Secret Tape Reveals US-backed Plot to Topple Ukraine’s Democratically-Elected President…
Secret Tape Reveals US-backed Plot to Topple Ukraine’s Democratically-Elected President…
“In the latest debacle for the US State Department and the Obama Administration, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught on tape micro-managing Ukraine opposition party strategies with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. That the Ukraine regime-change operation is to some degree being directed from Washington can no longer be denied….The taped conversation demonstrates in clear detail that while Secretary of State John Kerry decries any foreign meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, his State Department is virtually managing the entire process.”
– Daniel McAdams, “‘F**k the EU’: Tape Reveals US Runs Ukraine Opposition“, Ron Paul Institute
Washington is at it again, up to its old tricks. You’d think that after the Afghanistan and Iraq fiascos someone on the policymaking team would tell the fantasists to dial-it-down a bit. But, no. The Obama claque is just as eager to try their hand at regime change as their predecessors, the Bushies. This time the bullseye is on Ukraine, the home of the failed Orange Revolution, where US NGOs fomented a populist coup that brought down the government and paved the way for years of social instability, economic hardship and, eventually, a stronger alliance with Moscow.
That sure worked out well, didn’t it? One can only wonder what Obama has in mind for an encore.
Let’s cut to the chase: The US still clings to the idea that it can dominate the world with its ham-fisted military (that hasn’t won a war in 60 years) its scandalized Intel agencies, its comical Rambo-style “Special Ops” teams, and its oh-so-brilliant global strategists who think the days of the nation-state will soon be over hastening the onset of the glorious New World Order. Right. Ukraine is a critical part of that pipe dream, er, strategy which is why the US media puts demonstrations in Kiev in the headlines while similar protests in the US are consigned to the back pages just below the dog food ads. In any event, the crisis is likely to intensify in the months ahead as Washington engages in a no-holds-barred tug-o-war with Moscow over the future of civilization.
For bigwig strategists, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ukraine is a war that Washington must win to maintain its position as the world’s only superpower. As he sees it, the US must establish outposts throughout Eurasia to diminish Russia’s influence, control China, and capitalize off the new century’s fastest growing region. Here’s how Brzezinski sums it up in Foreign Affairs in an article titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”:
“America’s emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative…Eurasia is home to most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world’s most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy…
Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa…
What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.” ( “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, 1997)
Okay, so the not-so-subtle Brzezinski is telling US policymakers that if they want to rule the world, they’ve got to take over Eurasia. That’s pretty clear. It’s the Great Game all over again and Ukraine is one of the biggest trophies, which is why the US has allied itself to all kinds crackpot, rightwing groups that are stirring up trouble in Kiev. It’s because Washington will stop at nothing to achieve its objectives. Of course, there’s nothing new about any of this. The US frequently supports violent, far-right organizations if their interests coincide. Here’s a little background on the topic from Eric Draitser in an article in CounterPunch titled “Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism”:
“In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.” (Ukraine and the rebirth of Fascism“, Eric Draitser, CounterPunch)
Death squads here, jihadis there; what difference does it make to the big shots in Washington?
Not much, apparently.
But, wait, what’s all this talk about the US being on the side of anti-Semites and fascists in Ukraine? Is that true?
It sure looks that way. In fact, there was a funny story in the World Socialist Web Site about Assistant Secretary of State Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland which shows how far these people will go to achieve their objectives. In this case, Nuland, who — according to the WSWS — is “the grand-daughter of Jewish immigrants who fled to America to escape pogroms in Tsarist Russia”…was seen “handing out cookies in Maidan square to Svoboda thugs who venerate the mass murderers of Hitler’s SS.” (“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site)
Nice, eh? So Vickie was having a little snacktime with guys who’d probably shove a knife in her back if they were given half a chance. That’s what you call dedication. By the way, Nuland’s “husband is Robert Kagan, the right-wing foreign policy pundit who served as the founding chairman of the Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative Washington think tank that played a key role in the political and ideological preparation for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The fact that Obama and Co. are directly involved in this latest would-be coup, doesn’t surprise anyone. According to a recent poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, “almost a half (45%) of Russian citizens think that protests in Ukraine have been provoked by Western special services.” By “special services” we presume the survey’s authors mean US Intel agencies and US-funded NGOs which have a long history of poking their noses in other country’s affairs. Here’s a statement by Rep Ron Paul in 2004 to the US House International Relations Committee which helps to throw a little light on the issue:
“It is clear that a significant amount of US taxpayer dollars went to support one candidate in Ukraine. …. What we do not know, however, is just how much US government money was spent to influence the outcome of the Ukrainian election.
Dozens of organizations are granted funds under the PAUCI program alone, (Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative, which is administered by the US-based Freedom House.) and this is only one of many programs that funneled dollars into Ukraine. We do not know how many millions of US taxpayer dollars the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) sent to Ukraine through NED’s National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. Nor do we know how many other efforts, overt or covert, have been made to support one candidate over the other in Ukraine.
That is what I find so disturbing: there are so many cut-out organizations and sub-grantees that we have no idea how much US government money was really spent on Ukraine, and most importantly how it was spent.” (“What has the NED done in Ukraine?“, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell)
The fact is, the USG gives away tons of money to all types of shady groups who carry out their agenda. As far as Ukraine is concerned, we actually have a better idea of the money that’s been spent than Paul thinks. Check out this video of Nuland addressing various industry groups and admitting that, “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government…We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.” (“Washington’s cloned female warmongers“, Finian Cunningham, Information Clearinghouse)
5 billion smackers to topple a democratically-elected government in Ukraine while 8 million Americans still can’t find a damn job in the US. That tells you a lot about Obama’s priorities, doesn’t it?
Last week’s fiasco surrounding Nuland’s leaked phone conversation has clarified what’s really going on behind the scenes. While the media has focused on Nuland’s obscenity, (“Fuck the EU”) it’s the other parts of the conversation that grabbed our attention. Here’s a brief summary by the WSWS’s Bill Van Auken:
“The call (exposes) the criminal and imperialist character of US policy in Ukraine …What the tape makes clear, is that Washington is employing methods of international gangsterism, including violence, to effect a political coup aimed at installing a regime that is fully subordinate to US geo-strategic interests…
The precise goal of US efforts is to shift political power into the hands of a collection of Western-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs who enriched themselves off of the private appropriation—theft—of state property carried out as part of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In doing so, it aims to turn Ukraine into a US imperialist beachhead on the very border of Russia, whose territory it also wants to divide and subjugate to neocolonial status as part of its drive to assert American hegemony throughout the strategic landmass of Eurasia…
Nuland makes clear that behind the scenes, Washington is dictating which leaders of the opposition…should enter the government to swing it behind Washington and what role the others will play…”(“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World socialist Web Site)
Same old, same old. Like we said earlier, there’s nothing new here, nothing at all. All the blabber about “democracy” is just public relations crappola. It means nothing. US elites want to trim Moscow’s wings, set up shop in Eurasia, control China’s growth, be a bigger player in the continent’s oil and natural gas markets, export its financial services model, and make as much money as possible in the 21st century’s hottest market, Asia. It’s all about profits. Profits and power.
But then, you probably knew that already.
Are the Warring Parties Playing Round Two of Geneva II?
El Nubek, Syria – As two delegations, one representing the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, led by Bashar Assad, and the other claiming to represent the popular opposition which is seeking its overthrow, arrived in Switzerland this morning to continue with Round Two of Geneva II, there is uncertainty over the agenda and whether to extend this weekend’s 36 hour “Humanitarian pause” to allow aid into the Old City of Homs. Such a deal, which could come at any time, would bolster confidence ahead of the Round Two of the peace talks.
Some observers, including this one, predict that the ceasefire will in fact be extended as a result of a meeting on 2/10/14 being held between Syrian government officials here in Homs and UN representatives that will likely result in more civilians being allowed out of the old city later today or tomorrow.
But it is not certain. And meanwhile, on 2/10/14, the meager amounts of aid trickling into Yamouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus was stopped due to yet another breach of a “humanitarian pause” that was agreed upon last week.
The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi, has advised journalists and observers gathered in his office yesterday that the ceasefire may be extended by a further three days; to allow all those who might want to leave the chance to do so. The operation to help trapped civilians in Homs was the one concrete agreement reached at recent peace talks in Geneva, which are due to resume on Monday.
There remains much mistrust and plenty of PR jockeying from both sides as the public awaits the sound of the gavel from UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to resume discussions to end the killing in Syria. The new opposition team, at press time, is not fully identified but has announced that it wants the focus of Round Two to be solely or how to transition ( it demands a clean slate in Damascus) and nothing else.
In contradistinction, Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban argues that the continuing essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the 12/12/13 Geneva I Communiqué; transition. Whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions.
Whether there will be an extension of the just competed “three day” humanitarian pause cease-fire” is not yet sure. In point of clarification, the so-called “three day” partial ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to the area which for more than 600 days has experienced nearly daily bombardment of the city which is labeled by some as the ‘Birthplace of the Revolution.” is a misnomer in the extreme. The so-called “Humanitarian Pause” such as it was, never comprised three days. Rather in reality it was for less than 36 hours given that aid deliveries and evacuations were strictly limited to 12 hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. over three days.
One spokesman for a European aid organization, attempted to enlighten this observer on the ceasefire terms by claiming that “After 6 p.m. any aid distributors within a snipers scope is fair game and they are for warned. I told them it is kind of like caveat emptor after six or before six.”
Frankly, the gentleman could not be more mistaken and he should have known better given his job. His view constitutes a shocking and fundamentally flawed edict and misstatement of applicable binding international norms anchored in black letter public international humanitarian law, including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions and other principles, standards and rule of international humanitarian law requiring protection by all belligerents of aid workers whenever and wherever they perform their humanitarian work. Nor can International customary law and treaty law on this subject be abrogated bilaterally by warring parties who may choose not to kill aid workers or civilians only during a mutually declared 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. day shift.
The aid workers in Homs, as are all civilians, are inviolate during military action. Nor is there any suggestion that either party has complied international law, which requires all warring factions to allow unconditional humanitarian access. It is no excuse, but there does appear, according to information given to these observers from local residents, that more than 30 different armed groups operate in the Old City, making any agreement among them unlikely. The Regional Advisor of UNICEF, Mr. Geoffrey Ijumba a reasonable sounding fellow, claims that “the main stumbling block is that the 30 plus militia groups inside Homs want guarantees that the aid will still be delivered to the Old City once the civilians are evacuated.” An extended ceasefire, given recent government military gains is, according to some observers monitoring developments in Homs, a rather tough precondition to expect from the Syrian government given the price it has paid for advancing militarily over the past two years in this area.
There is currently plenty of mistrust and much PR jockeying from both sides. The new opposition team, at press time not fully identified, wants the focus of Round Two to be solely transition and nothing else. Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban strongly argues that an essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the Geneva I Communiqué; transition whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions. For its part, Damascus has been keen to portray the humanitarian deal outside the framework of talks, with pundits and parliamentarians taking to the airwaves to tout the deal as evidence of the government’s ongoing efforts to aid civilians. It has come under pressure from its allies Russia and Iran to make humanitarian concessions.
Predictably perhaps, both sides accuse the other of violations of the claimed three-day humanitarian aid ceasefire as the Opposition team announced that its delegation to “Round Two” was being re-configured. Many observers of Genera II judged that the strong personalities and intellects of the Syrian delegation, including Foreign Minister Walid Mouallum, Dr. Bouthania Shaaban, and Minister of Information Omran Zoubi as well as Faisal Mekdad, among others, “won” Round I of the public relations challenge of G II and that the Obama Administration via John Kerry advised the opposition to that, “It had better field a stronger team or risk losing ground”.
The first civilians were evacuated from a rebel-held area of the Syrian city of Homs on 2/8/14 after more than a year and half of struggling to survive. Six buses arrived with three UN vehicles and six Red Crescent ambulances to pick up women, children, and elderly. Dina Elkassaby, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said its staff had reported that many of the evacuees were in “very, very bad shape,” with children showing signs of malnutrition.
Humanitarian workers braved mortar shells and gunfire on 2/9/14 as they pushed forward with their mission to deliver aid into besieged parts of the Syrian city of Homs through Jouret al Shayah al Qoubaisi. 12 civilians came out on the first bus from the rebel enclave.
Syria state television said four members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARCS) were wounded by ”armed terrorist groups”, on 2/9/14)as the aid workers tried to deliver humanitarian supplies to a besieged, rebel-held district of Homs city. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.” The Syrian Red Crescent Society told observers that it has been “a challenge” to get its staff and the UN team out of the area. SARCS official Khaled Erksoussi said the convoy came under attack from mortars and gunfire as it was leaving the Qarabis neighborhood.
Many of those evacuated on 2/7/14 looked frail and described extreme hardships inside the area, which has been under army siege for nearly a year-and-a-half. They said bread had not been available for months, and many residents were gathering weeds and leaves to eat. As the BBC’s Lyse Doucet reported: “The tide of people continued – elderly men and women on stretchers or crutches, exhausted mothers in tears, children who went straight into the arms of waiting aid officials from the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society. Water, bread, even polio vaccinations were provided on the spot. Many residents who have finally escaped speak of having only grass and olives to eat.”
On Sunday, 2/9/14, 611 civilians, an increase from 83 on 2/7/14, who were besieged for more than 600 days in the old city of Homs were evacuated, the majority being women, children and elderly. According to one of the Governate of Homs officials responsible for monitoring their evacuation, their ages ranged between 16 and 54 years of age. It is not yet clear if the warring parties will agree to a three day (36 hour) extension of the aid mission and if so that it will be honored. The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi sated on 2/0/14 that his administration will cooperate if the UN mission and the Syrian Red Crescent are the ones delivering the aid. Food and hygiene kits and have also been distributed in the neighborhoods of Bustan al-Diwan and al-Hamidieh.
The humanitarian aid gesture in the Old City of Homs is modest, compared to the more than four million civilians living under siege across this great country, being war deprived of adequate food, water, or sanitation. In all, some 9.3 million people in Syria need some form of aid, according to the U.N.
This past week, the U.N. Security Council pushed for a resolution that would enable broad-based aid deliveries to Syria. So did France. On the morning of 2/10/14, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and other countries would present a resolution at the UN calling for greater access for humanitarian aid. He told the media in Homs and internationally, “It is absolutely scandalous that there have been discussions for quite a while and that people are still being starved every day, and so along with a number of other countries, we will present a resolution at the UN along those lines.” Yet, many in Homs voice skepticism that Moscow would allow UN Security Council Chapter Seven action given its rivalry with Washington on this and other Syria related regional issues.
Some 3,000 people are slated to receive aid during the humanitarian pause. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.”
