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Hier — 11 avril 2021Strategic Culture Foundation

Apple’s Quiet War on Independent Repairmen

Par A A

By Napoleon LINARTHATOS

In the past, a Goliath’s strength would be gauged in height measured in cubits, the brass of the helmet, the coat of mail with a weight in thousands of shekels in bronze and a spear’s head weighed in hundreds of shekels of iron. Nowadays, a Goliath corporation can just hire another Goliath, such as the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, with its 650 lawyers and 19 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. The firm boasts that “5 of the 10 world’s most valuable brands turn to Kilpatrick Townsend to grow and defend the value of their products and businesses.” One of those “5 of the 10 world’s most valuable brands” was interested in a video made by YouTuber Louis Rossmann.

When Rossmann was contacted by Kilpatrick Townsend on behalf of Apple he felt as if the grim reaper was knocking at his door. An owner of a small business, an Apple devices repair store, a few years back Rossman had started a YouTube channel to cover all things that interested him: Apple device repairs, business advice, personal advice, and occasionally, though more so of late, social or political commentary. The video that had gotten the attention of Apple was one in which Rossmann had showed a schematic of an Apple device and proceeded to show his viewers how they could fix their own device if they faced the same issue. For Apple, the act of showing the schematic on YouTube was a violation of its intellectual copyright. They wanted Rossmann to quietly make the video disappear. Rossmann hired a lawyer, and the lawyer advised that the request was sensible, there was no lawsuit, and thus the reasonable thing was to comply; besides, a genuine effort had been made to butter up Rossmann—the word came that both Kilpatrick Townsend and Apple liked his work. Rossmann thought about the option that he was given. Then he fired his lawyer.

The arrival of Kilpatrick Townsend gave Rossmann another push to get more involved in the Right to Repair movement. Right to Repair is a nationwide effort that aims to use legislation to return to consumers the choice of where and how to fix devices they own. Rossmann argues that what is going on now would be unthinkable just a few decades back. Corporations back then respected the consumers’ right to fix their stuff. Schematics were widely available, you could buy them at the local electronics store, or contact the manufacturer to send them to you. Appliances, like refrigerators, often came with a set of schematics and instructions for how to fix them.

Apple tries to inculcate in the minds of its customers an assumption that devices should only be repaired by the corporation and its controlled network of authorized repair stores. The controlled networks of the authorized repair stores are used to create the illusion of consumer choice while they act in a way of reinforcing and consolidating the corporation’s monopoly over the repair process. Jessa Jones, owner of an independent repair service who lobbies for Right to Repair, testified in Boston that her group up to that point had fixed 30,000 devices, “less than 5 percent” of which “would be considered fixable by authorized repairs.”

Rossmann does not like Apple. Many of his videos are about how the company is screwing, ripping off, torturing, and generally abusing its customers. There are videos where he explains why owning Apple products is a daft idea, or declares that the newest operating system “delivers big kick in the balls to Apple users.” Rossmann has a genuine, deep and merciless view of Apple.

Even knowing that, when I show up to Rossmann’s office for an interview I place an iPhone next to him to record our conversation. Then I pull out an iPad with my questions and an Apple pencil to jot things down. I raise my arm, pull up my sleeve, and look at an Apple watch, saying “we are on time.” I was looking for a reaction, but Rossmann remains calm, cool, and collected. There is a slight smirk forming in his face and that’s all I am going to get.

To explain how he makes a living off Apple repairs while at the same time he strongly dislikes the company and its products Rossmann tells me, “Oncologists don’t like cancer very much, they still try to help people with it.” What drives him nuts, he says, is when people pay for a device with a design flaw and are told at Apple’s Genius Bar that the problem is how they use that device. “Six months later a recall program would come out and they [customers] would bring it up [to Apple] and say can you fix this, sorry can’t. People would get screwed over and over again and still buy it.”

There are also problems that seem never to be fixed. Rossmann talks of a four-year-old design flaw in a 2016 Mac where a “52 volts of the line for the screen power is right next to the image line that’s one volt” creating serious problems for the owners. Often, it takes a long time for Apple to acknowledge such issues and sometimes it never does. A couple of days after our interview a U.S. District Judge sided with the plaintiffs against Apple saying that “Apple knowingly sold 2016-17 MacBook Pro models with ‘Flexgate’ display defect.”

Talking about the abuses of Apple is one of the reasons that Rossmann’s YouTube channel has been successful, with now more than 1.5 million subscribers. If Apple wants a video down Rossmann would like them to file a copyright claim. In doing so Apple would have to make its reasons public. “They would have to say ‘We object to Louis showing where the fuse is’,” he said.“I want you to publicly state on the record you don’t want your customers to know where the keyboard fuse is.”

study from 2011 found “that customers who used independent auto repair shops spent about 24 percent less on repairs each year.” That very important price differential was achieved while the small repair shops faced substantial artificial barriers in doing business. In the tech realm, Apple uses its enormous financial heft as a purchaser of parts in order to force its suppliers in contracts that prohibit them from selling parts to independent repair stores. Rossmann has to get on Skype with people around the globe that specialize in part dumpster dives in order to find parts that suppliers are not permitted to sell him. At other times he has to buy a whole device only to retrieve a single chip out of it. One can only imagine the savings for the consumers if an open market were allowed to operate when it comes to parts, schematics, and diagrams.

A 2018 show by CBC, the Canadian public broadcast service, highlighted Apple’s predatory practices. A MacBook is taken to an Apple store for repair as CBC wanted to test the pervasive perception that Apple’s customers are “wildly overcharged.” The Apple store employee informs the undercover journalist that fixing the computer will cost 1,200 Canadian dollars. They might as well get a new computer. Then CBC takes the same computer with the same problem to Rossmann in New York.

It takes a couple of seconds for Rossmann to figure out the problem and about a minute and a half to fix it. There is “a pin that is sticking out.” The pin is put in place and the connector is plugged in. Problem solved and zero charge. The show goes on to show the many ways that Apple impedes repairs. Special-made non-standard screws so the devices cannot be easily opened, gluing batteries that do not need to be glued in, and so on. Then there is the issue of planned obsolescence, where older iPhones become significantly slower after a system update. All to make independent repairs much more difficult; all to make the purchase of a new device the more practical option.

The size of a corporation like Apple allows it to shield itself from the consequences of the policies it advocates. Backing leftist policies at home while stashing the cash abroad allows for virtue signaling at the best possible side of the profit margin. Apple’s tiny competitors on the device repair space don’t have those options. They cannot do their work in a cheap sweatshop abroad; they cannot direct their profits to a bank account in Ireland.

Apple’s predatory practices of today become the industry standard of tomorrow. At least up to 2019, Apple captured 66 percent of all profits of the mobile phone industry globally. The corporation that makes the most profit as it sells you a new device goes out of its way to restrict and squeeze every possible penny out of the repair process. How can any other corporation competing in the same space, making much less money than Apple with the sale of new devices, justify to its board and shareholders selling devices that can be repaired easily and cheaply? The mobile phone business is a tough one, with Samsung getting just 17 percent of profits, and everybody else straggling with what’s left. On April 5 LG announced that it was exiting “the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector.”

Apple uses acquisitions to eliminate competition, acquiring future competitors or acquiring technology that could have been available to its present competitors. GlobalData, an information services company, found that Apple “bought more AI companies than anyone else between 2016 and 2020.” When it comes to independent repair stores, Apple employs a different strategy. It tries to cancel them as an idea, as a way of doing business, as a legitimate  consumer choice. Planned obsolescence is coming to the independent repair store. It is interesting how Apple responded to the aforementioned news report by CBC. What it chose to say in its own defense was that “their customers are best served by Apple’s certified experts using genuine parts.” Apparently, the contractual restrictions Apple has imposed on its suppliers  are what makes it better at this.

In the past few years Right to Repair supporters have gathered in state legislatures across America trying to establish a competitive marketplace for repairs. Some of Rossmann’s videos take us to these initiatives. The Right to Repair crew don’t  seem to fit in the halls of power, in their jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies, a congregation of misfits. How unaccustomed we have become to the visual of ordinary people trying to persuade their representatives. There are legislators in the building, corporate lobbyists and then these people. These people are the only ones losing money by being there. As Rossmann goes around with his microphone we meet the guy with the repair store in the middle of nowhere; we meet Jessa Jones, the stay-at-home mom with a Ph.D. in molecular genetics, who started fixing devices after her toddler twins had flushed her brand new iPhone down the toilet; we meet the guy who was stocking shelves at Walmart in the early hours of the morning and just made it in.

On the other side, the corporate lobbying side, all is proper and posh. The right shoes, the right ties, shirts, and suits. The proud cogs of the machine. At the legislatures they feel right at home and it shows. They know they can kill the Right to Repair bill in committee. Nothing much to worry about. Their statements are generic, formulaic, vehemently nonspecific, and boring to the point of suicide. Rossmann is trying now to go directly to the people with a GoFundMe that has raised hundreds of thousands in a matter of days. Nevertheless, the future of the Right to Repair movement and the independent repair shop seems uncertain.

What is not uncertain is what it is all about: The right to repair is nothing more than the effort to reinstate the individual’s rights of ownership. It is a movement so contrary to the new subscription model of life, where you are always one payment away from losing it all. An environment of centralized control, where everything is always supervised, curated and monitored by a managerial class increasingly skeptical of the individual will. We are being conditioned to a state of digital serfdom, as if it has been algorithmically dictated that individual choice and individuality are no more. The Right to Repair is the glitch to the propertyless future before us.

theamericanconservative.com

Sunbeams From Cucumbers: The View From the Khanate of Kaganstan

Par A A

“Putin’s disinformation campaigns” are so clever that they use real information, Patrick Armstrong writes.

We now have the complete set, so to speak. The Khans of the Khanate of Kaganstan have both spoken. The husband in A Superpower, Like It or Not and the wife in Pinning Down Putin: How a Confident America Should Deal With Russia; he, so to speak, is the theorist and she the practitioner. She, Victoria Nuland, is back in power as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. She is, of course, infamous for the leaked phonecall during the Maidan putsch. He, Robert Kagan, is one of the founders of the – what now has to be seen as ill-named – Project for the New American Century.

I mentioned Kagan’s piece in an earlier essay and found it remarkable for two things – the flat learning curve it displays and its atmosphere of desperation. PNAC was started in a time of optimism about American power: it was the hyperpower and nothing was impossible for it. Its role in the world should be, Kagan confidently wrote in 1996, “Benevolent global hegemony”. Washington should be the world HQ:

superpower, love it!

A quarter century later his message is:

superpower, endure it.

Quite a difference. Today “there is no escape from global responsibility… the task of maintaining a world order is unending and fraught with costs but preferable to the alternative”.

Kagan is at a loss to explain his difference in tone, or, more likely, he’s unaware of it. The reason, however, is quite easy to understand – failure. Washington followed the neocons’ advice into disaster: it’s been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for two decades and it’s losing. The forever wars have come home: its economy is fading, its politics are shattered, its debt load is stunning, its social harmony is eroding. It’s not at the top of the hill any more. Brzezinski warned that a Russia-China alliance would be the greatest threat to U.S. predominance but thought it could be averted by skilful diplomacy. Well, as it turned out, U.S. actions (the word “diplomacy” is hardly applicable) drove Moscow and Beijing together and the strong domestic base that they all took for granted is crumbling. And, to a large extent, it has been the neocons, the wars they encouraged, the exceptionalism they displayed, the arrogance they embodied, that has created this state of affairs. Kagan should look in the mirror if he wants to know why Americans’ perception of superpower status changed from exultant opportunity to dreary duty.

With this background, we turn our attention to Nuland’s views about what should be done about Russia (“Putin’s Russia” of course – these people personalise everything). Her piece entertainingly marries stunning ignorance about Russia to stunning naïvety about prescriptions. There is no point in boring the reader by trudging through her nonsense, so I will just pick a few things.

Those three are enough – Victoria Nuland, for all that she pretends to superior knowledge, is absurdly unaware of the real situation in Russia. And it’s not as if it’s all that hidden, either: all the sources I mention above are in English and easy to find. In her world, Russia is guilty of everything Rachel Maddow says it is, including using cyberweapons against electrical grids.

