[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/2/20 8:00am

Recent arrests made in the United States of armed rightwing gangsters intent on kidnapping and assassinating state, local, and national leaders is another indication of the adverse effect the Trump administration and its supporters have had on the overall political stability of the United States. There have been right wing plots to kidnap and place on “trial” the Democratic Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, and the Republican Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine. The same Michigan group that threatened Whitmer also threatened to abduct Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia. In all three cases, the governors were targeted by self-styled “citizens’ militias,” which are nothing more than terrorist groups, that planned to place the governors on trial in sham proceedings with likely guilty verdicts for instituting public health restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the violent nature of these groups, the executions of the governors would have been the likely outcomes of the vigilantes’ clandestine “trials” for alleged “tyranny.”

DeWine may have also been targeted for his denunciation of the plot against Whitmer in neighboring Michigan. After 13 men were arrested in the Michigan plot, DeWine told WEWS-TV in Cleveland, “It is a despicable act. It is horrible and everyone has to denounce this. You want to talk about our political process, this is outside our political process. We have a great process; we have a great system. We are a nation of laws.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker had been the target of so many death threats over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that the Illinois State Police was required to use a PowerPoint presentation to detail all of them.

The far-right is not interested in laws and assassination plots against government officials in the United States have expanded from federal government targets to state and municipal officials, including governors and mayors. When similar groups that were linked to government officials engaged in such assassinations in Latin America, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia they were properly called “death squads.” Today, rather than being endemic in some far-off land, these death squads, some linked to local law enforcement officers, are active inside the United States.

In August of this year, the Democratic Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, reported that not only had she received death threats from right-wing agitators but so had her daughters and grandchildren. In the Spring of this year, Democratic Governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear received death threats, along with members of his Kentucky State Police security detail. North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper received death threats from various neo-Confederacy racist groups in the state. The Democratic Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, a previous target for right-wing violence, also received death threats as she began issuing public health restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The actions of the right-wing death squads and the encouragement they received from Donald Trump and other leading Republicans have driven many moderate Republicans from their party. Those Republican voters in Michigan, who describe themselves as “Gerald Ford Republicans, were so disgusted by Trump’s support for the militia plotters in their state, they voted early for a straight Democratic ticket, from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the top to local state legislators and county officials at the bottom. Among the rightist plotters were armed individuals who early appeared in the Michigan legislature while it was in session. Their actions were in response to Trump’s Twitter messages urging his armed supporters to “Liberate Michigan” and “Liberate Virginia.” Never before in the history of the United States had a president urged armed supporters to take up arms against established governments.

The right-wing threats did not end with the governors of Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio. Wichita, Kansas Democratic Mayor Brandon Whipple was the target of a right-wing extremist who said the mayor was “a viable target for elimination,” adding that he had “a date with the hangman.” The far-right terrorist also included other political leaders, who he did not name, in the category of those who were “viable targets for elimination.” The mayor said the man, a supporter of Trump and the Republican Party, said that “he [the would-be assassin] was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman.”

Whipple was not the only mayor to have been threatened by Trump loyalists. The Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, told WBBM-TV in Chicago that there were “serious” threats against her. She added, “we spend, my detail and the police, a significant amount of time unfortunately on tracking down these threats that come in from various parts of the country… Some of them are quite sophisticated, because they’re using landlines that are not actually the people that are involved, but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get some kind of harassment, whether it’s just repeated calls with things left on voicemail or other things, threatening violence.” Lightfoot also laid blame for the threats at the feet of Trump. She said, “There is a real cause and effect when the President names me in a disparaging way which is usually what he does, and people feeling like they have license to make, what I regard as real threats. When somebody’s calling in the middle of the night repeatedly, that’s an issue. And that only happened since Donald Trump has been trying to attack me personally, and it’s an issue that many of us as mayors [have] and he seems to have a particular obsession with female, and particularly, mayors of color.”

Many of the far-right terrorists receive their encouragement and direction from various vigilante and conspiracy groups, including the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Qanon. Public health restrictions instituted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have brought many of the far-right agitators from under the rocks and into the public.

Right-wing threats against political leaders have not been limited to state and municipal targets. One man with a cache of rifles, a handgun, bomb-making materials, and a one-half million dollars in cash was, prior to his arrest, stalking Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s home in Delaware with the stated intent of assassinating Biden. A Maryland man was arrested for plotting to assassinate both Biden and his vice-presidential running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California. While there have been many plots throughout American history to assassinate presidential candidates, none have ever been linked directly to the rhetoric of the president of the United States. What all the recent would-be assassins and terrorists have in common is an unswerving loyalty to Donald Trump.

In June of this year, a right-wing activist was charged with plotting to assassinate Democrat Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only black member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the chairman of the House Homeland Security. The would-be assassin was also targeting African-American members of Thompson’s staff. Around the same time, a right-winger from Texas was charged with plotting to kill the Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency, pursuant to the constitutional line of succession. The Michigan vigilantes also communicated a threat to Democratic Michigan U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin to shoot her in the final days of her re-election campaign.

Trump and his administration have been so toxic to the American body politic that in the wake of their disastrous rule, the machinery of government will require a sanitization of all of those who nested in government agencies as a result of the Trump infestation of the government with unbridled fascism and racism. This necessary purging of fascists should be guided by the words of Democratic Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944: “The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.”

[Category: Americas, Society, World, Congress, Donald Trump, Fascism, Protests, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/2/20 7:00am

Mariamne EVERETT

“Let’s bring decency and integrity back to the White House.” I can’t count the number of times I have heard and read this phrase uttered by U.S. expats here in Paris, France. As one of many American expats living here, of course I share in the desire for an end to a Donald Trump presidency. But at what cost? And will a Biden presidency — which promises a return to “normalcy” — really merit the sigh of relief that so many think it will? Below I summarise some of the most troubling information I have uncovered about some of the most likely foreign policy picks for key positions in a Biden cabinet.

Susan Rice for Secretary of State

Susan Rice, who was also reportedly being considered for the role of Biden’s Vice President, served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations and as National Security Advisor, both under the Obama administration.

While Benghazi has been the focus of much criticism of Rice, she has received virtually no scrutiny for her backing of the invasion of Iraq and claiming that there were WMDs there. Some of her statements:

“I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)

“It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)

“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics. … We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions.” (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002; requests for audio of Rice’s statements on NPR were declined by the publicly funded network.)

She has also been criticised extensively for her record on the African continent, which judging by the following quote at the beginning of the 1994 Rwandan genocide seems to have been to adopt a “laissez faire” attitude : “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

Susan Rice’s past rhetoric also includes choice generous words for African dictators. One great example is former prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, a man who ordered security services to open fire on protestors during its controversial 2005 election, has a track record of imprisoning journalists, used food aid as a political tool and stole land in south Ethiopia. In her speech at his funeral, Susan Rice described him as “brilliant” and a “close friend”.

Although Rice has often been portrayed as someone who is anti-Israel, her mild criticisms pale in comparison to her staunch record and discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

In a speech given at the AIPAC Synagogue Initiative Lunch back in 2012, Rice boasted about vetoing a UN resolution that would deem Israeli settlements on occupied Palsestinian land as illegal, and further characterized the Goldstone Report as “flawed” and “insisted on Israel’s right to defend itself and maintained that Israel’s democratic institutions could credibly investigate any possible abuses.” Her position has changed little since then, as recently as 2016, she proclaimed that “Israel’s security isn’t a Democratic interest or a Republican interest—it’s an enduring American interest.”

Tony Blinken for National Security Adviser 

Tony Blinken is also an old member of the Obama administration, having served first as VP Biden’s National Security Advisor from 2009 to 2013, Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 and then as United States Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017.

Blinken had immense influence over Biden in his role as Deputy National Security Advisor, helping formulate Biden’s approach and support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“For Biden…”, he argued, “and for a number of others who voted for the resolution, it was a vote for tough diplomacy.” He added “It is more likely that diplomacy will succeed, if the other side knows military action is possible.”

The two of them were responsible for delivering on Obama’s campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq, a process so oversimplified and poorly handled that it led to even more chaos than the initial occupation and insurgency.

Blinken seems to be of the view that it is upto the US, and only the US, to take charge of world affairs : “On leadership, whether we like it or not, the world just doesn’t organize itself. And until this [Trump] administration, the U.S. had played a lead role in doing a lot of that organizing, helping to write the rules, to shape the norms and animate the institutions that govern relations among nations. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one or two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place – but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values – or no one does. And then you get chaos or a vacuum filled by bad things before it’s filled by good things. Either way, that’s bad for us.”

Blinken also appears to be steering Biden’s pro-Israel agenda, recently stating that Biden “would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes, period, full stop.” which includes an all out rejection of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Michèle Flournoy for Secretary of Defence

Michele Flournoy was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2009 to  2012 in the Obama administration under Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta.

Flournoy, in writing the Quadrennial Defense Review during her time as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy under President Clinton, has paved the way for the U.S.’s endless and costly wars which prevent us from investing in life saving and necessary programmes like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. It has effectively granted the US permission to no longer be bound by the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force. It declared that, “when the interests at stake are vital, …we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power.”

While working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a “Top Defense and National Security Think Tank” based in Washington D.C., in June 2002, as the Bush administration was threatening aggression towards Iraq, she declared, that the United States would “need to strike preemptively before a crisis erupts to destroy an adversary’s weapons stockpile” before it “could erect defenses to protect those weapons, or simply disperse them.” She continued along this path even in 2009, after the Bush administration, in a speech for the CSIS : “The second key challenge I want to highlight is the proliferation – continued proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, as these also pose increasing threats to our security. We have to respond to states such as Iran, North Korea, who are seeking to develop nuclear weapons technologies, and in a globalized world there is also an increased risk that non-state actors will find ways to obtain these materials or weapons.”

It is extremely important to note that Flournoy and Blinken co-founded the strategic consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, where the two use their large database of governmental, military, venture capitalists and corporate leader contacts to help companies win big Pentagon contracts. One such client being Jigsaw, a technology incubator created by Google that describes itself on its website as “a unit within Google that forecasts and confronts emerging threats, creating future-defining research and technology to keep our world safer.” Their partnership on the AI initiative entitled Project Maven led to a rebellion by Google workers who opposed their technology being used by military and police operations.

Furthermore, Flournoy and Blinken, in their jobs at WestExec Advisors, co-chaired the biannual meeting of the liberal organization Foreign Policy for America. Over 50 representatives of national-security groups were in attendance. Most of the attendees supported “ask(ing) Congress to halt U.S. military involvement in the (Yemen) conflict.” Flournoy did not. She said that the weapons should be sold under certain conditions and that Saudi Arabia needed these advanced patriot missiles to defend itself.

Conclusion

If a return to “normalcy” means having the same old politicians that are responsible for endless wars, that work for the corporate elite, that lack the courage to implement real structural change required for major issues such as healthcare and the environment, then a call for “normalcy” is nothing more than a call to return to the same deprived conditions that led to our current crisis. Such a return with amplified conditions and circumstances, could set the stage for the return of an administration with dangers that could possibly even exceed those posed by the current one in terms of launching new wars.

counterpunch.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Establishment, Joe Biden, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/2/20 6:00am

The partisan swallowing of ridiculous anti-Russia conspiracy theories by Democrats in Congress added to Hunter Biden’s truly sleazy business adventures in Ukraine have created an exceptionally dangerous brew to threaten and demonize Russia if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the U.S. national election on November 3. All the curses and bungles of America’s past 20 years will rise up anew to threaten the nation’s entire future,

If Joe Biden wins the election, we face an unprecedented situation in U.S. and global affairs since the beginning of the Atomic Age in 1945-49:

The problem is far deeper and more dangerous than any personal problem with Biden or his apparently sleazy son (Hunter Biden’s business dealings with both Ukraine and China cry out for serious honest congressional inquiries in the interests of sane and disinterested U.S. future relations with China and Ukraine – as well as with Russia.)

The real problem is that for eight years the Obama administration, in which Joe Biden was the putative Number Two figure engaged on a Helter-Skelter, crazed descent towards mindless confrontation with Russia and also institutionalized a reckless and plain wicked policy of toppling governments around the world in straight defiance of international law.

The true architect of these policies was neither Obama nor Biden but their first secretary of state Hillary Clinton. It was she who ordered the CIA to collect DNA samples of Latin American national leaders, an unprecedented seven of whom contracted cancers, some of them exceptionally rare and virulent, including two democratically elected presidents of Brazil and the late democratically elected president of Brazil Hugo Chavez who died of his.

Clinton also unleashed the dogs of chaos and war across the Middle East by approving the undermining and successful toppling of the government of Libya and the undermining although unsuccessful efforts to topple the government of Syria. This unleashed a ferocious civil war, the greatest catastrophe the Middle East has seen since Iraq’s attack on Iran in 1980, also at the time recklessly supported by an ignorant and incompetent president Jimmy Carter.

Carter, like Obama after him was ludicrously ignorant of international affairs. Both presidents allowed themselves to be led by the nose through the region by Zbigniew Brzezinski who served as Carter’s national security adviser. Brzezinski’s eagerness to embrace and support the very worst Islamist genocidal extremist groups was exceeded only by his lifelong, unwavering hatred of Russia and all Russians.

Clinton was succeeded as secretary of state in Obama’s second term starting in January 2013 by a far more experienced, restrained and responsible figure, Senator John Kerry. Kerry rightly worked hard and well with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to prevent the reckless and destructive policies of the rest of the administration from totally destroying constructive communications between Washington and Moscow.

But Kerry could not control even his own State Department. He proved utterly unable to rein in the neo-conservative and neo-liberal super-hawks with whom Clinton had seeded the State Department led by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. They joined forces with crazed right wing warmongers like the late Senator John McCain (now sanctified, but whose uncontrollable screaming rages were legendary in his days on Capitol Hill).

Together with ambitious plotters in the European Commission in Brussels they manipulated the toppling of the stable, democratically elected government of Ukraine in the 2014 violent Maidan coup in Kiev. McCain and Nuland actually addressed the violent revolutionaries and openly exhorted them to topple their own democratic and previously peaceful government.

The Kremlin moved – in reality with careful and considered restraint – to safeguard the democratically expressed wishes of the population of Crimea to rejoin Russia, and of the Russian ethnic majorities in the eastern provinces of Ukraine. But the Obama administration joined forces with the openly neo-Nazi movements that had seized undemocratic control in Kiev.

Over the following six years to the present, successive U.S. congresses have voted enormous sums of financial aid and sophisticated weapons systems to be sent to Ukraine with the express purpose of killing Russian soldiers and Russian-supported forces. It is no wonder that false and entirely undocumented reverse accusations have now been against Russia by the very same individuals who have supported the forces of violence, revolution and aggression for so long in Ukraine.

President Donald Trump, to his great credit, ran on for election in 2016 on a policy of reducing tensions with Russia and restoring a state of stable coexistence with the other main thermonuclear power on the planet. At no point did he advocate stripping the United States of its defenses.

On the contrary, Trump doubled up on Obama’s unprecedented more than $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program. He expanded spending on both conventional and strategic weapons on the biggest scale seen since the Reagan-Caspar Weinberger buildup 40 years before.

Nevertheless, Trump was then subjected to the most unfounded, ridiculous political witch hunt against a sitting national leader in U.S. history – at least since President John Kennedy was openly and repeatedly accused of treason for seeking to reduce the dangers of nuclear confrontation after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Through all of this, hatred and unreasoning accusations against Russia were accompanied by attempted efforts even to destroy the property and economic security of the Russian people. Congress imposed punitive sanctions (they failed completely) with Democrats taking the lead.

Why revisit all this history? It is because, as the great and wise American novelist William Faulkner understood, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”

If the Democrats regain power in Washington, they will return with all the dire and insanely dangerous policies and obsessions they displayed for eight years under Obama and Biden. But those hatreds and prejudices will be superheated by four years of Russiagate fantasies and raving accusations against Russia unsupported by any serious evidence. Indeed, they have been coolly exposed and refuted indeed by many courageous and principled former senior U.S. officials and scholars.

Nevertheless, this Undead Past will rise up, more terrible and destructive than any fantasy of werewolves and zombies, to demolish our Present and horrifically curse our Future.

[Category: Americas, World, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Joe Biden, Ukraine, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/2/20 5:00am

Ben NORTON

Ben Norton speaks with Andrés González Berdecía, a senatorial candidate from the Puerto Rican Independence Party, about the November 3 election and referendum, US colonialism, the unelected neoliberal junta that controls Puerto Rico’s economy, the similarities between Republican and Democratic administrations, and why he wants his nation to be independent.

thegrayzone.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Colonialism, Puerto Rico, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/2/20 4:00am

All eyes remain on the U.S. election, and on fathoming its consequences. But in the shadow of ‘The Election’, there are other ‘moving parts’: Germany just offered Washington ‘a sweetheart deal’ in which, Europe – with Germany leading – accepts to leverage America’s full-spectrum strategy of isolating and weakening Russia and China. And in return it is asking the U.S. to acquiesce to German leadership of a ‘power-political’, European entity that is raised to parity with the U.S. That, bluntly, is to say, Germany is angling for ‘superpower’ status, atop an EU ‘empire’ for the new era. Putin recognised such a possibility (Germany aspiring to be a superpower) during his recent speech to Valdai.

But the other ‘moving parts’ to this bid are very much in motion, too: Firstly, Germany’s ploy is contingent on their hopes for a Biden win, which may, or may not, occur. And then, too, President Macron seeks for himself, and for France, the leadership of Europe – with this latter – to an extent – being contingent on a ‘no deal’ Brexit taking place at the end of the year, that would further weaken a dis-animated and fading Merkel. France rather, plots the ‘Great Reset’ of Europe: A regulatory and values enforced ‘space’, underpinned by a common fiscal and debt regime that would rebuild France’s economic infrastructure.

All this raises many questions: Should Trump win, he can be expected to puncture any German (or French) aspiration to drain away some of America’s power, however nicely the German FM wraps it, as the U.S. not so much losing power, but as gaining “a strong partner on equal terms”. Huh!

The idea that Europe can leverage this partnership through sweet-talking Germany’s commitment “to the West as a system of values”, which is “at risk in its entirety”, and which, only Germany and the U.S. together can keep strong – does seem a bit of a daydream. Even when sugar-wrapped with “defending against the unmistakable Russian thirst for power, and Chinese ambitions for global supremacy”. Firstly, there is still Trump, and secondly —

China and Russia clearly see the game. Yet European leaders seem to expect that the former will continue as if nothing is awry. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer seems to think so (she is both Defence Minister, and Chair of the CDU, Merkel’s own party). In terms of containing “China’s aggressively controlled state capitalism”, she suggests creating a European trade sphere that is open only to those who want to strengthen and support the liberal, rules-based order – and to which other states must ‘submit’ (Macron’s words). These are the bones to how Brussels proposes to achieve ‘strategic autonomy’ (Charles Michel’s term).

Here are some extracts of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s ‘deal’ given in a 23 October speech:

“… Most of all, America has given us what we call ‘Westbindung’ … Westbindung, to me, is and remains, a clear rejection of the historic temptation of equidistance. Westbindung anchors us firmly in NATO and the EU and ties us closely to Washington, Brussels, Paris and London. It clearly and rightly positions us against a romantic fixation on Russia – and also against an illiberal corporative state that rejects parties and parliaments [i.e. China] … Westbindung is the answer to the famous “German question”, the question of what Germany stands for … Only America and Europe together can keep the West strong, defending it against the unmistakable Russian thirst for power and Chinese ambitions for global supremacy … To be the giver [in a process of ‘give and take with the U.S.] would require us to take a firm power-political stance. To ambitiously play the geopolitical game. But even looking at all this, there are still some Americans who are not convinced that they need NATO. I understand that. Because there is one thing still missing: That is for the Europeans to take powerful action themselves, when push comes to shove. So that the United States can see Europe as a strong partner on equal terms, not as a damsel in distress. As you can see: the German dilemma is a European dilemma as well. We stay dependent [on the U.S.], but at the same time, we must come into our own. In strengthening Europe like this, Germany must play a key role … enabling it to operate more independently of, and more closely with, the United States at the same time …”.

Three major geo-political issues here are intersecting: Firstly, Germany is metamorphosing politically, in a way that holds disturbing parallels with its transition in the pre-WW1, European setting. In short, the ‘German Question’ is surfacing again (but not in AKK’s way): When the Berlin Wall fell, Russia supported the reunification of Germany and pinned hopes on Germany being a partner for the wider unification project: the construction of a ‘Greater Europe’.

