In a stunning blow to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in over 13 years. By curtailing Erdogan’s power, the results of the general election held last Sunday (June 7) are likely – at long last – to have some positive repercussions for the Greater Middle East.
Erdogan had hoped to obtain a two-thirds legislative supermajority, which would enable him to push through a new constitution that would create an executive presidency and make him de iure, as well asde facto, Turkey’s autocrat with sweeping powers which would have made the U.S. presidency look weak by comparison. His by now openly Islamist AKP, which has governed Turkey since February 2002, went along with his plan. In view of Erdogan’s victory in the presidential election less than a year ago with 52 percent of the vote in the first round, and the AKP’s ability to steadily increase its share of the vote in three consecutive elections, the party’s top brass initially assumed the AKP would be able to gain the 400 seats which Erdogan boldly promised at the beginning of the campaign. Some weeks later he lowered his expectations to 330 seats, the number necessary to hold a referendum on the constitutional amendment he wanted. In the final fortnight of the campaign he remained confident that the AKP would get at least 276 seats needed to form a single-party government for the fourth time.
Erdogan’s name was not on the ballot, but the election was widely perceived as a referendum on his proposed “Turkish-style presidency” – and he has overplayed his hand. Unprecedentedly high turnout of 86 percent included a significant number of former abstainees who were now motivated simply by the desire to stop Erdogan. After last Sunday’s fiasco, his overall power and even his authority in the AKP will no longer be absolute.
With 258 seats and 41 percent of the vote the AKP remains Turkey’s largest party by far, but it is now 18 mandates short of a simple majority in the 550-seat national assembly. In order to continue governing it has two options: to find a coalition partner among the three opposition parties which have crossed the (blatantly undemocratic) ten-percent threshold, or else to form a minority government with the tacit support of one of those three parties. If neither scenario works in the next 45 days, there will have to be a new election in three months’ time.
The secular-Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP) remains the second largest force in Turkish politics, with 25 percent of the vote and 132 seats. Its social-democratic agenda is supported mainly by the urban middle class and by pro-European liberals who regard Erdogan as a calamity that must be stopped. It is therefore unlikely to consider a coalition with the AKP, let alone to provide passive support for a minority government. CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu declared that the nation “stopped the rot” on Sunday, but also expressed his opposition to yet another election. He and his colleagues would like to form a broad coalition without the AKP, but the problem is that the other two opposition parties fundamentally disagree on several key issues at home and abroad.
Even less likely to help Erdogan and the AKP is the success story of this election, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which enters parliament for the first time with 80 seats and 13 percent of the vote. Its leader Selahattin Demirtas openly taunted Erdogan in his speech late on election night: “As of this hour, the debate about the presidency, the debate about dictatorship is over. Turkey averted a disaster at the brink. We prevented you from being the kind of president you wanted to be!” This mainly Kurdish party has successfully appealed to young Turks everywhere with its staunch opposition to AKP’s Islamist conservatism and with its advocacy of a radical social agenda which includes Western-style homosexual and women’s rights.
All this is anathema to the third opposition party, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – the home of the “Grey Wolves” of yore – which also has 80 seats, with just over 16 percent of the vote. It is opposed to practically everything the HDP stands for, Kurdish minority rights in particular. When the chips are down the Nationalist Movement Party is more likely to join an AKP-led coalition. Its price is likely to be Erdogan’s acceptance of a greatly curtailed presidential role, in accordance with the existing constitution, and his public commitment that he would not make another attempt to change the rules.
This may well be quietly welcomed by many AKP leaders who have grown weary Erdogan’s confrontational style and autocratic ways. Former president and party founder Abdullah Gul, who is known to resent Erdogan, may reenter the fray. There are many influential Turks of Islamist persuasion, within and without the AKP, who have not been adverse to the drift away from secularism at home and to the assertive pursuit of neo-Ottomanism abroad, but who believe that the power of “the Sultan” (as Erdogan is known among his friends and foes alike) needs to be curtailed. While they do not identify with the values and aspirations of the secular and liberal urban middle class which dominates the opposition, some religious conservatives will see the election result as an opportunity to persuade the “Sultan” that he needs to listen to the neglected pashas and viziers.
Erdogan was not the only reason for AKP’s poor showing. Turkey’s no longer growing economy and a weak lira have played a major role, as well as the government’s involvement in Syria, the growingmedia censorship, government corruption, and the typically Islamist disregard for the Kemalist legacy of women’s equality. Last but not least, Erdogan’s brazen involvement in the campaign process – in spite of the fact that the president of the republic is constitutionally required to remain politically neutral – may have cost cost the AKP a couple of percentage points.
Internationally, the election result and the ensuing weeks, perhaps months, of domestic political uncertainty will probably decrease Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, specifically its support for the hard-core jihadist Nusra Front. Most Turks, AKP supporters and Kemalists alike, are opposed to Erdogan’s support for the Syrian rebels and advocacy of foreign intervention, which is perceived as an “American,” rather than “Turkish” policy. If Turkey becomes less involved in Arab affairs in the period ahead, that will be good news for Syria’s beleaguered president Bashar al-Assad, the man who commands the only army in the field capable of opposing ISIS.
There was only an en passant reference to Syria at the end of my analysis of Erdogan’s defeat three days ago. This subject deserves closer scrutiny. His controversial policy vis-à-vis Damascus now appears to have been a major factor in his defeat, and Turkey’s likely fine-tuning of her posture in the months ahead may have major repercussions for the Greater Middle East.
Turkey’s three opposition parties, the social-democratic, neoKemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP), the sternly nationalist Action Party (MHP), and the predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) may not have much in common on social, cultural, ethnic and religious issues, but they all agree that Erdogan was mistaken in entering the Syrian fray. He did so by arming Islamic militants fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, by quietly allowing thousands of foreign jihadists to cross from Turkey into Iraq and Syria, and by enabling the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Jabhat al-Nusra – a hard-line jihadist fighting force if there ever was one – to become major players in the conflict. Turkey’s assistance to the latter group is a matter of well documented record.
It is now apparent that the ruling AKP performed poorly, in contrast to its earlier showing, in all provinces bordering Syria. and especially among the millions of Kurds disenchanted with Turkey’s failure to help their Syrian brethern in Kobani. As a reliable news source has noted,
The change of power structure in Turkey came precisely at a time when the new Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey partnership is changing the balances in the field against Assad’s regime. The double-pronged strategy of the partnership sought to arm and expand the territory dominated in the northern front of Idlib and Hatay and the southern front of Daara, Quneitra, Suwayda and Damascus via Jordan. The Turkish prong of this strategy is now up in the air.
Erdogan had agreed with the recently enthroned Saudi King Salman to supply weapons and training to al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch of Jabhat al-Nusra and the affiliated Army of Conquest (Jaish al-Fateh), led by Ahrar al-Sha. These al-Qaeda affiliates are hard-core jihadists, of course, whose only claim to respectability (in the eyes of Washington’s “foreign policy community”) is the fact that they are anti-Bashar and not affiliated with ISIS. They are horrible people nevertheless, and designing them as “moderates” in the mainstream Western media simply serves the bipartisan neocon-neolib agenda of bringing down Assad – regardless of consequences for Syria’s Christians, for Syria itself, and for Israel’s vulnerable Golan frontier.
It is noteworthy that HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, speaking to CNN International, stated point blank that any coalition government would have to discontinue Turkey’s “support IS and other radical groups in the region.” Turkey’s eventual disengagement from Erdogan’s axis of evil with the worst purveyor of Islamic agenda in the world – Saudi Arabia – would be a long overdue ray of hope in the nightmarish Middle Eastern equation.
We are constantly seeing and hearing our American media use the word “Regime” these days. So exactly what is a “Regime”? Apparently it is whatever you want it to be.
Whenever Wall Street and/or War Street want to vilify a country that disagrees with their policies of occupation and exploitation, they always begin their vilification program by calling that country’s form of government a “Regime”.
Here are some examples: Syria is a “Regime” — even though it has a constitution, holds elections and almost all Syrians support its president, Bashar Assad. Gaddafi in Libya also operated a “Regime” — even though his government offered the kind of free education and healthcare benefits to its citizens that most Americans can only dream about. Cuba was (and still is) considered a “Regime” in the eyes of Wall Street and War Street. Putin also runs a “Regime” — even though most Russians today support him totally.
In reverse, Saudi Arabia is not a “Regime” — even though the House of Saud uses torture, suppresses decent, beheads people, treats women badly, brutally invades other countries and supports Al Qaeda and ISIS.
The House of Saud has spent over a trillion $$$$ of its enormous petro-dollar wealth over the last half-century on killing people and being despotic. Just imagine what the Middle East would look like right now if the Saudis had chosen butter instead of guns. What a waste. And yet Saudi Arabia is still not considered to be a “Regime” by American media.
Israel never gets called a “Regime” either — even though it supplied Iran with weapons back when Khomeini was holding Americans hostage and it kills Palestinian children with impunity, foments wars whenever possible, runs secret torture prisons, is a neo-colonialist in the worst sort of way, appears to even be anti-Jewish, uses 9-11 to its advantage and has notoriously corrupt leaders.
And now America seems to have become a “Regime” as well — even though nobody ever dares to call it by that name. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….
Here are at least ten reasons that cause me to suspect that Wall Street and War Street are running a “Regime” here in America too:
Reason No. 1: Torture. Black sites. Rendition. Indefinite detention of Americans. Stuff like that. Our tax dollars at work.
Reason No. 2: No one is ever allowed to examine (let alone question) election results or voting machines here in the USA. Remember GWB, for instance? Never legally won an election in his life! Or take those new voter restrictions that have suddenly become so popular in the Ol’ South. You would expect something like that in the old Soviet Union or in the bad old days of Jim Crow — but not here, not now. And yet here it is.
No one is ever allowed to examine (let alone question) election results or voting machines here in the USA. Remember GWB, for instance? Never legally won an election in his life! Or take those new voter restrictions that have suddenly become so popular in the Ol’ South. You would expect something like that in the old Soviet Union or in the bad old days of Jim Crow — but not here, not now. And yet here it is.
Reason No. 3: Spying on its citizens. NSA. The Patriot Act. Snowden and Manning are being persecuted for spying — while FaceBook, Google and NSA get a free pass.
Reason No. 4: Ferguson. Baltimore. Zuccotti Park. Oakland. Military tactics used to violently suppress the American underclass if they dare to complain that their jobs are all disappearing, their children’s education sucks eggs and their tax dollars are being spent on military adventurism in foreign lands instead of on infrastructure here at home.
Reason No. 5: Congress! Government for sale. Widespread corruption. The Koch brothers’ and K Street’s yard sale of our politicians — all bought on the cheap. A solder in Afghanistan once told me that, “The only difference between corrupt politicians in Afghanistan and corrupt politicians in America is that corrupt politicians in America pass laws to make their corruption legal and Afghan politicians do not.” (Also see Reason No. 9)
Reason No. 6: No daycare! I just threw that in because I’m now babysitting my wonderful three-month-old granddaughter so that my daughter can go back to work. Even Iraq under Saddam Hussein had free daycare! Even Cuba under Castro.
And when Sofia goes off to kindergarten in five years, then I’ll finally be able to go back to being a war correspondent again — knowing for certain that the American “Regime” will still be subsidizing despots and Endless War in the Middle East even five years from now. What a waste.
Reason No. 7: Media suppression. You think that you might have some good ideas about telling truth to power around here? Then don’t expect to get a job with the New York Times or the Washington Post any time soon. Shades of the old Pravda.
Reason No. 8: Cops and the military (again). Peaceful protests are suppressed here just like they are in Occupied Palestine. Rubber bullets and tear gas R Us! Our cops recently used tear gas on protesters even here in my own hometown. And then there are all those poor countries abroad that have been Blitzkriegged by our very own Luftwaffe and then invaded by our very own Storm Troopers. I could drone on and on about that!
Reason No. 9: Our Supreme Court. Scalia would feel right at home in Nigeria or Haiti. There’s not a single corrupt corporate take-over that he doesn’t like.
Reason No 10: Corporatism itself. Nazi Germany ran on “Corporatism”. Hitler just loved handing out corporate welfare. And so do our so-called leaders. Nazi Germany was a “Regime”. Perhaps America is too.
I rest my case.
US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia In Alliance with Al Qaeda…
The Syrian war stalemate appears to be over. The regional powers surrounding Syria — especially Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan — have re-ignited their war against the Syrian government. After over 200,000 dead and millions of refugees, the U.S. allies in the region recently re-committed to deepening the war, with incalculable consequences.
The new war pact was made between Obama’s regional darlings, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who agreed to step up deeper military cooperation and establish a joint command in the occupied Syrian region of Idlib.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are now openly backing Islamic extremists under the newly rebranded “Conquest Army” The on-the-ground leadership of this “new” coalition consists of Jabhat al-Nusra — the “official” al-Qaeda affiliate — and Ahrar al-Sham, whose leader previously stated that his group was the “real al-Qaeda.”
The Huffington Post reports:
“The Turkish-Saudi agreement has led to a new joint command center in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib. There, a coalition of groups — including Nusra and other Islamist brigades such as Ahrar al-Sham that Washington views as extremist — are progressively eroding Assad’s front. The rebel coalition also includes more moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army that have received U.S. support in the past.”
The article admits that the Free Syrian Army — that Obama previously labeled as “moderates” and gave cash and guns to — has been swallowed up by the extremist groups.
This dynamic has the potential to re-engulf the region in violence; deep Saudi pocketbooks combined with reports of looming Turkish ground forces are a catastrophe in the making.
Interestingly, the Saudi-Turkish alliance barely raised eyebrows in the U.S. media. President Obama didn’t think to comment on the subject, let alone condemn it.
The media was focused on an odd narrative of Obama reportedly being “concerned” about the alliance, but “disengaged” from what two of his close allies were doing in a region that the U.S. has micromanaged for decades.
It seems especially odd for the media to accept that Obama has a “hands off” approach in Syria when at the same time the media is reporting about a new U.S. program training Syrian rebels in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
It’s inconceivable that Obama would coordinate deeply with Turkey to set up a Syrian rebel training camp on Turkish soil, while at the same time be “disengaged” from the Turkish-Saudi war coalition in Syria.
One possible motive behind the fake narrative of “non-cooperation” between Obama and his Turkish-Saudi allies is that the U.S. is supposed to be fighting a “war on terrorism.”
So when Turkey and Saudi Arabia announce that they’re closely coordinating with terrorists in Syria — like al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham — Obama needs an alibi to avoid being caught at the crime scene. He’s not an accomplice, simply “disengaged.”
This is likely the reason why Obama has insisted that his new “moderate” rebels being trained in Turkey will fight ISIS, not the Syrian government. But this claim too is ridiculous.
Is Obama really going to throw a couple hundred newly-trained “moderate” Syrian rebels at ISIS while his Turkish-Saudi allies focus all their fire on the Syrian Government? The question answers itself.
The media has made mention of this obvious conundrum, but never bothers to follow up, leaving Obama’s lame narrative unchallenged. For example, the LA Times reports:
“The White House wants the [U.S. trained rebel] proxy force to target Islamic State militants, while many of the Syrian rebels — and the four host nations [where Syrian rebels are being trained] — want to focus on ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
The article simply shrugs its shoulders at the irreconcilable. The article also fails to mention that Obama’s “new” training camps aren’t new at all; he’s been arming and training Syrian rebels since at least 2012, the only difference being that the “new” training camps are supposedly meant to target ISIS, compared to the training camps that were openly used to target the Syrian government.
Here’s the LA Times in 2013:
“The covert U.S. training [of Syrian rebels] at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.”