What are her prescriptions? And, again, for someone who poses as an expert on Russia, they’re laughable. Her general theme is that Washington and its allies have let Putin get away with too much for too long and it’s time to take back control:

Washington and its allies have forgotten the statecraft that won the Cold War and continued to yield results for many years after. That strategy required consistent U.S. leadership at the presidential level, unity with democratic allies and partners, and a shared resolve to deter and roll back dangerous behavior by the Kremlin. It also included incentives for Moscow to cooperate and, at times, direct appeals to the Russian people about the benefits of a better relationship. Yet that approach has fallen into disuse, even as Russia’s threat to the liberal world has grown.

Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election this coming fall will—and should—try again with Putin. The first order of business, however, must be to mount a more unified and robust defense of U.S. and allied security interests wherever Moscow challenges them. From that position of strength, Washington and its allies can offer Moscow cooperation when it is possible. They should also resist Putin’s attempts to cut off his population from the outside world and speak directly to the Russian people about the benefits of working together and the price they have paid for Putin’s hard turn away from liberalism.

In short: reassert “leadership”, “resolve”, “position of strength”; the now familiar PNAC “strategy” that has failed for twenty-five years.

A few gems stick out.

  • “No matter how hard Washington and its allies tried to persuade Moscow that NATO was a purely defensive alliance that posed no threat to Russia, it continued to serve Putin’s agenda to see Europe in zero-sum terms.” No comment necessary or possible: this is just as solipsistic as describing a Russian military exercise in Russia as “Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression“.
  • The U.S. and its allies should continue “maintaining robust defense budgets”. As if they weren’t already hugely outspending Moscow. She knows they aren’t keeping up because she goes on to say they must spend more to “protect against Russia’s new weapons systems”. Perhaps the West’s behaviour has something to do with this? Perhaps a lot of the Western spending is a waste? No, too much for her: she can sometimes glimpse reality but her exceptionalism prevents her from seeing it.
  • “The one lesson Putin appears to have learned from the Cold War is that U.S. President Ronald Reagan successfully bankrupted the Soviet Union by forcing a nuclear arms race”. No, the lesson that Putin learned is that enough is enough and too much is too much. Brezhnev & Co didn’t get that. It’s the S. that will bankrupt itself chasing down “full-spectrum dominance”.

But the most ridiculous suggestion is surely this:

With appropriate security screening, the United States and others could permit visa-free travel for Russians between the ages of 16 and 22, allowing them to form their own opinions before their life paths are set. Western states should also consider doubling the number of government-supported educational programs at the college and graduate levels for Russians to study abroad and granting more flexible work visas to those who graduate.

She seems to think that its 1990-something. But, in the real world it’s 2021. Russians have been to the West; Russians know about it; they travel; all over the place. If Nuland ever left her bubble she would see that every European tourist spot has Russian-language guidebooks. I read through her screed with growing contempt but that really sealed it for me: Victoria Nuland hasn’t got a clue. The truth is, that the more Russians see of the West, the less impressed they are. Just ask Mariya Butina.

Again a bit of reality leaks through, from time to time, but she is incapable of reflection:

The first order of business is to restore the unity and confidence of U.S. alliances in Europe and Asia and end the fratricidal rhetoric, punitive trade policies, and unilateralism of recent years. The United States can set a global example for democratic renewal by investing in public health, innovation, infrastructure, green technologies, and job retraining while reducing barriers to trade.

Actually, doing all this is quite a big job; a very big job; too big a job in fact. And, even if Washington were to seriously start “investing in public health, innovation, infrastructure, green technologies, and job retraining while reducing barriers to trade”, remedying the numerous deficiencies would take many years.

Another thing that she dimly perceives is the gap between Russian and American weapons capabilities. Of course she can’t see any connection between that and U.S./NATO behaviour or Washington’s forever wars: it’s just another nasty thing done by that nasty man in the Kremlin. However, it is actually encouraging that she knows, however dimly; it creates the possibility that she understands that an actual war with Russia would be a bad idea. So that’s something, anyway.

* * *

However, enough consideration of this ill-informed, complacent, unrealistic sunbeam. If this were a comparative treatise on the American extraction of sunbeams from cucumbers as contrasted with the failed attempts of the so-called savants of Laputa it would be amusing, but the author of this footling effort is a few arm’s lengths away from The Nuclear Button. It is not a joke.

The fading Imperium Americanum is influenced by dangerous ignoramuses like Nuland and her husband. Everything they have suggested has failed: they start in complacency, add to it ignorance and learn nothing; but they’re still there. It’s very frightening.

* * *

Speaking of “Putin’s information stranglehold”, Nuland’s essay is available at INOSMI translated into Russian and so is her husband’s. Russians can read this stuff and form their own opinions. “Putin’s disinformation campaigns” are so clever that they use real information.

We won’t tell you that they’re dangerous idiots;
we’ll let them tell you that they’re dangerous idiots.

Reducing U.S. Military Spending Always Meets With Resistance; Increasing It Never Does

Par A A

By Caitlin JOHNSTONE

Last year Senator Bernie Sanders led a public push to reduce the insanely bloated US military budget by a paltry ten percent. His push splatted headfirst against a bipartisan solid steel wall which shut him down definitively.

Sanders’ bill was killed in the Senate by a vote of 23 to 77, with half of Senate Democrats stepping up to help Republicans stomp it dead. It’s companion bill in the House of Representatives was killed by a margin of 93 to 324, with a majority of House Democrats (92 to 139) voting nay.

Contrast those numbers with those who voted to approve Trump’s $741 billion military budget this past December. The House voted to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) budget by a margin of 335 to 78, 195 of those yes votes coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. The Senate passed that same budget by 84 to 13. This was a substantial increase from the previous year’s budget, a trend which has remained unbroken for years.

From Macrotrends:

  • U.S. military spending/defense budget for 2019 was $731.75B, a 7.22% increase from 2018.
  • U.S. military spending/defense budget for 2018 was $682.49B, a 5.53% increase from 2017.
  • U.S. military spending/defense budget for 2017 was $646.75B, a 1.08% increase from 2016.
  • U.S. military spending/defense budget for 2016 was $639.86B, a 0.95% increase from 2015.

And those are just the official numbers going directly to the official “defense” budget. As a Nation article titled “America’s Defense Budget Is Bigger Than You Think” explained in 2019, once you add up the full costs of US wars, preparations for wars, and the impact of those wars, the annual budget is actually already well in excess of a trillion dollars.

And now, under the “harm reduction” candidate Joe Biden, it’s about to get even bigger.

BREAKING: Biden proposes a $753,000,000,000 Pentagon budget, a significant increase from last year’s budget.

— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) April 9, 2021

“President Biden is requesting a $753 billion defense budget for next fiscal year, with $715 billion of that going to the Pentagon,” reads a new report from The Hill, which notes that the White House said the Defense Department budget “prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the department’s top challenge.”

The Public Citizen advocacy group has criticized the move in a statement, saying “The Pentagon budget — which jumped more than $130 billion during the Trump presidency — is replete with spending on overpriced weapons that don’t work, rip-off deals for private contractors, gigantic investments in pointless or outdated weapons systems, and waste and mismanagement so severe the agency cannot pass an audit. It is, indeed, a tribute to the power of the military-industrial complex.”

“There are hundreds of billions of dollars to be saved by appropriate cuts to the Pentagon budget,” Public Citizen adds. “What is most important for the FY22 budget is that it be smaller than FY21, in order to signal that we are finally moving in the right direction and shifting resources from the Pentagon to investments in people.”

We may be absolutely certain that the Biden administration will get the spending increase it seeks, because that’s how it always works. When there’s a push for a ten percent reduction to a military budget which already exceeds that of the next ten countries combined, the move is dismissed as crazy and extremist. Whenever there’s a push to increase that obscene military budget, it’s “Why yes Mister President, anything you wish Mister President, we’ve got the papers all drawn up already for you Mister President.” It slides right in with no inertia whatsoever, like it’s been lubricated with Astroglide.

A political establishment which thinks it’s crazy and extremist to reduce a morbidly obese military budget by ten percent is a crazy and extremist political establishment. A political establishment which thinks it’s sane and moderate to increase a morbidly obese military budget is a crazy and extremist political establishment.

The plutocratic media exist to normalize the inexcusable act of robbing from the citizenry to murder people overseas in unceasing acts of military interventionism to benefit war profiteers and secure unipolar planetary hegemony, to make it seem like this is not such a big deal and mollify the public’s righteous indignation at this atrocity. But it is a big deal. It’s a very, very big deal.

We cannot progress to a healthy world as long as we’re being successfully propagandized into accepting endless slaughter and theft as normal and acceptable. We continue to allow ourselves to be led by murderous psychopaths at our own peril.

caityjohnstone.medium.com

À partir d’avant-hierStrategic Culture Foundation

Ukraine, Taiwan… Two-Prong U.S. Aggression Toward Russia, China

Par A A

All people of the world should hope that a multipolar world vision prevails and the destructive American ideology fails – definitively.

There is a close parallel in the way the Biden administration is riling up dangerous tensions with Russia and China. The proxy in both cases are the Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively.

Washington is citing claims that Russia and China are threatening its allies which, in turn, provides a pretext for the United States to step up its own provocative actions. It’s a vicious cycle that is at grave risk of spinning out of control into an all-out war between nuclear powers.

In just three months after his inauguration as the 46th U.S. president, Joe Biden’s administration has embarked on a reckless course of belligerence toward Russia and China. This dynamic was predicted by Strategic Culture Foundation in several of our commentaries and interviews before Biden was inaugurated on January 20.

However, this systematic hostility from the United States has been underway from several past administrations, including the previous Trump White House and before that the Obama administrations in which Biden served as vice president. Now as president, Biden is taking up a continuous policy of aggression with even more gusto. This invariable direction of belligerence tends to prove the real nature of U.S. politics. Presidents come and go, elections take place periodically, but the power and policymaking resides with deep state planners whose loyalty is not to any particular party but rather to the furtherance of imperial objectives regarding America’s presumed global position and privileges.

The current president and his top aides, like before, bring a certain stylistic image to the underlying thrust of power. Team Biden have sharpened the rhetoric of adversity, repeatedly labelling Moscow and China as “existential threats”. Practical acts of hostility have followed, including imposing sanctions on Russia over its Nord Stream 2 gas project with Europe; and on China over baseless claims of “genocide” against its Uyghur ethnic population in Xinjiang.

The Biden administration is turning reality on its head, either through cynical deception or from its own cognitive dissonance regarding the real world. (Most certainly the former for the deep state planners, maybe the latter for the politician puppets.)

It accuses Russia of aggression by building up military forces on the border with Ukraine. This is while the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev has been serially violating a shaky ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, shelling civilian centers and escalating a humanitarian crisis. Russia has every right to deploy military forces wherever it deems within its borders. Moscow has rejected claims that it is posing a threat to any other country. Nonetheless, this week the Kremlin said the deteriorating security conditions in Eastern Ukraine (the Donbass) may oblige it to defend ethnic Russians facing a criminal offensive. That offensive is being waged by the Kiev regime which has the full support of the United States and the NATO military alliance. Only last month, the Biden administration released a further $125 million in lethal weaponry to the Ukraine. That can be seen as a green light for the regime in Kiev to reject the 2015 Minsk peace accord and to push for more conflict in what has already been a seven-year war, causing more than 13,000 deaths. (The war was instigated after the U.S., EU and NATO backed a coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 which brought to power an anti-Russian regime with historic links to Nazi Germany.)

Yet in the Alice-in-Wonderland view of Washington, as well as the European Union and NATO, the aggression is being instigated by Russia.

As for China and Taiwan: Biden is advancing the same policy under the previous Trump and Obama administrations of military buildup near China’s territory. This week saw the fourth U.S. guided-missile destroyer passing through the Taiwan Strait since Biden took office. That narrow sea separates the breakaway island from China’s mainland. Beijing has sovereign territorial claim to Taiwan which is recognized by the vast majority of nations, including up until recently the United States under its so-called “One China” policy. Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, is deliberately eroding the One China policy by sending delegates to the island on official visits, increasing weapons sales and most provocatively making public declarations that the U.S. will “defend” Taiwan in the event of “an invasion” by Chinese forces.

Similar to the Ukraine, the Biden administration’s rhetoric and conduct is serving to fuel an ever-more provocative stance by the Taiwanese leaders. This week, a senior official warned that the island’s forces would shoot down Chinese aircraft that approach the territory. This is nothing but a flagrant challenge to China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As in the case of the Ukraine and Russia, it is Washington’s words and actions that are inflaming the tensions between Taiwan and China. Yet the Americans accuse others of “aggression” and claim to be providing “defense”.