It proved to be a chimaera: Germany, far from supporting Russia’s inclusion, instead, favoured the expansion of Europe and NATO to Russia’s borders. The EU – under U.S. pressure – was forming a Greater Europe that would eventually include all the states of Europe, except Russia.

But in so doing, West Europe absorbed into the EU the tumour of East European neuralgia on Russia. Berlin, all the while, has played on America’s visceral hostility towards Russia – more as a tool to build out its European space up to the Russian border. Germany thus has prioritised assuaging Eastern European ancient antipathies, above any real attempt at a relationship with Russia. Now Germany wants to ‘play it again’: In a July interview, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the Russian leadership must be “confronted with a clear position: We are well-fortified, and in case of doubt, ready to defend ourselves. We see what Russia is doing, and we will not let the Russian leadership get away with it”.

Well: Fool me once … but fool me twice …? The Navalny episode was the last straw. It was a blatant lie. Merkel and Macron knew it to be a lie. And they knew that Moscow knew it, too. Yet they both preferred to toss the Russophobes another ‘bone’. Moscow gave up with them.

The real puzzle is why Moscow put up with this play for so long. The answer perhaps, lies with the Russian two-headed eagle, whose heads face in opposite directions: one toward Europe, and the other toward Asia. Merkel’s obvious deceit is stretching and testing social trust in Russia, just too far. The Russian élites may lean towards Europe, but their base looks East. Navalny was the humiliating straw that broke the camel’s back

Now Macron – still energised, but himself politically weakened – hopes to drain further Merkel’s strength (in mercantilist terms), through engineering a UK no-deal Brexit that would damage Germany’s huge trade surplus with Britain, at the very moment that Germany is losing markets in Russia (and now possibly in China); and when America, if Trump is re-elected, would likely embark on a trade war with Europe.

Weakening Merkel’s hand – that is – in opposing an European joint debt instrument, together with a common fiscal policies, is the aim, so that France might draw down on German fiscal resources placed within a ‘common pot’, and then deployed to revamp the French economy.

The Brussels plan for a ‘Great Reset’ – transforming the European economy, and the social sphere – through automation and technology is, as Tom Luongo has noted delusional: “[W]hat’s been pretty clear to me is Europe’s delusions that it can subjugate the world under its rubric, forcing its rules and standards on the rest of us, including China, [whilst] again allowing the U.S. to act as its proxy – [as Europe] tries to maintain its [‘power-political’] standing is delusional”.

Why?

‘Delusional’, as although China may be an “aggressively controlled state capitalism” in Euro-speak, it is also a major ‘civilisational state’, with its own distinct values. Brussels may call their regulatory space ‘open’, but it is clearly exclusionary, and not multilateral. The action of this politics is only pushing the world towards a separation of distinct regulatory spheres – and toward deeper recession.

On the practical plane, whereas first phase Covid tended to provide support to Europe’s incumbent governments, this present infection spike is shredding support for incumbents. Protests and riots are increasingly taking place across Europe. Episodes of violence have been met with horror by the authorities, which suspect that organized crime and radical groups are at work to spark a political wildfire. And that potential is very much there.

To the structural unemployment already incurred in phase one, now must be added another wave of possibly irreversible unemployment, (again) in the services sector. For small businesses and the self-employed, it is a nightmare. Not surprisingly, the anger grows as those losing their means of living observe that civil servants and the middle classes more generally, are passing through this episode, virtually unscathed.

European governments have been caught off-guard. There is absolute confusion as governments try to square keeping the economy alive, with containing the infected from overwhelming hospitals – achieving neither. This represents the cost of the ‘summer opening’ to save the tourist season. No one is on their balcony these evenings banging cooking pots in communal solidarity. Today, protests and riots have taken their place.

Into this mounting anger is inserted dark suspicion. Some may view Covid as pure conspiracy; others will not. Yet it is not ‘conspiracy’ to believe that European governments may knowingly have used the pandemic to increase their tools of social control, (despite ‘distancing’ being a genuine medical containment strategy). Was this concerted in anticipation of the changes implicit to the ‘Great Reset’? We do not know. Yet, from the outset, western governments couched their measures as ‘war’ – and as war that required war-time state-directed economics, and war-time public compliance.

Rightly or wrongly, it is becoming a culture war. Overtones of the anger on U.S. streets. Again, dark suspicions that cultural life is being closed down in order to prepare Europeans for the drowning of their cultural identities into a big Brussels-made, melting-pot. These fears may be misplaced, but they are ‘out there’, and viral.

It is Europe’s political fabric and societal cohesion that is in play – and its leaders are not just confused: They fear.

It would indeed be hubristic delusion then, were European leaders to proceed with the automation ‘Great Reset’, and add yet more structural unemployment to a pile, already threatening to topple, under its growing weight (into mass protest). Do they want revolution?

[Category: Europe, World, Angela Merkel, Crisis, European Union, Germany, Pandemic]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/1/20 12:00pm

Caitlin JOHNSTONE

Journalist Glenn Greenwald has made major waves throughout mainstream and alternative media by resigning from The Intercept, an outlet he co-founded in 2014 with the stated mission of holding power to account with the power of unrestricted journalism.

Greenwald says he resigned because Intercept editors refused to let him publish an article he’d been working on about the mass media’s role in covering up the Hunter Biden October surprise and obfuscating its nature, which he says is a violation of the conditions in his contract for editorial freedom. He also published part of the email exchanges he’d been having with the editors in the lead-up to submitting his notice of resignation.

My Resignation From The Intercept

The same trends of repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity plaguing the national press generally have engulfed the media outlet I co-founded, culminating in censorship of my own articles.https://t.co/dZrlYGfEBf

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 29, 2020

The email exchanges make it fairly clear that Intercept editors were holding Greenwald’s analysis of the allegations against Joe Biden and his family to a much higher evidentiary standard than they hold any journalist who wants to criticize Trump or promote flimsy Russia conspiracy theories on the platform, and generally creating pressure and inertia to remove anything in the article that might hurt Biden’s election chances. Journalist Matt Taibbi has his own article out on Greenwald’s resignation which contains more information on the email exchanges, and which is very much worth reading.

More revealing than the emails is the information which Greenwald shares in his Substack article about his resignation, saying The Intercept has been deliberately opaque about those who were responsible for the Reality Winner debacle and the actions they took which led to her arrest when leaking NSA documents to the outlet. Greenwald claims editors rushed the publication of the leaks “because they was eager to prove to mainstream media outlets and prominent liberals that The Intercept was willing to get on board the Russiagate train,” and says their silence has allowed the blame to fall on him for Winner’s imprisonment despite his having nothing to do with the ordeal.

Greenwald also reveals that The Intercept refused to report on the daily proceedings of the Julian Assange extradition hearing “because the freelance reporter doing an outstanding job was politically distasteful”. It’s unclear exactly what was meant by this; Greenwald has praised the excellent Assange trial coverage by Shadowproof‘s Kevin Gosztola and Richard Medhurst now of Press TV in the past, both of whom say they don’t at this time know who he was referring to. Regardless of what he meant, refusal of a media outlet whose motto is “Fearless, adversarial journalism” to cover the single most important journalistic freedom case in the world is outrageous on its face.

I always wondered why @theintercept didn’t cover #Assange. pic.twitter.com/YNTWe4gB6G

— Richard Medhurst </div></dd>
<dt id=The Refusal of Democrats & Republicans to Face Political Reality

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/1/20 11:00am

Almost all of America’s Democratic and Republican voters are simply closed-minded, and refuse to acknowledge that each of this nation’s two political Parties is controlled by its billionaires and is profoundly corrupt, not allowing any progressive legislation (but only conservative and liberal legislation, which is backed by billionaires) to get through, nor any progressive jurist to receive a high court appointment, nor any progressive Presidential candidate to win the Party’s nomination — such as Bernie Sanders in 2016, and in 2020. It’s a dictatorship by America’s Republican and Democratic billionaires, no democracy, at all, and the vast majority of voters in each Party refuse to recognize this core reality about today’s America. To them, it’s Democrats versus Republicans, instead of billionaires versus the public. They are wrong, and they don’t even care that they are wrong.

For example, on the Republican side, the fact that Donald Trump’s coronavirus leadership has been a catastrophic failure and is recognized throughout the world to be so, is ignored by some and denied by others, but it’s not recognized by Republican voters — they are in reality-denial about it. Also, for another example, these voters are in reality-denial about Trump’s racism and race-baiting. They deny the clear evidence of it.

However, on the Democratic side, the fact that Joe Biden is profoundly corrupt is simply ignored, as is the fact that he stole the nomination from Sanders by lying through his teeth. As is the fact that Biden was the U.S. Senate’s leading advocate in the Democratic Party for continuing segregation (‘separate but equal’). He was a stealthy bigot, not only on segregation, but on criminal justice. Also, the fact that Biden is an ardent proponent of U.S. imperialism and of the privatization of infrastructure in the conquered countries so as to sell them off to U.S.-and-allied investors, is likewise totally ignored by Democrats. (The main difference between Biden and Trump on foreign policy is over which country is the most important to conquer: for Trump it’s China; for Biden it’s Russia; but both want to conquer also Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and a few others.)

Perhaps the truth that both Republican and Democratic voters resist more strongly than any other is that the Republicans’ leadership regarding coronavirus-policy has been disastrously myth-laden and bad, and that Democrats are better only in that they are not leading this disaster, but Democrats have actually gone along with Trump on it wherever the polls were showing that a majority of the public were supporting his policy on the given matter. In other words: Biden’s policy has been simply to gloat over Trump’s getting all of the blame, and to avoid crucial specifics on what his own policy and priorities would be. But a choice between two evils is still evil — it’s an evil system. What is evil there is not merely the options, but the corrupt system that restricts those options to only ones that are acceptable to the actual rulers, to the very few — the aristocracy — that benefit from, and control, the corruption. That’s what’s more evil than either of the two nominees is. It is the people who are financing their political careers. And this is the reality that the vast majority of America’s voters, in both Parties, refuse to recognize. They refuse to recognize the more-fundamental problem, which problem is the trap that the country has degenerated into. Without recognizing that more-fundamental problem, there is no way out of it — not even possibly a way out of it.

Here is how disastrous it is, as reflected in the coronavirus results:

Great leadership on this matter was recognized right at the very start of the soaring pandemic:

On 5 April 2020, Suze Wilson, of Massey University, headlined “Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response has been a masterclass in crisis leadership”, and she wrote of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to make decisions on which the lives of tens of thousands of other people depend. If you get things wrong, or delay deciding, they die.

Your decisions affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in huge economic disruption, mass layoffs and business closures. Imagine you must act quickly, without having complete certainty your decisions will achieve what you hope.

Now imagine that turning your decisions into effective action depends on winning the support of millions of people.

Yes, you do have enforcement capacity at your disposal. But success or failure hinges on getting most people to choose to follow your leadership – even though it demands sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to their daily lives.

This is the harsh reality political leaders around the world have faced in responding to COVID-19.

As someone who researches and teaches leadership – and has also worked in senior public sector roles under both National and Labour-led governments – I’d argue New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving most Western politicians a masterclass in crisis leadership.

Three communication skills every leader needs

When it comes to assessing New Zealand’s public health response, we should all be listening to epidemiologists like Professor Michael Baker [Otago U., “‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown [announced 23 March 2020], and the challenging weeks ahead” March 23, 2020]. On Friday, Baker said [“Coronavirus: NZ with a chance to be only Western nation to eradicate COVID-19 – expert”, 3 April 2020]. New Zealand had the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world at the moment” – and New Zealand is “a huge standout as the only Western country that’s got an elimination goal” for COVID-19.

What has been the result of that policy?

At the moment, as I write, the definitive website tracking the Covid-19 cases and deaths around the world, which is https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries, shows that the United States has had 26,860 cases per million residents, and 695 deaths per million residents. By contrast: New Zealand has had 388 cases per million residents, and 5 deaths per million residents. Per million people, America has 69 cases for each coronavirus case in N.Z., and 139 deaths for each such death in N.Z. That’s the difference between a society that serves its population, and a society that doesn’t. The difference is huge multiples, not merely a few percent.

But not all of the blame for this goes to Donald Trump, and not all of the credit for this goes to Jacinda Ardern. A dysfunctional society, such as America, has far lower levels of public trust in its leaders, because it has far less reason than New Zealanders do to trust their leaders. Even if Trump had been trying to do what Ardern did, Americans would have been vastly more resistant to it, than New Zealanders were. New Zealanders love their country, and don’t hate each other trying to grab control of it, out of fear that ‘the other side’ might win, as the case is in America. In America, the actual other side — the behind-the-scenes rulers — already have control, no matter which of their two Parties dominates, and so the only real solution for that dictatorship is for the public to take the country back from them. But this can’t be done if the voters are in denial of that reality. The head-in-the-sand approach can’t do it. But that’s the approach in America.

If Michael Baker was able to recognize as early as March 23rd that N.Z. was “looking like the only Western country with a chance of eradicating COVID-19,” then maybe his prediction’s coming true (to the extent that it has) wasn’t only luck.

But how well have the best non-Western countries been doing on this matter? Here are the best coronavirus-performers among them (and, for the most part, they are countries that Americans have been taught to despise): Vietnam (12 and 0.4), Cambodia (17 & 0), Taiwan (23 & 0.3), Burundi (46 & 0.08), Niger (50 & 3), Thailand (54 & 0.8), China (60 & 3), Papua (65 & 0.8), Yemen (69 & 20), Chad (87 & 6), Burkina Faso (117 & 3), DRC (124 & 3). Mali (171 & 7), Benin (209 & 3), Somalia (246 & 6), Uganda (250 & 2), South Sudan (257 & 5), Togo (264 & 6), Liberia (278 & 16), Angola (283 & 8), Nigeria (298 & 5), Malawi (306 & 9), Syria (310 & 15), Sudan (311 & 19), Mozambique (386 & 3). And all of those can be compared to N.Z. (388 & 5).

Above those were: Rwanda (389 & 3), Sri Lanka (392 & 0.7), South Korea (506 & 9), Zimbabwe (554 & 16), Cuba (582 & 11), Madagascar (608 & 9), Hong Kong (which is China’s richest city: 706 & 14), and Japan (768 & 14).

The next-lowest Western country is Australia (1,076 & 35). Therefore, the two best-performers in the West were N.Z. and Australia, which suggests that one of the common factors for their shared remarkable success is simply their being geographically isolated in the same region, which is predominantly non-Western, more Asian.

Then, the next-best Western country is Finland (2,700 & 64). Then Greece (3,027 & 56). Then Venezuela (3,153 & 27). Then Norway (3,332 &51). Then Estonia (3,337 & 64). Then Lithuania (4,040 & 50). Then Germany (5,359 & 121).

America isn’t the world’s worst coronavirus-country, at 26,860 & 695, but it’s certainly the worst large country, because it is the world’s 12th-worst, and its population is 331.6 million, whereas the second-largest of the worst 12 has only 11.6 million: Belgium (27,661 & 931). The third-largest of them, Israel, has 9.2 million (33,770 & 265). The 4th-largest, Panama, has 4.3 million (29,796 & 607). Five of the worst 12 countries have under 1 million population. America is the unchallengeable giant of the baddies, but Brazil has 213 million population, and its figures, which place it as the 16th-worst country (25,328 & 738), are very close to America’s.

So: both of the bad giants, America and Brazil, have Governments that are diametrically the opposite of N.Z.’s Government. Whereas N.Z.’s is democratic socialist, America’s and Brazil’s are fascist libertarian (otherwise called authoritarian neoliberal). Of course virtually all countries call themselves “democratic,” but most (actually) are not — it’s just PR, propaganda, for them. An international survey in 53 countries asked residents “Yes” or “No” on “My country is democratic,” and America ranked #38 out of the 53, with the top 10 countries, in order, being: Taiwan, Denmark, Switzerland, S. Korea, China, Austria, Vietnam, India, Norway, and Argentina. At the very bottom, #53, was Venezuela.

It’s therefore obvious that, even if America was, at some former time, a great country, it isn’t any longer. But, if it used to be, then it has declined enormously. Surveys show that Americans don’t think that the country is improving, but instead that it’s “on the wrong track.” Obviously, America is getting worse, not better. Also obviously, neither of the two billionaire-controlled Parties even has any sincere intention of reversing that decades-long trend into the abyss. The people who control it won’t let go of it. And the public don’t want to take control of it. They don’t even want to recognize how dire America’s condition, and direction, are. More of the same is acceptable to them; and, so, control of the country gyrates from Democratic billionaires to Republican billionaires and then back again, ad infinitum, but being the billionaires all the time, no real change. The billionaires face no effective resistance, in America, because the voters for each of the two Parties think that their “them” (“not us”) is the other Party, instead of being the nation’s billionaires. In such a circumstance, what group will even try to take the country back from the few hundred individuals who have controlled it, now, for decades — at least ever since 1981, if not since 1945? It’s going from bad to worse, but how bad will it get? Is there anything to reverse that decades-long trend? Certainly, a prerequisite would be for Democrats and Republicans to face, no longer to deny, the political reality in America. Nothing indicates any such tendency, as of yet. Therefore, lots worse seems likely.

[Category: Americas, World, Crisis, Democratic Party, Pandemic, Republican Party, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/1/20 10:00am

Ron RIDENOUR

Chileans and Bolivians are turning the tide away from coup governments imposed on them by right-wing national militarists and the US State Department / CIA.

Within the past week, we have witnessed an overwhelming Chilean victory to rewrite the constitution forced upon them by General Augusto Pinochet, in 1980, and Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal confirmation that former President Evo Morales’ political party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), won the election on October 18.

The new Bolivian president, Luis Arce, and vice-president, David Choquehuanca, beat right-winger coup-makers Carlos Mesa (a former president) and Luis Fernando Camacho: 55% to 29% and 14%.
Both houses of parliament will also have a MAS majority.

Meanwhile, just days earlier, seventy-eight percent (78%) of Chileans voting said yes to a new constitution; opposed 22%. While the ayes were expected to win, such huge support was unforeseen.

This shows how much Chileans want a different nation than that forced upon them by the bloody coup d’état, September 11, 1973, which was guided by then Richard Nixon’s hatchet man, Henry Kissinger. They murdered at least three thousand people the first days of the military coup. Thousands more “disappeared” or arrested died in prisons, tortured by the fascist Pinochet government. Over 100,000 people are known to have been arrested for political motivations.

Spanish National Court judge Baltasar Garzón sought to arrest and prosecute Pinochet for crimes against humanity. (1)

A new constitution will be written by a Constitutional Convention with new representatives elected by the people, on April 11, 2021. A year later, there will be an “exit” ratification plebiscite to repeal the Pinochet constitution.

 


Vice-President David Choquehuanca (l) and President Luis Arce. (Heraldodepueblo.com photo)

This popular victory comes on the heels of grassroots protests and resistance movements last year, during what was called the “Chilean Spring.” For months, tens of thousands protested nearly daily. One day there were over one million in the streets. After two months of actions, the government estimated that a fourth of the nation’s nearly 13 million people were protesting hikes in public transportation costs, and, generally, economic inequality and “elitism”.

The government of Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency and police killed three dozen protestors, wounded hundreds, and imprisoned 30,000. Piñera was forced by the people to make concessions. He fired several ministers, including the head of military and police, and allowed a referendum to keep or change the Pinochet-created constitution.

Not Forgotten: CIA’s Murder of Allende’s Commander-in-Chief

October 22, 1970, armed thugs working for the CIA intercepted and shot to death Chilean army commander-in-chief, General René Schneider, as he drove to the Ministry of Defense in Santiago, Chile.  “The next day, CIA Director Richard Helms convened his top aides to review the covert coup operations that had led to the attack. “[I]t was agreed that … a maximum effort has been achieved,” and that “the station has done excellent job of guiding Chileans to point today where a military solution is at least an option for them,” stated a SECRET cable of commendation transmitted that day to the CIA station in Chile. “COS [Chief of Station] … and Station [deleted] are commended for accomplishing this under extremely difficult and delicate circumstances.”

The National Security Archive (NSA) reposted declassified documentation about Kissinger and the CIA’s role in the assassination. The intent was to prevent the newly elected socialist Salvador Allende from assuming power. Here are excerpts from the article, “The CIA and Chile: Anatomy of an Assassination,” posted in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the General’s murder.