This is media amnesia at its worse. Recent events can’t be understood if the media doesn’t place events in context. In practice this “forgetfulness” provides political cover to the Obama administration, shielding his longstanding direct role in the Syrian war, allowing him to pretend to a “passive,” “hands off” approach.
When it was reported in 2012 that the Obama administration was funneling weapons to the Syrian rebels, the few media outlets that mentioned the story didn’t bother to do any follow up. It simply fell into the media memory hole. After the weapons funneling report came out, Obama incredulously stated that he was only supplying “non lethal” support to the rebels, and the media printed his words unchallenged.
Consequently, there was no public discussion about the consequences of the U.S. partaking in a multi-nation proxy war against Syria, a country that borders war ravaged Iraq.
In 2013 when Obama announced that he would be bombing the Syrian government in response to a supposed gas attack, the U.S. media asked for no evidence of the allegation, and strove to buttress Obama’s argument for aggression.
And when Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh wrote an article exposing Obama’s lies over the aborted bombing mission, the article didn’t see the light of day in the U.S. media. Critically thoughtful voices were not welcome. They remain unwelcome.
In 2015 direct U.S. military intervention in Syria remains a real possibility. All the conditions that led to Obama’s decision to bomb Syria in 2013 remain in place.
In fact, a U.S. intervention is even more likely now that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are fighting openly against the Syrian government, since the Saudi-Turkish alliance might find itself in a key battle that demands the special assistance that only the U.S. air force can offer.
Unsurprisingly, there has been renewed discussion of a U.S. enforced “no fly zone” in Syria. ISIS doesn’t have an air force, so a no fly zone would be undeniably aimed at the Syrian government to destroy its air force. The new debate over a “no fly zone” is happening at the same time as a barrage of new allegations of “chemical weapons” use are being made against the Syrian government.
If a no fly zone is eventually declared by the Obama Administration it will be promoted as a “humanitarian intervention, that strives to create a “humanitarian corridor” to “protect civilians” — the same rhetoric that was used for a massive U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Libya that destroyed the country and continues to create a massive refugee crisis.
As the Syrian war creates fresh atrocities the Obama administration will be pressured to openly support his Saudi-Turkish allies, just as he came out into the open in 2013 when he nearly bombed the Syrian government.
History is repeating itself. But this time the stakes are higher: the region has already been destabilized with the wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and the regional conflicts have sharpened between U.S. allies on one hand, and Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia on the other.
Such a volatile dynamic demands a media willing to explain the significance of these events. The truth is that Obama has been a proxy war president that has torn apart the Middle East as badly as his predecessor did, and if the U.S. public remains uninformed about developing events, an even larger regional war is inevitable.
Several people have asked me recently why I always seem to be writing about the Middle East. “Why don’t you ever write about anything else?”
Of course I write about other stuff — but the Middle East is so much more interesting and entertaining than anything else! The Middle East is definitely more interesting, entertaining and even weirder than any soap opera, reality show or action flick that Hollywood could ever produce. Fascinating stuff.
I’m always amazed that so few other Americans aren’t just totally fascinated by the Middle East too. Or even that there isn’t at least one daytime soap opera devoted solely to the subject — if for no other reason than that the Middle East has some of the greatest villains of all time!
Take America, for instance. Our very own Wall Street and War Street are currently starring as top-billing major actors in the Middle East, playing in prime-time roles — as the biggest villains in the script so far too. America practically invented ISIS, for goodness sakes! You can’t get more villainous than that.
Or can you?
According to journalist Daniel Lazare, “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda.” War Street, you’ve been busted as the Bad Guy — and on national television too!
Or take Saudi Arabia another shining example of epic villain-a-lishious-ness at its best. That country has been playing the villain since way back in 1930 — when it invaded the Republic of Yemen for the first time after Yemen actually dared to become a democracy. Then the Saudi regime went on to help America create Osama bin Ladin, finance the Taliban and dirty their hands with 9-11. And now the Saudi regime is financing and training ISIS. Doesn’t get more juicy than that.
No, wait, yes it does. The Saudi regime is now using American-supplied cluster bombs on Yemen. Juicy soap opera at its best, better even than TMZ — unless of course you are living in Yemen.
And then there is Syria. What is going on there right now is even better than “One Life to Live”. How many Americans even know who Bashar Assad is? The poor guy has a couple of corrupt, sleazy relatives that the Saudi, American, Turkish and Israeli regimes have spent the last four years trying to put into power. Why? Because power corrupts — so Assad’s relatives are already trained to be as corrupt as their sponsors. How “Dallas” can you get?
And of course Turkey is now in the mix too — just can’t keep its hands off of ISIS, the designated “fem fatale” in this reality show. But Turkey had better watch out. ISIS is a psychopath and Turkish citizens do not like President Erdogan cheating on them and messing around with her instead.
Or take Iraq — the ultimate reality show. Outwit, outlast and outplay. Plus all the principle soap opera characters are there in Iraq too. You got the lying bitch (mostly America), the BFF (mostly Britain and France), the scheming scoundrel who will stop at nothing to get rich (mostly Bibi Netanyahu) and the struggling anti-hero (mostly Syrians trying to chase ISIS out of Syria) trying to thwart the Bad Guys (mostly ISIS, but with ISIS’s secret suppliers Saudi Arabia, Israel, America and Turkey thrown in).
You just gotta love all that plotting, counter-plotting and backstabbing now taking place in the Middle East — such as when General Sisi in Egypt overthrew a democratically-elected government in order to be America’s date to the prom. Or when the Saudi Arabian regime, source of 9-11 and Osama bin Ladin, comes out smelling like a rose and being America’s BFF. Or not.
You want action and drama? No problem there either. The Middle East has it all! America, NATO, Britain and France get together and bomb the crap out of Libya (for her own good), put Al Qaeda in charge of Libya for even more raping and pillaging fun (she asked for it) — but then deserts fair Libya in her darkest hour of need. And even though Libya is not technically actually in the Middle East, you can still just sit back and watch the fun.
And ditto for Afghanistan. Lots of action, drama, lies and skullduggery there too — even though it also is not technically located in the Middle East.
And now apparently ISIS (that tramp!) is also off having a hot illicit affair with the American-sponsored neo-Nazi Ukraine regime, also not in the Middle East — but this new daytime drama may soon to be playing on European TV instead — as ISIS slips off to gay Paree after dumping her thug boyfriend in Kiev.
Plus who wouldn’t want to hear the exciting story about brave and heroic Palestinians fighting for their freedom — only to be called angry sluts by the American media. Or how the brave and heroic Yemenis, fighting for their freedom, get bombed back to the Stone Age by the despotic Saudis who still somehow manage to come out as the Good Guys — even after training and financing ISIS. How do they do that? How do they just keep getting away with that again and again? Will they ever get their comeuppance? Apparently not. But stay tuned.
And then there is the Israeli regime, staring as the “scheming patriarch” character, forcing America to do its dirty work so it can take over the Middle East. Bibi Netanyahu is like a Mafia don or the villain on “The Bold and the Beautiful” or “Dark Shadows” — always scheming behind the scenes. He’s like Angelique Bouchard or Sheila Carter. What’s not to love about him?
Why would anybody who loves soap operas and/or reality shows, action movies or even murder-mysteries and thrillers even think of ever not keeping up with events in the Middle East? Entertainment at its best!
Too bad, however, that more than a million lives have been lost so far in these productions — but, for Wall Street and War Street, that’s just one of the costs of being in show business.
Saudi Arabia has been dominating the Middle Eastern news recently. Its bombing of the Shia Houthis in Yemen, supported by Washington, and its ambivalent stand on ISIS, concealed in Washington, should raise questions about the nature and long-term ambitions of the desert kingdom. On those key issues there is an apparent conspiracy of silence in the American mainstream media and the policy-making community.
Saudi Arabia, the most authentically Muslim country in the world, is a polity based on a set of religious, legal, and political assumptions rooted in mainstream Sunni Islam. To understand its pernicious role in the ongoing Middle Eastern crisis, and to grasp the magnitude of its ongoing threat to America’s long-term strategic interests and security, we should start with the early history of that strange and unpleasant place.
MUHAMMAD IBN ABD AL-WAHHAB was born in central Arabia over three centuries ago, but his legacy is alive and well. Wahhab was a zealous Muslim revivalist who lived in the period of the Ottoman Empire’s early decline. He felt that Islam in general, and Arabia in particular, needed to be spiritually and literally re-purified and returned to the true tenets of the faith. Like Islam’s prophet he married a wealthy woman much older than himself, whose inheritance enabled him to engage in theological and political pursuits. His Sharia training, combined with a brief encounter with suffism – which he rejected – produced a powerful mix. From the suffis he took the concept of a fraternal religious order, but rejected initiation rituals and music in any form. He also condemned the decorations of mosques, however non-representational, and sinful frivolities such as smoking tobacco. This Muslim anabaptist rejected veneration of saints and sites and objects connected with them, and gave rise to a movement that sees itself as the guardian of true Islamic values. His ideas were espoused in the Book of Unity which gave rise to the name of the movement, al-Muwahhidun, or Unitarians.
By the middle of the 18th century Wahhab, like Muhammad eleven centuries earlier, found a politically powerful backer for his cause. In 1744 he struck a partnership with Muhammad ibn-Saud, leader of a powerful clan in central Arabia, and moved to his “capital,” the semi-nomadic settlement of ad-Dir’yah (Riyadh). Since that time the fortunes of the Wahhabis and the Ibn Said family have been intertwined. Under ibn-Saud’s successor Abdul-Aziz, the Wahhabis struck out of their desert base at Najd with the fury unseen in a millennium. In what looked for a while like the repetition of Muhammad’s and the Four Caliphs’ phenomenal early success a millennium earlier, they temporarily captured Mecca and Medina, marched into Mesopotamia – forcing the Ottoman governor to negotiate humiliating terms – and invaded Syria.
This was an unacceptable challenge to the Sultan, the heir to the caliphate and “protector of the holy places.” In 1811 he obtained the agreement of Ali Pasha, Egypt’s de facto autonomous ruler following Napoleon’s withdrawal, to launch a campaign against the Wahhabis. After seven years they were routed. Later in the century, however, the sect revived under Faysal to provide the focus of Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, which they considered degenerate and corrupt.
In 1902 a daring and bellicose prince of the ibn-Saud family, named after Abdul-Aziz “the warrior,” returned from exile with 40 horsemen and took control of Riyadh. He exploited the terminal weakness of the Ottoman Empire, soon to be embroiled in revolution and beset by external threats to its crumbling empire in the Balkans and Libya. Fired by the spirit of Wahhabism, Abdul Aziz embarked on a campaign to recover control over the whole of Arabia. In 1912 the Wahhabi revival prompted the founding of a religious settlement at Artawiyah, 300 miles north of Riyadh, under the auspices of theIkhwan, the Brotherhood. This was a stern Arabian variety of Plymouth, a Muslim New Jerusalem in which people were dragged from their homes and whipped for failing to attend Friday prayers.
IN THE CHAOTIC YEARS after the demise of the Ottoman Empire the Ikhwan proved to be an able and fanatical fighting force, securing victory for Ibn Saud, their leader and the founder of the present royal dynasty. In 1925 they carried out Ibn Saud’s order that all revered burial sites in Mecca and Medina be destroyed, including the “heavenly orchard” in Medina, where relatives and many early companions of Muhammad were buried. In 1926 they proclaimed Abdul-Aziz the King of Hejaz. Within a decade he had united the rest of Arabia and imposed the Wahhabist view of the world, man, law, and Allah, on most of the peninsula.
It is incorrect to say that the Wahhabi movement is to Islam what Puritanism is to Christianity, however. While Puritans could be regarded as Christianity’s Islamicists sui generis with their desire to turn Christianity into a druly scriptural, literalist theocracy, Wahhabism is unmistakably “mainstream” in its demand for the return to the original glory of the early Islamic Ummah. Their iconoclastic zeal notwithstanding, the Wahhabis were no more extreme or violent than the models for Islam – the “prophet” and his companions – have been in all ages and to this day.
THE HEIRS OF ABDUL WAHHAB are still heading the Saudi religious establishment. They resisted the introduction of “heathen” contraptions such as radio, cars, and television, and relented only when the King promised to use those suspect mediums to promote the faith. They stopped the importation of all alcohol, previously sold to foreigners (1952), and banned women driving motor vehicles (1957). The Kuran and Sunna are formally the country’s constitution and the source of its legal code. The original sources of Islamic orthodoxy – the Kuran and Hadith – provide ample and detailed evidence that Saudi Arabia is as close as we can get to an Islamic state and society. The State Department report on human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia published 15 years ago offers an accurate glimpse of that vision in action:
Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all citizens must be Muslims. Neither the Government nor society in general accepts the concepts of separation of religion and state, and such separation does not exist. Under Shari’a conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is a crime punishable by death -if the accused does not recant. Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels. All children receive religious instruction… Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars… reviews the Government’s public policies for compliance with Shari’a. The Government [views] Islamic law as the only necessary guide to protect human rights. There is legal and systemic discrimination based on sex and religion.
Nothing has changed since: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. While the Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, tens of thousands of Christians among the millions of foreign workers from Asia, Europe and America must worship in secret, if at all. They are arrested, lashed or deported for public display of their beliefs. The Saudi religious police, known as the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, continues to routinely intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners. In 2002 they pushed girls escaping from burning school buildings back into the inferno and certain death because they did not have their heads properly covered. Its detainees are routinely subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and torture. Punishments include flogging, amputation, and public execution by beheading, stoning, or firing squad – over 50 were performed so far this year.
Women are second class citizens: according to the CIA world factbook, 82.2% of females are literate, in comparison to 90.8% literacy rates in males. The testimony of one man equals that of two women, and female parties to court proceedings must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment (often for wounds resulting from domestic violence) without the consent of a male relative. In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face. Daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers. Women must demonstrate Sharia-specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce them without giving any cause. In addition women must not drive cars, must not be driven except by an employee, or husband, or a close relative, and even then must not occupy the front seat. Women may study abroad if accompanied by a spouse or an immediate male relative. Women may own a businesses, but they must deputize a male relative to represent it.
Political detainees commonly are held incommunicado in special prisons during the initial phase of an investigation, which may last weeks or months, without access to lawyers. Defendants usually appear without an attorney before a judge, who determines guilt or innocence in accordance with Shari’a standards. Most trials are closed, and crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims. A sentence may be changed at any stage of review, except for punishments stipulated by the Koran.
The only expanding industry in Saudi Arabia is that of Islamic obscurantism. Some examples are grotesque: in 1966 the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina complained that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University; it has been banned ever since. Three hundred years after the Christian theologians had to concede that the Earth went around the Sun, the geocentric theory was reaffirmed in the centers of Saudi learning. Segregation of the sexes at schools is set at age nine, which is the age for girls to start to wear the veil.
The opinions of the ullema are the only internal check and balance on the ruling family. Five Saudi Islamic universities produce thousands of clerics, many more than will ever be hired to work in the country’s mosques. Thousands end up spreading and promoting Wahhabism abroad. The King of the Saudis remains their Imam. He and the Wahhabi religious establishment see it as their sacred duty and purpose to evangelize the world. The petro-dollar windfall has paid for the construction of some ten thousand mosques and “Islamic centers” in the United States and other parts of the world. All along, needless to say, no churches (let alone synagogues) can be built in Saudi Arabia, and all non-Muslim religious practice is strictly forbidden.
“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests…..We must, however, be mindful that…Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.”