The bigger picture for all of this is, of course, the geopolitical great game which Washington sees as a zero-sum challenge. Strategists in Washington have made it abundantly clear that the American imperative for pursuing its ambitions for global power and dominance is to prevent the rise of Russia and China and a multipolar world order. Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly called for a peaceful coexistence among nations based on partnership, mutual respect and above all adherence to international law. In short, the manifestation of the United Nations Charter.

Such a multipolar world of equals is anathema to the United States and its imperialist pursuit of unipolar dominance. The latter configuration is essential for maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency which, in turn, is vital for propping up the U.S. economy. For historical reasons, American capitalism is waning from its previous formidable prowess as the world’s engine for growth. The tide is shifting to China and Eurasia which offer an alternative model of socialistic planned economies, based on a mix of public and private ownership, which are directed at progressing societal development. China’s success in lifting millions of its people out of poverty while millions of Americans fall into poverty indicates the end of an “America Century”. The United States, under its prevailing corporate capitalist system, cannot compete with the emerging multipolar order. By way of trying to reverse the historic decline, the U.S. is compelled to resort to increasing militarism against what it perceives as its nemesis – Russia and China – the two main proponents of a multipolar vision.

It is therefore logical, if not execrable, that Washington appears to be accelerating on a collision course against Russia and China. The speed and recklessness is correlated with the growing sense that the American Empire is in terminal demise. The Ukraine and Taiwan are providing the U.S. with a two-prong attack against Russia and China and what Washington views as its last chance to grasp on to a world that is disappearing before its eyes. America’s reckless and delusional gambling is placing the world in an extremely dangerous situation. Its rulers and their political flunkies are flicking matches at a powder-keg.

All people of the world should hope that a multipolar world vision prevails and the destructive American ideology fails – definitively.

Baltic: ‘NATO Allies and Partners From Across the Globe’ Prepare for ‘Real-World Fight’ With Russia

Par A A

By Rick ROZOFF

As the U.S-led DefenderEurope 2021 war games continue in twelve European nations into June, NATO has recently concluded both naval and ground war exercises in the Baltic states.

The DefenderEurope 2021 exercises include estimates of as many as 37,000 troops from at least 27 NATO member and partner states and appear to be based entirely in Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and the Black Sea. Comprehensive figures are not verifiable, but there is every reason to believe this is the largest U.S.-NATO military exercise since the Cod War; and moreover one occurring as Russia and Ukraine, steadfastly backed by the U.S. and NATO, are at loggerheads over renewed fighting in the Donbass region of what was formerly Eastern Ukraine.

NATO’s Allied Command Operations website reports today that the military alliance completed the eight-day Crystal Arrow 2021 exercise which was run by U.S. Army forces in conjunction with two NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Groups, from Latvia and Lithuania. (The other two NATO Battle Groups are in Estonia and Poland.)

The following paragraph is a condensed case study in NATO war plans:

“NATO Allies and partners from across the globe came together to support and participate with NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group Latvia to increase cooperation, compatibility and interoperability in the event of a real-world fight against any foreign aggressors who would threaten Latvia’s boarders.”

The use of the plural in the word aggressors is disingenuous. NATO and the U.S. are training “allies and partners across the globe” for a “real-world fight” against only one alleged aggressor, Latvia’s neighbor Russia. The same country that the massive DefenderEurope war games are aimed at. (Though in both series of exercises Belarus will also be targeted as a “frontline state.”)

As regards the launching of the Crystal Arrow exercise on March 23, the NATO report waxed lively: “U.S. Abrams tanks joined German Leopard tanks to race across the open field marking the start of an eight-day exercise at the Ādaži military training area, Latvia….”

It would have to have been the very archetype of Cold War nightmare themes among Russians in the Soviet Union to see American and German tanks on their border. Now they’re right there. And not alone.

Overlapping with the ground exercise, NATO also held three-day naval drills off the coasts of Latvia and Estonia with half of NATO’s Standing Naval Forces, Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1). NATO Standing Naval Forces are described by the bloc as “the core of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Maritime)” which “provide constant high-readiness maritime capabilities that can quickly and effectively respond across the full spectrum of operations in support of any NATO operations.” The SNMG1 was led by the Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax.

By way of reminder, in the past twenty-two years NATO operations have included air and ground wars in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 are permanently assigned to Northern and Western European waters, including the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea “and their maritime approaches.” Russia borders the Norwegian Sea and the Baltic Sea with its Kaliningrad exclave where Russia has its Baltic Fleet.

The U.S. and NATO would desire nothing as much as detaching Kaliningrad (former German Königsberg) from Russia and evicting the Baltic Fleet – as it is supporting Ukraine’s claim to Crimea so as to evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. That dual objective accomplished, Russia is cut off from the West by water approaches to the North and Mediterranean Seas.

Through the incorporation of fourteen new Eastern European nations as members, and forty nations around the world as partners, in the last thirty years, NATO has transformed the Baltic and Black Seas into its military outposts. What separates the two seas is Ukraine, the final link in the military cordon the U.S. and NATO have solidified along Russia’s western border. What in former eras would have been known as a siege. With a naval blockade into the bargain.

ANTI-BELLUM

Kerry Lunges Into India With Anti-BRI Agenda Bringing Green Suicide for All

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Despite the fact that a “Green BRI doppelganger” has been on the books since 2018, the plan was generally acknowledged to be an unworkable green boondoggle and fell out of interest for quite some time. Now it is being revived.

As the China-Russian-Iran alliance continues to gain new momentum spreading win-win cooperation and development across Asia, Africa and the World, the dying unipolar system run by detached militarists, financiers and technocrats is doubling down on its weird mix of 1) a “scorched earth” offensive threat to “dissuade” China and Russia from continuing on their current trajectory and 2) a “positive” green game on which nations are invited to tie their destinies as an alternative to China’s BRI.

Everyone reading this should already be aware of the “scorched earth” Full Spectrum dominance policy targeting Russia and China.

However, what is less appreciated even among the most geopolitically savvy anti-imperialists today is what sort of “positive” green game is being deployed to subvert the $3 trillion Belt and Road Initiative which has already won over 136 participating nations and which geopolicians understand to be a mortal threat to their desired world order.

A U.S.-Led Alternative to the BRI

According to Biden’s own remarks during his March 26 call to Boris Johnson, the USA must create “an infrastructure plan to rival the Belt and Road Initiative.”

This agenda was amplified by John Kerry’s foray to India, Bangladesh and the UAE from April 1-11 where the Presidential Climate Envoy has been deployed to set the stage for the April 22-23 International Leaders Summit on Climate to be hosted by Joe Biden.

Now, in principle, a U.S.-version of the BRI is not intrinsically a bad idea.

However, this idea could only function in the real world IF the USA were to give up its unipolar imperial ambitions and return to the anti-imperial constitutional traditions which once animated its greatest leaders like Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, FDR and JFK. Under influence of the technocrats managing the current Biden presidency in post-color revolution USA, that option is about as far from reality as one can imagine.

On the other hand, were the USA to stick with the Great Reset Agenda which is attempting to undo the industrial revolution under the cover of “reducing global emissions” to zero by 2050 as the Paris Accords proclaim, then any idea of a viable U.S.-led BRI doppelganger is pre-doomed to fail by its own internal self-contradictions.

What is the main self-contradiction of this “development agenda”?

The nations of the earth need to develop. They have objectively verifiable and measurable constraints to their ability to support their populations based on limits to agriculture, industry, energy, education and transportation. Decades of unchallenged Anglo-American dominance has only exacerbated these problems to the acute degrees we find today.

That’s why they are embracing China’s Belt and Road so enthusiastically.

Unlike the World Bank and IMF practices over the past 70 years, China is extending financing to all participating nations based on conditionality-free, low interest practices that create long term, genuine development, and full spectrum economies in every nation it touches. This is how China has met its goals of wiping out extreme poverty at home in a relative blink of an eye.

Despite the countless billions of dollars of loans extended to the poorest nations of the world since the earliest days of the Cold War, poverty, war, insecurity, terrorism and debt slavery have become more rampant today than ever before. The recent March 23 Hunger Hotspots Report issued by the World Food Program and FAO outlined hundreds of millions of people suffering acute food insecurity around the world with Syria, the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Haiti and South Sudan toping the list. U.S.-led imperial intrigue, financial loans, speculative warfare and humanitarian “aid” to all of these countries should not be seen as coincidental to their currently dismal situation.

China, on the other hand, is ensuring that these nations acquire genuine development, great megaprojects, interconnectivity via roads, ports and rail as well as local industrial production and engineering expertise via trade schools and on-the-ground training under Chinese experts. Investments into all forms of energy required to build megaprojects is on the table without any green conditionalities as we find being imposed by western technocrats.

Kerry’s Green Delusion Exposed in India

Compare this with John Kerry’s demands that India and Bangladesh embrace de-carbonization strategies in the build up to the April 22-23 climate conference and the latter COP26 summit in December. The delusional foundations of Kerry’s thinking were eloquently exposed by Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, a leading member of Modi’s Council on Climate Change who told the Hindustan Ties on March 30:

“First, it would require us to immediately scrap all existing coal-based power plants and factories, or alternatively, retrofit them with carbon-capture and storage technology. This would entail astronomical costs at a time when the economy is already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dasgupta called out the hypocrisy and imperial agenda’s underlying this apparently altruistic green agenda saying:

“It would necessitate an immediate switch-over to imported, existing clean energy technologies at a huge cost, denying our own industry the time required for indigenization or development of affordable indigenous technologies. Let us not forget that the U.S. lodged a complaint against us at the WTO when we took some modest measures to promote domestic manufacture of solar cells and modules… we need to examine the trade-related implications of surrendering our principled position on ‘common and differentiated responsibilities.’ The European Union is set to impose levies on carbon-intensive imports, even from developing countries. It would be naive to think that the countries calling on India to adopt a 2050 net-zero target are motivated purely by altruistic concerns unrelated to commercial interests.”

OSOWOG Revived

Despite the fact that a “Green BRI doppelganger” has been on the books since 2018 when the OSOWOG Plan was unveiled as a World Bank-financed/British Commonwealth-run initiative, the plan was generally acknowledged to be an unworkable green boondoggle and fell out of interest for quite some time. However, a flurry of renewed media propaganda over the past few months has attempted to drive this green zombie back into the zeitgeist as witnessed by Forbes’ recent promotional coverage of the plan. The authors of the Forbes fluff piece stated:

“The idea behind OSOWOG is that the sun never sets. An inter-continental grid can be instrumental in harnessing the sun’s energy (and all other forms of renewable energy) by optimally leveraging the differences in time zones, seasons, resources, and prices between countries and regions. This is particularly helpful for decarbonising countries which have limited avenues of harnessing renewable energy and heavily reliant on fossil fuels.”

The plan’s outline is broken up into three phases which is somewhat reminiscent of the famous “underpants gnome plot” from South Park.

The World Bank-connected authors describe how in phase one, solar panels will be spread across South Asia, Southwest Asia and the Middle East with India serving as the driving force. Completely skipping over how phase one could realistically happen, the technicians describe phase two which sees North Africa swiftly covered in solar panels (see: Desertec part deux) and as if by magic, both regions would be connected via green grids. In the final third phase, this new green energy hub cutting across the Eurasian Heartland from Africa through Asia, would then be extended to the entire globe.

When all of this is somehow finished by 2050, the world as a whole would be forever relieved of its dependence on dirty energy sources like oil, natural gas and nuclear as we collectively are steered into a new age of clean zero-growth, sustainable mediocrity under a technocratic elite managing the levers of consumption and production under a post-nation state world order.

Three basic questions might arise at this point:

1) How would such large-scale green megaprojects be funded by western nations who are sitting on top of a multi-quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble of speculative capital ready to blow out into a hyperinflationary collapse that will make Weimar 1923 look like a cake walk?

Answer: It can’t.

2) Even if green solar grids could be constructed across the heartland cutting across (and disrupting) the East-West New Silk Road, how could such forms of green energy- long known for its unreliability, high costs and low-quality energy output be capable of meeting the needs of the people of the world wracked by generations of poverty and underdevelopment?

Answer: It can’t.

3) So why would any nation go along with this sort of plan when viable alternatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and broader Multipolar Alliance already exist with olive branches open to all?

Answer: If they are not suicidal, then they won’t.

This last answer obviously creates a bit of an uncomfortable ambiguity since the thesis that “nations are not suicidal” is rather indefensible at this moment in time.

