness – the worst-ruled spot by far in all of Europe – is beyond logic or reason. It would be therefore useless to point out to Obama that the government in Kiev has no legitimacy whatsoever, having grabbed power through a sustained campaign of revolutionary brutality and having violated the Ukrainian constitution and other laws in the process. Obama’s claim that the leaders of the regime in Kiev were “democratically elected” is unsurprising, however, coming as it does from a man whose hold on reality – at home and abroad – is becoming more tenuous by the day.

Lest we forget, on February 21 President Viktor Yanukovich and three Ukrainian parliamentary party leaders signed a “reconciliation agreement” co-signed by foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland – implying that their countries and the EU guaranteed the deal – and approved by a Russian representative. The document provided for constitutional reform reducing presidential powers, the creation of a government of national unity, early presidential election, and disbandment of Maidan armed factions. Far from disbanding, within hours those same armed factions forced Yanukovich to flee Kiev and stage-managed a parliamentary “vote,” worthy of the proceedings of the Supreme Soviet ca. 1937, which ushered in the putschist regime.

As Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on March 4, Yanukovich “had in fact given up his power already, and as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer.” Well, there is one, and he knows it. As a BBC commentator pointed out on March 5, what makes Putin mad is the feeling that he is being deceived:

We saw that with Libya in 2011. Moscow was persuaded not to block a UN Security Council resolution on a no-fly zone to protect civilians. But NATO’s military action led to regime change and the death of Col Muammar Gaddafi – far beyond what Russia had expected. It helps explain why Russia has been quick to veto resolutions on Syria. On Ukraine, too, President Putin feels the West has tricked him. Last month he sent his envoy to Kiev to take part in negotiations on a compromise agreement … It remained words only. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Yanukovych was on the run, the parliament removed him from power and appointed a new acting president from the opposition. The pace of events took Moscow completely by surprise. Russia says the February 21 agreement must be implemented. The opposition signed it, yet allows an uncontrolled militia of violent armed radicals send fear and loathing across a large swath of Ukraine. The US says the agreement no longer matters…

THE GHOST OF WARREN ZIMMERMANN – Washington saying “the agreement no longer matters” brings us to another parallel between the crisis in Ukraine and the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990’s: the role of the United States in subverting agreements that were meant to save peace. Similar U.S. subterfuges contributed to the outbreak of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina exactly 22 years ago. In March 1992 the late Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia before its breakup and civil war, materially contributed, more than any other single man, to the outbreak of that war. The facts of the case have been established beyond reasonable doubt, and are no longer disputed by experts.

Following the unconstitutional and illegal Muslim-Croat referendum on Bosnia’s independence (February 28-29), then-Portuguese foreign minister Jose Cutileiro persuaded the leaders of the three constituent nations that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be independent, but internally based on autonomous ethnic “cantons.” The breakthrough was due to the Bosnian Serbs’ acceptance of an externally sovereign B-H state, provided that the Muslims give up their ambition of an internally centralized, unitary one. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader, accepted the plan. Only days after it was signed, however, Zimmermann flew from Belgrade to Sarajevo to tell Izetbegovic that the deal was a means to “a Serbian power grab” that could be annulled. State Department later admitted that the U.S. policy was to encourage Izetbegovic to break with the plan.

As early as August 29, 1993, The New York Times brought a revealing quote from the key player himself: “Immediately after Mr. Izetbegovic returned from Lisbon, Mr. Zimmermann called on him in Sarajevo… ‘He said he didn’t like it; I told him, if he didn’t like it, why sign it?’” After that moment Izetbegovic had no motive to seek compromise. He felt authorized to renege on the tripartite accord, which inevitably ignited the Bosnian war. Cutileiro himself insisted later that, but for Izetbegovic reneging, “the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of life and land.” He also noted that “Izetbegovic was encouraged to scupper that deal and to fight for a unitary Bosnian state by foreign mediators.”

In the fullness of time we shall learn which “foreign mediators” played the role of Zimmermann in Kiev in February 2014. Whoever it was – Victoria “f… the EU” Nuland, her ambassador in situ Pyatt, or Kerry himself – the intervention was a malicious attempt to encourage one side in Ukraine’s multiethnic, multi-denominational mosaic to fight for an unitary Ukrainian state. If the result turns out to be the same or similar as that in Bosnia two decades ago, those “mediators” will have blood on their hands no less than Warren Zimmermann had blood on his. He died in February 2004, having greatly contributed to the death of a hundred thousand Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims in 1992-1995.

“UKRAINE” AS “BOSNIA” – A key element in the Western propagandistic misrepresentation of the situation in Ukraine is the claim that it is a coherent nation-state of “Ukrainians,” which is subjected to an unprovoked foreign aggression. On March 6 the House adopted a package of “sanctions against Russia, and “lawmakers are also acting in other ways to show solidarity with Ukrainians.” Two days earlier John Kerry flew to Kiev to show solidarity with Ukraine’s new leaders. Everybody and his uncle, including various MEPs, Canadian MPs, etcflew to Kiev “to show solidarity with Ukrainians.”

In exactly the same manner, in 1992 it was asserted ex hypothesi by the American (and to a lesser extent West European) political elite, and parroted ad nauseam by the media machine, that if there is a “Bosnia” there must be a nation of “Bosnians.” In both cases the claim was tantamount to the assertion, in 1861, that “the American nation” was resisting an illegal rebellion. In fact today’s Ukraine is like Ireland in 1920: impossible to survive intact, let alone prosper in peace, on the basis of the aspirations and assumptions of one community which are inherently incompatible with those of another. The rights of the legislators in the Crimean Peninsula, Odessa, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk etc. vis-à-vis Kiev are exactly the same as those of the Stormont were vis-à-vis the Irish Free State in 1921.

COMMUNIST-DRAWN INTERNAL BOUNDARIES – The problem of internal boundaries between the constituent republics, arbitrarily drawn by communist dictators in complete disregard of the wishes and aspirations of the people thus affected, has been the key foundation of the Yugoslav conflict ever since the first shots were fired in the summer of 1991. Even someone as unsympathetic to the Serb point of view as Lord David Owen, the EU negotiator in 1992-1993, conceded that Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s administrative boundaries between Yugoslavia’s republics were grossly arbitrary, and that their redrawing should have been countenanced before the issue escalated into a fully-fledged war:

Incomprehensibly, the proposal to redraw the republics’ boundaries had been rejected by all eleven EC countries… [T]o rule out any discussion or opportunity for compromise in order to head off war was an extraordinary decision. My view has always been that to have stuck unyieldingly to the internal boundaries of the six republics within the former Yugoslavia… as being those for independent states, was a folly far greater than that of premature recognition itself.

The manner in which Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in February 1954 is a particularly egregious example of the communist border-changing. The shoe-banger must be having a hearty laugh in his current hot abode at the readiness of the United States to risk a major confrontation with Russia – a minus-sum-game if there ever was one – for the sake of upholding the legacy of his stroke of pen 60 years ago.

REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM – And finally, just as Slobodan Milosevic was the Hitler-du-jour during the Bosnian war, Vladimir Putin is becoming one now. His current transformation could be predicted with mathematical precision. Most notably, Hillary Clinton likened Putin’s actions in the Crimean peninsula to those of Hitler in the Sudetenland. On March 3 Zbigniew Brzezinski called Putin “a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler.” (“We haven’t seen this kind of behavior since the Second World War,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, not that anyone cared.) Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed with Clintonwholeheartedly. The obvious comparison, with Oleh Tyagnybok and other black-and-red Svoboda Party heirs to Bandera and the SS Division Galizien, unsurprisingly eludes them. These people are McCain’s good buddies, after all – every bit as good as the warriors in the path of Allah in Syria.

As I’ve noted in these pages before, the final corollary of various ad-hoc Hitlerizations is that we are all potential Fuhrers, and only by vigilantly guarding against deviant thoughts (“I like Americans better than Somalis”), emotions (“I enjoy Wagner’s Ring more than Porgy & Bess”) and practices (“I enjoy walking my German Shepherd in the Bavarian Alps”) can we protect ourselves from the lure of the inner Adolf. Having experienced the reductio myself – having been called “Hitler in full oratorical flight,” to be precise – I hereby wish Vladimir Vladimirovich a hearty welcome to the club.


Srdja (Serge) Trifkovic, author, historian, foreign affairs analyst, and foreign affairs editor of “Chronicles.” He has a BA (Hon) in international relations from the University of Sussex (UK), a BA in political science from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), and a PhD in history from the University of Southampton (UK).

www.trifkovic.mysite.com

Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

World Has No Idea How U.S. Decides On Wars

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

People from Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere have told me, and have testified in the U.S. Congress, that they have a hard time convincing their neighbors that everyone in the United States doesn’t hate them.  There are buzzing killer robots flying over their houses night and day and every now and then blowing a bunch of people up with a missile with very little rhyme or reason that anyone nearby can decipher.  They don’t know where to go or not go, what to do or not do, to be safe or keep their children safe.  Their children have instinctively taken to crouching and covering their heads just like U.S. children in the 1950s were taught to do as supposed protection from Soviet nuclear weapons.

The good news is that, of course, we don’t all hate Yemenis or Pakistanis or Somalis or Afghans or Libyans or any of the other people who might suspect us of it.  The bad news — and the news that I’m afraid would be almost incomprehensible to many millions of people around the world — is that most of us have only the vaguest idea where any of those countries are, some of us don’t know that they ARE countries at all, and we pay far greater attention to our sports and our pets than to whom exactly our government is killing this Tuesday.