It appears certain that in the coming few days the intentions of both sides will become clearer with respect to the Geneva process and their willingness to allow full humanitarian aid into Homs and the evacuation of those who want to exit the Old City.
Whichever side fails in its humanitarian duties will be harshly judged by history and quite possibly by a Special Tribunal for Syria, already being planned by some, to be held at The Hague.
A book review: Who Lost America? by Bromwell Ault…
Part 2: Institutional failure, loss of enforcing the rule of law, injection of incompatible diversity.
History becomes the great mentor for any civilization hoping to outlast the ages. For all its bloody conflicts, history presents every country lessons from the past on how other nations failed to survive.
But in the 21st century, America’s leaders and its citizens ignore the lessons of history. And, ironically, as America becomes less and less of its own people and more and more of dissimilar people from around the world, it won’t be able to return itself to its intellectual, cultural, linguistic and spiritual foundation.
Former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm said, “If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time.”
Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall, and that, “An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.”
In his newest book, Who Lost America?—Yale University graduate Bromwell Ault, at 86 years of age, brings enormous historical perspective to the American predicament.
“History is an excellent teacher,” said Ault. “To some degree it is infallible. It is both the messenger and message, and writes our records. In the end, it determines who survives and who doesn’t, and more importantly, what is and what isn’t. It leaves little room for argument when it is being written and even less thereafter.”
Every high school student learns how Rome fell. Every student of history knows how Easter Island’s civilization collapsed into extinction. A quick reading tells all of us why the Mayan civilization vanished. Historical records show why the Pueblo people of Mesa Verde disappeared from their homes in the rock walls of that ancient civilization.
But do you think the citizens and leaders of America in the 21st century take note of the causes of those collapsed civilizations? Do you think we Americans are taking actions to avoid our own definite collapse of our civilization? The empirical and unavoidable answer: no! In reality, we follow in the footsteps of those ancient civilizations of history that collapsed.
“The legislative branch of our government, with the power and responsibility to create and pass our laws,” said Ault, “is riven with so many divisions that its 535 members in the House and Senate are more and more to be found at the far ends of the political spectrum without a refuge of reason at the center. In our time and place, it is a catastrophe. How did it his happen and why do we permit it”
When you look at our 10 million unemployed and 7 million underemployed, or 48 million citizens subsisting on food stamps, or our $18 trillion national debt, or our $315 billion annual trade deficit to China, or our useless 10-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—you cannot help but lament the devolvement of our country into a horrendous geopolitical hole from which we may not recover.
When you look at our racial strife that dominates the headlines or our porous borders that our Congress facilitated to allow over 12 to 20 million people to cross without invitation or legality—you cannot help but wonder who pretends to be in charge of our laws. The agony of 68 percent of our African-American children being brought up by a single mother on welfare—speaks to something terribly wrong.
Who lost America? We citizens gave our country away to power mongers, to the military industrial complex, which foments foreign wars out of fabrications of fear, and to institutional failures.
“To protect ourselves, we must change our concept of power,” said Ault, “and elect as president, not someone who merely wants power, but someone who can wield it in a moral and balanced way…the great fault of government in America today is that it is considered a means, not and end. It means our elected representatives connive in the distribution of our national political and material resources to favored areas or interests. We have badly abused our democracy and in the process have done ourselves great disservice.”
In essence, we gave the military-industrial-complex a cart blanche pass to create Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq (twice). No one questions those dishonest wars even after the evidence shows that our leaders contrived those conflicts.
What causes those manufactured wars? Answer: money. Corporations make a lot of money. A lot of kids die for that money someone else makes.
Ault said, “Money flows in almost unimaginable amounts throughout our political process and is constantly directed and redirected by the same people to the same places.”
Ault describes how conflicted religions faced each other on the battlefields with swords, spears, maces and longbows. Their cruelty such as the Christians on the Crusades against the Muslims of the 11th, 12th and 13thcenturies engaged extreme barbarism on both sides. Today, Muslims commit horrific-barbaric acts against the West, but in return, the West bombs and kills hundreds of thousands of Muslims in their own lands. With countries like Syria, Muslims shoot, bomb, poison and kill each other with prolific enthusiasm.
Ault describes Rome’s fall to its endless immigration that destroyed its cohesive military into the chaos of the Goths, Visa-Goths and Vandals. Rome lost its cultural foundation along with its language.
“As to immigration, enter the Kudzu Curve,” said Ault. “Extend it another 50 years and our America will join the Easter Island sculptures looking for help that will not come.”
What Americans don’t realize continues at breakneck speed: America will change from a 90 percent European majority to a Latino majority by 2042—a scant 28 years from now. That means our major language, English, will share center stage with Spanish. Our national ethos faces radical change.
“Can this come to pass?” said Ault. “And why is it considered a very real possibility by many Americans. For an answer, it is only necessary to look to Europe. We have seats, front and center, to observe the deadly results of unchecked immigration in France, Germany, England, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and Italy where former colonial powers are being swamped by constant third world arrivals, mostly from Africa or the Near East, and mostly Muslims.
“The result has been extreme violence in the streets with random acts of murder, rape, torture and extensive property damage. To look at the European history, to listen to the arguments on both sides, to observe the results, and then to think it can’t happen here is sheer folly.”
By reading Ault’s book and watching television nightly, you cannot help but “connect the dots” on how we lost America and how fast we continue losing it even further to a peaceful, self-invited invasion via immigration.
Ironically, the latest S744 amnesty bill doubled legal immigration from 1 million to 2 million annually. If it passes, ultimately the rate of speed of immigration leading to an added 100 million immigrants by 2050 shall accelerate at twice the velocity.
Our ultimate destination places a special ring to Toybee’s words: “All great civilizations rise and fall, and that, an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.”
Part 3: Losing our national identity
Who Lost America? By Bromwell Ault
ISBN # 978-1-4634-7446-1
Price: $22.46, 284 pages softcover, Kindle $3.99
Publisher direct copies: 1 888 280 7715
A geopolitically tense atmosphere prevails.
Security is extremely tight. It’s prioritized for good reason. Terrorist attacks are possible. Don’t discount potential Washington shenanigans.
Perhaps raining on Putin’s parade is planned. Obama may want him embarrassed. False flags are a longstanding US tradition. Will Sochi be Washington’s next target? The fullness of time will tell.
It’s a virtual armed camp. Measures in place are unprecedented. Around $2 billion was spent on security.
Ahead of February 6, around 23,000 personnel assured proper measures were in place as planned.
Tens of thousands of police officers are deployed. They’re backed by helicopters, drones, gunboats, submarines, and 70,000 Russian troops.
Hundreds of Cossacks are involved. They’ll check IDs. They’ll detain suspects. Sochi’s proximity to the North Caucasus raised concerns.
Islamist jihadists named it a target. They’re US assets. They’re used strategically. Washington used likeminded ones against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan.
Libya was targeted this way. They comprise America’s anti-Syrian proxy death squads.
Russia raised concerns after December Volgograd bombings killed 34 people. Were Washington’s dirty hands involved?
Is something similar planned for Sochi? Hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst. Anything ahead is possible.
According to Sochi Organizing Committee chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko:
“Terrorism is a global threat, and for terrorism there is no boundaries, no territories, but here in Sochi from the very beginning of the construction phase the state authorities did their utmost to prepare special measures, starting from the screening of raw materials, checking all the venues and preparing far-reaching security measures to provide the safest ever environment here.”
A controlled zone was established. It covers 60 kilometers. It runs along the coast. It extends 25 kilometers inland.
It includes all venues. They’re heavily guarded. The entire area is for authorized visitors only.
Western anti-Russian sentiment persists. Cold War politics continues. Putin bashing is featured. He’s not about to roll over for Washington.
He wants rule of law principles respected. He opposes Western imperialism. He’s against meddling in the internal affairs of Russia, Syria, Ukraine and other nations.
He stresses Moscow’s “independent foreign policy.” He affirms the “inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissibility of excessive force, and unconditional observance of international law.”
He and Obama disagree on fundamental geopolitical issues. Key is national sovereignty. So are war and peace. America claims a divine right to fight. Putin prioritizes diplomatic conflict resolution.
Disagreements between both countries play out in dueling agendas. Washington notoriously plays hardball. Putin protects Russia’s national interests. They’re too important to sacrifice.
US media scoundrels target him. They vilify him. They mischaracterize him. They call him a Russian strongman. They make all kinds of baseless accusations.
Lies, damns lies and misinformation substitute for truth and full disclosure. They want him embarrassed. They’re raining on his Sochi parade.
On February 6, the Financial Times headlined “Putin gambles all on creation myth behind Sochi.”
“I am particularly pleased to see what is happening here because I chose this place myself,” he said.
“It must have been in 2001 or 2002,” he added. “(W)e were driving around and arrived at this brook, and I said: ‘Let’s start from here.’ That’s how it all began.”
Putin staked much on the games, said the FT. George Washington University’s Sufian Zhemukhov said “(i)f all goes well, (he’ll) be seen as the leader who resurrected Russia.”
Failure perhaps won’t be forgiven, he added. His forthrightness for peace “made him a force on the world stage,” said the FT.
A January Levada Center poll showed he’d be elected today by a wide margin. At the same time, his overall support dropped.
Excluding undecided respondents, its “higher than ever.”
He’s taking no chances. He’s going all out to make Sochi successful. FT comments were tame compared to America’s media.
The Wall Street Journal headlined “The Putin Games.” He wants them to “showcase…modern Russia.”
“(H)e succeeded (but) not as he intended…What could go wrong?” Sochi is the most expensive Olympics in history.
Around $50 billion was spent. It’s five times the original estimate. It’s double what Britain’s 2012 summer games cost. It’s a fourth more than China spent in 2008.
Much of Sochi’s cost related to building vital infrastructure. It had to be done from scratch. Doing so added enormously to costs.
Major projects are expensive. According to Journal editors, “(t)he games are proving to be a case study in the Putin political and economic method.”
They claim billions of dollars “lost to corruption.” They provide no evidence proving it. They said “Russians call this Olympiad the Korimpiad.”
More Putin bashing followed. It’s standard scoundrel media practice. Journal editors feature it.
They claim he “made it impossible to hold his regime accountable through free elections or media.”
Russian elections shame America’s sham ones. They’re democratic. They not rigged. Monied interests don’t control them.
Outcomes aren’t predetermined. Russian voters decide. US ones have no say.
Don’t expect Journal editors to explain. Or how Voice of Russia and RT (formerly Russia Today) shame America’s corporate media.
They feature news, information and opinion viewers most need to know. They do it forthrightly. They’re polar opposite America’s managed news misinformation.
Truth is systematically suppressed. Demagoguery, propaganda, scandal, sleaze, junk food news, and warmongering substitute.
Journal editors ignore truth and full disclosure. Bias permeates their opinions. They betray readers. They shame themselves doing so.
They claimed billions spent on Sochi left it unprepared. They cite “unfinished hotel rooms, incomplete road work and now the famous photographs of two toilets in a single stall.”
RT.com responded. On February 6, it headlined ”Spread fear, toilet humor? MSM guide to ‘Worst. Olympics. EVAR!” (Repeat: EVAR!)
Even before the opening ceremony, MSM scoundrels drew conclusions “Sports? Not really,” said RT. At issue is malicious Putin bashing. It’s longstanding practice.
It’s MSM’s “own Sochi 2014 moan-athon.” Imagine claiming something yet to occur the “worst Olympics ever.” They beat up on Beijing the same way.
They “never believed in Sochi,” said RT. They called its climate unfit for winter games. They cite corruption with no substantiating evidence.
They claim lax security despite unprecedented measures in place. They discuss possible terrorist threats. They leave unexplained what most worrisome – a possible disruptive US false flag attack.
It bears repeating. Perhaps Washington plans raining on Putin’s parade.
On August 7, 2008, hours before Beijing’s summer Olympics’ opening ceremony, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. He did so at Washington’s behest. Attacking was strategically timed.
After Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution, South Assetia broke away from Georgia. It declared independence. It’s home to many Russian nationals.
Moscow responded responsibly. Conflict continued for days. Then President Medvedev was on vacation. Then Prime Minister Putin was in Beijing.
In half a day before Russia intervened, 1,700 people were killed. Included were 12 Russian peacekeepers.
Moscow was blamed for Georgian aggression. Does Washington plan something similar this time? Will a false flag attack occur?
Will Obama usurp a freer hand in Ukraine? Will he take advantage in Syria? Does he plan other mischief? Is disrupting Sochi planned?
Hegemons operate this way. Washington’s disturbing history gives Russia good reason for concern.
Preparations in Sochi aren’t perfect, said RT. “(F)laws and problems” exist. “But what makes the Sochi Olympics ‘the worst’ so far is…accommodation for the global media elite.”
“See it, slam it,” said RT. “Intrepid Olympic reporters, we thought, would get behind the scenes, unravel the PR.”
“Nope. Not this time. Of global importance were rooms (if they were available), toilets, floors, and shower curtains.”
“Oh – and a request to not flush toilet paper (it’s rarely done in public toilets) had the press pack throwing up.”
Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally was upset about “a tiny, tiny (hotel room) sink.”
It “sits atop an exposed white plastic pipe, stuck to the wall and surrounded by an unruly gob of caulk,” she said.
“The single room has two lamps – which don’t have light bulbs, but that’s okay because they aren’t near any unused outlets.”
Other journalists reported missing shower curtains, lamps, chairs, inadequate heat and hot water, and whatever else they wanted to cite to bash Putin.
Fox News called conditions “laughably bad.” It warned about event coverage being just as dreadful.
MSM scoundrels feature daily “hotel horror stories.” They regurgitate similar tweets to each other. They find new reasons to complain.
BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg tweeted about two sit-down toilets shown side-by-side with no partition. It went viral.
RT calls it a “must have” for every Sochi story. Imagine toilet humor substituting for real journalism. It gets worse.
Whatever is happening in Russia multiple time zones away gets reported. A Moscow school shooting creates Sochi shudders.
So does a derailed gas-laden freight train exploding. It happened 500 miles northeast of Moscow. It made Sochi headlines.
CNN connected Sochi to the September 2004 Beslan school siege. Its February 5 report said:
“Amid the shrill noise of militant threats ahead of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the gym in Beslan is now steeped in silence, a monument to the dead, untouched almost.”
Trashing Sochi bashes Putin. MSM scoundrels are deplorable. They disgrace themselves before dwindling audiences.
CNN and other US cable news networks report increasing to fewer viewers. Maybe one day they’ll all tune out.
RT called Sochi the “biggest construction site in the world over the past seven years.”
“Everything there – most of the hotels, sport venues, high-speed rail links, highways, 50 bridges, even the Olympic village itself – was built from scratch.”
It’s an extraordinary achievement in a short time. It’s almost like building an entirely new city in record time. Sochi deserves praise, not criticism.