Suicidal Ideation as a Bad Foreign Policy Paradigm

Based upon their words and actions, any onlooker endowed with a basic IQ level would have to come to the conclusion that many nations have demonstrated a high degree of suicidal behavior in recent years. From pumping trillions of dollars into zombie, to shutting down entire economies in response to viruses with relatively low fatality rates, to encircling Russia and China with belligerent military postures, to pouring flames onto the fires of radical jihadi terrorist and neo-Nazi groups, to shutting down the foundations of industrial energy needs requisite to support existing population levels, to burning food for bioethanol- there is very little western governments have done in recent years which gives any strong indication that the desire to survive is strong.

The fact that many of those suicidal nations are concentrated in the Trans-Atlantic City of London-dominated zone of influence and have seen their nationalist leaders fall under assassins bullets many decades ago in order for supranational “deep state” operations to infuse themselves into positions of control should be kept firmly in mind. This fact helps remind us that we are not dealing with conventional “sovereign nation states” as some commentators make the foolish habit of doing, but rather we are dealing with a supranational financier oligarchy utilizing its influence across bureaucratic, media, military industrial, academic, and corporate lines of control.

Whether or not India, or any other nation among NATO (and newly emerging Pacific NATO Quad) has the moral fitness to survive will depend on how fast they realize that their genuine interests are not located in green grids or military confrontation with Russia and China but rather in dropping zero sum thinking in order to work with the Multipolar Alliance as collaborators.

The author can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Tim Kirby, Joaquin Flores – The Strategy Session, Episode 12

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The so-called ‘cancel culture,’ should it continue on its iron track, will spell the doom of US democracy only to be replaced by something altogether un-American, Robert Bridge writes. Joaquin and Tim discuss his article.

Pentagon Campaign to Recruit Vietnam as Military Ally Against China Exposed Delusions of U.S. War Strategy

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After convincing itself Vietnam would grant it access for missile bases against China, the Pentagon got a hard dose of reality.

By Gareth PORTER

When the Pentagon began gearing up for a future war with China in 2018, Defense Department officials quickly realized that they needed access to Vietnamese territory for troops armed with missiles to hit Chinese ships in a US-China conflict. So they initiated an aggressive campaign to lobby the Vietnamese government, and even Communist Party officials, in the hope that they would eventually support an agreement to provide them the permission.

But a Grayzone investigation of the Pentagon’s lobbying push in Vietnam shows what a delusional exercise it was from its inception. In a fit of self-deception that highlighted the desperation behind the bid, the US military ignored abundant evidence that Vietnam had no intention of giving up its longstanding, firmly grounded policy of equidistance between the United States and China.

Vietnam as a key base in US war strategy

Between 2010 and 2017, China developed intermediate-range missiles capable of hitting American bases in Japan and South Korea. To counter that threat, the Pentagon and military services began working on a new strategy in which US Marines, accompanied by an array of missiles, would spread out over a network of small, rudimentary bases and move continuously from one base to another.

Vietnam was the logical choice for such sites. Australia and the Philippines publicly ruled out hosting US missiles capable of hitting China, and South Korea was considered unlikely to agreeIndonesia and Singapore were too economically dependent on China to be interested.

But as Chris Dougherty, the former Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development who had written large parts of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, told the Military Times last September, “Vietnam has some wonderful geography. You can have good external lines against the Chinese.” Pentagon strategists also knew that Vietnam had soundly defeated a poorly conceived Chinese invasion in 1979 designed to punish the Vietnamese for their ties with the Soviet Union.

The Pentagon’s focus on Vietnam began when then-Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Vietnam in both 2017 and 2018, meeting several times with Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich, who had previously visited him in Washington. During his January 2018 visit, Mattis waxed enthusiastically about the future of US-Vietnam cooperation, calling the two countries “like-minded partners.”

In April 2019 the Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip S. Davidson visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City during a four-day trip. Mattis’s successor, Mark Esper, went even further in a November 2019 trip, meeting not only with the defense minister, Lich, but with Executive Secretary of the Communist Party Tran Quoc Vuong as well. Officials were pleased with what they believed was a breakthrough for the Pentagon, despite the Vietnamese Defense Ministry’s abrupt cancellation of fifteen previously planned “defense engagements” with the United States without public explanation the previous month.

In their pursuit of Vietnam’s active involvement in its new war strategy, however, the Defense Department and military brass were ignoring the fundamental fact that the Communist Party of Vietnam and military leadership were not going to budge from the strategic policy to which it had been publicly committed for two full decades.

The policy was summed up in three fundamental principles: no military alliances, no aligning with one country against another, and no foreign military bases on Vietnamese soil. The Vietnamese commitment to those “three noes”, first made public in a national defense White Paper published in 1998, was repeated in successive White Papers in 2004 and 2009.

Those principles clearly ruled out the kind of military cooperation that the Pentagon sought from Vietnam, but there was apparently too much at stake for top Pentagon officials to let that reality stand in the way of their enthusiasm.

The Defense Department’s main corporate research arm, the RAND Corporation, which was heavily invested in the idea of a viable new military strategy for war with China, was equally unwilling to acknowledge the truth. In January 2019, Derek Grossman, RAND’s specialist on Vietnamese defense policy, publicly reassured the policymakers that Hanoi was not really bound by any of those three “three noes.” On the principle of “no military alliances,” he claimed that Vietnam had “essentially created a major loophole in its own rule” by defining alliance as a military agreement requiring another country to defend Vietnam if it were attacked. He came up with equally creative explanations for why the other “noes” were also loosely defined in practice.

When Vietnam’s long-awaited new National Defense White Paper was published in late November 2019, Grossman discovered new reasons for pressing ahead with the Pentagon’s bid for Vietnam’s cooperation with the new US military against China. He suggested that the Vietnamese had planted “subtle messages of opportunity for Washington” in the document, including its readiness to participate in “security and defense mechanisms in the Indo-Pacific region.”

And he pointed to a new supplement to what had now become Vietnam’s “four noes.” “[D]epending on the circumstances and specific conditions,” it said, “Vietnam will consider developing necessary, appropriate defense and military relations with other countries.” In practice, that merely meant that if Vietnam were seriously threatened by a Chinese attack, it could abandon its commitment to those four “noes”.

But the addendum was hardly a signal of Vietnamese readiness to participate in a US “Indo-Pacific Strategy”. Rather, the “four noes and one depend” in the defense white paper were part of a larger strategy of maintaining equidistance between China and the United States, as first adopted by the Party Central Committee in 2003 as “Resolution 8”.

The Pentagon’s Vietnam bubble bursts

Washington’s optimism about a new era of US-Vietnam defense cooperation against China was based on little more than wishful thinking. By late 2020, it was apparent that the bubble of Pentagon hopes for a breakthrough with Vietnam had burst: there would be no Vietnamese involvement in a US. anti-China military strategy in the region. Nor would there be high level Pentagon or military visits during the year. More importantly, no further US-Vietnam military activities were announced.

The RAND Corporation’s Grossman finally acknowledged in August 2020 that Vietnam had not been poised to begin deeper military collaboration against China after all. He now admitted the reality that Hanoi was taking a “conservative approach” to the “four noes and one depend” that he had marketed only months before as an open door to more US cooperation. Grossman acknowledged Vietnam had carried out a “delicate balancing act,” avoiding any move likely to antagonize China. The country’s careful approach, he wrote, is “disappointing for Washington and should temper American assessments of the extent to which Hanoi might be willing to play a role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy,” obviously implying that the Trump administration’s “high hopes” for a “like-minded partner” strategy in Vietnam were misplaced.

Nguyen The Phuong, a research associate at the Centre for International Studies, National University-Ho Chi Minh City, confirmed in an interview with The Grayzone that the basic Vietnamese policy of maintaining equidistance between China and the United States is not questioned by anyone within the Vietnamese government. He observed that both civilian and military officials believe the US Navy had no effective strategy for curbing Chinese operations in the maritime zone that Vietnam claims.

The only difference of opinion which had arisen within that consensus, he said, was that many Vietnamese diplomats with whom he has talked believe that the US Coast Guard, which is not under the control of Defense Department — but which the US nevertheless considers a military service — would be more effective tool in countering China’s tactics in the contested maritime zone in the South China Sea than the US Navy has been. They also believed that giving the Coast Guard access to Vietnam’s deep-water port at Cam Ranh Bay would not be provocative to China. The military leadership, however, has rejected that idea, according to Nguyen.

But what the Pentagon desired from Vietnam primarily was access to bases for American ground troops with missiles. In September 2O20, after the Defense Department had reached agreement with Palau on bases in that Pacific Island, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the Defense Department truly sought was “access to places instead of permanent bases.” As the article explained, “US security policy in Asia calls for a heavier presence of American forces, but on a rotational basis, whereby troops switch in and out for training and exercises.”

The Marines that the Pentagon would like to have positioned in Vietnam would otherwise have been sitting ducks for Chinese missiles. But Nguyen The Phuong does not believe that any Vietnamese official, whether civilian or military, would even consider allowing such access. “If the US tried that approach on Vietnam, it would certainly fail,” he said.

The story of the Pentagon’s pursuit of Vietnam as a potential military partner against China reveals an extraordinary degree of self-deception surrounding the entire endeavor. And it adds further detail to the already well-established picture of a muddled and desperate bureaucracy seizing on any vehicle possible to enable it to claim that US power in the Pacific can still prevail in a war with China.

thegrayzone.com

NATO Ending War in Ukraine Like Arsonist Putting Out Fire

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The indulgence and interference in Ukraine by the Americans and their NATO allies has been criminally reckless and is leading to a slow, agonizing scorched-earth conflict. The arsonists need to leave. Or Russia will have to act.

Before entering politics to become president of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky was better known as a TV comedian. He seems to have retained his talent for the absurd. This week he called on the NATO military alliance to fast-track membership for Ukraine as the best way to end the war in that country.

Zelensky made the preposterous claim that Ukraine was facing “Russian aggression” which, he said, was “a serious challenge to the security of all NATO members and the whole of Europe”.

In a phone call with NATO civilian chief Jens Stoltenberg, the Ukrainian president asserted that joining the alliance would send “a real signal to Russia”. And he called for greater deployment of NATO forces to the Black Sea region.

Zelensky’s decidedly unfunny comments about how to end the war in East Ukraine are far from a prescription for peace. They entail the opposite: the long-simmering conflict would blow up into a full-scale war between Russia and the U.S.-led NATO bloc. His call for NATO to end the war is tantamount to asking an arsonist to put out a fire.

NATO’s Stoltenberg sounded supportive, declaring “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There were also a flurry of similar statements from U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain’s premier Boris Johnson, and the European Union.

But this is empty posturing. No-one in their right mind could agree to Zelensky’s appeal to join NATO. Given its collective defense doctrine, Ukraine’s membership would inevitably drag the military alliance into a war against the Russian-backed separatists of Eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas. Moscow has consistently warned that the former Soviet republic joining NATO is impermissible from its national security concerns.

The trouble is that Western media and pro-NATO think-tanks are spinning a narrative that is adding to confusion and bad judgement. Several media reports in recent weeks lend credence to the claims put out by Zelensky and his government in Kiev that a buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine is posing a threat. Moscow has said forces within its borders are no threat to anyone and maneuvers are a legitimate internal matter.

But this has not stopped Western pundits from adding two and two to make five. The Atlantic Council, closely aligned with NATO, has this week accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “testing” the resolve of the Biden administration and its support for the Kiev regime. The Council raised alarm bells by pondering if Russia was about to invade Ukraine. Western media reporting is thus fueling the narrative conjured up by anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists.

And feckless indulgence of Kiev by Biden, Johnson, NATO’s Stoltenberg and the European Union is further emboldening the intransigence in Kiev to not resolve the conflict by implementing the 2015 Minsk peace accord. That accord which Kiev signed up to – and for which Russia, Germany and France were sponsors not participants – obliged the granting of regional autonomy to the Donbas. The Kiev regime has steadfastly refused to implement the accord and hence the conflict has rumbled on.

Let’s remember, however, how we got to this sorry situation. A NATO-backed coup d’état in February 2014 against an elected president ushered in an ultra-nationalist regime in Kiev. It then launched a violent campaign against the Russian-speaking people in Crimea and Donbas. Crimea elected in a referendum to join the Russian Federation in March 2014 (which the West repeatedly misrepresents as “annexation”), while the Donbas region mounted armed resistance against the offensive waged by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and assorted Neo-Nazi brigades.

The war in Ukraine is now into its seventh year with no sign of ending. Indeed, the signs are that it could escalate. Ever since NATO first began to court Ukraine for membership in 2008, along with Georgia, the country has been thrown into instability and violence.