“CBS ‘60 Minutes’ segment, ‘Schneider vs. Kissinger,’ drew on the declassified documents to report on a ‘wrongful death’ lawsuit filed in September 2001 by the Schneider family against Henry Kissinger for his role in the assassination. The ’60 Minutes’ broadcast aired on September 9, 2001, and has not been publicly accessible since then. In preparation for the 50thanniversary of the Schneider assassination, CBS News graciously posted the broadcast as a “60 Minutes Rewind” on October 21, 2020.”

Henry Kissinger was secretly supervising the CIA’s coup operations, and had cajoled President Richard Nixon into letting him prepare for a violent overthrow of the popularly democratically elected Allende.

“In Chile, the assassination of General Schneider remains the historical equivalent of the assassination of John F. Kennedy: a cruel and shocking political crime that shook the nation. In the United States, the murder of Schneider has become one of the most renowned case studies of CIA efforts to ‘neutralize’ a foreign leader who stood in the way of U.S. objectives,” wrote NSA.

The CIA also murdered President Kennedy. (2)

The CIA’s murderous covert operations to, as CIA officials suggested, “effect the removal of Schneider,” were first revealed in a 1975 Senate report on Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders.  At the time, investigators for the special Senate committee led by Idaho Senator Frank Church were able to review the Top Secret CIA operational cables and memoranda relating to ‘Operation FUBELT’—the code name for CIA effort.”

General Schneider was targeted for his defense of Chile’s constitutional transfer of power.

As the commander-in-chief of the Chilean army, and the highest-ranking military officer in Chile, Schneider’s policy of non-intervention created a major obstacle for CIA efforts to implement President Nixon’s orders to foment a coup that would prevent the recently elected Socialist, Salvador Allende, from being inaugurated.

Brighter Future for Bolivia

Argentina’s President Albert Fernández announced that he would be traveling to Bolivia for the inaugural ceremony. “It will be a dream fulfilled,” he told national media.

Bolivian Senator Andrónico Rodríguez stated that Evo Morales will return to his country from exile in Argentina, on November 9, the day after the inaugural ceremony. That will be one year exactly since he was forced into exile (November 10, 2019) by the military generals and some police.

Judge Jorge Quino, head of Departmental Court of Justice in La Paz, dismissed coup government charges of “terrorism” and “sedition” against Evo Morales. The October 26 decision is expected to be finally approved by the Plurinational Constitutional Court on the day of Arce’s inauguration or the day following.

Bolivia’s President-elect has joined growing calls for the resignation of Organization of American State’s chief Luis Almagro. In an interview with “La Razon”, a Bolivian newspaper, Arce said that Almagro must go for “ethical and moral reasons”, because of the discredited 2019 OAS report that claimed there had been electoral fraud under the last Morales government.

Almagro is known for acting in favor of US interests. Arce said, “We do not agree that an important body be in the hands of people wearing the shirt of a political party or of a political ideology in the region. There should not be interference in the internal affairs of a country. If Almagro did that in Bolivia, imagine, he can do it with any other country, and we cannot allow that.”

President Donald Trump stated that he expected to work with the new government. A State Department spokesperson, Michael Kozak, even stated that the Bolivian election had been “peaceful” “free and just”. US American politicians are infamously known in Latin American (and elsewhere) for speaking with forked tongues.

Researcher-journalist Ramona Wadi, who covers Latin America, cautioned about Bolivia’s perilous future: “The electoral triumph may not spell the end of US intervention in the country. The US is known to have used diverse tactics to instigate violence and unrest in Latin America, biding its time until it strikes again. The military and the police have yet to completely prove their alliance to the new government and against US designs on Bolivia.”

It is imperative that the new government reform the military and police, and find or train leaders who are loyal to their country’s sovereignty and not to the interests of US world domination.

Notes:

(1) Judge Garzón  issued an order, April 18, 2002, to question Henry Kissinger, in London where he was to attend a conference. Garzon wanted to question him about his role in the Chilean coup, and the CIA-organized “Operation Condor”, which killed and imprisoned tens of thousands of people in former military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to persecute and eliminate their opponents during the 1970s and 1980s.

Britain refused Garzon’s request for permission to question Kissinger while he was in London. Kissinger, however, did not travel to Spain.

Garzon was also known for his pursuit of drug traffickers and terrorists in Spain and abroad. He best known for his arrest warrant for Pinochet, who was arrested on October 16, 1998, in London, for human rights abuses stemming the coup. Pinochet spent 16 months in London fighting extradition to Spain. He was allowed to return to Chile where a court ruled that he was mentally unfit to face trial.

Pinochet was not imprisoned while awaiting extradition in stark contrast to Julian Assange, who has rotted for 18 months in solidarity confinement in a maximum prison outside London. He is awaiting a British courts’ decision to extradite him to the US under alleged violations of Espionage Act 1917.

Another twist to this contrast is that the Spanish government removed Judge Garzón from the court, in 2011. He became an attorney for Assange, and was one of many spied upon by the CIA when Assange was in exile in the Ecuadoran embassy.

(2) There are hundreds of well-researched books, significant evidence, and lost evidence—such as JFK’s cranium, which would have shown bullet wounds contradicting the official one-man assassin lie. This can be seen in the Zapruder film, despite having been retouched by the FBI.

One of the CIA men involved, E. Howard Hunt, told his son, St. John, what happened on that fateful. See, “The Last Confession of E. Howard Hunt,” Rolling Stones, April 5, 2007,by Erik Hedegaard. Hunt was a key CIA hit man against Latin Americans who refused to conform to its domination. Hunt wrote on paper, and later recorded, several names of CIA and mafia men who participated in the conspiracy and murder of President Kennedy.

The Senate Church committee strongly suggested that there was more than one person involved in the JFK assassination. That committee had arranged for Chicago Mafia boss Sam (Mooney) Giancana to be transferred from his home to Washington DC, on June 19, 1975, to testify before the committee, on June 24. The committee wanted to learn about Ginacana’s “connection to the CIA’s Castro assassination plot”. What he might know about the murder of JFK could have cropped up. Just hours before committee members arrived at his home, someone Giancana obviously knew was let into his house. This person shot Mooney to death  to prevent his testimony. He had been confiding to his brother, Chuck, and nephew, Samuel M. Giancana, his life’s “works”, which included his involvement in the JFK assassination with other mobsters, counter-revolutionary Cubans in exile, and the CIA. He names names in the book, “Double Cross” by Sam and Chuck Giancana, Warner Books, NY, 1992. Mooney’s brother and nephew believe the CIA murdered him to be sure he did not “double cross” them when it was he they “double crossed”.

thiscantbehappening.net

[Category: Editor's Choice, Bolivia, Chile, CIA, Coup, Latin America, Protests, Socialism]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/1/20 9:15am

An inferiority complex linked to Lebanon’s colonial past is responsible for Macron failing in Lebanon. But maybe his racist rant about Islam might fix that.

Is there no end to Emmanual Macron’s gaffes in the Muslim world? It almost feels as though they roll in on a weekly basis and have given journalists a new Trump-like subject to busy them, distracted away of course from the more serious subjects of the day.

But attacking Islam is no joke. And one has to wonder whether the sanity of Macron is all there, a point made by the Turkish President recently when he suggested the French President was losing his mind. Macron’s response, if anything, was both a strong indication that there may be a grain of truth in the accusation plus an inglorious display of Macron’s sensational loathing of the free press. He immediately recalled the French ambassador from Ankara. The tantrums also seem to be like a never-ending stream which hardly do anything for Macron’s credibility in the region. Oh là là.

And credibility is key.

Whilst the author Tarek Cherkaoui is bang on to point out how this Islamophobia subterfuge by Macron is doomed from the off – reminding us of what happened with Nicolas Sarkozy back in the day when he tried the same stratagem with disastrous consequences – he misses the point about Macron and the Arabs.

Macron sees himself as some kind of T E Laurence figure, revered by the unruly Arabs who can lead them to build their own destiny and restore their dignity. But Lawrence, lived with these people, learnt their languages and was so adored by them, that they anointed him as one of their own ultimately making him a subject of hate and ridicule by the British themselves.

Macron by contrast is woefully ignorant of the peoples, the history and the region and comes across as a political tourist lost in the smoke and ashes of the Beirut bomb explosion. Who can forget his reaction to a lady heckler who chastised him? He moved quickly to smother her with his Gallic hug, squeezing the air out of her lungs to silent here therein. Genius. Deft. Desperate.

The real problem with Macron and the Arab world is that he hasn’t done his homework and can’t be bothered to learn about Arabia and Islam. And the Arabs feel it and see it. They know when they’re presented with fake goods. This is the heart of the malaise now which he is facing with some countries boycotting French goods. Speaking so unfavourably towards Islam and tarnishing so many with the same spoiled brush without even being able to recite one line of the Koran or knowing anything about the history of the Islamic world, is a gross insult which will be remembered for a long time and surely won’t get him the vote from millions of Muslims in France, but might get him some votes from the hard right. If he really understood Islam, or even the terrorism ideology which attaches itself to it, he might have guessed that his comments about the religion might have sparked an Al Qaeda call for a jihadist attack on France, following both Macron’s comments about Islam and a teacher’s caricature of the prophet.

Of course, shoring up the hard-right vote might have been his intention right from the start. Beleaguered by polls which show that he’s in real trouble in securing a second term, he has opted for the nationalistic vote.

Political shenanigans are really all that Macron is all about. And spin. We don’t expect much, certainly not in the Middle East anyway, from the French leader who proves time and time again he only has the requisite soundbite to contribute to the troubles of the region and not the meat-and-gravy of any solid strategy.

Of course, his recent spat with President Erdogan of Turkey runs deeper each day that passes with Turkish exploration in the Mediterranean remaining unchallenged, pushes deeper the thorn in the side of the French president.

And yet Macron’s failures in the Arab world, including this recent tone-deaf anti-Islam rant, are remarkable in that they are compounded by his failure to seize opportunities. Isn’t that, after all, the feral, singular purpose of all politicians? To grasp opportunities when they are presented. Like a fat trout, facing the current, motionless, who seizes the fly which drifts past his nose? Strike!

Oh Lebanon! What now?

But not Macron. Lebanon could have been an opportunity for him to rise above the stench of rank impotence and achieve something. All the ingredients were there. The world’s media for a few days was camped there and was ready for the Macron walkabout. The Macron sound bites. And the Macron bold statements.

But even the Christians of Lebanon find Macron’s intervention repugnant. The Lebanese are deeply complexed and complicated people who really do borrow money they can’t afford to pay back, to buy modern day trappings to impress their neighbours who they despise. Yes, this is the Lebanese. Frail, sensitive, vulnerable and probably the most self-conscious people of the entire region who think first about their profile and public image before anything else. The Lebanese who go to the tanning spa before they go to the beach clad in make-up; the Lebanese who buy an expensive car to park at the front of the apartment block to impress the neighbours, but can’t afford to drive it so ride to work on a moped each day; the Lebanese who are so insecure, that they cannot cope with any kind of professional criticism without practically having an ugly breakdown of some sort while attacking those who offer the advice. The Lebanese who have invented a non-confrontational society where friends and colleagues enter a sort of ‘Truman show’ zone each day of faking everything in front of one’s contemporaries; the same Lebanese who have surely the largest inferiority complex in the entire Arab world in the proximity of westerners who they are attracted to, like a moth to a flame, but also hate so virulently.

How did Macron imagine he could just rock up and tell Aoun, Hariri, Berri et al to stop stealing the money and get better at hiding corruption?

The problem Macron has is not only with the corrupt elite, but those who support them. Many Lebanese just reject Macron’s offer of helping, simply because of these complexes which are just one of the many insecurity pangs which make them so unique. An anti-colonialist mentality has been wheeled out (yawn), perhaps even encouraged by political leaders who can’t see the brown envelope of cash for them in the Macron offer, so reject it, naturally. The word ‘connerie’ (which translates to English, literally, as arsehole-ery) has been modified to Macronerie by these same feeble people who presumably would stand tall and defiant and chant their colonial clap trap when all of their children have died before them, when the hospitals close and antibiotics are so expensive that are only for the elite to purchase. Are these the same people who supported the protest movement (in the early days when it was more of a street party) and demanded change, but weren’t really able to articulate what type of change they wanted?

Macron is a buffoon, yes, but this racist, desperate rejection by many Lebanese, trumps him on gargantuan stupidity. The inferiority/superiority complex (as both are one of the same thing) is partly what has created the crisis in Lebanon in the first place. The unique frail condition of the Lebanese made it possible for the elite to run the country into the ground and then organise at the eleventh hour to ship wholesale their stained wealth out of the country – and get even richer into the bargain. It’s this same complex which supported the militia-political system whereby people were comforted by their respective leaders helping themselves to the billions of dollars (which could have been spent on building the country), while they drew solace from the system which supposedly “protected” them from their neighbours.

And it’s that same complex which fuelled the protest movement whose followers were convinced that the West – or even the Gulf Arab countries – wouldn’t let Lebanon fall into the abyss.

The Lebanese know now that the world won’t bail them out and that the biggest lie of the last twenty years has been the ‘protection racket’ narrative from militia leaders but it is the same complex which is now preventing them from forgetting their sectarian lineage and forming a cross-party opposition party with a shadow cabinet of ministers and a leader to represent their interests in Washington, Brussels, Strasbourg, Berlin and Paris. The chilling photograph of Hariri, Berri and Aoun must have made many want to weep when it was circulated in mid-October immediately after Hariri was sworn in as PM. It used to be said, ‘pity the Lebanese, as all they have is money’. But this has been replaced, it seems, by ‘all they have are these three stooges’.

Macron’s anti-Muslim rant was ill-timed and stupid. But if it can humour the complexed Lebanese to put aside their moronic ‘colonial’ chanting, it might have achieved something in the Arab world. His intervention in Lebanon, if it comes with genuine reform of the political system, might be the only strand of hope the Lebanese can cling to as, surely, the answer to the country’s problems are not to be found with these three men who practically wrote the manual on How To Make Money Out of A Failed State.

[Category: Security, War and Conflict, Emmanuel Macron, France, Islam, Lebanon, Middle East, Religion]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/31/20 9:00am

Bellingcat claimed to have uncovered a letter that disproves OPCW inspectors and journalists who challenged the censorship of a Syria chemical weapons probe. But in one of many falsehoods, Bellingcat’s “letter” was in fact only a draft that was never sent — and only further exposes the cover-up.

Aaron MATÉ

Bellingcat, the NATO member state-funded website that has participated in a propaganda effort to accuse Syria of a chemical weapons attack in April 2018 and justify the US-led bombing that followed, has published a new falsehood-ridden attack on an OPCW whistleblower whose suppressed findings exposed the pro-war deception.

According to Bellingcat, a leak that it has obtained not only “proves that a chemical attack did occur,” in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018, but also, “shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false.”

Contrary to Bellingcat’s account, the website has only added a new chapter to the OPCW cover-up scandal by publishing an article beset with multiple demonstrable falsehoods and outlandish or unsupported claims. It also features a malicious effort to dox and discredit a veteran, highly-regarded OPCW inspector who challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation.

The anonymously authored Bellingcat article’s problems begin with its very premise, which turns out to be a blatant falsehood. The article is based on excerpts of a leaked draft letter that, Bellingcat claims, was sent in June 2019 by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to Brendan Whelan, a member of the OPCW’s Douma team.

However, The Grayzone can reveal that the text that Bellingcat published was never actually sent to Whelan. Indeed, the text of the letter featured by Bellingcat was actually an unsent draft that Whelan never received. This fact dismantles the heart of the NATO state-backed website’s argument.

Dr. Whelan, a 16-year OPCW veteran, first challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation in June 2018, weeks after the OPCW team returned from Syria. A series of leaks show that Whelan and the other OPCW inspectors who deployed to Syria found evidence that undermined allegations of a chemical attack in Douma. Yet their data was suppressed, and, when the censorship was challenged, the inspectors were removed from their own investigation.

The cover-up coincided with pressure on the OPCW from the U.S. government, which had bombed Syria, along with the UK and France, in April 2018 based on the pretext that the Syrian government was culpable. The OPCW’s final report in March 2019 omitted the suppressed findings and strongly implied Syrian government guilt.

According to Bellingcat, the purported letter from Director General Arias to Whelan is a silver bullet that absolved its initial findings and resolved all the questions surrounding the Douma investigation in one fell swoop. The letter “proves that a chemical attack did occur,” Bellingcat claims, and also “shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false and confirms that the organisation acted exactly as it was mandated to.”

In addition, Bellingcat tries to suggest that Whelan, Wikileaks, and several media outlets including The Grayzone have somehow engaged in reckless malpractice, or even a conspiracy, by withholding the damning letter that the band of NATO state-funded digital sherlocks have managed to expose.

That would be an extraordinary feat for any set of leaks, let alone one that amounts to a grand total of just five paragraphs. But Bellingcat’s sweeping declarations are, in reality, based on a series of falsehoods — starting with the premise of the article itself.

Bellingcat’s “letter” is actually an unsent draft

According to Bellingcat, the letter was “drafted by several members of the OPCW in June 2019 and then sent by the director general of the organisation, Fernando Arias, in reply to” Dr. Whelan.

Bellingcat false letter claim Bellingcat falsely claims that the OCPW Director General sent its draft letter to Whelan, and insinuates that Wikileaks may have withheld a letter that it could not have possibly received.

This claim is completely false. Arias did send a letter to Whelan in June 2019, but it is not the one Bellingcat published. Arias’ actual letter does not contain any of Bellingcat’s text – not even a single sentence. The Grayzone has obtained the actual letter that Arias sent to Whelan and has made it available in full here.

Actual Aris letter to Whelan Actual letter sent by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to OPCW inspector Brendan Whelan in June 2019.

The actual letter that Arias sent to Whelan is easily distinguishable from the screenshot that Bellingcat published – and falsely claimed was sent by Arias.

Text of draft letter falsely claimed by Bellingcat to have been sent by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to OPCW inspector Brendan Whelan in June 2019. This letter was not sent.

Bellingcat did not publish its draft letter in full. In an email, and in multiple Twitter posts after the email went unanswered, The Grayzone asked Bellingcat whether or not it attempted to verify with the OPCW that the content of the letter it published was actually sent by Arias to Whelan. Bellingcat did not respond. (It did however, quietly correct an error that The Grayzone pointed out on a separate claim that falsely characterized Whelan’s expressed views). The OPCW Public Affairs office also did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Ironically, after the initial publication of its article, Bellingcat staffers took to Twitter to boastfully proclaim that journalists who have reported on the OPCW leaks were either “played” by their sources, or worse, deliberately chose to withhold the supposed damning OPCW draft letter that Bellingcat got its hands on.

“The reply from the OPCW DG was never published: either Whelan never leaked it, or those who published these leaks, such as  @Wikileaks , chose not to,” Bellingcat wrote. “In either case this decision deliberately excluded a vital part of the story that clearly demonstrates Whelan’s claims were wrong.”

Last year documents were leaked from the OPCW accompanied by claims from a former OPCW employee “Alex”, that the OPCWs Douma report was “doctored”.

We’ve obtained correspondence which proves Alex’s claims are wrong and that no such “doctoring” took place.https://t.co/K1evl95lRh

— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) October 26, 2020

“This letter shows there was a clear attempt to obscure the truth of what happened in Douma on 7th April 2018. The only question that remains is whether @wikileaks, @couragefound, @ClarkeMicah, @aaronjmate et al were fooled, or whether they participated in obscuring this truth,” Bellingcat added.

Last year documents were leaked from the OPCW accompanied by claims from a former OPCW employee “Alex”, that the OPCWs Douma report was “doctored”.

We’ve obtained correspondence which proves Alex’s claims are wrong and that no such “doctoring” took place.https://t.co/K1evl95lRh

— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) October 26, 2020

“Aaron Mate of @TheGrayzoneNews confirms he DID NOT receive a crucial email exchange from his source for the Douma OPCW Leaks that would have completely debunked the claims he’s been making for the last two years, even speaking about it at the UN,” Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins wrote in a tweet that he pinned to his profile page. The Grayzone’s journalists, Higgins alleged, “fail to publish key pieces of correspondence that run counter to the narrative they’re trying to push, that’s all.”