Toronto Star reporter Rosie Dimanno wrote:
“Mounds of debris, parts of roads unpaved, mesh hoarding to hide the eyesore bits, lots of trash, unreliable power – nothing upsets journalists more than an internet that goes up and down – these have all featured in Olympics over the past three decades, as the Games have grown too big, too gaudy and too complicated.”
“The Olympics are no (place) for old sissies,” she added. “So I’ll take my own advice: Just chill.”
Most MSM scoundrels report as expected. They mock legitimate journalism. It’s verboten in America. It’s lacking in Canada. It’s largely absent in Western Europe. Managed news misinformation substitutes.
WSJ editors called Sochi “a shrine to authoritarianism.” They bashed Putin relentlessly. One bald-faced lie followed others.
“(T)he underbelly of Mr. Putin’s regime (was) exposed,” they claimed.
New York Times editors were just as bad. They headlined “A Spotlight on Mr. Putin’s Russia,” saying:
“(T)he reality of (his) Russia…conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights.”
“There is no way to ignore the dark side – the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new anti-gay and blasphemy laws, and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.”
NYT editors have a longstanding disturbing history. They one-sidedly support wealth, power and privilege. Whenever Washington wages imperial wars or plans them, they march in lockstep.
They long ago lost credibility. They feature mind-numbing misinformation. They violate their own journalistic code doing so.
They invented anti-gay law controversy. Russian gay propaganda law has nothing to do with persecuting people for their sexual orientation.
Everyone’s rights are respected. Russia wants its children protected from malicious anti-gay propaganda, illicit drugs, alcohol abuse and whatever else harms them.
Responsible governance demands it. America leaves millions of children unprotected. Cutting food stamps alone denies them vital nutrition.
Don’t expect Times editors to explain. Or about thousands of political prisoners languishing in America’s gulag.
About torture being official US policy. About rigged US elections. About impoverishing neoliberal harshness.
About destroying social America. About eliminating America’s middle class. About waging war on freedom.
About unprecedented levels of public and private corruption. About kleptocracy masquerading as democracy.
About out-of-control corporate empowerment. About Washington being corporate occupied territory. About crushing organized labor.
About commodifying public education. About ignoring international, constitutional and US statute laws.
About violating fundamental human and civil rights. About Obama’s war on humanity.
Bashing Putin takes precedence. Managed news misinformation proliferates.
Times editors report like other media scoundrels. MSM ones long ago lost credibility. They replicate the worst of each other.
They support what demands condemnation. They back wrong over right. Readers and viewers demand better.
MSM scoundrels don’t deliver. Sochi games run through February 23. Expect lots more Putin bashing ahead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Only Washington Knows Best…
The control freaks in Washington think that only the decisions that Washington makes and imposes on other sovereign countries are democratic. No other country on earth is capable of making a democratic decision.
The world has witnessed this American self- righteousness for eons as Washington overthrows one democratic government after the other and imposes its puppet, as Washington did in Iran in 1953 when the CIA, as it now admits, and as Ervand Abrahamian proves in his book The Coup (The New Press, 2013), overthrew the elected government of Mossadeq, and more recently the elected government of Honduras and many governments in between.
Currently Washington is working overtime to overthrow the governments of Syria, Iran again, and Ukraine. Washington has also targeted Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil, and in its wildest dreams the governments of Russia and China.
On January 26 Syrian government advisor Bouthaina Shaaban asked Wolf Blitzer, a propagandist for Washington and the Israel Lobby, on US TV why the US government, speaking through Secretary of Stare John Kerry, has the right to decide who is to be the government of Syria instead of the Syrian people. [Polls show that Syrian president Assad’s approval ratings exceed those of every Western leader.] Even the slimy Blitzer wasn’t slimy enough to answer, “because we are the exceptional, indispensable people.” But that’s what Washington thinks.
Washington will soon be back at work on destabilizing the government of Iran again, a habit I suppose, but for the moment Washington is focused on destabilizing Ukraine.
Ukraine has a democratically elected government, but Washington doesn’t like it because Washington didn’t pick it. The Ukraine or the western part of it is full of Washington funded NGOs whose purpose is to deliver Ukraine into the clutches of the EU where US and European banks can loot the country, as they looted, for example, Latvia, and simultaneously weaken Russia by stealing a large part of traditional Russia and converting it into US/NATO military bases against Russia.
Perhaps Putin, an athlete, is distracted by the Olympic Games in Russia. Otherwise, it is something of a puzzle why Russia hasn’t put its nuclear missiles on high alert and occupied the western Ukraine with troops in order to prevent Ukraine’s overthrow by Washington’s money. Every country has citizens that will sell the country out for money, and western Ukraine is overflowing with such traitors.
As we have seen for decades, Arabs and Muslims will sell out their people for Western money. So will western Ukrainians. The NGOs financed by Washington are committed to delivering Ukraine into Washington’s hands where Ukrainians can become American serfs and this integral part of Russia can become a staging ground for the US military.
Of all the violent protests that we have witnessed, the Ukrainian one is the most orchestrated.
On February 6, Zero Hedge, one of the intelligent and informed Internet sites, posted a leaked recording from the despicable Victoria Nuland, an Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama Regime. Nuland is caught discussing with the US envoy to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, Washington’s choice for who heads the next Ukrainian government.
Nuland is incensed that the European Union has not joined Washington in imposing sanctions on the Ukrainian government in order to complete Washington’s takeover of Ukraine. Nuland speaks as if she is God with the God-given right to select the government of Ukraine, which she proceeds to do.
The EU, as corrupt as it is by Washington’s money, nevertheless understands being made rich by Washington is no protection agains Russian nuclear missiles. Nuland’s response to Europe’s hesitancy to risk its existence for the benefit of US hegemony is:
“Fuck the EU.”
So much for Washington’s attitude toward its captive allies and the peoples of the world.
Марионетки Майдана – “Puppets of Maidan”
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
One food parcel & one polio vaccination at a time…
Damascus – As of 2/6/14 it’s been seven days since the first humanitarian aid, generally in the form of 56 lb. food parcels packed by UNWRA, the World Food Program, the ICRC or European aid organizations have been able to enter Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp following half a dozen aborted attempts the past few months by various militia and political groups to achieve consensus to deliver aid. The aid parcels, including two kilos of rice, two kilos sugar, three kilos lentils, three kilos dry macaroni, plus flour, jam, tea, oil, and sweet Halawi spread are intended to feed a family of five to eight for ten days. The boxes have been trickling into the South side of the Yarmouk Palestinian camp and up along Rima Street where this observer has seen crowds this past week tensely waiting and hoping for food and clean water. For some camp residents the wait for relief began in June of 2013 when all entrances and exits to Yarmouk camp were cut.
Up to this morning, approximately 5,300 food parcels have been allowed into Yarmouk or an average of 800-1,000 food packages daily. Aid has been entering sporadically and sometimes chaotically, with perceptible but slight increases over the past week.
A large yellow flat-bed truck arrived on the morning of 2/5/14 and this observer watched as food parcels were off-loaded and neatly stacked into six white pick-up trucks that were then driven into Yarmouk under the watchful gaze of pro and anti-regime forces and security agents. According to one source from South Beirut who this observer had met earlier, Jabhat al Nusra, Jabhat Islam, Daash and Jund al Cham snipers could be observed on rooftops monitoring the distribution activity with their eyes pressed against their rifle scopes. One SARCS volunteer who this observer has known for two years advised that she feared there might be a shootout between these fighters and nearby Palestinian forces allied with the government (Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC) suspected Hezbollah fighters with hand radio phones who were watching and seemingly discussing the events. Frankly, for this observer, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish which group which around here is given the proliferation of fighters with beards and essentially indistinguishable attire.
For many food parcel recipients, their first act is to open the jar of jam inside the cardboard box and scoop the confections into the mouths of their children or the nearby infirm refugees, usually elderly. On 2/6/14, UNWRA also started a polio vaccination program, its first in Yarmouk and which is urgently needed by thousands of trapped camp residents. Ten thousand dosages of polio vaccines are being allowed into the camp with vaccinations currently underway for the second day running.
In addition to the so far paltry amount of food allowed into the camp, approximately 1,600 people have been allowed to leave Yarmouk for medical treatment. Young Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) volunteers, wearing shirts with large Red Crosses can be seen trickling out from the besieged camp this morning. Invariably holding the hands, arms, or shoulders of those who could walk the 50 yards to waiting ambulances that will evacuate and transport these patients, suffering the effects of starvation including muscle atrophy and dehydration. Most will be taken to the PCRS Jaffa hospital two kilometers away. Others are being transferred to Syrian government hospitals in Mazah, in central Damascus, including al-Mujtahed, al-Muwasat, al-Tawleed and children hospital.
This observer mingled for a couple of hours among the approximately 250 family members of trapped refugees, many of whom appear daily outside the only exit from Yarmouk camp, hoping that a relative might be allowed to leave. One elderly lady, maybe in her late sixties, explained to this observer that every day for the past seven months, i.e. since the tight siege of Yarmouk began last June, she has stood in the same location waiting for her son Mahmoud to come to her from inside besieged Yarmouk. She has no idea if he is alive but she explained to me that she believes that God will deliver him safely to her.
Another view of much needed Divine assistance was articulated by a lovely young mother who had just exited Yarmouk with her two toddlers who looked, as she did, to be in fairly bad shape and in need of immediate hospitalization. A former English literature student, the lady, whose family is from Haifa, Occupied Palestine, explained to this observer that she no longer has any belief in God and as she elaborated why, she lowered her voice so as not to offend the nearby elderly believer waiting for her son Makmoud.
She told of her experience trapped inside Yarmouk: “For the past more than five months I have sold my body for one hour to whoever would give me a kilo of rice which sometimes costs as much as 14,000 s.p. (close to $ 100). I was proud to be a whore for these terrorists in order to keep my parents alive and who are still trapped and I also prevented complete starvation of my children.” She continued, “God did not help me and my family but I promise if I live and ever see one of those dogs I will kill him and he can learn if his God exists or not. None existed for me!” and she sobbed as two young lady volunteers from the PRCS held her as she and her little ones made their way to a waiting PRCS ambulance.
Given the 18,000 in need of urgent aid this cold winter morning inside Yarmouk camp, what has been allowed in so far has been a mere trickle, rather minor in a sense. But major for those getting the live saving food parcels and urgently required medical treatment.
As this observer waits to return to Yarmouk this morning, and for a promised and expensive taxi to hopefully arrive, for few cabs want to go anywhere near Yarmouk camp these days and charge five times the normal fare if they do, ones imagines that as has been the case this past week, there will be large crowds and long lines of people waiting and sometimes jostling for food. This attests to the enormous humanitarian need and to the desperation of thousands of civilians, Palestinian and Syrian, being starved and used as a weapon of war and as human shields.
After months of false starts toward reaching an agreement among fourteen Palestinian factions here in Damascus, as well as a green light from the Syrian government, and more than a dozen rebel militias, each with disparate agendas, this week’s agreement, and the 8th since early December, may or may not hold. And it may not end the carnage that criminally took 6000 more lives just last month.
If it does succeed, it will be one more half-step, to use UN Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi Geneva II term, toward lifting the siege of Yarmouk camp which achievement might then augur well for more widespread humanitarian efforts to achieve a nationwide ceasefire as a full step toward serious reconciliation work in order to save this great country.
“Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently mistaken for ‘objectivity’. Departures from this ideological orthodoxy are themselves dismissed as ideological.” – Michael Parenti
An exchange in January with Paul Farhi, Washington Post columnist, about coverage of US foreign policy:
Dear Mr. Farhi,
Now that you’ve done a study of al-Jazeera’s political bias in supporting Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, is it perhaps now time for a study of the US mass media’s bias on US foreign policy? And if you doubt the extent and depth of this bias, consider this:
There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.
Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela or his successor, Nicolás Maduro; Fidel or Raúl Castro of Cuba; Bashar al-Assad of Syria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?
Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon? Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians? And keeps his or her job?
Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning as the heroes they are?
And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.
The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; that they are instead what they call “objective”. I submit that there is something more important in journalism than objectivity. It is capturing the essence, or the truth, if you will, with the proper context and history. This can, as well, serve as “enlightenment”.
It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B”.
Sincerely, William Blum, Washington, DC
(followed by some of my writing credentials)
Reply from Paul Farhi:
I think you’re conflating news coverage with editorial policy. They are not the same. What a newspaper advocates on its editorial page (the Vietnam example you cite) isn’t the same as what or how the story is covered in the news columns. News MAY have some advocacy in it, but it’s not supposed to, and not nearly as overt or blatant as an editorial or opinion column. Go back over all of your ODE examples and ask yourself if the news coverage was the same as the opinions about those ODEs. In most cases. I doubt it was.
Dear Mr. Farhi,
Thank you for your remarkably prompt answer.
Your point about the difference between news coverage and editorial policy is important, but the fact is, as a daily, and careful, reader of the Post for the past 20 years I can attest to the extensive bias in its foreign policy coverage in the areas I listed. Juan Ferrero in Latin America and Kathy Lally in the Mideast are but two prime examples. The bias, most commonly, is one of omission more than commission; which is to say it’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. My Anti-Empire Report contains many examples of these omissions, as well as some errors of commission.
Incidentally, since 1995 I have written dozens of letters to the Post pointing out errors in foreign-policy coverage. Not one has been printed.
Happy New Year
I present here an extreme example of bias by omission, in the entire American mainstream media: In my last report I wrote of the committee appointed by the president to study NSA abuses – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – which actually came up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:
“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”
So what do we have here? The NSA being used to steal industrial secrets; nothing to do with fighting terrorism. And the NSA stealing money and otherwise sabotaging unnamed financial systems, which may also represent gaining industrial advantage for the United States.
Long-time readers of this report may have come to the realization that I’m not an ecstatic admirer of US foreign policy. But this stuff shocks even me. It’s the gross pettiness of “The World’s Only Superpower”.
A careful search of the extensive Lexis-Nexis database failed to turn up a single American mainstream media source, print or broadcast, that mentioned this revelation. I found it only on those websites which carried my report, plus three other sites: Techdirt, Lawfare, and Crikey (First Digital Media).
For another very interesting and extreme example of bias by omission, as well as commission, very typical of US foreign policy coverage in the mainstream media: First read the January 31, page one, Washington Post article making fun of socialism in Venezuela and Cuba.
Then read the response from two Americans who have spent a lot of time in Venezuela, are fluent in Spanish, and whose opinions about the article I solicited.
I lived in Chile during the 1972-73 period under Salvadore Allende and his Socialist Party. The conservative Chilean media’s sarcastic claims at the time about shortages and socialist incompetence were identical to what we’ve been seeing for years in the United States concerning Venezuela and Cuba. The Washington Post article on Venezuela referred to above could have been lifted out of Chile’s El Mercurio, 1973.