This obliviousness comes into sharpest relief perhaps when we elect the officials who are legally called on to decide on our wars.  The extent to which Congress has handed war making over to presidents is also brought out by observing Congressional elections.  It is not at all uncommon for U.S. Congressional candidates’ platforms to entirely ignore all questions of war and peace, and to win support from either Democrats or Republicans despite this omission — despite, in particular, taking no position on the area funded by 57% of the dollars they will vote on if elected, namely wars and war preparations.

Here in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, a man named Lawrence Gaughan recently announced as a Democratic candidate for Congress.  I’d never heard of him, so I took a look at the “Issues” section of hiswebsite.  Not only WAS there such a section (some candidates campaign purely on their biography without taking positions on anything), but Gaughan’s site had clear forthright statements on a number of important issues.  He backed labor unions despite their virtual nonexistence in his district.  He admitted the existence of climate change.  He backed Eisenhower era tax rates (!!).  And his statements made commitments: “I will not vote for any tax cuts for those making over 250,000 dollars a year.” “I support the Dream Act.” “I would vote for any legislation that would bring back jobs in construction, manufacturing and production.” Either this guy had real principles or he was just too new for anyone to have explained to him how to make his promises vague enough not to commit himself to any specific actions.

All too typically, however, when I scrolled through the “Issues,” I noticed a gap.  I sent this note off to the candidate’s staff:

“Your candidate has some of the best and clearest positions on domestic issues that I’ve seen, and dramatically superior to Congressman Hurt’s, but judging by his website as it stands today he seems to have no position on foreign policy whatsoever, or even on that 57% of discretionary spending that, according to the National Priorities Project, goes to militarism.  For people who support domestic social justice AND peace in the world in this district, we are put in a bind by our history. Congressman Perriello voted for every war dollar he could, and has made a career of pushing for new wars since leaving office.  Congressman Hurt is a disaster on other issues but listened to us and took a stand against missile strikes on Syria. He even listened to us on lawless imprisonment and voted against a “Defense” Authorization Act on one occasion. Helpful as it is to know what Lawrence Gaughan thinks of 43% of the budget, some of us are really going to have to know what he thinks of the larger part.  Would he cut military spending? Would he oppose new wars? Does he oppose drone strikes? Would he repeal the authorization to use military force of ’01 and that of ’03? Would he support economic conversion to peaceful industries on the model now set up in Connecticut? Would he advance a foreign policy of diplomacy, cooperation, actual aid, and nonviolent conflict resolution? Are there any foreign bases he would close?  Does he think having U.S. troops in 175 nations is too many, too few, or just right? Does he support joining the ICC? Thanks for your time!”

A couple of days later, Gaughan called me on the phone.  We talked for a while about foreign policies, wars, peace, militarism, the economic advantages of converting to peaceful industries, the danger of handing war powers over to presidents.  He said he opposed wars. He said he wanted to take on the influence of the military industrial complex.  He didn’t seem particularly well informed, but he seemed to be coming from a fairly good place or to at least be willing to get there.

He proposed allowing military veterans to never pay any taxes.  That’s not exactly the sort of resistance to militarism that President Kennedy had in mind when he wrote that wars would continue until the conscientious objector has the honor and prestige of the soldier.  Gaughan offered no tax cuts for conscientious objectors.  Still, he said he’d get some good statements on foreign policy added to his website right away. He also said he’d be willing to debate the other candidates, including the incumbent, on foreign relations, should peace groups create such a forum and invite him.

Lo and behold, the next day, this appeared on Gaughan’s website:

Military

“We have strayed from our constitution when it comes to the defense of our nation and declaration of war. I was opposed to the war in Iraq for many reasons.  The enormous price paid by our brave men and women as well as the huge financial debt that we incurred was not necessary.  Republicans in Congress continue to defer those costs on our military personnel and our veterans through the sequester and other austerity measures.

“Not withstanding the government shutdown, the Republican budget proposals that my opponent, Robert Hurt, has voted for over the past three years, have forced the Pentagon into reductions that have taken a tremendous toll on enlisted personnel right here in our district. These political policies are also causing reductions to TriCare, active duty health benefits, and to retired military pensions. As the greatest nation on earth, it is unacceptable that we have homeless veterans or military families who struggle to pay the bills.

“We owe so much to the men and women who serve. Instead of laying off soldiers and cutting funding for the VA, we could begin by eliminating the ongoing fraud by military contractors. Fraud committed by dozens of irresponsible military industry corporations have cost taxpayers more than $1.1 trillion. Eliminating this fraud would offset most of the estimated $1.2 trillion in policy savings required over the next decade in order to realize the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated $1.4 trillion in deficit reduction without ‘gutting our military’. Furthermore, as a component of tax reform, there should be a tax exemption status for veterans written into the tax code.”

His topic, all too typically — people around the world should understand — is not how to relate to the 95% of humanity that is not in the United States, but how to treat “The Military.”

His first sentence echoes our discussion of the past three-quarters century of undeclared wars, but doesn’t spell it out.  Will he oppose wars that lack a Congressional declaration or not?

He picks one past war to oppose without stating his position on future wars.  He describes the costs of a war that killed some million Iraqis and destroyed a nation as all being paid by the U.S. and its soldiers.

He blames the sequester agreement on only one of the two parties that agreed to it, and buys into themyth that it has resulted in cuts to the military.  (True, Democrats in the Senate recently put up a token effort to fund veterans’ needs and were blocked by Republicans.)  Gaughan claims that we owe “so much” to members of the military who “serve.”  What exactly do we owe them? Can he name something that we owe them? He doesn’t want soldiers to be “laid off,” as if employing them is a make-work jobs program.

In my view we owe veterans housing, healthcare, education, a clean environment, and a healthy society because they are human beings — and we owe it equally to every other human being.  But we shouldn’t pretend that the military’s so-called “service” isn’t making us hated around the world.  We shouldn’t try to produce more veterans as if there were something noble about murdering people.

Gaughan almost closes on an up note.  He acknowledges fraud by military contractors.  He even calls them “military,” rather than using the misleading term “defense.”  But then he makes clear that he doesn’t want to cut the military. He wants to create efficiency to avoid cuts while saving money.

Would he repeal authorizations to use military force? Who knows. Would he back future wars? Who can tell? Does he believe U.S. troops should be in 175 nations? Perhaps.  But if they were in 182 would he then think 182 was the right number?  Does he favor allowing presidents to murder people with missiles from drones or by any other means?  Does he think antagonizing Russia and China and Iran should remain the focus of U.S. foreign policy?  Does he want the occupation of Afghanistan ended? Who knows.

He brought up a Department of Peace on our phone call, but it didn’t make the website yet.  One can hope that Gaughan’s website is a work in progress.  There’s certainly a chance he’ll become a far better candidate and Congress member than this district has had in a long time.

But this, dear world, is more or less how the world’s largest-ever killing machine operates.  It turns its eyes away from the machine’s work and, if pushed, debates the care of the machine itself — maintaining more or less complete obliviousness to the horrors the machine produces in those far away places where you live and die.

Source: DavidSwanson | Washington’s Blog

Addressing Concerns Over “Son of God” Film

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. ~ Eph 5:11

Not surprisingly the movie “Son of God” has created quite a stir in the Christian community.  Before I gave the theater my money I read several reviews, blog posts, Facebook comments and viewed TV interviews of husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey promoting their film.  Roma is a familiar face to many and is best-known for her role on the successful TV show “Touched by An Angel.”  Mark Burnett is the executive producer of a string of hit TV shows such as “Survivor,” “The Voice, “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” and he has won several Emmys.

When I first heard that another full-length feature film about the life of Christ was coming to the silver screen, I was skeptical for several reasons.  First, Mark and Roma are Catholic and I was concerned that the movie would be produced from this perspective; a perspective that in many cases I disagree with.

Second, I learned that Roma earned a degree in “spiritual psychology” from the University of Santa Monica, a private graduate school founded by New Age spiritual and self-help quack John-Roger.   P.J. Miller is not being flippant when he asks:

What do you call someone who is a student of new age psychology and spiritualism? Do you call them new agers? Do you call them seekers? Would you dare call them Christian? Well, if you’re Roma Downey, then yes, you would call yourself all the above. (Source)

Third, a movie trailer shows Jesus asking Peter to follow Him. Peter looks skeptical and asks Jesus what they’re going to do.  Jesus grins and replies “Change the world.”  Well, no.  Jesus never said those words to Peter!  Here’s what Jesus actually said:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mat 4:18-20)

Jesus commanded  – Peter and Andrew dropped what they were doing to follow Him.  (More on this in a moment.)  Another clip shows a woman sitting in a boat on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and the apostles during the storm where Jesus walks on water.  But according to Scripture there was no woman in the boat:

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  (Mat 14:22

In the movie Mary was the woman in the boat.  But why would they have a woman in the boat when Matthew informs us that the disciples/apostles got into the boat.  Mary wasn’t one of the twelve disciples/apostles – no woman was!

Finally, S. Michael Houdmann revealed in his review of the movie that, “the reason for Jesus’ death and the meaning of His resurrection are completely missing. The fact that Jesus’ death is the atoning sacrifice for sin is not mentioned at all (1 John 2:2).”