Reliable reports from Donbas indicate that the flare up in violence over the past weeks has been instigated by the Kiev regime forces, no doubt as a ploy to embroil NATO’s support.

Donbas communities have been cut off from electricity and water supplies because of shelling by the Ukrainian military on public utilities. On April 2, a five-year-old child was reportedly killed in a drone strike at Aleksandrovskoye. The aggressor is not the Donbas militia, and even less so Russia. It is the regime in Kiev which has been emboldened by NATO’s backing.

There has been intensified shelling of civilian areas in the city of Donetsk this week. Denis Pushilin, the president of the self-declared Republic of Donetsk, says that security violations by NATO-backed Kiev regime forces are increasing “exponentially”.

It should be noted that the violations of a shaky ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine started to take off around the time that the new Biden administration announced it was releasing $125 million in lethal military aid to the Ukraine. Another $150 million worth of U.S. military support is pending for delivery later this year. All told, Washington has provided at least $1 billion in weaponry to the regime in Kiev since it grabbed power in 2014 when Joe Biden was vice president in the Obama administration.

In the present context of an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Donbas, is it any wonder that Russia is moving its force to the border with Ukraine? Russia has centuries of shared cultural heritage with people who are being killed in their homes. The last time such a vile scenario loomed was during the Nazi Holocaust enabled by Ukrainian anti-Russian nationalists.

Regardless of the cynical distortions and disinformation put out by Western media and NATO think-tanks, Moscow has righteous obligations to protect its ethnic brothers and sisters.

Washington and NATO may not be as foolhardy to grant Ukraine membership of their military alliance. That would spell catastrophe and they know it. Nevertheless, the indulgence and interference in Ukraine by the Americans and their NATO allies has been criminally reckless and is leading to a slow, agonizing scorched-earth conflict. The arsonists need to leave. Or Russia will have to act.

The Empire Has A Dark Vision For Our World

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By Caitlin JOHNSTONE

The ultimate goal of the US-centralized empire is to have such control over the world’s economic and financial systems that conventional warfare becomes obsolete, because they’ll be able to fully strangle any population which disobeys its dictates by cutting them off from money.

It’s a warped and perverse version of what we think of when we utter the phrase world peace; their version of “world peace” is a world where overt warfare is unnecessary because all disobedient populations can simply be quietly strangled to death via economic violence. The infrastructure for which is of course still guarded by a massively expensive military spread all around the globe.

The same power structures which enacted the rape of Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia etc are not going to carry us into a peaceful and harmonious world. They do not have the neurological wiring to do that, even if they wanted to. Their vision for our world is dark.

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The notion that the real hero on the world stage is the government that’s waging nonstop disastrous wars and circling the planet with hundreds of military bases is an idea so complex and esoteric that the only people who can understand it are Ivy League university graduates.

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Everything the western world believes about itself and its values is invalidated by its treatment of Julian Assange.

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The civilizations with the most individualistic values are often guilty of the very worst collective crimes. The worst evils in our world right now are being perpetrated by the most individualistic societies, with the blame for wars, exploitation and ecocide being offloaded onto the collective even though it was all engineered by very few individuals within an individualist value system.

The saying “Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism the poor” is a dynamic you see play out not just with money, but with immorality as well. None of the world’s worst people are in prison; they inflict the evils and then offload their culpability onto the collective.

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Believing America’s problems are caused solely by Republicans is like believing a homicide was perpetrated solely by the murder weapon.

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The empire-building of the US-centralized power alliance is the single most destructive force on this earth. Anyone who is choosing this point in history to pour their energy into nuance policing anti-imperialists, as was recently done in this doofy Nation article the other day, is facilitating that destructiveness.

We are so very, very, very far from health on this front. When you’ve got mountains of bullshit to move, the person handing you a teaspoon and telling you to be exceedingly careful with how you move it is helping to keep the bullshit in place. When you’re this far from the mark you need to be making huge movements, not tiny, surgical ones.

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Most people get that the US is imperialist per the conventional definition: projecting power beyond its borders etc. Not enough people get that it’s also functionally a literal empire per definition: the hub of a group of nations ruled by a single power structure. It’s imperialist, and it’s also imperial, meaning an actual empire.

It might prove more useful for imperialists to begin emphasizing the term “empire building” over “imperialism” if they want to avoid the “Herpa derpa China and Russia are imperialist too” red herrings. Yes those nations project power beyond their borders to some extent, but only one nation is the center of a hegemonic globe-spanning power structure enforced by hundreds of military bases around the planet.

So when I talk about “the US empire”, I’m not being hyperbolic or exaggerating to make a point. I’m talking about the thing that it is, in the only context in which you can explain the major international conflicts today: empire building.

Empire building is what you’re seeing when coups are staged and regime change wars launched to bring a nation into alignment with the US-centralized power structure. It’s literally adding a new member state to the empire. It keeps its name and its flag, but it becomes the property of the empire.

In old empires, powerful countries invaded weaker ones, taking ownership of the territory. In the new empire, the borders and names remain officially the same, but control is handed over in treaties, alliances, trade agreements, power-shifting coups, secret deals, etc.

International alliances are often thought of as matters of secondary importance, as just something governments do when possible to make themselves a bit safer, wealthier, etc. Actually, uniting nations into one power structure is the goal, and it’s what these “alliances” are really for.

When people ask why I talk about “America” instead of “Australia”, it makes as much sense to me as saying you should focus on California instead of America. It’s a member state of the same empire, forcefully absorbed and digested into the imperial blob via coup. I just focus on the empire’s head.

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“China isn’t even a true communist country, Caitlin.”

I don’t care. I do not fucking care. My opposition to western escalations against a nuclear-armed nation have nothing whatsoever to do with communism. If you only oppose warmongering against communist nations, you’re a douche.

The way imperialists try to wedge and split people based on ideology is so fucking obnoxious. War is bad. Cold war is bad. Economic warfare is bad. Stop babbling about ideology. Not supporting mass murder has nothing to do with ideology.

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People sometimes tell me I need to use my “platform” to advance this or that cause that is important to them, or in a different way than I do. For the record I have no platform. I don’t even have connections; in fact I actively avoid cultivating them. I have followers, and there are some outlets which periodically choose of their own initiative to re-publish my writings for free.

I write directly to the people, and the people decide how much that’s worth. The only reason anyone knows who I am is because regular people enjoy and share my work. You can do what I’m doing too; just don’t pester me to do it for you. If you don’t like how I write or what I write about, you’ve got ten typing fingers and access to all the same free blogging sites I use. Write it yourself. You have all the exact same tools I’ve got.

And I really do mean that; I wish there were a lot more people doing this. The world needs more indie media. If you see too few people doing it the way you think it should be done, please do jump in and help out with indie content creation. We need all the help we can get.

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When you ask good spiritual teachers to show you the truth they will always point you back at yourself, insistantly and uncompromisingly. When you ask phony spiritual teachers to show you the truth they’ll find various (often clever and subtle) ways to point at themselves.

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It’s a battle between truth and ego, for us as individuals and for humanity as a whole. It’s no coincidence that we’re currently ruled by psychopaths and sociopaths, disorders which sit on the extreme end of the narcissism spectrum. Humanity’s problems are literally ego run amok.

caityjohnstone.medium.com

NATO Ending War in Ukraine Like Arsonist Putting Out Fire

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The indulgence and interference in Ukraine by the Americans and their NATO allies has been criminally reckless and is leading to a slow, agonizing scorched-earth conflict. The arsonists need to leave. Or Russia will have to act.

Before entering politics to become president of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky was better known as a TV comedian. He seems to have retained his talent for the absurd. This week he called on the NATO military alliance to fast-track membership for Ukraine as the best way to end the war in that country.

Zelensky made the preposterous claim that Ukraine was facing “Russian aggression” which, he said, was “a serious challenge to the security of all NATO members and the whole of Europe”.

In a phone call with NATO civilian chief Jens Stoltenberg, the Ukrainian president asserted that joining the alliance would send “a real signal to Russia”. And he called for greater deployment of NATO forces to the Black Sea region.

Zelensky’s decidedly unfunny comments about how to end the war in East Ukraine are far from a prescription for peace. They entail the opposite: the long-simmering conflict would blow up into a full-scale war between Russia and the U.S.-led NATO bloc. His call for NATO to end the war is tantamount to asking an arsonist to put out a fire.

NATO’s Stoltenberg sounded supportive, declaring “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There were also a flurry of similar statements from U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain’s premier Boris Johnson, and the European Union.

But this is empty posturing. No-one in their right mind could agree to Zelensky’s appeal to join NATO. Given its collective defense doctrine, Ukraine’s membership would inevitably drag the military alliance into a war against the Russian-backed separatists of Eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas. Moscow has consistently warned that the former Soviet republic joining NATO is impermissible from its national security concerns.

The trouble is that Western media and pro-NATO think-tanks are spinning a narrative that is adding to confusion and bad judgement. Several media reports in recent weeks lend credence to the claims put out by Zelensky and his government in Kiev that a buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine is posing a threat. Moscow has said forces within its borders are no threat to anyone and maneuvers are a legitimate internal matter.

But this has not stopped Western pundits from adding two and two to make five. The Atlantic Council, closely aligned with NATO, has this week accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “testing” the resolve of the Biden administration and its support for the Kiev regime. The Council raised alarm bells by pondering if Russia was about to invade Ukraine. Western media reporting is thus fueling the narrative conjured up by anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists.

And feckless indulgence of Kiev by Biden, Johnson, NATO’s Stoltenberg and the European Union is further emboldening the intransigence in Kiev to not resolve the conflict by implementing the 2015 Minsk peace accord. That accord which Kiev signed up to – and for which Russia, Germany and France were sponsors not participants – obliged the granting of regional autonomy to the Donbas. The Kiev regime has steadfastly refused to implement the accord and hence the conflict has rumbled on.

Let’s remember, however, how we got to this sorry situation. A NATO-backed coup d’état in February 2014 against an elected president ushered in an ultra-nationalist regime in Kiev. It then launched a violent campaign against the Russian-speaking people in Crimea and Donbas. Crimea elected in a referendum to join the Russian Federation in March 2014 (which the West repeatedly misrepresents as “annexation”), while the Donbas region mounted armed resistance against the offensive waged by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and assorted Neo-Nazi brigades.

The war in Ukraine is now into its seventh year with no sign of ending. Indeed, the signs are that it could escalate. Ever since NATO first began to court Ukraine for membership in 2008, along with Georgia, the country has been thrown into instability and violence.

Reliable reports from Donbas indicate that the flare up in violence over the past weeks has been instigated by the Kiev regime forces, no doubt as a ploy to embroil NATO’s support.

Donbas communities have been cut off from electricity and water supplies because of shelling by the Ukrainian military on public utilities. On April 2, a five-year-old child was reportedly killed in a drone strike at Aleksandrovskoye. The aggressor is not the Donbas militia, and even less so Russia. It is the regime in Kiev which has been emboldened by NATO’s backing.

There has been intensified shelling of civilian areas in the city of Donetsk this week. Denis Pushilin, the president of the self-declared Republic of Donetsk, says that security violations by NATO-backed Kiev regime forces are increasing “exponentially”.

It should be noted that the violations of a shaky ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine started to take off around the time that the new Biden administration announced it was releasing $125 million in lethal military aid to the Ukraine. Another $150 million worth of U.S. military support is pending for delivery later this year. All told, Washington has provided at least $1 billion in weaponry to the regime in Kiev since it grabbed power in 2014 when Joe Biden was vice president in the Obama administration.

In the present context of an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Donbas, is it any wonder that Russia is moving its force to the border with Ukraine? Russia has centuries of shared cultural heritage with people who are being killed in their homes. The last time such a vile scenario loomed was during the Nazi Holocaust enabled by Ukrainian anti-Russian nationalists.

Regardless of the cynical distortions and disinformation put out by Western media and NATO think-tanks, Moscow has righteous obligations to protect its ethnic brothers and sisters.

Washington and NATO may not be as foolhardy to grant Ukraine membership of their military alliance. That would spell catastrophe and they know it. Nevertheless, the indulgence and interference in Ukraine by the Americans and their NATO allies has been criminally reckless and is leading to a slow, agonizing scorched-earth conflict. The arsonists need to leave. Or Russia will have to act.