[Note to readers: Please do not send me the usual complaints about my using the name “America(n)” to refer to “The United States”. I find it to be a meaningless issue, if not plain silly.]
JFK, RFK, and some myths about US foreign policy
On April 30, 1964, five months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was interviewed by John B. Martin in one of a series of oral history sessions with RFK. Part of the interview appears in the book “JFK Conservative” by Ira Stoll, published three months ago. (pages 192-3)
RFK: The president … had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.
MARTIN: What was the overwhelming reason?
RFK: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.
MARTIN: What if it did?
RFK: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just as it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of those countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists.
MARTIN: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?
MARTIN: … The president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there …
MARTIN: … And couldn’t lose it.
These remarks are rather instructive from several points of view:
- Robert Kennedy contradicts the many people who are convinced that, had he lived, JFK would have brought the US involvement in Vietnam to a fairly prompt end, instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years. The author, Stoll, quotes a few of these people. And these other statements are just as convincing as RFK’s statements presented here. And if that is not confusing enough, Stoll then quotes RFK himself in 1967 speaking unmistakably in support of the war.
It appears that we’ll never know with any kind of certainty what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated, but I still go by his Cold War record in concluding that US foreign policy would have continued along its imperial, anti-communist path. In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States unleashed many different types of hostility, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat; with one or more of these occurring in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil.
- “Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world.”
Ah yes, a vital part of the world. Has there ever been any part of the world, or any country, that the US has intervened in that was not vital? Vital to American interests? Vital to our national security? Of great strategic importance? Here’s President Carter in his 1980 State of the Union Address: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America”.
“What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war.” – Simone Weil (1909-1943), French philosopher
- If the US lost Vietnam “everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.”
As I once wrote:
Thus it was that the worst of Washington’s fears had come to pass: All of Indochina – Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – had fallen to the Communists. During the initial period of US involvement in Indochina in the 1950s, John Foster Dulles, Dwight Eisenhower and other American officials regularly issued doomsday pronouncements of the type known as the “Domino Theory”, warning that if Indochina should fall, other nations in Asia would topple over as well. In one instance, President Eisenhower listed no less than Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia amongst the anticipated “falling dominos”.
Such warnings were repeated periodically over the next decade by succeeding administrations and other supporters of US policy in Indochina as a key argument in defense of such policy. The fact that these ominous predictions turned out to have no basis in reality did not deter Washington officialdom from promulgating the same dogma up until the 1990s about almost each new world “trouble-spot”, testimony to their unshakable faith in the existence and inter-workings of the International Communist Conspiracy.
Suicide bombers have become an international tragedy. One can not sit in a restaurant or wait for a bus or go for a walk downtown, in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq or Russia or Syria and elsewhere without fearing for one’s life from a person walking innocently by or a car that just quietly parked nearby. The Pentagon has been working for years to devise a means of countering this powerful weapon.
As far as we know, they haven’t come up with anything. So I’d like to suggest a possible solution. Go to the very source. Flood selected Islamic societies with this message: “There is no heavenly reward for dying a martyr. There are no 72 beautiful virgins waiting to reward you for giving your life for jihad. No virgins at all. No sex at all.”
Using every means of communication, from Facebook to skywriting, from billboards to television, plant the seed of doubt, perhaps the very first such seed the young men have ever experienced. As some wise anonymous soul once wrote:
A person is unambivalent only with regard to those few beliefs, attitudes and characteristics which are truly universal in his experience. Thus a man might believe that the world is flat without really being aware that he did so – if everyone in his society shared the assumption. The flatness of the world would be simply a “self-evident” fact. But if he once became conscious of thinking that the world is flat, he would be capable of conceiving that it might be otherwise. He might then be spurred to invent elaborate proofs of its flatness, but he would have lost the innocence of absolute and unambivalent belief.
We have to capture the minds of these suicide bombers. At the same time we can work on our own soldiers. Making them fully conscious of their belief, their precious belief, that their government means well, that they’re fighting for freedom and democracy, and for that thing called “American exceptionalism”. It could save them from committing their own form of suicide.
I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “David and Goliath” — wherein Gladwell says that, in the course of any human interaction, there will always be a graphic curve of diminishing returns when it comes to maximizing the use of force in order to achieve one’s goals.
In other words, always punching other people’s lights out in order to get your own way can very quickly become counterproductive. Good grief, I think that Gladwell might be onto something here.
If the maximum use of force in order to obtain one’s goals had been successful in Iraq (and assuming that said goals were to depose a dictator and not just to create chaos and steal oil), then the Bush-led invasion would never have been such a dismal failure and there never would have been such a disastrous resistance war there — one that still keeps rolling right along to this day. So much for Shock and Awe.
If maximum use of force really worked, then Europe would still be saluting Hitler.
Slavery would still be on the books in Georgia and Alabama because of all those happy slaves it created. Or, alternatively, segregation would still be a huge success and MLK would have had no effect at all on it.
Descendants of Genghis Khan would still be running Russia and China.
There would be no Child Protective Services anywhere and parents would still be beating their kids to within an inch of their lives. And I would still be lovingly obeying my mean older sister.
Women would look forward to being placed in harems and having a dozen babies each and would never demand the right to be pro-choice. “Barefoot and pregnant.” They would know their place as slaves to their husbands and not strive for anything else. Rape would not be a problem for women and girls.
Those viscous stormtroopers who illegally seized control of Palestine 65 years ago by ruthlessly wiping out hundreds of villages and slaughtering Christians and Muslims by the thousands? They would not still be getting resistance from the Occupied Territories even now. And the current Israeli neo-cons’ constant brutal “eye for an eye” faux cleverness wouldn’t have forced Al Qaeda out of the remote caves of Afghanistan where it was holed up in 2001 — and forced it into not-so-remote southern Syria where Al Qaeda is now, right at Israel’s front door.
And there would not have been 30 years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland either.
And in South America, Pinochet’s ghost would still be running Chile, Argentina’s Dirty War would have made Henry Kissinger proud, the billions Reagan spent on killing peasants in Guatemala would not have been wasted, Batista’s grandson (not Castro’s brother) would still be ruling Cuba and all those tin-pot dictators that the CIA supported in Central and South America over the years would be in Heaven right now — not in Hell. And phrases like “Banana Republic” and “Military Junta” and “Drug Cartel” would all stir our hearts with pride instead of just making us queasy.
The Soviet Union would still exist — and Afghans and Chechyans would just love being a part of it. People there would stop praising Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and Baryshnikov and start even more fan clubs for Stalin.
We would have “Fascism” and “Corporatism” engraved on our dimes now instead of just that stupid old word “Liberty”. And “Mein Kampf” — not “Romeo and Juliette” — would be required reading in all American high schools.
All seven billion of us human beings, when we were babies, would have been spanked every time we cried, been locked in closets for days for the slightest infraction and would have thrived on harsh whippings — and that would have been that. And as a result we would all have grown up to become obedient citizens, not axe-murdering psychopaths.
Jesus would have been just another loser with wild ideas. Even Mohammed and the Buddha would have been buked and scorned (and sent to bed without any Last Supper). http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Everyone in America would be happily welcoming the NSA and the militarization of our police forces with open arms right now. More tanks driving down Main Street? More surveillance on our phones? More destruction of our Constitutional rights? Bring it on!
And Baby Doc and his Bon Ton Macoute would still be running Haiti and Jean-Bertrand Aristide would have been laughed out of the country instead of becoming a hero almost as legendary as Toussaint L’Ouverture.
So why don’t whips and chains and oppression and torture work out so well in the long run? One would think that they would. Isn’t Fear the greatest motivator? According to Gladwell, apparently not.
And why is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” still such a hot item? You tell me. Which way would you prefer to be treated? As a friend or as a slave? Which way of being treated would piss you off to the degree that you would take torches and pitchforks in hand rather than live under a tyrant?
I began writing analysis on the macro-economic situation of the American financial structure back in 2006, and in the eight years since, I have seen an undeniably steady trend of fiscal decline.
I have never had any doubt that the U.S. economy as we know it was headed for total and catastrophic collapse, the only question was when, exactly, the final trigger event would occur. As I have pointed out in the past, economic implosion is a process. It grows over time, like the ice shelf on a mountain developing into a potential avalanche. It is easy to shrug off the danger because the visible destruction is not immediate, it is latent; but when the avalanche finally begins, it is far too late for most people to escape…
If you view the progressive financial breakdown in America as some kind of “comedy of errors” or a trial of unlucky coincidences, then there is not much I can do to educate you on the reasons behind the carnage. If, however, you understand that there is a deliberate motivation behind American collapse, then what I have to say here will not fall on biased ears.
The financial crash of 2008, the same crash which has been ongoing for years, is NOT an accident. It is a concerted and engineered crisis meant to position the U.S. for currency disintegration and the institution of a global basket currency controlled by an unaccountable supranational governing body like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The American populace is being conditioned through economic fear to accept the institutionalization of global financial control and the loss of sovereignty.
Anyone skeptical of this conclusion is welcome to study my numerous past examinations on the issue of globalization; I don’t have the time within this article to re-explain, and frankly, with so much information on deliberate dollar destruction available to the public today I’ve grown tired of anyone with a lack of awareness.
If you continue to believe that the Fed actually exists to “help” stabilize our economy or our currency, then you will never find the logic behind what they do. If you understand that the goal of the Fed and the globalists is to dismantle the dollar and the U.S. economic system to make way for something “new”, then certain recent events and policy initiatives do start to make sense.
The year of 2014 has been looming as a serious concern for me since the final quarter of 2013, and you can read about those concerns and the evidence that supports them in my articleExpect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014.
At the end of 2013 we saw at least three major events that could have sent America spiraling into total collapse. The first was the announcement of possible taper measures by the Fed, which have now begun. The second was the possible invasion of Syria which the Obama Administration is still desperate for despite successful efforts by the liberty movement to deny him public support for war. And, the third event was the last debt ceiling debate (or debt ceiling theater depending on how you look at it), which placed the U.S. squarely on the edge of fiscal default.
As we begin 2014, these same threatening issues remain (along with many others), only at greater levels and with more prominence. New developments reinforce my original position that this year will be remembered by historians as the year in which the final breakdown of the U.S. monetary dynamic was set in motion. Here are some of those developments explained…
Taper Of QE3
When I first suggested that a Fed taper was not only possible but probable months ago, I was met with a lot a bit of criticism from some in the alternative economic world. You can read my taper articles here and here.
This was understandable. The Fed uses multiple stimulus outlets besides QE in order to manipulate U.S. markets. Artificially lowering interest rates is very much a form of stimulus in itself, for instance.
However, I think a dangerous blindness to threats beyond money printing has developed within our community of analysts and this must be remedied. People need to realize first that the Fed does NOT care about the continued health of our economy, and they may not care about presenting a facade of health for much longer either. Alternative analysts also need to come to grips with the reality that overt money printing is not the only method at the disposal of globalists when destroying the greenback. A debt default is just as likely to cause loss of world reserve status and devaluation – no printing press required. Blame goes to government and political gridlock while the banks slither away in the midst of the chaos.
The taper of QE3 is not a “head fake”, it is very real, but there are many hidden motivations behind such cuts.
Currently, $20 billion has been trimmed from the $85 billion per month program, and we are already beginning to see what APPEAR to be market effects, including a flight from emerging market currencies from Argentina to Turkey. A couple of years ago investors viewed these markets as among the few places they could exploit to make a positive return, or in other words, one of the few places they could successfully gamble. The Fed taper, though, seems to be shifting the flow of capital away from emerging markets.
The mainstream argument is that stimulus was flowing into such markets, giving them liquidity support, and the taper is drying up that liquidity. Whether this is actually true is hard to say, given that without a full audit we have no idea how much fiat the Federal Reserve has actually created and how much of it they send out into foreign markets.
I stand more on the position that the Fed taper was actually begun in preparation for a slowdown in global markets that was already in progress. In fact, I believe central bankers have been well aware that a decline in every sector was coming, and are moving to insulate themselves.
Is it just a “coincidence” that the central bankers have initiated their taper of QE right when global manufacturing numbers begin to plummet?
Is it just “coincidence” the taper was started right when the Baltic Dry Index, a global indicator of shipping demand, has lost over 50% of its value in the past few weeks?
Is it just “coincidence” that the taper is running tandem with dismal retail sales growth reports from across the globe coming in from the final quarter of 2013?
And, is it just a “coincidence” that the Fed taper is a accelerating right as the next debt ceiling debate begins in March, and when reports are being released by the Congressional Budget Office that over 2 million jobs (in work hours) may be lost due to Obamacare?
No, I do not think any of this is coincidence. Most if not all of these negative indicators needed months to generate, so they could not have been caused by the taper itself. The only explanation beyond “coincidence” is that the Federal Reserve WANTED to launch the taper program and protect itself before these signals began to reach the public.
Look at it this way – The taper program distances the bankers from responsibility for crisis in our financial framework, at least in the eyes of the general public. If a market calamity takes place WHILE stimulus measures are still at full speed, this makes the banks look rather guilty, or at least incompetent. People would begin to question the validity of central bank methods, and they might even question the validity of the central bank’s existence. The Fed is creating space between itself and the economy because they know that a trigger event is coming. They want to ensure that they are not blamed and that stimulus itself is not seen as ineffective, or seen as the cause.
We all know that the claims of recovery are utter nonsense. Beyond the numerous warning signs listed above, one need only look at true unemployment numbers, household wage decline, and record low personal savings of the average American. The taper is not in response to an improving economic environment. Rather, the taper is a signal for the next stage of collapse.
Stocks are beginning to plummet around the world and all mainstream pundits are pointing fingers at a reduction in stimulus which has very little to do with anything. What is the message they want us to digest? That we “can’t live” without the aid and oversight of central banks.
The real reason stocks and other indicators are stumbling is because the effectiveness of stimulus manipulation has a shelf life, and that shelf life is over for the Federal Reserve. I suspect they will continue cutting QE every month for the next year as stocks decline. Will the Fed restart QE? If they do, it will probably not occur until after a substantial breakdown has ensued and the public is sufficiently shell-shocked. The possibility also exists that the Fed will never return to stimulus measures (if debt default is the plan), and QE stimulus will eventually be replaced by IMF “aid”.
Government Controlled Investment
Last month, just as taper measures were being implemented, the White House launched an investment program called MyRA; a retirement IRA program in which middle class and low wage Americans can invest part of their paycheck in government bonds.
That’s right, if you wanted to know where the money was going to come from to support U.S. debt if the Fed cuts QE, guess what, the money is going to come from YOU.
