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My Own Personal List of Lies War Street Has Told Us

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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/about/a-peoples-history-a-peoples-pedagogy/

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/2014/10/27/us/in-cold-war-us-spy-agencies-used-1000-nazis.html?_r=1

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/articles-presentations/135-egypt/484-sisi-s-unenviable-dilemma-the-illusion-of-stability-and-the-perpetuation-of-unrest

7.i  King Salman al Saud, “Our democratic ally in Saudi Arabia.”  http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/01/23/Canada-Saudi-Arabia-Weapons-Deal/

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/david-hearst/a-saudi-palace-coup_b_6531246.html

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/nafricamideast/oil012915/

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.informationclearinghouse.info/article40867.htm

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/daily-comment/twenty-eight-pages

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?v=fRZSzdQuOqM, the horrors of the genocidal bombing of Gaza and Israeli neo-colonials’ covert support of ISIS– all in order to steal territory and oil in the Middle East.

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?v=rQ41ko3L5Xc  And if you still have the stomach, watch this too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTr_Un4a_zA

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.org/2015/01/30/police-state-upon-us-paul-craig-roberts/

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.com/2007/04/letters-from-iraq-me-light-brigade-john.html

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/2015/01/30/syria-yes-we-are-responsible/

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?v=iZyHQljawdE&x-yt-ts=1421914688&x-yt-cl=84503534&bpctr=1422157632

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/2015/01/06/nyt-still-pretends-no-coup-in-ukraine/

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?v=N294FMDok98&app=desktop

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/punditfact/article/2014/jul/01/introducing-scorecards-tv-networks/?fb_action_ids=10204846428834242&fb_action_types=og.shares

25.  That War is better than Peace.
http://www.crescent-online.net/2015/02/distorting-the-story-of-syrias-heritage-destruction-eva-bartlett-4815-articles.html

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.


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

How Obama Is Making The World More Dangerous

February 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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.”


Shamus Cooke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

Putin Prefers A Bad Peace

February 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The West presents Putin as a bloodthirsty warmonger with grand imperial ambitions. The reality is that Putin wants a stable, federalized Ukraine—anything else would be too costly for Russia

In February, it is a long way to the spring, lamented Joseph Brodsky, the poet. Indeed, snow still falls heavily in Moscow and Kiev as well as in the rolling steppes that form the Russian-Ukrainian borderlands, but there it is tinted with red. Soldiers are loath to fight in the winter, when life is difficult anyway in these latitudes, but fighting has nonetheless flared up in war-torn Donbass—and the US is preparing to escalate the conflict by supplying sophisticated weapons to Kiev.

Tired by the siege and by intermittent shelling, the rebels disregarded the snow and took the strategic Donetsk airport. This airport with its Stalin-built tunnels, a symbol of solid Soviet defence work, presented a huge challenge for the under-equipped militia. Its many-leveled underground facilities were built to sustain a nuclear attack; still, the rebels, after months of fighting, flushed the enemy out and took it.

In a bigger offensive, they trapped Kiev’s troops in the Debaltsevo pocket, and Kiev is already suing for a cease-fire. The rebels hope to dislodge the enemy from their lands altogether; as now they hold only about one third of Donbass; but Russia’s president is still groping for the brakes. He prefers a bad peace to a good war. For him, the Ukraine is important, but not a sine qua non, the only problem in the world. This attitude he shares with the American leader. There is a big difference: Russia wants peaceful Ukraine, Americans prefer one at war.

Russia would prefer to see Ukraine united, federal, peaceful and prosperous. The alternative of splitting Donbass is not very tempting: Donbass is strongly connected to the rest of Ukraine, and it is not easy to sever its ties. The war already has sent millions of refugees from Donbass and from the rump of Ukraine to Russia, overloading its systems. Putin can’t cut loose and forget about Donbass – his people would not allow him anyway. A cautious man, he does not want to get into an open-ended war. So he has to navigate towards some sort of peace.

I had a meeting with a well-informed and highly-placed Russian source who shared with me, for your benefit, some inner thoughts on condition of his anonymity. Though the West is certain that Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union, actually the Russian president did everything he could to save the Ukraine from disintegration, said the source. This is what Russia did in order to bring peace to Ukraine:

  • Russia supported the West-brokered agreement of February 21, 2014, but the US still pushed for the next day (February 22) coup, or “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine” , in Obama’s words.
  • After the coup, the South-East Ukraine did not submit to the new Kiev regime and seceded. Still, Moscow asked the Donbass rebels to refrain from carrying out their May referendum. (They disregarded Putin’s appeal).
  • Moscow recognised the results of sham May elections carried out by Kiev regime after the coup, and recognised Poroshenko as the president of the whole Ukraine – though there were no elections in the South East and opposition parties were banned from participating.
  • Moscow did not officially recognise the results of November elections in Donbass, to the chagrin of many Russian nationalists.

These steps were quite unpopular in Russian society, but Putin made them to promote a peaceful solution for Ukraine. Some war-like Donbass leaders were convinced to retire. In vain: Putin’s actions and intentions were disregarded by the US and EC. They encouraged the ‘war part‎y’ in Kiev. “They never found a fault with Kiev, whatever they do”, said the source.

Peace in Ukraine can be reached through federalisation, my source told me. That’s why the two most important parameters of the Minsk accords (between Kiev and Donetsk) were those we never hear about: constitutional and socio-economic reforms. Russia wants to secure the territorial integrity of the Ukraine (minus Crimea) but it can be achieved only through federalisation of Ukraine with a degree of autonomy being given to its regions. Its west and east speak different languages, worship different heroes, have different aspirations. They could manage together, just, if the Ukraine were a federal state, like the US or Switzerland or India.

In Minsk, the sides agreed to establish a joint commission for constitutional reforms, but the Kiev regime reneged on it. Instead, they created a small and secretive constitutional committee of the Rada (Parliament). This was condemned by the Venice Commission, a European advisory body on constitutional matters. The Donetsk people wouldn’t accept it, either, and it is not what was agreed upon in Minsk.

As for integration, it was agreed in Minsk to reintegrate Donbass within Ukraine. This was disappointing for Donbass (they would prefer to join Russia), but they accepted it, – while Kiev laid siege to Donbass, cut off its banks, ceased buying Donbass coal, and stopped paying pensions. Kiev troops daily shell Donetsk, a city of a million inhabitants (in peaceful times!). Instead of amnesty for rebels, as agreed in Minsk, there are more government troops pouring eastwards.

The Russians did not give up on Minsk accords. The Minsk agreements could bring peace, but they have to be implemented. Perhaps president Poroshenko of Kiev would like to, but Kievwar party with its western support will unseat Poroshenko if he goes too far. Paradoxically, the only way to force him to peace is through war, – though Russia would prefer the West to put pressure on its clients in Kiev. The rebels and their Russian supporters used warfare to force him to sign the Minsk accords: their offensive against Mariupol on the Sea of Azov was hugely successful, and Poroshenko preferred to go to Minsk in order to keep Mariupol. Since then, Kiev and Donetsk had a few cease-fires, they exchanged POWs, but Kiev refuses to implement the constitutional and socio-economic demands of Minsk accord.

It does not make sense to agree to a cease-fire, if Kiev only uses it to regroup and attack again. The Cease-fire should lead to constitutional reform, said my source, a reform negotiated in an open and transparent dialogue of the regions and Kiev. Without reform, Donbass (or Novorussia) will go to war. So the Debaltsevo operation can be considered a way to force Poroshenko to sue for peace.

Russia does not intend to take part in the war, or in peace negotiations, said the source. The Russians are adamant to stay out, while the Americans are equally adamant to present Russia as a side to conflict.

Meanwhile, the Russian-American relations were moved forty years back to the Jackson-Vanik amendment of 1974 by the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry considered this act an unfortunate development, but a temporary one. The Russians are not that optimistic: for them, the Act codified anti-Russian sanctions. The US has tried to turn other states against Russia, with some success. In one sweep the German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel eliminated all organisations, structures and ties built between Germany and Russia over many years. Every visit of Joe Biden causes a conflagration.

The Russians are upset with the story of the Malaysian Boeing. In every high-level encounter with the Americans, they are reminded of the hysterical accusations and claims that the liner was downed by the rebels using Russian missiles. Six months have passed since the tragedy; still the Americans have not presented a single shred of evidence of Russian and/or rebel involvement. They have not presented photos from their satellites, nor records of their AWACS aircraft hovering over Eastern Europe. My source told me that the American high-ranking officials do not insist anymore that Russians/rebels are involved, but they stubbornly refuse to apologise for their previous baseless accusations. They never say they are sorry.

Still, the Americans want to play the ball. They insist that they do not seek Russian ‘surrender’, that they find the confrontation costly and unwelcome; meanwhile, the US needs Russian support for dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme, the removal of Syrian chemical weapons, and the Palestinian problem. The Russians retort they have heard it all during the Libyan affair and aren’t impressed.

Differences of opinion between Russia and the US are considerable. But there is one common feature: from Syria to Donbass, Russians endorse peace, Americans push for war. Now the Russians have invited opposition figures and government representatives from Syria for talks in Moscow. They came, talked, went away and will come again. They could probably settle but the US representatives say that they will never accept Assad’s presidency and will fight to the last Syrian for his dismissal. It is not that Americans are bloodthirsty; war makes sense for them: every war on the globe supports the US dollar and invigorates Dow Jones, as capital seeks safe haven and finds it in the US.

They do not think about the fate of Syrians who flee to Jordan—or of Ukrainians who escape to Russia in ever increasing numbers. What a shame for two wonderful countries! Syria was peaceful and prosperous, the diamond of the Middle East until ruined by the US-supported Islamists; the Ukraine was the wealthiest part of the former Soviet bloc, until being ruined by the US-supported far-right and oligarchs. Joseph Brodsky bitterly predicted in 1994, as the Ukraine declared its independence from Russia, that the shifty Ukrainians will still evoke Russian poetry in their mortal hour. This prophesy is about to be fulfilled.


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

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

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

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Fallujah Option For East Ukraine

February 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

“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


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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

Trolling Russia

January 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The edifice of world post-1991 order is collapsing right now before our eyes. President Putin’s decision to give a miss to the Auschwitz pilgrimage, right after his absence in Paris at the Charlie festival, gave it the last shove. It was good clean fun to troll Russia, as long as it stayed the course. Not anymore. Russia broke the rules.

Until now, Russia, like a country bumpkin in Eton, tried to belong. It attended the gathering of the grandees where it was shunned, paid its dues to European bodies that condemned it, patiently suffered ceaseless hectoring of the great powers and irritating baiting of East European small-timers alike. But something broke down. The lad does not want to belong anymore; he picked up his stuff and went home – just when they needed him to knee in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz gathering is an annual Canossa of Western leaders where they bewail their historic failure to protect the Jews and swear their perennial obedience to them. This is a more important religious rite of our times, the One Ring to rule them all, established in 2001, when the Judeo-American empire had reached the pinnacle of its power. The Russian leader had duly attended the events. This year, they will have to do without him. Israeli ministers already have expressed their deep dissatisfaction for this was Russia’s Red Army that saved the Jews in Auschwitz, after all. Russia’s absence will turn the Holocaust memorial day into a parochial, West-only, event. Worse, Russia’s place will be taken by Ukraine, ruled by unrepentant heirs to Hitler’s Bandera.

This comes after the French ‘Charlie’ demo, also spurned by Russia. The West hinted that Russia’s sins would be forgiven, up to a point, if she joined, first the demo, and later, the planned anti-terrorist coalition, but Russia did not take the bait. This was a visible change, for previously, Russian leaders eagerly participated in joint events and voted for West-sponsored resolutions. In 2001, Putin fully supported George Bush’s War on Terrorism in the UN and on the ground. As recently as 2011, Russia agreed with sanctions against North Korea and Iran. As for coming for a demonstration, the Russians could always be relied upon. This time, the Russians did not come, except for the token presence of the foreign minister Mr. Lavrov. This indomitable successor of Mr. Nyet left the event almost immediately and went – to pray in the Russian church, in a counter-demonstration, of sorts, against Charlie. By going to the church, he declared that he is not Charlie.

For the Charlie Hebdo magazine was (and probably is) explicitly anti-Christian as well as anti-Muslim. One finds on its pages some very obnoxious cartoons offending the Virgin and Christ, as well as the pope and the Church. (They never offend Jews, somehow).

A Russian blogger who’s been exposed to this magazine for the first time, wrote on his page: I am ashamed that the bastards were dealt with by Muslims, not by Christians. This was quite a common feeling in Moscow these days. The Russians could not believe that such smut could be published and defended as a right of free speech. People planned a demo against the Charlie, but City Hall forbade it.

Remember, a few years ago, the Pussy Riot have profaned the St Saviour of Moscow like Femen did in some great European cathedrals, from Notre Dame de Paris to Strasbourg. The Russian government did not wait for vigilante justice to be meted upon the viragos, but sent them for up to two years of prison. At the same time, the Russian criminal law has been changed to include ‘sacrilege’ among ordinary crimes, by general consent. The Russians do feel about their faith more strongly than the EC rulers prescribe.

In Charlie’s France, Hollande’s regime frogmarched the unwilling people into a quite unnecessary gay marriage law, notwithstanding one-million-strong protest demonstrations by Catholics. Femen despoiling the churches were never punished; but a church warden who tried to prevent that, was heavily fined. France has a long anti-Christian tradition, usually described as “laic”, and its grand anti-Church coalition of Atheists, Huguenots and Jews coalesced in Dreyfus Affair days. Thus Lavrov’s escape to the church was a counter-demonstration, saying: Russia is for Christ, and Russia is not against Muslims.