“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”
-THE GRAND CHESSBOARD – American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, page 30, Basic Books, 1997
The Laussanne negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany) have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. They are, in fact, another attempt to weaken and isolate Russia by easing sanctions, thus allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe. Laussanne shows that Washington still thinks that the greatest threat to its dominance is the further economic integration of Russia and Europe, a massive two-continent free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok that would eventually dwarf dwindling US GDP while decisively shifting the balance of global power to Asia. To counter that threat, the Obama administration toppled the elected government of Ukraine in a violent coup, launched a speculative attack on the ruble, forced down global oil prices, and is presently arming and training neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian army. Washington has done everything in its power to undermine relations between the EU and Russia risking even nuclear war in its effort to separate the natural trading partners and to strategically situate itself in a location where it can control the flow of vital resources from East to West.
Laussanne was about strategic priorities not nukes. The Obama administration realizes that if it can’t find an alternate source of gas for Europe, then its blockade of Russia will fail and the EU-Russia alliance will grow stronger. And if the EU-Russia alliance grows stronger, then US attempts to extend its tentacles into Asia and become a major player in the world’s most prosperous region will also fail leaving Washington to face a dismal future in which the steady erosion of its power and prestige is a near certainty. This is from an article titled “Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan”:
“If Washington removes energy sanctions on Iran…then a new geopolitical configuration will emerge in the region. Connecting with Nabucco will be enough for Iran to fully supply Europe with gas…
Iran takes the floor with inexhaustible oil and gas reserves and as a key transit country. Iran disposes of the 10% of the reported global oil reserves and is the second country in the world after Russia with its natural gas reserves (15%). The official representatives of Iran do not hide that they strive to enter the European market of oil and gas, as in the olden days. Let’s remember that the deputy Minister of Oil in Iran, Ali Majedi, offered to revive project of Nabucco pipeline during his European tour and said that his country is ready to supply gas to Europe through it…
“Some months earlier the same Ali Majedi reported sensational news: ‘two invited European delegations’ discussed the potential routes of Iranian gas supply to Europe,” the article reads.” … It is also noted that the West quite materially reacted to the possibility of the Iranian gas to join Nabucco.” (Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan, Panorama)
So, is this the plan, to provide “energy security” to Europe by replacing Russian gas with Iranian gas?
It sure looks like it. But that suggests that the sanctions really had nothing to do with Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons program but were merely used to humiliate Iran while keeping as much of its oil and gas offline until western-backed multinationals could get their greasy mitts on it.
Indeed, that’s exactly how the sanctions were used even though the nuclear issue was a transparent fake from the get go. Get a load of this from the New York Times:
“Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.” (U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb, James Risen, New York Times, February 24, 2012)
See? The entire US intelligence establishment has been saying the same thing from the onset: No Iranian nukes. Nor has Iran ever been caught diverting nuclear fuel to other purposes. Never. Also, as nuclear weapons physicist, Gordon Prather stated many times before his death, “After almost three years of go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has — or ever had — a nuclear weapons program.”
The inspectors were on the ground for three freaking years. They interviewed everyone and went wherever they wanted. They searched every cave and hideaway, every nook and cranny, and they found nothing.
Get it? No nukes, not now, not ever. Period.
The case against Iran is built on propaganda, brainwashing and bullshit, in that order. But, still, that doesn’t tell us why the US is suddenly changing course. For that, we turn to an article from The Brookings Institute titled “Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter” which sums it up quite well. Here’s a clip:
“At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. Proponents of the deal believe that the best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to seek to integrate Iran into the regional order, even while remaining wary of its ambitions. A nuclear deal is an important first step in that regard, but its details matter little because the ultimate goal is to change Iranian intentions rather destroy Iranian capability.” (Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter, Brookings)
Notice how carefully the author avoids mentioning Israel by name although he alludes to “the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies”. Does he think he’s talking to idiots?
But his point is well taken; the real issue is not “Iranian capability”, but “Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East”. In other words, the nuclear issue is baloney. What Washington doesn’t like is that Iran has an independent foreign policy that conflicts with the US goal of controlling the Middle East. That’s what’s really going on. Washington wants a compliant Iran that clicks its heals and does what its told.
The problem is, the strategy hasn’t worked and now the US is embroiled in a confrontation with Moscow that is a higher priority than the Middle East project. (The split between US elites on this matter has been interesting to watch, with the Obama-Brzezinski crowd on one side and the McCain-neocon crowd on the other.) This is why the author thinks that easing sanctions and integrating Iran into the predominantly US system would be the preferable remedy for at least the short term.
Repeat: “The best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to integrate Iran into the regional order.” In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em. Iran is going to be given enough freedom to fulfill its role within the imperial order, that is, to provide gas to Europe in order to inflict more economic pain on Russia. Isn’t that what’s going on?
But what effect will that have on Iran-Russia relations? Will it poison the well and turn one ally against the other?
Probably not, mainly because the ties between Iran and Russia are growing stronger by the day. Check this out from the Unz Review by Philip Giraldi:
“Moscow and Tehran are moving towards a de-facto strategic partnership, which can be easily seen by the two groundbreaking announcements from earlier this week. It’s now been confirmed by the Russian government that the rumored oil-for-goods program between Russia and Iran is actually a real policy that’s already been implemented, showing that Moscow has wasted no time in trying to court the Iranian market after the proto-deal was agreed to a week earlier. Providing goods in exchange for resources is a strategic decision that creates valuable return customers in Iran, who will then be in need of maintenance and spare parts for their products. It’s also a sign of deep friendship between the two Caspian neighbors and sets the groundwork for the tentative North-South economic corridor between Russia and India via Iran.” (A Shifting Narrative on Iran, Unz Review)
But here’s the glitch: Iran can’t just turn on the spigot and start pumping gas to Europe. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to take massive pipeline and infrastructure upgrades that could take years to develop. That means there will be plenty of hefty contracts awarded to friends of Tehran –mostly Russian and Chinese–who will perform their tasks without interfering in domestic politics. Check this out from Pepe Escobar:
“Russia and China are deeply committed to integrating Iran into their Eurasian vision. Iran may finally be admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summer summit in Russia. That implies a full-fledged security/commercial/political partnership involving Russia, China, Iran and most Central Asian ’stans’.
Iran is already a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); that means financing for an array of New Silk Road-related projects bound to benefit the Iranian economy. AIIB funding will certainly merge with loans and other assistance for infrastructure development related to the Chinese-established Silk Road Fund…” (Russia, China, Iran: In sync, Pepe Escobar, Russia Today)
Get the picture? Eurasian integration is already done-deal and there’s nothing the US can do to stop it.
Washington needs to rethink its approach. Stop the meddling and antagonism, rebuild relations through trade and mutual trust, and accept the inevitability of imperial decline.
Asia’s star is rising just as America’s is setting. Deal with it.
“The interventions of US imperialism, with the direct collaboration of the Saudi monarchy, have plunged the entire Middle East into chaos and bloodshed—from the destruction of Iraq, to the transformation of Libya into a militia-ravaged “failed state,” to the ongoing carnage inflicted upon Syria … This predatory imperialist offensive threatens to ignite a region-wide conflagration, even as Washington deliberately ratchets up military tensions with both Russia and China. The threat of these separate conflicts coalescing into a third world war grows by the day.”
— Bill Van Auken, Obama’s criminal war against Yemen, WSWS
“Will the reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia manage to break the legitimate hopes and enthusiastic dreams burning in the hearts of thousands of young people of the Arabian Peninsula? Never!”
— Gamal Abd al-Nasser, President of Egypt 1956 to 1970
In its ongoing effort to prevent the rise of “any popularly supported government in the region”, the US has joined Saudi Arabia’s savage war of annihilation against Yemen’s northern tribal rebels, the Houthis. The Pentagon has expedited the delivery of bombs, ammunition and guidance systems to assist the Saudi-led campaign and is providing logistical support to maximize the impact of its bombing raids. The US has also set up a “joint fusion center”, provided “aerial re-fueling platforms” and “advanced US-made weaponry” with the explicit intention of suppressing a militant group that overthrew the US-backed puppet government in the capital of Sanaa in the fall of 2014. The level of coordination between the makeshift Arab coalition (The Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC) and the US suggests that Washington is not only fully aware that food depots, water facilities, refugee camps and critical civilian infrastructure are being deliberately targeted and destroyed, but that the White House has given the green light to actions that will inevitably lead to widespread famine and social collapse. Here’s a little background from an article in The National:
“Yemen Economic Corporation, one of Yemen’s largest food storage centres, was destroyed by three coalition missile strikes in Hodeidah last Tuesday, according to the Houthi-controlled defence ministry. The corporation had enough food for the entire country. The government’s military food storage centre in Hodeidah was also targeted and destroyed on Tuesday, according to the defence ministry.
Also in Hodeidah, country’s second largest dairy plant was hit by five Saudi missiles on Wednesday, killing at least 29 people, mostly employees, and injuring dozens of others.” (Yemeni civilians struggle to get by amid conflict, The National)
This is from Channel News Asia:
DUBAI: Warships from the Saudi-led coalition have blocked a vessel carrying more than 47,000 tonnes of wheat from entering a Yemeni port, demanding United Nations guarantees that the cargo would not go to military personnel, shipping sources said on Thursday.” (Saudi-led coalition bars wheat ship from entering Yemen port – sources, Channel News Asia)
This is from WSWS:
“Airstrikes as well as fighting on the ground has knocked out electrical infrastructure, cutting off power in many urban areas and stopping the operation of crucial pumps that supply Yemen’s cities with drinking water. “We’re worried that this system will break down shortly; Aden is a dry, hot place, and without water people will really suffer,” UNICEF representative Harneis told reporters…
The no-fly zone and blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners has effectively blocked the delivery of medical aid and supplies for the last two weeks, exacerbating the developing crisis.” WSWS
Live reports on the ground confirm that food depots have been bombed across the country; ” in Asr (west) hit as well as Urdhi complex (center) & Noqum (east).
This is how America fights its wars, by precipitating massive humanitarian crises that help it to achieve its political objectives. If that isn’t terrorism, then what is?
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
“As tons of desperately needed medical supplies await clearance to be flown into Yemen, aid workers warned Tuesday of an unfolding humanitarian crisis, saying at least 560 people, including dozens of children, have been killed, mostly in a Saudi-led air campaign and battles between Shiite rebels and forces loyal to the embattled president. More than 1,700 people have been wounded and another 100,000 have fled their homes as fighting intensified over the past three weeks, the World Health Organization said.” (560 dead amid fears of humanitarian collapse in Yemen, Washington Post)
The Saudis launched this latest aggression invoking the thinnest of pretexts, that it wanted to “restore the legitimate government” and protect the “Yemeni constitution and elections.” As CNN’s Ali Alahmed sardonically quipped:
“The need to protect constitutions and elections is a rather strange message from the representative of an absolute monarchy … The kingdom’s real motives seem clear if one looks at Saudi monarchy’s history of not allowing regional competition of any kind, while consistently combating efforts to build democratic governments that empower the people…
The Saudi goal is simple: Prevent the rise of any popularly supported government in the region that seeks self-determination. And the excuse of “resisting Iran’s influence,” meanwhile, appears to be nothing but sectarian bluster.” (What Saudi Arabia wants in Yemen, CNN)
While we agree with Alahmed’s basic thesis, we think the rule applies more to the United States than Saudi Arabia. After all, it’s the US that has gone from one country to the next, toppling governments, installing puppets, and spreading anarchy wherever it goes. Whatever role the Saudis might have played in Washington’s grand plan to redraw the map of the Middle East and project US tentacles into Eurasia, it is quite small by comparison. It’s the US that refuses to allow an independent government to emerge in a region that it’s committed to control. And it’s the US that is facilitating the attacks on innocent Yemenis by providing the bombs, weaponry and logistical support to the reactionary Saudi leadership. Check this out from Gregory Johnson at Buzzfeed:
“A consensus appears to be building in Riyadh, Cairo, and Islamabad toward inserting ground troops into the conflict in Yemen. One Egyptian military official told BuzzFeed News the decision had already been made. “Ground forces will enter the war,” the official said on condition of anonymity in order to discuss classified military operations.
The timing of such a move, which would be a significant escalation in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, is still being discussed. But the Egyptian military source said it could happen as soon as “two or three days.” (Ground Forces Seen Joining Bloody War In Yemen, Buzzfeed)
So after two weeks of nonstop bombing, the coalition is now planning to intensify the conflict by putting boots on the ground. But that will only prolong the hostilities and plunge the country deeper into crisis. It will also increase the risk of Houthi retaliation, which appears to already be taking place. According to Al Arabiya English, fighting broke out in the Southern Saudi city of Narjan on April 11. (#BREAKING Asiri: Houthi militias are amassing close to the Saudi-Yemeni border… #BREAKING: Asiri: clashes reported near the Saudi city of Najran)
While no one expects the Houthis to invade their northern neighbor, there are some analysts who think the monarchy has taken on more than it can chew and will eventually suffer blowback from its incursion. One such critic is Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese paramilitary organization Hezbollah. In a recent interview, Nasrallah suggested that the Houthis have the means to curtail vital energy supplies, strike a blow against Saudi Arabia, and send financial markets tumbling at the same time. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“There is now a demand on the Yemeni leaders… who have not taken the decision to close (the strategic Strait) of Bab al-Mandeb, which they could do at any time. (It is only 20 kilometres-large, they are quite capable of it.) And they could also hit targets inside Saudi Arabia with missiles, or even enter the interior of Saudi Arabia, although they have not yet made this decision, so far … There is currently a Yemeni popular demand: “Let us go to Saudi Arabia.” Leadership thus far has not taken such a decision. I wanted to indicate this.”…
Nasrallah again: “I am absolutely certain that Saudi Arabia will undergo a major defeat. And its defeat will impact its internal situation, the royal family … and the entire region.” (“Hassan Nasrallah: The war in Yemen announces the end of the House of Saud”, The Vineyard of the Saker)
So the Houthis could close the Bab Al Mandeb straits and prevent millions of barrels of oil from getting to market? That changes the calculus entirely. How would that effect Washington’s plan to crash Russia’s economy with plunging oil prices? How would it impact global stock markets which are already jittery over the Fed’s projected rate hikes? What effect would it have on al Nusra, ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked groups that would then seek to launch similar attacks against critical energy infrastructure as the best way to achieve their aims?
There are things the Houthis can do to discourage Saudi aggression. They can take matters into their own hands and strike where it hurts most. Washington is so convinced of its own invincibility, that no one has even thought of this. Without the slightest hesitation, the Obama troupe has embroiled a key ally in bloody conflagration that could backfire and seriously undermine US interests in the region. Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of US power in the Middle East, but it is also its Achilles heel. By supporting the attack on the Houthis instead of seeking a political solution, Washington has strengthened Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which poses the greatest single threat to the monarchy. As Nasrallah notes: “they (the US and SA) protect Al Qaeda and Daesh in Yemen, and more, they drop them weapons by air. This is an achievement? This goes against the interests of Saudi Arabia.”
Indeed, it does. Al Qaeda has much greater ability to infiltrate Saudi Arabia and either launch terrorist attacks or foment popular revolution. The Houthis present no such security threat, they’re only interest is to maintain their own sovereignty, borders, and independent foreign policy. A 2003 article in the Atlantic by CIA Bureau Chief Robert Baer titled “The Fall of the House of Saud” provides a window into Riyadh’s vulnerabilities and draws the ominous conclusion that the kingdom’s days are numbered. Here’s a clip from the article:
“Saudi oil is controlled by an increasingly bankrupt, criminal, dysfunctional, and out-of-touch royal family that is hated by the people it rules and by the nations that surround its kingdom…
Signs of impending disaster are everywhere, but the House of Saud has chosen to pray that the moment of reckoning will not come soon—and the United States has chosen to look away. So nothing changes: the royal family continues to exhaust the Saudi treasury, buying more and more arms and funneling more and more “charity” money to the jihadists, all in a desperate and self-destructive effort to protect itself.