Woke Friends Consider Her A Leper

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By Rod DREHER

Areader whose name is known to me — and I know her parents — writes a sobering letter:

I’d like to share the following story in response to your recent reader who writes “We Thought We Were Safe.” It’s a bit lengthy in concept (though I’ve tried to edit it down to the crucial details), so that’s why I’ve decided to send it to you this way instead of posting in the comments. If you’d like to share the entirety with your reader (or post excerpts of it, if you think others would relate) please do- as I’ve kept everything fairly non-specific.

I want to preface by saying that the situation I’m about to share was hurtful to me, but that as a 24-something year old, I am not in a place where it shattered my world. In truth there are parts that I anticipated, and that I probably mentally prepared myself for without realizing. The shocking nature of the discussion, reflecting back on it, actually comes from my own thoughts about ‘what if’ I had not, in fact, been a 24 year old from a supportive background. I’d like for you to consider the things I’m about to discuss from the perspective of a Gen Z (or younger) teenager, because that’s the perspective that keeps dwelling in my mind. I’ve recalled this incident several times in that context while reading some of your recent posts about the Equality Act, Trans Activism and topics related to public schooling, and, most recently, the post from a concerned parent “We Thought We Were Safe.”

To begin, some explanation. Up until last semester (my graduating semester) I was a student at a local state university. While at that university, I made many casual friends from a variety of backgrounds, (some Catholic or Christian like myself, many not) both from school and from my student job. In the spring of 2020, when classes moved to being fully virtual for almost everyone in my social sphere, many of us felt uprooted socially and mentally, and for several months struggled to deal with the results of being so far removed from our usual circles. This isn’t a terribly uncommon story, I’m just relating it to give some background.

During this period of forced isolation, I decided to chance something I hadn’t done in a while: create an online chat group with some of my friends for the purposes of playing online video games and talking to each other (about school, and whatever else). I had done this once before (somewhat unsuccessfully) but this time I told myself that I was just going to invite people I actually knew in real life, and that those people could invite others they knew IRL but that was it. (If you’re not familiar with online gaming chat rooms, this is actually a pretty sound strategy- many chat rooms fall into chaos because of high membership and almost no IRL connections).  So, this is what I did. I created the chat room in a popular messaging app (Discord) and then invited various friends that I knew to join in. My purpose in doing this was mainly to create a way for us to connect over gaming, a shared interest- and some other common topics. I felt that as long as I wasn’t dealing with too many unknown factors, I could control the group’s overall behavior and make sure we didn’t step on each other’s toes. I was very wrong about that, as you’ll see shortly, but at the time it made perfect sense to me.

I’m not going to spend forever trying to explain exactly how the group functioned, since it would be a long and involved conversation. Instead, I’d like to turn my focus to one person. I’m going to call them A for the purposes of this story. A and I had met at school at my student job- she was from a Protestant Christian background, loved video games and like me, had been homeschooled most of her childhood. Though we hadn’t gotten to know each other deeply at my job, what I had seen of her I liked and though she had graduated the previous semester, she was still connected to others of our mutual friends— as such, she was one of the first people I invited to join the server. At first, A and I got along swimmingly. Her siblings also joined us on the server, and she pulled other personal friends in as well. A is one of those people who is talkative and gregarious, and so made friends easily with others of my personal contacts and in a very short amount of time was dominating much of the conversation on the server.

I didn’t mind A’s involvement at first. I thought of her as a fairly positive influence, and when I realized the server was growing too large for me to handle on my own, I offered her a position as a fellow admin to help me enforce the few rules I had drafted. She jumped at the chance and the other members hailed her newfound powers as a good thing, and I felt confident having someone to share the minor responsibilities with.

By this point, the group was lively and was meeting twice a week for live chat calls during gaming sessions that lasted 3-5 hours apiece. It was way more social interaction than any of us had had since classes went online, and all of us (myself included) were feeling the mental health boost. We sailed along for a while on this high, but then- I began to notice some things with A that felt… off. She had receded for a short while from the server to deal with some physical health issues, and when she returned, she was in a sour mood. The election was drawing nearer, and though I already knew A was very liberal, I didn’t expect her to begin being quite so antagonistic about various political viewpoints and so on during the one night a week that was just chat (no gaming). Almost everyone else on the server agreed with her liberal viewpoints except for myself, and though I kept quiet (adhering to my own policies of trying not to instigate dispute) I couldn’t help but feel that I was slowly becoming isolated mentally from the group. I don’t have to go into details about what kinds of things she brought into conversation, but LGBT topics were at the forefront, and various social policies and movements like BLM were brought up as well, under her instigation.

I had my first real dispute with A a few months after the group was formed, when, during a gaming session, she made some off-color jokes about the Christian faith. I pulled her aside after the gaming session, (in DMs) and told her that although I understood she didn’t mean anything, I was very hurt by her comments and asked her to refrain from doing such things in the future, out of mutual respect for the others (and myself) who would have issues with what she said (I won’t repeat what she joked about, but it was the kind of thing that, if a sincere Christian has said it, would have been open blasphemy). To my surprise, (and despite that she had often apologized for much more minor offenses easily to other members) she argued with me a little, citing that she felt that her experience growing up in a protestant Christian household as a child was ‘traumatic’ to her (the group she belonged to did, admittedly have some cult-like movements) and that she was merely using humor to alleviate her stress about religion. I was somewhat shocked by her response. It wasn’t that I didn’t have sympathy for her (I did, and we had discussed her upbringing on other occasions) but I was shocked at how easy it was for her to dismiss any truly negative feelings I had about listening to someone drag my culture in the mud because she ‘didn’t like religion anymore.’ I tried to explain to her how in spite of this, her comments were still deeply inappropriate, and she listened, vaguely. The matter was put aside for the moment- but I recount it here because it factors into my final encounter.

Over the next few months, my feeling that something wasn’t the same about A increased. She broke up with her boyfriend (also a member of my group, and a fellow Christian) citing irreconcilable differences in opinion. Then, she changed her avatar name to a specific name that after a short while, I began to notice her siblings using in conversation (In the server we all had screen names, but we used our real names in conversation). A mutual friend one day took me aside and told me, with apparent concern, that she had suspicions (somewhat confirmed) that A had been dabbling in gender identity activism and was ‘transitioning’ to non-binary. By the time this friend related this to me, I had already noticed that A had begun, more and more, to talk of LGBT topics above all else in our mutual chat nights, and I found myself withdrawing from conversation more and more because of the knowledge that anything I had to say would likely be attacked instantly. I had believed, prior to this, that if I simply kept silent when I needed to, and only spoke when I had to, that no one would ever need to know how I really felt about these issues. After all, the server was for gaming, right? We couldn’t possibly spend so much time talking about LGBTQIA++ topics that I would be made into a target.

Unfortunately, that is where I was wrong. My friend’s suspicions turned out to be correct, and A slowly but surely began to insert topics about sex and gender in everything from memes and jokes we shared to our discussion nights to even our gaming profiles and what kinds of things she deemed worthy of conversation. Only when A was occasionally absent did the group revert to being open and balanced in discussion, but when A resumed, the group naturally followed her control and discussed what she wanted to talk about. It even got to a point where we had slacked off from playing games altogether and we spent most of our evenings online just following A’s track of conversation for the night.

The problem, and what finally broke the camel’s back, came with A’s above mentioned deep issues with religion. A, like many liberal friends I have had, looked back on her experiences as a Christian and saw them as the source of any and all pain and suffering she had ever experienced. She never wasted a moment to trash on her upbringing, and was at times absolutely vile with regards to conservative thinking. When she dived deep into LGBT activism, her spite against religion came back full force. One night, during a conversation, she said something to the affect of how she only had ‘backwards views’ about homosexuality when she was ‘young, dumb and uninformed’ (i.e., during her Christian formative years). After spending night after night listening to her say such things, I finally had enough, and I dropped out of the call for the evening without saying anything.

A followed me into my DM’s and demanded to know why I had left- if I was upset and why (to explain- I had previously written a rule stating members shouldn’t ‘rage-quit’ and drop the call without saying goodbye— I broke my own rule that night out of desperation). I told her I was upset, but that I didn’t want to discuss it. She continued to hound me, and I finally admitted that what she had said hurt me, because as a Christian who has specific beliefs regarding sexuality, the inference that I was somehow ‘dumb’ or ‘uninformed’ for holding such beliefs was deeply upsetting. Like in our previous conflict, she immediately took an antagonistic approach, and began berating me for being upset when after all, Christians do such hateful things to the LGBT population and how could I possibly be upset? Anything, everything I said in defense of my beliefs and culture was tossed out with the same answer- that Christians are inherently hateful and cause suffering to others, therefore, my feelings didn’t count. We argued back and forth for almost 2 hours, very late into the night, and until our former ‘friendship’ (which had been dissolving for weeks) was in threads.

I was ready to drop the matter, knowing she was likely to be angry with me no matter what I said, but at the very end of the conversation, she decided to throw in the conversational equivalent (I’m sure, in her mind) of a mic drop. She was coming out to me as Non-Binary! She told me this, in wording that made her seem like she was being brave and hesitant, and then requested that I, from now on, call her only by her new name and her new set of pronouns.

I have to digress here, because I think it matters what went through my mind at this moment. We had just spent until the early hours of the morning arguing about whether or not it was ‘acceptable’ for me to be upset that she had insulted my beliefs and culture, and now she was stamping down with a reveal about her identity. I truly, honestly believe it was a challenge. She now viewed me as a hateful bigot (for saying that I was not dumb and uninformed on LGBT issues?) and was testing the waters to see if I would conform to her worldview in a partially acceptable manner.

I mulled over what to do for all of three seconds, and then decided to take the challenge. I told her, quite honestly, that I already knew she was identifying as non-binary. (Almost everyone in the group had known for months, I can’t imagine how she suspected it was still a deeply held secret from everyone) And I told her that while I was perfectly fine calling her whatever name she wished (many of us had channel nicknames and called each other by them) I was uncomfortable, as a Christian and as someone with various thoughts on Trans and Non-binary issues, using gender-neutral pronouns, and would try to come up with a compromise.

There was no compromise. She immediately lashed out at me, telling me how hateful it was for people to refuse to use gender pronouns. She tried to convince me of this, but I said I was done discussing it, and said goodnight.

I didn’t know for sure what she would do, but it was hardly surprising, an hour or so later, when I glanced back at my phone and saw that she had pasted an angry rant on the server’s homepage, revealing herself to everyone as a Non-Binary individual, screaming about how terrible and horrible it was for her to be misgendered and mistreated, and also crying about how members of the group had ‘ousted’ her to me before she was ready to officially come out. She pinned the post to our homepage, left the server and commented that she was sure I would delete it before anyone saw it.

I almost did, but in that moment of hovering over the message, I had a revelation to the effect that nothing I could possibly do would ever cover over her angry rant. She had already won, and she knew that when she began the argument. Out of almost 30 people, there were only 3 or 4 in the group who would take my side. Whether I erased her message or not, most of them would eventually find out what we had argued about, and most of them would eventually leave.

There was a bigger concern, as well, in that several of the people on the server were either past or current coworkers, hers and mine. She had nothing to lose (having left that job for good) by screaming at me in an online server. But I had had everything to lose if current coworkers saw her accuse me of being “Anti-LGBTQ” and heard her side of the story. A obviously didn’t care about that, but I did care. I also cared that I did the right thing. So, after blocking everyone I could think of that would get me into trouble at work, I gave the rest of the members a time window and deleted the server.

During that final brief time window, I took a lot of heat from other members on the server about how cruel and unfair I had been to A. When all was said and done, only those 3-4 members I mentioned previously were still speaking to me- and that’s all that I have left of a previously large social group.

Does it all sound like a pretty childish argument? Probably. But here’s the meat and potatoes: I, a Christian person, was being harassed for my religious views. By people I considered friends. And when I tried to defend myself, I was forced to ‘oust’ myself as a bigot- and was subsequently cancelled. Again, I’m an adult— and I like to think fairly well rounded—but imagine being 16? Imagine being 11? Imagine your 11 year old daughter coming to and telling you that all her friends decided she wasn’t worth talking to anymore because she refused to use one friend’s pronouns, or had questions about it? Imagine that same kid having to deal with the social pressures of a group that was actively squeezing the life out of any member that didn’t respond to LGBTQIA topics with immediate applause and affirmation?