While the present western regime is anti-Christian and anti-Muslim, it is pro-Jewish to an extent that defies a rational explanation. France had sent thousands of soldiers and policemen to defend Jewish institutions, though this defence antagonises their neighbours. While Charlie are glorified for insulting Christians and Muslims, Dieudonné has been sent to jail (just for a day, but with great fanfare) for annoying Jews. Actually, Charlie Hebdo dismissed a journalist for one sentence allegedly disrespectful for Jews. This unfairness is a source of aggravation: Muslims were laughed out of court when they complained against particularly vile Charlie’s cartoons, but Jews almost always win when they go to the court against their denigrators. (Full disclosure: I was also sued by LICRA, the French Jewish body, while my French publisher was devastated by their legal attacks).

The Russians don’t comprehend the Western infatuation with Jews, for Russian Jews have been well assimilated and integrated in general society. The narrative of Holocaust is not popular in Russia for one simple reason: so many Russians from every ethnic background lost their lives in the war, that there is no reason to single out Jews as supreme victims. Millions died at the siege of Leningrad; Belarus lost a quarter of its population. More importantly, Russians feel no guilt regarding Jews: they treated them fairly and saved them from the Nazis. For them, the Holocaust is a Western narrative, as foreign as JeSuisCharlie. With drifting of Russia out of Western consensus, there is no reason to maintain it.

This does not mean the Jews are discriminated against. The Jews of Russia are doing very well, thank you, without Holocaust worship: they occupy the highest positions in the Forbes list of Russia’s rich, with a combined capital of $122 billion, while all rich ethnic Russians own only $165 billion, according to the Jewish-owned source. Jews run the most celebrated media shows in prime time on the state TV; they publish newspapers; they have full and unlimited access to Putin and his ministers; they usually have their way when they want to get a plot of land for their communal purposes. And anti-Semitic propaganda is punishable by law – like anti-Christian or anti-Muslim abuse, but even more severely. Still, it is impossible to imagine a Russian journalist getting sack like CNN anchor Jim Clancy or BBC’s Tim Willcox for upsetting a Jew or speaking against Israel.

Russia preserves its plurality, diversity and freedom of opinion. The pro-Western Russian media –Novaya Gazeta of oligarch Lebedev, the owner of the British newspaper Independent – carries the JeSuis slogan and speaks of the Holocaust, as well as demands to restore Crimea to the Ukraine. But the vast majority of Russians do support their President, and his civilizational choice. He expressed it when he went to midnight Christmas mass in a small village church in far-away province, together with orphans and refugees from the Ukraine. And he expressed it by refusing to go to Auschwitz.

Neither willingly nor easily did Russia break ranks. Putin tried to take Western baiting in his stride: be it Olympic games, Syria confrontation, gender politics, Georgian border, even Crimea-related sanctions. The open economic warfare was a game-changer. Russia felt attacked by falling oil prices, by rouble trouble, by credit downgrading. These developments are considered an act of hostility, rather than the result of “the hidden hand of the market”.

Russians love conspiracia, as James Bond used to say. They do not believe in chance, coincidence nor natural occurrences, and are likely to consider a falling meteorite or an earthquake – a result of hostile American action, let alone a fall in the rouble/dollar exchange rate. They could be right, too, though it is hard to prove.

Regarding oil price fall, the jury is out. Some say this action by Saudis is aimed at American fracking companies, or alternatively it’s a Saudi-American plot against Russia. However, the price of oil is not formed by supply-demand, but by financial instruments, futures and derivatives. This virtual demand-and-supply is much bigger than the real one. When hedge funds stopped to buy oil futures, price downturn became unavoidable, but were the funds directed by politicians, or did they act so as Quantitative Easing ended?

The steep fall of the rouble could be connected to oil price downturn, but not necessarily so. The rouble is not involved in oil price forming. It could be an action by a very big financial institution. Soros broke the back of British pound in 1991; Korean won, Thai bath and Malaysian ringgit suffered similar fate in 1998. In each case, the attacked country lost about 40% of its GDP. It is possible that Russia was attacked by financial weapons directed from New York.

The European punitive sanctions forbade long-term cheap credit to Russian companies. The Russian state does not need loans, but Russian companies do. Combination of these factors put a squeeze on Russian pockets. The rating agencies kept downgrading Russian rating to almost junk level, for political reasons, I was told. As they were deprived of credit, state companies began to hoard dollars to pay later their debts, and they refrained from converting their huge profits to roubles, as they did until now. The rouble fell drastically, probably much lower than it had to.

This is not pinpoint sanctions aimed at Putin’s friends. This is a full-blown war. If the initiators expected Russians to be mad at Putin, they miscalculated. The Russian public is angry with the American organisers of the economical warfare, not with its own government. The pro-Western opposition tried to demonstrate against Putin, but very few people joined them.

Ordinary Russians kept a stiff upper lip. They did not notice the sanctions until the rouble staggered, and even then they shopped like mad rather than protested. In the face of shrinking money, they did not buy salt and sugar, as their grandparents would have. Their battle cry against hogging was “Do not take more than two Lexus cars per family, leave something for others!”

Perhaps, the invisible financiers went too far. Instead of being cowed, the Russians are preparing for a real long war, as they and their ancestors have historically fought – and won. It is not like they have a choice: though Americans insist Russia should join their War-on-Terrorism-II, they do not intend to relinquish sanctions.

The Russians do not know how to deal with a financial attack. Without capital restrictions, Russia will be cleaned out. Russian Central bank and Treasury people are strict monetarists, capital restrictions are anathema for them. Putin, being a liberal himself, apparently trusts them. Capital flight has taken huge proportions. Unless Russia uses the measures successfully tried by Mohammad Mahathir of Malaysia, it will continue. At present, however, we do not see sign of change.

This could be the incentive for Putin to advance in Ukraine. If the Russians do not know how to shuffle futures and derivatives, they are expert in armour movements and tank battles. Kiev regime is also spoiling for a fight, apparently pushed by the American neocons. It is possible that the US will get more than what it bargained for in the Ukraine.

One can be certain that Russians will not support the Middle Eastern crusade of NATO, as this military action was prepared at the Charlie demo in Paris. It is far from clear who killed the cartoonists, but Paris and Washington intend to use it for reigniting war in the Middle East. This time, Russia will be in opposition, and probably will use it as an opportunity to change the uncomfortable standoff in the Ukraine. Thus supporters of peace in the Middle East have a good reason to back Russia.


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

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

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

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Murdering Journalists … Them and Us

January 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

NATO bombs radio station B92 Belgrade

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 CharlieNous 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.

Notes

  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
  4. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
  5. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
  6. CNN, June 15, 2014
  7. See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
  8. Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
  9. 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.
  10. For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29


William Blum is the author of:

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


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

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Who Benefits From Being Charlie: “I Am NOT Bibi Netanyahu!”

January 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Clearly this subject has already been covered in the media news cycle ad nauseam but I still can’t stop thinking about the “I am Charlie” concept.  Was the idea behind all those people who held up “I am Charlie” posters supposed to be about protecting free speech?  Really?  Then why isn’t everyone carrying “I am Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden” posters too?   Or demanding that the police stop arresting guys who falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or deliberately start barroom brawls?

Or if those “I am Charlie” posters are in protest of armed thugs in Paris gunning down civilians in cold blood, then why isn’t everyone in Paris also carrying posters proclaiming “I am Iraq” or “I am Syria” or “I am Palestine” or “I am Ukraine” or Libya or Mali or….  You get the picture.

All those people holding up signs protesting the slaughter on Rue Nicolas-Appert might actually think that they too are “Charlie” — and that’s fine.  Terrible things happened to the employees of Charlie Hebdo.  No one should ever have to suffer the fate of being shot down in cold blood, and thus the victims deserve to be mourned.  However I myself chose NOT to be Charlie Hebdo, a vicious slimy obscene rag clearly designed to stir up religious tensions in France.

And I also choose not to be any other bigots or terrorist troublemakers who clearly delight in trying to stir up religious tensions in France, crassly using others’ religious differences to pave their own way to riches and power — and yet who have the ultimate and offensive hypocrisy and nerve to show up for the French “I am Charlie” marches with innocent smiles on their faces.  “Who us?” they innocently proclaim — after doing everything they possibly can to stir up bigotry against Muslims.

I am NOT Avigdor Liberman

I am NOT Naftali Bennet

And I am definitely NOT Bibi Netanyahu.

These three guys and their cohorts seem to be always at the center of any religious tension or terrorist attack almost anywhere in the world — starting in 1948 when the Stern Gang blew up the King David Hotel and Moshe Dayan’s “army” slaughtered Christian and Muslim Palestinians left and right in order to steal their land.  “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East,” a Jesuit priest stated back then.  And that’s still true today.

Israel’s sleazy military-industrial complex then went on to be an uber-cheerleader for America when our own sleazy military-industrial complex bombed Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and I forget what all else.  And Israeli neo-cons themselves have bombed Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and I forget what all else too — not to mention their documented ongoing support for ISIS and Al Qaeda.

If bombs, missiles, white phosphorus, tanks, false-flag operations, F-16s, tear gas or even bottle-rockets are involved, Bibi and these guys are so there!

Millions dead in the Middle East?  I call that terrorism.  And yet Bibi and his minions actually had the chutzpah to march in Paris “against terrorism,” according to Paris Match.  Yeah, right.

Yet who benefited from the Charlie Hebdo incident?  Let’s see.  According to Paul Craig Roberts, it’s the American military-industrial complex that benefited.  “Not France, not Muslims, but US world hegemony.  US hegemony over the world is what the CIA supports.  US world hegemony is the neoconservative-imposed foreign policy of the US.”

But as they say in poker, “I’ll see Roberts and raise him.”  Netanyahu benefited.  Apparently, right before the Charlie Dodo incident was staged, France had just announced that it might be backing off supporting sanctions on Russia.  What?  No immediate prospect of World War III?  No big Israeli weapons sales?  Bibi must have been tres disappointed!

France had also just announced that it was gonna recognize the Palestinian state.   OMG!  That must have totally pissed Netanyahu off.

Also, our Bibi is having trouble finding settlers to occupy his many illegal condos in Palestine’s West Bank.  But he just loves French Jews — and hopes to scare them enough to force them to flee to Israel and live rent-free on Palestinian land.  Heck, I like Israel well enough.  Wouldn’t mind living there myself.  It’s a nice place.  Heck, even the Palestinians used to like living there too.  But it’s the Israeli neo-cons’ blood-thirsty hypocritical scheming military-industrial-complex-flaunting neo-con national-socialist leaders that I do not respect or cannot like.

And I’m not being anti-Semitic here.  Let’s leave all that religious bigotry to Charlie Hebdo.  I am only being a student of American-Israeli neo-con “Realpolitik” (Rāˈälpōliˌtēk/:  A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations).  And Realpolitik has nothing to do with religion.

Good grief, I’m so glad that I’m NOT Netanyahu.

And I also feel nothing but compassion for all the billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews who are being subjected to his vile manipulations.  I also feel nothing but compassion for the hostages in the kosher supermarket who were also victims of Bibi’s lust for money and power and to create chaos throughout the world.  Even if it means putting all the world’s Jews in danger again.

PS:  What is going to happen next in France?  Or in Israel and the United States too, for that matter.  As my friend RJ suggests, let’s follow Norway’s heroic example after the dreadful 2011 massacre there and stop spending our patrimony on guns, bombs, war and alienation and start spending that money on integrating our nations’ diversity into our national bank of excellent human resources instead.

We’ve already wasted a hundred trillion dollars on “war” so far, only to discover again and again that violence doesn’t ever work.  Not in the Middle East, not in Ukraine, not in Paris, not at the World Trade Center and not in Ferguson either.  Just imagine if we had spent all that money on education, jobs, and integrating our society into a smooth-running democratic machine instead.

To paraphrase Thomas Piketty, “You can’t have a political democracy unless you have an economic democracy too.”  And “war” has ruined — absolutely ruined — the economic democracy of both Israel and the USA.  And probably France too.


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

Charlie Dodo: A Deal Is Struck In France

January 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Author’s note:  This is a satire.  Sort of…

Don’t you just hate it when people get killed?  Murdered?  Decapitated?  Have their bodies blown up?  Why would anybody in their right mind even consider killing another fellow human being?  Have you yourself killed anybody lately?  Not me.  I’ve never killed nothing.  Cockroaches, maybe — back when I was living rough on the Lower East Side in 1965.  But cockroaches don’t count.  Or do they?  Can you get PTSD from killing bugs?  Probably not.

Yet last week 12 people were shot dead in the streets of Paris by unknown gunmen dressed in black and carrying AK-47s — and apparently even a rocket launcher.  And yet nobody twigged to these odd Halloween costumes before it was too late?    How did this happen?  Apparently a deal had been struck.

Over the past decade or so, the American military-industrial complex in all its glory has moved into the Middle East and killed a million or so people.  And it has handled, trained and armed Al Qaeda and ISIS, a pretty much documented fact.  However.  What goes on in the Middle East stays in the Middle East, right?  Theoretically, yes.

But Pappy Bush said, “Let’s go invade Kuwait and kill us some Iraqis.”  So he did.  And then Baby Bush said, “I can do you one even better than that!”  And he killed even more Iraqis — and, being in a generous mood, threw in some dead Afghans, Palestinians and Persians as well.

Then Obama came along and started bragging, “I went to Harvard.  I can top that!”  And by God he did.  Libya, Syria, Palestine (again) and Ukraine (technically not the Middle East but it did include slaughtering a whole bunch of people — so that should count for something, right?)