As I said, “Son of God” has elicited a great deal of controversy as did Mark and Roma’s “The Bible” miniseries produced by LightWorkers Media, a company owned by them. This “heretical and blasphemous” program aired on the History Channel last year. “We knew when we were shooting,” said Downey, “that the Jesus portion of our ‘Bible’ series was special and we shot much more footage and we’ve re-edited many more scenes into a stand-alone feature film called ‘Son of God.’”   I don’t have the space to tackle the “The Bible” brouhaha.  I will say, though, that several highly controversial pastors sat on the Board of Advisors. They include Rick WarrenJoel OsteenT.D. JakesRichard Mouw andSamuel Rodriguez.  (For more on “The Bible” go to Resources below)

The Son of God?

“Son of God” opened on February 28, so by now a lot of folks have had the opportunity to view it in theatres and many more will have it streaming into their living rooms in a few months.  Naturally, reviews were quickly written, some good, some not so good.  (You’ll find links to the reviews at the end of this piece.) Suffice to say that in a short amount of time a lot has been said about the film.

Many of you won’t be surprised to learn that Mark and Roma asked Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren to help spread their version of the “good news.”   He happily agreed.  “I’ve seen most of the films produced about Jesus in the past 50 years,” said the pastor, “and ‘Son of God’ is the best.  We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same.”

So – why would the man who is affectionately called “America’s Pastor” agree to promote a film that its critics describe as outright unbiblical?

Not only did Warren endorse the film, according to the Baptist Standard staff report :

Pastor and author Rick Warren partnered with LifeWay Christian Resources to release a Bible study related to the Son of God movie from 20th Century Fox, which hits theaters Feb. 28.

The small-group curriculum resource by Warren, Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You, is a companion piece to the movie produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

The six-session study features video clips from the movie and videos from Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. (Source)

As a Southern Baptist preacher, Rick Warren knows perfectly well that the Roman Catholic Church holds to the view that it is the one true Church.  Thus, any church outside the RCC is anathematized (excommunicated, cursed or damned). The Protestant Reformers held the view that the RCC’s gospel is not a gospel that saves; therefore the RCC is apostate.  Anyone who rejects the true gospel – we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – is an unbeliever.  Period.  Warren also knows what the Bible teaches regarding believers going into partnerships with unbelievers:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Here’s the thing.  Not everyone who professes the name of Christ has a true saving faith.  What about Mark Burnett and Roma Downey?  Do they have a true saving faith?  Let’s examine the fruit.

Endorsements

Popular pastor and author Mark Driscoll’s church bought out 3,500 seats.  In 2013 he and his wife shared a stage with Mark and Roma at Resurgence 13.  Driscoll later remarked:

We watched the world premier trailer for The Son of God at the conference, and the footage choked me up as I thought of the millions of people who will hear about Jesus through this project. I am so encouraged by God’s work through this couple. (Source)

God’s work?

The connection between the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12) and Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) is not made. The fact that Jesus’ resurrection proves His victory over death and sin and guarantees a resurrected eternal life for all who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15) is nowhere to be found.  – S. Michael Houdmann

Another endorser of the film was “Social Justice Christian” Rev. Jim Wallis.  In my column Liberalism created the culture of evil and death, part 3 I wrote:

This man wears many hats.  He is the founder of Sojourner’s Magazine, speaker, author and activist.  He’s also President Obama’s “spiritual advisor.”  This alone speaks volumes.  Rev. Wallis insists that he’s an evangelical Christian even though he has abandoned the biblical gospel for the “social gospel.”  He believes he’s on a mission from God to assist the poor and oppressed to bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth. 

When this purveyor of the false social justice gospel was asked for advice by the couple, he gladly gave it to them:

What won me over to the whole series was the clip about Jesus meeting Peter, the fisherman. In a Washington, D.C., premiere of “The Bible” series a few weeks ago, I had wonderful conversations with Mark and Roma. Mark asked me if they were right to have Jesus say that he wanted to change the world. Those words are not literally in the scriptures, but it seemed to him and Roma that’s exactly what Jesus was talking about. Absolutely correct, I told them both. And we went through the first few chapters of Mathew which demonstrate that truth. I love the clarity and courage of the statement from Jesus in “The Bible.”

Sunny Shell disagrees:

Christ came into the world to save sinners from the righteous wrath of God, which is the just penalty for our sins. He never said He came to change the world. He said He came to transform people by giving them new hearts and new minds through repentance and faith in Christ alone. (Source)

The Examiner listed the names of churches and organizations that distributed tickets for a so-called “Theater Take-Over”:

Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Tex., who is distributing 8,000 tickets donated by an anonymous donor; Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University which has more than 12,000 students; Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch which has 18 campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles with over four million members and Miles McPherson of the Rock Church with weekly attendance of more than 10,000 in San Diego, Calif. (Emphasis in original - source)

In an article that appeared on Fox News, Mark and Roma wrote:

In all our combined years in the entertainment industry, we’ve never seen anything like this kind of grass-roots support for a project. It is truly miraculous.

So, too, is the unprecedented depth and breadth of those who have endorsed the film. Pastors like Rick, as well as scholars and faith organizations, have graciously supported our effort to share this story of our Savior – though they belong to different denominations, adhere to varying theological doctrine, worship God in their own unique ways. 

Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas said “the audience will be enthralled, encouraged and inspired.” 

S. Michael Houdmann was not enthralled by the movie.  In his review he writes:

The Son of God presents a Jewish Messiah who is crucified, dies, comes back to life, and commissions His followers to spread the word. But why did He have to die? What is the meaning of the resurrection? What is the message the apostles were supposed to proclaim, and why was it worth dying for? 

More from the Fox News article…

Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston called it “an epic work that touches the heart.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez says it’s “a very important movie because it gives us the opportunity to realize God’s presence in our own lives.”(Source)

Certainly there are by now “Church leaders” that are sincerely shocked to find out that they endorsed a movie produced by New Age Catholics.  Here’s more proof from a 2010 article Roma Downey Happy Out of the Spotlight that shows she’s an advocate of New Age/New Thought spirituality:

Says Roma, who lives in Malibu, ‘My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the way there. On the way back, I get my own selections — books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins…My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating.’

For those who are unfamiliar with Eckhart Tolle, he’s a New Ager.  A few years ago Tolle paired up with Oprah Winfrey to do 10 online classes on XM Satellite radio on his blockbuster book “A New Earth: Are You Ready to Be Awakened.”  Oprah and Tolle took participants through his book chapter by chapter.  Regrettably, a large number of professing Christians took the class!

Human Potential guru and “coach for success” Anthony Robbins once said: “My definition of success is to live your life in a way that causes you to feel tons of pleasure and very little pain.”  Evidently no pain is experienced after completing a barefoot firewalk, a self-empower technique Robbins’ teaches to get an otherwise sane person to walk on a bed of burning hot coals during his “Unleash The Power Within” seminar.  On this video you’ll hear the sound of drums beating and the crowd chanting “YES! YES! YES!” as Robbinswhips them into a frenzy in preparation for the firewalk.

More…

Roma appeared on “psychic medium” John Edward’s TV show and allegedly spoke to her deceased mother.  What does the Bible have to say about consulting a medium?

And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6)

Well, it’s apparent that Roma, who says she loves the Bible, is unaware—or doesn’t care–that God says consulting a medium is evil.

Later she collaborated with Edwards by providing a CD to accompany a book he wrote:

Roma prays the entire rosary on the beautiful CD that comes along with this book. It’s quite lovely and gives you the special opportunity and a unique spiritual closeness to Roma to be able to pray right along with her as if she was right there at your side.” (Source)

So now you know a bit about two New Age gurus Roma Downey looks forward to listening to each day and an occultist she collaborated with.  The worldview of these men is as far from Christianity as the Earth is from Pluto.

P.J. Miller sat listening to Jim Bakker introduce Mark and Roma on Bakker’s TV show and recalled “their previous work on the History Channel’s The Bible and how they managed to literally re-write the Bible itself, and presented another gospel message altogether. I was captured by their … aggressive but subtle attempt to portray themselves as ‘believers’.  The sappy spiritual love fest that permeated on set showed me that something was indeed changing within Christianity, and that something was another Jesus being introduced to the masses.”

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Mat/ 24: 23-24)

After several weeks of due diligence I’ve decided that “Son of God” is not a film I wish to see.  In addition to the concerns I have included in this article, my research has turned up many more — way too many to incorporate here.  Most troubling is the astonishing lack of discernment shown by some of our so-called Christian leaders.  The Son of God I serve is best described in the Bible which is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God.  Inspired means that God moved through the writers to convey to those who read it the words He wanted us to hear.  So to change the words that Christ spoke is prideful and wicked.

It’s unfortunate that those who are unfamiliar with the biblical Jesus and see this film will not come away with a clear understanding of His mission here on Earth.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1John 2:2)

Resources:

“Son of God” Reviews

‘Son of God’ Is Most Certainly Not the Son of God by Sunny Shell

Son of God Review by S. Michael Houdmann

Is the Son of God Biblical by Ben Kayser

“The Bible” Review

History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ Exalts Man Over God  by Sunny Shell

Jim Wallis Produces Commentaries for “The Bible” by Stand Up For The Truth

Endorsements

Religious leaders of all stripes endorse Son of God by Stand Up For The Truth

New Age/New Thought Movement

Rick Warren and Joel Osteen acquiesce to Oprah by Marsha West

A subtle and dangerous shift in Christianity by Marsha West

Rick Warren

Rick Warren’s ‘Son of God’ Study Kit by Stand Up For The Truth

Rick Warren’s new book “Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” awash with doctrines of demons by Marsha West

Rick Warren and Teaching of Demons by Ken Silva

Miscellaneous

Questions to ask watching the Son of God

What Still Keeps Us Apart? by Michael Horton

Rome anathematized itself at the Council of Trent

Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity, Part 1 by Marsha West

Part 2 – Part 3


Marsha West is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

She can be reached at: embrigade@aol.com

The Ukrainian Pendulum

March 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The stakes are high in the Ukraine: after the coup, as Crimea and Donbas asserted their right to self determination, American and Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory, both under cover.