Aaron Mate of @TheGrayzoneNews confirms he DID NOT receive a crucial email exchange from his source for the Douma OPCW Leaks that would have completely debunked the claims he’s been making for the last two years, even speaking about it at the UN. https://t.co/AFxIyocfZF

— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) October 26, 2020

Grayzone is the far-left version of Fox News, OANN & Breitbart.

— Woon Cing Hsian </div></dd>
<dt id=The Threat of Peace… Why America Needs War With Russia and How To Stop It

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/31/20 8:00am
document.createElement('video'); https://www.strategic-culture.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/ForeignPolicy3110.mp4

In the following interview for Strategic Culture Foundation, veteran activist and author Ron Ridenour shares his insights on the prospects of war and peace. Ridenour has lived and worked as a journalist in several countries, including as a press aide to the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia. He was born in the U.S., “the devil’s own country”, as he puts it, in 1939. Ridenour joined the American air force in 1956 to “fight commies”. However, the failed American Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 radicalized him. Over the next six decades he has worked as a journalist and anti-war activist all around the world. He has been jailed numerous times for his principles and sacked from jobs in the U.S. mainstream media due to blacklisting by the FBI. See his full bio here. Ridenour has authored numerous books, including Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn, in which he exposes with firsthand knowledge the numerous covert terror plots conducted against Cuba. Our interview covers wide-ranging subjects in international politics and history, including the persecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. A central theme in Ridenour’s work and activism is why the United States under its prevailing capitalist system is obsessed with waging war against Russia over the past century. First though, we begin with his views on the recent stunning election victory in Bolivia.

INTERVIEW

Question: Would you like to comment on the recent election victory in Bolivia? The landslide win by Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party seems a remarkable victory against the rightwing coup plotters and their backers in Washington who last year ousted former President Evo Morales.

Ron Ridenour: Luis Arce, and running mate David Choquehuanca Céspedes, victory is a victory for the majority of Bolivians, a victory for the world’s poor, the indigenous, and supporters of equality, bread and land for all, and world peace.

It could have been expected if the coup-makers did not fix the election, which, apparently, they did not. It would have been difficult as 55 per cent of the 11.7 million population are Amerindian. With some mestizos identifying as aboriginals, 60 per cent of the country is indigenous. Whites make up only 15 per cent, yet they have a lot of power, land and money. The largest province, Santa Cruz, has a strong racist separatist movement.

While abject racists will not desist being hateful and puppets of the U.S., the new government must put a stop to their violence and subversion.

The coup-makers, especially the “interim president” Jeanine Añez, did a lousy job governing: she lost 30 per cent of export income; became immersed in corruption scandals; treated the coronavirus like her soulmates Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump. She also ordered rightest military and police to murder indigenous protestors. Three dozens were murdered.

Question: You previously worked as an aide to former President Morales, but at the same time you believe he made some critical errors while in office. Can you outline some of those errors, in your view? Do you think the new MAS-led government of Luis Arce will learn from these past mistakes?

Ron Ridenour: The greatest impact of Morales’ 13 years governing are mostly positive. His policies greatly decreased poverty and unemployment; increased life expectancy by seven years; educated Bolivians about the evils of capitalism and its wars; drafted a new constitution, making three indigenous languages official alongside Spanish; and brought stability to a nation used to chaos.

When I worked with him, I witnessed how he listened to his people, and they saw him as a brother not an elitist. Yet in later years, Morales focused power around his personality, reneged on promises, and made contradictory accommodations with some elite interests. He lost a referendum seeking a fourth term for presidency, but maneuvered around that decision. These errors immersed the country in political crises, and split leftists, including some indigenous peoples.

One of his greatest errors was not to have reformed the military and police, by placing anti-racists and pro-socialists in leadership. A year before his attempt to win a fourth term, Morales appointed General Williams Kaliman Romero to head the armed forces. Kaliman is one of six key Bolivian coup plotters who had been trained at the U.S. military School of the Americas at Fort Benning, in the U.S. state of Georgia. SOA was renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation after dedicated American peace activists exposed its torture training methods, which, they say, continue.

Arce was Morales’ minister of finance and economy, and Choquehuanca was his foreign minister. They ran a campaign based on MAS’s program without much discussion concerning Evo Morales. They have no quarrel with the achievements made under his leadership. I got to know Choquehuanca a bit. I see him as an honest man, close to his people, who was able to disagree with Morales. I surmise that both Arce and Choquehuanca will be their own masters and not be subordinate to Morales. They are indigenous nation Aymarans (two million in Bolivia). I hope they make important appointments to other native peoples, especially the largest of them, Quechuas (2.5 million), and some whites. That would help heal some hard feelings.

The new government will drop the phony charges that the coup government leveled against former President Morales, charges of terrorism and sedition, and even “rape” for sexual relations with a 16- year-old consenting girl.

I’m nearly certain that they won’t try to prolong their stay in office in conflict with the constitution, and thereby they will need to prepare other people to be leaders. It is also possible that they might not be so forthrightly anti-capitalism as Morales was most of the time.

The left throughout Latin America has suffered severe losses in recent years. The new leadership will feel the need to bargain with conservative opponents and businessmen.

(See the excellent program promulgated by Evo Morales: 10 Commandments to Save the Planet, Humankind and Life (End Capitalism and Renounce Wars).

Question: What are the political implications for the wider Latin American continent from Bolivia’s return to socialist government?

Ron Ridenour: I think that many leftist parties and groupings will be encouraged especially because it is clear that their northern neighbor had little convincing effect on the majority of Bolivians. They want their own sovereignty. The “embassy of death”, as many Latinos call U.S. embassies, could not turn the tide their way.

Bolivia will resume fraternal relations with Venezuela’s elected government, with Iran and Cuba, which Añez had terminated. No Latino who needs medical care could possibly view Cuban doctors as “terrorists”, which is what that mad woman called those brave and highly skilled doctors and nurses Cuba sent to Bolivia.

This victory could also strengthen ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas).

Question: Turning to other international affairs, it seems that the United States and its European allies are relentlessly pursuing a hostile policy towards Russia. We see new sanctions against Russia issued almost every week by the Western powers over dubious claims, such as the alleged poisoning of dissident figures or alleged violation by Russia of arms controls treaties. In your book, The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert, you take a long historical view on what motivates Western animosity towards Moscow. Can you elaborate?

Ron Ridenour: The West, led by the U.S., endeavors to dominate the entire world. That is what “globalization” means. Some of us call that “imperialism”. A strong state that defends its sovereignty is an automatic threat to their global world plan, and Russia is the largest country in the world with nearly unlimited space and natural resources. However, all those goodies are not just for the taking under Vladimir Putin’s governing.

The U.S./UK concocted the “Cold War”, in order to dominate the world post WWII. At the very end of the war in Europe, Churchill even had a plan to invade Russia with nuclear weapons. His “Operation Unthinkable” was stopped, because he lost the July 1945 elections to Labour Party’s Clement Atlee. Labour did not want a new war. Furthermore, U.S. President Truman didn’t have enough atomic weaponry. He needed what he had to drop on Japan, and the Soviets were helping him on the ground in Japan at the same time.

I truly thank all those insiders who gave information to the Russians so they could get their own atomic weaponry fast enough before the U.S./UK could develop more atomic weapons, in order to pull off WWIII.

Skipping over the hot “Cold War” to its end when then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called his “friend” U.S. President George Bush I the night before he declared the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bush and Wall Street were ecstatic. Russia’s new leader Boris Yeltsin along with his “friend”, and capitalist comrade, U.S. President Bill Clinton decimated Russian sovereignty, increased poverty from 1.5 per cent to 50 per cent – that’s right, half the population – and life expectancy fell by five years from 69 to 64. Those are figures from the World Bank, a bastion of capitalism. Not to mention Yeltsin’s murdering hundreds of people, including parliamentarians, in an invasion of the parliament, in 1993, which Clinton encouraged.

After just one decade of this rape-of-a-nation, Vladimir Putin comes into power. At first, he was willing to be “friends” with George Bush II, helping him in Afghanistan against the Taliban, for one key example. But when Bush could not stop the CIA from conducting proxy terrorist attacks against Russian interests, Putin woke up. Since then the president of Russia has acted as a real president, and an overwhelming majority have supported him.

Putin has also clearly shown those who have their eyes open that he acts to prevent wars. He convinced his ally Syrian President Bashar-al Assad to hand over whatever chemical weapons Syria had, and he actually delivered them to the greatest chemical/biological warfare state in the world, the USA. Putin convinced Iran not to construct nuclear weapons but limit itself to nuclear energy, and now he is trying to get Azerbaijan (along with Turkey) and Armenia to end that armed conflict.

We need to know, to recall, how much the Russian people have suffered from wars to understand that they have no urge to go to war again.

During WWII, the British lost only 1 per cent of its population; the U.S. lost 0.32 per cent of its population.

In the first half of the 20th century – Russia-Japan war 1905, two world wars, the Russian civil war with U.S. and allies invading to support the aristocracy and its White Army – at least 40 million Soviets lost their lives and a similar number were seriously wounded. That number is the equivalent of 40 per cent of Soviets who survived WWII, and half the number of Russians living today. (See chapter 10 of The Russian Peace Threat.)

German Nazis, Italian and Spanish fascists were bankrolled, in large part, by the biggest capitalists in the U.S. The same capitalists who set about to overthrow President FD Roosevelt (The Business Plot, aka The Fascist Plot of 1933-4), exposed by Marine General Smedley Butler.

Henry Ford receiving Hitler’s Grand Cross of the German Eagle, 1938, for his support to the Nazis

It is not the Russians who are a threat to world peace!

While Russia is no aggressor, capitalism always needs enemies, in order to control its populations, and “earn” astronomical profits for the weapons industry, war rebuilding industry, fossil fuel, medical and drug industries. Capitalism cannot exist in a peaceful world nor one in which all people are equal. Owner-classes must stand over wageworkers and slave-workers else there will be no constant profit growth rates for the benefit of the few. So, there must always be inequities, rich and poor, haves and have nots. Racism and jingoistic nationalism are essential ingredients for capitalism to keep people afraid and divided.

None of this can be admitted by any of their politicians. To keep the population in wraps, the owner-class must control the state and politicians. Thus, the mass media must ignore these realities. People must be insecure and fearful of outside forces so they won’t see who is really exploiting and oppressing them. Enemies have to be made up.

The highest-ranking CIA officer to come over to our side, John Stockwell, wrote a book whose very title supports this analysis: In Search of Enemies. His title is analogous to what my own book is about, Russia, the “peace threat”.

Below is a succinct extract about this from Stockwell’s June 1986 lecture available here.

“You have to be asking yourself, why are we destabilizing 50 corners of the troubled world? Why are we about to go to war in Nicaragua, the Central American war? It is the function, I suggest, of the CIA, with its 50 de-stabilization programs going around the world today, to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize the American people to hate, so we will let the establishment spend any amount of money on arms…”

Question: What needs to happen, in your view, for Western nations to adopt a normal, cooperative foreign policy towards Russia?

Ron Ridenour: “Cooperative foreign policy towards Russia” has never been “normal”, not since the 19th century. Yeltsin’s period was abnormal. During the U.S. civil war, Russia’s Tsar Alexander II actually sent two naval fleets to U.S. waters to prevent an armed British-French military collaboration with the racist-slave confederacy. The Tsar had liberated, in fact, all 23 million Russian serfs, in 1861. He saw a similarity with slavery in the U.S., I suppose, while Britain and France were at their colonialist-slavery height.

At that time, capitalism had not developed to the point whereby one country could dominate the world. There were several centers of power, and they all needed allies, which shifted opportunistically. There was no one dominating intelligence agency as today with the CIA and its key allies Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad.

I think there can be no cooperative foreign relations with Russia as long as the latter remains independent and as long as corporate capitalism dominates the West and other areas of the world.

It doesn’t matter which political party rules, or whether the West’s national leaders are men or women, or whatever color. Obama, for instance, had seven wars going at one time, more than any other president in U.S. history. They all do what Wall Street/City of London demands.

Question: The same applies to Western relations with China, would you agree?

Ron Ridenour: Yes.

Question: Why has President Donald Trump’s past election promise to restore relations with Russia not materialized? Bilateral relations seem worse than ever. Surely Trump had executive authority to renew the New START treaty on strategic nuclear weapons, for example, but he procrastinated on the matter, thereby adding to tensions. Can Trump’s seeming reneging on improving bilateral relations with Russia be all attributed to “deep state” resistance?

Ron Ridenour: Deep State-Pentagon resistance is a part of it. After all, every American president must kowtow to these deadly militarists, something JFK tried to change. They murdered him and his brother, and there was no uprising. The people accepted this lethal coup in broad daylight.

While Trump is unusual in many ways, he is still a major capitalist with his own corporation and he is part of Wall Street. He has to play the game. Much of his clout comes from the same warmongering industries as all other Republican and Democrat leaders.

At first, Trump thought he could make profitable trade ventures with Russia. Some corporations, including some oil-gas magnates, could profit from competitive yet cooperative relations with Russia. However, other powerful capitalists want Russia as an enemy as do the militarists. The fracking industry also views the Russian-German Nord Stream natural gas partnership as a threat to potential profits.

Question: Do you have a view on how a Joe Biden administration, if the Democrat contender is elected on November 3, will impact on U.S. foreign policy and relations with Russia in particular?

Ron Ridenour: Biden-Harris foreign policy will be as always the juggernaut’s. I think they will step up conflicts with Russia. After all, it was the Democratic Party leadership (Clinton-Obama and his CIA director John Brennan) that started “Russiagate”. The FBI is now spreading the new fantasy that both Russia and Iran are intruding in the election campaign. This is pure psychological projection.

Furthermore, if they win, Trump will continue to encourage his racist hinterland. The KKK, neo-fascists, militias will grow. If Harris takes over the presidency from Biden either through sickness, death or the following election, I believe that the racists-fascists will start a race war. That is what the real left, and a conscious working-class in U.S. America must prepare for already now. Part of that preparation is for the left to prioritize building working-class consciousness on the job.

Question: You have written passionately about the persecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and how it represents a mortal threat to human rights for all citizens in Western nations. You contend that if Assange is extradited to the U.S. from Britain, he will not receive a fair trial over fabricated spying charges and will therefore be imprisoned for the rest of his life. That infers it is imperative that the British public mobilize to halt his extradition which is slated to be ruled on in January of next year. What can be done to win justice for Julian Assange?

Ron Ridenour: The need to support Julian Assange is the same necessity we all have to protect whatever free press there is left. Every human being, who wants that fundamental right and need, must act, must resist his extradition to the U.S. gulag.

First and foremost, people in those countries whose leaders are conspiring to kill him – U.S., Britain, Sweden, Ecuador, Australia – must stand up and be heard. They must let those snobby aristocratically robed British magistrates and judges dare not let this hero of democracy be tortured to death either in British or American inhumane prisons.

Here are some suggestions to support freeing Julian Assange:

  1. Write letters-to-editors
  2. Contact media to cover the hearings
  3. Organize actions/happenings at U.S./UK government buildings
  4. Donate to his legal defense fund at this link.

Question: I remember hearing you speak at a public forum in Cambridge, England, to antiwar activists. That was nearly 30 years ago. Are you more or less optimistic for the prospects of peace, justice and international solidarity prevailing than you were back then? What needs to be done?

Ron Ridenour: Optimistic? Absolutely not. At the time of that forum, 1992, I was living in Cuba and working for national media. Fidel was still alive. Cubans were practicing real solidarity, in order to survive due to the negative economic and political consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union. A decade later, Fidel and Hugo Chavez started ALBA and soon eight Latin American countries were working together, trying to gradually transform capitalist economies to socialist ones. Today, a large majority of Cubans want social welfare with capitalism, trade with and “help” from the U.S. And ALBA is weak.

True, one optimistic development is the anti-racist, anti-police brutality movement of some millions of brave and energetic people in U.S. streets, and many others in some European countries resisting police brutality and left-over colonialism. There are more protesters today than in my youth in the U.S., but there is hardly any direction, hardly any socialist alternatives being advanced. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter are in the hands of the Democratic Party and some of their big capitalists’ payroll.

The Democratic Party is the party that absorbs or smashes real opposition movements. Bernie Sanders and his lot confuse people with a false socialist rhetoric with no real socialist and anti-war substance.

Right-wing nationalism, as always based on racism and divide-and-conquer strategies, is rising violently in many countries. We “real leftists” are not well organized, are not unifying.

I see this historic moment similar to the 1920s-30s in Mussolini’s fascist Italy.

Europeans must reject being dominated by all U.S. governments and Wall Street. They need to retake their sovereignty. They need to come out in large numbers against wars, and also engage in civil disobedience actions. The climate movement must resist wars as the number one polluter of the planet, as well as murdering millions of people, causing other millions to flee and become unwanted refugees. Even most European social democrats have turned their backs on these poor, desperate human beings, because of the wars that create refugees instead of opposing the causes.

The first priority of every person who wishes to live in a peaceful world with justice and equality is to act against wars of aggression for domination and profit.

I wish I could end on a positive note. I can’t find anything better to offer than what our soulmate singer-songwriter the late Leonard Cohen who tells us: “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in!”

[Category: Interview, Bolivia, Cold War, Imperialism, Luis Arce, Ron Ridenour, Socialism]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/31/20 7:05am

Lucy KOMISAR

The Australian parliament seems about to approve a ‘human rights’ law that would establish the ability to exert arbitrary state power over individuals in other countries who have been accused of human rights violations. Ironically, this law gives the accused no day in court, and no chance to see charges or evidence, confront accusers, present a defence or have a ruling made by an authority other than the prosecution.

The law is called a Magnitsky Act. Kimberley Kitching, a Labor senator from Victoria, has given notice that she will introduce the bill in December. If it’s like the other Magnitsky Acts introduced in half a dozen countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, it will itself violate human rights when it is weaponised to target international adversaries. How did Australia come to consider a law that violates human rights? And how does it weaponise ‘human rights’ to target international adversaries? How come it isn’t being critically questioned by the media? How come it enjoys bipartisan support? Here is the backstory Australians don’t know. I call it the Browder Hoax.

In 1998 William Browder, an American investor, gave up his passport to become British, which put him on the US Internal Revenue Service list of ‘tax expatriates’, as the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, doesn’t tax profits on offshore holdings. This was convenient because from the mid-1990s he invested in Russian shares, becoming, he says, the largest foreign holder of Russian stocks. The shares were moved offshore to tax-free British Virgin Island .

In a 2007 scam involving collusive lawsuits (‘You cheated me, you must pay’; ‘Yes, I agree, I will pay’), Browder’s shell companies claimed to the Russian Treasury that they had to pay out all their 2006 profits and requested refunds of all taxes paid in 2006: $230 million. This was known as the tax-refund fraud.

The victim of the scam was the Russian Treasury, though Browder first lied to the Financial Times that his companies had been targeted by crooked Russian officials who were after the companies’ assets. This, however, was rather unlikely, as the companies themselves were participants in the scam, and Browder later admitted in a US federal court deposition that his companies had no assets to go after.

Browder would then claim that the shells were stolen by an unrelated criminal operation, but evidence raises questions about that. His trustee, HSBC (as confirmed by the HSBC comptroller in US federal court), said in July 2007 that it needed $7 million for legal fees to recover stolen companies, but Browder wrote in his book he didn’t know that they were stolen till October of that year.

Browder declares that his ‘lawyer’ Sergei Magnitsky, hired in 2007 (and really his accountant since 1997), discovered the scam and was jailed because of it, and then beaten to death when he wouldn’t recant. However, Browder never provided evidence of this, and neither do Magnitsky’s pre-arrest testimonies, which list him as an auditor. In fact, the scam was first revealed in April 2008 by a Russian, Rimma Starova, the figurehead director of a shell company that took over the companies, and reported in July by the New York Times and the Russian paper Vedomosti. Magnitsky didn’t allude to it in testimony until October.

Magnitsky was named as a fraud collaborator by the scam’s operative, Viktor Markelov, in the Russian trial that sent Markelov to prison.

In fact, the whole Magnitsky hoax was invented two years after the accountant’s 2009 death (due to terrible prison medical care) when Browder needed to block the Russians from using Interpol to arrest him and return him for trial over $100,000 in tax evasion (he falsely claimed that he hired the disabled and invested locally) and illicit stock buys of Gazprom, the energy conglomerate whose share sales in Russia were then restricted to Russian citizens (he used cut-out companies with nominee owners). Browder admitted the ‘disabled’ ruse in his US court deposition.