For a decade or so China was the primary buyer and crutch for U.S. debt spending. After the derivatives crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve became the largest purchaser of Treasury bonds. With the decline of foreign interest in long term U.S. debt, and the taper in full effect, it only makes sense that the government would seek out an alternative source of capital to continue the debt cycle. The MyRA program turns the general American public into a new cash stream, but there’s more going on here than meets the eye…
I find it rather suspicious that a government-controlled retirement program is suddenly introduced just as the Fed has begun to taper, as stocks are beginning to fall, and as questions arise over the U.S. debt ceiling. I have three major concerns:
First, is it possible that like the Fed, the government is also aware that a crash in stocks is coming? And, are they offering the MyRA program as an easy outlet (or trap) for people to pour in what little savings they have as panic over declining equities accelerates? Bonds do tend to look appetizing to uninformed investors during an equities route.
Second, the program is currently voluntary, but what if the plan is to make it mandatory? Obama has already signed mandatory health insurance “taxation” into law, which is meant to steal a portion of every paycheck. Why not steal an even larger portion from every paycheck in order to support U.S. debt? It’s for the “greater good,” after all.
Third, is this a deliberate strategy to corral the last vestiges of private American wealth into the corner of U.S. bonds, so that this wealth can be confiscated or annihilated? What happens if there is indeed an eventual debt default, as I believe there will be? Will Americans be herded into bonds by a crisis in stocks only to have bonds implode as well? Will they be conned into bond investment out of a “patriotic duty” to save the nation from default? Or, will the government just take their money through legislative wrangling, as was done in Cyprus not long ago?
The Final Swindle
Again, the next debt ceiling debate is slated for the end of this month. If the government decides to kick the can down the road for another quarter, I believe this will be the last time. The most recent actions of the Fed and the government signal preparations for a stock implosion and ultimate debt calamity. Default would have immediate effects in foreign markets, but the appearance of U.S. stability could drag on for a time, giving the globalists ample opportunity to siphon every ounce of financial blood from the public.
It is difficult to say how the next year will play out, but one thing is certain; something very strange and ugly is afoot. The goal of the globalists is to engineer desperation. To create a catastrophe and then force the masses to beg for help. How many hands of “friendship” will be offered in the wake of a U.S. wealth and currency crisis? What offers for “aid” will come from the IMF? How much of our country and how many of our people will be collateralized to secure that aid? And, how many Americans will go along with the swindle because they were not prepared in advance?
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi wrapped up the first round of the “Geneva II” negotiations last Friday reporting little progress. No ceasefire was agreed, and talks on a transitional government never began. The next round is scheduled for February 10, but its prospects are dim. The opposing sides predictably blame each other for the stalemate, but in any event the talks were doomed to fail.
The first reason is John Kerry’s insistence—reasserted on the very first day of the meeting in Montreux, January 22—that Syria’s president can have no place in any future transition government. “We see only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent,” Kerry said. “That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transition government.”
Kerry’s position is absurd. No regime in history has negotiated its own demise, and the government of Syria is no exception. Any transition government “born by mutual consent” has to reflect the balance of forces on the ground. Therefore it will necessarily include Bashar, whose army has regained the initiative in the ongoing civil war. His forces control 13 out of 14 provincial capitals in the country and are steadily advancing in the rebel-held districts of Aleppo and Homs. In any event it is not up to the U.S. Secretary of State to decide who can or cannot be in charge in a faraway foreign land. Let it be recalled that his predecessor declared over two years ago that Assad’s regime was “dead man walking.”
It is possible that Kerry was serious when he declared that “there is no way, no way possible in the imagination, that the man who has led a brutal response to his own people can regain legitimacy to govern.” If so, then the U.S. policy will favor a drastic reversal of military fortunes on the ground—which may take years of hard fighting—rather than a negotiated settlement. This possibility is apparently supported by the secret Congressional approval of arms deliveries to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions. The definition of “moderate” has been stretched in Washington to the point where it includes hard-core jihadists, provided they are not affiliated to al-Qaeda. As if the Afghan blowback had never happened…
The second reason “Geneva II” had to fail is the lack of legitimacy of the rebel side. The opposition delegation, which was appointed by the self-styled “National Coalition,” was drawn from a narrow base of émigrés with minimal military clout. The men who came to Geneva have no authority over the large and powerful base of Islamist rebels. In December 2012 the anti-Assad group of foreign powers calling itself the “Friends of Syria” simply declared the Coalition to be the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, but it is nothing of the kind. The National Coalition’s minimal sway over fighters inside Syria means that its negotiators cannot guarantee that any deal reached in Switzerland would be implemented. The al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are the most powerful anti-Assad groups, and their leaders would not have come to Geneva even if they had been invited. As the first round of talks ended on January 31, Russia insisted that the Syrian opposition delegation should be made more representative by including Bashar’s political opponents who have not resorted to arms. The Coalition is certain to reject this demand, thus further undermining its own credibility.
The third reason for the failure Geneva II is Iran’s exclusion from the talks. As a regional power deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, Iran should have been included—especially since Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan—all of them staunchly anti-Assad—were represented, as well as a host of other countries. In fact Iran was belatedly invited to the conference by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and thendisinvited under American pressure. This was yet another sign that the Department of State is not interested in a negotiated settlement. As an Iranian analyst has noted, “the U.S. knows very well that if ever the day comes that Bashar al-Assad needs to go quietly, Iran is the only country capable of achieving that.” After the rebuff, Iran can now be expected to make sure it secures an even stronger hand in Syria—which will additionally strengthen Assad’s position.
John Kerry took charge of the State Department announcing his intention to change Assad’s “calculation” about his ability to hold on to power. A year later it is evident that Washington’s own calculations, rather than Assad’s, need to change. Syria’s president is stronger today than at any time since early 2012. The rebels are deeply divided, and hard-line jihadists—whether affiliated to al-Qaeda or not—are dominant among them. As an Aljazeera commentator noted on the first day of Geneva II, the fragmentation and radicalization of rebel fighting forces has been the opposition’s greatest weakness: “Had a unified political-military command emerged among the rebels in the first year of the uprising, at the height of optimism over the Arab Spring, the United States and Europeans might well have been persuaded to give direct military backing to the uprising. Today, such hopes have been dashed.” Infighting among rival rebel militias claimed over a thousand lives in January alone.
Six weeks ago, prompted by ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden’s blunt admission that Assad’s victory would be the least bad outcome in Syria, we argued in this column that Syria no longer exists as a single political entity and that its de facto partition should be condoned in preference to a zero-sum game in which neither side can hope to prevail. The U.S. policy should support this outcome, albeit behind a single-state façade. It is less risky for U.S. interests than arming some fictitious “moderate” rebels and insisting on preordained outcomes which Washington has neither the will nor the money to enforce.
In 1979, Iran shocked the world—and directly confronted America’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East — by charting its own revolutionary course toward participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence. Over the past thirty-five years the Islamic Republic of Iran has held dozens of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections and attained impressive developmental outcomes—including more progressive results at alleviating poverty, delivering health care, providing educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the last shah’s regime ever achieved. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic has done these things while withstanding significant regional challenges and mounting pressure from the United States and its allies. Below, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett suggest that like 1979, 2014 is likely to be, in unique ways, another Year of Iran, when Tehran’s foreign policy strategy will either finally compel Western acceptance of Iran’s sovereign rights—especially to enrich uranium under international safeguards—or fundamentally delegitimise America’s already eroding pretensions to Middle Eastern hegemony.
Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise. Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely. Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.
Of course, this consensus was wrong—as have been most of the consensus judgments on Iran’s politics advanced by Western analysts since the country’s 1979 revolution. After Rohani’s victory, instead of admitting error, America’s foreign policy elite manufactured two explanations for it. One was that popular disaffection against the Islamic Republic—supposedly reflected in Iranians’ determination to elect the most change-minded candidate available to them—had exceeded even the capacity of Khamenei and his minions to suppress. This narrative, however, rests on agenda-driven and false assumptions about who Rohani is and how he won.
“The Islamic Republic aims to replace American hegemony with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and by leveraging participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”.”
At sixty-five, Rohani is not out to fundamentally change the Islamic Republic he has worked nearly his entire adult life to build. The only cleric on the 2013 presidential ballot, Rohani belongs to Iran’s main conservative clerical association, not its reformist antipode. While he has become the standard bearer for the Islamic Republic’s “modern” (or “pragmatic”) right, with considerable support from the business community, his ties to Khamenei are also strong. After Rohani stepped down as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in 2005, Khamenei made Rohani his personal representative on the Council.
Backing Rohani was thus an unlikely way for Iranian voters to demand radical change, especially when an eminently plausible reformist was on the ballot—Mohammad Reza Aref, a Stanford Ph.D. in electrical engineering who served as one of reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s vice presidents. (Methodologically-sound polls showed that Aref’s support never exceeded single digits; he ultimately withdrew three days before Iranians voted.) The outcome, moreover, hardly constituted a landslide—not for Rohani and certainly not for reformism: Rohani won by just 261,251 votes over the 50-percent threshold for victory, and the parliament elected just one year before is dominated by conservatives.
The other explanation for Rohani’s success embraced by American elites cites it as proof that U.S.-instigated sanctions are finally “working”—that economic distress caused by sanctions drove Iranians to elect someone inclined to cut concessionary deals with the West. But the same polls that accurately predicted Rohani’s narrow win also show that sanctions had little to do with it. Iranians continue to blame the West, not their own government, for sanctions. And they do not want their leaders to compromise on what they see as their country’s sovereignty and national rights—rights manifest today in Iran’s pursuit of a civil nuclear program.
The Iranian Challenge
Iran’s presidential election and the smooth transfer of office to Rohani from term-limited incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stand out in today’s Middle East. Compared to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia, the Islamic Republic is actually living up to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s description of Iran as “an island of stability” in an increasingly unsettled region. And compared to some Gulf Arab monarchies, where perpetuation of (at least superficial) stability is purchased by ever increasing domestic expenditures, the Islamic Republic legitimates itself by delivering on the fundamental promise of the revolution that deposed the last shah thirty-five years ago: to replace Western-imposed monarchical rule with an indigenously generated political model integrating participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance.
“Partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests.”
These strengths have enabled the Islamic Republic to withstand sustained regional and Western pressure, and to pursue a foreign policy strategy likely to reap big payoffs in 2014. This strategy aims to replace American hegemony, regionally and globally, with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and institutions, and by leveraging the Islamic Republic’s model of participatory Islamist governance, domestic development, and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”—not just with a majority of Iranians living inside their country, but (according to polls) with hundreds of millions of people across the Muslim world and beyond, from Brazil to China and South Africa. Such soft power was on display, for example, in the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when, during a trip to China, he won a standing ovation from a large audience at Peking University, where a representative sample of next-generation Chinese elites showed themselves deeply receptive to his call for a more equitable and representative international order.
In the current regional and international context, the West is increasingly challenged to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as an enduring entity representing legitimate national interests. In Tehran, the United States and its European allies could have a real partner in countering al-Qa’ida-style terrorism and extremism, in consolidating stable and representative political orders in Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, and in resolving the nuclear issue in a way that sets the stage for moving toward an actual WMD-free zone in the region. But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests—something that Western powers have refused to accord to any Iranian government for two centuries.
President Obama’s highly public failure to muster political support for military strikes against the Assad government following the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 has effectively undercut the credibility of U.S. threats to use force against Iran. On November 24, 2013, this compelled an American administration, for the first time since the January 1981 Algiers Accords that ended the embassy hostage crisis, to reach a major international agreement with Tehran—the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1—largely on Iranian terms. (For example, the interim nuclear deal effectively negates Western demands—long rejected by Tehran but now enshrined in seven UN Security Council resolutions—that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment).
But recent Western recognition of reality is still partial and highly tentative. The United States and its British and French allies continue to deny that Iran has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. They also demand that, as part of a final deal, Tehran must shut down its protected enrichment site at Fordo, terminate its work on a new research reactor at Arak, and allow Western powers to micromanage the future development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Such positions are at odds with the language of the interim nuclear deal and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are also as hubristically delusional as the British government’s use of the Royal Navy to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil on the high seas after a democratically-elected Iranian government nationalised the British oil concession in Iran in 1951—and as London’s continued threat to do so even after the World Court ruled against Britain in the matter.
If Western powers can realign their positions with reality on the nuclear issue and on various regional challenges in the Middle East, Iran can certainly work with that. But Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Western powers may not be capable of negotiating a nuclear settlement grounded in the NPT and respectful of the Islamic Republic’s legal rights—just as Britain and the United States were unwilling to respect Iran’s sovereignty over its own natural resources in the early 1950s. Under such circumstances, more U.S.-instigated secondary sanctions that illegally threaten third countries doing business with Iran will not compel Tehran to surrender its civil nuclear program. Rather, Iran’s approach—including a willingness to conclude what the rest of the world other than America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable nuclear deal—seeks to make it easier for countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic even if Washington does not lift its own unilaterally-imposed sanctions.
“Continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Likewise, Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Washington cannot disenthrall itself from Obama’s foolish declaration in August 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go—and therefore that America cannot contribute constructively to the quest for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. If the United States, Britain, and France continue down their current counter-productive path in Syria, Tehran can play off their accumulating policy failures and the deepening illegitimacy of America’s regional posture to advance the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.
How Will the West Respond?
Coming to terms with the Islamic Republic will require the United States to abandon its already eroding pretensions to hegemony in the Middle East. But, if Washington does not come to terms with the Islamic Republic, it will ultimately be forced to surrender those pretensions, as it was publicly and humiliatingly forced to do in 1979. Moreover, continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East. Less than a month after Rohani’s election, it was widely perceived that the United States tacitly supported a military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected (and Islamist) government. The coup in Egypt hardly obviates the fact that, when given the chance, majorities in Middle Eastern Muslim societies reject Western intervention and choose to construct participatory Islamist orders. Refusing to accept this reality will only accelerate the erosion of U.S. influence in the region.
The United States is not the first imperial power in decline whose foreign policy debate has become increasingly detached from reality—and history suggests that the consequences of such delusion are usually severe. The time for American elites to wake up to Middle Eastern realities before the United States and its Western allies face severe consequences for their strategic position in this vital part of the world is running out.
About the Authors
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are authors of Going to Tehran: America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan, 2013), which has just been released in paperback, with a new Afterword. They had distinguished careers in the U.S. government before leaving their positions on the National Security Council in March 2003, in disagreement with Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. They teach international relations, he at Penn State, she at American University.
Source: The World Financial Review
Unless you’ve been in an underground bunker for the last month, you’d have heard that the Ukraine has gone topsy-turvy lately.
They seem to have escaped one old Soviet Union, only be reeled in by a new Soviet in the EU. There is also the problem of organized crime syndicates who have overrun the country.