The most vulnerable point and the most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system is the Abqaiq complex—the world’s largest oil-processing facility, which sits about twenty-four miles inland from the northern end of the Gulf of Bahrain. All petroleum originating in the south is pumped to Abqaiq for processing. For the first two months after a moderate to severe attack on Abqaiq, production there would slow from an average of 6.8 million barrels a day to one million barrels, a loss equivalent to one third of America’s daily consumption of crude oil. For seven months following the attack, daily production would remain as much as four million barrels below normal—a reduction roughly equal to what all of the opec partners were able to effect during their 1973 embargo…
I served for twenty-one years with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, and during all my years there I accepted on faith my government’s easy assumption that the money the House of Saud was dumping into weaponry and national security meant that the family’s armed forces and bodyguards could keep its members—and their oil—safe … I no longer believe this … sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down.” (The Fall of the House of Saud, Robert Baer, The Atlantic)
Neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia have any right to interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs or to install their own political puppets to head the government. That is the right of the Yemeni people. And while the current process of regime change might be messy and violent, the Houthi rebels better represent the interests of the indigenous population than anyone in Riyadh or Washington. The Saudi-US war is merely aimed at controlling the outcome so Yemen remains within the imperial grip. As Nasrallah says, “The real goal of the war is to retain control and domination of Yemen (but) the Yemeni people will not put up with this aggression and humiliation. They will fight to defend their dignity, their existence, their families, and their territory. And they will be victorious.”
Andrew Kreig’s book reviews are always to the point and chock full of carefully honed points bolstered with facts. You can count of this when reading his work because his training is both in law, he is a licensed attorney in Washington D.C., and journalism. Andrew takes up subjects many won’t touch.
This being the case I ordered my copy of, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider’s View,” by J. Michael Springmann, former State Department foreign service officer immediately.
If Andrew says a book is going to be shocking and timely, and make a, “credible circumstantial case that ties the U.S. training of Islamic radicals to our nation’s major foreign policy disasters in the Mideast during the past quarter century,” it is a book to read, given how many emails on the subject are coming through my Inbox on the subject.
Andrew’s review provided direct quotes from author Springmann, former chief of the visa section of the U.S. Consulate located in Saudi Arabia, who last week launched his book tour at the prestigious National Press Club in D.C.
Springmann said, ““It’s past time to expose murder, war crimes and human rights violations by the United States of American and its ‘intelligence’ services.” Continuing, Springman, said claiming “national security,” as a justification was dubious.
These claims have been made by both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency (NSA). Springmann said these agencies were responsible for coups and destabilization acts around the world, “most notably,” in the middle east.
Springmann says governments were overthrown, assassinations carried out and ordinary citizens murdered on their orders. This chain of events began, he continued, with the Carter Administration. These acts took place, Springmann says, with the knowledge of the president of the United States and the executive branch but also our two other branches of government,“from Libya to Iran.”
Springmann knows because he personally saw “illegal visas issues to large numbers of U.S.-backed Islamic fundamentalists transiting through Jeddah from multiple Islamic nations so they could visit the United States for secret purposes.” Covert training took place at a CIA facility in Williamsburg, Virginia for “vagabond Islamic mercenaries, revolutionists and jihadists — an “Arab-Afghan Legion” — who could be unleashed on America’s enemies.”
Blowback was not taken into account but deniability was ensured. Today, when war has become continuous, this is a book you need to read.
Some things not to forget, which the new Greek leaders have not…
American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”
The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).
In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.
George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.
Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:
I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup.
Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail.
Will the United States, Germany, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – collectively constituting the International Mafia – allow the new Greek leaders of the Syriza party to dictate the conditions of Greece’s rescue and salvation? The answer at the moment is a decided “No”. The fact that Syriza leaders, for some time, have made no secret of their affinity for Russia is reason enough to seal their fate. They should have known how the Cold War works.
I believe Syriza is sincere, and I’m rooting for them, but they may have overestimated their own strength, while forgetting how the Mafia came to occupy its position; it didn’t derive from a lot of compromise with left-wing upstarts. Greece may have no choice, eventually, but to default on its debts and leave the Eurozone. The hunger and unemployment of the Greek people may leave them no alternative.
The Twilight Zone of the US State Department
“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop … the Twilight Zone.” (American Television series, 1959-1965)
State Department Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015. Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, questioned by Matthew Lee of The Associated Press.
Lee: President Maduro [of Venezuela] last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?
Psaki: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.
Lee: Sorry. The US has – whoa, whoa, whoa – the US has a longstanding practice of not promoting – What did you say? How longstanding is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a longstanding practice.
Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history –
Lee: Not in this case.
Psaki: – is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.
Lee: In this specific case.
Lee: But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime, even – (laughter)
Psaki: The last 21 years. (Laughter.)
Lee: Well done. Touché. But I mean, does “longstanding” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is –
Psaki: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.
Lee: I understand, but you said it’s a longstanding US practice, and I’m not so sure – it depends on what your definition of “longstanding” is.
Psaki: We will – okay.
Lee: Recently in Kyiv, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government at the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and you supported it. The constitution was –
Psaki: That is also ludicrous, I would say.
Lee: – not observed.
Psaki: That is not accurate, nor is it with the history of the facts that happened at the time.
Lee: The history of the facts. How was it constitutional?
Psaki: Well, I don’t think I need to go through the history here, but since you gave me the opportunity –- as you know, the former leader of Ukraine left of his own accord.
Leaving the Twilight Zone … The former Ukrainian leader ran for his life from those who had staged the coup, including a mob of vicious US-supported neo-Nazis.
If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War. None of the attempts were democratic, constitutional, peaceful, or legal; well, a few were non-violent.
The ideology of the American media is that it believes that it doesn’t have any ideology
So NBC’s evening news anchor, Brian Williams, has been caught telling untruths about various events in recent years. What could be worse for a reporter? How about not knowing what’s going on in the world? In your own country? At your own employer? As a case in point I give you Williams’ rival, Scott Pelley, evening news anchor at CBS.
In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”
In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.”
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein himself told CBS’s Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.”
Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world, before the 2003 American invasion, that the WMD were non-existent.
Enter Scott Pelley. In January 2008, as a CBS reporter, Pelley interviewed FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:
PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?
PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.
PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?
PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?
For a journalist there might actually be something as bad as not knowing what’s going on in his area of news coverage, even on his own station. After Brian Williams’ fall from grace, his former boss at NBC, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying: “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.”
I think it’s safe to say that members of the American mainstream media are not embarrassed by such a “compliment”.
In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter made the following observation:
Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.
But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
Cuba made simple
“The trade embargo can be fully lifted only through legislation – unless Cuba forms a democracy, in which case the president can lift it.”
Aha! So that’s the problem, according to a Washington Post columnist – Cuba is not a democracy! That would explain why the United States does not maintain an embargo against Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt and other distinguished pillars of freedom. The mainstream media routinely refer to Cuba as a dictatorship. Why is it not uncommon even for people on the left to do the same? I think that many of the latter do so in the belief that to say otherwise runs the risk of not being taken seriously, largely a vestige of the Cold War when Communists all over the world were ridiculed for blindly following Moscow’s party line. But what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?
No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is, if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?
Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. (They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries). Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have the Koch Brothers to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.
Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?
Is Cuba not a democracy because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement two years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.
Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.
The Ministry of Propaganda has a new Commissar
Last month Andrew Lack became chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees US government-supported international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Asia. In a New York Times interview, Mr. Lack was moved to allow the following to escape his mouth: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram.”
So … this former president of NBC News conflates Russia Today (RT) with the two most despicable groups of “human beings” on the planet. Do mainstream media executives sometimes wonder why so many of their audience has drifted to alternative media, like, for example, RT?
Those of you who have not yet discovered RT, I suggest you go to RT.com to see whether it’s available in your city. And there are no commercials.
It should be noted that the Times interviewer, Ron Nixon, expressed no surprise at Lack’s remark.
- William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, chapters 3 and 35
- “Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt”, Spiegel Online (Germany), February 8, 2010. Google “Goldman Sachs” Greece for other references.
- U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015
- Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List
- CBS Evening News, August 20, 2002
- ABC Nightline, December 4, 2002
- “60 Minutes II”, February 26, 2003
- Washington Post, March 1, 2003
- “60 Minutes”, January 27, 2008
- Democracy Now!, February 12, 2015, Wright statement made February 10
- Al Kamen, Washington Post, February 18, 2015
- Huffington Post, May 3, 2012
- New York Times, January 21, 2015
America’s Founding Fathers wisely instituted a federal government with three separate branches with the intention of creating built-in checks and balances designed to protect the liberties of the American people and the independence of the sovereign states. Each branch of government was given authority to check the other branches when they became oppressive or unconstitutional. In addition to the checks and balances built in to the federal government, they assumed that additional checks to power outside the federal government would serve to protect the people’s liberties. Namely, our founders expected that free and independent states, a free and independent press, and free and courageous pulpits would further serve as diligent watchdogs of liberty.
However, only the most naïve among us do not recognize that, for all intents and purposes, the governmental checks and balances in Washington, D.C., are virtually non-existent. For the most part, the three branches of the federal government and the two major political parties in Washington simply facilitate the decisions of the existing power base–especially when it comes to the expansion of federal intrusion and oversight.
All of the political wrangling over the differences between Republicans and Democrats notwithstanding, when it comes to increasing the size and scope of the federal government, the two parties inside the Beltway are practically identical twins. And nowhere is this more clearly observed than in all things said to be for the sake of “national security.”
With very few exceptions, America’s newspapers regurgitate the federal government’s solutions for “national security.” With very few exceptions, a majority of the talking heads on television from both the left and the right embrace America’s military interventionism in the Middle East and the burgeoning Police State currently mushrooming inside the United States. And, again, the banner flying high above all of this warmongering and domestic enslavement is “national security.”
For the sake of “national security,” the Church, too, enthusiastically embraces a domestic Police State and wars of aggression abroad–especially in the Middle East.
Anything that falls under the rubric of “national security” is enthusiastically embraced by most Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and Christians and unbelievers. This almost always translates into more global intervention by the U.S. military and increased power by federal, State, and local police agencies in America’s heartland.
The shadows of power that have mostly controlled the federal government (with rare exceptions) since at least the Woodrow Wilson administration are experts at creating Boogeymen for America to hate. And, of course, fighting these Boogeymen serves as a justifiable reason for the federal government to expunge more and more liberties; it’s in the interest of “national security.” But since 9/11, the American people have been more manipulated since perhaps any other time in our nation’s history.
Take a look at this recent report:
“A church hosting a law enforcement appreciation sermon asked its followers to pledge their allegiance to government this weekend, arguing that all state authorities throughout history have been ordained by God.
“According to an anonymous visitor of the Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek, Washington, who provided exclusive photos to Infowars, attendees were ordered to submit to the state without question. ‘They had police worship today and last week was military worship where they played clips of American Sniper…’ the source said. ‘They were telling people to basically worship government and worship police no matter what. No mention of police brutality, no mention of the stingray systems grabbing our data…’
“Near the end of the sermon, members of the congregation were asked to raise their right hands and make a pledge, which included the promise to call 911 on ‘suspicious’ neighbors.”
Of course, the justification that the pastor used for this type of state worship was Romans 13. This devilish misinterpretation of Romans 13 has done more to enslave the minds of America’s pastors and Christians than anything I can think of. That’s why my son and I co-authored the book, “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission.”
In addition, I delivered a four-message series on Romans 13 that is available on DVD. Find it here:
The infowars report also included a local television news report on how pastors and churches are conditioning their parishioners to become sheepish slaves of the state under the rubric of Romans 13:
See the infowars report here:
Ladies and gentlemen, this kind of report could have been repeated throughout the entire country of Germany during the rise of the Third Reich.
Of course, many of the pastors who are regurgitating this form of state worship are not conscience of what they are doing. They have been indoctrinated in our nation’s seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian universities, etc., to the point that they actually believe they are being both patriotic and spiritual. They are completely blind to the fact that they have become puppets for the New World Order power elite.
Our pastors are in the same boat as many of our military personnel and police officers. They believe that by being willing to submit to any order, no matter how unconstitutional or unrighteous, they are “serving God and country.” Remember, without this ongoing “war on terror” overseas, America’s growing domestic Police State would come crashing down. A domestic Police State is TOTALLY dependent upon the international “war on terror.” And ever since 9/11, the big, bad Boogeymen that are being used to frighten the American people (especially Christians) out of their senses are Muslims–ALL Muslims.
How many times have I heard some well-intentioned (I think they are well-intentioned) Christian say, “There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.” Or, “There is no such thing as a peaceful Muslim.” Really?
Why is it that we rarely heard such ludicrous statements before the events of 9/11? There have been millions of Muslims living among us Americans for as long as any of us can remember. There were doubtless thousands of Muslims in the United States at the time of our Revolutionary War. Where was the holy Jihad in this nation? Where were the mass beheadings or genocide against Christians in this country? For the most part, these millions of Muslim Americans have lived peacefully among us for all of our lives. But, now all of a sudden, they are the greatest threat to our country’s very existence? Get real.
The warmongers and international nation builders who desire to drown the United States under the deluge of a global New World Order found the perfect Boogeyman in the form of Islam. If the official report on 9/11 is true (almost half of the American people do NOT believe it is true, including this writer), all the perpetrators of the attacks were men from Saudi Arabia. Yet, we couldn’t invade Saudi Arabia. We need their oil too much. Besides, the Muslim nation of Saudi Arabia is deemed to be a U.S. ally. And we couldn’t attack Iraq on the basis of Saddam Hussein’s alleged atrocities alone. The world just wouldn’t buy it.
Did Hussein kill hundreds of Muslim Kurds (most Muslim violence is perpetrated against other Muslims) during his regime? Probably so. Does anyone want to know why? THEY WERE TRYING TO OVERTHROW HIS GOVERNMENT. Am I justifying what Hussein did against his enemies? No. But the same people who are so quick to condemn Hussein for defending his government with violence seem to pay no attention to the atrocities committed by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton against U.S. citizens who posed absolutely NO THREAT to the government in Washington, D.C.
I am talking about Ruby Ridge, Idaho, when our own federal government accused ONE MAN, Randy Weaver, of threatening the United States government, and it sent federal agents to murder both him and his wife, Vicki. A federal sniper murdered Vicki and shot Randy (he survived his wounds). Federal agents also shot their young son, Sammy, in the back and killed him. But Vicki was not holding a rocket launcher or hand grenade; she was holding her little baby in her arms.
I recall that the federal government accused a small splinter group of Seventh Day Adventists (the Branch Davidians) of threatening the U.S. government; and it sent federal agents and combat military personnel to burn them out and machine-gun them to death.
Where was the outrage of all of these patriotic Americans and righteous Christians over the atrocities committed by our own government at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas? Neither the Weaver family nor the Branch Davidians posed ANY threat to the U.S. government. Heck! They didn’t even pose a threat to their neighbors. But our federal government murdered them, nonetheless.
One more thing to think about: the U.S. war in Iraq is estimated to have killed over 500,000 Iraqi children. That is more people (men, women, and children) than were killed when we dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testified before Congress and said the deaths of all of those Iraqi children were “worth it.” (And by the way many of our Christian brethren in the United States are acting, I suppose they think it was worth it, too.)
So, needing something more than just Saddam Hussein’s alleged atrocities against the Kurds to justify a full-scale war in the Middle East, we invented a brand new threat: Al Qaeda. Now, the globalists had their Boogeyman. But after more than a decade of war, and with the American people becoming numb to an Al Qaeda threat, they invented a new Boogeyman: ISIS (IS; ISIL, etc.).