The American soldiers are “military advisors”, ostensibly members of Blackwater private army (renamed Academi); a few hundred of them patrol Kiev while others try to suppress the revolt in Donetsk. Officially, they were invited by the new West-installed regime. They are the spearhead of the US invasion attempting to prop up the regime and break down all resistance. They have already bloodied their hands in Donetsk.

Besides, the Pentagon has doubled the number of US fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics; the US air carrier entered the Black Sea, some US Marines reportedly landed in Lvov “as a part of pre-planned manoeuvres”.

The Russian soldiers ostensibly belong to the Russian Fleet, legally stationed in Crimea. They were in Crimea before the coup, in accordance with the Russian-Ukrainian treaty (like the US 5th fleet in Kuwait), but their presence was probably beefed up. Additional Russian troops were invited in by deposed but legitimately elected President Yanukovych (compare this with the US landing on Haiti in support of the deposed President Aristide ). They help the local pro-Russian militia maintain order, and no one gets killed in the process. In addition, Russia brought its troops on alert and returned a few warships to the Black Sea.

It is only the Russian presence which is described as an “invasion” by the Western media, while the American one is hardly mentioned. ”We have a moral duty to stick our nose in your business in your backyard a world away from our homeland. It’s for your own good”, wrote an ironic American blogger.

Moscow woke up to trouble in Ukraine after its preoccupation, nay obsession, with the Winter Olympic games had somewhat abated, — when people began to say that “Putin won the games and lost the Ukraine”. Indeed, while Putin watched sports in Sochi, the Brown Revolution succeeded in Ukraine. A great European country the size of France, the biggest republic of the former USSR (save Russia), was taken over by a coalition of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and (mainly Jewish) oligarchs. The legitimate president was forced to flee for his very life. Members of Parliament were manhandled, and in some cases their children were taken hostage to ensure their vote, as their houses were visited by gunmen. The putsch was completed. The West recognised the new government; Russia refused to recognise it, but continued to deal with it on a day -to-day basis. However the real story is now developing in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, a story of resistance to the pro-Western takeover.

The Putsch

The economic situation of Ukraine is dreadful. They are where Russia was in the 1990s, before Putin – in Ukraine the Nineties never ended. For years the country was ripped off by the oligarchs who siphoned off profits to Western banks, bringing it to the very edge of the abyss. To avoid default and collapse, the Ukraine was to receive a Russian loan of 15 billion euros without preconditions, but then came the coup. Now the junta’s prime minister will be happy to receive a mere one billion dollars from the US via IMF. (Europeans have promised more, but in a few years’ time…) He already accepted the conditions of the IMF, which will mean austerity, unemployment and debt bondage. Probably this was the raison d’être for the coup. IMF and US loans are a major source of profit for the financial community, and they are used to enslave debtor countries, asPerkins explained at length.

The oligarchs who financed the Maidan operation divided the spoils: the most generous supporter, multi-billionaire Igor “Benya” Kolomoysky, received the great Russian-speaking city of Dnepropetrovsk in fief. He was not required to give up his Israeli passport. His brethren oligarchs took other Russian-speaking industrial cities, including Kharkov and Donetsk, the Ukrainian Chicago or Liverpool. Kolomoysky is not just an ‘oligarch of Jewish origin’: he is an active member of the Jewish community, a supporter of Israel and a donor of many synagogues, one of them the biggest in Europe. He had no problem supporting the neo-Nazis, even those whose entry to the US had been banned because of their declared antisemitism. That is why the appeals to Jewish consciousness against the Brown putsch demonstrably failed.

Now came the nationalists’ crusade against Russian-speakers (ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians – the distinction is moot), chiefly industrial workers of East and South of the country. The Kiev regime banned the Communist Party and the Regions’ Party (the biggest party of the country, mainly supported by the Russian-speaking workers). The regime’s first decree banned the Russian language from schools, radio and TV, and forbade all official use of Russian. The Minister of Culture called Russian-speakers “imbeciles” and proposed to jail them for using the banned tongue in public places. Another decree threatened every holder of dual Russian/Ukrainian nationality with a ten-years jail sentence, unless he gives up the Russian one right away.

Not empty words, these threats: The storm-troopers of the Right Sector, the leading fighting force of the New Order, went around the country terrorising officials, taking over government buildings, beating up citizens, destroying Lenin’s statues, smashing memorials of the Second World War and otherwise enforcing their rule A video showed a Right Sector fighter mistreating the city attorney while police looked other way. They began to hunt down riot policemen who supported the ex-president, and they burned down a synagogue or two. They tortured a governor, and lynched some technicians they found in the former ruling party’s headquarters. They started to take over the Orthodox churches of the Russian rite, intending to transfer them to their own Greek-Catholic Church.

The instructions of US State Dept.’s Victoria Nuland were followed through: the Ukraine had had the government she prescribed in the famous telephone conversation with the US Ambassador. Amazingly, while she notoriously gave “fuck” to the EU, she did not give a fuck about the Russian view of Ukraine’s immediate future.

Russia was not involved in Ukrainian developments: Putin did not want to be accused of meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs, even when the US and EU envoys assisted and directed the rebels. The people of Russia would applaud him if he were to send his tanks to Kiev to regain the whole of Ukraine, as they consider it an integral part of Russia. But Putin is not a Russian nationalist, not a man of Imperial designs. Though he would like the Ukraine to be friendly to Russia, annexing it, in whole or in part, has never been his ambition. It would be too expensive even for wealthy Russia: the average income in the Ukraine is just half of the Russian one, and tits infrastructure is in a shambles. (Compare to the very costly West German takeover of the GDR.) It would not be easy, either, for every Ukrainian government in the past twenty years has drenched the people with anti-Russian sentiment. But involvement was forced upon Putin:

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians voted with their feet and fled to Russia, asking for asylum. Two hundred thousand refugees checked in during the weekend. The only free piece of land in the whole republic was the city of Sevastopol, the object of a French and British siege in 1852 and of a German siege in 1941, and the home base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. This heroic city did not surrender to the Kiev emissaries, though even here some local deputies were ready to submit. And at that last moment, the people began their resistance. The awful success of the putsch was the beginning of its undoing. The pendulum of Ukraine, forever swinging between East and West, began its return movement.

The Rising

The people of Crimea rose, dismissed their compromise-seeking officials and elected a new leader, Mr Sergey Aksyonov. The new leadership assumed power, took over Crimea and asked for Russian troops to save them from the impending attack by the Kiev storm troopers. It does not seem to have been necessary at this stage: there were plenty of Crimeans ready to defend their land from the Brown invaders, there were Cossack volunteers and there is the Russian Navy stationed in Crimea by treaty. Its Marines would probably be able to help the Crimeans in case of trouble. The Crimeans, with some Russian help, manned the road blocks on the narrow isthmus that connects Crimea to the mainland.

The parliament of Crimea voted to join Russia, but this vote should be confirmed by a poll on March 16 to determine Crimea’s future — whether it will revert to Russia or remain an autonomous republic within the Ukraine. From my conversation with locals, it seems that they would prefer to join the Russian Federation they left on Khrushchev’s orders only a half century ago. Given the Russian-language issue and the consanguinity, this makes sense: Ukraine is broke, Russia is solvent and ready to assume its protection. Ukraine can’t pay salaries and pensions, Russia had promised to do so. Kiev was taking away the lion’s share of income generated in Crimea by Russian tourists; now the profits will remain in the peninsula and presumably help repair the rundown infrastructure. Real estate would likely rise drastically in price, optimistic natives surmise, and this view is shared by Russian businessmen. They already say that Crimea will beat out Sochi in a few years’ time, as drab old stuff will be replaced by Russian Imperial chic.

Perhaps Putin would prefer the Crimea gain independence, like Kosovo, or even remain under a token Ukrainian sovereignty, as Taiwan is still nominally part of China. It could become a showcase pro-Russian Ukraine to allow other Ukrainians to see what they’re missing, as West Berlin was for the East Germans during the Cold War. Regaining Crimea would be nice, but not at the price of having a consolidated and hostile Ukraine for a neighbour. Still Putin will probably have no choice but to accept the people’s decision.

There was an attempt to play the Crimean Tatars against the Russians; apparently it failed. Though the majlis, their self-appointed organisation, supports Kiev, the elders spoke up for neutrality. There are persistent rumours that the colourful Chechen leader Mr Kadyrov, a staunch supporter of Mr Putin, had sent his squads to the Tatars to strong-arm them into dropping their objections to Crimea’s switch to Russia. At the beginning, the Tatars supported Kiev, and even tried to prevent the pro-Russian takeover. But these wise people are born survivors, they know when to adjust their attitudes, and there is no doubt they will manage just fine.