Understanding the country’s recent history and following the money is important if you want to see which way the wind is blowing in Kiev…
Stalin and Krushchev Wanted Ukraine
For most Europeans, Ukraine is a gas transport corridor for bringing expensive Russian gas to Europe and Ukraine either overcharges Gazprom for gas transit fees, or does not pay Gazprom for the gas it takes for national consumption.
This Russian-Ukrainian gas game occasionally tips into gas embargoes – hitting consumers further down the line. As a geopolitical bargaining chip, conversely, Ukraine had considerable import - and weight – during the Cold War period which tapered off in 1989-91. Relatively quickly, Russia withdrew “nearly all” of its nuclear-tipped missiles, atomic warheads and nuclear military equipment and component inventories from Ukraine, in the 1990s.
That said, Ukraine is listed by human rights and corruption watchdog NGOs as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, tied with Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Syria. Its postwar history following the defeat of Nazi Germany is a tragic story of Soviet megalomania, paranoia and oppression. The Nazi Germans probably killed about 15% of the total population, but about another 600,000 Western Ukrainians were arrested between 1944 and 1952, one-third executed and the remainder imprisoned in Soviet gulags or exiled to the eastern Soviet empire. Among their crimes was “non-performance” in agricultural output.
Administered by the rising political star and soon-to-be rival of Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, firstly in eastern Russian-speaking Ukraine, the kolkhoz collective-farm system was operated by chiefs selected by Khruschev. He empowered them to expel residents who “under-performed”. The kolkhoz chiefs quickly turned this into a racket protection and vendetta system for expelling their personal enemies, and the weak, the old and other “misfits”. Well over 10,000 were exiled to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union. For Khruschev, this was a highly effective policy which he recommended it for adoption across the USSR to Stalin, despite it periodically resulting in wide-area famines.
Similar to the “agro-towns” attempted by Ceaucescu of Romania, Khrushchev further destabilized Ukraine’s slowly recovering agricultural output with his scheme for population regrouping, which he later applied in Russia when he became Praesidium chief on the death of Stalin, following a classic Mafia-style power struggle with NKVD chief Beria. Beria was shot and killed with five of his associates by order of Khrushchev in Dec 1953. One of Beria’s proposed post-Stalin reform ideas was to liberate either or both East Germany and Ukraine, in exchange for cash payment by the West
Crime Syndicates want Ukraine
On the surface, mainstream media tells us today’s conflict in the Ukraine pitches the Russian-speaking half of the country in the east (where ailing president Yanukovich’s main support base is) against the more pro-Western, and alleged pro-EU, Ukrainian-speaking half in the west (where imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko’s main support base is). More precisely, the Ukraine’s rapidly-deteriorating economic situation reflected by rapidly-rising interest rates on its sovereign debt bonds and Fitch’s recent downgrade, and its near-civil war street rebellion have reinforced its organized crime syndicates. Its organized criminals, and their enemies-and-allies in Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and other east European organized crime syndicates, are vying for control of the State itself, to widen and deepen their lucrative activity.
The past week has seen President Yanukovych accept the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet, repeal anti-protest laws, provide an amnesty to detained protesters, and offer senior government jobs to the opposition – offers that were rejected. Moscow for its part has threatened it may hold back some or all of a promised Ukrainian bond-bailout package and a promised cut in gas prices for Ukraine until a new government is formed. The gas price cut and the loans, totalling $15bn (11 bn euros) were agreed in December, and widely seen as rewarding Yanukovich for Kiev’s rejection of an EU associate country deal for Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of six post-Soviet nations – along with Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia – to be invited to cooperate with the EU within a new ‘multilateral’ framework that is high on promises but slim on content. The framework seeks visa-free travel, better human rights, more democracy, and respect for the principles of the market economy and sustainable development – so say the EU websites, but the single most important economic content is a trade pact aimed at cutting tariffs and taxes, which are in any case decreasing on the Ukrainian side due to its membership of the WTO since 2009. Main EU exports to Ukraine include medicine, motor vehicles, mobile phones and other manufactured goods, while main EU imports were of low to mid-value: iron and steel products, vegetable oils, ferro-nickel ores, iron ores and crude oil.
Acting long before the Ukraine’s membership of the WTO, or the 2008 financial crisis – both of which spurred and favoured crime syndicate integration in east Europe, Russia and the EU – the present number of organized crime groups operating in eastern Europe is estimated at about 3,600 with each profiting from such prosaic products as household detergents, to fake medecines, human trafficking, prostiution and the Ukrainian favorites of hard drugs and firearms.Rob Wainwright, director of the EU’s crime-fighting agency, told the Financial Times in June 2013 that only concerning Europe’s black market in counterfeit foodstuffs, fake pharmaceuticals and substandard machine parts, this doubled in value to about €2bn since 2008.
Arms for Drugs and Arms for Cash
From, at latest 2002, US drug enforcement and security agencies warned the Bush administration of the Kiev-Tel Aviv-New York “Axis” of organized crime operating drugs-for-arms trades worldwide. This syndicate particularly focuses South American-source cocaine supplied by Colombia’s FARC and other Andean country crime entities, and Ukraine-source weapons and military equipment. Ukraine’s geographic role and location as a “window to the southern states” of the ex-USSR, makes it highly favoured for operating drugs-for-arms trades, today. Land-route heroin from Afghanistan, South American cocaine and Russian AK47s are the hard currencies featured by this trade.
Godfather of the AK47: Ukrainian Mikhail Kalashnikov.
Ukraine’s front-line status in the Cold War and its own arms-making industries made the country a major source for Russian licit and illicit arms exports, and Soviet-era materiel is still widely available. This ranges from the “iconic” AK47 rifle through to mines, grenades and military explosive-pyrotechnic devices, to night-sighting and communications equipment, and artillery pieces through the low-end range of 35mm-105mm, to also-iconic Soviet 72-ton T72 tanks, a highly depressed market where prices can be as low as scrap value only – about $3.50 per kilogram of weight.
Western security analysts, preferring not to have their names published, also point out that Ukraine is a “wonderland” of nuclear civil-military crossover materials and ordnance. Following the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, then the collapse and break up of the USSR in 1989-91, they say that large amounts of unaccounted-for nuclear fuel rods, wastes and nuclear military components exist in the country. They also underline the increased technological sophistication of ex-Soviet national mafias and their Middle Eastern opposite numbers, able to produce “binary nuclear” weapons, from nuclear and non-nuclear components, transported separately to reduce detection for final re-assembly when required.
Ukraine’s now accelerating political destabilization creates a classic poker-game challenge for Vladimir Putin at this time. He can act to prevent the country “seceding to the West’, or being partitioned into its western and eastern parts.
Whether Putin clamps down or lets the country fall apart, or the domestic power struggle inside Ukraine continues with no clear winner, the transition interval will certainly feature action by organized crime to further and deepen its already-strong foothold.
As the Russian Sochi Winter Olympics date approaches, a wave of suicide bombings in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad, site of the decisive resistance to German invasion in 1942), have wreaked death and uncertainty in the region. On 29 December 2013 a suicide bomber exploded at the Volgograd railway station, killing the bomber and 16 more. A day later another suicide bombing on a trolleybus killed at least 15 people. The attacks come just a few weeks before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics begin on February 7 on the Black Sea near the border to Georgia.
Those most recent attacks followed an October 21 suicide attack in which a bomb carried by a female suicide bomber exploded on a passenger bus carrying 40 people. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, reported that at least 5 people died in the blast and 17 others were injured. The suicide bomber had been identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova of Dagestan. Since 1999 Mujahideen Sunni Salafists, often from Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries, have tried to incite an Islamic revolution and install Sharia law in Dagestan from neighboring Chechnya as well as in Chechnya.
The recent new wave of suicide bombing attacks in the region has led many to believe they are the work of radical Mujahideen Salafist Sunnis led by an erratic Jihadist from Chechnya, Doku Umarov, who sometimes goes by the Arabized name, Dokka Abu Usman. Umarov has unilaterally proclaimed himself underground President of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), and later, the self-proclaimed Emir of the Russian North Caucasus, declaring it an Islamic state of the Caucasus Emirate. In doing so he announced, “I will serve the word of Allah and work to kill the enemies of Allah in all the time that he gives me to live on this earth.” 
In Russia he is called the “Russian bin Laden.” In March 2011, the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee added Umarov to the list of individuals allegedly associated with al-Qaeda, the Saudi-financed loose network of international Jihadist bands which had been trained during the 1980’s Afghan war against the Soviet Union by CIA, Saudi, Israeli and Pakistani intelligence services. AL-Qaeda is a name for a database set up by Saudi intelligence to keep track of all the Arab and other Muslim mercenaries working in defeating the Russians in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Umarov has claimed responsibility for gruesome suicide bombings, using women called ?black widows” whose husbands had been killed fighting Jihad against Russian security forces. Umarov openly claimed responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings and the 2011 Domodedovo International Airport bombing in Moscow. The person who did the Metro bombing was a 17-year old Mujahideen widow, Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova
Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17, posing with her late husband Umalat Magomedov. She became a “black widow” suicide bomber, carrying out the Moscow metro bombings in April 2010 (Reuters)
In June 2013, Umarov called for his followers in and outside the Caucasus to use “maximum force” to ensure the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics do not take place: “They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. We as Mujahideen are required not to allow that, using any methods that Allah allows us.” 
All indications point to the terrorists controlled by Umarov being behind the latest “Black Widow” suicide bombings in Volgograd. Naida Asiyalova, who blew herself up in the suicide bombing in Volgograd in October, is from Dagestan. She was reported “in love” with another suicide bomber before she “did her duty” to the jihad of Umarov. She was also a close friend of the woman implicated in the most recent Volgograd station bombing.All indications to date point to Doku Umarov’s Chechyn terrorist organization for these recent terror bombings in Russia.
The US State Department has just issued an Advisory Alert to US citizens going to Sochi as a response even though Volgograd is several hundred kilometers away.
Russia’s Mujahideen terrorists
Soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Halliburton, the world’s largest oil services company, then led by Dick Cheney, determined that the Caucasus and the region around the former Soviet Union’s Caspian Sea contained staggering volumes of untapped oil. Some said it was a “new Saudi Arabia.” As part of broader Washington strategy of then-president George H.W. Bush, US intelligence began moving veterans of the bloody Afghan Mujahideen campaign into the Caucasus and Caspian region to facilitate independence from the Soviet Union and open the door for US and British oil companies to control the key oil regions.
Two “retired” CIA operatives close to former CIA head Bush, Ted Shackley and General (Ret.) Richard Secord set up a CIA “front” fake Azeribaijan oil company called Mega Oil. It was a cover to fly in hundreds of Mujahideen veterans from Afghanistan as “oilworkers.”
In 1991 Richard Secord along with veterans of US operations in Laos, and later of Oliver North’s operations with the Contras, turned up in Baku, Azerbaijan under the cover of MEGA Oil. This was when George H.W. Bush supported an oil pipeline stretching from Azerbaijan across the Caucasus to Turkey. Dick Cheney was then Bush senior’s Defense Secretary. MEGA never found oil. But MEGA operatives in Azerbaijan engaged in military training, passed “brown bags filled with cash” to members of the Azeri government, and set up an airline on the model of the CIA’s Vietnam era Air America which flew hundreds of mujahedin mercenaries from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, especially Chechnya. 
A faction of the CIA and US intelligence tied to the neo-conservatives and the US military industrial complex, have been involved in bringing fanatical Jihadist Islam into the traditionally Sufi peaceful Islam of the Caucasus region. Osama bin Laden actively moved from Afghanistan into Bosnia, then Kosovo and on into Chechnya after 1995, where his principal ally, fellow Saudi Jihadist, Ibn al-Khattab was leader of the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya fighting the Russians. Chechnya happened to be the transit region for a major Russian oil pipeline from Baku into Russia for Caspian oil, something Washington was determined to block. Journalist Ali Soufan notes that by 1996, “the United States had been on the side of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”
At the time of the Beslan school massacre in Russia near the Georgia border in September 2004, Umarov’s Jihadists, including Arab Mujahideen, were partly financed with US money via a Washington-based NGO called ACDI/VOCA. Much of the money that the US Government-funded NGO received for the project reportedly came from a US Department of Agriculture Food for Peace Project. Apparently the food they dispensed was in the form of Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, not grain and apples.
According to veteran Caucasus-based journalist Jeffrey Silverman, Doku Umarov is today an “asset” controlled and guided by a Washington-based think-tank called Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. The board of the Potomac Institute reads like a who’s who of retired US military and intelligence people. According to Washington insider reports, Potomac is not entirely what it appears to be.
It is rather, these sources report, a front for Israeli intelligence, a group of US neo-conservatives, both working with Saudi Arabian intelligence. Two of Potomac’s key people involved in the Caucasus are reported to be Prof. Jonah Alexander, who heads the institute’s International Center for Terrorism Studies, and Ambassador (ret) David Smith.
Alexander has taught at Tel Aviv University and headed an interesting-sounding project, “Terrorism, Gray Area and Low Level Conflict,” for the US Global Strategy Council, a group founded by Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA. David J. Smith is Director of the Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies in Tbilisi, Georgia. Between 2002 and 2006 Smith was US Member of the International Security Advisory Board, assisting Georgia to “build democracy and establish functional national security institutions.” By all indications, he did a rather poor job if that really was what he was building.
Many of the Arab and Chechyn Jihadist terrorists plaguing Russia in recent years have been infiltrated into Chechnya from the Pankisi Gorge region across the border in Georgia, where a pro-US Saakashvili regime at the time obviously “looked the other way.” Reportedly Saakashvili’s brother worked in London for BP, the head of the Anglo-American oil pipeline consortium that owns the BTC pipeline from Baku through Georgia to Turkey.
Contrary to outward appearance, there has been intimate cooperation between Saudi and Israeli intelligence services on matters of common strategic interest for years. Reportedly the ties began when Prince Bandar was Saudi Ambassador to Washington.
If all this is true, it would suggest that Umarov’s latest suicide attacks in Russia are part of a “revenge” operation of Netanyahu and Saudi Intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to sabotage the Sochi Olympics, for Putin’s role in winning Obama away from war against Syria last fall and openly seeking a diplomatic resolution of the Iran nuclear problem. Saudi Arabia’s Bandar and Netanyahu, who admitted they were in cooperation, both were reportedly livid against Putin for sabotaging their Jihad in Syria.