And then apparently some Al Qaeda wannabes sent word to their handlers or whatever at the CIA, saying, “We’ve been your grunts since forever and, don’t get us wrong, we really do appreciate all the training and weapons you’ve given us and the chance to behead women and children left and right.  Don’t get us wrong, Consigliere.  We are not ungrateful.  But could you kinda maybe send a bit of a tidbit or bone or reward our way too?  We too want more of the action.  War in the Middle East just isn’t enough.  We’re bored of shelling Mosul and Damascus.  Can we PLEEZE go shoot up Paris as well?  Just a little bit?  Please?”

Well, the CIA understood.  Who can even think of resisting an all-expense-paid trip to Paris?  Certainly not our homeys in ISIS.  Paris being the City of Light and all that.  “Sure, go on ahead with your bad selves,” the ISIS handlers replied.  And a deal was struck.

“What do you got in mind?” asked the handlers.  “A little R&R on the Champs-Élysées?”

“Nah.  We just want to shoot up Charlie Dodo.  Those guys said really really obscene things about the Prophet.  Not, of course, the same really really obscene things we say about the Prophet — but definitely in the ballpark.   Charlie Dodo has made a mockery of the Prophet.  Not as much of a mockery as we have — but a mockery just the same.”

“Done!” cried the handlers — and then the paperwork began.  And why not?  This could definitely be in War Street’s best interests and get everyone in France hating Muslims (even more than they do already).  Just look how well 9-11 turned out for Islamophobics!  “Plus it’s always fun to stage a false-flag operation — and you know how we love to kill journalists.”  It’s a twofer.  This could work!

So their CIA handlers quickly dug up the requisite fake passports and the requisite phony ID cards to leave miraculously lying around at the scene   And they even tried to get their new Qaeda-trash protégé thugs some free passes to Euro-Disney as well, but didn’t quite have the clout to pull that one off.  But the stage was set.  Journalists and police and French citizens were gonna be slaughtered and the whole world was gonna be shocked and go around saying “I am Charlie”.  And it would be “Mission Accomplished” all over again, right?  And, even more important, now France also has a carte blanche excuse to bomb Palestine or Russia or Vietnam or Walmart or whatever they please — just like Baby Bush had his excuse to bomb Afghanistan.

But I still really hate it when people get killed.

PS:  I wrote this because I’m really and totally dubious about what actually happened at Charlie Hebdo the other day.

I’ve been to Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Africa, Palestine, Dallas, etc. and I’ve seen with my own eyes what is actually going on in these places.  But then I go back home to the States and read the MSM newspapers and watch the TV news — and it’s a whole different world they are describing, one filled with fantasies, wistful thinking, propaganda and lies.

I never believe anything I read in the MSM any more.  So why should I suddenly start believing what they say about the bad guys who shot up the Charlie Hebdo offices in France?


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

The Babel State And The Bramble Men

January 11, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

War, Murder, And Needless Civil Strife…

Ancient warfare was more decisive than modern warfare.  Conquering armies marched into the areas to be conquered and subdued resistance.  Once an area was conquered governments were set up and it was impossible to amass a competing army; the land was occupied by the victorious force.

Modern warfare is different, it seeks to control not necessarily to occupy.  For every soldier killed in today’s battles about nine civilians die. National rulers are supported by the people; some willingly and others by coercion.  When citizens support war they deserve their fate but many do not and millions of innocent men, women, and children are killed in all modern wars.

American citizens usually support our wars and laud our soldiers – the United States is a belligerent nation.  The motto seems to be “Our Nation Right or Wrong”.  As we aggressively invade countries that do not threaten us, murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens, our Christian population supports the torture of their recalcitrant prisoners.  Read here.

World War II was the first of the contemporary “all out wars” where civilian neighborhoods and populations were devastated on a daily basis.  According to Wikipedia 69 to 85 million people lost their lives during WWII.  Civilian casualties were slightly higher than military casualties.

In the recent war in Iraq U. S. casualties were 4,425 killed and 32,223 wounded.  The Iraq Body Count estimates 150,000 Iraqis killed of which 80 percent were civilians; a ratio of about 27 to 1.   Unlike U. S. civilians, Iraqi civilians did not support the war. Read here.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” and the Vietnam War were different but there were similarities: Both were preceded by false flag operations. Both were against nations that posed no threat. Both developed an increasing appetite for more troops. Both wars were failures.  Both wars harmed the nation and neither was in our national interest. During the Vietnam War there were massive protests but during the Iraq War they were few and the few were weak.  The Vietnam War did not benefit neo-Israel but the Iraq War did.

Neocons who represent the nation’s power base are clamoring for an attack on Iran.  The safety of neo-Israel is being purchased with the lives and futures of America’s youth.

The human power centers that control our world, Rushdoony calls them bramble men (From a passage in the Book of Judges Chapter 9), are carefully omitted in all public discourse. Most of the rhetoric focuses on the results of their decrees.  Often world events defy logic and when they happen the media reports them but avoids the complete story.  The “Who” and the “Why“ are omitted and though the “What”, “When”, and “Where” are usually mentioned the “How” is also missing.

At Christmas, 2014, Daniel McAdams writes, “It will be a miserable Christmas for the overseas victims of US interventions this year. Though “regime change” proponents talk of bringing freedom and democracy to the countries they target, the end result is quite the opposite: the rise of extremism, famine, ethnic cleansing, and economic destruction are what the US government has left behind in places like Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine.”  Read here.

Americans now consider Russia an enemy.  The procedure for creating this impression has been successful but the connivance that brought it about is not discussed.

The bramble men want world government.  The inexorable progress of this Babelian scheme is invariably ignored by our press and our elected representatives. Chaos creates weakness and weak nations and tired citizens welcome order even when it is tyrannical.  Civilian support is gained by mendacious propaganda and resistance is confined the few who see through the lies.

The Triune God of Christianity seeks peace.  His servants evangelize those He has chosen.  They do not use force.  Branches of Islam conduct forcible conversions, and Talmudic Judaism seeks power through guile.

R. J. Rushdoony calls the modern state a Babel State.  He claims its destiny is confusion.  He points out the sterility of power seeking governments which value power over production.  He says their politics produce death and writes, “The politics of death seeks dominion by means of government and without work.  It seeks a monopoly on government and works to control every sphere of life: persons, families, churches, vocations, society at large, schools, the arts and sciences, and whatever else there is, in order to play god and create a good society”.

He continues, “The image of God in man requires work, responsibility, and self-government under God.  It is man, not the state, who is created in the image of God….. The state is not a person, nor a responsible conscious entity; it is an institution.  When it seeks to supplant men, it cuts itself off from men and from humanity and becomes inhuman, an ironic conclusion for the humanistic state.”

When citizens begin to shift their God given responsibilities to the state they begin to create an ungodly institution to which they, themselves will become slaves.  A responsible, Godly society need not worry about tyrannical government.  Tyranny results from lazy, sinful, faithless citizens who would rather shirk their responsibilities and live under a despot than challenge evil and define righteousness.

The United States of America has been pillaged by the bramble men and is now in a state of perpetual war – a war that seeks control, not victory. Perpetual war is destroying its youth and making slaves of tomorrow’s generations.

The generation fathered by the veterans of earlier Twentieth Century wars participated in the rioting and burning that occurred in the 1960s.  This generation succeeded in changing the moral fiber of the nation.

War is a social disease and the war-scarred children of the Baby Boomers  provided the impetus for the social disruption that swept the nation during the l960s.

A Swank and Marchand WWII study in Wikipedia  “found that after sixty days of continuous combat, 98% of all surviving military personnel will become psychiatric casualties. Psychiatric casualties manifest themselves in fatigue cases, confusional states, conversion hysteria, anxiety, obsessional and compulsive states, and character disorders.”

Wars devastate families:  War removes fathers from the home and saddles mothers with inordinate responsibilities.  War destroys moral standards, freedom, and righteousness. When soldiers return their ability to bring the steady loving hand of a mature compassionate father has often been destroyed by the violence and uncertainty of perennial war.  Children raised in war torn homes themselves become dis-functional and disillusioned.  Though the connection is seldom made, America’s decline was accelerated by the generation raised in these homes

As we progress into the Twenty-First Century the deterioration of our culture is everywhere evident.

We are living in an era of social insanity.  Army Generals sit by without protest as militant females claim they are equal to men and want combat roles.  Homosexuals are not being welcomed into an institution that is intrinsically reserved for opposite sexes while mentally challenged television personalities celebrate this repulsive cognitive dissonance.

The former “city on a hill” has now become the torture center of the world.

Physical encounters have become more violent.  Fights that used to result in a bloody nose now result in a trip to the hospital or the funeral parlor.

Manners have long been forgotten.  Women used to be deferred to as the weaker sex but serving as equals in our military they are now complaining about being raped and are attempting to get disability benefits from the government. Read here.

Many Americans are excited by the coming 2016 elections thinking that the fall of the nation can be stopped by changing the government.  This deception has been used to placate the public for centuries but has never touched the bramble men who control the world.  A definition of insanity is the constant repetition of procedures that do not work.

War has now reached its social zenith; it is no longer expected to produce a victory, instead it is a perennial operation that extends eternally into the future.

The bramble men have created the reality of the anarchic human mind.  Without the stability of God’s legal standards chaos and tyranny are inevitable.

“Thus when bramble men are in power, when men are both envious and self-righteous about their envy, and when a society begins to use its power politically, i.e., to aggrandize power, rather than economically, to produce, develop, and expand, the new Babels arise to bring in fresh confusion and destruction.”  R. J. Rushdoony  (All Rushdoony quotes are from “Systematic Theology” Volume II.)


Al Cronkrite is a writer living in Florida, reach him at: trueword13@yahoo.com

Al Cronkrite is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Oil Price Blowback

January 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Is Putin Creating A New World Order?

“If undercharging for energy products occurs deliberately, it also effects those who introduce these limitations. Problems will arise and grow, worsening the situation not only for Russia but also for our partners.”Russian President Vladimir Putin

It’s hard to know which country is going to suffer the most from falling oil prices. Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit, but that will probably change as time goes on. What the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up in terms of higher unemployment, market volatility, and wobbly bank balance sheets. That’s where the real damage is going to crop up because that’s where red ink and bad loans can metastasize into a full-blown financial crisis. Check out this blurb from Nick Cunningham at Oilprice.com and you’ll see what I mean:

“According to an assessment from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, an estimated 250,000 jobs across eight U.S. states could be lost in 2015 if oil prices don’t rise. More than 50 percent of those job losses would occur in Texas, which leads the nation in oil production.

There are some early signs that a slowdown in drilling could spread to the manufacturing sector in Texas… One executive at a metal manufacturing company said in the survey, “the drop in crude oil prices is going to make things ugly… quickly.” Another company that manufactures machinery told the Dallas Fed, “Low oil prices will drive reductions in U.S. drilling rigs, which will in turn reduce the market for our products.”

The sentiment was similar for a chemical manufacturer, who said “lower oil prices will adversely impact margins. Energy volatility will cause our customers to keep inventories tight.”

States like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have seen their economies boom over the last few years as oil production surged. But the sector is now deflating, leaving gashes in employment rolls and state budgets.” (Low Prices Lead To Layoffs In The Oil Patch, Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com)

Of course industries lay-off workers all the time and it doesn’t always lead to a financial crisis. But unemployment is just one part of the picture, lower personal consumption is another. Take a look:

“Falling oil prices are a bigger drag on economic growth than the incremental “savings” received by the consumer…..Another way to show this graphically is to look at the annual changes in Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) in aggregate as compared to the subsection of PCE spent on energy and related products. This is shown in the chart below.

Lower Energy Prices To Lower PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures):

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(The Gasoline Price Myth, Lance Roberts, oilprice.com)

See? So despite what you might have read in the MSM, lower gas prices do not translate into greater personal consumption or more robust growth. Quiet the contrary, they tend to intensify deflationary pressures and reduce activity which is a damper on growth.

Then there’s the knock-on effects that crashing prices and layoffs have on other industries like mining, manufacturing and chemical production. Here’s more from Oil Price:

“Oil and gas production makeup a hefty chunk of the “mining and manufacturing” component of the employment rolls. Since 2000, when the oil price boom gained traction, Texas has comprised more than 40% of all jobs in the country according to first quarter data from the Dallas Federal Reserve…

The majority of the jobs “created” since the financial crisis have been lower wage paying jobs in retail, healthcare and other service sectors of the economy. Conversely, the jobs created within the energy space are some of the highest wage paying opportunities available in engineering, technology, accounting, legal, etc. In fact, each job created in energy related areas has had a “ripple effect” of creating 2.8 jobs elsewhere in the economy from piping to coatings, trucking and transportation, restaurants and retail….

The obvious ramification of the plunge in oil prices is that eventually the loss of revenue will lead to cuts in production, declines in capital expenditure plans (which comprise almost 1/4th of all capex expenditures in the S&P 500), freezes and/or reductions in employment, and declines in revenue and profitability…

Simply put, lower oil and gasoline prices may have a bigger detraction on the economy than the “savings” provided to consumers.” (The Gasoline Price Myth, Lance Roberts, oilprice.com)

None of this sounds very reassuring, does it? And yet, all we hear from the media is how the economy is going to reach “escape velocity” on the back of cheap oil. Nonsense. This is just more “green shoots” baloney wrapped in public relations hype. The fact is, the economy needs the good-paying jobs more than it needs low-priced energy. But now that prices are tumbling, those jobs are going to disappear which is going to be a drag on growth. Now check out these headlines I picked up on Google News that help to show what’s going on off the radar:

“Texas is in danger of a recession”, CNN Money.
“Texas Could Be Headed for an Oil-Fueled Recession, JP Morgan Economist Says”, Wall Street Journal “Good Times From Texas to North Dakota May Turn Bad on Oil-Price Drop”, Bloomberg
“Low Oil Prices in the New Year Are Screwing Petrostates”, Vice News
“Top US Oil States Are Taking A Hit From Plunging Crude Prices”, Business Insider

Get the picture? If oil prices continue to fall, unemployment is going to spike, activity is going to slow, and the economy is going tank. And the damage won’t be limited to the US either. Get a load of this from the UK Telegraph:

“A third of Britain’s listed oil and gas companies are in danger of running out of working capital and even going bankrupt amid a slump in the value of crude, according to new research.