Russian Nazis, as anti-Putin as Ukrainian Nazis, are divided: some support a “Russian Crimea” whilst others prefer pro-European Kiev. They are bad as enemies, but even worse as friends: the supportive Nazis try to wedge between Russians and Ukrainians and Tatars, and they hate to see that Kadyrov’s Chechnya actually helps Russian plans, for they are anti-Chechen and try to convince people that Russia is better off without Chechens, a warlike Muslim tribe.

As Crimea defied orders from Kiev, it became a beacon for other regions of the Ukraine. Donbas, the coal and steel region, raised Russian banners and declared its desire for self-determination, “like Crimea”. They do want to join a Russian-led Customs Union; it is not clear whether they would prefer independence, autonomy or something else, but they, too, scheduled a poll – for March 30. There were big demonstrations against the Kiev regime in Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and other Russian-speaking cities. Practically everywhere, the deputies seek accommodation with Kiev and look for a way to make some profit, but the people do not agree. They are furious and do not accept the junta.

The Kiev regime does not accept their quest for freedom. A popularly-elected Mayor of Donetsk was kidnapped by the Ukrainian security forces and taken to Kiev. There are now violent demonstrations in the city.

The Ukrainian navy in the Black Sea switched its allegiance from Kiev to Crimea, and they were followed by some units of the air force with dozens of fighter jets and ground troops. Troops loyal to Kiev were blocked off by the Crimeans, but there was no violence in this peaceful transfer of power.

The junta appointed an oligarch to rule Donbas, Mr Sergey Taruta, but he had difficulty assuming power as the local people did not want him, and with good reason: Taruta had bought the major Polish port of Gdansk and brought it to bankruptcy. It seems he is better at siphoning capital away than in running serious business. Ominously, Mr Taruta brought with him some unidentified, heavily armed security personnel, reportedly guns-for-hire from Blackwater (a.k.a. Academi) fresh from Iraq and Afghanistan. He will need a lot more of them if he wants to take Donbas by force.

In Kharkov, the biggest Eastern city, erstwhile capital of Soviet Ukraine, local people ejected the raiding force of the Right Sector from government offices, but police joined with the oligarchs. While the fake revolution took place in Kiev under the tutelage of US and EC envoys, the real revolution is taking place now, and its future is far from certain.

The Ukraine hasn’t got much of an army, as the oligarchs stole everything ever assigned to the military. The Kiev regime does not rely on its army anyway. Their attempt to draft able-bodied men failed immediately as hardly anybody answered the call. They still intend to squash the revolution. Another three hundred Blackwater mercenaries landed Wednesday in Kiev airport. The Kiev regime applied for NATO help and expressed its readiness to allow US missiles to be stationed in the Ukraine. Missiles in the Ukraine (as now stationed in Poland, also too close for Russian comfort) would probably cross Russia’s red line, just as Russian missiles in Cuba crossed America’s red line in 1962. Retired Israeli intelligence chief Yaakov Kedmi, an expert on Russia, said that in his view the Russians just can’t allow that, at any price, even if this means all-out war.

Putin asked the upper house of the Russian parliament for permission to deploy Russian troops if needed, and the parliament unanimously approved his request. They will probably be deployed in order to defend the workers in case of attack by a Right Sector beefed up by Blackwater mercenaries. Humanitarian catastrophe, large-scale disturbances, the flow of refugees or the arrival of NATO troops could also force Putin’s hand, even against his will.

The President in exile

President Yanukovych will be historically viewed as a weak, tragic figure, and he deserves a better pen with a more leisured pace than mine. He tried his best to avoid casualties, though he faced a full-scale revolt led by very violent Brown storm-troopers. And still he was blamed for killing some eighty people, protesters and policemen.

Some of the victims were killed by the Right Sector as they stormed the ruling party offices. The politicians left the building well in advance, but the secretarial staff remained behind — many women, janitors and suchlike. An engineer named Vladimir Zakharov went to the besieging rebels and asked them to let the women out. They killed him on the spot with their bats. Another man was burned alive.

But the majority of casualties were victims of sniper fire, also blamed on Yanukovych. The Kiev regime even asked the Hague tribunal to indict the President as they had President Milosevic. But now, a telephone conversation between EC representative Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet reveals that the EC emissaries were aware that dozens of victims of sniper fire at the Maidan were killed by Maidan rebel supporters, and not by police or by President Yanukovych, as they claimed. Urmas Paet acknowledged the veracity of this conversation at a press conference, and called for an independent enquiry. It turned out that the rebel snipers shot and killed policemen and Maidan protesters alike, in order to shed blood and blame it on the President.

This appears to be a staple feature of the US-arranged revolutions. Snipers killing both protesters and police were reported in Moscow’s 1991 and 1993 revolutions, as well as in many other cases. Some sources claim that famed Israeli snipers were employed on such occasions, which is plausible in view of Mr Kolomoysky’s Israeli connection. A personal friend of Mr Kolomoysky, prominent member of the then-opposition, Parliamentarian and present head of administration Sergey Pashinsky was stopped by police as he removed a sniper’s rifle with a silencer from the scene of murder. This discovery was briefly reported in the New York Times, but later removed. This revelation eliminates (or at least seriously undermines) the case against the President. Probably it will be disappear down the memory hole and be totally forgotten, as were the Seymour Hersh revelations about Syria’s sarin attack.

Another revelation was made by President Putin at his press-conference of March 4, 2014. He said that he convinced (read: forced) President Yanukovych to sign his agreement of February 21, 2014 with the opposition, as Western ministers had demanded. By this agreement, or actually capitulation act, the Ukrainian President agreed to all the demands of the Brown rebels, including speedy elections for the Parliament and President. However, the agreement did not help: the rebels tried to kill Yanukovych that same night as he travelled to Kharkov.

Putin expressed amazement that they were not satisfied with the agreement and proceeded with the coup anyway. The reason was provided by Right Sector goons: they said that their gunmen will be stationed by every election booth and that they would count the vote. Naturally, the agreement did not allow for that, and the junta had every reason to doubt their ability to win honest elections.

It appears Yanukovych hoped to establish a new power base in Kharkov, where a large assembly of deputies from East and South of Ukraine was called in advance. The assembly, says Mr Kolomoysky, was asked to assume powers and support the President, but the deputies refused. That is why President Yanukovych, with great difficulty, escaped to Russia. His landing in Rostov made quite an impression on people as his plane was accompanied by fighter jets.

Yanukovych tried to contact President Putin, but the Russian president did not want to leave the impression that he wants to force Yanukovych on the people of Ukraine, and refused to meet or to speak with him directly. Perhaps Putin had no time to waste on such a weak figure, but he publicly recognised him anyway as the legitimate President of the Ukraine. This made sense, as President Yanukovych requested Russian troops to bring peace to his country. He still may make a comeback – as the president of a Free Ukraine, if such should ever be formed in some part of the country, – or as the protagonist of an opera.

English language editing by Ken Freeland.


A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.

After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.

In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Vodou Lounger: A Tourist’s Eye-View of Haiti

March 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


“Please don’t go to Haiti — it could be dangerous down there!” several worried friends begged me right before I left.  But boy were they wrong.  Haiti is totally fun!  I never had so much fun in my life as I did this past week in Haiti.  And this is my very own tourist guidebook to all the neat stuff that I’ve done down here.  Not exactly the Lonely Planet.  But boy am I having a good time.

The most frequently asked question before I left was, “Are you going down there to do humanitarian work?”  No no no.  I’m going down there to be a tourist!

To start with, I got a really great bargain deal on Expedia — $800 to fly me from SFO to Port au Prince and five nights in a convenient, clean and quiet hotel called the Diquini Guest House.  This was absolutely the smartest thing that I did on this trip.  Why?  Because the manager of the guest house, a former member of the Haitian diaspora and long-time resident of Washington DC, took me under his wing and for a reasonable fee let me hire his driver, translated for me, kept me fed on nicely-flavored Haitian stew and rice — and then took me off to explore Port au Prince.  www.diquinigh.com.

First we went to the famous Hotel Oloffson where the ghosts of past American ex-pat writers such as Graham Greene and Lillian Hellman roam its gardens, terraces and gingerbread-style balconies; where Mick Jagger and even Jacqueline Kennedy have stayed — and where the famous vudou-inspired RAM band was playing that night. http://hoteloloffson.com/

The next day we explored what is left of the 2010 earthquake ruins, from what was left of the tragically beautiful stone-filigreed huge rose window of the old cathedral and the site of the historic National Palace to various small tent cities dotting Port au Prince that still house earthquake victims today, and the ruined buildings that still have market stalls precariously tucked into whichever concrete slabs are still left standing.

“So, Jane, how is Port au Prince actually doing now, four years after the quake?” you might ask, now that I’m an actual eye-witness to the scene of the crime.  It’s not doing super-good, but not doing as badly as I had expected either.  Most of the tent cities are gone now — as a lot of the homeless victims have by now squashed themselves in with relatives, left for the countryside or otherwise made do.

“But what are Haitians really like?” you might ask next.  You can tell what Haitians are really like by the way that they drive.  There are only a handful of traffic signals in Port au Prince and even fewer rules of the road.  And Haitians drive very fast.  But they also drive in a way that is almost polite.  Everyone wants to get where they are going (and to get there fast) — but no one wants to actually hurt anyone else.  I didn’t see any road rage there.  Just people trying to get by.

Basically, Haitians are just people trying to get by after having been dealt a very rough hand for a very long time, from the moment they were kidnapped from Africa and sold as slaves here — starting in 1503, just eleven years after Columbus discovered the island.  And those slaves were expendable too, worked to death in a few years at most and then replaced by other new slaves.