Browder’s public statements to Chatham House, London, and University of San Diego Law School in the two years after Magnitsky’s death said nothing about his being beaten. Browder invented the story that Magnitsky was beaten to death by eight riot guards to promote the Magnitsky Act in the United States to block the Russians’ tax-evasion pursuit. The Physicians for Human Rights in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to whom he gave all his evidence, contradicts the beating claim, but the ‘attack’ is nevertheless cited in the US law.

Thus the 2012 US ‘Magnitsky Act’, formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act 2012, sanctioned dozens of Russians that Browder said, without evidence, were responsible for the death of his claimed ‘lawyer’—that is, his accountant, Magnitsky. They were low-level officials, tax investigators, court officers, and medical and prison staff. It was a stretch to say that investigators looking into tax evasion overseen by an accountant were responsible for his death in detention.

In fact, the European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that, ‘The Russians had good reason to arrest Sergei Magnitsky for Hermitage tax evasion’. It said: ‘The accusations were based on documentary evidence relating to the payment of taxes by those companies and statements by several disabled persons who had confessed to sham work for the two companies. One of them testified that he had been in contact with Mr Magnitskiy, had received money from him and had assisted him in finding other sham employees. He also said that Mr Magnitskiy had told him what to say if questioned by the authorities and had asked him to participate in a tax dispute as a witness’.

None of the targeted people were given a chance to answer the charges. When former Interior Ministry tax investigator Pavel Karpov brought a defamation case in London against Browder for accusing him of the murder of Magnitsky, the judge ruled that he didn’t have standing, because he didn’t have a UK reputation to defend. However, the judge said there was no justification for the charge. He said, ‘nothing in this judgment is intended to suggest that, if the Defendants were to continue to publish unjustified defamatory material about the Claimant, the Court would be powerless to act’. It was the only time any of the targets had anything close to due process in a court of law.

The US act was expanded to sanction human rights violators in any country of the world. Browder has had it passed in half a dozen countries, and is lobbying for an Australian version. Putting Magnitsky’s name on a law builds his wall against Russian justice. But the so-called  ‘human rights’ law has dangerous implications for the civil societies of democratic countries.

It violates due process of the law. People accused of crimes in Australia have the right to hear the charges against them, to have evidence presented in court, to challenge or refute the evidence and if found guilty to be punished according to law. Should people accused of crimes in countries other than Australia be charged here while being denied those rights?

Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014 and a friend of Browder’s, writes in his book From Cold War to Hot Peace that before the Magnitsky Act the United States had already put Russians on a sanctions list. ‘I was the one that ran that decision-making process in the government. And we did that. And we don’t need the Magnitsky Act to deny people visas to come to the United States of America.’ But, he said, Browder wanted a more public action: ‘He said that wasn’t good enough—we needed to do this publicly’—with Magnitsky’s name on the bill. McFaul went on:

‘Bill and I had a philosophical disagreement. I did not believe that the U.S. government should be able to seize individuals’ private property without due process. They should have the right to defend themselves in a court of law. Bill disagreed. He vowed to push on with his campaign in Congress. I wished him luck’.

In fact, the Magnitsky Act is not about human rights, which might have made the due-process issue salient. It is the weaponisation of human rights not only to benefit Browder but to attack declared adversaries. The Magnitsky Acts are now added to an arsenal of sanctions that includes economic sanctions against a country for ‘crimes’ attributed to their governments, though the crimes are not adjudicated by any international tribunals, which would provide due process. Though the Magnitsky Act was devised by Browder to attack Russia, Australian parliamentarians appear to be aiming it at China, which follows the United States’ escalating campaign against that nation. Most of the 160 witness statements filed with the foreign affairs subcommittee considering the law came from invited witnesses attacking Beijing. Browder was one of a handful invited to give live testimony. Critics of the bill were not. Later, former senior diplomat Tony Kevin was given a chance to oppose the law in a statement and a hearing. In fact, the Australian parliament did its best to prevent critics of the proposed law from expressing their views even in print. I filed an extensive comment exposing Browder’s falsehoods that was largely redacted, with links to documents blocked.

After I responded to a direct attack on me by Browder, the subcommittee refused to post my response.

One must be careful about the models one constructs. This law is aimed only at people in other countries, since Australian law guarantees due process to anyone charged in Australia. How can Australia claim jurisdiction over crimes in other countries? Would it accept other countries claiming jurisdiction over crimes alleged in Australia? This law would deprive people charged in other countries of rights enjoyed in Australia. That challenges Australia’s claims to be a country that honours the rule of law. In effect, the proposed law is not aimed at people because they are human rights violators (such as some police in the United States or France) but because they are political enemies (officials in Russia and Iran). This damages the legitimate worldwide human rights movement by allowing targeted governments to dismiss charges as politically motivated. And in many cases, they would be right.

Beyond that, there may be another harmful effect. Authoritarian right-wing political movements are growing in the world. Imagine what any of their governments could do with a Star Chamber law bereft of due process that accuses and punishes political targets. They could say that they are just copying the West. The precedent is poor. Back in 2001, George W. Bush’s government pushed the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution requiring all member states to pass anti-terror laws, and this rapidly became an open invitation for various regimes to bring in oppressive laws, with far-reaching consequences. The Magnitsky Act risks giving more tools to authoritarian regimes.

arena.org.au

[Category: Editor's Choice, Australia, Browder, Human Rights, Magnitsky Act, Russia]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/31/20 6:10am

Once again, a top Republican politician – this time Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal attorney – has taken a broadside from the actor of Borat notoriety, Sacha Baron Cohen, and with presidential elections just days away.

The former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, has certainly made better judgment calls in his career than the one he made on July 7 of this year.

Following a spoof interview with Maria Bakalova, a Bulgarian actress who plays a conservative journalist in the latest instalment of Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat’ series, Bakalova uses her feminine charms to lure Giuliani into a hotel room where he is briefly filmed with his hand down his pants while prostrate on a bed. Not the best visuals to say the least. At this point, Borat enters the scene, screaming: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.” (the actress is 24 years old, but never mind). Giuliani, meanwhile, explained that he was merely caught in the act of removing the microphone that he had used to conduct the interview.

The Giuliani scene in Borat is a huge nothing. Those who lied about it should be sued. He was tucking in his shirt. Even if he wasn’t, he’s an unmarried man invited to a grown woman’s bedroom. There is no scandal here at all. You shameless lying scumbags

pic.twitter.com/KVwInfEGPV

— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) October 23, 2020

If Cohen’s comedy routine with Giuliani seemed strangely familiar, it’s because he used a slightly different version of it years earlier on yet another God-fearing conservative, Ron Paul. Cohen, playing the part of a gay Austrian fashion commentator named ‘Bruno,’ tricked the congressman from Texas into an interview he believed would be on economics. In the course of the discussion, however, a planned power outage gives Cohen the opportunity to lead Paul into a backroom while the technicians sort out the ‘glitch’. Here, ‘Bruno’ lights some candles and attempts to make a pass at Paul, who immediately storms out of the room with his team. This is what Sacha Baron Cohen calls ‘humor,’ which almost always comes at the expense of flyover country White folk. Nothing hateful about that, right?

After all, according to many left-wing ‘progressives’, it’s perfectly acceptable to attack Republicans, most of whom are closet White supremacists and bigots anyways. Yet how can that logic be supported when the Ku Klux Klan, for example, America’s premier hate group, got much of its original membership straight from the ranks of the Democratic Party? But I digress.

Just days before the Giuliani set up, Cohen had crashed a right-wing event in the state of Washington while posing as a xenophobic country singer, enticing the crowd to sing along to lyrics about former President Barack Obama, national health expert Anthony Fauci, and other assorted “mask wearers” getting injected with the “Wuhan flu.” When it quickly became apparent to the local organizers of the event that they were the target of an elaborate prank, hired security guards accompanying Baron Cohen reportedly refused to let them pull the plug on the performance. Nothing like being the butt end of a joke practically at gunpoint, right?

In another particular scene, Cohen, once again playing the part of Borat, gets himself invited as a special guest at the Pima County Republican Club. In his speech before the members, Cohen begins by requesting that everyone stand for 10 minutes (not 10 seconds, as the emcee had politely requested) to pay respect to some imaginary massacre that he said occurred in his “native Kazakhstan (for the record, Sacha Baron Cohen was born in Israel and resides in Britain).”

The ‘joke’ may have gone over a bit better had the majority of the standing audience not been of senior citizen age when standing for any length of time can be excruciating. Apparently that never dawned on Cohen, however, who even made the group start over when he said someone “made a noise.” Hilarious! So what exactly was Cohen attempting to prove by this puerile prank, and many others like it? Was it that conservative Americans are so naïve that they would obediently stand to commemorate the death of unknown people killed in some foreign massacre because they were asked to? This sort of gut-wrenching ‘humor’ has a funny way of making Cohen the real butt end of his jokes.

The strange comedic timing behind Cohen’s routines

Beyond the comic value of Cohen’s work, which I would rank as less than negligible, the ‘comic timing’ of his attacks on Republicans seems to go beyond mere coincidence.

Consider the previously mentioned ‘prank’ on Ron Paul, which was filmed in early 2008. Was it just coincidence that Cohen attempted to get Paul involved in a very compromising situation at the very same time the House representative from Texas was seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency? Moreover, Paul had authored the 2009 bestselling book entitled, End the Fed, a compassionate argument for terminating America’s complicated relationship with the Federal Reserve System and its “massive role in manipulating money to our economic ruin,” as Paul writes on page one. And who could ever forget the way Paul made former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke squirm under fierce congressional questioning about runaway Fed spending? Clearly, Ron Paul, who was vilified when he was not outright ignored by most media channels, presented a real threat to the establishment, and in that regard it is at least worthy of mentioning that Cohen decided to target such a statesman.

The very same thing could be said about Rudy Giuliani. Here is a major Trump ally being subjected to a Borat stunt in what is arguably the most consequential election cycle in U.S. history. But more importantly, the former mayor of New York City is sitting on a veritable treasure trove of Hunter Biden emails and photographs, which the mainstream media and Big Tech companies are going out of their way to disappear. Once again, incredible comedic timing from Sacha Baron Cohen.

Incidentally, Trump himself in 2003 sat for an interview with Cohen, then in the character of ‘Ali G,’ but the discussion ended very fast.

Asked about the scene, Trump said, “I don’t know what happened. But years ago, you know, he tried to scam me. And I was the only one who said no way. That’s a phony guy. And I don’t find him funny. I don’t know anything about him other than he tried to scam me. He came in as a BBC – British broadcasting anchor.”

Trump concluded, “To me, he was a creep.”

While it is hard to say how many people share Trump’s opinion about the English actor, it would be difficult to argue that Sacha Baron Cohen does not have a big dog in the U.S. political scene. That much was clear during a speech the comedian gave before an assembly of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), where, it should be noted, he did not attempt to make a fool of his hosts by asking them to stand for 10 minutes in commemoration of some fictional Kazakh massacre.

Instead, Cohen spoke on the subject of social media freedoms, but not in some valiant effort to make them greater, as one might expect a public person would desire, but rather to crackdown on free speech.

Here is part of Cohen’s speech, delivered on Nov. 21, 2019:

“I’m speaking up today because I believe that our pluralistic democracies are on a precipice and that the next twelve months, and the role of social media, could be determinant. British voters will go to the polls while online conspiracists promote the despicable theory of “great replacement” that white Christians are being deliberately replaced by Muslim immigrants. Americans will vote for president while trolls and bots perpetuate the disgusting lie of a “Hispanic invasion.” And after years of YouTube videos calling climate change a “hoax,” the United States is on track, a year from now, to formally withdraw from the Paris Accords.”

Cohen labeled all of this as a “sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories that threatens democracy and our planet—this cannot possibly be what the creators of the internet had in mind.”

Whether coincidental or not, Cohen’s calls to “monitor” the internet from those dastardly people on the other side of the political aisle who propagate the wrong ‘conspiracy theories,’ has come to fruition faster than anyone could have imagined, as the New York Post, which suffered a massive censorship operation at the hands of the ‘Silicon Six’ (who Cohen identified as “Zuckerberg at Facebook, Sundar Pichai at Google, at its parent company Alphabet, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Brin’s ex-sister-in-law, Susan Wojcicki at YouTube and Jack Dorsey at Twitter”), could certainly testify to.

So who is Sacha Baron Cohen, and why do his comedy sketches always focus on the same group of individuals – the sworn arch-enemies of liberals, the conservatives – and at the most critical moments in U.S. political history?

[Category: Society, Baron Cohen, Culture War, Giuliani, Hollywood]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/30/20 12:00pm

As recounted in the unjustly neglected German television report “It Began with a Lie,” in April 1999, in the midst of NATO’s illegal bombing campaign against what had remained of Yugoslavia, then German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping repeatedly accused the Serbian side of installing a Nazi-style “concentration camp” in the soccer stadium in Pristina, the capital of Serbia’s Kosovo and Metohija province. Pressed by the media for proof, Scharping offered “witness testimony” – which he never subsequently produced.

A month earlier, just as the bombing had started, Scharping stated that “we never would have taken military action if there weren’t this humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, with 250,000 refugees within Kosovo and far more than 400,000 refugees in total, and with a death toll we are not even able to count yet.”

Yet, key sources contradicted him. The OSCE reported “39 deaths in all of Kosovo—before the NATO bombers came.” Heinz Loquai, a German general attached to the OSCE, stated that “the kind of humanitarian catastrophe that, as a category of international law, would have justified going to war did not exist in Kosovo prior to the war.” And Norma Brown, a U.S. diplomat with the OSCE, confirmed: “There was no humanitarian crisis up to the beginning of the NATO bombing raids.” As the film categorically states, “Not a single report on violence in Kosovo by the OSCE was found to at least indicate an impending humanitarian catastrophe.”

Nevertheless, facts be damned, together with German Prime Minister Schroeder, Scharping and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer got what they wanted – not just the bombing and the further atomization of the former Yugoslav space, but the first post-WW II engagement of German forces in an offensive military mission. It lasted 78 days and entailed the dropping of 22,000 tons of missiles, including forbidden cluster bombs and depleted uranium ammunition, and active cooperation with a terrorist organization, the Albanian KLA, resulting in thousands of civilian and military dead and wounded, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the destruction of tens of billions of dollars in property and infrastructure.

A little over 20 years later, shortly before the beginning of another evidence-free propaganda push, this time directed at Russia, involving the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the present German Defense Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, opened her cards. Speaking to the Die Zeit weekly in July, Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that it was “high time” to discuss “how Germany must position itself in the world in the future,” adding that Germany is “expected to show leadership, not only as an economic power”, but also in terms of “collective defence… international missions… a strategic view of the world,” and “the question of whether we want to actively shape the global order.”

In another July conversation, this time with the Atlantic Council, Kramp-Karrenbauer also made sure to identify the main adversary: “We see an aggressive, assertive policy coming from the Russian leadership,” she said, referring to Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014. “Russia has no respect for the right of self-determination of other countries. It was the first time since the Second World War that borders have been changed with force.”

Except, as referenced above, it wasn’t. For, despite the still-existing UN SC Resolution 1244, which affirms the territorial integrity of FR Yugoslavia’s successor, Serbia, pending a final political settlement, Germany stands proudly among the states that have recognized the unilateral secession of Serbia’s historic southern province. This despite the fact that this particular change of borders had come about as a result of precisely the forceful methods that the German Defense Minister is now supposedly decrying, even as her own country used them and geopolitically benefitted from them.

Having all this in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that, in the recent words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “the brain trusts and political analysts with close ties to the German government have openly started working on a new Eastern policy,” which includes abrogation of the strategic partnership with Russia, which is now to be treated as an “adversary” of the EU and NATO. Obviously, the decision-makers in Berlin have concluded that the time is ripe to take the next step.

To even debate whether the Navalny affair was an understandable trigger for Germany’s seeming strategic about-face or just a convenient pretext is to engage in useless feigning of naivete. For if whatever happened to Navalny was honestly seen by the German government as something that might endanger an important strategic relationship, surely the German authorities would have done everything possible to get to the bottom of it in a maximally transparent way, shared the evidence and let the chips fall where they may. Which, of course, is the one thing they have not done nor, as it stands, plan to do, despite numerous Russian appeals.

Thus, in assessing Germany’s new Drang nach Osten, it is important to note that the German political elite’s aggressive behavior did not start yesterday and has little to do with Navalny. It was methodically developed in the 1990s, during the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and polished in the demonization campaign of the closest Yugoslav Russian ally, Serbia. And, while the lies and exaggerations of German politicians were egregious and deadly as regards the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, it is important to remind that the negative German role in the entire Yugoslav crisis could be traced backed even further, to the very beginnings of the Yugoslav tragedy.

As the New York Times reported in January 1992, it was Germany that pushed the major European states to recognize the unilaterally declared independence of the breakaway republics Slovenia and Croatia. The Serbian Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic described Germany’s role as “particularly negative,” adding that it was “very serious precedent to encourage unilateral secession in one multinational state.” Even then, a commentary in Bonn’s main newspaper, the General-Anzeiger, cautioned that “the fear of German dominance and unilateralism has grown.” Carl Cavanagh Hodge called it “one of the most precipitous acts in post-Cold War Europe” by which “the Bonn government in effect renounced the legitimacy of the existing Yugoslav state and pressured other European governments to do the same.” In her book “Balkan Tragedy,” Susan Woodward criticized the “German maneuver” that pressured other EC members to recognize Slovenia and Croatia, and concluded: “The precedent set by the German maneuver was that the principle of self-determination could legitimately break up multinational states, that EC application of this principle was arbitrary, and that the surest way for politicians bent on independence to succeed was to instigate a defensive war and win international sympathy and recognition.”

It would be rather naive to think that the German political establishment was unaware of the effects of its actions. Nevertheless, the Goebbelsian barrage against the Serbs would only increase in intensity, with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel openly demanding that “Serbia must be brought to its knees,” in the aftermath of the infamous Sarajevo “breadline massacre” in late May 1992, for which he, along with most other Western diplomats and media, immediately accused Bosnian Serb forces, sans evidence, naturally. In fact, there were serious indications, expressed in confidential UN reports, that the Bosnian Muslims had “slaughtered their own people” in order to pin the blame on the Serbs and force the Cold War victors’ interventionist hand. Conveniently, the attack came shortly before a meeting of European Community ambassadors to consider imposing sanctions on Serbia.

Surely Kinkel must have been aware of such reports and doubts. But he nevertheless plowed on. And the German media for the most part followed. It seemed even then that the newly reunified Germany’s political class was almost desperate to find “Nazis” abroad to kick around. Especially if the label could be pinned on one of the peoples that suffered the most casualties at the hands of Hitler’s armies. The more cynically minded might have seen it as a useful exercise to liberate the national psyche from the decades-long burden of collective guilt. But, in retrospect, it seems to have been more deliberate than that, which is not something that was not suspected in Serbian circles at the time.

If the goal of reunified Germany’s elites from the start was to regain great power status – under cover of the EU if at all possible – then it was necessary to not only grow in strength economically and militarily, but also in terms of soft power. And the latter entails, among other things, some real or manufactured moral high ground. For the ambitions of reunified Germany’s governing elites, that obviously meant not only dissociation from the Nazi horrors – which post-war Germany had admirably done up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to be sure – but the ability to project a similar type of guilt onto its former – and, it seems, future adversaries and past victims. First Serbia, and now, increasingly, Russia.

It has taken Germany almost three decades to feel that it has gained sufficiently high “moral ground” from which it could feel confident enough to launch its brazen, evidence-free campaign of accusing Russia of responsibility for whatever really happened to Alexey Navalny. Along the way, let us not forget, Germany not only openly supported the Euromaidan coup but joined the Western chorus of anti-Russian condemnation and sanctions-mongering in connection with Ukraine as well as with another highly suspect “the Russians did it” poisoning ploy, involving Sergey Skripal and his daughter – who seem to have been conveniently “disappeared” after the affair had served its propaganda purpose.

It is one thing for a country the size and wealth of Germany to seek its rightful place in the world. It’s quite another, however, to do it in such an aggressive and dishonest way, for that inevitably raises questions regarding the motives in play. If a country responsible for two world wars over the past century launches a deliberate campaign of falsehoods directed at its past victims, it is fair to conclude that it may be on the move again, or soon will be. Using other means, but with similar goals.