Think of it: OVERNIGHT, ISIS has advanced, sophisticated weapons; OVERNIGHT, it has millions of dollars to spend; OVERNIGHT it has become the greatest threat to, not only the security of the Middle East, but the United States of America. In the name of the threat of ISIS, the surveillance state must be expanded in America. In the name of the threat of ISIS, our local and State police must become more and more militarized. In the name of the threat of ISIS, Americans must be willing to surrender more and more of their liberties.
Neither Al Qaeda nor ISIS could have become the powerful force they have become WITHOUT THE DIRECT ASSISTANCE OF DARK OPS AND DIRTY MONEY FROM THE UNITED STATES. It is just not humanly possible.
Am I suggesting that ISIS is not comprised of radical, militant Muslims who are very violent and dangerous people? Of course not! But I am suggesting, no I am saying, that not every Muslim is a radical, violent Jihadist. I am saying that our country is filled with peaceful, non-violent Muslims who pose absolutely NO THREAT to the people of the United States. And I am saying that the kind of hatred and bigotry that many Christians are demonstrating against the Muslim people in general is a sin against Jehovah God and a contradiction of everything our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, taught us. And I am further saying that ISIS could not exist without major assistance from the United States and probably Israel.
Ask yourself, since when do revolutionaries broadcast their atrocities for the entire world to see and for the entire world to become enraged against them? Even surrounding Muslim nations are incensed with the conduct of ISIS. A Jordanian government official just recently stated that members of ISIS are NOT Muslims. Many, if not most, of the Muslim states totally reject ISIS as part of the Muslim brotherhood. Why would ISIS seek to alienate its own brethren? Why would it risk becoming the most hated group of people in the world–even the Muslim world?
It’s because ISIS is a contrivance of U.S. and Israeli Dark Ops who have created and attracted the most radical, hate-filled people of the region and set them up in opposition to the laws of decency in order to incite the American public into accepting more war and more abridgments of their liberties. And whether these master manipulators realized it would happen the way it has or not (they probably did), their biggest assets have turned out to be zealous Christians who see themselves as fighting their own holy war against the Muslim infidels.
Yet, America’s Founding Fathers did not categorize all Muslim people as Jihadists or militant extremists. Yes, Thomas Jefferson had to deal with violent Muslims during his administration. And he did it constitutionally, by the way. He didn’t invade Muslim nations with the U.S. military; he invoked the constitutional solution of asking Congress for letters of marque and reprisal. Ron Paul introduced just such a bill after 9/11, but, of course, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were already determined to invade Iraq. Invasion plans were in place long before the attacks on 9/11.
That Thomas Jefferson didn’t hate Muslims or regard all of them as being violent Jihadists is plain. The man that Jefferson admired–and copied from–most, John Locke, insisted that Muslims be tolerated in England. Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Jefferson demanded recognition for the religious rights of the “Mahamdan [Muslim], the Jew and the pagan.” In his autobiography, Thomas Jefferson recounted his satisfaction at the passage of his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786) and the effort by some in the legislature to limit the bill’s scope “in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Muslim].” Jefferson’s perception of Muslims as peaceful people generally was shared by other Founding Fathers.
Richard Henry Lee, who made the motion for independence at the Continental Congress, declared, “True freedom embraces the Mahomitan [Muslim] and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion.”
George Washington proposed an exemption for Muslims in Virginia regarding a proposed law that would have demanded citizens to support the Christian religion with their tax dollars. Washington further welcomed “Mohometans” [Muslims] to Mount Vernon. And think of it: Washington didn’t have a company of Secret Service agents protecting him, either.
Of course, men of influence throughout the course of Western Civilization have noted the danger posed by violence-prone Muslims. Rightly so. But I remind you that for many decades, white Americans were the targets of Indian savagery. And the warnings against the Indian tribes were numerous and often justified. I also remind you that much savagery was committed AGAINST the Indians by whites. I further remind you that much of the savagery of the Indians was CREATED by the whites by acts of injustice, deceit, and downright barbarism. It was not all one-sided.
Neither is it all one-sided in the Middle East. America’s CIA and illegal Dark Ops are often INCITING the Muslim people of the Middle East against us. This is deliberate and intentional. It foments war and hatred–on both sides. And when people are filled with fear, and war, and hatred, it is much easier to strip them of their liberties and manipulate them into accepting usurpations of their freedoms that they would otherwise never be inclined to do.
Think about it: if our government truly believed we were at war with Al Qaeda or ISIS, why would it insist on keeping our southern border wide open? If the “war on terror” were legitimate, securing our border would be the FIRST thing our government would do. That it doesn’t proves the duplicitous nature of our so-called “war on terror.”
It’s time for Americans (and especially Christians) to understand that there is a war alright: it is a war against our liberties, and the primary enemy is the New World Order globalists who are using elements of our own government (as well as other governments) against us.
Frankly, if the United States would GET OUT of the Middle East and GET OUT of the United Nations, most of this international conflict that we are mired in today would go away.
When pastors and churches succumb to the notion of submitting to a domestic Police State, when they succumb to the fear and paranoia created by a “war on terror,” and when they succumb to the sins of hate and bigotry against one group of people, they unwittingly become puppets for the New World Order.
Author’s note: “War Street” is the simplified name that I’ve given to the war-mongers, weapons manufacturers and military-industrial complex members who pretty much own America right now — along with their buddies on Wall Street and K Street of course.
This is my own personal list. Feel free to jump right in with a list of your own.
1. That the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Nah, that was solely an afterthought. The real reason for the Civil War was the lust for $$$$ and power. Like war always is for.
2. That holding the Union together back in 1860 was a good thing. A good thing for who? Dontcha sometimes just wish that The South had been allowed to go on its own merry way back then — so that we now don’t have to waste billions of Yankee dollars on Red State racists, corrupt senators, war-mongers and welfare queens? Boy, I could surely live without Mitch McConnell. He’s our ultimate grand prize for The North having won the 1860 Civil War? Really?
3. “Remember the Maine!” Yeah right. Apparently the sinking of the Maine was a false-flag operation to force Americans into a brutal war with Spain. http://zinnedproject.org/
4. The 1908 invasion of the Philippines — wherein approximately one-sixth of its population was massacred by the US Army in the name of bringing “Democracy” to Filipinos. They could have lived without that one — literally.
5. World War I? Really? Do you even have to ask why this war was based on lies — such as that the Huns were out to murder our babies? Or that the Lusitania was torpedoed by the evil Kaiser when actually it was illegally carrying six million pounds of explosives on board a munitions transport ship disguised at a cruise liner before it blew up. Or how about the famous “Zimmerman Telegram” lie?
6. Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt knew. Of course he did. And Senator Prescott Bush invested in Nazi Germany bigtime. And after WW II was over, our very own CIA brought 1,000 Nazi officers over here to help J. Edgar Hoover, Allen Dulles and Joe McCarthy organize their new Cold War storm-troopers. And today “Corporatism,” as Mussolini called it, is now king in the USA — and all over the rest of world too. Unbelievable. Was there any reason at all why we fought World War II? http://www.nytimes.com/2014/
7. The invasion of Korea. Again, that phony “Democracy” thing came into play — as it has again and again and again as Wall Street and War Street set up dictator after dictator across the globe and then whitewashed these brutal bad guys to the gullible American public back home:
7.a Chaing Kai-shek, “Our democratic ally in Asia”
7.b The Shah of Iran, “Our democratic ally in the Middle East.”
7.c Fulgencio Batista, “Our democratic ally in Cuba.”
7.d Apartheid South Africa, “Our democratic ally in Africa.”
7.d Francisco Franco, “Our democratic ally in Spain.”
7.e Syngman Rhee, “Our democratic ally in South Korea.”
7.f. Papa Doc Duvalier, “Our democratic ally in Haiti.”
7.g Augusto Pinochet, “Our democratic ally in Chile.”
7.h Manuel Noriega, “Our democratic ally in Panama.”
7.i Mubarak and Sisi, “Our democratic allies in Egypt.” http://www.amec.org.za/
7.i King Salman al Saud, “Our democratic ally in Saudi Arabia.” http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/
Although I must admit that the new Saudi king now appears to be actually lightening up and coming to his senses a bit — not an easy task for someone who allegedly has Alzheimers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
However, Saudi Arabia still has a “Democratic” track record that would impress even Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan. In Saudi Arabia today, for example, the government holds a public beheading on the average of once every four days. No wonder that their ISIS protegees are handy with swords. But don’t even get me started on the Saudis! http://www.iacenter.org/
There are approximately 50 other “Democratic ally” dictators that I could list here too but am running out of space. I don’t wanna be doing this forever you know.
8. The Kennedy assassination. Do you really believe that one lone gunman could have gotten through all that security without any help, or could have made that incredible kill shot with a BB gun from behind Kennedy and very far away — and yet still manage to hit the front of Kennedy’s head? Then I have a bridge to sell you. Lee Harvey Oswald was definitely not Chris Kyle. He was a patsy.
9. Vietnam! The Gulf of Tonkin incident was made-up baloney.
10. Remember all those lies we were told by that “low-life scum” Henry Kissinger during his vicious secret bombings of Cambodian rice paddies in 1969, wherein approximately 600,000 poor Cambodian farmers were massacred from the skies? “Never happened,” said Henry. Plausible deniability is all that matters to him. http://www.
11. The Iran-Contra scandal. The death squads in Central America. And all that BS about “Americans do not torture” — even as War Street was running the School of the Americas right under our noses.
12. What came next? Oh yeah. That Milosevic nightmare. Milosevic was America’s go-to guy — until he wasn’t. Didn’t you ever wonder why no one did anything to stop him until after socialist Yugoslavia was just a hot mess?
13. Saudi Arabia. Again. They told us that the Saudis were the good guys, but actually Saudi Arabia is where most of the 9-11 hijackers came from. http://www.newyorker.com/news/
14. Israel, said to be “Our democratic ally in the Middle East.” But if Israel is a democracy, I’ll eat my hat. Just ask the Moroccan-Israeli Jews living there. http://vimeo.com/60814711 Or the Ethiopian-Israeli Jews.
Violent and shifty Israeli neo-colonialists have also committed despicable crime after despicable crime against humanity in the most undemocratic fashion, including their brutal, traitorous, dastardly and deliberate attempt to sink the USS Liberty, a false-flag operation approved and facilitated by War Street itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Just watch this horrifying film of Israeli neo-colonials’ cowardly destruction of a whole city in Gaza, using US weapons and $$$$: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
15. Saddam Husein, who we were told was Ronald Reagan’s hot new Middle East boy wonder — until he wasn’t. See #12.
16. And then there was that first Gulf war, totally based on a lie. The Kuwaitis were slant-drilling into Iraqi oil reserves, a big no-no, and so Pappy Bush told Saddam, “Sure, they deserve it, go ahead and invade…” And remember all those incubator babies too? Lies upon lies.
17. September 11, 2001. Bush knew. And let it happen. http://www.paulcraigroberts.
18. As a result of that infamous “Second Pearl Harbor” on Bush’s watch, we were once again lied to and told that we needed to invade Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia. And that we needed to invade Iraq.
18.a. John McCain himself lied right to my face in Baghdad back in 2007 — but I still can’t decide if it was a lie of commission or omission. At a press conference in the Green Zone, McCain told us that it was perfectly safe for him to walk around a marketplace in Baghdad — but neglected to tell us that he was also protected by body armor, humvees and helicopters, and also put a battalion of grunts in harm’s way while he did it. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.
Just that same morning, I had been told by Major Hernandez of CPIC that if I wanted to go outside of the Green Zone without a major armored escort, I would be dead within five minutes after crossing the 14th of July Bridge. Luckily I believed Major Hernandez and not John McCain.
18.b. That, after 9-11, we also needed to invade Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, I forget where all else, if we were ever to be safe. And that we needed to invade oodles of other countries all over the world in order to “Keep America Safe”. That was the biggest lie so far. Are we safe yet?
19. That Muammar Gaddafi in Libya was standing in the way of “Democracy”. Well, he sure isn’t standing in the way any more! Turns out he was standing in the way of anarchy. But you get what you pay for.
20. That Bashar Assad in Syria is in cahoots with ISIS. Yeah right. NATO, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Pentagon are in cahoots with ISIS. Assad is only the victim here, the one who is getting his country torn apart. Why would he want to support the brigands who are robbing his home? http://www.counterpunch.org/
21. “I am Charlie.” No, you aren’t. “I am the CIA”. Watching that film of the killers getting into their getaway car was just a big joke. They took their time. They even put their AK-47 on the roof of the car while they fiddled with their backpacks and chatted about the weather, obviously knowing that they were protected. But then they weren’t. See # 12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
22. The debacle in Ukraine. “We’re not involved,” the Pentagon tells me. Then how come when Flight MH17 was tragically shot down by the Ukies, War Street went to such lengths to blame the event on Russia and not on the neo-Nazi stooges they had set up in Kiev? https://consortiumnews.com/
23. That the torture and mass murders at Auschwitz and the “preemptive war” on and occupation of Holland, France, Greece, Norway, Denmark and Poland by Hitler’s minions were obviously war crimes — but the torture and mass murders at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Gaza, and “preemptive war” on and occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine by Bush and Obama’s minions aren’t. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
That Nuremberg standards apply to war crimes committed 70 years ago but no longer apply to war crimes committed today.
24. That we are always being told the truth by the New York Times and Fox News. Yeah right. Despite the fact that War Street just loves the “Newspaper of record” to pieces, the Times needs to wash its mouth out with soap. And Politifact just announced that 60% of everything Fox News tells us is lies. 60%? Yikes! http://www.politifact.com/
25. That War is better than Peace.
Sorry, that’s all of the War Street lies I can think of right now. But I’m sure there are many more out there, many many more lies that I’ve missed. Transparency is clearly and obviously not an American value — and democracy doesn’t seem to be one either.
But I will tell you one thing that I know for sure: I won’t ever be fooled again. And the rest of America needs to avoid being suckered down the garden path to War Street as well.
That the American Church has problems is no surprise. Critics of the Church, many of whom have never actually taken an active part, have hurled pot shots at the Church since its inception. Churches are led and comprised of sinful, fallen people. Accordingly, there will be imperfections, shortcomings, failures, etc. Name an institution managed by people that does not have the same pitfalls.
That said, the current Church in America not only has problems, it has BIG problems. I’m talking about problems that are so huge they threaten the very survival of not only the Church itself, but of our nation, as well.
During the Twentieth Century, liberalism pretty much killed America’s mainstream denominational churches; and legalism did the same thing to America’s fundamentalist conservative churches.
In mainstream denominational churches, the rejection of the veracity of the Scriptures, the repudiation of essential Biblical doctrines, and the reception of liberal social agendas sent people by the millions fleeing these fellowships. Virtually every mainline denomination has been losing membership for decades.
For example, it is one thing for the state to grovel before politically correct ideology and embrace such moral deviances as homosexual marriage. To begin with, the state has no rightful place in sanctioning, defining, or legislating marriage at all. Marriage was never a state matter. It is a sacred matter. Our Creator has already sanctioned and defined marriage. What the state does or doesn’t do is irrelevant. As with most issues involving faith, the best thing civil government can do is butt out. But for the Church to embrace homosexual marriage is another matter altogether. No Christian who has even a rudimentary understanding of the Biblical and Natural laws regarding marriage could maintain fellowship with a church or denomination that would surrender to the amoral machinations of a degraded society. And that is just one issue that has caused millions of believers to flee America’s mainline churches and denominations.
For fundamentalist conservative churches, legalism has had the same effect as liberalism among mainline churches: it has pretty much killed them. During the last half of the Twentieth Century, fundamentalist conservative churches exploded in growth. A few decades ago, the largest churches and Sunday Schools in America were fundamentalist. But, just as mainstream churches succumbed to liberalism, fundamentalist churches succumbed to legalism. As the Scripture notes, “the letter killeth,” and, indeed, it has pretty much destroyed America’s fundamentalist churches. In fact, as a movement, it HAS destroyed them.