Against Obama too
That the Saudis and Israel’s Netanyahu are actively working as well to sabotage Obama’s Iran diplomacy is also clear. On October 30, 2013, Sheldon Adelson, an Israeli-American billionaire with dual passports, a financier friend of Netanyahu who owns Las Vegas casinos, called on US Congress. He reportedly told his friends in Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran designed to sabotage the Iran-Obama talks. Adelson was the main financial backer in 2012 of Mitt Romney to defeat Obama, who has become a bitter Netanyahu foe. Adelson apparently feels that Obama has slowly been distancing from Bush and Cheney’s strong tilt to the hawkish US neo-conservatives tied to the US-Israeli military industrial complex around Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
The Republican Jewish Coalition — led by GOP financial donor Sheldon Adelson — is asking its members to call their senators and urge them to pass a new round of sanctions on Iran amid efforts from top Obama administration officials to persuade Congress to delay such measures to allow time for negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program to “gain traction.” 
The Volgograd bombings are a part of a global political shift taking place with factions declaring war inside major governments. Washington is split today between a “pro-Israel” faction largely in Congress, and on the opposite side, a mix of nationalists who seem to be trying to define a genuine American interest in all the wars around the world. Reportedly General Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military’s highest body in the Pentagon, and others around President Obama are moving to distance Washington from the Saudi-Israeli war strategy which they have realized as against American interest.
The realization in and around the White House and State Department that the US Government was being manipulated by Israeli and Saudi false intelligence was the real reason, according to Washington reports, for the abrupt decision by President Obama last summer to halt the planned war against Syria. Obama was told that the “evidence” of a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians had been doctored by Saudi and Israeli intelligence to force Obama to finally declare war. 
That was why Obama surprisingly and inexplicably embraced the Putin mediation offer to remove the chemical weapons and why Assad quickly agreed. Obama was himself strongly against military action in Syria. The chemicals used in Syria reportedly were supplied by Prince Bandar to the rebels, not from Syrian Government forces.  The intelligence intercepts given President Obama purporting to be tapes of Syrian Army commanders discussing the chemical attack were given to Washington by Israeli intelligence by Israeli Defence Forces’ 8200 unit and were also reportedly faked.
Now this same network seems to have activated a revenge attack against Putin and Obama for foiling their stratagems. It’s a high risk gamble by Netanyahu and Saudi Prince Bandar that could severely boomerang against them.
In a noteworthy footnote to the entire gruesome Doku Umarov drama, on January 17, Moscow Times reported on a social media message sent out by Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, claiming that he had “new evidence” that rebel leader Doku Umarov was dead. Kadyrov wrote in an Instagram, “According to our information, Umarov is dead and we are looking for his body.” He claimed that Umarov had been killed during a Russian Special Forces operation. The report has not been confirmed by Moscow. The Kadyrov report has to be taken with more than a little grain of salt. The flamboyant Chechyn President has issued such messages before, the last time in December, when he wrote that Umarov was “mostly likely already dead or will be soon.” Whether dead or alive, it seems most likely that Doku Umarov is little more than a “cover” for the darker networks running terror against Putin’s Russia in the Caucasus, and that darker network is Moscow’s real problem.
Al Jazzera English, Chechen rebel chief denies quitting Europe, Al Jazeera English., August 12, 2010.
 Miriam Elder. Russian Islamist Doku Umarov calls for attacks on 2014 Winter Olympics, theguardian.com. August 12, 2013.
 EIN News, Russia’s deadly black widow cult that threatens Olympians, January 02, 2014, accessed in
 Peter Dale Scott, The Falsified War on Terror: How the US Has Protected Some of Its Enemies, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 40, No. 2, October 7, 2013.
 Ali H. Soufan, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (New York: Norton, 2011), p. 62.
 Henry Kamens, Did CIA train the Boston Bombers in Georgia?, April 2013
 The information on the Potomac Institute and Umarov was made available to the author from Jeffrey Silverman, an investigative journalist based in the Caucasus who has researched the subject for more than twenty two years.
 SourceWatch, Global Strategy Council, 23 July, 2013, accessed in http://www.sourcewatch.
 Ibid. ; As well, for bios on Smith and Alexander, the website of Potomac Institute accessed inhttp://www.potomacinstitute.
 Jeffrey Silverman, op. cit.
 Umberto Bacchi, Israel Negotiating Historic Alliance with Saudi Arabia over Iran’s Nuclear Weapons, Ooctober 3, 2013, accessed in http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski , Would Romney Pursue a Neocon War Agenda?, accessed inhttp://home.comcast.net/~
 Ben Armbruster, Group Led By Billionaire Sheldon Adelson Pushes Congress To Undermine Iran Talks, October 30, 2013, accessed in http://thinkprogress.org/
 Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack, MintPress, August 29, 2013, accessed in http://www.mintpressnews.
 Seymour Hersh, Whose Sarin?, London Review of Books, August 12, 2013, accessed inhttp://home.comcast.net/~
 Moscow Times, Chechen Leader Kadyrov Again Says Rebel Leader Umarov is Dead, 17 January 2014,
RIA Novosti, accessed in http://www.themoscowtimes.
 Moscow Times, Chechen Leader Says ‘Rat’ Rebel Chief Is Likely Dead, 20 December 2013, accessed inhttp://www.themoscowtimes.
Damascus - As a new workweek begins here is Damascus many citizens across a fairly broad spectrum appear to be backing, and even exhibiting a kind of pride for their diplomatic team at the Geneva II conference. It might appear flippant for this observer to suggest that returning to Damascus after recent events in his neighborhood of Haret Hriek in Dahiyeh, South Beirut sort of feels like one has arrived in a peaceful holiday local rather stress free, but others have told me the same thing once they crossover from Lebanon. Damascus is currently the most quiet and ‘normal’ appearing that I have found this historic city for more than two years.
Damascenes to a person it appears, despite differing political views, are hoping for breakthroughs that just might bring an end to the carnage that has left virtually no one unaffected and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes, killed close to 140,000 and with more than 18,000 missing. These and many more tragedies creating a major humanitarian crisis both within Syria and among this birth place of civilization’s neighbors.
At the Set al Cham (Grandmother of Damascus) a home style cooking small restaurant around the corner from the Dama Rose hotel, close to where a rocket hit 30 yards outside the front entrance of the five star hotel last week and ignited half a dozen cars and shattered windows in this ‘security zone’, there are currently animated conversations about the Geneva II conference. They focus on the prospects for a ceasefire which all here apparently agree is the first essential step to ending the carnage ravaging this country for the past three years. The apparent imminent release of women and children from the more than 500 families who have for many months been trapped in the old city of Homs, Syria’s third largest city, has created some inchoate hope. According to UN Mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi , men also will be allowed to leave once their names are vetted to screen ‘terrorists’ from slipping out, a common security measure around this region during siege lifts and mass evacuations. The population allowed to exit Homs will be received immediately by volunteers from the courageous and deeply humanitarian Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) and other humanitarian organizations that have stockpiled a range of urgently required necessities close by. As in the case with Yarmouk Palestinian camp in south Damascus, itself still under tight siege this evening with snipers on rooftops scanning the streets and alleys below through their gun sites seeking targets, baby formula is one of the foodstuff items most in demand and urgently needed in order save infant lives since their starving mothers generally are no longer able to produce milk.
With respect to Yarmouk camp, which if of grave concern here in Syria as it is internationally, this observer had an informative three hour meeting today at UNWRA HQ on Mezzeh Autostrda with Chief Field Education Program Director, Mohammad Ammouri, and Abdullah Al Laham, Deputy Director of UNWRA in Syria. These gentlemen, Mr. Ammouri from Tantura village near Haifa, and Mr. Al Laham, from Bethlehem Occupied Palestine, devote their full schedules these days trying to get aid into Yarmouk, and to bring those under siege out. Both gentlemen gave this observer some reason to believe that finally an agreement, after more than half a dozen failed ones, might just stick tonight so that tomorrow UNWRA trucks, waiting nearby with more than 40,000 aid parcels can finally enter. Each aid box, contains rice, sugar, flour, dried milk, cooking oil and other basics and are designed to feed a family of five for two weeks (families up to eight in number will get one and one-half UNWRA boxes every two weeks) can finally enter. Syrians trapped in Yarmouk, who number more than 2000, will also receive the emergency parcels from UNWRA no questions asked. Mr. Al Laham raised his eyebrow a bit and did a sort of double-take when this observer asked him if like SARCS, UNWRA distributed the well-known World Food Program (WFP) or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) family aid parcels. “No! No. My dear. You see, we at UNWRA have our own aid parcels, in fact ours are bigger and better” he quickly exclaimed and then smiled a bit sheepishly.
Three days ago UNWRA believed they would finally be allowed to enter Yarmouk with aid but at it turned out only about 3% of the aid parcels they were trying to deliver to the more than 18,000 starving Palestinian refugees and Syrians still trapped was able to be distributed because all aid is still being blocked by various militia who themselves appear to be rather well fed, financed, and armed. We should know by tomorrow (1/28/14) if substantial aid will be allowed into Yarmouk and whether dying residents can be evacuated. UNWRA literally has the engines of its trucks idling nearby tonight and ready to move into the besieged camp on less than a minutes notice if they get a green light, this observer has just been advised.
One senses in Damascus that much of the population believes that what is happening at Geneva, are admittedly “half-steps” to use UN envoy Brahimi’s description for the progress so far in the desperate effort to save Syria, just might result in a breakthrough of sorts and then move toward a cease-fire and the opening up of humanitarian aid corridors. A few hours ago, Syrian delegation member Dr. Bouthania Shaaban commented that today’s talks had been ‘professional’. This is a modest achievement even though both sides speak only to Envoy Brahimi and tend to avoid eye contact with their “negotiating partners” while entering and exiting the meeting room from doors at opposite ends.
Syria’s delegation in Geneva is led by a seasoned, smart, deeply knowledgeable formidable delegation that includes the power-house Foreign Minister Walid Muallum, a former Syrian Ambassador to Washington who has a reputation in the West and here as wily, profoundly intelligent, tough at times and no-nonsense. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,” state television quoted Muallum as telling UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi last Friday. Mr. Muallum is credited with brokering the deal with by Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons enabling the Assad regime to present his government as a partner in the project and thus to strengthen its claim to legitimacy.
Another delegation member is Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al- Zoubi. Mr al-Zoubi has been indefatigable these past many months and is well known to the international media for his personal warmth and direct talk and incisive articulations of his government’s interpretations of the crisis. During literally hundreds of media interviews Mr. Zoubi has earned a reputation internationally and in Syria as being an insightful political analyst and a skilled lawyer, who does not mince or sugar his words but who is respectful of his audience. From Derra next to the Jordanian where the crisis began and a Sunni Muslim, the Ministers commented late this afternoon that “We will stay here until we do the job. We will not be provoked. We will not retreat and we will be wise and flexible.” And he added, anyone at Geneva II expecting the President’s removal was living “in a mythical world, and let them stay in Alice in Wonderland.”
Syrian delegation member and FM Muallum’s Deputy, Feisal Mdkdad, was described to this observer by one of his colleagues today as a deeply knowledgeable, unflappable career diplomat with deep knowledge of foreign policy issues facing Syria. Mr Makdad explained at Geneva today that his administration has been trying to send essential supplies to help beleaguered residents but not as much as they would have liked had got through, for two reasons: “The armed groups had kept firing at those who tried to take in aid and the weather has not been conducive to making the movement.” He pledges that his government will persevere. He also insisted that “we don’t hold any children prisoners at all. We categorically deny that.” He claimed that the list supplied by the opposition was full of errors. “I have studied this list; 60 to 70 per cent of the names are not in prison, 20 per cent have already been freed. About the rest, we don’t know anything.”
In one sense, Syria’s diplomatic team in Geneva is anchored by Professor Bouthaina Shaaban who is Political and Media Adviser to Syrian President Assad. Syria’s former Minister of Expatriates, she is also a mother and recently a grandmother, writer and professor at Damascus University and earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University in the UK. Dr. Shaaban was Hafez al Assad’s personal interpreter, is well known internationally and has studied and taught in the USA and earned her Doctorate at Warwick University in the UK. She has authorized several well received books including her latest volume on Syrian diplomacy. Many media critics concede that, as the New York Times wrote, that she is stellar when explaining Syrian governments views on foreign policy. Dr. Shaaban is the most sought after delegation member from either side for interviews partly because of her quality of humanizing the conflict and her obvious love of country and dedication to stopping the carnage while possessing a quality of connecting with interlocutors emotionally and intellectually.
It would not be shocking were the Syrian delegation were to feel a bit on the defensive given the lineup of those who want them to falter, but there is so far little sign that the Syrian delegation is exuding a temerity at all similar to the defense team in The Hague trying to hold its own before the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL). Rather it acknowledges that it has come to represent Syria and to struggle through a cumbersome, slow diplomacy to achieve a cease-fire, open corridors of humanitarian aid, participate in prisoner’s exchanges with various militia, hold a presidential election in the spring, and begin reconstruction of the massive war damage.
We will likely learn soon if Syria and indeed can work through a myriad of opposing deeply antagonistic negotiating adversaries to achieve a sustainable cease-fire, reconciliation, and reconstruction. Its long suffering population demand and deserve no less.
New and Old…
Even the definition of “asymmetric war” is controversial, because it can concern at least three drivers and methods of conflict, usually between large organized fighting forces and the opposite. Firstly there is the political-economic or other motivation, second the tactics, and thirdly the weapons utilised in asymmetric war – which itself is usually defined by the negative. Some writers say the term was first used by Andrew J. Mack in a 1975 book titled “Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars”. Some military historians conversely say asymmetric war dates from Antiquity, and included the surprise outcome of larger fighting forces losing an asymmetric war with smaller insurgent, militia, terrorist or tight knit politically motivated forces and entities in specific theaters of conflict.
Other than wars of Antiquity like the Ancient Greek Pelopennesian war series which lasted about 30 years in the 5th century BC, and certainly included asymmetric war and “surprise defeats” for larger forces, the 200-year Crusader war series (about 1095-1299) had recurring battles and campaigns where asymmetric war featured, and sometimes dominated. Our problem is that certainly for a near-century from the late 19th century to about 1980-2000, the Clausewitz doctrine of “God is with the big battalions” held firm. This in turn can be traced to the nature as well as the goals of war following the Industrial Revolution. Drivers of change included European nationbuilding, colonialism, mass migration and by 1948 the later “bipolar world” of the so-called Soviet Empire opposing the Western liberal-capitalist democracies. The collapse of the USSR was naively believed to mean “the end of history and of warfare itself”.
Although not defined as an asymmetric war campaign leading to total victory, by historians like Andrew Mack, the Long March of Mao Zedong culminating in total victory in 1949 was for most of its time called “terror war” by external major powers, including the US, Japan, the UK and other European nations. This only underlines the fact that asymmetric war for losers is often called terrorism, but also underlines the wider tactics and strategy, and weapons used by smaller insurgent forces during an asymmetric war campaign or series. It also underlines that like the asymmetric wars of the distant past, these are generally long series of wars, not setpiece short-term frontline battlefield warfare.