[Category: Europe, World, Germany, Kosovo, Serbia]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/30/20 11:00am

While spinning the revolving doors, they have endangered the public by neglecting bigger security threats, like coronavirus and climate change, write Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis.

Matt KENNARD and Mark CURTIS

Almost all of Britain’s former spy chiefs are personally profiting from working for cyber security and energy companies after retiring from the U.K.’s major intelligence agencies.

In May, Declassified UK revealed that since 2000, nine out of 10 former chiefs of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ have taken jobs in the cyber security industry, a sector they promoted while in office as key to defending the U.K. from the “Russian threat.”

The British government was told for over a decade that the “gravest risk” to the country is an influenza pandemic, which its National Security Strategy identifies as a “tier one priority risk.” Yet the security services largely ignored health threats, despite claiming they are guided by the U.K.’s security strategy.

The burgeoning and profitable cyber industry in the U.K., where former spy chiefs gain employment, is now worth over £8-billion. Sir Iain Lobban, who ran GCHQ from 2008 to 2014, has become director or adviser to 10 private cyber or data security companies since leaving office. His own consultancy, Cyberswift Limited, had over £1-million in assets by the end of 2018, four years after he left GCHQ.

The “revolving door” between government and industry is meant to be regulated for conflicts of interest by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). However, Declassifiedcan find no evidence that an intelligence chief has ever had an ACOBA application rejected. This allows them to lobby their old agencies on behalf of their private interests after they leave office.

One former MI6 head, Sir John Scarlett, was given “unconditional approval” by ACOBA when he became an adviser to a major oil company in 2011, meaning he was immediately free to lobby his former colleagues in intelligence and parliament on behalf of the firm.

The last three heads of MI6 all joined oil or gas-producing companies, which are among the world’s largest contributors to climate change, after they left the service. Declassified can reveal that former MI6 chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, has earned more than £2-million from his role on the board of American oil and gas company, Kosmos Energy, which was until 2018 registered in the tax haven of Bermuda.

Another former MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, has earned £699,000 since 2015 as a board member of oil giant BP, in addition to possessing shares in the company worth £91,300.

Climate change has also been largely ignored by the security agencies, evidence suggests, despite the U.K. government last year recognizing it as a “security risk,” adding, “There is no doubt that climate-related security challenges are real. They are here. They are now.”

Russia and cyber attacks have been evoked as the pre-eminent threats to the U.K. public, alongside terrorism, in countless public interventions by intelligence chiefs. Russia engages in offensive cyber operations, as do Britain and its allies, but the constant evocation of a threat from Russia, often without real evidence and amplified in the media, has helped U.K. security agencies accrue permissive investigatory powers and larger budgets, directly benefiting the private cyber and arms industry.

A senior U.K. military commander, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, said in 2013 that the threat posed to the U.K.’s security by climate change is just as grave as that posed by cyber attacks and terrorism.

Sir John Scarlett, former head of MI6, receives “unconditional approval” from the British government to lobby his former employers on behalf of oil giant Statoil. (Twelfth Annual Report 2010-2011: Advisory Committee on Business Appointments)

Badly Prepared for Coronavirus

UK Declassified’s revelations last May came amid rising public anger at how it could be that the U.K. was so badly prepared to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The British government had been widely criticized for its slow response and its failure to warn the public early about the level of risk posed by coronavirus, prompting calls for a reconsideration of what constitutes “security.”

The failure to address major threats to the public was striking in light of the substantial expenditure on the security services. Spending on the Single Intelligence Account – which covers MI5, MI6, and GCHQ – is predicted by the government to be £2.48-billion in 2020-2021. This works out at around £400 for every Briton.

It appears that no intelligence chief has ever made money working on the security threats posed by climate change or health pandemics. None also appears to have ever mentioned these threats while in office or after. Public warnings from intelligence chiefs which highlight the security threat from climate change would be likely to adversely impact the profitability of fossil fuel companies.

Paul Rogers, emeritus professor of peace studies at Bradford University, told Declassified: “The revolving door and its impact in the defence sector are fairly well known but this new investigation of its extent in the intelligence industry is a real eye-opener.” Rogers, who is also an honorary fellow at the U.K. military’s Joint Services Command and Staff College, added: “It does much to explain why the pandemic and climate change threats have been so widely discounted in the British security services.”

MI5 is Britain’s domestic security agency, while MI6 gathers intelligence externally. GCHQ, the largest of the UK’s spy agencies, collects signals intelligence.

Where Are They Now?

Nine of the 10 former heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ since 2000 have gone on to work for companies in the cyber and data security sector. Since 1992 – the first year after the end of the cold war – 13 of the 16 heads of agencies have done the same. The term “cyber security” is often used as a euphemism for offensive and surveillance products.

Sir Jonathan Evans led MI5 from 2007 until 2013 and within five months of leaving office became a member of the advisory board of Darktrace, a cybersecurity company created by the UK intelligence establishment. He also became an adviser on digital security to Luminance Technologies, an artificial intelligence platform, and chair of the advisory board of Blackdot Solutions, an internet intelligence company. Evans’ remuneration in these roles is not known.

In 2012, the year before he left MI5, Evans made his first public speech in two years in which he claimed there were “industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime”. He added: “Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states,” before concluding, “The extent of what is going on is astonishing.”

To the astonishment of even the Times newspaper, Jonathan Evans was in 2018 appointed to chair the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life. He had six other paid jobs at the time.

In July 2015, Evans joined the board of Ark Data Centres, a company which offers “highly secure” data storage centres in the UK. In that role, Evans replaced his predecessor at MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller.

Manningham-Buller, who headed MI5 from 2002 to 2007, had in 2012 become a director of Ark, whose other staff include former UK military personnel and is based in Corsham in Wiltshire, where the Ministry of Defence (MOD) runs the British government’s new £40-million Cyber Security Operations Centre.

In March 2015, Ark won a £700-million outsourcing deal with the Cabinet Office to supply the government’s entire data centre estate. Two months later, Manningham-Buller stepped down from her position as a director of the company.

The year after she joined Ark, Manningham-Buller told a conference that, “It seems to me that a lot of people don’t want to recognise the threat” from possible cyber attacks. She added, “They want IT systems, they want connectivity, they want ease of access, they want business efficiency, and they choose quite often to ignore substantial threats.”

Sir Stephen Lander, head of MI5 from 1996 to 2002, became director of two companies in 2004: Streamshield Networks, which produces cybersecurity products, and Northgate Information Solutions, which develops IT software for police services and government.

Sir Jonathan Evans, head of MI5 from 2007-2013, gives his thoughts on the “cyber threat landscape” to Darktrace, a private cybersecurity company whose advisory board he joined in 2013, the same year he left service. Darktrace was valued at £1.65bn in 2018.

MI6 likewise has seen its former heads make significant sums in private cyber-related companies.

Sir John Sawers, head of MI6 from 2009 to 2014, created his own “political risk” consultancy in 2018, Newbridge Advisory, to help businesses and investors “understand” the threat of “cyber attacks, terrorism, political upheaval”, among other areas. Sawers charges up to $75,000 (£65,000) to speak on “cyber security”. “He looks at the current cyber threats, the policy of cyber security, the likelihood of a wide scale attack, and what organisations can do to protect themselves,” Sawers’ agency website notes.

Sawers’ predecessor, Sir John Scarlett – who headed MI6 from 2004 to 2009 – joined the board of advisors at the Chertoff Group, a US-based corporation which “delivers security and cybersecurity risk management”, soon after he left the service. General Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and CIA, is currently a principal at the firm. Scarlett also charges up to $55,000 (£48,000) to speak on “cyber threats”, specifically the question: “How vulnerable is our infrastructure to cyber attack and what should we do about it?”

Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004 – overseeing the intelligence controversies which led to the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003– later became director  of Crossword Cybersecurity, a technology company focusing exclusively on the cybersecurity sector. He serves in the firm alongside Lord Nick Houghton, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the UK military, who is on its advisory board.

MI6 chiefs have all raised the spectre of the Russian cyber threat as they have taken jobs in the cyber security sector. In 2015, the year after he left MI6, Sawers publicly flagged the risk of Russian cyber attacks. Dearlove said in 2019 that “It’s deeply embedded in Russia’s DNA to use the capabilities that it has to disrupt our nations.”

Similarly, in 2018, Scarlett publicly proclaimed the “normal practice” of Russian “interference” in elections before the 2016 cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee.

Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove’s personal page on the website of Crossword Cybersecurity, where he was appointed a director in 2016.

The heads of GCHQ, the U.K. government’s signal intelligence agency, have also found lucrative positions in the private cyber sector after leaving the service.

Robert Hannigan was GCHQ’s director from 2014 to 2017, establishing the National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ in 2016, while being responsible for the U.K.’s first cyber strategy in 2009. Three months after he stepped down from GCHQ, in July 2017, Hannigan publicly warned that “a disproportionate amount of mayhem in cyber-space” was coming from Russia, and called for “pushback”.

The following month, Hannigan became chair of the European advisory board of BlueVoyant, a cybersecurity firm producing products to protect businesses against “sophisticated cyber attackers”, including nation state actors. In 2018, Hannigan became chair of BlueVoyant International.

Hannigan also set up his own consultancy, Tunny Associates, about which little is known, although the Tunny was the name given by British spies to a Nazi cipher machine cracked by Bletchley Park, the UK’s wartime code-breaking centre.

Hannigan’s predecessor, Sir Iain Lobban, who ran GCHQ from 2008 to 2014, has joined or advised no less than 10 cyber or data security companies since leaving office, including Hakluyt CyberPrevalent AI, and C5 Capital.

biography on the C5 website states that Lobban “set new direction in cyber security for innovative partnerships internationally, with the private sector and with academia,” adding, “Sir Iain now focuses on the advocacy and demystification of cyber security, providing strategic advice and personal perspective, nationally and internationally, to governments and businesses.” The biography ends with the line, “He is also active in entrepreneurship, in the broadest sense of the word.”

In a 2011 article in the Times, Lobban argued that “the volume of e-crime and attacks on government and industry systems continues to be disturbing” and concluded that the “UK’s continued economic well-being” was under threat from cyber attacks.

Biography of Sir Iain Lobban, who was director of GCHQ from 2008-2014, on the website of C5 Capital, an investment firm focused on cybersecurity, which he joined in 2015, the year he left GCHQ. He says he is “active in entrepreneurship, in the broadest sense of the word.”

Before Lobban, GCHQ’s director was Sir David Pepper, who managed the agency from 2003 to 2008. After leaving GCHQ, Pepper joined the advisory board of Thales, an arms and cyber security company, and became a strategic adviser to Defence Strategy and Solutions, which helps arms firms secure government contracts.

Pepper’s predecessor was Sir Francis Richards who directed GCHQ from 1998-2003. In 2007, Richards became chairman of the National Security Inspectorate, a certification body that approves security providers. Richards is the only head of MI5, MI6 or GCHQ since 1992 who does not appear to have personally benefited from working in the private cyber or energy sector after leaving office. (Former MI6 chief, Sir David Spedding, died two years after he retired in 1999.)

Richards’ three immediate predecessors all joined cyber or data security companies. Sir Kevin Tebbitt and Sir David Omand became board members of Leonardo, the Italian weapons manufacturer that specializes in cybersecurity. Omand also joined the board of Babcock International, another arms company with a long line in cybersecurity products, while Sir John Adye, GCHQ director from 1989-1996, joined the board of two companies – Identity Assurance Systems and Opera Limited – focused on data and cyber security.

Earning from Fossil Fuel Corporations

The three former heads of MI6 since 2000 have all taken jobs with energy companies after leaving office – despite climate change being recognized as a major threat to the UK.

Sir Richard Dearlove has been on the board of Kosmos Energy – an oil and gas exploration company based in Texas – since 2012, where he also sits on the compensation committee. In the seven years from 2013 to 2019, Dearlove earned more than $2.5-million (£2-million) in fees from the company, having attended an average of 12 meetings a year. In 2018, Dearlove was Kosmos’ best compensated director. US filings show that on appointment Dearlove was also awarded restricted shares worth $140,000 (£113,400).

Dearlove has also been an adviser to a variety of consultancies that give advice on energy and extractives, while he charges up to £20,000 as a speaking fee where “the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan” are touted as conversation topics.

Dearlove made widely-covered public interventions during the 2017 and 2019 UK election campaigns warning that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a “danger” and “threat” to Britain’s national security. Labour’s manifesto in 2017 promised “strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories, including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for all companies and trusts.”

Kosmos Energy was until 2018 registered in the British overseas territory and tax haven of Bermuda. Since 2006, Dearlove has also been the non-executive chairman of Ascot Group – an insurance business domiciled in Bermuda.

In 2011, Sir John Scarlett became chair of the Strategy Advisory Committee at Norwegian oil giant, Statoil (now named Equinor). Scarlett’s name does not appear in the company’s annual reports or on its website and it is not known how much he has been paid in this role.

There are also two consultancies – SC Strategy and J&G Consulting – which Scarlett has started whose operations and clients are so secretive it is impossible to know if they involve cybersecurity or energy. It has been reported he earned £400,000 over three years from one of these.

Sir John Sawers was appointed a director of oil company BP in 2015, the year after he left MI6. “His management of reform at MI6,” BP wrote in its 2015 annual report, “complements BP’s focus on value and simplification.”

It appears that upon appointment, Sawers was awarded restricted shares worth over £90,000. Declassified can also reveal that in the four and a half years to 2019, Sawers earned £699,000 in fees and benefits from BP.

“BP will benefit from his extensive experience of the Middle East’s hotspots while a career diplomat, and his influential roles in formulating foreign policy,” wrote  TheFinancial Times. Sawers was a foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and was appointed Britain’s special representative to Iraq in 2003. BP returned to Iraq in 2009 after a 35-year absence. The BP annual reports refer often to Sawers’ experience in the Middle East as a particular boon for the company and note that he has been at meetings which discuss “developments in the Middle East.”

In February 2015, Sawers also became a director of Macro Advisory Partners, a consultancy whose clients include the world’s leading energy institutions. Michael Daly, BP’s former global exploration chief, was also added to the board four months before Sawers.

The true extent of security services personnel profiting after service is unclear as the names of nearly all intelligence personnel are highly classified. But it has been revealed that former MI6 head of counterterrorism, Sir Mark Allen, also joined BP after leaving service, helping the company to negotiate a £15-billion oil drilling contract with Muammar Gaddafi, the then Libyan dictator. Allen had developed a relationship with the Gaddafi regime while in MI6 and was investigated for his role in the snatching and transfer of a Libyan couple to the north African country in 2004.

Chiefs of MI5 and GCHQ have also gained from oil and gas companies. Former GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban became an advisor to Shell. Dame Stella Rimington, who was director-general of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, joined the board of BG Group – the oil and gas multinational – in 1997, the year after she left service.

She stepped down from the board in 2005 when the company was bought by Shell for £47-billion. Rimington was a company shareholder as well as earning £57,500 in fees from BG Group in 2004, her last full year on the board.

Profile of Sir John Sawers, head of MI6 from 2009-2014, on the website of oil giant BP, which he joined as a non-executive director in 2015, the year after he left service. In the following four-and-half years he earnt £699,000 in fees for this role on the board.

Adjusting the Dials?

Although the U.K. spends significant sums on its “security services,” there is no evidence that any of the British intelligence agencies has significantly prepared for health pandemics or have substantial expertise to work on the issue, as Declassified UK has revealed. Recent heads of MI5 and MI6 were promoted after working in counter terrorism.

The incoming head of MI5, Ken McCallum, has worked for the intelligence service for 25 years, but appears to specialize in cyber security and to have no health or climate expertise. At one point, he appears to have been seconded to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and became the department’s cyber security head. McCallum is also said to have headed MI5’s cyber activities around a decade ago.

Sources have said McCallum wants to “work more closely with the private sector in harnessing artificial intelligence” and “to be clearer about the threat posed by China – particularly in terms of industrial espionage and cyberwarfare”.

MI5 states that the “cyber” threat is one of its four main focus areas, but it does not mention health security issues despite claiming to be guided by the U.K.’s national security strategy which highlights an “influenza pandemic” as a tier one threat.

In contrast to the U.K., the CIA has a dedicated unit for health issues, while the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has a National Center for Medical Intelligence which undertakes “collection, evaluation, and all-source analysis of worldwide health threats and issues.”

The outgoing head of MI5, Andrew Parker, has recently intimated that the government needs to recalibrate its security priorities. He said earlier this month: “There is no doubt at all that, having lived through the worst pandemic in a century, the government is bound to think differently about how to configure against that risk and adjust the dials accordingly across public spending, I’m sure. But all of those decisions are yet to be taken.”

According to Parker, some doctors and nurses who usually work at MI5 have been released back to the NHS so they can serve on the frontline, while MI5 has also been providing protective security to the design and construction of the new temporary care ‘Nightingale’ hospitals, but which have been revealed to be so badly staffed they have turned away patients.

GCHQ has made several public interventions since the coronavirus crisis began – all on the cyber threat posed by the pandemic, such as warning that criminals are using the coronavirus outbreak to launch online attacks.

Ken McCallum, the new head of MI5, gives evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on “cyber threats” in March 2013. At the time, he appears to have been seconded to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills where he was head of cybersecurity. It has been reported he also headed cyber operations at MI5 around a decade ago.

Britain’s Cyber Industry

A recent government report states that the U.K. cyber security sector is worth £8.3-billion and includes over 1,200 companies, a number which has increased by 44 percent from 2017 to 2019. This growth is the equivalent to a new cyber security business setting up in the U.K. every week.

The government is allocating large amounts of money to cyber security. In 2016, it announced a National Cyber Security Strategy involving spending of £1.9-billion. A further £250-million is expected to be spent on a new joint MOD-GCHQ cyber force to combat “the rising cyber threat from nations such as Russia and Iran, as well as terrorist groups like ISIS.” With 2,000 personnel, it will have experts from the military, security services, and the cyber security industry.

The government has also allocated £23-million to building a “cyber business park” near GCHQ’s headquarters in Cheltenham, southwest England, and established a £135-million National Security Strategic Investment Fund so that British intelligence agencies can nurture start-ups developing technology seen as supporting the country’s national security priorities.

Alex Chalk, the Conservative MP for Cheltenham, has been a big supporter of the U.K. government’s cyber strategy in his constituency. “The thing that struck me was that we had an asset in GCHQ, which was absorbing a growing amount of public money, billions of pounds, and yet its impact… was quite limited,” he told Declassified. “I read around the subject and saw what the Israelis had done in a place called Beersheba in Israel, where they’ve got their equivalent of GCHQ.” In 2014, the Israeli government passed a resolution designating the city of Beersheba the country’s cyber capital, and it is now referred to as a “cybertech oasis.”

It is not just intelligence agency chiefs who have moved into the lucrative world of cyber technology. The most successful British cybersecurity firm is Darktrace, which works on artificial intelligence-based cybersecurity and was incorporated four days after the first of the revelations by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden was published by The Guardian in June 2013.

Darktrace has been valued at £1.65bn. Company material openly mentions “the UK intelligence officials who founded Darktrace”. Among its team are “senior members of the UK’s and US’s intelligence agencies including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service (MI5) and the NSA.”

One co-founder was Stephen Huxter, a senior figure in MI5’s “cyber defence team” who became Darktrace’s managing director. Huxter then hired 30-year GCHQ veteran Andrew France as the company’s chief executive. France, like Huxter, had been involved in dealing with “cyber threats”, rising to the position of deputy director of cyber defence operations at GCHQ, where he was charged with “protecting government data” from cyber threats.

Darktrace later appointed Dave Palmer, who had worked at MI5 and GCHQ, as its director of technology, while John Richardson OBE, its director of security, had a long career in “UK government security and intelligence” working on “cyber defence”. Darktrace staff have also included ex-MI6 officials. Poppy Gustafsson, co-founder, has said that her work left her feeling like she was “living in a story by the novelist John le Carré”.

Declassified contacted Sir Richard Dearlove and Sir John Sawers for comment, but neither responded. Sir Iain Lobban declined to comment.

consortiumnews.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, GCHQ, MI6, Spying, United Kingdom]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/30/20 9:54am

Less than a week before the game-changing U.S. presidential election, the real heart of the geopolitical and geoeconomic action is virtually invisible to the outside world.