Financial risk management group Company Watch believes that 70pc of the UK’s publicly listed oil exploration and production companies are now unprofitable, racking up significant losses in the region of £1.8bn.

Such is the extent of the financial pressure now bearing down on highly leveraged drillers in the UK that Company Watch estimates that a third of the 126 quoted oil and gas companies on AIM and the London Stock Exchange are generating no revenues.

The findings are the latest warning to hit the oil and gas industry since a slump in the price of crude accelerated in November when the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) decided to keep its output levels unchanged. The decision has caused carnage in oil markets with a barrel of Brent crude falling 45pc since June to around $60 per barrel.” (Third of listed UK oil and gas drillers face bankruptcy, Telegraph)

“Carnage in oil markets,” you say?

Indeed. Many of the oil-drilling newcomers set up shop to take advantage of the low rates and easy money available in the bond market. Now that prices have crashed, investors are avoiding energy-related junk bonds like the plague which is making it impossible for the smaller companies to roll over their debt or attract fresh capital. When these companies start to default en masse, as they certainly will if prices don’t rebound, the blowback will be felt on bank balance sheets across the country creating the possibility of another financial meltdown. (Now we ARE talking about a financial crisis.)

The basic problem is that the banks have bundled a lot of their dodgy debt into financially-engineered products like Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that will inevitably fail when borrowers are no longer able to service the loans. The rot can be concealed for a while, but eventually, if prices don’t recover, a significant number of these companies are going to go under which will push the perennially-undercapitalized banking system to the brink once again. That’s why Washington’s plan to push down oil prices (to hurt the Russian economy) might have made sense on a short-term basis (to shock Putin into submission) but as a long-term strategy, it’s nuts. And what’s even crazier, is that Obama has decided to double-down on the same wacky plan even though Putin hasn’t given an inch. Check this out from Reuters on Monday:

“The Obama administration has opened a new front in the global battle for oil market share, effectively clearing the way for the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light U.S. crude to the rest of the world…

The Department of Commerce on Tuesday ended a year-long silence on a contentious, four-decade ban on oil exports, saying it had begun approving a backlog of requests to sell processed light oil abroad.

The action comes at a critical juncture for the global oil market. World prices have halved to less than $60 a barrel since the summer as top exporter Saudi Arabia, once a staunch defender of $100 oil, refused to cut production in the face of surging U.S. shale output and tempered global demand…

With global oil markets in flux, it is far from clear how much U.S. condensate will find a market overseas.”
(Analysis – U.S. opening of oil export tap widens battle for global market, Reuters)

Does that make sense to you, dear reader? Why would Obama suddenly opt to change the rules of the game when he knows it will increase supply and push prices down even further? Why would he do that? Certainly, he doesn’t want to inflict more pain on domestic producers, does he?

Let’s let Obama answer the question for himself. Here’s a clip from an NPR interview with the president just last week. About halfway through the interview, NPR’s Steve Inskeep asks Obama: “Are you just lucky that the price of oil went down and therefore their currency collapsed or …is it something that you did?

Barack Obama: If you’ll recall, their (Russia) economy was already contracting and capital was fleeing even before oil collapsed. And part of our rationale in this process was that the only thing keeping that economy afloat was the price of oil. And if, in fact, we were steady in applying sanction pressure, which we have been, that over time it would make the economy of Russia sufficiently vulnerable that if and when there were disruptions with respect to the price of oil — which, inevitably, there are going to be sometime, if not this year then next year or the year after — that they’d have enormous difficulty managing it.” (Transcript: President Obama’s Full NPR Interview)

Am I mistaken or did Obama just admit that he wanted “disruptions” in the “price of oil” because he figured Putin would have “enormous difficulty managing it”?

Isn’t that the same as saying that it was all part of Washington’s plan; that plunging prices were just the icing on the cake for their asymmetrical attack on the Russian economy? It sure sounds like it. And that would also explain why Obama decided to allow domestic producers to dump more oil on the market even though it’s going to send prices lower. Apparently, none of that matters as long as the policy hurts Russia.

So maybe the US-Saudi oil collusion theory isn’t so far fetched after all. Maybe Salon’s Patrick L. Smith was right when he said:

“Less than a week after the Minsk Protocol was signed, Kerry made a little-noted trip to Jeddah to see King Abdullah at his summer residence. When it was reported at all, this was put across as part of Kerry’s campaign to secure Arab support in the fight against the Islamic State.

Stop right there. That is not all there was to the visit, my trustworthy sources tell me. The other half of the visit had to do with Washington’s unabated desire to ruin the Russian economy. To do this, Kerry told the Saudis 1) to raise production and 2) to cut its crude price. Keep in mind these pertinent numbers: The Saudis produce a barrel of oil for less than $30 as break-even in the national budget; the Russians need $105.

Shortly after Kerry’s visit, the Saudis began increasing production, sure enough — by more than 100,000 barrels daily during the rest of September, more apparently to come…

Think about this. Winter is coming, there are serious production outages now in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, other OPEC members are screaming for relief, and the Saudis make back-to-back moves certain to push falling prices still lower? You do the math, with Kerry’s unreported itinerary in mind, and to help you along I offer this from an extremely well-positioned source in the commodities markets: “There are very big hands pushing oil into global supply now,” this source wrote in an e-mail note the other day.” (“What Really Happened in Beijing: Putin, Obama, Xi And The Back Story The Media Won’t Tell You”, Patrick L. Smith, Salon)

Vladimir Putin: Public Enemy Number 1

Let’s cut to the chase: All these oil shenanigans are really aimed at just one man: Vladimir Putin. There are a number of reasons why Washington wants to get rid of Putin, the first of which is that the Russian president has become an obstacle to US plans to pivot to Asia. That’s the main issue. As long as Putin is calling the shots, there’s going to be growing resistance to NATO’s push eastward and Washington’s military expansion across Central Asia which could undermine US plans to encircle China and remain the world’s only superpower. Here’s an excerpt from Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard which helps to explain the importance Eurasia is in terms of Washington’s global ambitions:

“..how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31) (Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Key Quotes From Zbigniew Brzezinksi’s Seminal Book)

Get it? Prevailing in Asia is the administration’s top priority, which is why the US is rapidly moving its military assets into place. Check this out from the World Socialist Web Site:

“Under Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” the Pacific Command will account for more than 60 percent of all US military forces, up from 50 percent under the Bush administration. This includes new US basing arrangements in the Philippines, Singapore and Australia, as well as renewed close military ties to New Zealand, and ongoing US military exercises in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan….(as well as) large troop deployments in Japan and South Korea, including nuclear-armed units.” (The global scale of US militarism, Patrick Martin, World Socialist Web Site)

The “Big Shift” is already underway, which is why obstacles have to be removed and Putin’s got to go.

Second, Putin has made himself a general nuisance vis a vis US strategic objectives in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. In Syria, Putin has thrown his support behind Assad who the US wants to topple in order to redraw the map of the Middle East and build gas pipelines from Qatar to Turkey to access the lucrative EU market.

Third, Putin has strengthened a number of coalitions and alliances –the BRICS bank, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization–all of which pose a challenge to US dominance in the region as well as a viable alternative to neoliberal financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Going back to Brzezinski’s “chessboard” once again, we see that the US should not feel threatened by any one nation, but should be constantly on-the-lookout for “regional coalitions” which could derail its plans to rule the world. Here’s Brzezinski again:

“…the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)

“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55) (Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Key Quotes From Zbigniew Brzezinksi’s Seminal Book)

As a founding member and primary backer of these organizations, (and initiator of giant energy deals with China, India and Turkey) Putin has become Washington’s biggest headache and a logical target for regime change.

Finally, Putin is doing whatever he can to circumvent dollar-denominated business and financial transactions. The move away from the buck is a direct attack on the US’s greatest source of power, the ability to control the de facto international currency and to require that other nation’s stockpile dollars for their energy purchases which are then recycled into US financial assets, stocks bonds and US Treasuries. This petrodollar-recycling scam allows the US to run gigantic current account deficits without raising interest rates or reducing government spending. Putin’s anti-dollar policies could diminish the greenback’s role as reserve currency and put an end to a system that institutionalizes looting.

This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar.

Naturally, Washington’s powerbrokers are worried about these developments, just as they are worried about the new world order which is gradually taking shape under Putin’s guidance. But, so far, they haven’t been able to do anything about it. The administration’s regime change schemers and fantasists have shown time-and-again that they’re no match for Bad Vlad who has beaten them at every turn.

Bravo, Putin.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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

As Aleppo Goes, So Goes Syria?

January 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Were a visitor to arrive at the embattled city of Aleppo these frigid and bleak days from the western government controlled side of the 7000 year old city, even if blindfolded and wearing tight earplugs the sightless and deaf traveler would likely sense something very different from what he experiences in Damascus and other cities in Syria.

Somehow, a visitor just feels it in the ambient atmosphere. Something–expectations, pressure, anticipation, dread, anguish, excitement is rapidly building and seemingly is about to impact profoundly events in this war that has killed nearly a quarter million people, wounded more than one million and forced more than 3 million to flee Syria while displacing half of the remaining population that once numbered 23 million. With no end even faintly in sight.

Aleppo has been and remains, along with Damascus, the strategic area which is critical to both sides of the chaotically stalemated conflict. The victor in Aleppo will achieve momentum which some military experts claim will lead them to control much of Syria and certainly nearly all of the major population centers. Aleppo is crucial for both sides as pressure builds daily and as many Aleppines are expressing a sense that some powerful dynamic in about to occur leading toward a resolution of the four year civil war or perhaps leading to even more abject horror.

None of us knows of course but this observer wondered the other day if this is what his host, the commander of government forces in the old city souk in Aleppo had in mind when he looked up toward the nearby ancient Citidel where his troops are finally stationed after two years of fighting opposition forces. But what did he mean when he cryptically said, “In three days my friend you will see something happen here that will have major consequences, enshallah (god willing) for the good of the Syrian people and my country.”

Well, in the following three days nothing particularly major seemed to happen in the neighborhood where this observer has been staying the western section of Aleppo. The usual thuds of mortars and artillery and aircraft screaming across the sky followed by bomb blasts and passersby often squinting skyward and shrugging at visitors as they hurry on their way.

On the third day in Idlib, rebels and Nusra Front militants did seize at least three government checkpoints near two military bases, Wadi Deif and Hamidiyeh which straddle an important supply route in Idlib Province to the southwest. This achievement suggests al Nusra achieves occasional dominance over the Syrian army. Yet almost immediately government combat aircraft bombed the Bab town area of Aleppo, an area controlled by Da’ish (IS) which are increasingly collaborating with Nusra in some areas. Rebels hav also been active recently to the southwest adding more pressure on government forces that are currently scattered over a large area vaguely surrounding Allepo and fighting to capture it from rebels still building up their forces in the east, north and northwest of the city.

Or did the commander mean the reportedly rapid in-gathering of Hezbollah and Iranian fighters who many believe are preparing a Qalamoun type offensive from the west aimed at cutting supplies lines to rebels forces? Its hard to know, but when we last visited his compound on the fifth day, for sure it had changed, presumably in anticipation of something significant about to be unleashed. The hallways of his three level HQ were now neatly stacked to the ceilings with rockets and ammunition of various kinds. One of his aides joked that he hoped Da’ish or Nusra was not digging another tunnel in the area. With a grimace, his commander explained that his men have only a little outdated Soviet era tunnel detection equipment that does not work well so they rely on literally keeping their ears to the ground to detect deadly tunneling sounds. Rebel tunneling that led to the nearby 150 year old Carlton Citadel Hotel being completely demolished on 8 May 2014. The blast from a tunnel underneath killed between 14 and 50 people depending of which source one credits. Da’ish claims it was being used as an army barracks. As this observer stumbled alongside army guys whispering into their radios as we climbed through the Carlton Hotel rubble in pitch blackness toward the Citadel, he was advised that some bodies under the rubble had still not been recovered seven months later and he sensed fear in his guides about tunnels being dug below. A well-grounded nervousness because on 12/30/14 a powerful blast from explosives planted in a tunnel near the HQ this observer visited reportedly, by a new rebel coalition in Aleppo called Jabha Shamiyeh, killed or wounded more than 30 soldiers.

Both sides and their allies are getting exhausted with reported increased desertions from both sides and intensifying complaints from the population. Syria’s allies are growing weary of a conflict that could last decades without clear benefits to any side. Russia is tired with major economic problems looming. The recent collapse in oil prices and Western sanctions have battered the Russian economy which has fallen into decline for the first time in five years, according to official figures. This forced drastic interventions from the Russian Central Bank and appears to be creating the biggest crisis in Vladimir Putin’s leadership of the country. Russia’s economy ministry said GDP had fallen by 0.5pc in the year to November, the latest sign that the country is heading for recession.

With respect to Iran, despite repeated assurances from its leaders that the US led sanctions have been defeated, it still faces severe economic problems as well as the growing loss of al Quds commanders in Syria and Iraq leading to increasing criticism of the regimes involvement in both countries and even Lebanon from the Iranian people.