Then after having fought for and achieved its freedom in 1804, Haiti was also constantly attacked, exploited and/or invaded for the next 200-plus years by America, Canada and various combinations of European nations.  And now Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, resembling the slums of Uganda or the slums of Zimbabwe.  And yet despite their poverty, which is dire and extreme, Haitians still remain stoically polite.

Next we went off to the Iron Market bazaar to buy Haitian stuff to hang on my walls when I get home.  And then we drove all over Port au Prince — the grand tour.  And that night we went off to Carnival in the Carrefour district.  Are you jealous yet?

Carrefour’s pre-Lenten carnival was like one gigantic block party and was actually as much fun as Berkeley in the 1960s, the benchmark against I always measure how much fun something is.

I also wanted to go see San Souci and the Citadel, UNESCO world heritage sites up  in Cap Haitien, but it was a seven-hour drive to get there, so we went to Fonds des Negres instead, which was only a three-hour drive, and I met a vodou master there.  “No one is cursing you,” he told me.  Not even the NSA?  Good to know.  Then he performed a candlelight ritual to help my knees get better.  Then he pulled out a business card for his son who owns a botanica in SoCal who, for a price, could finish my knee treatment when I got back home .  And then the vodou master pulled out his cell phone and started texting someone.  Guess the ritual was over.

And there’s also a cave in the mountains near Fonds des Negres where a “Suzan,” a vodou spirit, resides.  But you have to get there by motorcycle and we didn’t have time to do all that on this day trip.  So I just bought a sequin-covered vodou flag instead.


“Have you seen any zombies in Haiti?” might be your next question.  Sorry, no.  But on my plane ride down here, we ran into a bunch of really scary turbulence over Chicago and I thought I was going to die.  So I had an epiphany.  “When you are in your mother’s womb, the only way out is by going through a whole bunch of pain first — and death is also like that.  First you pass through a whole bunch of pain and then, poof, you are out on the Other Side.”  As a zombie?  Let’s hope not.

The next day we went out searching for Jean-Bertrand Aristide  and then ended the day in that famous five-star hotel in Petionville — just to see how the other 1% lives.  Trust me, they are living well.

What else have I done down here?  I can’t remember exactly.  But I will tell you this:  I have really had fun.  And if you ever want to go to Haiti too, I totally recommend it highly.  And, no, I’m not getting paid to say this.

PS:  While in Haiti, I also watched the winter Olympics on TV — thus getting a chance to compare Port au Prince and Sochi.  One city has far too little city planning and one city had far too much!

According to journalist Roi Tov, “With less than 350,000 denizens, [Sochi] has been occupied by at least 25,000 police officers, 30,000 soldiers, 8,000 special forces, and an undisclosed number of FSB agents.”

Port au Prince is nothing like that.  The streets go every which-way like a patchwork quilt.  But it does have one thing in common with Sochi — abuse of its fragile labor force.

And let’s also compare Port au Prince with Havana.  I’m currently reading Carlos Eire’s autobiography, “Learning to Die in Miami”.  Eire appears to believe with all his heart that the Castro experience was a nightmare — and yet just compare Cuba and Haiti today.  Haiti has been under the thumb of American and European corporatists for ages and ages.  And now, despite all its amazingly fertile soil and impressive mineral riches, Haiti is currently one of the poorest countries in the world.  Seven out of ten Haitians live on less than $2 a day, according to the International Red Cross.

But in Havana under the Castro brothers, everyone has a good chance of getting a college education.

But, hell, most Haitians are lucky to have a chance to even get as far as fourth grade!

If Fulgencio Batista and the American corporatists who owned him back in 1959 had remained in power and Castro had never taken over Cuba, Cuba today would more than likely look just like Haiti today.  And does anyone with a working brain really think that having American and European oil companies, bankers, war profiteers and neo-cons in control in Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are going to help those countries either?  Hell, just look at what those guys did to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — and to Detroit!


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

Obama’s Imperial Foreign Policy

March 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” — ancient proverb.

The conflicts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria have one thing in common: the U.S. government is in favor of the groups who aspire to topple — or who have toppled — the government in power. Thus, U.S. politicians are giving either political, financial, or military support to these “opposition” movements.

But in all three cases there are leading groups steering the “opposition” that want absolutely nothing to do with democracy — these groups are as far-right as politics gets: European-style fascism in Ukraine, Islamic extremism in Syria, and in Venezuela the elite-favored tradition of military dictatorships.

But there has been a virtual U.S. media blackout as to the leadership of the movements in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, and for good reason; if these groups come to power, the country will be far worse off than it is now. The American public would give zero support to these groups if they knew the truth, which is why the level of U.S. media misinformation about these groups is as Orwellian as the workings of Obama’s NSA.

Take Ukraine for example. The day after democratically elected government forces fled from the capital Kiev, the successful opposition political leaders sucked the enthusiasm out of the “revolution” when they informed the public that they would be presiding over a “doomed” transitional government , because they “have to make some unpopular decisions.” The new nominee for Prime Minister called his new cabinet a “Kamikaze government.”

The government is suicidal because they are seeking loans from western financial institutions — like the IMF and European Commission — that come at a heavy price; in exchange for money Ukraine will have to implement a massive austerity program where the living standards of Ukrainians will be destroyed in Greek-like fashion.

This was the original reason why the now-ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych began to lean towards Russia, since Putin agreed to give Ukraine the money with no strings attached. Of course, this background information — which is crucial to understanding the events in Ukraine — was simply ignored in the western media, which misleadingly referred to the protests as “pro-EU protests.” It’s true that the suppression of a small pro-EU protest helped ignite wider sections of the population against the Ukrainian government, but the average Ukrainian would of course, not risk life and limb only to be torn asunder by a pro-EU austerity program.

The U.S. media also ignored the motor force of the Ukrainian protesters: the Ukrainian fascist party Svoboda, whose already-large presence in the Ukrainian parliament has been empowered because of the protests. There was yet another U.S. media blackout about the role of Svoboda in the protests, whose members or sympathizers acted as the shock troops against the democratically elected government. As writer Mike Whitney recently noted: 

“The United States helped defeat Nazism in World War 2. Obama helped bring it back.”

It’s possible that once the current transitional government completes its austerity-suicide mission, the Svoboda party could then take total power and seek to funnel the immense anger of the austerity programs into anti-Russia and anti-Jewish sentiment. Svoboda was already rewarded for its role in the protests and given six ministerial posts in the transitional government, including the deputy prime minister and the powerful Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee. But once the transitional government discredits itself with austerity, Svoboda will blame the senior member of the coalition, the “Fatherland” party, and seek to boost itself into total power.

This nightmarish scenario seems entirely possible now, and if it happens, Svoboda will undoubtedly be indebted to President Obama and the U.S. media for their role in giving the protests political cover, not to mention the critical role played by the U.S. in helping strategize the overthrow of Yanukovych — the audio recording of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland goes intoMachiavellian detail about how the U.S. was working to bring about the coup ; and the significance of this incredible recording was ignored by the U.S. media, which reduced the story to how “rude” Nuland had acted by uttering an expletive about the European Union.

In Syria, Obama has consistently relied on the right-wing extremists as the leaders of the opposition against the Assad government. The role of these al-Qaeda style Islamic extremists has been ignored by the media, even as their atrocities pile up on Youtube.

Syria was one of the most modern, cosmopolitan countries in the Middle East and is now being dragged back to the Dark Ages by Obama’s “allies” on the ground, who would like Syria to look like Saudi Arabia, another “close ally” of the U.S., where there is no such thing as political, religious, or labor-related freedoms.

The Islam of Saudi Arabia is the far-right type favored by the dictatorial monarchy that rules the country. Like its fascist friends of Ukraine, the U.S. is relying on another ultra-right ideology in Syria in order to bring a pro-U.S. government to power.

The newest coalition of Syrian opposition ground forces calls itself the Islamic Front. The U.S. media portrays this group as the “good rebels,” versus the al-Qaeda rebels who are also fighting the Syrian Government. But of course, the U.S. media kept quiet when the most powerful militia inside the Islamic Front, Ahrar al Sham, declared itself to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria ( U.S. politicians had long known that Ahrar al Sham was ideologically linked to al-Qaeda ).

If Obama gets his way and the Islamic Front comes to power, Syria will experience a cultural devolution along similar lines of the Taliban-era Afghanistan. In the meantime, Obama and the U.S. media will continue to give crucial political support to an opposition that deserves none.

Venezuela, too, has recently been in the news, with far-right led opposition protests that the Obama administration is backing 100 percent. An excellent article in the Guardian by Mark Weisbrotoutlined the subtle and more direct ways that the Obama administration was giving political and financial support to the Venezuela opposition protests.

In dutiful fashion the U.S. media stayed on message. In a recent pro-opposition op-ed in the New York Times , it was nonchalantly declared, “Clearly, Venezuela is sliding toward dictatorship,” even though there were municipal elections that were just completed across the country, and in the previous year presidential elections occurred, which by all standards were “free and fair.”

If the Venezuelan opposition comes to power, we know exactly what they will do. When they took power briefly in a U.S.-backed military coup in 2002 they immediately disbanded all the democratic institutions that governed the country, since they prefer the type of political system that served them well during their hundreds of years of pre-Chavez dictatorships.