Accordingly, going into the Twenty First Century, these two cancers were already major problems within the American Church. But the problems that have wormed their way into the Church during the first decade and a half of the Twenty First Century have grown in both intensity and pervasiveness to the point that only a miracle from Heaven can avert impending disaster.
Here are the major problems that are destroying the American Church:
America’s churches went from a “church growth” ideology in the latter half of the Twentieth Century to a “success” orientation in the formative years of the twenty-first century. “Success” is now the driving motivation of the vast majority of America’s churches. But “success” is not defined in Scriptural terms; it is defined in secular terms.
A major study released by George Barna a few months ago clearly showed that “success” is the predominant philosophy of America’s churches. And Barna’s research listed the five-fold criteria that determined “success” in the minds of most pastors and churches: 1) Attendance, 2) Offerings, 3) Number of programs, 4) Size of staff, and, 5) Square footage of facilities. In fact, Barna’s research showed that the vast majority of pastors will purposely NOT preach what they know is Biblical truth in order to accommodate the five-fold “success” goals listed. This has led to popularity-preaching; entertainment-oriented programs; soft, non-confrontational teaching; and an overall weak and compromising pulpit.
The “success” orientation of the modern church is a major problem.
*The Egregious Misinterpretation of Romans 13, the 501c3 IRS non-profit organization status for churches, and Statism
Though these three issues each have an independent nature, I put them together as they are intricately connected.
Though many pastors and church leaders would probably not be willing to admit it, for all intents and purposes, our churches are mostly more concerned with being the compliant servant of the state than they are the obedient servant of God. The way most pastors teach Romans 13 is nothing more than the promotion of idolatry. Christians are taught to obey civil government almost without question. As was the case in Nazi Germany, America’s churches are taught that obedience to the state is obedience to God.
Have you been to a modern church wedding recently? If you have, as the pastor pronounced the bride and groom as husband and wife, you probably heard him say, “As an officer of the laws of the State of (your State) and in the presence of God…I now pronounce you man (or husband) and wife.”
The IRS 501c3 non-profit organization status for churches (instituted in 1954) has turned pastors and church officers into corporate officers of the state–and most pastors and church leaders KNOW it–even if they are unwilling to admit it.
It’s all about preserving the church’s non-profit status so contributors can deduct their offerings on income tax forms and so that the church doesn’t have to pay sales taxes on what they purchase or property taxes on what they own. And whatever pastors and church officers are required by the state to do in order to preserve that non-profit status, they will comply.
This doesn’t require a knock at the door by an IRS agent; it doesn’t require threatening letters or phone calls; it doesn’t require any direct show of force by any government agency against the church. Pastors and church officers INSTINCTIVELY know where the “third rail” is and will avoid it at all costs in order to not jeopardize their non-profit status.
The desire to comply with the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) for churches makes it easy for pastors to teach the Hitlerian version of total submission to civil government.
Statism is NOT patriotism. Neither is it Christian. The Bible is chock-full of examples of resistance to unlawful government. I’m sure many of our pastors and church leaders have never personally studied the issue and are simply regurgitating what they have been taught. I am confident that many of them are truly ignorant of what they are doing, but that doesn’t change what they are doing. Wittingly or unwittingly, they have allowed themselves to become statists: the sheepish servants of the state.
The condition of the American Church today is EXACTLY the same as was the condition of the German and Russian Church during the rise of Adolph Hitler and Joe Stalin. This is why the Church seems totally unconcerned and indifferent to the growing Police State in America today.
*Ignorance of Natural Law and the Law of Nations
God-ordained Natural Law has not been taught from America’s pulpits since the Nineteenth Century. The vast majority of pastors and church leaders in America are totally ignorant of these immutable laws.
The lack of understanding regarding Natural Law has made it virtually impossible for the American Church to truly understand the fundamental principles of good government and liberty. All most Christians know about government is what they hear on FOX News or from Rush Limbaugh. Their pastors almost never broach the subject. And for good reason: most pastors are themselves ignorant on the subject. Therefore, about all they can talk about is “liberal” vs. “conservative,” or Democrat vs. Republican. The divine principles of Natural Law that are supposed to govern nations and man-to-man relationships are foreign to the thinking and understanding of the vast majority of pastors and churches.
The ignorance and misunderstanding of Natural Law by the Church has created the societal and political conditions that now exist in this country.
But there is one more major problem in the American Church. And I believe this problem is the GREATEST problem of all. And, to be honest, it had not dawned on me how pervasive and deep this problem was until last week.
*The Church is Filled With Hate
In my column last week, I used the movie, American Sniper, as a catalyst to point out that the United States has been waging unjust war on countries such as Iraq–and meddling in the internal affairs of countries such as Iraq–for decades. I also pointed out that not all Muslims are terrorists and to condemn all Muslims on the basis of Muslim Jihadists is wrong.
Folks, you can’t believe the firestorm of anger that deluged me. My Facebook page registered over 100,000 views of my comments and precipitated a flood of hate-filled responses. Here is a sample of the more-mild reactions:
“All Christians should be standing against Islam and proclaiming America for the kingdom of Christ. I am not a Muslim sympathizer and I have lost respect for you, Mr. Baldwin. Islam is anti-Christianity. You cannot serve 2 masters.”
By standing against Islam, Cathy means it is right and righteous to go to war against Muslim nations, because they are “anti-Christianity.” So, Cathy, since when is it America’s responsibility to export Christianity over the barrel of a gun? I suppose we should then invade and destroy every Muslim nation in existence, including Saudi Arabia.
Speaking of Saudi Arabia, if we can believe the official story of 9/11 (which I don’t), the Muslim terrorists that perpetrated those attacks were all from Saudi Arabia, NOT Iraq. Why didn’t we invade Saudi Arabia? Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11 and everyone on the planet knows it. In truth, Saudi Arabia has done more to fund Islamist terrorists than any other nation in the region. Yet, official American foreign policy regards Saudi Arabia as our friend and ally.
But Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation, which means they are “anti-Christianity,” so Cathy (and many like her) believes we should go to war with these nations to advance “the kingdom of Christ.” But what about Judaism, Cathy? Judaism is as “anti-Christianity” as Islam. What about Hinduism? What about Buddhism? What about Atheism? Is America supposed to go to war with every nation of the world that has a population of people who are “anti-Christianity”? If so, we should be attacking most of the nations of the world.
And since when can we evangelize the pagan peoples of the world via brute force? When has that ever worked? And what Scripture do you base that theory on? People are won to Christ with the message of God’s amazing grace and love through Christ’s death on the cross. What? Did God commission us to kill and destroy all of the heathen of the world? I thought our commission was to love and win them, not attack and kill them.
But a host of attacks against my comments last week were much more caustic. Here is an example:
“Imam Mohammed Judas Baldwin; My wife and I were listening on line to your 1-25-15 program, I shut the program off when I heard your rant against your Christian brother and sister Pastors. My wife astutely said: ‘Muslim Lover?’ I believe I have figured out your love of all things Islam, and your betrayal of God, Jesus Christ, and Christians. Your God Allah, Your savior Mohammad, and your fellow Muslims. Allah offered you a better deal. Paradise and 72 Virgins. The Virgins, in your case, 50/50 prepubescent boys and girls. Judas Iscariot had the decency to hang himself for his betrayal of my savior Jesus Christ. How about you? You can get Allah and the virgins, sooner, if you do it to day…Shame on you, you Fool.”
The message I delivered last Sunday, and to which Michael was reacting to, was taken from Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies,” and from Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
And, yes, Michael, I do love Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, etc. They are all souls for whom Christ died.
If unbelievers and pagans want to be filled with hate, so be it; but hatred has NO PLACE WHATSOEVER in the heart of a Christian. And after receiving tens of thousands of hate-filled responses regarding my comments last week, it dawned on me that the American Church is largely filled with hate–hatred against the Muslim people.
Ever since 9/11, Christians and conservatives have developed a hatred and animus, not just against Jihadist-Muslims (which, even that is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE for a Christian), but against Muslim people everywhere. All Muslims are commonly castigated and vilified just because they are Muslims.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is absolutely NOT TRUE that all Muslims are anti-American, anti-Christian murderers and terrorists. It is NOT TRUE that all Muslims want to enact Sharia Law in the United States. It is NOT TRUE that all Muslims are our enemies.
I wonder how many of these Muslim haters have ever met a Muslim in person. I have. I have met many–both in the United States and in the Middle East. They are NOT all America-haters. They are NOT all trying to kill us. America has had Christian missionaries ministering among Muslim nations for as long as our country has been in existence. And many Christians would be shocked to know that overall the Gospel has received greater acceptance by the Muslim population than by other religions of the region–much more, in fact, than by the Jewish population.
Here is a letter I received from a Christian missionary named Jeff:
“Hi, Chuck! We…want to tell you that we stand 100% with what you said in both your column and to your congregation. We have been missionaries for 40 years, a good ten of those in Muslim countries (Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bosnia, and Albania). We have not just met or talked to a Muslim, we have witnessed to them in depth for years. It is SO RARE to hear anyone nowadays saying anything conciliatory towards Muslims, much less positive. I thank you for the things you have said, and am so very sorry for the hateful responses you received in the comments to your column that reveal the dark heart of many Christians in the U.S.”
To be honest, most of the Muslims I have met in the U.S. and in the Middle East demonstrate more kindness, common courtesy, and genuine compassion than many of the so-called Christians I have known.
Let’s be honest: some Muslims are Muslims in name only, much like many Baptists are Baptists in name only, or Catholics are Catholics in name only, or Mormons are Mormons in name only, or Jews are Jews in name only, etc. There are millions of Christians in America’s churches that couldn’t tell you what’s in the Bible to save their lives. They couldn’t quote the Ten Commandments; they couldn’t quote the Golden Rule; they couldn’t name Christ’s apostles; they couldn’t quote five verses of Scripture from memory if their lives depended on it. There are many Muslims in the exact same condition.
Furthermore, not all Muslims, who are devout, take the verses of the Koran that speak of Jihad and killing infidels, etc., to literally mean killing all non-Muslims today. No, not all of them do!
Think of this: how many of us Christians believe that the civil laws and military commands that God gave to the children of Israel through Moses should be literally incorporated into the Church and into the civil laws of America today? Do you believe we should be stoning people to death for adultery, or breaking the Sabbath (So, any Christian nurse or policeman or physician or fireman, etc., who works on Saturday should be stoned to death?), or blasphemy, or for children who curse their parents? Do you? Should we literally destroy entire nations–including men, women, and children today? These things were literally commanded by Jehovah God for the children of Israel under Moses. And, yes, God is God and is righteous and just as much when he condemns as when he forgives. No man sits in judgment of God. His ways are always right and holy. But God is NOT giving direct audible commands to anyone in the U.S. government today–or to anyone in our church pulpits, for that matter.
Many Muslims I’ve met interpret those passages in the Koran like we do those Old Testament Scriptures. Why can Christians interpret our Bible in this manner but Muslims cannot interpret their bible in a similar fashion?
In fact, I know of several Christian pastors and preachers in America who mimic Muslim Jihadists and believe that we SHOULD be implementing the Mosaic Law in our country today. If they had their way, we would be stoning people to death for the sins mentioned above just as they did under Moses. Have you ever witnessed a stoning? It is as equally torturous as beheading–maybe even more so.
Beyond that, these Muslim haters seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that every day there are tens of thousands of Muslims who risk their lives resisting Muslim Jihadists. It was a Muslim village that risked their lives against the Taliban to save the American fighting man that was depicted in the movie, Lone Survivor. Why don’t we recognize this reality? It’s because hatred and bigotry against the Muslim people have blinded us.
Plus, the dirty truth that most Americans, including most Christians, seem unwilling to accept is that most of the conflict between the United States and the Muslim nations of the Middle East has been created by our own federal government.
I speak regularly with retired Special Forces military personnel who share with me the way our own CIA and State Department have bullied, lied to, intimidated, and betrayed our Muslim friends in the Middle East. They have seen it up close and personal. This has been going on for decades. In fact, our federal government has tortured hundreds of people in the Middle East in some of the most vile ways possible. The only difference is, they don’t broadcast it over television.
I recently asked a retired Green Beret, “How much of the conflict between the U.S. and Middle Eastern states would stop if Washington, D.C., would simply stop meddling in the internal affairs of those countries?” This Green Beret served in the the Middle East for years; he was a Special Ops soldier. He saw the surreptitious and covert things that our government routinely does–things the public doesn’t see. His answer to me was, “100%.”
Our own federal government put the Taliban in power, put Al Qaeda in power, and put ISIS in power. Our federal government often uses war and conflict to cover up its own murderous activity or to kill the very people that they formerly gave arms to, supported, befriended, etc. Whether one wants to believe it or not, most of the conflict in the Middle East has been caused by our own government. We are our own worst enemy. How convenient that we make Muslim people everywhere the straw man to divert attention away from the real criminals.
Yes, the American Church has a BIG problem: much of it is filled with HATE. To be sure, Christians are instructed to hate “evil,” but nowhere are we instructed to hate people–any people. Yet, the hatred of Muslims by Christians in America appears to be epidemic.
Hatred is a cancer. Hatred, bitterness, resentment, bigotry, etc., kill the soul. When Jesus instructed us to love our enemies, it was NOT for our enemies’ sake; it was for OUR sake. How can God bless a hate-filled Church when He commands us to love our enemies? How can He bless warmongers when he tells us that it is peacemakers who are blessed?
When America MUST defend itself against any enemy, regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, etc., we are obligated to do so. In the Twentieth Century, we fought hot wars against Christians from Germany and Italy, against Shintoists from Japan, against atheists from North Korea, and against Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucianists from Vietnam. But there is a huge difference between defending oneself against an enemy that poses and imminent threat and fomenting hatred against an entire people for the crimes of a few.
How can Christians claim to love God and believe in winning lost souls to Christ be so consumed with hatred against an entire people–most of whom have done NOTHING to harm them? Yes, I realize there are some who call themselves Christians who hate other people besides Muslims. Some hate everyone who is a Jew; some hate everyone who is a minority; some hate everyone who is victimized by an aberrant sexual lifestyle, etc. Hatred has been with us since the dawn of human history. But in my entire lifetime, I have never witnessed anything like I am witnessing now: the pervasive, widespread, almost universal hatred of the Muslim people–by Christians.
As I said, hatred destroys the soul. And I fear that hatred is destroying the soul of the Church.
Whose fault is it that mosques are being built in America? Many of the buildings being used for these new mosques are abandoned CHURCH buildings. The darkness of false religion will always fill the vacuum that is left when truth departs. And the fact is, Christianity is dying in the United States. No, it’s not dead; but it’s dying. There are tens of thousands of empty abandoned churches all over America. More and more Americans are turning their backs on the Church. What difference does it make which form of darkness invades the land? The problem is that the true light (the Church) is failing. What do you expect will happen?
What difference does it make whether the darkness takes the form of Islam, or Buddhism, or Shintoism, or Judaism, or Atheism, or Communism, or any other “ism?” The problem is not the presence of darkness; the problem is the absence of light.
The Church has lost its light and its love. Christ is doing what He said He would do to those who lose their love: He is removing the candlestick.
The American Church has focused on being “successful” instead of being righteous; it has capitulated to the lordship of the state; it fears the IRS more than it fears God; it has stopped preaching the “hard” messages of the Bible; it is popularity-driven, entertainment-driven, and comfort-driven; it has abandoned the fundamental principles of Natural Law and liberty; it has replaced genuine patriotism with statism; and it has used Romans 13 as justification for idolatry.
A quote from Charles Caleb Colton (1820) is in order here: “Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but–live for it.”
The Muslim people are NOT our problem; the problem is the American Church. It needs to start living its religion.