Iran’s worst nightmare in Iraq and Syria and perhaps soon in Lebanon is Da’ish (IS) and Nusra black flags fluttering on the horizon Both have left little doubt that they view Shia as a cult of apostates who tried to hijack Islam in the 7th Century and need to be eradicated or at a minimum converted and watched closely. On 12/19/14 a suicide bomber, presumably from Da’ish (IS) or Nusra attacked Shiite pilgrims on their way to a shrine at Samarra in the Taji area north of Baghdad again, this time killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 35. This as they have recently launched a campaign to liberate Syria and Iraq from what they claim now nearly total Iranian occupation. Da’ish has launched a social media campaign among Sunni tribes to eliminate once and for all Shia and return Islam to the Caliphate of and by Mohammad the Prophet. One Da’ish adviser discussed with this observer how Iran’s regime has become vulnerable and ripe for removal by the people of Iran due to the same forces plaguing Hezbollah. That is trying to justify to their supporters why they are in Iraq and Syria killing Sunni and Shia alike instead of getting serious about dialogue and salvaging these countries. Time is claimed to be on the side of Da’ish by its spokesmen given the perceived depth of corruption and illegitimacy of rulers in the region and increasingly restive populations.

One student I met at the restaurant in Aleppo explained as only an inspired student seems to be able and willing to do these days: “Change is coming. Deep change. The corrupt incompetents and religious fanatics on all both sides will be swept away. What you are seeing these days in our region are only mild soft tremors presaging the next phase. Frankly, I put religions at the top of my personal Terrorism List.”

Hezbollah is under increasing pressure, even within the Shia community, to leave Syria and Iraq partly because their supporters have tired of seeing posters of their dead sons plastered around the Bekaa, South Beirut, and South Lebanon. Hezbollah leaders have never really convinced many people of its necessity to fight in Syria and Iraq to keep the “terrorist and takfiris” out of Lebanon. According to virtually every poll taken, a majority of Lebanese believe the opposite- believing that IS and Al Nusra are coming here because Hezbollah went there and created a magnate for jihadists to fight them and target their strongholds. Meanwhile some right-wing Israeli politicians, if not the Northern Command, reportedly claim Hezbollah is over stretched and they fantasize about ‘ turf furloughing’ in Lebanon’ and carpet bombing Hezbollah much more severely than during its most recent genocidal ‘lawn-mowing’ in Gaza.

Against this backdrop, maybe the subject most frequently discussed these days with foreign visitors to Aleppo is the urgent need for a ceasefire leading to a negotiated settlement. So the time may be ripe for a ceasefire in Aleppo. One idea is to establish a ‘stand down models’ or ‘freeze zones” to be put into place across Syria in order to stop the seemingly interminable slaughter. UN envoys UN Envoy Staffan De Mistura’s proposal for a ‘freeze’ and the fast approaching Jan. 26-29 Moscow talks could be what the army commander had in mind. Part of De Mistura’s goal is to secure a ceasefire that would allow humanitarian aid to reach those in dire need. He has warned the fall of Aleppo would likely create an additional 400,000 refugees.

The ‘freeze’ proposal was within three days of the commanders prediction and if adopted by the parties could spread to other areas and conceivable lead to a ceasefire and then to peace talks as being promoted by Russia and being studied by the Assad government. The Foreign Ministry told the media this week that “Syria is ready to participate in preliminary consultations in Moscow in order to meet the aspirations of Syrians to find a way out of crisis.”

One example of ‘freezing the conflict in Aleppo” movement, as a step toward a broader settlement along the lines proposed by is the 12/29/14 action by Syrian army allowing more than 30 besieged families and some armed men who surrendered, “safe passage” out of from Douma and Zibdin in Eastern Ghouta adjoining Damascus. There are also rumors that male evacuees might be recruited into a pro-regime militia. The evacuation was the second since December 9, when 76 families were allowed out of Douma.

According to Freeze proponents, this plan to freeze the fighting in Aleppo is the only hopeful one available. De Mistura has said he sees no hope for another plan and it is the only plan capable of freezing the fighting, securing people’s needs and returning the displaced people who are burdening neighboring areas and states. It will also allow for the eventual process of reconstruction he and many others insist. Regime supporters argue that Syrian President Assad is showing readiness to ensure the success of the international plan in Aleppo, and that he convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin of the plan while convincing his Iranian allies as well.

The White House, despite reservations, appears more flexible this week, linking their approval with that of some of their regional allies, meaning Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries. Two rounds of Geneva talks early in 2014 failed to halt the conflict and some claimed actually inflamed it.

A Syrian gentleman who speaks regularly to security officials and leaders from Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an important component of his base, said recently that a growing numbers across the political spectrum now are insisting on a political settlement despite others still insisting on a fight to the death. One angry gentleman, exhibiting a ‘no turning back’ mentality and who lost his home, family and all hope for recovery, emphasized to this observer, that, “What happens to us during this period is not important. What matters is how history will judge us 1000 years from now.”

And so the Syrian civil war goes on. As Red Cross Dr David Nott who returned to Aleppo recently to help treat victims presented a gloomy assessment while describing the nearly complete breakdown of medical treatment in the city. He explained that more than 80% of patients requiring urgent treatment now die as a result of their injuries or lack of basic care, medicine and equipment. A plunge in vaccination rates from 90 percent before the war to 52 percent this year and contaminated water is allowing typhoid and hepatitis to spread and over half of public hospitals are closed resulting in treatments for diseases and injuries being erratic. More than 6,500 cases of typhoid and 4,200 cases of measles, the deadliest disease for Syrian children, being reported in 2014 across Syria.

One can only wish Envoy De Mistura and like-minded proponents of the immediate establishment of a “freeze zone” in Aleppo, to be replicated across Syria as strongly favored by army commanders with whom this observer recently discussed the subject, the very best of luck in the New Year.

Freezing hostilities in Aleppo could possibly achieve the same for Syria. It’s worth a try.


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

Dr. Franklin Lamb is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Future “Former” USA: Just Another Former Soviet Union?

January 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

I just finished reading an article by a guy who had accurately predicted the fall of the former USSR two whole years before it actually happened.  However, nobody back then even believed him.  “The USSR has over-extended itself and is going to collapse!” he kept telling people.  But everyone who heard him just laughed.

Well.  At this point in time, the USA has totally over-extended itself too.  Like some addicted shopaholic set loose with questionable plastic at a shopping mall, the USA has over-charged every single one of its credit cards by at least eleven trillion dollars in order to buy its very favorite consumer product — endless war.  And, in addition, the USA has also spent another ungodly number of trillions on making its uber-rich 1% even richer, and keeping its corrupt bankers happy as clams.

And so, like the former USSR back in 1991, now the USA also has nowhere to go but down either — due to its total over-extension.  And you don’t even have to be a genius to do the math here.  Anyone with a calculator app. on their iPhone can figure this one out.  A couple hundred trillion $$$$ subtracted from zero equals what?  Total collapse.  This is pretty much a given at the rate that our “fearless leaders” on Wall Street and War Street are currently spreading their phony credit-card moolah around.

But what I really want to talk about here is what will actually happen to America (and to you and me) when our country suddenly does become referred to as “The Former USA”.   To know that, all we have to do is look at a model already set before us — what had happened to the Former USSR after it had over-extended itself.

First, you gotta remember that ten percent of all citizens of the Soviet Union actually DIED after the USSR collapsed.  Ten percent!  One in ten.  The old people went first.  And the working poor.  And the kids.  That would be like having about 30 million Americans dead as a doornail because Wall Street and War Street didn’t behave themselves.

Second, a huge number of Soviet public buildings throughout Europe and Asia suddenly became “privatized” and were happily handed over to the lowest bidders — the oligarchs.  But then that is happening here in the USA already.  Let’s take my own downtown Berkeley post office for instance.  It’s being practically given away to oligarchs even as we speak.  And American schools, national parks, mineral-rich lands, public buildings and all kinds of other property that used to be held in the common interest is now not being held in the common interest any more.  And when the USA becomes “Former,” this process will be speeded up even faster.  Say goodbye to Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and your local city hall.

Third, after the former Soviet Union fell, people’s teeth began to rot for lack of dental care there.  Suddenly there were no affordable doctors and dentists in Russia, a trend that has also gotten a big head-start here in the soon-to-be Former USA already.  If you don’t take care of your citizens, this is what you get.  Sick people and rotten teeth.

Fourth?  Unemployment in Russia.  Of course we already have a head-start on that one as well.  But it will be getting worse.  Much worse.

Fifth, the USSR’s status as a world super-power suddenly collapsed as its wounded warriors painfully wound their way back home from places like Afghanistan.  The same will happen in the former USA too.

Sixth:  Before its collapse, the USSR used to be a “communist” state — in the sense that only a few people at the very top made all the decisions.  And now, thanks to Citizens United, the USA has already gotten that way too.  We are no longer a democracy either.  So in that respect too we have already started to become like the Soviets right before their big fall.  And it will get even worse here after the fall of the USA as well.  Our current “deep state” shadow governments will be coming out of the shadows and cesspools for sure.  Can you say “President-for-Life Cheney,” boys and girls?

But actually, back during the 1950s, it was America that had been the true communist state — after WW II had reshuffled the cards, dealt new hands to working folks, given our middle class a leg up and redistributed our wealth more equally by taking it from the uber-rich and giving it to the middle class.  But Reagan’s tricky re-stacking of the deck in favor of Wall Street, and Bush’s ace-up-his-sleeve gifts to War Street and sleight-of-hand tax redistribution act of 2003 soon changed all that — and our wealth was then redistributed upwards to the uber-rich once again, ending “communism” in America forever.  No, they don’t call it “capitalism” without reason.  The uber-rich now own all the “capital”.  We don’t.

In order to return to America’s former “communistic” economic glory of the 1950s, three things need to happen.  We need to go back to giving America’s middle and working classes their former leg-up tax breaks — instead of only giving a huge tax leg-up to our 1% “Soviet Commissars” only.  And we need to stop stacking the deck in favor of Wall Street’s insane profit margins.  And we need to shut down War Street completely.  Otherwise, after the USA falls too, we also are gonna have oligarchs coming out our ears — even more than they are now.

Seventh, the USSR ruble collapsed back then — just like the dollar is now collapsing already.  It’s gonna be rather tough around here when the US dollar also becomes worth diddly-squat.

Eighth, consider that wise Biblical saying, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.  And then become very afraid.  From Hiroshima, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and Latin America to the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, etc., the first thing that the USA and/or its surrogates do when they attack a country is to bomb its civilian population, take out the water supply, power plants and hospitals, and/or install a ruthless dictator.  Let us just hope that the former USA will not fall into a position to be vulnerable to retaliation, that our former victims will show mercy and that “Do unto others…” will not apply to us like it did to the USSR.

And, ninth, the huge Soviet Union began to break up into smaller states and groups as it fell.  That will definitely happen here too.  Can’t exactly say that I will miss any of the Red States when they leave — but they will sorely miss not being part of the new American Blue States, their current life-line to prosperity.  I can tell you that right now.

All the signs of the eminent collapse of the USA are already here right now, just like they were for the USSR back before 1991.  Go ahead and laugh if you will, but hard times really are coming here too.  The Former USA is practically upon us.  We have already over-extended ourselves too deeply to rationally expect any other result.  Sigh.

Let us just hope that America somehow manages to find another chess master like Putin to lead us After the Fall, and doesn’t get stuck with another drunk like Yeltsin!


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

Irreversible Decline?

January 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Did the U.S. and the Saudis Conspire to Push Down Oil Prices?

“Saudi oil policy… has been subject to a great deal of wild and inaccurate conjecture in recent weeks. We do not seek to politicize oil… For us it’s a question of supply and demand, it’s purely business.” – Ali al Naimi, Saudi Oil Minister

“There is no conspiracy, there is no targeting of anyone. This is a market and it goes up and down.” – Suhail Bin Mohammed al-Mazroui, United Arab Emirates’ petroleum minister

“We all see the lowering of oil prices. There’s lots of talk about what’s causing it. Could it be an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to punish Iran and affect the economies of Russia and Venezuela? It could.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

Are falling oil prices part of a US-Saudi plan to inflict economic damage on Russia, Iran and Venezuela?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seems to think so. In a recent interview that appeared in Reuters, Maduro said he thought the United States and Saudi Arabia wanted to drive down oil prices “to harm Russia.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with Maduro and told journalists at RT that: “The reduction in oil prices was provoked by the US as an attack on the economies of Venezuela and Russia. In the face of such economic and political attacks, the nations must be united.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the same thing,with a slightly different twist: “The main reason for (the oil price plunge) is a political conspiracy by certain countries against the interests of the region and the Islamic world … Iran and people of the region will not forget such … treachery against the interests of the Muslim world.”

US-Saudi “treachery”? Is that what’s really driving down oil prices?

Not according to Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum Minister Ali al-Naimi. Al-Naimi has repeatedly denied claims that the kingdom is involved in a conspiracy. He says the tumbling prices are the result of “A lack of cooperation by non-OPEC production nations, along with the spread of misinformation and speculator’s greed.” In other words, everyone else is to blame except the country that has historically kept prices high by controlling output. That’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? Especially since–according to the Financial Times — OPEC’s de facto leader has abandoned the cartel’s “traditional strategy” and announced that it won’t cut production even if prices drop to $20 per barrel.

Why? Why would the Saudis suddenly abandon a strategy that allowed them to rake in twice as much dough as they are today? Don’t they like money anymore?

And why would al-Naimi be so eager to crash prices, send Middle East stock markets into freefall, increase the kingdom’s budget deficits to a record-high 5 percent of GDP, and create widespread financial instability? Is grabbing “market share” really that important or is there something else going on here below the surface?

The Guardian’s Larry Elliot thinks the US and Saudi Arabia are engaged a conspiracy to push down oil prices. He points to a September meeting between John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah where a deal was made to boost production in order to hurt Iran and Russia. Here’s a clip from the article titled “Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia”:

“…with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with…

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.

The Saudis did something similar in the mid-1980s. Then, the geopolitical motivation for a move that sent the oil price to below $10 a barrel was to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s regime. This time, according to Middle East specialists, the Saudis want to put pressure on Iran and to force Moscow to weaken its support for the Assad regime in Syria… (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Guardian)

That’s the gist of Elliot’s theory, but is he right?