(I had written that last paragraph prior to reading your reader’s posting: and now I have a new response- because they don’t have to imagine their young daughter in this situation: she’s already in it)

This is the insidious reality we now live in. That those of us who dissent, even slightly, from the social norms and pressures that are becoming increasingly bewildering have two choices: retreat, or be shunned. I’m a young adult, and the above experience was so overwhelming for me that I’ve retreated a great deal from any online interactions I previously had. But what went through my mind at the time, and what’s going through my mind now after reading (your reader’s) story remains constant. Children, under this kind of pressure, without continued and resilient backing, will eventually crack. It starts innocuously, because the person on the side of the friendship or the screen asks you to just be tolerant, accepting of them and their identity. But as we all know, acceptance doesn’t mean you used their pronouns, or you avoided discussing your own beliefs, etc. It means you praise them, worship them and give to them the adulation they think they deserve. Otherwise, you are being hateful to them. There is no in-between.

In my case, upon further reflection, I could have agreed to use my former friend’s pronouns: but that was never the problem. The problem was that she had already so forcefully undermined my control and dismissed my pleas for mutual respect that there was no way I could repair our relationship, even on a surface level. LGBTQ issues were so much more important to her and her friends than anything else we had bonded over that it was enough for her to merely oust me once as having transgressed for nearly every one of them to abandon me.

And being socially isolated as an adult hurts, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as badly as it does when you are a young teenager. In your reader’s daughter’s case, I think her parents are doing everything they should be doing right now. Keeping her active, keeping her away from social media, and trying to be understanding about the parts of her identity she’s holding on to will cause her less pain in the long run.

On the other side of things, you can never be too careful. If there’s one important thing my parents did for me, it’s this: they never, ever shied away from the truth. Your children may be unwilling, with the social pressures of today, to listen to the tenets of their parent’s faith and your heartfelt explanations of why you believe what you do. But you must try to explain. You must try to give them that understanding, even if it’s difficult or requires theological backing. The world will tell them, in simple terms, how hateful and bigoted you are for having any of these opinions. And the world will tell them the same thing—and if they are left speechless, with no defense, they will not be able to stop themselves from being swept up in the tide coming from their peers. Their inability to offer explanation or to know, for themselves, when a peer is becoming toxic will be their downfall. You need to give them the power to stand for themselves, before they see you as a roadblock to social and peer freedom instead of a safety net from harm.

From my own experience, there’s a very large chance this reader’s daughter’s friend will drop her sometime in the coming months, once she finds a more easily targeted person to go after. After all, if this friend is anything like a version of A, they most likely will become more and more hostile to the daughter for her continued interactions with religion and ‘hateful’ parental figures, and may eventually force her to choose between her single friend and her family and healthy peer group. All these parents can do is wait for that to happen, and commit themselves to being there for their daughter when she goes through the hurt that is undoubtedly coming. My prayers go with them. It’s not going to be easy.

This is going to take some time to digest. My first thought, though, is that we Christian parents and church leaders (and for that matter, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all traditionalists) had better start right now training our children to expect to suffer for their faith, and in the importance of standing firm for and in the faith, no matter what it costs. 

I need to do this more intentionally and explicitly with my kids. And I need to give them a deeper explanation for why we Christians believe what we do about sex and sexuality.

UPDATE: The correspondent e-mailed just now this response to some of the comment-box criticism:

Why did I make those friends? Why hang out with these people? Why not my community?

This is kind of a loaded question. The answer is complex. First of all, I think it should be mentioned that the original group I created consisted of about 6 people, all of whom I knew personally. (They weren’t previously connected to each other, except in smaller clusters—2 friends from work, 2 from a former on-campus Catholic org., etc.)  The other thing I probably failed to mention is that the group was formed around a very specific video game title that all of these people had recently started playing. The purpose of the Discord chat was to swap game info, related in-game conversations etc. The voice chat we used to play together, online, once a week. That was how it started out. Yes, we were casual friends, and yes, not every person I originally invited agreed with me on every aspect of political and social life, but that didn’t matter at the start of the group. We were only using the server for one main purpose: to play a game with relative non-strangers. How it spiraled out of control is another issue, one that I do still blame myself for, in many ways.

As for why not make it exclusively people in my ‘community?’ I don’t really have one. That’s the honest answer. I tried and failed to make friends in my (state school’s) only Catholic organization and left, disgusted, a few semesters in because my fellow Catholics were disturbingly lukewarm about their faith and I couldn’t deal with the cliquishness and hypocrisy that was going on behind the scenes. The two friends from that org I brought into this server were all that had survived and one of them had also quit the religious group (the org, not the faith) for good, for similar reasons. (And when I say disturbingly lukewarm— I mean it, I wasn’t just being picky. Part of what eventually drove me out was that my fellow young Catholics were using it as a dating circle and I was repeatedly stalked and harassed by young men that didn’t seem to understand that the girls weren’t there for their benefit. Enough said)

Why didn’t I assert more control/why delete the server in the end?

This one is primarily on me. The reality is, I let myself grow complacent, and never suspected that the group could spiral so far out of my control that anything like what went down would happen. A’s dominance over the group escaped my notice, (the only reason she was an admin originally is because she volunteered to help out when I needed it— big mistake on my part) and she displayed more and more toxicity over time.

As for deleting the server- there were a lot of things under the surface that led to that decision. Part of it was A’s control and how many people had sided with her already. A large part of my own decision came from the fact that A targeted another two people in her rage-rant at me, and left our names out of her aggressive postings, in such a way that I feared the other members would resort to trying to ‘figure out’ who had ‘hurt’ her. I had two choices: remove A and everyone associated with her from the server and hope for the best (which, at that stage would have been almost everyone) or respond to her publicly and take the negative out-lash myself, so that a few of the people I still trusted and cared about could honestly make their own decisions about who to trust and what they wanted to do going forward. I have never once regretted that decision. In fact, I found out who my real friends were, and I appreciate them more all the time.

Why does this story about online gaming matter?

I see a lot of comments talking about how online interactions are naturally toxic and some genuine shrugs about the gaming part. The point isn’t either of those things, in actuality. Think about it this way- do you have a group of 6-10 people you regularly hang out with right now? Are they all from your community? Do they all agree with you on everything? I bet the answer to those last two is no, for most people. The point isn’t that this story is necessarily special: the point is, it could happen to anyone. All it takes is one person like A, preaching whatever gospel they are inflamed with (LGBTQ rights, BLM, even Far-Right political movements) to turn a quiet, stable social hour into an activism march- from which anyone who dissents will be forcefully ejected (or forced to leave under their own power, to avoid the fallout). If you think this can’t, won’t happen to you or your kids because you do all the right things, have all the right groups and do all the policing in the world— go read “We Thought We Were Safe” from the other day. It can, and will happen. The important part isn’t how petty or ridiculous it seems—the point is this: Are you prepared to stand up for what you believe in the face of isolation?

theamericanconservative.com

The Yankees Are Coming Home: The Taliban Won. Get Over It

Par A A

American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family.

It hardly made the evening news, but the New York Times reported last week that after twenty years of fighting the Taliban are confident that they will fully control Afghanistan before too long whether or not the United States decides to leave some kind of residual force in the country after May 1st. The narrative is suggestive of The Mouse that Roared, lacking only Peter Sellers to put the finishing touches on what has to be considered a great humiliation for the U.S., which has a “defense” budget that is larger than the combined military spending of the next seven countries in order of magnitude. Those numbers include both Russia and China. The Taliban, on the other hand, have no military budget to speak of. That enormous disparity, un-reflected in who has won and lost, has to nurture concerns that it is the world’s only superpower, admittedly self-proclaimed, which is incapable of actually winning a war against anyone.

In fact, some recent wargaming has suggested that the United States would lose in a non-nuclear conflict with China alone based on the obsolescence of expensive and vulnerable weapons systems that the Pentagon relies upon, such as carrier groups. Nations like China, Iran and Russia that have invested in sophisticated and much cheaper missile systems to offset U.S. advantages have reportedly spent their money wisely. If the Biden foreign policy and military experts, largely embroiled in diversifying the country, choose to take on China, there may be no one left around to pick up the pieces.

Those who are warning of the apparent ineffectiveness of the U.S. armed forces in spite of their global presence in more than one thousand bases point most commonly to the historical record to make their case. Korea, fought under United Nations auspices, was a stalemate, with the peninsula divided to this day and a substantial American military force continuing to be a presence along the DMZ to enforce the armistice that not quite ended the war. Vietnam was a defeat, resulting in more than 58,000 Americans dead as well as an estimated 3 million Vietnamese, most of whom were civilians. The real lesson learned from Vietnam was that fighting on someone else’s turf where you have no real interests or stake in the outcome is a fool’s game, but the Pentagon instead worked to fix the mechanics in weapons and training at great cost without addressing why people fight wars in the first place. The other lesson was that the United States’ military was perfectly willing to lie to the country’s civilian leadership to expand the war and keep it going, a performance that was repeated in 2001 with the “Iraq is supporting terrorists and will have nuclear weapons” lies and also with the current crop of false analogies used to keep thousands of Americans in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

As a veteran of the Vietnam War army, I can recall sitting around with fellow enlisted men reading “Stars & Stripes,” the exclusive in-house-for-the-military newspaper that was covering the war. The paper quoted a senior officer who opined that the Soviets (as they were at that time) were really envious of the combat experience that the United States Army was obtaining in Vietnam. We all laughed. That same officer probably had a staff position away from the fighting but we draftees knew well that the war was a very bloody mistake while he may have tested his valor post-retirement working for Lockheed-Martin. The “Soviets” in any event demonstrated just how much they envied the experience of combat when they fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, eventually withdrawing with their tails between their legs just as the U.S. had done in Vietnam after they lost 15,000 men. The “Grave of Empires,” indeed.

Since Vietnam there have been a number of small wars in places like Panama and Grenada, but the global war on terror has been a total disaster for American arms. Afghanistan, as it was for the Russians, is the ulcer that keeps on bleeding until it ends as a major defeat for the United States with the Taliban fully in control, as they are now predicting. Likewise, the destruction of a secular Iraq, regime change in Libya, and a continuing war against a non-threatening Syria have all failed to make Americans either safer or more prosperous. Iran is next, apparently, if the Joe Biden Administration has its way, and relations with major adversaries Russia and China have sunk even lower than they were during Donald Trump’s time as president. The White House has recently sent a shipload of offensive weapons to Kiev and the Ukrainian government has repeated its intention to retake Crimea from Russia, a formula for a new military disaster that could easily escalate into a major war. What is particularly regrettable is the fact that the United States has no compelling national interest in encouraging open warfare between Moscow and Kiev, a conflict that it will be unable to avoid as its is supplying Ukraine with weaponry.

There was almost no discussion of America’s wars during the recent election. One should take note, however, of a recent article by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb that appeared on National Review which seeks to provide an explanation for “The Real Reason the U.S. Can’t Win Wars Anymore” in spite of the fact that it is “the most powerful country in the history of the world.” To be sure, Korb largely blames the policymakers for the defeat in Vietnam, aided and abetted by a culture of silence in the military where many officers knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the conflict, was a fraud but chose to say or do nothing. He also observes that the war itself was unwinnable for various reasons, including the observation by many working and middle class Americans that they were little more than cannon fodder while the country’s elites either dodged the draft or exploited their status to obtain national guard or reserve commissions that were known to be mechanism to avoid Vietnam. Korb notes that “…the four most recent presidents who could have served in Vietnam avoided that war and the draft by dubious means. Bill Clinton pretended to join the Army ROTC; George W. Bush used political connections to get into the Air National Guard, when President Johnson made it clear that the reserve component would not be activated to fight the war; Donald Trump, of course, had his family physician claim he had bone spurs, (Trump himself cannot remember which foot); and Joe Biden claimed that the asthma he had in high school prevented him from serving even though he brags about his athletic exploits while in high school.”

Korb also reveals how America’s presumed prowess on the battlefield has distorted its “democracy building” endeavors to such an extent that genuine national interests have been ignored. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, success in overthrowing the Taliban was derived from critical assistance from Iran, which correctly regarded the extremist Sunni group as an enemy. But the Bush White House, far from showing gratitude, soon thereafter added Iran to its “axis of evil” list. A golden opportunity was wasted to repair a relationship which has poisoned America’s presence in the Middle East ever since.

One might add something else to Korb’s assessment of failure at war. Most American soldiers have been and are proud of their service and consider it an honor to defend their country but the key word is “defend.” There was no defending going on in Vietnam nor in Afghanistan, which did not attack the U.S. and was willing to turn over Osama Bin Laden if the White House could provide evidence that he was involved in 9/11. Nor was there anything defensive about Obama’s destruction of Libya and the decades long “secret” wars to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments. Soldiers are trained to fight and obey orders but that does not mean that they can no longer observe and think. Twenty years of “Reconstruction” duty in Afghanistan is not defending the United States and the morale of American soldiers in the combined Democratic and Republican Parties’ plan to reconstruct the world is not a sufficient motivator if one is being asked to put one’s life on the line. Sure, American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family. That is what the people who run Washington, very few of whom are veterans and most of whom first ask “But what’s in it for me?” fail to understand.