Of course, anybody who sympathizes with the above “opposition” movements are not automatically members of the far-right. One of the successes in this political strategy is the far-right movement’s attempt to tap into existing frustrations, and when the political flames are stoked, the energy is quickly exploited by those leading the movement in an attempt to violently overthrow the government.

  Why does the Obama administration choose this type of foreign policy? The main reason is that the above-targeted countries had slid out of the U.S. orbit of control, and only these far-right groups are interested in getting their country back into the U.S. orbit. Ultimately, U.S. capitalists gain mountains of profit when a country is dependent on U.S. loans, U.S.-made weapons, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, etc.

This is why the U.S. establishment — now represented by the Obama administration — will not simply leave Latin America, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe to be independent or fall into the orbit of a competing regional power like Russia. There is simply too much profit at stake.  Peace is not an option.

In order to stop the never-ending warmongering of U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. government itself must be fundamentally transformed. The U.S. establishment that favors the capitalist economic system will endlessly provoke wars for profit, while an economic system without a profit-motive will have no need for foreign wars.

Notes

http://www.economist.com/news/ briefing/21597974-can-ukraine- find-any-leaders-who-will- live-up-aspirations-its- battered-victorious 
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/28/obamas-dumbest-plan-yet/ 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Amd4l0OtKkA 
http://www.longwarjournal.org/ archives/2014/02/zawahiris_ chief_repr.php
http://www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/2014/feb/18/ venezuela-protests-us-support- regime-change-mistake
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/opinion/venezuelas-angry-students.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0


Shamus Cooke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

The Rape of Ukraine: Phase Two Begins

March 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The events in Ukraine since November 2013 are so astonishing as almost to defy belief.

An legitimately-elected (said by all international monitors) Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich, has been driven from office, forced to flee as a war criminal after more than three months of violent protest and terrorist killings by so-called opposition.

His “crime” according to protest leaders was that he rejected an EU offer of a vaguely-defined associate EU membership that offered little to Ukraine in favor of a concrete deal with Russia that gave immediate €15 billion debt relief and a huge reduction in Russian gas import prices. Washington at that point went into high gear and the result today is catastrophe.

A secretive neo-nazi military organization reported linked to NATO played a decisive role in targeted sniper attacks and violence that led to the collapse of the elected government.

But the West is not finished with destroying Ukraine. Now comes the IMF with severe conditionalities as prerequisite to any Western financial help.

After the famous leaked phone call of US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (photo, left) with the US Ambassador in Kiev, where she discussed the details of who she wanted in a new coalition government in Kiev, and where she rejected the EU solutions with her “Fuck the EU” comment,[1] the EU went it alone. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed that he and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, fly to Kiev and try to reach a resolution of the violence before escalation. Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski was asked to join. The talks in Kiev included the EU delegation, Yanukovich, the three opposition leaders and a Russian representative. The USA was not invited.[2]

The EU intervention without Washington was extraordinary and reveals the deeping division between the two in recent months. In effect it was the EU saying to the US State Department, “F*** the US,” we will end this ourselves.

After hard talks, all major parties including the majority of protesters, agreed to new presidential elections in December, return to the 2004 Constitution and release of Julia Tymoshenko from prison. The compromise appeared to end the months long chaos and give a way out for all major players.

The diplomatic compromise lasted less than twelve hours. Then all hell broke loose.

Snipers began shooting into the crowd on February 22 in Maidan or Independence Square. Panic ensued and riot police retreated in panic according to eyewitnesses. The opposition leaderVitali Klitschko withdrew from the deal, no reason given. Yanukovich fled Kiev.[3]

The question unanswered until now is who deployed the snipers? According to veteran US intelligence sources, the snipers came from an ultra-right-wing military organization known as Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO).


IMAGE: Members of UNA-UNSO marching in Lviv.

Strange Ukraine ‘Nationalists’

The leader of UNA-UNSO, Andriy Shkil, ten years ago became an adviser to Julia Tymoshenko. UNA-UNSO, during the US-instigated 2003-2004 “Orange Revolution”, backed pro-NATO candidate Viktor Yushchenko against his pro-Russian opponent, Yanukovich. UNA-UNSO members provided security for the supporters of Yushchenko and Julia Tymoshenko on Independence Square in Kiev in 2003-4.[4]

UNA-UNSO is also reported to have close ties to the German National Democratic Party (NDP).[5]

Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the crack-para-military UNA-UNSO members have been behind every revolt against Russian influence. The one connecting thread in their violent campaigns is always anti-Russia. The organization, according to veteran US intelligence sources, is part of a secret NATO “GLADIO” organization, and not a Ukraine nationalist group as portrayed in western media. [6]

According to these sources, UNA-UNSO have been involved (confirmed officially) in the Lithuanian events in the Winter of 1991, the Soviet Coup d’etat in Summer 1991, the war for the Pridnister Republic 1992, the anti-Moscow Abkhazia War 1993, the Chechen War, the US-organized Kosovo Campaign Against the Serbs, and the August 8 2008 war in Georgia. According to these reports, UNA-UNSO para-military have been involved in every NATO dirty war in the post-cold war period, always fighting on behalf of NATO. “These people are the dangerous mercenaries used all over the world to fight NATO’s dirty war, and to frame Russia because this group pretends to be Russian special forces. THESE ARE THE BAD GUYS, forget about the window dressing nationalists, these are the men behind the sniper rifles,” these sources insist.[7]

If true that UNA-UNSO is not “Ukrainian” opposition, but rather a highly secret NATO force using Ukraine as base, it would suggest that the EU peace compromise with the moderates was likely sabotaged by the one major player excluded from the Kiev 21 February diplomatic talks—Victoria Nuland’s State Department.[8] Both Nuland and right-wing Republican US Senator John McCainhave had contact with the leader of the Ukrainian opposition Svoboda Party, whose leader is openly anti-semitic and defends the deeds of a World War II Ukrainian SS-Galicia Division head.[9] The party was registered in 1995, initially calling itself the “Social National Party of Ukraine” and using a swastika style logo. Svoboda is the electoral front for neo-nazi organizations in Ukraine such as UNA-UNSO.[10]

One further indication that Nuland’s hand is shaping latest Ukraine events is the fact that the new Ukrainian Parliament is expected to nominate Nuland’s choice, Arseny Yatsenyuk, from Tymoshenko’s party, to be interim head of the new Cabinet.

Whatever the final truth, clear is that Washington has prepared a new economic rape of Ukraine using its control over the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

IMF plunder of Ukraine Crown Jewels

Now that the “opposition” has driven a duly-elected president into exile somewhere unknown, and dissolved the national riot police, Berkut, Washington has demanded that Ukraine submit to onerous IMF conditionalities.

In negotiations last October, the IMF demanded that Ukraine double prices for gas and electricity to industry and homes, that they lift a ban on private sale of Ukraine’s rich agriculture lands, make a major overhaul of their economic holdings, devalue the currency, slash state funds for school children and the elderly to “balance the budget.” In return Ukraine would get a paltry $4 billion.

Before the ouster of the Moscow-leaning Yanukovich government last week, Moscow was prepared to buy some $15 billion of Ukraine debt and to slash its gas prices by fully one-third. Now, understandably, Russia is unlikely to give that support. The economic cooperation between Ukraine and Moscow was something Washington was determined to sabotage at all costs.

This drama is far from over. The stakes involve the very future of Russia, the EU-Russian relations, and the global power of Washington, or at least that faction in Washington that sees further wars as the prime instrument of policy.

Writer F. William Engdahl is a geopolitical analyst and the author of  “Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order”.

Endnotes:

[1] F. William Engdahl, US-Außenministerium in flagranti über Regimewechsel in der Ukraine ertappt, Kopp Online.de, February 8, 2014, accessed in http://info.kopp-verlag.de/hintergruende/enthuellungen/f-william-engdahl/us-aussenministerium-in-flagranti-ueber-regimewechsel-in-der-ukraine-ertappt.html

[2] Bertrand Benoit, Laurence Norman and Stephen Fidler , European Ministers Brokered Ukraine Political Compromise: German, French, Polish Foreign Ministers Flew to Kiev, The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2014, accessed in   http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303636404579397351862903542?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303636404579397351862903542.html

[3] Jessica Best, Ukraine protests Snipers firing live rounds at demonstrators as fresh violence erupts despite truce, The Mirror UK, February 20, 2014, accessed inhttp://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/ukraine-protests-snipers-firing-live-3164828

[4] Aleksandar Vasovic , Far right group flexes during Ukraine revolution, Associated Press,  January 3, 2005, Accessed in http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20050103&slug=ukraine03

[5] Wikipedia, Ukrainian National Assembly  Ukrainian National Self Defence, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed inhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_National_Assembly_%E2%80%93_Ukrainian_National_Self_Defence

[6] Source report, Who Has Ukraine Weapons, February 27, 2014, private to author.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Max Blumenthal, Is the US backing neo-Nazis in Ukraine?, AlterNet February 25, 2014, accessed in

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/25/is_the_us_backing_neo_nazis_in_ukraine_partner/

[9] Channel 4 News, Far right group at heart of Ukraine protests meet US senator, 16 December 2013, accessed in

http://www.channel4.com/news/ukraine-mccain-far-right-svoboda-anti-semitic-protests

[10] Ibid

Source: F. William Engdahl | 21st Century Wire

Return To Seyeda (Lady) Zeinab—Now Secured And In Protective Hands

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Seyeda Zeinab, Syria - During a meeting at the Dama Rose hotel in Damascus the other morning, this observer was briefed by ‘Abu Modar,” a reputedly battle-honed field commander of the “Death Brigade,” a unit based in the northern Syria Eskanderoun region, north of Latakia. Abu Modar explained that he personally had chosen the rather peculiar name for his outfit to symbolize the willingness of its members to die for their cause—protecting Syria.