Vladimir Putin isn’t so sure. Unlike Morales, Maduro and Rouhani, the Russian president has been reluctant to blame falling prices on US-Saudi collusion. In an article in Itar-Tass, Putin opined:

“There’s a lot of talk around” in what concerns the causes for the slide of oil prices, he said at a major annual news conference. “Some people say there is conspiracy between Saudi Arabia and the US in order to punish Iran or to depress the Russian economy or to exert impact on Venezuela.”

“It might be really so or might be different, or there might be the struggle of traditional producers of crude oil and shale oil,” Putin said. “Given the current situation on the market the production of shale oil and gas has practically reached the level of zero operating costs.” (Putin says oil market price conspiracy between Saudi Arabia and US not ruled out, Itar-Tass)

As always, Putin takes the most moderate position, that is, that Washington and the Saudis may be in cahoots, but that droopy prices might simply be a sign of over-supply and weakening demand. In other words, there could be a plot, but then again, maybe not. Putin is a man who avoids passing judgment without sufficient evidence.

The same can’t be said of the Washington Post. In a recent article, WP journalist Chris Mooney dismisses anyone who thinks oil prices are the result of US-Saudi collaboration as “kooky conspiracy theorists”. According to Mooney:

“The reasons for the sudden (price) swing are not particularly glamorous: They involve factors like supply and demand, oil companies having invested heavily in exploration several years ago to produce a glut of oil that has now hit the market — and then, perhaps, the “lack of cohesion” among the diverse members of OPEC.” (Why there are so many kooky conspiracy theories about oil, Washington Post)

Oddly enough, Mooney disproves his own theory a few paragraphs later in the same piece when he says:

“Oil producers really do coordinate. And then, there’s OPEC, which is widely referred to in the press as a “cartel,” and which states up front that its mission is to “coordinate and unify the petroleum policies” of its 12 member countries…. Again, there’s that veneer of plausibility to the idea of some grand oil related strategy.” (WP)

Let me get this straight: One the one hand Mooney agrees that OPEC is a cartel that “coordinates and unify the petroleum policies”, then on the other, he says that market fundamentals are at work. Can you see the disconnect? Cartels obstruct normal supply-demand dynamics by fixing prices, which Mooney seems to breezily ignore.

Also, he scoffs at the idea of “some grand oil related strategy” as if these cartel nations were philanthropic organizations operating in the service of humanity. Right. Someone needs to clue Mooney in on the fact that OPEC is not the Peace Corps. They are monopolizing amalgam of cutthroat extortionists whose only interest is maximizing profits while increasing their own political power. Surely, we can all agree on that fact.

What’s really wrong with Mooney’s article, is that he misses the point entirely. The debate is NOT between so-called “conspiracy theorists” and those who think market forces alone explain the falling prices. It’s between the people who think that the Saudis decision to flood the market is driven by politics rather than a desire to grab “market share.” That’s where people disagree. No denies that there’s manipulation; they merely disagree about the motive. This glaring fact seems to escape Mooney who is on a mission to discredit conspiracy theorists at all cost. Here’s more:

(There’s) “a long tradition of conspiracy theorists who have surmised that the world’s great oil powers — whether countries or mega-corporations — are secretly pulling strings to shape world events.”…

“A lot of conspiracy theories take as their premise that there’s a small group of people who are plotting to control something, to control the government, the banking system, or the main energy source, and they are doing this to the disadvantage of everybody else,” says University of California-Davis historian Kathy Olmsted, author of “Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11″. (Washington Post)

Got that? Now find me one person who doesn’t think the world is run by a small group of rich, powerful people who operate in their own best interests? Here’s more from the same article:

(Oil) “It’s the perfect lever for shifting world events. If you were a mad secret society with world-dominating aspirations and lots of power, how would you tweak the world to create cascading outcomes that could topple governments and enrich some at the expense of others? It’s hard to see a better lever than the price of oil, given its integral role in the world economy.” (WP)

“A mad secret society”? Has Mooney noticed that — in the last decade and a half — the US has only invaded nations that have huge natural resources (mainly oil and natural gas) or the geography for critical pipeline routes? There’s nothing particularly secret about it, is there?

The United States is not a “mad secret society with world-dominating aspirations”. It’s a empire with blatantly obvious “world-dominating aspirations” run by political puppets who do the work of wealthy elites and corporations. Any sentient being who’s bright enough to browse the daily headlines can figure that one out.

Mooney’s grand finale:

“So in sum, with a surprising and dramatic event like this year’s oil price decline, it would be shocking if it did not generate conspiracy theories. Humans believe them all too easily. And they’re a lot more colorful than a more technical (and accurate) story about supply and demand.” (WP)

Ah, yes. Now I see. Those darn “humans”. They’re so weak-minded they’ll believe anything you tell them, which is why they need someone as smart as Mooney tell them how the world really works.

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? On top of that, he gets the whole story wrong. This isn’t about market fundamentals. It’s about manipulation. Are the Saudis manipulating supply to grab market share or for political reasons? THAT’S THE QUESTION. The fact that they ARE manipulating supply is not challenged by anyone including the uber-conservative Financial Times that deliberately pointed out that the Saudis had abandoned their traditional role of cutting supply to support prices. That’s what a “swing state” does; it manipulates supply keep prices higher than they would be if market forces were allowed to operate unimpeded.

So what is the motive driving the policy; that’s what we want to know?

Certainly there’s a strong case to be made for market share. No one denies that. If the Saudis keep prices at rock bottom for a prolonged period of time, then a high percentage of the producers (that can’t survive at prices below $70 per barrel) will default leaving OPEC with greater market share and more control over pricing.

So market share is certainly a factor. But is it the only factor?

Is it so far fetched to think that the United States–which in the last year has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia, made every effort to sabotage the South Stream pipeline, and toppled the government in Kiev so it could control the flow of Russian gas to countries in the EU–would coerce the Saudis into flooding the market with oil in order to decimate the Russian economy, savage the ruble, and create favorable conditions for regime change in Moscow? Is that so hard to believe?

Apparently New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman doesn’t think so. Here’s how he summed it up in a piece last month: “Is it just my imagination or is there a global oil war underway pitting the United States and Saudi Arabia on one side against Russia and Iran on the other?”

It sounds like Freidman has joined the conspiracy throng, doesn’t it? And he’s not alone either. This is from Alex Lantier at the World Socialist Web Site:

“While there are a host of global economic factors underlying the fall in oil prices, it is unquestionable that a major role in the commodity’s staggering plunge is Washington’s collaboration with OPEC and the Saudi monarchs in Riyadh to boost production and increase the glut on world oil markets.

As Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia after the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis last March, the Guardian wrote, “Angered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudis turned on the oil taps, driving down the global price of crude until it reached $20 a barrel (in today’s prices) in the mid-1980s… [Today] the Saudis might be up for such a move—which would also boost global growth—in order to punish Putin over his support for the Assad regime in Syria. Has Washington floated this idea with Riyadh? It would be a surprise if it hasn’t.” (Alex Lantier,Imperialism and the ruble crisis, World Socialist Web Site)

And here’s an intriguing clip from an article at Reuters that suggests the Obama administration is behind the present Saudi policy:

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sidestepped the issue (of a US-Saudi plot) after a trip to Saudi Arabia in September. Asked if past discussions with Riyadh had touched on Russia’s need for oil above $100 to balance its budget, he smiled and said: “They (Saudis) are very, very well aware of their ability to have an impact on global oil prices.” (Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists, Reuters)

Wink, wink.

Of course, they’re in bed together. Saudi Arabia is a US client. It’s not autonomous or sovereign in any meaningful way. It’s a US protectorate, a satellite, a colony. They do what they’re told. Period. True, the relationship is complex, but let’s not be ridiculous. The Saudis are not calling the shots. The idea is absurd. Do you really think that Washington would let Riyadh fiddle prices in a way that destroyed critical US domestic energy industries, ravaged the junk bond market, and generated widespread financial instability without uttering a peep of protest on the matter?

Dream on! If the US was unhappy with the Saudis, we’d all know about it in short-order because it would be raining Daisy Cutters from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, which is the way that Washington normally expresses its displeasure on such matters. The fact that Obama has not even alluded to the shocking plunge in prices just proves that the policy coincides with Washington’s broader geopolitical strategy.

And let’s not forget that the Saudis have used oil as a political weapon before, many times before. Indeed, wreaking havoc is nothing new for our good buddies the Saudis. Check this out from Oil Price website:

“In 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat convinced Saudi King Faisal to cut production and raise prices, then to go as far as embargoing oil exports, all with the goal of punishing the United States for supporting Israel against the Arab states. It worked. The “oil price shock” quadrupled prices.

It happened again in 1986, when Saudi Arabia-led OPEC allowed prices to drop precipitously, and then in 1990, when the Saudis sent prices plummeting as a way of taking out Russia, which was seen as a threat to their oil supremacy. In 1998, they succeeded. When the oil price was halved from $25 to $12, Russia defaulted on its debt.

The Saudis and other OPEC members have, of course, used the oil price for the obverse effect, that is, suppressing production to keep prices artificially high and member states swimming in “petrodollars”. In 2008, oil peaked at $147 a barrel.” (Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?, Oil Price)

1973, 1986, 1990, 1998 and 2008.

So, according to the author, the Saudis have manipulated oil prices at least five times in the past to achieve their foreign policy objectives. But, if that’s the case, then why does the media ridicule people who think the Saudis might be engaged in a similar strategy today?

Could it be that the media is trying to shape public opinion on the issue and, by doing so, actually contribute to the plunge in oil prices?

Bingo. Alert readers have probably noticed that the oil story has been splashed across the headlines for weeks even though the basic facts have not changed in the least. It’s all a rehash of the same tedious story reprinted over and over again. But, why? Why does the public need to have the same “Saudis refuse to cut production” story driven into their consciousness day after day like they’re part of some great collective brainwashing experiment? Could it be that every time the message is repeated, oil sells off, and prices go down? Is that it?

Precisely. For example, last week a refinery was attacked in Libya which pushed oil prices up almost immediately. Just hours later, however, another “Saudis refuse to cut production” story conveniently popped up in all the major US media which pushed prices in the direction the USG wants them to go, er, I mean, back down again.

This is how the media helps to reinforce government policy, by crafting a message that helps to push down prices and, thus, hurt “evil” Putin. (This is called “jawboning”) Keep in mind, that OPEC doesn’t meet again until June, 2015, so there’s nothing new to report on production levels. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get regular updates on the “Saudis refuse to cut production” story. Oh, no. The media is going to keep beating that drum until Putin cries “Uncle” and submits to US directives. Either that, or the bond market is going to blow up and take the whole damn global financial system along with it. One way or another, something’s got to give.

Bottom line: Falling oil prices and the plunging ruble are not some kind of free market accident brought on by oversupply and weak demand. That’s baloney. They’re part of a broader geopolitical strategy to strangle the Russian economy, topple Putin, and establish US hegemony across the Asian landmass. It’s all part of Washington’s plan to maintain its top-spot as the world’s only superpower even though its economy is in irreversible decline.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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

Ukraine Is A Long-Term Affair

December 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In Ukraine the United States presented Russia with its most serious challenge in the last quarter-century. Russia has not responded to that challenge in a timely manner. She proved unable to anticipate and then counter the Maidan scenario last winter, even though the grand rehearsal was presented with the “Orange Revolution” ten years ago. Now Russia’s relations with her strategically essential neighbor – Ukraine – are on the brink of rupture, or a painful restructuring for decades to come.

Normal US-Russian relations would require the recognition that Russia has legitimate interests in her near abroad. To understand the Washingtonian mindset, however, we need to recall a quote from President Obama’s graduation address at West Point in May 2014: “The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.” Evidently he was alluding to the Maidan.

The Founding Fathers would turn in their graves to learn that, according to the president of the United States, their values have inspired Messrs. Tyahnibok, Yarosh, and other blood-soaked heirs of Stepan Bandera who now sit in the Parliament of Ukraine. The mindset is hardly new. In 1999 Senator Joseph Lieberman declared, “The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”

“The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” Obama says. “That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.” In reality it has never been true, it is not true now, and it never will be true. Madeleine Albright’s famous claim along those lines back in the 1990’s was a sign of her mental instability. It was reiterated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech on Bosnia. That Obama has chosen to recycle such inanities is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy, not only his own but also that of a sizeable segment of the American foreign policy establishment. But the march goes on. If some country dares resist the will of the “indispensable nation,” then it is necessarily evil. Susan Rice thus condemned China and Russia at the UN for vetoing the U.S.-supported UN Security Council resolution to bomb Syria as “disgusting,” “shameful” and “unforgivable.” It’s psychotic.

A state’s political, military, economic, and moral resources are conventionally used in a balanced way to protect or enhance its security. The U.S. is practicing a different brand of diplomacy, which is in ample evidence in Ukraine. And Russia, in responding to the initial Maidan crisis, has made a severe miscalculation.

This error now needs to be corrected as part of Russia’s long-term strategy aimed at regime change in Kiev. Let us be clear: Moscow will never obtain Western recognition of its legitimate interests in the near abroad. Moscow should therefore defend its national interests as it deems fit. It should be understood that the sanctions and demonization of Russia’s and Putin personally, of diplomatic abuse and military pressure, will continue regardless of what Russia does. If Russia does not act to prevent the transformation of Ukraine into a Russophobic “Banderistan”, then the return of the Crimea will prove to be scant compensation for the overall weakening of Russia’s geopolitical position. To avoid this, Russia needs to do several things.