We’re talking about the fifth plenum of the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, which started this past Monday in Beijing.

The plenum congregates the 200 members – and another 100 alternate members – of the civilization-state’s top decision-making body: the equivalent, in Western liberal democracy terms, of the Chinese Congress.

The outline of what will be the 14th Chinese Five-Year-Plan (2021-2025) will be announced with a communiqué at the end of the plenum this Thursday. Policy details will be streaming in the next few weeks. And everything will be formally approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2021.

For all practical purposes, this should be regarded as what China’s leadership is really thinking.

Meet “China’s system”

President Xi has been quite busy, delivering an extensive work report; a draft of the five-year plan; and a full outline of China’s top targets all the way to 2035.

Xi has been forcefully stressing a “dual circulation” strategy for China; to increase the focus on the domestic economy while balancing it with foreign trade and investment.

Actually a better definition, translated from Mandarin, is “double development dynamics”. In Xi’s own words, the aim is to “facilitate better connectivity between domestic and foreign markets for more resilient and sustainable growth”.

One spectacular achievement we already know about is that Xi’s goal for China to reach the status of a “moderately prosperous society” has been met in 2020, even under Covid-19. Extreme poverty has been eliminated.

The next step is to deal long-term with the absolutely critical issues of crisis of global trade; less demand for Chinese products; and varying degrees of volatility caused by the unstoppable rise of China.

The key priority for Beijing is the domestic economy – in tandem with reaching key tech targets to enhance China’s high-quality development. That implies building high-end, integrated supply chains. And then there’s the tortuous road of implementing necessary institutional reforms.

Crucially, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is “guiding” companies to invest in core technology; that means semiconductors, 5G applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), integrated circuits, biomedicine.

So everything is, once again, all about the Chip War – which is at the heart of AI, 5G, supercomputing, quantum computing, material science, biotechnology, new energy vehicles and space science.

China’s leadership is very much aware that the real high stakes revolve around the next generation of chip technology.

Enter the concept of China’s system: or how to fight the “U.S.-initiated cold war in high technology”.

“China’s system” has been developed by IT expert Ni Guangnan. It aims to “replace U.S. technologies in core areas including the key IT infrastructure, in which the U.S.-led IOE system, an acronym for an IT network based on major three supplies – IBM, Intel and Oracle – have the monopoly. With self-developed servers, database and storage, the system could be based on chipsets with lower performance with no need for 14-nanometer (nm) or 7-nanometer chip fabrication – prime targets of the U.S.-led crackdown.”

Various calculations in China roughly agree that by the end of this year the economy is set to be 72% the size of the U.S.’s. The State Council forecasts that the Chinese economy will overtake the EU in 2027 and the U.S. by 2032.

But if measured by PPP (purchasing power parity), as both the IMF and The Economist have already admitted, China is already the world’s largest economy.

The fifth plenum once again reiterates all the goals inbuilt in Made in China 2025. But there’s more: an emphasis on the “2035 vision” – when China should be positioned as a global tech leader.

The “2035 Vision” concerns the halfway point between where we are now and the ultimate target in 2049. By 2035 China should be a fully modernized, socialist nation and a superpower especially in science and technology and Defense.

Xi had already stressed it way back in 2017: China will “basically” realize “socialist modernization” by 2035. To get there, the Politburo is seeking an extremely ambitious synthesis of “scale, speed, quality, efficiency and safety”.

Beyond Westphalia

Considering that the Trump administration has been engaged on a relentless offensive since May 2018, it was only since last July that the CCP leadership has been consistently preparing China for what it considers a lengthy and fierce struggle with the U.S.

That has elicited quite a few comparisons with what the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping referred about Mao Zedong in 1938. Mao at the time said that China should “be on the defensive first before gathering enough strength to fight to a strategic stand-off and eventually win the ‘protracted war’” against the Japanese invasion.

Now we have a weiqi strategy all over again. Beijing will only launch what amounts to a concerted counterpunch across the chessboard when it’s able to close the tech gap and establish its own domestic and global supply chains completely independent from the U.S.

Beijing will need a major soft power P.R. operation to show the world how its drive in science and technology is aimed as a global good, with all humanity benefiting, irrespective of nations. The Chinese Covid-19 vaccine should be setting the example.

In a recent podcast discussing one of my latest columns on Lanxin Xiang’s book The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics,

Brazilian China expert Elias Jabbour came up with a stunning formulation.

Jabbour echoed top Chinese scholars when he stressed China won’t behave as an aggressive Westphalian state: “The subversion of Westphalia by China came from the fact it incorporated the Russian Revolution to 1949. China is laying out for the future an order that may subvert Westphalia.”

So what we have here is that the foremost concept of Xi’s China – whose best English translation reads as “community with a shared future for humanity” – is actually the subversion of Westphalia. A subversion from within.

Jabbour reminds us that when Mao said that only socialism may save China, he meant save it from the treaty of Westphalia, which facilitated the dismemberment of China during the “century of humiliation.”

So in the end a strategic marriage between Marx and Confucius in Xi’s China is more than feasible, transcending geopolitics as we know it, which was born as a national ideology in France, Germany and Britain.

It’s as if Xi was trying, as Jabbour noted, to “go back to original Marxism as a leftist Hegelianism”, geared towards internationalism, and mixing it with the Confucius view of tianxa, “all under heaven”. That’s the master idea behind “community with a shared future for humanity.”

One can always dream that another world is indeed possible: think of a cultural renaissance of the overwhelming majority of the Global South, with a fruitful cross-fertilization of China and Asian economies, the evolving decolonization struggle of Latin America, and the weight of the African diaspora.

But first, the next Chinese five-year plan has got to roll.

[Category: Asia-Pacific, World, China, Economy, Pandemic, Politics, Xi Jinping]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/30/20 9:32am

Caitlin JOHNSTONE

Hunter Biden’s former business associate Tony Bobulinski has given a lengthy interview on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, testifying about corrupt international business practices within the Biden family involving China and other countries, and allegedly involving Joe Biden himself while he was vice president.

Toward the end of the interview came the really important part, the part we were all meant to see.

“What are the implications of this going forward?” Carlson asked. “If Joe Biden is elected president, which could very well happen, how does this constrain his ability to deal with China?”

“Are y o u asking for my personal opinion?” Bobulinski asked.

“I am,” Carlson replied. “I’m asking for your opinion, as someone who’s worked with the Chinese.”

“So, I think Joe Biden and the Biden family are compromised,” said Bobulinski.

And that is it. Beneath all the partisan noise and electoral implications, that is the message we were meant to take away from the interview. Not that the Biden family is corrupt, not that Joe Biden lied about being uninvolved in his son’s business enterprises as vice president, but that Joe Biden is compromised in favor of China. That is the story that’s going to keep resurfacing.

We are being played.

This would after all be the same Tucker Carlson who has been pushing ridiculous conspiracy theories about Democratic Party officials being secret Chinese intelligence agents and Covid-19 being a lab-made virus deliberately released by China, and just generally whipping up anti-China hysteria in his viewers at every possible opportunity. This would also be the same Tucker Carlson who tried to join the CIA after college. The same Fox News that reliably propagandizes its right-wing audience into alignment with imperialist agendas that resonate with rightist sensibilities.

I don’t know how or at what level, but we are being played. A narrative is being aggressively rammed down our throats about China in exactly the same way it was being aggressively rammed down our throats about Russia four years ago; two unabsorbed nations the US government has long had plans to attack and undermine.

If Biden Wins, Russiagate Will Magically Morph Into Chinagate

“Ohhh god. It’s happening again.”https://t.co/SeCQFhvCqE

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) October 27, 2020

Russiagate was never really about Trump. It was never about his campaign staff meeting with Russians, it was never about a pee tape, it was never about an investigation into any kind of hidden loyalties to the Kremlin. Russiagate was about narrative managing the United States into a new cold war with Russia with the ultimate target being its far more powerful ally China, and ensuring that Trump played along with that agenda.

The strongest evidence against Russiagate was always the one fact neither Democrats nor Republicans ever wanted to look at and acknowledge: that Trump has in fact spent his entire term advancing many dangerous cold war escalations against Moscow in the form of sanctions, shredded treaties, a much more aggressive Nuclear Posture Review, NATO expansionism, arming Ukraine, attacking Russia’s allies and other measures which directly threaten the Russian Federation and undermine its interests.

If Biden gets in we can expect the same thing: a president who advances escalations against both Russia and China while being accused of the other party of being soft on China. Both parties will have their foot on the gas toward brinkmanship with a nuclear-armed nation, with no one’s foot anywhere near the brakes. Biden is corrupt, but he is not “compromised” by China.

You simply cannot become the presidential nominee of a major party in America if the powers that be aren’t confident you will advance their most high-priority agendas. Barack “Pivot to Asia” Obama would not have interfered in the Democratic primary to install Joe Biden if he believed Biden would interfere in the militaristic agendas against he’d initiated against China. If the US intelligence cartel had had any suspicion that Biden might obstruct their agendas in the eastern hemisphere, his presidential campaign would have been capsized over a year ago.

Those with power in the United States know that Biden will play along with their planned cold war rollouts against China, so you may be sure of it as well. Obama’s escalations against China were picked up and carried further by Trump (who just announced a planned $2 billion weapon sale to Taiwan), and if Biden wins the election we may be certain that he will continue and expand those aggressions even further.

Newsweek’s claim that 600 Chinese community groups in the U.S. are “arms of the CCP” is based entirely on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute—which is literally funded by the U.S. State Dept & Raytheon.

This is full-blown McCarthyist manufacturing consent for war on China. https://t.co/p7mYBstgiN

— Qiao Collective (@qiaocollective) October 26, 2020

This will happen. If you don’t believe me, watch and see. Disconnect yourself from the narratives and get out of your partisan echo chamber as much as possible, and just watch the actual information about what’s really happening. If Biden is elected you will with absolute certainty see his administration rolling out hostile cold war escalations against China, regardless of accusations by Tucker Carlson et al. about secret loyalties to Beijing.

All signs indicate that Americans are being prepped by the US intelligence cartel and its stenographers in the mass media for an increasingly hostile relationship with China, regardless of who wins the election. A new report by Newsweek warns that 600 community groups in the United States are covertly working to foment US unrest under the direct guidance of the Communist Party of China. Newsweek sources its report in an analysis by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which is a think tank explicitly designed to manufacture anti-China sentiment that is funded by the US State Department and numerous arms manufacturers. These are the nice friendly people who we’re meant to believe just want to tell us the truth about what’s going on for our own good.

We’re being bombarded with more and more such psyops by increasingly forceful narrative managers alongside statements from US intelligence agencies warning us that both Russia and China are working to interfere in the US election. There’s a virtual press conference scheduled a few hours from this writing by the DOJ and FBI reportedly on a “China-related national security matter” as well, and it’s hard to imagine that will go in any other direction than all the other narrative-shaping we’re being subjected to.

DOJ & FBI to hold virtual news conference on a China-related national security matter at 11amET tomorrow

— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) October 27, 2020

After Carlson prompted him to share his opinion that Joe Biden is “compromised” regarding China, Bobulinski was then asked if he thinks all this information is going to just be repressed and forgotten about by the liberal media for the next four years.

“I think the American people should be demanding that this is investigated and I don’t know what the right party to do that is. Is that the DOJ, is that the FBI, is that Congress, is that the Senate? But there absolutely should be no scenario that this isn’t investigated,” replied Bobulinski.

Sure Tony, sounds great. Hey maybe the DOJ should appoint a Special Counsel to ensure an impartial investigation into this urgent matter over two years while Biden’s political opponents circulate endless viral conspiracy theories about the president being dragged from the White House in chains once the investigation is complete. Hell, why not just use Robert Mueller again? If we’re going to recycle the whole script we might as well go all in.

But of course, as far as America’s spies and cold warriors are concerned, if it ain’t broke why fix it. Partisan hacks bought into the Russiagate narrative hook, line and sinker, so there’s no reason not to use it again. This one will actually be an easier sell now that Republicans are looking for retaliation and Democrats have lost any moral leg to stand on in “have you no shame” objection. It worked once, so they’ll just do it again.

How To Tell Real News From Useless Narrative Fluff

“Just watch where the money is going, where the resources are going, where the weapons are going and where the people are going, and ignore all the narrative chatter.”https://t.co/WOKi1OTgIx

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) April 4, 2020

Ignore the narratives, watch the data. Watch where the weapons are moving, where the money and resources and people are moving. You will see a much, much different picture than the one you’re being told to see.

caityjohnstone.medium.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, China, Joe Biden, Mass Media, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/30/20 7:48am

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) once remarked that “assassination is the extreme form of censorship”. The satirist might add that so too are “sanctions” as a form of censorship.

Hardly a week goes by, it seems, when there is not some new round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its allies in the European Union. This debased ritual has been going on for six years since the Western powers backed a violent coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014, and yet they have continued to blame Russia for that conflict.

In addition to ironical allegations about Russia interfering in Ukraine, other far-fetched pretexts have been invoked to justify imposing further rounds of sanctions on the Russian Federation. These include accusations of annexing Crimea despite a legally constituted referendum, the shooting down a Malaysian civilian airliner, interference in U.S. presidential elections and, most recently, the poisoning of a minor Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny.

The thing is that in all these alleged grievances, the Western states do not provide any verifiable evidence to back up their provocative claims. The accusations are made on the basis of hearsay, innuendo insinuation, force of repetition and assertion, and anti-Russian prejudice with no legal due process afforded to Russia. This unilateral high-handedness is a travesty of diplomatic norms and is completely unacceptable. It speaks of an inveterate Russophobia harbored by Western governments and servile media.

This, however, is the point of sanctions. The unilateral imposition of these measures precludes communication on the basis of equality. It sets up a framework of guilt before evidence. That is a repudiation of respect for international law, sovereignty and the core principles of the United Nations Charter.

Europe’s slavish following of U.S. policy in imposing sanctions on Russia over dubious claims betrays a failure of diplomacy and political maturity. There is no sign of willingness for dialogue as equals. Western exaltations of rule of law and independence are a self-parody.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarked recently at the Valdai discussion forum in Sochi that: “The European Union is actively pursuing the path of the United States relying more and more on threats and sanctions.”

Lavrov added: “People who are responsible for the Western foreign policy and do not understand the need for mutually respectful dialogue… [means] we probably have to suspend dialogue with them for a while.”

Russia’s exasperation is understandable. It takes two to tango and its takes two to have a dialogue. The American and European side has evidently shown an unwillingness to hold a dialogue with Russia.

What is deplorable is that underlying this Western attitude is an evident lack of respect for Russia as an equal. In the absence of such respect, then the prospects for dialogue are diminished. Without dialogue there is limited prospects for security and partnership.

The arrogance of European so-called leaders is particularly palpable here. They want access to Russian natural gas and they want security, yet they arrogantly think that they can treat Russia like some kind of serf. Talk about delusions of grandeur. The delusion is abject because it is the Europeans who are behaving like the serfs lorded over by the United States which rations their “independence” like a condescending nobleman.

This paradox in relations is particularly lamentable in the vital realm of arms controls. Currently, Russian appeals for upholding the New START treaty on strategic nuclear weapons are being snubbed by Washington in the same way that the U.S. last year trashed the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reasonable proposals for a moratorium on installing missiles in Europe are being treated with a contemptible complacency, both by the Americans and their European vassals who obviously have no independent say on the matter.

Sanctions are a failure of diplomacy and betray lack of political intelligence and maturity. That inevitably manifests in cutting off dialogue and cooperation on vital matters of security and stability.

There is more than a suspicion that the Russophobia seeping into Western polities is a reflection of the reprehensible revisionism that has crept up in recent years concerning the history of the Second World War. Certain anti-Russian European states and Western ideologues have managed to make almost mainstream their odious view of “moral equivalency” between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, whereby the latter is depicted not as the victor over fascism in Europe but somehow as guilty of comparable aggression. Shamefully, the European Union’s parliament voted in a resolution last year which seeks to blame the Soviet Union for partly starting the 1939-1945 war along with Nazi Germany.

The reflexive imposition of sanctions by Western states against Russia speaks of abhorrent Russophobia and a prejudice of reactionary revisionism. These sanctions are but an extreme form of censorship, which can be viewed as a form of aggression towards Russia.

This failure in diplomacy is a dangerous development at a time of heightened international tensions. Shame on the U.S. and Europe for ratcheting up tensions instead of working for peace. The history of aggression lies beneath.

[Category: Editorial, Security, War and Conflict, Diplomacy, European Union, Russia, Sanctions, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/29/20 9:00am

Bolivia has managed to overturn the neoliberal agenda which the U.S. attempted to force upon the nation in the 2019 coup, which ousted former President Evo Morales to instal the far-right wing Jeanine Añez as president, or dictator. While Chile was dealing with its state violence, the Bolivian coup was out in the streets exerting its vengeance on the country’s indigenous population. For months, Bolivians protested against state violence and police repression. It is now the new government’s obligation to bring the perpetrators to justice, while retracing Bolivia’s path to its revolutionary progress.

Mainstream propaganda attempted to justify the coup by spreading a false narrative of the people rejecting Morales’s government. However, when faced with a choice between the two main candidates, the former right-wing president Carlos Mesa and the MAS former Economy Minister Luis Arce, voters opted for the a future governance that has consistently rejected U.S. and international interference. The elections gave the MAS a resounding victory, with a bigger margin than the 2019 elections in which Morales was elected.

Arce will officially take power in December this year. Senate candidate Leonardo Loza described the forthcoming path towards justice thus: “We will not be a government of persecution. But there will be no forgetting or forgiving for those wo got killed in Senkata and Sacaba during the 2019 coup.”

In Senkata and Sacaba, at least 19 people were killed by the military in the aftermath of the coup. In addition, the coup instigated a climate of extreme repression and violence, reminiscent of earlier dictatorship practices in Bolivia itself and in Latin America.

Añez has reportedly asked the U.S. to provide 350 visas for officials involved in the 2019 coup, in a bid to avoid prosecution. As soon as the MAS victory was evident, Añez recognised the electoral result and asked the socialist party “to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind.”

Democracy also requires justice. Añez’s request, undoubtedly part of the U.S. narrative of “restoring democracy to Bolivia” albeit through a coup leading to dictatorship, had still not differentiated between the people’s democracy and coercive neoliberal violence – the latter being the brand which her government promoted and which the people so clearly rejected.

Arce has also called for the resignation of Luis Almagro, the OAS Chief who alleged electoral fraud in the 2019 elections which saw Morales return to power. The call for resignation is regional – Almagro’s vested interests in promoting the U.S. agenda opens up Latin America to imperialist interference. “There should not be interference in the internal affairs of a country. If Almagro did that in Bolivia, imagine, he can do it with any other country, and we cannot allow that,” Arce explained. Morales also declared he would be pursuing judicial action against Almagro.

The Bolivian elections have illustrated the centrality of social movements to the political process. While the coup attempted to push the indigenous people to the periphery, the elections provided an opportunity to reverse the changes desired and envisaged by the U.S., and a strong return to the MAS. However, the new government faces the task of curbing the right-wing reactionary groups which are supported by the U.S.

However, the electoral triumph many not spell the end of U.S. intervention in the country. The U.S. is known to have used diverse tactics to instigate violence and unrest in Latin America, biding its time until it strikes again. The military and the police have yet to completely prove their allegiance to the new government and against U.S. designations on Bolivia. Añez also subjugated the country to an IMF loan of $327 million. Regional and international solidarity with Bolivia is imperative in order to isolate U.S. interference and to allow Bolivia to rebuild itself from the deprivation ushered in a single year of U.S.-backed dictatorship rule.

[Category: Americas, World, Bolivia, Interventionism, Jeanine Añez, Latin America, Luis Arce, Socialism, United States]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/29/20 8:00am

A new book tour by H.R. McMaster shows how little the foreign policy professionals have learned from two decades of endless war.

Doug BANDOW

When President Donald Trump took office, his aides promised there would always be adults in the room. Especially when it came to foreign policy, learned, stable professionals would ensure responsible and intelligent actions.

Except the adults turned out to be idiots. They fought the president at every turn when he sought to withdraw from endless wars. They insisted that Washington remain allied to the worst of the worst, supporting the vile Saudi regime in its aggressive and murderous war against Yemen. They urged policies that treated Russia as a permanent enemy. They backed American dominance of every existing alliance and relationship, infantilizing America’s friends and maximizing Washington’s obligations.