You’re not paranoid if you think the world feels more unstable — it is. There’s a dangerous confluence of political, economic, and military phenomena that is producing a very hazardous international situation. Heightened national tensions that lead to regional confrontations have become normal as economic and political winds constantly shift in the direction of instability and conflict.
At the center of each maelstrom is the U.S. Government, and instead of acting as a promoter of peace and stability the Obama administration has been a catalyst of confrontation and war.
Whether it be the Middle East, Asia, Russia’s border, or the world economy, the actions of the Obama administration have leaned towards various forms of provocation and aggression — economic sanctions, threats, funneling arms, etc. This dynamic makes an eventual regional conflict inevitable, beyond the one already occurring in Syria/Iraq, where a U.S.-led proxy war against Syria and Iran is dangerously close to a full-out regional war.
The U.S. public is dangerously ignorant about the significance of these various regional conflicts. To the extent that they’re even reported, the “news” has excelled at blaming others and sharpening conflict, rather than shedding light or presenting peaceful alternatives.
An especially combustible zone is the Ukraine, where the U.S. is engaged in what is becoming a full-fledged proxy war with Russia. The Obama administration’s decisive role in the Ukrainian conflict has received only a sliver of space from the U.S. media, even after an audio of Obama’s Under Secretary of State was leaked, exposing the U.S.’ direct leadership role in a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Obama’s allied boots on the ground in the Ukrainian coup were open fascists — the Svoboda and “Right Sector” — whose ideological hero, Stepan Bandera, was one of Hitler’s most reliable fascist allies during World War II.
The Obama administration has given crucial military and economic support to the anti-Russian Ukrainian government, and provided this fascist-friendly government with various forms of military assistance, and now is considering giving more “lethal” military aid to a government that cemented its coup power via questionable elections during the start of a civil war.
Former USSR president and media darling, Mikhail Gorbachev, is now disregarded by the U.S. media, since his words no longer promote U.S. foreign policy objectives. Gorbachev recently said:
“If we call a spade a spade, America has pulled us into a new cold war, trying to openly implement its general idea of triumphalism. Where will it take us all? The [new] cold war is already on. What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot say firmly that the cold war will not lead to the hot one. I’m afraid that they might take the risk.”
This “new cold war” is warming quickly, since the U.S.-Russian proxy war in Ukraine shares a large chunk of Russia’s border, and like all wars borders are ignored when convenient. Gorbachev fears that the 5,000 dead Ukrainians and 1.5 million refugees may just be the detonator for a larger war between two fully nuclear countries. Meanwhile, the U.S. media completely ignores this very real threat, giving valuable political cover to Obama’s reckless actions.
Equally crazy is Obama’s longstanding policy in the Middle East, where his “no troops on the ground” mantra has led to non-stop drone bombing and a massive proxy war in Syria, which every nation in the region has directly contributed to. The 200,000 dead and millions of refugees have boiled political tensions across the region, and Obama’s dedication to regime change in Syria is partially due to his dedication to the two biggest pariah nations in the world — Saudi Arabia and Israel.
When Israel recently bombed Syria again — a now regular occurrence — an Iranian general and Hezbollah leader were killed in the attack, which was labeled an assassination. Soon after, it was finally revealed that in 2008 the U.S. and Israel organized a terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed a Hezbollah leader. Both events push the Syrian conflict to the tipping point of regional war, and Obama’s silence over Israel’s repeated bombings against Syria only encourage an extremely dangerous regional conflagration.
Equally reckless is that Obama’s Syrian proxy war relied on thousands of Islamic extremists from neighboring countries. Obama’s funding, training, and tolerating these extremists created the ideal conditions for a group like ISIS to rise from obscurity into a regional colossus.
To date the Obama administration has proposed no peace plan for Syria outside of “regime change.” When the Russian government recently organized a major peace conference to address the Syrian war, the U.S.-led Syrian National Coalition boycotted the talks, and Obama put no public pressure on his allies to attend, when he should have been publicly demanding it. Once the peace conference started neither Obama nor the U.S. media cared much to talk about the happenings, since continued fighting is the priority.
One shouldn’t forget Obama’s Africa policies, where his “successful” bombing campaign-turned regime change in Libya has ruined a country that previously had the highest standard of living on the continent. After Obama waged an illegal, aggressive war and assassinated the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton said — while giggling — “we came, we saw, he died.”
Libya’s weapons were looted and are now, according to the U.N., being funneled throughout the Middle East and Africa, destabilizing neighboring countries and empowering the Islamic extremists that Obama allied with against Gaddafi (similar to the ones he allied with against Syria’s president).
When it comes to the global economy Obama has been launching financial weapons of mass destruction against his enemies. The economic sanctions against Iran, Russia, N. Korea, Venezuela, Syria, etc., are of course an act of war. This kind of war is described in the book, “Treasury’s War,” by former Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Juan Zarate, who glamorizes this “new” form of war that the U.S. has a monopoly over, given the U.S. dollar’s preeminence as the global reserve currency.
Another lethal non-military weapon Obama has recklessly used is his helping crash the price of oil. The U.S. media publicly discussed the anti-Russian motive behind Obama intervening in the oil markets, by selling the “strategic oil reserves” held by the U.S. government — intended to be used at times of severe shortages. But Obama started unloading the strategic reserves at a time when there was already increasing global supply. The oil price floor fell out when Obama persuaded Saudi Arabia to ramp up production, flooding the market with cheap oil.
And whereas the Obama administration has kept mum about the Saudi’s accomplice role in crashing the oil market, the Saudis themselves have been pretty open about using their oil weapon, which they’re using to force Russia to drop support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The New York Times reported:
“Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices.”
Russia’s economy is consequently in free fall, with Iran, Venezuela and every other oil-producing nation suffering massive economic consequences. All of this is barely mentioned in the complicit U.S. media, content with shrugging its shoulders over the subsequent political chaos that directly affects hundreds of millions of people globally, and threatens to boomerang back on the U.S. in the form of unemployment and economic disruption.
All of the above policies have directly created havoc internationally. And today’s world is more inter-connected than ever; the chaos in the oil markets has already caused layoffs in the U.S., and threatens a larger economic conflagration. Obama’s policies in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have greatly increased the likelihood of another terror attack in the U.S.
In a world of increasing danger and threats of war, the Obama administration has been completely unable to champion any serious peace proposal. His main contribution to global affairs has been chaos and death — either by proxy (Syria and Ukraine), drones (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) dollars, gun trafficking, sanctions, or direct military intervention (Afghanistan and Libya).
Even the pathetic “peace process” Obama faked with Israel-Palestine was revealed as farce the second Israel decided to re-destroy the Gaza Strip: Obama gave crucial support to Israel in committing its numerous war crimes.
Obama is aided and abetted in his reckless actions by a media that cheer-leads the government’s every move, except when it encourages a more “aggressive” approach. In this way the above realities of U.S. foreign policy — and the very real dangers they present — are completely obscured from the American public. And when the next inevitable military combustion occurs, the public may be disorientated just long enough to fall victim to scapegoating and fear mongering that can lead to a bi-partisan military “solution.”
“I want to appeal to the Ukrainian people, to the mothers, the fathers, the sisters and the grandparents. Stop sending your sons and brothers to this pointless, merciless slaughter. The interests of the Ukrainian government are not your interests. I beg of you: Come to your senses. You do not have to water Donbass fields with Ukrainian blood. It’s not worth it.”
— Alexander Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic
Washington needs a war in Ukraine to achieve its strategic objectives. This point cannot be overstated.
The US wants to push NATO to Russia’s western border. It wants a land-bridge to Asia to spread US military bases across the continent. It wants to control the pipeline corridors from Russia to Europe to monitor Moscow’s revenues and to ensure that gas continues to be denominated in dollars. And it wants a weaker, unstable Russia that is more prone to regime change, fragmentation and, ultimately, foreign control. These objectives cannot be achieved peacefully, indeed, if the fighting stopped tomorrow, the sanctions would be lifted shortly after, and the Russian economy would begin to recover. How would that benefit Washington?
It wouldn’t. It would undermine Washington’s broader plan to integrate China and Russia into the prevailing economic system, the dollar system. Powerbrokers in the US realize that the present system must either expand or collapse. Either China and Russia are brought to heel and persuaded to accept a subordinate role in the US-led global order or Washington’s tenure as global hegemon will come to an end.
This is why hostilities in East Ukraine have escalated and will continue to escalate. This is why the U.S. Congress approved a bill for tougher sanctions on Russia’s energy sector and lethal aid for Ukraine’s military. This is why Washington has sent military trainers to Ukraine and is preparing to provide $3 billion in “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees, and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.” All of Washington’s actions are designed with one purpose in mind, to intensify the fighting and escalate the conflict. The heavy losses sustained by Ukraine’s inexperienced army and the terrible suffering of the civilians in Lugansk and Donetsk are of no interest to US war-planners. Their job is to make sure that peace is avoided at all cost because peace would derail US plans to pivot to Asia and remain the world’s only superpower. Here’s an except from an article in the WSWS:
“The ultimate aim of the US and its allies is to reduce Russia to an impoverished and semi-colonial status. Such a strategy, historically associated with Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, is again being openly promoted.
In a speech last year at the Wilson Center, Brzezinski called on Washington to provide Kiev with “weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.” In line with the policies now recommended in the report by the Brookings Institution and other think tanks calling for US arms to the Kiev regime, Brzezinski called for providing “anti-tank weapons…weapons capable for use in urban short-range fighting.”
While the strategy outlined by Brzezinski is politically criminal—trapping Russia in an ethnic urban war in Ukraine that would threaten the deaths of millions, if not billions of people—it is fully aligned with the policies he has promoted against Russia for decades.” (“The US arming of Ukraine and the danger of World War III“, World Socialist Web Site)
Non-lethal military aid will inevitably lead to lethal military aid, sophisticated weaponry, no-fly zones, covert assistance, foreign contractors, Special ops, and boots on the ground. We’ve seen it all before. There is no popular opposition to the war in the US, no thriving antiwar movement that can shut down cities, order a general strike or disrupt the status quo. So there’s no way to stop the persistent drive to war. The media and the political class have given Obama carte blanche, the authority to prosecute the conflict as he sees fit. That increases the probability of a broader war by this summer following the spring thaw.
While the possibility of a nuclear conflagration cannot be excluded, it won’t effect US plans for the near future. No one thinks that Putin will launch a nuclear war to protect the Donbass, so the deterrent value of the weapons is lost.
And Washington isn’t worried about the costs either. Despite botched military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and half a dozen other countries around the world; US stocks are still soaring, foreign investment in US Treasuries is at record levels,, the US economy is growing at a faster pace than any of its global competitors, and the dollar has risen an eye-watering 13 percent against a basket of foreign currencies since last June. America has paid nothing for decimating vast swathes of the planet and killing more than a million people. Why would they stop now?
They won’t, which is why the fighting in Ukraine is going to escalate. Check this out from the WSWS:
“On Monday, the New York Times announced that the Obama administration is moving to directly arm the Ukrainian army and the fascistic militias supporting the NATO-backed regime in Kiev, after its recent setbacks in the offensive against pro-Russian separatist forces in east Ukraine.
The article cites a joint report issued Monday by the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and delivered to President Obama, advising the White House and NATO on the best way to escalate the war in Ukraine….
According to the Times, US officials are rapidly shifting to support the report’s proposals. NATO military commander in Europe General Philip M. Breedlove, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey all supported discussions on directly arming Kiev. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is reconsidering her opposition to arming Kiev, paving the way for Obama’s approval.” (“Washington moves toward arming Ukrainian regime“, World Socialist Web Site)
See what’s going on? The die is already cast. There will be a war with Russia because that’s what the political establishment wants. It’s that simple. And while previous provocations failed to lure Putin into the Ukrainian cauldron, this new surge of violence–a spring offensive– is bound to do the trick. Putin is not going to sit on his hands while proxies armed with US weapons and US logistical support pound the Donbass to Fallujah-type rubble. He’ll do what any responsible leader would do. He’ll protect his people. That means war. (See the vast damage that Obama’s proxy war has done to E. Ukraine here: “An overview of the socio – humanitarian situation on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic as a consequence of military action from 17 to 23 January 2015“)
Asymmetrical Warfare: Falling Oil Prices
Keep in mind, that the Russian economy has already been battered by economic sanctions, oil price manipulation, and a vicious attack of the ruble. Until this week, the mainstream media dismissed the idea that the Saudis were deliberately pushing down oil prices to hurt Russia. They said the Saudis were merely trying to retain “market share” by maintaining current production levels and letting prices fall naturally. But it was all bunkum as the New York Times finally admitted on Tuesday in an article titled: “Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad”. Here’s a clip from the article:
“Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices…
Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the supply of oil and possibly drive up prices….Any weakening of Russian support for Mr. Assad could be one of the first signs that the recent tumult in the oil market is having an impact on global statecraft…..
Saudi Arabia’s leverage depends on how seriously Moscow views its declining oil revenue. “If they are hurting so bad that they need the oil deal right away, the Saudis are in a good position to make them pay a geopolitical price as well,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a Middle East specialist at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service (“Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad“, New York Times)
The Saudis “think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability” to manipulate prices?
That says it all, doesn’t it?
What’s interesting about this article is the way it conflicts with previous pieces in the Times. For example, just two weeks ago, in an article titled “Who Will Rule the Oil Market?” the author failed to see any political motive behind the Saudi’s action. According to the narrative, the Saudis were just afraid that “they would lose market share permanently” if they cut production and kept prices high. Now the Times has done a 180 and joined the so called conspiracy nuts who said that prices were manipulated for political reasons. In fact, the sudden price plunge had nothing to do with deflationary pressures, supply-demand dynamics, or any other mumbo-jumbo market forces. It was 100 percent politics.
The attack on the ruble was also politically motivated, although the details are much more sketchy. There’s an interesting interview with Alistair Crooke that’s worth a read for those who are curious about how the Pentagon’s “full spectrum dominance” applies to financial warfare. According to Crooke:
“…with Ukraine, we have entered a new era: We have a substantial, geostrategic conflict taking place, but it’s effectively a geo-financial war between the US and Russia. We have the collapse in the oil prices; we have the currency wars; we have the contrived “shorting” — selling short — of the ruble. We have a geo-financial war, and what we are seeing as a consequence of this geo-financial war is that first of all, it has brought about a close alliance between Russia and China.
China understands that Russia constitutes the first domino; if Russia is to fall, China will be next. These two states are together moving to create a parallel financial system, disentangled from the Western financial system. ……
For some time, the international order was structured around the United Nations and the corpus of international law, but more and more the West has tended to bypass the UN as an institution designed to maintain the international order, and instead relies on economic sanctions to pressure some countries. We have a dollar-based financial system, and through instrumentalizing America’s position as controller of all dollar transactions, the US has been able to bypass the old tools of diplomacy and the UN — in order to further its aims.
But increasingly, this monopoly over the reserve currency has become the unilateral tool of the United States — displacing multilateral action at the UN. The US claims jurisdiction over any dollar-denominated transaction that takes place anywhere in the world. And most business and trading transactions in the world are denominated in dollars. This essentially constitutes the financialization of the global order: The International Order depends more on control by the US Treasury and Federal Reserve than on the UN as before.” (“Turkey might become hostage to ISIL just like Pakistan did“, Today’s Zaman)
Financial warfare, asymmetrical warfare, Forth Generation warfare, space warfare, information warfare, nuclear warfare, laser, chemical, and biological warfare. The US has expanded its arsenal well beyond the traditional range of conventional weaponry. The goal, of course, is to preserve the post-1991 world order (The dissolution up of the Soviet Union) and maintain full spectrum dominance. The emergence of a multi-polar world order spearheaded by Moscow poses the greatest single threat to Washington’s plans for continued domination. The first significant clash between these two competing world views will likely take place sometime this summer in East Ukraine. God help us.