First of all, it should fight the regime in Kiev on all fronts – openly and secretly, diplomatically and undiplomatically. No handshakes with Poroshenko. Join the already raging information war. Moscow should constantly remind the world of the false-flag stunt with the Malaysian Boeing in the sky above Ukraine, and insist on a full disclosure of all facts which are still concealed. It should demand an investigation of the massacres in Odessa on May 2 and on May 9 in Mariupol, and an internationally supervised trial. Finally it should tell the world about the ongoing mass murder of ordinary people in southeastern Ukraine, where a ceasefire is supposed to be in operation.

It is necessary to take TV documentaries and feature films revealing these and other Western myths. It is necessary to politically support the Novorussian de facto independence. The Kiev regime has already lost the right to Novorossia, so now it is necessary to support the irreversible changes to ensure its viability. Using the U.S. terminology, Russia has the “Responsibility to Protect.” In my opinion, Kiev should be forced to abandon all hope for the resumption of military operations.

Third, you need to provide political and financial support to the opposition in Ukraine, to the non-Banderist civic groups. These groups are small, but given the fact that Ukraine is facing inevitable economic collapse, there exists a favorable and growing environment for Russia’s use of “soft power.” It is necessary to tighten the screws in economic relations with Ukraine, based on an understanding that there will be no security, no stability, for as long as Kiev is controlled by the current regime. It needs to be discredited, starting with the coup February 21, 2014.

Regime change in Kiev and Ukraine’s de-nazification are a matter of life and death for Russia. Ukraine’s partition is a poor alternative. Even if Novorossiya were to include Kharkov and Mariupol, the Banderist remnant will become even more Russophobic – and it will still include most of Ukraine, on both sides of the Dnieper. That would poison Russian-Ukrainian relations for a very long time. It makes more sense to preserve the unity of Ukraine, but to create conditions for its denazification.

Don’t expect any readiness for compromise from the U.S. They will continue to bait their protégés in Kiev to continue military operations in the east. Not right now, of course, but in the spring of 2015, when NATO rearms Ukraine’s military forces. The chaos in Ukraine is a long-term condition, and this is only one part of the global strategy of the United States based on the notions of global dominance and exceptionality. Instead of calming the situation in the South China Sea, Washington will continue to encourage its Asian satellites Japan, South Korea to be tough with China. But as Obama said two years ago, the national security strategy is to retain full-spectrum dominance, to maintain the ability to counter threats worldwide, and to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.”

Meanwhile, the Hudson Institute claims that the situation in Kyrgyzstan is critical to U.S. national security, and Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says that the U.S. commitment to Moldova’s territorial integrity is essential if America is not to surrender its position in a key region to U.S. foreign policy.

So there. Ukraine, Syria, gays, lesbians, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova – all of them are among the vital interests of the one indispensable nation. Not one, not even the smallest such “interest” can ever be dropped, for – as Obama said at West Point – “that’s not leadership; that’s retreat. That’s not strength; that’s weakness.”


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

www.trifkovic.mysite.com

Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Ruble Takedown Exposes Cracks In Putin’s Defense

December 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Putin’s Next Move Is Crucial…

The plunge of the Russian currency this week is the drastic outcome of policies implemented by the major imperialist powers to force Russia to submit to American and European imperialism’s neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia. Punishing the Putin regime’s interference with their plans for regime change in countries such as Ukraine and Syria, the NATO powers are financially strangling Russia.” Alex Lantier, Imperialism and the ruble crisis, WSWS

“The struggle for world domination has assumed titanic proportions. The phases of this struggle are played out upon the bones of the weak and backward nations.” Leon Trotsky, 1929

Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered a stunning defeat on Tuesday when a US-backed plan to push down oil prices sent the ruble into freefall. Russia’s currency plunged 10 percent on Monday followed by an 11 percent drop on Tuesday reducing the ruble’s value by more than half in less than a year. The jarring slide was assisted by western sympathizers at Russia’s Central Bank who, earlier in the day, boosted interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent to slow the decline. But the higher rates only intensified the outflow of capital which put the ruble into a tailspin forcing international banks to remove pricing and liquidity from the currency leading to the suspension of trade. According to Russia Today:

“Russian Federation Council Chair Valentina Matviyenko has ordered a vote on a parliamentary investigation into the recent activities of the Central Bank and its alleged role in the worst-ever plunge of the ruble rate…

“I suggest to start a parliamentary investigation into activities of the Central Bank that has allowed violations of the citizens’ Constitutional rights, including the right for property,” the RIA Novosti quoted Tarlo as saying on Wednesday.

The senator added that according to the law, protecting financial stability in the country is the main task of the Central Bank and its senior management. However, the bank’s actions, in particular the recent raising of the key interest rate to 17 percent, have so far yielded the opposite results.” (Upper House plans probe into Central Bank role in ruble crash, RT)

The prospect that there may be collaborators and fifth columnists at Russia’s Central Bank should surprise no one. The RCB is an independent organization that serves the interests of global capital and regional oligarchs the same as central banks everywhere. This is a group that believes that humanity’s greatest achievement is the free flow of privately-owned capital to markets around the world where it can extract maximum value off the sweat of working people. Why would Russia be any different in that regard?

It isn’t. The actions of the Central Bank have cost the Russian people dearly, and yet, even now the main concern of RCB elites is their own survival and the preservation of the banking system. An article that appeared at Zero Hedge on Wednesday illustrates this point. After ruble trading was suspended, the RCB released a document with “7 new measures” all of which were aimed at protecting the banking system via moratoria on securities losses, breaks on interest rates, additional liquidity provisioning, easier credit and accounting standards, and this gem at the end:

“In order to maintain the stability of the banking sector in the face of increased interest rate and credit risks of a slowdown of the Russian economy the Bank of Russia and the Government of the Russian Federation prepare measures to recapitalize credit institutions in 2015.” (Russian Central Bank Releases 7 Measures It Will Take To Stabilize The Financial Sector, Zero Hedge)

Sound familiar? It should. You see, the Russian Central Bank works a lot like the Fed. At the first sign of trouble they build a nice, big rowboat for themselves and their dodgy bank buddies and leave everyone else to drown. That’s what these bullet points are all about. Save the banks, and to hell the people who suffer from their exploitative policies.

Here’s more from RT:

“Earlier this week a group of State Duma MPs from the Communist Party sent an official address to Putin asking him to sack (Central Bank head, Elvira) Nabiullina, and all senior managers of the Central Bank as their current policies are causing the rapid devaluation of ruble and impoverishment of the majority of the Russian population.

In their letter, the Communists also recalled Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly in which he said that control over inflation must not be in the way of the steady economic growth.

“They listen to your orders and then do the opposite,” the lawmakers complained.” (RT)

In other words, the RCB enforces its own “austerity” policy in Russia just as central bankers do everywhere. There’s nothing conspiratorial about this. CBs are owned and controlled by the big money guys which is why their policies invariably serve the interests of the rich. They might not call it “trickle down” or “structural adjustment” (as they do in the US), but it amounts to the same thing, the inexorable shifting of wealth from working class people to the parasitic plutocrats who control the system and its political agents. Same old, same old.

Even so, the media has pinned the blame for Tuesday’s ruble fiasco on Putin who, of course, has nothing to do with monetary policy. That said, the ruble rout helps to draw attention to the fact that Moscow is clearly losing its war with the US and needs to radically adjust its approach if it hopes to succeed. First of all, Putin might be a great chess player, but he’s got a lot to learn about finance. He also needs a crash-course in asymmetrical warfare if he wants to defend the country from more of Washington’s stealth attacks.

In the last 10 months, the United States has executed a near-perfect takedown of the Russian economy. Following a sloppy State Department-backed coup in Kiev, Washington has consolidated its power in the Capital, removed dissident elements in the government, deployed the CIA to oversee operations, launched a number of attacks on rebel forces in the east, transferred ownership of Ukraine’s vital pipeline system to US puppets and foreign corporations, created a tollbooth separating Moscow from the lucrative EU market, foiled a Russian plan to build an alternate pipeline to southern Europe (South Stream), built up its military assets in the Balkans and Black Sea and, finally–the cherry on the cake–initiated a daring sneak attack on Russia’s currency by employing its Saudi-proxy to flood the market with oil, push prices off a cliff, and trigger a run on the ruble which slashed its value by more than half forcing retail currency platforms to stop trading the battered ruble until prices stabilized.

Like we said, Putin might be a great chess player, but in his battle with the US, he’s getting his clock cleaned. So far, he’s been no match for the maniacal focus and relentless savagery of the Washington powerbrokers. Yes, he’s formed critical alliances across Asia and the world. He’s also created competing institutions (like the BRICS bank) that could break the imperial grip on global finance. And, he’s also expounded a vision of a new world in which “one center of power” does not dictate the rules to everyone else. That’s all great, but he’s losing the war, and that’s what counts. Washington doesn’t care about peoples’ dreams or aspirations. What they care about is ruling the world with an iron fist, which is precisely what they intend to do for the next century or so unless someone stops them. Putin’s actions, however admirable, have not yet changed that basic dynamic. In fact, this latest debacle (authored by the RCB) is a severe setback for the country and could impact Russia’s ability to defend itself against US-NATO aggression.

So what does Putin need to do to reverse the current trend?

The first order of business should be a fundamental change in approach followed by a quick switch from defense to offense. There should be no doubt by now, that Washington is going for the jugular. The attack on the ruble provides clear evidence that the US will not be satisfied until Russia has been decimated and reduced to “a permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) The United States has launched a full-blown economic war on Russia and yet the Kremlin is still acting like Washington’s punching bag. You can’t win a war like that. You have to take the initiative; take chances, be bold, think outside the box. That’s what Washington is doing. The rout of the ruble is perhaps the most astonishingly-successful asymmetrical attack in recent memory. It involved tremendous risks and costs on the part of the perpetrators. For example, the lower oil prices have ravaged important domestic industries, created widespread financial instability, and sent markets across the planet into a nosedive. Even so, Washington persevered with its audacious strategy, undeterred by the vast collateral damage, never losing sight of its ultimate objective; to deprive Moscow of crucial oil revenues, to crash the ruble, and to open up Central Asia for imperial expansion and US military bases. (The pivot to Asia)

This is how the US plays the game, by keeping its “eyes on the prize” at all times, and by rolling roughshod over anyone or anything that gets in its way. That is why the US is the world’s only superpower, because the voracious oligarchs who run the country will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Does Putin have the grit to match that kind of venomous determination? Has he even adjusted to the fact that WW3 will be unlike any conflict in the past, that jihadi-proxies and Neo Nazi-proxies will be employed as shock troops for the empire clearing the way for US special forces and foot soldiers who will hold ground and establish the new order? Does he even realize that Barbarossa 2 is already underway, but that the Panzer divisions and 2 million German regulars have been replaced with high-powered computers, covert ops, color-coded revolutions, currency crises, capital flight, cyber attacks and relentless propaganda. That’s 4th Generation (4-G) warfare in a nutshell. And, guess what? The US attack on the ruble has shown that it is the undisputed master of this new kind of warfare. More important, Washington has just prevailed in a battle that could prove to be a critical turning point if Putin doesn’t get his act together and retaliate.

Retaliate?!?

You mean nukes?

Heck no. But, by the same token, you can’t expect to win a confrontation with the US by rerouting gas pipelines to Turkey or by forming stronger coalitions with other BRICS countries or by ditching the dollar. Because none of that stuff makes a damn bit of difference when your currency is in the toilet and the US is making every effort to grind your face into the pavement.

Capisce?

There’s an expression is football that goes something like this: The best defense is a good offense. You can’t win by sitting on the sidelines and hoping your team doesn’t lose. You must engage your adversary at every opportunity never giving ground without a fight. And when an opening appears where you can take the advantage, you must act promptly and decisively never looking back and never checking your motives. That’s how you win.

Washington only thinks in terms winning. It expects to win, and will do whatever is necessary to win. In fact, the whole system has been re-geared for one, sole purpose; to beat the holy hell out of anyone who gets out of line. That’s what we do, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. So, if you want to compete at that level, you’ve got to have “game”. You’re going to have to step up and prove that you can run with the big kids.

And that’s what makes Putin’s next move so important, crucial really. Because whatever he does will send a message to Washington that he’s either up to the challenge or he’s not. Which is why he needs to come out swinging and do something completely unexpected. The element of surprise, that’s the ticket. And we’re not talking about military action either. That just plays to Uncle Sam’s strong hand. Putin doesn’t need another Vietnam. He needs a coherent gameplan. He needs a winning strategy. He needs to takes risks, put it all on the line and roll the freaking dice. You can’t lock horns with the US and play it safe. That’s a losing strategy. This is smash-mouth, steelcage smackdown, a scorched-earth event where winner takes all. You have to be ready to rumble.

Putin needs to think asymmetrically. What would Obama do if he was in Putin’s shoes?

You know what he’d do: He’d send military support to Assad. He’d arm rebel factions in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. He’d strengthen ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador providing them with military, intelligence and logistical support. He’d deploy his NGOs and Think Tank cronies to foment revolution wherever leaders refused to follow Moscow’s directives. He would work tirelessly to build the economic, political, media, and military institutions he needed to impose his own self-serving version of snatch-and-grab capitalism on every nation on every continent in the world. That’s what Obama would do, because that’s what his puppetmasters would demand of him.

But Putin must be more discreet, because his resources are more limited. But he still has options, like the markets, for example. Let’s say Putin announces that creditors in the EU (particularly banks) won’t be paid until the ruble recovers. How does that sound?

Putin: “We’re really sorry about the inconvenience, but we won’t be able to make those onerous principle payments for a while. Please accept our humble apologies.” End of statement.

Moments later: Global stocks plunge 350 points on the prospect of a Russian default and its impact on the woefully-undercapitalized EU banking system.