“Before each battle or each mission I ask my God to let me die defending Syria”, he explained. “If we are involved with a joint operation with Hezbollah, who are much admired because of their honesty and trustworthiness, I lead my men to the front line and ahead of Hezbollah troops out of respect for them and because we Syrians believe that as their grateful hosts we have this duty.”

The gentleman began explaining the history of his militia, one of thousands (both pro-and anti-government) operating in Syria these troubled days. It is a history that included some of his predecessors fighting with the PLO in Beirut during the summer of 1982, but as he was relating all this, his phone rang. The conversation was not long. The caller, he informed this observer upon ringing off, was his “contact,” advising him that certain intelligence sources had received information overnight that an individual had been observed in the vicinity of Zeinab’s shrine placing a parcel of explosives into a vehicle, presumably with the intention to detonate it near her resting place. This riveted my attention, in part because this observer was scheduled by chance to join an army escort the next day and visit the historic site, located about 40 minutes south of Damascus. Nearly two months ago the government regained control of the area, but there are still some snipers around, I had been apprised by friends. Abu Modar’s specific mission was to take some of his commandos and kick in the door of the suspect’s house sometime during the night, arrest him, and turn him over to someone for interrogation. His mission struck me as simple enough and he was matter of fact in outlining his plan.

“We do this sort of mission often. This is part of our expertise, and we do it whenever we are asked by Resistance friends and Syrian authorities. It spares the army for their normal work on battlefields, and our unit is specialized, and from long experience we have acquired certain useful skills.”

I demurred when he invited me to join him, explaining I was a bit out of shape and did not want to get in the way of his men’s work or potentially hamper their operation. But he insisted, saying that I could stay in his jeep and just observe, and he doubted that I would be in any serious danger. I was tempted to accept his invitation, and agreed to his proposal to meet after lunch to finalize our plans for that night’s outing. At this point, however, I called a trusted and knowledgeable Syrian friend, who knows a lot about these matters, and she seemed exasperated I would even consider tagging along with the Death Brigade.

“Absolutely not Franklin! Khalas! (finish!) You are visiting Seyeda Zeinab bokra with the army and you are not going with anyone else!”

Frankly, I was a bit relieved by my friend’s unequivocal counsel, and my new pal from the “Death” militia (who is acquainted with her) sportively understood. An interesting anecdote was at this point related by my interpreter: that Abu Modor had laughed and claimed a badge of honor upon recently being shown YouTube videos regarding his macho, George-Patton-style exploits in Qusayr, and in villages around Qalamoun, and rebel claims that he and his brigade were “the number one pro-regime murderers in Syria.” I might also mention that the “Death” unit is part of the not-well-known-in-the-West Popular Front for the Liberation of Iskanderun (PFLI), currently fighting rebels north of Latakia, in the mountains bordering Turkey, and whose forces have also periodically spent time guarding the resting place of Zeinab.

The geographical place name “Seyeda Zeinab” can be confusing for an untutored foreigner, the reason being that it may refer to a group of five small cities in the governorate of Damascus—Al Zeyabeya, Hujayr, Husseiniya, Akraba and Babila—or, alternately, to the sacred burial place and shrine for Zeinab bint Ali, the daughter of Ali, the first Shia Imam, and his first wife Fatima. Zeinab was also the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the sister of Husayn and Hassan. Her shrine and pilgrimage destination are located in the small town of Seyeda (Lady) Zeinab, but given its fame, the name also refers to a wider area. As a holy shrine and place of prayer and scholarship, one imagines this place to be in the category of perhaps Qoms in Iran, and Najaf in Iraq. All three attract thousands of pilgrims and tourists, and since the area surrounding Seyeda Zeinab was liberated and essentially pacified by the Syrian Army recently, visitors are again arriving daily from countries including Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan and Lebanon, among others.

The Mayor of Seyeda Zeinab, this observer’s gracious host, is Mohammad Barakat, a Sunni engineer from Homs, roughly in his early 50’s. His staff is of mixed religious backgrounds, and, as with most Syrian citizens I have met over the past three years, was essentially blind to and uninterested in sectarian differences in existence before the current crisis. All the mayor’s staff members are working long hours these days, responding to numerous requests for post-liberation help, appeals which they try their best to accommodate with their limited available resources. My three-hour discussion with Mayor Barakat was interrupted perhaps as many as a couple of dozen times by the appearance of an aid often seeking his signature or mayoral stamp on citizen petitions covering anything from requests for food stuffs, problems with housing, or attempts to find employment with a municipal project now getting started.

In his bee hive of an office, the mayor used a pointer to highlight locations on a large wall map hanging next to his desk, the map illustrating areas where repair and construction projects are being readied. Mr. Barakat enthusiastically proclaimed, “2014 is the year we intend to start and finish area restoration work, and we take pride in the prospect that what we achieve here in Seyeda Zeinab can be a model for restoration work all over Syria that hopefully can begin soon.”


The Mayor of Seyeda Zeinab and staff members in front of the wall may illustrating plans to complete reconstruction of the area by the end of 2014 Photo: 2/25/14)

Barakat and three of his staff members accompanied this observer on an informative and inspiring tour of the Mosque and Shrine of Saeyda Zeinab. The shrine, our hosts informed us, is an example of Shia architecture, and the dome is made of pure gold. The grave of Zeinab is enclosed within a raised, crypt-like structure centered directly beneath the massive golden dome. The doors of the shrine are apparently also made of pure gold, with mirror works on the roof and walls. The minarets and the entrance gate of the holy shrine are covered with Iranian moarrahg tile designed by the famous Iranian architect and tile artist Ali Panjehpour. My colleague from the mayor’s office allowed me to finger one and explained that each 4 x 4 inch tile, of which there were hundreds of thousands in the complex, cost more than $100 USD. There is also a large mosque adjoining the shrine which this observer was advised can accommodate more than 1,300 people and a further 150 in the attached courtyards. The two tall minarets, one of which was damaged by a rebel mortar, dominate the architecture of the mosque as well as a large souk on the other side of a newly-built security wall.

In the cavernous nave of the Seyeda Zeinab, just next to the beautifully inlaid, elevated crypt holding her remains, approximately 50 men were performing mid-day Salat al Duhr prayers. Some were in camouflage uniforms and appeared to be on military leave or from the security units guarding the inside and perimeter of Zeinab’s Shrine.

This observer did not want to awkwardly press his hosts for details regarding the identities of the armed men guarding Seyeda Zeinab or where they are from. Some Western media sources have speculated that Shia fighters from Iraq and Lebanon came to Syria to protect Seyeda Zeinab following the desecration in Iraq of the tomb of Hajar Bin Aday. Several sites on the Internet published reports claiming that a takfiri group exhumed the tomb of Bin Aday, who was one of the most prominent Muslim leaders at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and who was loyal to Imam Ali bin Abi Talib. Bin Aday’s remains were reportedly taken to an unknown location. This observer infers that Hezbollah is currently a prominent presence guarding Seyeda Zeinab, and my Syrian companion noted Lebanese accents in the guard station at the entrance.

At the entrance to the women’s area, several women were praying and others appeared to be part of the shrine’s Women’s Auxiliary, or Guild, as they directed visitors while graciously assisting and providing female visitors with black chadors upon entering the sanctuary. One charming middle age woman, who appeared to be Iranian, smiled knowingly at me, and with a twinkle in her eyes jokingly offered this visiting American a chador as “a gift and souvenir from our Holy Shrine and from our community—to take back to your country, in appreciation of you not bombing us…yet!” And she laughed at her own joke, as did all who heard it, including the mayor, some nearby soldiers, and teen-aged visiting students.


Photo 2/25/14 shows the Gold Dome and the column that was damaged by a mortar round and the new security wall in the background.

Update on the capture of the bad person sought by Abu Modar

Well, did Abu Modar and his “Death Brigade” get their man?

They did indeed, and it was the night before this observer’s arrival at Seyeda Zeinab. Abu Modar detailed to this observer and a few of his militia guys the evening’s events as we made plans to leave the next morning for the Iskandroun region and an interview the PFLI President, Ali Kyali. The capture, it seems, came about not by kicking in the alleged bad guy’s door, American SWAT team-style. Rather, the suspect was stealthily followed and, during the early morning of 2/25/14, apprehended at one of the Syrian army checkpoints that surround the village of Seyeda Zeinab.

Such incidents make it clear that Seyeda Zeinab is still a target of some jihadist types given its great importance to Syria, the region, and among Muslims globally. Yet across sectarian divides here there are growing signs of the great majority of the exhausted populations being ready, to a degree, to forgive and forget at least some of the events of the past nearly 36 months.

Visiting Seyeda Zeinab is a wonderful, solemn, exhilarating and inspiring ecumenical experience—one highly recommended to all tourists planning to come to the Syrian Arab Republic as improving security conditions begin to allow for the return of international visitors.

May the Sainted Martyr, Zeinab bint Ali, whose life was devoted to charity and to nursing others, and who is a model for all humanity of resistance and defiance against oppression and all forms of injustice, forever rest in peace.


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

Dr. Franklin Lamb is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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