NOTE: The Novorussia Armed Forces (NAF) currently have 8,000 Ukrainian regulars surrounded in Debaltsevo, East Ukraine. This is a very big deal although the media has been (predictably) keeping the story out of the headlines.
Evacuation corridors have been opened to allow civilians to leave the area. Fighting could break out at anytime. At present, it looks like a good part of the Kiev’s Nazi army could be destroyed in one fell swoop. This is why Merkel and Hollande have taken an emergency flight to Moscow to talk with Putin. They are not interested in peace. They merely want to save their proxy army from annihilation.
I expect Putin may intervene on behalf of the Ukrainian soldiers, but I think commander Zakharchenko will resist. If he lets these troops go now, what assurance does he have that they won’t be back in a month or so with high-powered weaponry provided by our war-mongering congress and White House?
Tell me; what choice does Zakharchenko really have? If his comrades are killed in future combat because he let Kiev’s army escape, who can he blame but himself?
There are no good choices.
Check here for updates: Ukraine SITREP: *Extremely* dangerous situation in Debaltsevo
If This Doesn’t Make You Mad…
Why is the Fed threatening to raise interest rates when the economy is still in the doldrums? Is it because they want to avoid further asset-price inflation, prevent the economy from overheating, or is it something else altogether? Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see why the Fed might want to raise rates prematurely. It all has to do with the sharp decline in petrodollars that are no longer recycling into US financial assets. This is from Reuters:
“Energy-exporting countries are set to pull their ‘petrodollars’ out of world markets this year for the first time in almost two decades, according to a study by BNP Paribas. Driven by this year’s drop in oil prices, the shift is likely to cause global market liquidity to fall, the study showed…
This decline follows years of windfalls for oil exporters such as Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of that money found its way into financial markets, helping to boost asset prices and keep the cost of borrowing down, through so-called petrodollar recycling.
This year, however, the oil producers will effectively import capital amounting to $7.6 billion. By comparison, they exported $60 billion in 2013 and $248 billion in 2012, according to the following graphic based on BNP Paribas calculations:
‘At its peak, about $500 billion a year was being recycled back into financial markets. This will be the first year in a long time that energy exporters will be sucking capital out,’ said David Spegel, global head of emerging market sovereign and corporate Research at BNP.
In other words, oil exporters are now pulling liquidity out of financial markets rather than putting money in. That could result in higher borrowing costs for governments, companies, and ultimately, consumers as money becomes scarcer.” (Petrodollars leave world markets for first time in 18 years – BNP, Reuters)
Can you see what’s going on?
Now that petrodollar funding has dried up, the Fed needs to find an alternate source of capital to keep the markets bubbly and to shore up the greenback. That’s why the Fed has been talking up the dollar (“jawboning”) and promising to raise rates even though the economy is still pushing up daisies. According to the Fed’s favorite mouthpiece, Jon Hilsenrath:
“Federal Reserve officials are on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation…
Many Fed officials have signaled they expect to start lifting their benchmark short-term rate from near zero around the middle of the year. Recent developments in the economy and markets have caused some trepidation among Fed officials and, if sustained, could cause them to delay acting. However several have indicated recently they still expect to move this year and are withholding judgment on delay.” (Fed Officials on Track to Raise Short-Term Rates Later in the Year, Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal)
And we’re hearing the same from Reuters: “The Federal Reserve is still on track for a potential mid-year interest-rate increase, a top Fed official said on Friday, citing strong U.S. economic momentum and a falling unemployment rate.”
Notice the sudden change in tone from dovish to hawkish? Expect that to intensify in the months ahead as the major media tries to spin the data in a way that serves the Fed’s broader objectives. Like this article in Bloomberg titled, “Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil”:
“Janet Yellen is leaving the Greenspan ‘put”’behind as she charts the first interest-rate increase since 2006 amid growing financial-market volatility.
The Federal Reserve chair has signaled she wants to place the economic outlook at the center of policy making, while looking past short-term market fluctuations. To succeed, she must wean investors from the notion, which gained currency under predecessor Alan Greenspan, that the Fed will bail them out if their bets go bad — just as a put option protects against a drop in stock prices.
“The succession of Fed puts over the years has led to a wide range of distortions in financial markets,” said Lawrence Goodman, president of the Center for Financial Stability, a monetary research group in New York. “There have been swollen asset values followed by sharp declines. This is a very good time for the Fed to move away.
“Let me be clear, there is no Fed equity market put,” William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, the central bank’s watchdog on financial markets, said in a Dec. 1 speech in New York.” (She’s No Greenspan: Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil)
“There’s no Fed equity put”?
That’s ridiculous. Then how does one explain the way the Fed has launched additional rounds of QE every time stocks have started to sputter? And how does one explain the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet all of which was spent on financial assets?
Let’s face it, Central bank intervention has been the only game in town. It’s not just the main driver of stocks. It’s the only driver of stocks. Everyone knows that. Yellen is going to do everything in her power to keep stocks in the stratosphere just like her predecessors, Greenspan and Bernanke. The only that’s going to change, is her approach.
As for the economy, well, just a glance of the headlines tells the whole story. Like this gem from CNBC last week:
“U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest decline in six years in December and underlying inflation pressures were benign,…The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index fell 0.4 percent last month, the largest drop since December 2008, after sliding 0.3 percent in November. In the 12 months through December, CPI increased 0.8 percent…
Darkening prospects for the global economy could also complicate matters for the U.S. central bank.
Inflation is running below the Fed’s 2 percent target, despite a strengthening labor market and overall economy.” (Consumer Price Index drops 0.4% in December, in line with estimates, CNBC)
Think about that for a minute: Consumer prices just logged their biggest drop since the freaking slump of 2008 and, yet, the Fed is still babbling about raising rates.
Talk about lunacy. Not only has the Fed not reached its inflation target of 2%, but it’s abandoned the project altogether. Why? Why has the Fed suddenly stopped trying to boost inflation when the yields on benchmark 10-year US Treasuries have just plunged to record lows (1.70%) and are blinking red? In other words, the bond market is signaling slow growth and zero inflation for as far as the eye can see, but the Fed wants to raise rates and slash growth even more?? It doesn’t make any sense, unless of course, Yellen has something else up her sleeve. Which she does.
Now get a load of this shocker on retail sales in last week’s news. This is from Bloomberg:
“The optimism surrounding the outlook for U.S. consumers was taken down a notch as retail sales slumped in December by the most in almost a year, prompting some economists to lower spending and growth forecasts.
The 0.9 percent decline in purchases …. extended beyond any single group as receipts fell in nine of 13 major retail categories.
Treasury yields and stocks fell as a deepening commodities rout and the drop in sales spurred concern global growth is slowing…
…average hourly earnings falling 0.2 percent in December from the month before in the first drop since late 2012. That limits the amount of spending consumers can undertake without dipping into savings or racking up debt.” (U.S. Retail Sales Down Sharply, Likely Cuts to Growth Forecasts Ahead, Bloomberg)
Remember when everyone thought that low oil prices were going to save the economy? It hasn’t worked out that way though, has it? Nor will it. Falling oil prices usually indicate recession, crisis or deflation. Take your pick. They’re usually not a sign of green shoots, escape velocity, or sunny uplands.
And did you catch that part about falling wages? How do you expand a consumer-dependent economy, when workers are seeing their wages shrivel every month? In case, you haven’t seen the abysmal stagnation of wages in graph-form, here’s a chart from American Progress:
Negative real wage growth means the amount of slack in the market is still considerable.
So while stock prices have doubled or tripled in the last 6 years, wages have basically been flatlining. That’s a pretty crummy distribution system, don’t you think. Unless you’re in the 1 percent of course, then everything is just hunky dory.
But at least Yellen can find some comfort in the fact that unemployment continues to improve. In fact, just two weeks ago unemployment dropped to an impressive 5.4%, the lowest since 2007. So if we forget about the fact that wages are stagnating, that management has nabbed all the productivity-gains for the last 40 years, and that another 451,000 workers dropped off the radar altogether in December, then everything looks pretty rosy. But, of course, it’s all just a bunch of baloney. Take a look at this from Zero Hedge:
“Another month, another attempt by the BLS to mask the collapse in the US labor force with a seasonally-adjusted surge in waiter, bartender and other low-paying jobs. Case in point… the labor participation rate just slid once more, dropping to 62.7%, or the lowest print since December 1977. This happened because the number of Americans not in the labor forced soared by 451,000 in December, far outpacing the 111,000 jobs added according to the Household Survey, and is the primary reason why the number of uenmployed Americans dropped by 383,000.
So, yeah, unemployment looks great until you pick through the data and see it’s all a big fraud. Unemployment is only falling because more and more people are throwing in the towel and giving up entirely.
Finally, there’s the rapidly-expanding mess in the oil patch where the news on layoffs and cut backs gets worse by the day. This is from Wolf Richter at Naked Capitalism:
“Layoffs are cascading through the oil and gas sector. On Tuesday, the Dallas Fed projected that in Texas alone, 140,000 jobs could be eliminated. Halliburton said that it was axing an undisclosed number of people in Houston. Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil producer, will dump 1,000 workers in its tar-sands projects. Helmerich & Payne is idling rigs and cutting jobs. Smaller companies are slashing projects and jobs at an even faster pace. And now Slumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield-services company, will cut 9,000 jobs.” (Money dries up for oil and gas, layoffs spread, write-offs start, Wolf Richter, Naked Capitalism)
And then there’s this tidbit from Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade:
“In a December 15 article by Patrick Jenkins in the Financial Times, readers learned that data from Barclays indicated that “energy bonds now make up nearly 16 per cent of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market — more than three times their proportion 10 years ago,” and “Nearly 45 per cent of this year’s non-investment grade syndicated loans have been in oil and gas.” Raising further alarms, AllianceBernstein has released research suggesting that the deals were not fully subscribed by investors with the potential that “as much as half of the outstanding financing from the past couple of years may be stuck on banks’ books.” (The perfect storm for Wall Street banks, Russ and Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade)
How do you like that? So nearly half the toxic energy-related gunk that was bundled up into dodgy junk bonds (and is likely to default in the near future) is sitting on bank balance sheets. Does that sound like a potential trigger for another financial crisis or what?
And, no, I am not trying to ignore the fact that third quarter GDP came in at a whopping 5 percent which vastly exceeded all the analysts estimates. But let’s put that into perspective. According to economist Dean Baker, the growth spurt was mainly “an anomaly” …”driven by extraordinary jump in military spending and a big fall in the size of the trade deficit that is unlikely to be repeated.” Here’s more from Baker:
“As usual, just about everything we’ve heard about the economy is wrong. To start, the 5.0 percent growth number must be understood against a darker backdrop: The economy actually shrank at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter. If we take the first three quarters of the year together, the average growth rate was a more modest 2.5 percent.” (Don’t Believe What You Hear About the US Economy, Dean Baker, CEPR)
So, the economy is growing at a crummy 2.5 percent, but Yellen wants to raise rates. Why? Does she want to shave that number to 2 percent or 1.5 percent? Is that it? She wants to go backwards?
Of course not. The real reason the Fed wants to raise rates, is to attract foreign capital to US markets in order to keep stocks soaring, keep borrowing costs low, and reinforce the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. That’s what’s really going on. The petrodollars are drying up, so US markets need a new source of funding. Direct foreign investment, that’s the ticket, Ducky. All the Fed needs to do is boost rates by, let’s say, 0.5 percent and “Cha-ching”, here comes the capital. Works like a charm every time, just ask former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin whose strong dollar policy sent stock prices into orbit while widening the nation’s current account deficit by many orders of magnitude. (We never said the plan didn’t have its downside.)
The Fed’s sinister plan to raise interest rates (sometime by mid-2015) will push the dollar’s exchange rate higher thus triggering capital flight in the emerging markets which are already struggling with plunging commodities prices and an excruciating slowdown. The investment flows from the EMs to US financial assets and Treasuries will offset the loss of petrodollar revenue while expanding Wall Street’s ginormous stock market bubble. As for the emerging markets, well, they’re going to take it in the shorts bigtime as one would expect. Here’s a clip from an article by Ambrose-Evans Pritchard that lays it out in black and white:
“The US Federal Reserve has pulled the trigger. Emerging markets must now brace for their ordeal by fire. They have collectively borrowed $5.7 trillion in US dollars, a currency they cannot print and do not control. This hard-currency debt has tripled in a decade, split between $3.1 trillion in bank loans and $2.6 trillion in bonds. It is comparable in scale and ratio-terms to any of the biggest cross-border lending sprees of the past two centuries…
Officials from the Bank for International Settlements say privately that developing countries may be just as vulnerable to a dollar shock as they were in the Fed tightening cycle of the late 1990s, which culminated in Russia’s default and the East Asia Crisis. The difference this time is that emerging markets have grown to be half the world economy. Their aggregate debt levels have reached a record 175pc of GDP, up 30 percentage points since 2009…”
This time the threat does not come from insolvent states. They have learned the lesson of the late 1990s. Few have dollar debts. But their companies and banks most certainly do, some 70pc of GDP in Russia, for example. This amounts to much the same thing in macro-economic terms. ” (Fed calls time on $5.7 trillion of emerging market dollar debt, Ambrose-Evans Pritchard, Telegraph)
The Fed has been through this drill so many times before they could do it in their sleep. (” U.S. interest-rate hikes in 1980s and 1990s played a role in financial crises across Latin America and East Asia.” Foreign Policy Magazine) They’ve learned how to profit off every crisis, particularly the one’s that they themselves create, which is just about all of them. In this case, most of the loans to foreign businesses and banks were denominated in dollars. So, now that the dollar is soaring, (“The dollar’s value has risen about 15 percent relative to the euro and the yen just since the summer.” NPR) the debts are going to balloon accordingly (in real terms) which is going to push a lot of businesses off a cliff forcing sovereigns to step in and provide emergency bailouts.
Did someone say “looming financial crisis”?
Indeed. Bernanke’s “easy money” has inflated bubbles across the planet. Now these bubbles are about to burst due to the strong dollar and anticipated higher rates. At the same time, the policy-switch will send hundreds of billions of foreign capital flooding into US markets pushing stocks and bonds through the roof while generating mega-profits for JPM, G-Sax and the rest of the Wall Street gang. All according to plan.
Naturally, the stronger dollar will weigh heavily on employment and exports as foreign imports become cheaper and more attractive to US consumers. That will reduce hiring at home. Also the current account deficit will widen significantly, meaning that the US will again be consuming much more than it produces. (This took place under Rubin, too.) But here’s what’s interesting about that: According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis: “Our current account deficit has narrowed sharply since the crisis…The U.S. current account deficit now stands at 2.5 percent of GDP, down from more than 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005.” (BEA)
Great. In other words, Obama’s obsessive fiscal belt-tightening lowered the deficits enough so that Wall Street can “party on” for the foreseeable future, ignoring the gigantic bubbles they’re inflating or the emerging market economies that are about to be decimated in this latest dollar swindle.
If that doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.
After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.
Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?
In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not , leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.
In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.
In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.
And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.
However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!
Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”. Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.
On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.
No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.
Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”
And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage.
I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:
“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?
“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”
Dumb and Dumber
Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?
In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.
The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans” , directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.
So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.
The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.
If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.
L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.
Some thoughts about this thing called ideology
Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China. “It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”
Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event. “Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”
“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.
Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.
This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade.
The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”
Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”
Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba
On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.
The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)
The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.
However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died. That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.
The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.
Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.
There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.
The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.
To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11.
- US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
- Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
- Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
- The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
- “Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
- CNN, June 15, 2014
- See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
- Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
- William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana.
- For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29