Get the picture? That’s what you call an asymmetrical attack. The idea was even hinted at in a piece on Bloomberg News. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Sergei Markov, a pro-Putin academic, wrote in a column on Vzglyad.ru. “Since the reasons for the ruble’s fall are political, the response should be political, too. For example, a law that would ban Russian companies from repaying debts to Western counterparties if the ruble has dropped more than 50 percent in the last year. That will immediately lower the pressure on the ruble, many countries have done this, Malaysia is one example. It’s in great economic shape now.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls? Chicago Tribune)

Here’s more background from RT:

“Major banks across Europe, as well as the UK, US, and Japan, are at major risk should the Russian economy default, according to a new study by Capital Economics. The ING Group in the Netherlands, Raiffeisen Bank in Austria, Societe General in France, UniCredit in Italy, and Commerzbank in Germany, have all faced significant losses in the wake of the ruble crisis…

Overall Societe General, known as Rosbank in the Russian market, has the most exposure at US$31 billion, or €25 billion, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts. This is equivalent to 62 percent of the Paris-based bank’s tangible equity, Bloomberg News reported.

Following the drop, Raiffeisen, which has €15 billion at risk in Russia, saw its stocks plummeted more than 10 percent. Raiffeisen also has significant exposure in Ukraine, which is facing a similar currency sell-off as Russia.” (Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions, RT)

So Putin defaults which nudges the EU banking system down the stairwell. So what? What does that prove?

It proves that Russia has the tools to defend itself. It proves that Putin can disrupt the status quo and spread the pain a bit more equitably. “Spreading the pain” is a tool the US uses quite frequently in its dealings with other countries. Maybe Putin should take a bite of that same apple, eh?

Another option would be to implement capital controls to avoid ruble-dollar conversion and further capital flight. The beauty of capital controls is that they take power away from the big money guys who run the world and hand it back to elected officials. Leaders like Putin are then in a position to say, “Hey, we’re going to take a little break from the dollar system for while until we get caught up. I hope you’ll understand our situation.”

Capital controls are an extremely effective of avoiding capital flight and minimizing the impact of a currency crisis. Here’s a short summary of how these measures helped Malaysia muddle through in 1998:

“When the Asian financial crisis hit, Malaysia’s position looked a lot like Russia’s today: It had big foreign reserves and a low short-term debt level, but relatively high general indebtedness if households and corporations were factored in. At first, to bolster the ringgit, Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pushed through a market-based policy with a flexible exchange rate, rising interest rates and cuts in government spending. It didn’t work: Consumption and investment went down, and pessimism prevailed, exerting downward pressure on the exchange rate.

So, in June 1998, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad… appointed a different economic point man, Daim Zainuddin. In September, on Daim’s urging, Malaysia introduced capital controls. It banned offshore operations in ringgit and forbade foreign investors to repatriate profits for a year. Analysts at the time were sharply critical of the measures, and Malaysia’s reputation in the global financial markets inevitably suffered.

According to Kaplan and Rodrik, however, the capital controls were ultimately effective. The government was able to lower interest rates, the economy recovered, the controls were relaxed ahead of time, and by May 1999 Malaysia was back on the international capital markets with a $1 billion bond issue.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls, Chicago Tribune)

Sure they were effective, but they piss off the slacker class of oligarchs who think the whole system should be centered on their “inalienable right” to move capital from one spot to another so they can rake-off hefty profits at everyone else’s expense. Capital controls push those creeps to the back of the line so the state can do what it needs to do to preserve the failing economy from the attack of speculators. Here’s a clip from a speech Joseph Stiglitz gave in 2014 at the Atlanta Fed’s 2014 Financial Markets Conference. He said:

“When countries do not impose capital controls and allow exchange rates to vary freely, this can give rise to high levels of exchange rate volatility. The consequence can be high levels of economic volatility, imposing great costs on workers and firms throughout the economy. Even if they can lay off some of the risk, there is a cost to doing so. The very existence of this volatility affects the structure of the economy and overall economic performance.”

That sums it up pretty well. Without capital controls, the deep-pocket Wall Street banks and speculators can simply vacuum the money out of an economy leaving the country broken and penniless. This nihilistic decimation of emerging markets via capital flight is what the kleptocracy breezily refers to as “free markets”, the unwavering plundering of civilization to fatten the coffers of the swinish few at the top of the foodchain. That’s got to stop.

Putin needs to put his foot down now; stop the outflow of cash, stop the conversion of rubles to dollars, force investors to recycle their money into the domestic economy, indict the central bank governors and trundle them off to the hoosegow, and reassert the power of the people over the markets. If he doesn’t, then the speculators will continue to peck away until Russia’s reserves are drained-dry and the country is pushed back into another long-term slump. Who wants that?

And don’t think that Putin’s only problem is Washington either, because it isn’t. He’s got an even bigger headache in his own country with the morons who still buy the hogwash that “the market knows best.” These are the fantasists, the corporate toadies, and the fifth columnists, some of whom hold very high office. Here’s a clip I picked up at the Vineyard of the Saker under the heading “Medvedev declares: more of the same”:

(Russian Prime Minister) “Medvedev has just called a government meeting with most of the directors of top Russian corporations and the director of the Russian Central Bank. He immediately announced that he will not introduce any harsh regulatory measures and that he will let the market forces correct the situation. As for the former Minister of Finance, the one so much beloved in the West, Alexei Kudrin, he expressed his full support for the latest increase in interest rates.”

This is lunacy. The US has just turned Russia’s currency into worthless fishwrap, and bonehead Medvedev wants to play nice and return to “business as usual”??

No thanks. Maybe Medvedev wants to be a slave to the market, but I’ll bet Putin is smarter than that.

Putin’s not going to roll over and play dead for these vipers. He’s got to much on the ball for that. He’s going to beat them at their own game, fair and square. He’s going to implement capital controls, restructure the economy away from the west, and aggressively look for ways to deter Washington from spreading its heinous resource war to Central Asia and beyond.

He’s not going to give an inch. You’ll see.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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

American Exceptionalism and American Torture

December 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds.

That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers are granted amnesty automatically, simply for being American, solely for belonging to the “Good Guys Club”.

So now, with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, we have further depressing revelations about US foreign policy. But do Americans and the world need yet another reminder that the United States is a leading practitioner of torture? Yes. The message can not be broadcast too often because the indoctrination of the American people and Americophiles all around the world is so deeply embedded that it takes repeated shocks to the system to dislodge it. No one does brainwashing like the good ol’ Yankee inventors of advertising and public relations. And there is always a new generation just coming of age with stars (and stripes) in their eyes.

The public also has to be reminded yet again that – contrary to what most of the media and Mr. Obama would have us all believe – the president has never actually banned torture per se, despite saying recently that he had “unequivocally banned torture” after taking office.

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, amongst other torture centers employed by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business, as is the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the key Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions, amongst other charming examples of American Exceptionalism.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ … But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”

The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely and solely because they were willing and able to torture them.

Four months after Obama and Panetta took office, the New York Times could report that renditions had reached new heights.

The present news reports indicate that Washington’s obsession with torture stems from 9/11, to prevent a repetition. The president speaks of “the fearful excesses of the post-9/11 era”. There’s something to that idea, but not a great deal. Torture in America is actually as old as the country. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of international torture centers, kidnaping people to these places, solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!

In 2011, Brazil instituted a National Truth Commission to officially investigate the crimes of the military government, which came to an end in 1985. But Mr. Obama has in fact rejected calls for a truth commission concerning CIA torture. On June 17 of this year, however, when Vice President Joseph Biden was in Brazil, he gave the Truth Commission 43 State Department cables and reports concerning the Brazilian military regime, including one entitled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives.”

Thus it is that once again the United States of America will not be subjected to any accountability for having broken US laws, international laws, and the fundamental laws of human decency. Obama can expect the same kindness from his successor as he has extended to George W.

“One of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” – Barack Obama, written statement issued moments after the Senate report was made public.

And if that pile of hypocrisy is not big enough or smelly enough, try adding to it Bidens’ remark re his visit to Brazil: “I hope that in taking steps to come to grips with our past we can find a way to focus on the immense promise of the future.”

If the torturers of the Bush and Obama administrations are not held accountable in the United States they must be pursued internationally under the principles of universal jurisdiction.

In 1984, an historic step was taken by the United Nations with the drafting of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (came into force in 1987, ratified by the United States in 1994). Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity. We cannot slide back. If today it’s deemed acceptable to torture the person who supposedly has the vital “ticking-bomb” information needed to save lives, tomorrow it will be acceptable to torture him to learn the identities of his alleged co-conspirators. Would we allow slavery to resume for just a short while to serve some “national emergency” or some other “higher purpose”?

If you open the window of torture, even just a crack, the cold air of the Dark Ages will fill the whole room.

Cuba … at long, long last … maybe …

Hopefully, it’s what it appears to be. Cuba will now be treated by the United States as a country worthy of at least as much respect as Washington offers to its highly oppressive, murdering, torturing allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Honduras, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

It’s a tough decision to normalize relations with a country whose police force murders its own innocent civilians on almost a daily basis, and even more abroad, but Cuba needs to do it. Maybe the Cubans can civilize the Americans a bit.

Let’s hope that America’s terrible economic embargo against the island will go the way of the dinosaurs, and Cuba will be able to demonstrate more than ever what a rational, democratic, socialist society can create. But they must not open the economy for the Yankee blood-suckers to play with as they have all over the world.

And I’ll be able to go to Cuba not as a thief in the night covering my tracks and risking a huge fine.

But with the Republicans taking over Congress next month, all of this may be just a pipe dream.

Barack Obama could have done this six years ago when he took office; or five years ago when American Alan Gross was first arrested and imprisoned in Cuba. It would have been even easier back then, with Obama’s popularity at its height and Congress not as captured by the Know-Nothings as now.

So, Cuba outlasted all the punishment, all the lies, all the insults, all the deprivations, all the murderous sabotage, all the assassination attempts against Fidel, all the policies to isolate the country. But for many years now, it’s the United States that has been isolated in the Western Hemisphere.

Reason Number 13,336 why capitalism will be the death of us.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria – the “superbugs” – if left unchecked, could result in 10 million deaths a year by 2050. New drugs to fight the superbugs are desperately needed. But a panel advising President Obama warned in September that “there isn’t a sufficiently robust pipeline of new drugs to replace the ones rendered ineffective by antibiotic resistance.”

The problem, it appears, is that “Antibiotics generally provide low returns on investment, so they are not a highly attractive area for research and development.”

Aha! “Low returns on investment”! What could be simpler to understand? Is it not a concept worth killing and dying for? Just as millions of Americans died in the 20th century so corporations could optimize profits by not protecting the public from tobacco, lead, and asbestos.

Corporations are programmed to optimize profits without regard for the society in which they operate, in much the same way that cancer cells are programmed to proliferate without regard for the health of their host.

Happy New Year. Here’s what you have to look forward to in 2015.

  • January 25: 467 people reported missing from a university in Mexico. US State Department blames Russia.
  • February 1: Military junta overthrows President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Washington decries the loss of democracy.
  • February 2: US recognizes the new Venezuelan military junta, offers it 50 jet fighters and tanks.
  • February 3: Revolution breaks out in Venezuela endangering the military junta; 40,000 American marines land in Caracas to quell the uprising.
  • February 16: White police officer in Chicago fatally shoots a 6-year old black boy holding a toy gun.
  • March 6: Congress passes a new law which states that to become president of the United States a person must have the surname Bush or Clinton.
  • April 30: The Department of Homeland Security announces plan to record the DNA at birth of every child born in the United States.
  • May 19: The Supreme Court rules that police may search anyone if they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person has pockets.
  • May 27: The Transportation Security Administration declares that all airline passengers must strip completely nude at check-in and remain thus until arriving at their destination.
  • June 6: White police officer in Oklahoma City tasers a 7-month-old black child, claiming the child was holding a gun; the gun turns out to be a rattle.
  • July 19: Two subway trains collide in Manhattan. The United States demands that Moscow explain why there was a Russian citizen in each of the trains.
  • September 5: The Democratic Party changes its name to the Republican Lite Party, and announces the opening of a joint bank account with the Republican Party so that corporate lobbyists need make out only one check.
  • September 12: White police officer in Alabama shoots black newborn, confusing the umbilical cord for a noose.
  • November 16: President Obama announces that Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba all possess weapons of mass destruction; have close ties to the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban; are aiding pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine; were involved in 9-11; played a role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the attack on Pearl Harbor; are an imminent threat to the United States and all that is decent and holy; and are all “really bad guys”, who even (choke, gasp) use torture!
  • November 21: The United States invades Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.
  • December 10: Barack Obama is awarded his second Nobel Peace Prize
  • December 11: To celebrate his new peace prize, Obama sends out drones to assassinate wrong-thinking individuals in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
  • December 13: Members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties, which hold several high positions in the US-supported government, goose-step through the center of Kiev in full German Storm Trooper uniforms, carrying giant swastika flags, shouting “Heil Hitler”, and singing the Horst Wessel song. Not a word of this appears in any American mainstream media.
  • December 15: US Secretary of State warns Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of wanting to re-create the Soviet Union.
  • December 16: White police officer shoots a black 98-year-old man sitting in a wheel chair, claiming the man pointed a rifle at him. The rifle turns out to be a cane.
  • December 28: The Washington Redskins football team finish their season in last place. The White House blames Vladimir Putin.

Notes

  1. Associated Press, December 11, 2014
  2. New York Times, December 11, 2014
  3. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
  4. New York Times, February 6, 2009
  5. New York Times, May 24, 2009
  6. Washington Post, December 11, 2014
  7. National Security Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project
  8. Washington Post, December 10, 2014
  9. See note 7
  10. Washington Post, December 13, 2014


William Blum is the author of:

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


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

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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