Now former national security adviser H.R. McMaster has reminded Americans that many members of the infamous Blob, the foreign policy elite, are brain dead. Their thinking about the world ended decades ago. They mouth hypocritical platitudes while seeing everything through an antiquated prism.

For instance, McMaster recently charged that Tehran, a political, economic, and military wreck, has “hegemonic designs.” He made this claim after serving at the center of foreign policymaking in the world’s dominant power which is determined to be the global hegemon in control of every region on earth, essentially imposing the Monroe Doctrine on every continent. Supportive policymakers insist that the U.S. should intervene everywhere while no one else can intervene anywhere. Indeed, in their view America is entitled to meddle at any time for any reason.

Within the administration, McMaster orchestrated American support for Saudi Arabia, which did far more than Tehran to play regional hegemon. The antediluvian royals invaded one neighbor, deployed troops in a second, supported jihadist rebels against a third, kidnapped the prime minister of a fourth, launched a diplomatic/economic offensive against a fifth, and are promoting a civil war in a slightly more distant sixth. Riyadh’s behavior is reckless, dangerous, criminal, and, yes, hegemonic.

But it is in deploying the Munich comparison that McMaster, once thought to be an innovative military thinker, demonstrated that his time in government apparently killed off some of his once-abundant gray matter. In this he is not alone. Virtually every minor dictator in the most distant and underpopulated lands has been compared to Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler at least once. If we avert our glance for merely a moment, we are warned, Dictator X in Country Y is likely to launch a campaign of conquest across Continent Z. Or something similar. Thus only American intervention can prevent the onset of a new global dark age.

McMaster has been on a book tour promoting his latest tome with its utterly conventional demand for a harder line against, well, everyone. And why not? After all, surely America has money to burn after running a $3.1 trillion deficit during the 2020 fiscal year. With the federal debt already over 100 percent of GDP. Another $2 trillion or more in red ink expected in 2021. And the total “COVID deficit” predicted to run between $8 trillion and $16 trillion. But why worry: it’s only money!

Anyway McMaster was asked about President Donald Trump’s negotiation with Afghanistan. Is it America’s “Munich agreement” and “a policy of appeasement with Taliban”? Yes, replied McMaster.

It is hard to believe that McMaster doesn’t understand the concept of appeasement or know Munich’s circumstances. More likely, he doesn’t care about the facts and preferred to take a cheap shot at Trump, always an easy target.

First, appeasement is a time-tested and oft-successful strategy. It usually is better to make a deal than go to war. A little more appeasement before World War I involving Austro-Hungary and Serbia, which armed the gang that assassinated the Hapsburg heir, an obvious casus belli, might have forestalled a global conflict that consumed around 20 million lives and ultimately led to the Munich agreement and the far deadlier and more destructive World War II.

Second, on its face, Munich was a sensible attempt at appeasement. It redressed the World War I injustice of treating millions of ethnic Germans as pawns in a global chess game. At the Versailles Treaty conference, the oh-so-moral allies grabbed territorial plunder here, there, and everywhere, while prattling about self-determination. Hitler did not arise in a vacuum; allied avarice and myopia helped bring him to power.

Munich was a tragedy because the allies sought to appease the one person in Europe who could not be satiated. The pact transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany the Sudetenland, which was taken by Prague from the long-gone Austro-Hungarian Empire against the wishes of its ethnic Germans residents. Berlin won, yet Hitler was irritated that the settlement denied him the war he desired. He invaded Poland the following year. However, Germany was not as well prepared for conflict in 1938 and Hitler might have been removed by his own military, which was contemplating a coup because of his apparent recklessness.

The short lesson of the agreement: the problem was Hitler, not appeasement. Most Europeans probably believed that preserving the continent’s peace warranted shifting to Germany territory filled with people who should not have been given to Czechoslovakia in the first place. In the abstract, Britain and France had good reason not to back Prague in a war over what were frankly ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately, London and Paris didn’t understand who and what they were dealing with—but they were not alone in sharing that delusion.

As for Afghanistan, one must hope that McMaster is not confused by the difference between Nazi Germany and the insurgent Taliban. A generation earlier, the Germans demonstrated their ability to wreak continental and even global murder and mayhem. In contrast, the Taliban’s motley mix of Islamists and opportunities at most threaten to gain control over additional territory in an impoverished, isolated land, located thousands of miles from America, which never had a strong central government to begin with.

Nevertheless, McMaster declared that “We will pay the price, and we’ll be back. We’ll have to go back, and at a much higher cost.” Why? Central Asia has no intrinsic value for America. The Taliban want to rule their villages and values, not threaten the U.S. at home.

Moreover, Afghanistan has no inherent connection to terrorism; the link was Osama bin Laden, who was initially involved there fighting the Soviets. After the U.S. intervened, he fled to and operated from Pakistan, a nominal American ally. And of course, he now is dead. Al-Qaeda’s remnants could operate anywhere, as do many of its spin-offs today. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, located in Yemen, has long been viewed as the most dangerous affiliate.

In any case, the region matters far more to the powers nearby, which have an incentive to promote a reasonably stable if not liberal Afghanistan. They do not want to see the return of terrorism. In fact, Christian Russia, Hindu India, and Shia Iran all have been targeted by Sunni terrorists. Communist China, busy locking up Sunni Uyghurs in reeducation camps, could be next on the terrorists’ target list. This gaggle of states has the makings of a good coalition to guard against growth in the Islamic State and revival of al-Qaeda, neither of which is in the Taliban’s interest, which would not want to trigger another round of U.S. retaliation.

As for humanitarian considerations, America has spent more than 19 years at war trying to create a liberal, centralized government where none previously existed. That is more than enough commitment of American lives and wealth.

McMaster’s strategic judgment is no better than his historical analysis. He complained that Trump’s exit plan “renders the war unjust, because we no longer have defined a just end.” It’s not clear why he believes leaving makes the conflict unjust. The U.S. got in for good reason, to retaliate against both al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the 9/11 attacks, sending the clear message that attacking America and hosting terrorists that strike America is a very bad idea. Washington foolishly stuck around for another 18-plus years trying to make Afghanistan into a better place, a theoretically moral but highly imprudent objective. And now, years late, an administration is finally trying to stop wasting American lives and wealth.

In the end, McMaster sounds like just all the other policymakers who misled the public over faux progress in Afghanistan year after year. As the Washington Post reported in its devastating “Afghanistan Papers” project nearly a year ago: “U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it.” Yet upon these claims, Washington wasted thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

That is the true immorality, the shocking injustice, the criminal misconduct.

President Trump has gotten much wrong. But on Afghanistan he is far closer to the truth than the faux adults who surrounded him throughout his time in office. During McMaster’s next PR event for his book, he ought to be asked why purported leaders like him have so much trouble confronting their own failures.

theamericanconservative.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, McMaster, United States, US National Security]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/29/20 7:00am

“When fascism comes to America, it will be called antifascism” – Huey Long (misattributed)

Antifa’s fascist violence will return on election night. That’s why it’s important to understand their fraudulence and fascism, and reject the politics of plutocrat-contrived violence. Perhaps strangely, Marxian analysis itself is best suited to communicate this point to the radical left.

This is because at the root of Marxian analysis are not self-declarations, nor definitions based in superstructural manifestations, but rather the material relationship between base and superstructure.

In layman’s terms this boils down to two things in practice: ‘follow the money’, and ‘watch what they do and not what they say’.

The real existing financial motives and the socio-economic class behind those motives is what we will find driving the base, even while at the superstructural level we find an ideology which only nominally, only apparently, appears at odds with the real motives at the base. Antifa, at its class and financial base (i.e., its objective and material base) is a plutocrat supported and controlled operation against the republic.

“Unlike the old left, rooted in radically independent organized labor, Antifa’s leadership and activities, to the contrary, are financed through billionaire oligarchs both directly and indirectly, like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.”

In the simplest possible terms, Antifa is fascist because while they use some of the talking points and imagery of the old left, they actually work towards a plutocratic coup (or counter-revolution) against the republic. This is not to say there is a system-wide fascist threat, for reasons we will explain in an upcoming installment. In short, the coming coup against republican norms will not establish ‘fascism’ as historically understood, but a new kind techno-industrial repressive society within the rubric of post-modernity, which has hitherto not been contemplated rigorously outside of small circles of futurists and science fiction authors.

Antifa and BLM protests have generally disappeared from the simulated reality of the controlled media lens, because these riots did not have the intended effect of delegitimizing the Trump administration, instead working against Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Antifa Explosion – What the Week of November 2nd Will Look Like

Once Trump declares victory at around 11:30 pm on November 3rd, right as social media bans, blocks, and censors Trump’s announcement of victory, we will see the start of mass Antifa violence in key cities in swing states. As the French Marxist Baudrillard would have explained, an entire media simulation will ensnare (within its simulacra) whole portions of the population, which will be encouraged to send in their late ballots, following a last minute strategic ballot harvesting ploy targeted at key locations.

The disastrous ruling of the Supreme Court allowing three-day late ballots to be counted, will encourage a whole post-election drive to harvest ballots precisely in those precincts where the known data is already in from election night. The push to throw the election for Biden post facto will focus largely on those precincts within particular communities, within swing states. The problem for Biden has been the lack of a ground campaign and any sort of excitement.

This means we should expect a very big controlled-media scandal to captivate headlines right after the election. Whether or not this will actually motivate post facto ‘voting’ is beside the point. It most only be a semi-credible narrative that will explain why hundreds of thousands of voters turned out starting November 4th to cast their late ballots organically, even as in fact these will have been the result of targeted ballot harvesting.

Why Antifa’s ‘Communists’ Are Actually Fascists

  1. It Doesn’t Matter What You Call Yourself

Many Antifa members, as well as the BLM leadership, call themselves Marxists, and because this self-declaration is also convenient for their conservative opponents, these self-descriptions go unchallenged.

Likewise in terms of its membership, fascist movements a hundred years ago were largely drawn from workers and small business owners who saw themselves as socialists and liberal-progressives. People do not fit into easy categories, and besides socialism and liberal-progressivism were a mix of both enlightenment and romantic ideas relating to both myth and utopia.

What defined them as fascists in Marxian terms was not the self-professed utopian, futurist, religious, socialist, or reactionary beliefs of this or that member of the movement, but by the objective material and financial reality of being backed by the plutocracy against the public, itself. All the while posing as guardians of the public.

Marxian analytic tools demonstrate that the same as true of Antifa in the U.S. today. The conservative right has long enjoyed throwing around the term ‘socialist’ and ‘Marxist’, especially ‘cultural Marxism’, to denounce their opponents within the Democrat Party, and this has the inverse effect of drawing elements of the populist and radical left who have no relation to the ruling plutocracy within the DNC, towards down-ballot DNC politics and Antifa protest-riots.

We cannot characterize a party or movement by the plurality socioeconomic class of its members in a vacuum. Otherwise both the Democrats and Republicans are ‘labor parties’.

  1. We Already Proved That Antifa Is Financed by the Plutocracy

Indeed, Antifa in the U.S. has become a plutocrat-financed fascistic movement if we are using any Marxian metric. This seems counter-intuitive, for after all they profess themselves to be antifascist, and the fascists they are opposed to are allegedly the ‘basket of deplorables’ that back Trump. This means we need to set aside the institutionally approved (Eco, Griffin, et al) definitions of fascism, ultimately liberal ones in service of the status quo, to arrive at any meaningful definition of any utility. The academic institutions themselves are compromised with regard to these matters.

This is why in our piece ‘How Can the Deep State’s Antifa Organization Be Stopped?’ we showed the plutocrat financed NGO industrial complex through organizations like Democracy Alliance, was the defining base of Antifa activism – what Marxian analysis has always held, far and above, as defining the objective nature of a movement, and not its self-professions nor characterizations by their opponents.

Marxian analysis requires that we assess a movement by a.) Its material base, meaning which class empowers it and makes it possible (finances it) and b.) In whose class interest they work to empower. The answer for both here is the plutocracy. Because they pose as ‘revolutionary left’ but are in fact plutocratic, means they are fascist.

Marxian analytic tools must be salvaged from today’s ‘Marxists’, as these are as prescient as they are timely. They go farther to explain the 4th Turning, the 4th Industrial Revolution, the declining rate of profit, the internet of things and 3D printing, and the potential for a future economy based on the natural right of liberty and human dignity, both in the world and of the soul. But its vulgar misrepresentation as the ideology of Antifa and BLM serves the purpose, perhaps intentionally, of turning-off tens of millions of Americans who could otherwise see what is useful within the analytic framework of class and economic development through history.

  1. Their Tactics Are Taken From Fascism

Of course the fascism of Antifa is visible to many, because of its gang-stalking and arson, the mob intimidation of citizens and small businesses to support this nascent totalitarian movement. To force passersby to raise the fist just as eighty-five years ago, Germans and Italians were identically forced to give the Roman salute, is only a corroborating piece of anecdata, and not the root of the reasoning that Antifa is fascist in nature.

But insofar as the Antifa mob and BLM leadership situates itself ostensibly in Marxism, this is perhaps even more dangerous for the reasons we’ve explained. And yet it is Marxian analysis itself which is best suited to demonstrate that even at a theoretical level, Antifa is fascist.

The owning class weary of radical economic changes and a rising ‘right-wing’ populist movement which itself is fixated on economic issues historically associated with the left, deploys the very same ‘victims of modernity’ (war veterans, permanently unemployed of all ages, workers, vagabonds, indebted students, adventurers, petty thieves and released criminals) to bring its definition of order out of chaos by operationalizing the chaos and the chaotic tendencies of its minions.

Unlike the old left, rooted in radically independent organized labor, Antifa’s leadership and activities, to the contrary, are financed through billionaire oligarchs both directly and indirectly, like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.

Likewise we cannot characterize something as ‘fascist’ by its explicit beliefs or by views that may be projected onto them, but rather by the class that operationalizes them, and towards what end. Race, nationality, ethnicity, religion – these are but superstructural permutations of the givens of a time and place. Here is, among many other places, where Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin and those in their image are critically errant in understanding fascism. Fascism is a matter of methods, of tactics, and of financing – not of symbols, explicit ideology, or specific positions on culture-war (wedge) issues.

That said, Griffin’s point that fascism no longer has the ability to mobilize a mass movement in the way it did prior to WWII, but that it can carry on as a smaller phenomenon that can inspire terrorism, is agreed. Many of his reasons for stating so are incorrect, even if this conclusion is apt.

  1. Antifa Punches Down, the Historic Labor Left Punches Up

Both the traditional radical left and fascist right were proponents of violence towards political goals, even if in self-defense, but the traditional radical left used to focus on ‘punching up’: Attacking capital, the ruling class, the banks, big land owners.

But historic fascism in its late-nascent stage is more similar to Maoism during the Cultural Revolution (there’s a strong New Left orientation to Maoism as well). It organizes and concentrates power by ‘punching down’.

This dangerous fascistic trend among what has come to be known as ‘the left’. At the level of universities, it began in the late 90’s when coastal university classrooms became ‘call-out sessions’. It moved into mass culture through venture-capital funded click-bait websites like Buzzfeed and Jezebel. Of course all of these antics would have been unrecognizably alien to militant rank-and-file labor union members in decades past.

That Antifa punches down and that mainstream media echoes their talking points, and that public service announcements are increasingly indistinguishable from Antifa propaganda, is a clear sign of its fascist essence. Punching down is always from a position of power, and its appropriation by the overt sections of power is a clear sign that their ideas have become what the French Marxist Althousser called the Ideological State Apparatus: That anything and everything outside of nebulous, ever-changing shibboleths (i.e. ‘community standards’) can potentially be called ‘fascist’ as a justification for ‘cancel culture’ and black-listing, is precisely that which the growing ‘illiberal liberalism’ of the plutocrats indeed flourishes on.

Pro-systemic propaganda punches down. Anti-systemic propaganda punches up. It’s an equation as simple as it is true.

  1. Like Fascists, Antifa Relies on Support from Local Law Enforcement, Local Business, and an Entrenched Local Political Class to Place Them ‘Above the Law’

Perhaps you’ve seen old film reel of Nazis in the 1920’s in paramilitary uniform, long before they had official power in the governmental sense, seemingly able to physically attack those they wanted at whim, without local authorities intervening. From a position of power, from local friendly police departments, business interests, and politicians who at the very least ‘look the other way’, Antifa – like its fascist counterpart – is able to get away of enforcing its power on a down vertical. Road-blocks, riots, home-burnings, against the general public – all with local official support. Their aim is to coerce from the public a fear-based passivity and conformity to the politics of their program.

It matters very little in this sense, that they call themselves Antifa. While history moves in one direction, and historical parallels are fraught with contradictions, Antifa today in the most simple terms is recruited and built from that disenfranchised and permanently unemployed hodgepodge of people of various socioeconomic backgrounds, along with thrill-seeking youth (in that age-old quest for meaning, purpose, and identity) which formed the bulk of fascist mobs in the teens and twenties a hundred years ago in Europe.

When we understand that their ability to operate ‘above the law’ in many cases, find large groups of philanthropically minded lawyer’s groups (like the National Lawyers’ Guild) to work to have their charges dropped, district attorneys who are lenient, and the media industrial complex including monopoly social media, all work in coordinated fashion to enable the Antifa organization.

  1. Their Violence Has Not Once Been in Defense of Labor Strikes and Pickets

Their methods and tactics are entirely uninvolved in labor ‘general strike’ type strategies that would more correctly characterize them as traditionally leftist. As seen above, rather, their methods are taken solely from the rise of fascism. Their material financial base, as well as their methods and tactics are fascist, as we have shown. Legitimate left-wing movements arise from, and are materially (financially) rooted in organized labor at its base. The various superstuctural manifestations along the ideological plane, whether nationalist, fascist, social-democratic, communists, anarchist, etc., are not – in the final analysis – determinative of the class and socio-economic nature of its (conscious or not) ‘leftism’ in terms of its relation to organized labor.

  1. Their Cancel-Culture and Voter Disenfranchisement Campaign is Against Democracy

This critical in separating Antifa from historical bourgeois-democratic movements. In Marxian terms, in the transition from feudal modes of production to capitalist modes of production, the plutocracy helped arm and organize workers and peasants, the poor and disenfranchised, to overthrow the feudal nobility and usher in an history period characterized by bourgeois-democratic liberties and freedoms, which have come to characterize the ‘western tradition’ in modernity. Antifa is not a bourgeois-democratic movement because the U.S. is not a feudal, nor semi-feudal country, and also because their actions work against the existing rights to association and speech (cancel-culture), and work against enfranchisement as they have been operationalized towards a ballot harvesting scheme.

Concluding Commentary

The views of Griffin and Eco focus overwhelmingly upon the superstructural manifestations of the fascism of a century ago, so much so that Eco’s attempt to uncover an ‘Ur-fascism’, or generalized theory of identifying fascism, is an utter failure. Rather, Marxian analysis demonstrates that both historical fascism regardless of name as well as contemporary movements of the same essence are defined not by these superstructural manifestations (ideology, aesthetics, etc.) but rather by its driving base in terms of socio-economic class (economic foundation, private property, capital.

Election night and the weeks to follow will be met with a wave of violence larger than seen before. It will be difficult for those remaining on the left to understand that the Antifa foot soldiers are agents of capital, and not of labor. This is largely because of the gradual takeover of the left by new-left identity politics which crept slowly, and then rapidly, with May of 1968 and the Situationist moment being a key signifier.

We know that the FBI’s field offices which historically have infiltrated radical left-groups are also compromised, because we would otherwise see these FBI agents – whose work is often to act as agents provocateurs – to act as de-escalating agents urging calm from within the ranks of these fascistic Antifa outfits. We have not seen this, which is a key sign that the FBI at the very top is wrought with complicit activity, which incidentally is another piece of evidence in 5., above.

Perhaps it is ironic that Marxian analysis itself is best able to demonstrate that Antifa – whose members often describe themselves as Marxists (socialists, communists, etc.) – is in fact fascist.

The defense of the republic, of the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary gains of 1776-89 which were expanded in 1865, today rests upon election integrity, voter enfranchisement, and in a strange twist of fate, the Justice Department under AG Barr.

[Category: Americas, Society, World, Antifa, Fascism, Protests, United States]

As of 1/23/21 2:49am. Last new 11/2/20 8:22am.

Next feed in category: TASS