Strategy and Tactics
Strategy above all means command and control because decisive gains and losses need close combat at some stage for any type of war excluding setpiece formal warfare of the pre-Cold War type or paradigm. The Cold War “bipolar paradigm”, we should note, was not for nothing subtitled Mutually Assured Destruction because a charred, radioactive wasteland was the booty or logical peace dividend for any hypothetical “winner”. Also, the MAD paradigm more subtly underlined the role of economic and military infrastructures, which as they become more sophisticated, become more vulnerable. Often scenarized by US and Soviet military strategists during the Cold War, the utilization of a small number of missile-launched airburst nuclear weapons would instantly paralyse the enemy’s command and control infrastructure, electric power and telephone systems, water supplies, fuel supplies, road transport and so on. There could be no winner, only two losers.
Discussion of military infrastructure, and its fragility, however shifts the spotlight away from a key element of asymmetric war the role of ideology and personal commitment. Command and control operated by for example Mao Zedong in his Long March war campaign, was primarily ideological at its beginnings. Conversely in nearly all conventional setpiece wars, which are now likely a thing of the past, the belligerents deployed forces that were essentially of similar type. The war’s outcome could normally be predicted by the physical size, quantity and control of the forces in play. Where the forces are essentially equal, with access to the same technology, the outcome is usually stalemate. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 was a classic example.
This already makes it possible to define probably the most decisive motivating role for asymmetric fighting forces technological superiority is canceled by infrastructure fragility. Alternately stated technological inferiority is often canceled by the enemy’s vulnerable military, ideological and economic infrastructures. The Afghan war of 1979-88 was a classic example.
Including vulnerable economic infrastructures, asymmetric wars such as this Afghan war (and the US-Afghan war of 2001-2014) will heavily feature urban insurgency and the destruction of economic infrastructures, which either directly support the more-powerful enemy’s military capability or provide indirect aid to the enemy’s ideological action, attempting to maintain a semblance of “normal life”. Asymmetric wars, we can again note, are often very long and measured in decades, not years, and in part due to this can include a major element of attrition, both economic and ideological.
Terrain and Proxies
Certainly the case in asymmetric wars of Antiquity, small inferior forces fighting the opposite can “trump the enemy” using terrain which today includes and features urban areas. As I have noted in recent articles concerning Syrian war geopolitics, one basic reason why “Syria” is a non-nation or a geopolitical metastase of the Sykes-Picot era of Great Power diplomacy, is the extreme geological folding of the mountainous coastal strip with peaks higher than 2000 meters, where more than 90% of the population lives. This rough, hilly terrain has always favored small autonomous or semi-autonomous population groupings, all of them with a long tradition of conflict including “asymmetric” combat. Ideological differences are often extreme, for example the age-old conflict between traditional Alawites and the Assassin heretic sect of the Alawites.
During the long Crusader war series, for example, the Assassins turned their fighting skills against the invading European crusaders. After this 200-year war series, they returned to fighting any centralising power based in Damascus. The same applies to the Druzes, and to other “mountain fighters”. On numerous occasions, often for decades, fighting groups in what is called “Syria” served as proxies in and for highly complex military campaigns. One examples was the period through about 1204-1260 when a loose alliance of southern powers or “statelets” opposed the larger, better armed Latin Empire of the Byzantines.
No power, either great or small can change geology and geomorphology. To be sure, Stalin-era Soviet campaigns against Chechens, Daghestanis and other small, ideologically tight-knit “mountain fighters”, and the campaign waged in this geopolitical rimland or shatterbelt since the 1990s by Russia, have attempted their eradication. In Afghanistan, as the USSR and later the US found out, so-called mountain fighters can easily urbanize and rapidly shift to urban theater conflict, broadening their warfare tactics with ease.
The major and increasing role of proxy fighting itself favors a shift to asymmetric war. Since the end of World War II, some military historians claim the majority of wars on a numerical basis fought since 1945 have either included, or been dominated by proxy fighters. This in turn means more belligerants, with usually different motivations, staying power, weapons and tactics, will be operating in any warfare. This also means that “surprise outcomes” become more commonplace, for example when proxies turn against their original partners or actively side with their former enemy or enemies.
Deed Horses and Stynking Beestes
Widely used in the Crusader war series, and imported back to Europe with returning Crusaders by the start of the 14th century, early biological warfare featured the catapulting of diseased putrefying corpses, often of horses or other animals, sometimes of humans into castle moats. By the time of the so-called Hundred Years War starting about 1340, biological war was commonplace in siege warfare. With the Black Death (bubonic plague) epidemic which spread from the western Balkans and killed an estimated 25%-33% of the total population of Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, bodies of bubonic plague victims were utilised as weapons as commonly as munitions, arrows and other weapons in the majority of European wars. Death rates obtained using these “asymmetric weapons”, according to military historians could often exceed 950 killed for every 1000 enemy attacked.
Today we hear about the Syrian regime of Bashr al-Assad, and-or rebel forces, utilizing chemical weapons, but chemical weapons akin to napalm were utilized on a common basis in warfare opposing the Byzantime Empire and sometimes-insurgent, often small scale Muslim forces, by 670 AD. These early chemical weapons increasingly used additives including chalk powder, arsenic sulfide, copper oxides and other toxic suffocants to increase lethality.
By the early 18th century, the UK Royal Society was theater to recurring debates on how to protect land armies against biological warfare, in particular protection against smallpox bacteria due to smallpox being already known as a biological weapon. By about 1715, the technique of variolation, or immunization against smallpox was developed, firstly with a view to protecting British fighting forces despite early immunization by variolation causing an estimated 2%-3% mortality of treated soldiers. As we know, the conquest of the US Wild West in the 18th-19th centuries made frequent use of smallpox bacteria to kill Indian fighters and peoples who were not immunized. Historians contend that General George Washington who had warned his troops that English forces might use smallpox as a weapon in the Battle of Quebec (1775) which was lost by the Americans, was himself killed by smallpox poisoning in 1776.
It is therefore either by hypocrisy, ignorance or blindness that mainstream media and many politicians pretend that CBW (chemical and biological weapons) are both strange and repulsive. For numerically inferior forces, they can provide a decisive advantage similar to the historical role of crossbows, in the Middle Ages. Their utilization in asymmetric war has been more the rule, than exception. This logic certainly extends to the broad group of asymmetric arms called NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons – the arsenals held by the small nations North Korea and Israel reflect their political rulers’ fear of numerically superior enemy forces. As we know, both mass-produced pesticides and relatively abundant nuclear wastes, among others, are major potential asymmetric weapons.
The Coming Global Asymmetric War
Andrew J. Mack made the point that big nations can easily lose small wars. He did not add that due to weapons technology and MAD, they can only lose big wars. This standoff or new weakness – of the great powers whether they describe themselves as “great” or not, has certainly been observed and noted by the large number of their asymmetric war-oriented opponents and rivals.
When added to the impacts of economic and industrial technology change, described in other recent articles by myself, the concept of either one or a select few hegemonic powers dominating world political-strategic relations is consigned to trashcan of History. Probably since as early as 1980, certainly in the coming decades from today, this observation will be put to the test.
The Syrian civil war which is a showcase of asymmetric war and proxy war could be taken as an example. Neither Russia nor the US can win this war. Iran’s supposed interest in this war can be questioned. European influence in any outcome to this war is small and weak. Chinese, Indian and other Asian interest in this war is very low. Only extremely massive and sustained, therefore very expensive military occupation on a long-term basis could create or restore any simulacre or surrogate for “the nation state of Syria”. No major external power has any interest in this outcome. The staying power of KSA, Qatar, UAE and other sunni-minority small states paying for Syrian theatre proxy fighters, called “djihadis”, despite the petrodollars and the Wahabism, can easily be questioned.
What was called “Syria” therefore become a shatterbelt zone in modern geopolitical parlance, very comparable with the pre-1914 Balkan states, and pre-1917 Middle Eastern and North African states. Formerly called “rimland states”, shatterbelt zones can also be called the Funeral Pyres of Empire due to these intrinsically volatile and ungovernable zones often being gateways to larger zones of major economic significance, drawing repeated attempts at dominance by the great powers.
Multiple examples exist outside the zone including southern Russia, the Balkans (of 2014), western Asia, and the MENA. Under certain hypotheses, zones like the Europe of the EU28, engaged in an undeclared power struggle with Russia to win power over the Ukraine, may be an example.
More important for this article, most definitely intensified by asymmetric war ideology, tactics and weapons, world shatterbelt zones of “permanent instability” are growing and they are necessarily growing. Sometimes called “multipolarity” and presented as the positive spinoff from economic globalisation, and above all presented as consensual by the great powers (and would-be great powers), the loss of centre and the growth of periphery is a stark fact of the coming world.
This stark fact is of course denied by the so-called great powers. However, when there is no longer a ruling centre and the central power or Hegemon, there is only periphery and no Hegemon in a series of complex rimlands and shatterbelts.
Source: Andrew McKillop
he media spin machine is again kicking into high gear, perfectly timed to accompany the “Geneva II” Syria peace talks. The lies are necessary to give the Obama administration an upper hand in the peace negotiations, which are not being used to pursue peace, but instead, to accomplish the Obama administration’s longstanding goal of Syrian regime change. Here are the top three Western media lies about the Syrian peace talks.
1) The removal of Syrian Bashar al-Assad was an agreed upon “precondition” for the Geneva II peace talks.
This lie has been repeated over and over by government and media alike. It has zero basis. The Obama administration claims that this precondition was expressed in the “Geneva communiqué,” which was a road map agreement meant to guide the Geneva II peace talks, agreed upon by some of the major parties of the negotiations, including Russia.
The communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition cannot include President Assad. Such a condition would have been outright rejected by Russia.
In fact, the Geneva communiqué includes this crucial statement:
“[a transition government] could include members of the present [Syrian] government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” Nowhere does it specifically mention or imply President Assad would have to leave power first.
The Los Angeles Times recently stepped out of line and exposed this lie:
“[John] Kerry regularly cites the “Geneva communiqué,” a kind of peace road map hammered out in June 2012 during a United Nations-organized summit. But the document does not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster.”
The Obama administration’s constant repeating of this lie only causes divisions in the peace process, undermining the chances that the peace process will succeed.
The Obama administration is especially adamant about this “Assad must go” precondition because it knows that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow in Syria – as part of a UN-backed “transitional process” – President Assad would likely win. This is the result of the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria that have rallied behind President Assad, since they’ve witnessed the consistent religious sectarian atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed rebels (which the U.S. media loves to ignore or minimize).
Assad would probably win an election since there is also simply no one else on the government side or the opposition side with his name recognition or popularity. The U.S.-backed rebel war in Syria has vastly strengthened Assad’s political hand, but you wouldn’t know it from the Western, anti-Syrian media.
Demanding Assad’s ouster also does not reflect the situation on the ground. The U.S.-backed rebels have never controlled more than one Syrian city, namely Raqaa, which is dominated by al-Qaeda and is governed under a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law, which includes a strict ban on music. Thus, the rebels don’t have the ground power that would even enable them to make the demand that “Assad must go”.
2) The U.S.-backed rebel militias are “moderate” Islamic groups.
The fact that this lie can even be uttered publicly without encountering ridicule is a major success of Western media propaganda. The media narrative paints the U.S.-backed “good” rebels fighting both the Syrian government and the “bad” al-Qaeda linked rebels.
But the “good” rebels in the U.S.-backed Islamic Front share the same vision for Syria’s future as the al-Qaeda rebels: a fundamentalist version of Sharia law, where women live in virtual house arrest and where religious minorities are second class citizens (non-Sunni Muslims would simply be butchered, as they are on a regular basis in Syria, which is again minimized or ignored in the Western media.)
The “moderate rebel” lie was further exposed recently when a top leader in the most powerful militia, Ahrar al Sham, within the Islamic Front declared Ahrar al Sham to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria, as opposed to the rival al-Qaeda faction that the Islamic Front had recently begun fighting.
Ahrar al Sham has long been known to be an al-Qaeda type Islamist extremist group; the Western media simply chose to ignore it. But when it was recently made official, the US media chose to continue its ignoring stance, since actually reporting on it would destroy their “moderate rebel” lie. The Western media also continues to ignore the fact that the “moderate” U.S.-backed Islamic Frontissued a joint statement that aligned itself to the extremist views of Ahrar al Sham, the “real” al-Qaeda.
3) New Evidence of Syrian government “industrial scale” torture.
The Western media recently blasted the “breaking news” of brand new evidence showing massive “Nazi-like” torture and murder by the Syrian government, released at the beginning of the Syrian peace talks. This may or may not be true, but the lie here is that the Western media promoted the “evidence” as being unquestionably true, when the story doesn’t reach first base when it comes to evidence-based journalism.
All we really know is that there are hundreds of pictures of dead people that a “trusted source” says were killed by the Syrian government. The trusted source was designated as such by pro-Western intellectuals, who have earned professional “credibility” by helping convict war criminals in the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But as author Diane Johnstone pointed out in her excellent book “Fools Crusade,” about the war against Yugoslavia – as well as in other articles – the ICC has long been used by western powers as a tool to create a pretext for war, or a tool to justify a war after the fact.
The evidence of the “NAZI-like” atrocities was written in a study paid for by the government of Qatar, which has long funneled cash, guns, and Jihadis to Syria in aid of the anti-government rebels.
Again, we don’t know if the story is true or not. But such an important investigation should be conducted by the UN or another more objective institution. The same biased dynamic occurred in relation to the infamous chemical weapons attack, where no real evidence was provided, though an unending string of “experts” were quoted in the Western media, testifying to the guilt of the Syrian Government. But when Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the Obama administration lied about the rebels not having the capacity to perform such an attack, the Western media simply ignored the legend of journalism. The wrench in the propaganda machine was simply dislodged.
How do these lies become such permanent fixtures in the Western media? An excellent article in the Guardian newspaper recently discussed in depth the principal sources the Western media has used to understand the Syrian conflict.
The article exposed the incredible bias of some of the most important Western media sources on Syria, which is why they were handpicked in the first place to be “expert” sources: they had political agendas that were aligned with the US government’s foreign policy decisions. The other side of the conflict was completely ignored, except when it was targeted for ridicule. Thus, Americans and Europeans have a completely one-sided, if not fantasy-based perspective of what is happening in Syria. This has been systematic since the beginning of the conflict, as happened with the Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraq, and Libya wars.
The result of this media-led ignorance could result in yet more unnecessary deaths in a country that now has millions of refugees and over a 100,000 dead. Obama seems like he intends to exploit these peace talks with the intention of blaming the Syrian government for their failure. Having failed to defeat Assad on the battlefield in a proxy war, the Obama administration is trying to win the propaganda war. And once peace talks have failed, talk of war will resume, since “all other options have failed.”