The UK’s Race Report Has Fueled the Controversy It Was Supposed to Lay to Rest

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By Patrick COCKBURN

The government is back to its well-tried Inspector Clouseau mode with a public inquiry intended to discredit accusations of institutional racism that has done the exact opposite. This bit of self-inflicted foot-shooting came soon after half-baked efforts to suppress a protest on Clapham Common that guaranteed it worldwide publicity.

The twin debacles have significant features in common. Governments easily persuade themselves that they are dealing with a small group of opponents who can easily be intimidated or marginalised. Frustrated when this fails to happen, the state overreacts, relies increasingly on abusive rhetoric or the threat or use of force, and thereby acts as the unwitting recruiting sergeant for whatever cause it is trying to undermine or eliminate.

Official inquiries in Britain have long been successfully used as a tranquilising dart fired at public opinion when it is outraged over some piece of injustice or failure of government. To be credible, the inquiry needs to be led by high-quality people who often produce critical reports – thus avoiding accusations of a stitch-up – but they do this long after the news agenda has moved on. Political pressure on the government will have ebbed, so reports that urge action in practice replace such action. Remember, if you can, the magisterial Chilcot report on the Iraq war that was finally published in 2016 and was soon forgotten?

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, published this week, broke all these rules and proved ludicrously counterproductive, fuelling the controversy it was supposed to lay to rest. Its partisan membership was so extreme that their report has a crackpot feel to it – even having a good word for Caribbean slavery as a progressive institution – and it has appeared in the middle of the trial of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

From the government’s point of view, this may be a minor blip as its benefits from the vaccine rollout, but it may also be indicative of the toxic direction of British politics. In its anti-woke enthusiasm, the report has enraged and energised campaigners against racism. It is filled with absurdities such as the belief that high education achievement by minorities shows that they do not face discrimination. Yet the history of anti-black racism and antisemitism in the US and Europe shows that those who are discriminated against know that they must acquire a high level of expertise in order to overcome discrimination. Their very success may fuel greater ethnic and sectarian hostility among those they compete against for jobs.

The paradox of the race report is that it may have done more to make racism in Britain a live political issue than any number of much superior inquiries in the past whose recommendations were praised for a day or two and then ignored and forgotten. Racism is back on the news agenda to a degree that Black Lives Matter campaigners could never have hoped to achieve.

The same warped thinking inspires home secretary Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that drastically increases police powers to control or ban demonstrations and punish organisers and participants. This misses a fundamental point about the impact or lack of impact of protests anywhere in the world.

They have some influence as a show of strength by people holding common beliefs, such as the gigantic marches in London by Remainers opposed to Brexit between 2016 and 2019. These marches showed that there were millions of people who wanted the UK to stay in the EU, but we knew that already from the outcome of the referendum.

At the end of the day, all those marches and the organisation that went into it had little positive effect. In my experience, marches that go off without incident are boring to participate in, boring to watch and boring for the media, so they get limited news coverage.

Yet protest marches and demonstrations are one of the propulsion units of history, destroying governments and bringing down regimes that believed they had a firm grip on power. The common feature in the protesters’ success is that they provoke, intentionally or unintentionally, a violent overreaction by the authorities. The most striking example of this in the UK was the civil rights march in Derry in Northern Ireland on 5 October 1968, which was attacked by the Protestant-dominated police in front of the television cameras and thus began the unravelling of the Northern Ireland state.

The lesson from this should have been fairly obvious, but in 1972 the authorities had the imbecilic idea of policing an anti-internment march, again in Derry, with paratroopers who shot dead 13 civilians on Bloody Sunday and permanently delegitimised the British state in the eyes of the Catholic population.

I have always been mystified by why governments overreact, using violence against peaceful protesters that do not seriously threaten them, when it is so obviously in their interests not to do so. Two contradictory motives are usually at work. One is an underestimation of the protesters as an atypical minority who can be safely quashed without the wider community objecting. The other – and authoritarian regimes are particularly prone to this – is an overestimation of the danger posed to the leadership by mass protests on the streets, which they try to suppress with extreme violence

I witnessed a grotesque example of overreaction by the security forces generating just such a powerful protest movement in Baghdad in October 2019. I had talked to the organisers of some scantily attended protests demanding jobs and opposing government corruption who were gloomy about their prospects of achieving anything. But as I sat in my hotel room near the protest site in the city centre, I heard the pop-pop of gunfire that turned out to be the security forces opening fire on a peaceful crowd and killing 18 people. Within days, protests were convulsing the whole of Iraq.

Sometimes repression succeeds and the government kills or frightens enough people to drive them off the streets, as the army is trying to do in Myanmar. But once a government goes down this road, there is no retreat and its very existence is in play.

In Britain there have always been effective mechanisms for reducing the political temperature and deflating criticism of the government through prestigious inquiries and mass protests, neither of which achieve very much.

The Boris Johnson government may regret devaluing these well-established instruments of control. If the new law on protests is enforced, it will spark frequent confrontations between protesters and the police. If it is not, then the government will feel that it is being challenged and made to look weak, provoking a self-destructive overreaction.

counterpunch.org

Lying Is Their Business: U.S. Propaganda Against China – The Steve Bannon Connection

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The dark web of American propaganda is made up of many facets, some of them official government propaganda agencies, as well as the private media controlled by people with the same thinking or by direct influence from the intelligence agencies.

In late January 2021, NATO think tank, The Atlantic Council, published a paper termed, The Longer Telegram, which sets out a proposed strategy for the United States to achieve domination of the world, a strategy which focuses on China as the main obstacle to that domination, with Russia now considered an “irritant.” It is the fantasy of megalomaniacs who sit in dark rooms dreaming of world power and achieving it using any means necessary, including world war.

It is in essence a propaganda document designed to not only proclaim a new world war, the American war against China, but to try to justify this war. It describes a China that does not exist except in the fantasies of these right wing ideologues. The insults litter every page; against President Xi, against the Communist Party, against Chinese culture and achievements. It‘s secondary purpose of course is to try to create unrest and division within China, to weaken it, to bring down socialism, to bring down Chinafor it claims to know things, to reveal things. Almost written as a script in a drama but in essence is a criminal document written by criminals and fools.

The title of the document is a reference to a document known as The Long Telegram, written by U.S. foreign policy advisor, George Kennan, in 1946 setting out a strategy to destroy the Soviet Union, a strategy that was followed. So it has to be assumed that the author or authors of this document expect it to become the strategy adopted by the Biden regime and, indeed, we have seen a lot of discussion of this document in the western media and political circles, mainly in approval, indicating it is being considered in high circles, and we have also seen with the first pronouncements of President Biden that American aggression will continue and will be intensified.

The mystery for many is who wrote the document as it was signed by Anonymous. It may be have a single author but the word “anonymous” could be a mask for a committee, or it could have been written by Biden’s new Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Whoever the author is, it clearly has the approval of the Atlantic Council, and therefore NATO and the NATO governments. However, several other names have been suggested in its drafting; including the usual anti-China suspects, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Steve Bannon.

Why are those names considered as possibilities? Blinken, and the Obama team, who began the “pivot to Asia” are obvious candidates. But Mike Pompeo, as former head of the CIA, and Trump’s Secretary of State, is a possibility because of his positions of great power and influence. His anti-China rhetoric is notorious. John Bolton is a possibility for the same reasons, a series of high posts, a man of influence on the right, who has held positions in in the U.S. no matter which party holds the presidency, who is only able to think in terms of domination and war and who holds strong views against China and the Communist Party.

Then there is Steve Bannon, one of the loudest of the anti-China hawks in the United States today, whose constant propaganda against China and socialism is designed to create general hostility towards China. Since he is out of power now he is less likely to be involved directly. But his propaganda internet and radio programme is rabidly anti-Chinese, and supports the views expressed in the Longer Telegram.

Of him less is known, but he is worth examining to understand the workings of the American propaganda system. He is a figure coming out of the shadows, rising through a series of steps from U.S. Navy officer and assistant to the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, to Goldman Sachs banker, to Hollywood producer, to friend of the wealthy, radio host, to advisor to President Trump, to member of the National Security Council, who now continues his anti-Chinese propaganda on his TV and radio show, tellingly called War Room, which he co-hosts with British far right personality Raheem Kassam. Kassam among other things, was advisor to Nigel Farage of the British Independence Party and before that worked for the far right Henry Jackson Society in London which has the objective of spreading capitalism everywhere and which targets Russia and China as “dangers to democracy.”

On his War Room programme of February 11, Bannon repeated his big lie that the covid-9 virus is from a Chinese PLA laboratory in Wuhan despite the fact the WHO confirmed it was highly unlikely and said its origins elsewhere must be investigated. In that programme Bannon pretended to interview a Chinese woman, not named, except by the code name TCC, who claims she is a doctor with inside knowledge of China who supported Bannon’s claim that it is a “bioweapon.” This is the type of propaganda that is being fed to the American people and others constantly by Bannon and his crew, propaganda designed to raise fear and hatred of China and directly accusing China of making an attack on the United States. The clear objective is to push the U.S. government to go to war with China.

Where Bannon gets the money to run his operation is also a question. Some of it is said to come from royalties from reruns of the American comedy show Seinfeld, in which he had invested in 1990 but he also has very close ties to Guo Wengui, aka Miles Kwok, a Chinese billionaire who fled China when he was charged with corruption, bribery and fraud and has since been a constant propagandist against China and the Communist Party. He and Bannon became involved a company called GTV Media Group which they founded in 2020. The two men are being investigated for fraud in a scheme that saw 300 million dollars vanish from the pockets of investors and are also being investigated for fraud and mail fraud for their role in a Go Fund me campaign to fund the Trump wall at the Mexican Border. It is alleged people gave money to be used for the wall but it was siphoned off by Bannon and Guo for their personal use. It was for these crimes that Bannon was pardoned by Trump so he can never be held accountable for his fraud except in civil lawsuits.

Bannon claims he is driven by ideology, by concerns for democracy. But news service Axios revealed in October 2019 that after Bannon left the White House he was given a contract by Guo to provide “consulting services” for which, in 2018-19, he was paid one million dollars. The man who pays the piper calls the tune.

Working for foreign money is nothing strange to Bannon who now claims to be an “anti-globalist.” He began his financial career at Goldman Sachs, one of the big global investment banks, involved in mergers and acquisitions. Then, when he found he could make more money on his own he formed his own investment company in 1990, Bannon and Company, which he used to take advantage of the expansion of the U.S. film industry globally. Unable to raise sufficient funds for investments in intellectual properties like film royalties he partnered with the Japanese investment bank, Nissho Iwai, which gave him millions of dollars over five years.

Relying on foreign money became his modus operandi. He once stated, “our forte was working with American companies to work with foreign investors.” It was through his dealings in California that he acquired shares in the “Seinfeld” TV series that has reaped him large profits. In 1996, after the Japanese deal expired he linked up with the French investment bank, Societe General and at the same time he also had an investment deal with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king, who was head of the United Saudi Commercial Bank who he helped to obtain investments in the Hollywood movie business. It is at this time that he becomes involved with Donald Trump, buying Trump’s yacht in 1991, he claimed “to bail Trump out” and in 1995, when he and a Singapore investor acquired the Plaza Hotel in New York.

He claims he turned further to the right as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, and then began supporting films about America’s decline, supported the right wing Tea Party movement and then joined Bretibart Media in 2012 owned by the billionaire Mercer family and used his internet programme to support Trump’s candidacy for president. When Trump was elected he was made a member of the National Security Council. Bannon was one of those who pushed Trump to abandon the Pars Climate Agreement, and to impose a travel ban on Muslims into the USA, an action that angered his Saudi friends.

After conflicts arose in the White House, Bannon was forced out, to return to Breitbart. But some of his statements and racist views led to even right-wing heiress, Rebekkah Mercer, who owned part of Breitbart, to force him off his radio show which resulted in his consolidating his connections with Guo, taking his money and starting his own programme.

The dark web of American propaganda is made up of many facets, some of them official government propaganda agencies such as Voice of America, the CIA, NED and so on, as well as the private media controlled by people with the same thinking or by direct influence from the intelligence agencies. Bannon is an example of the sleazy characters that populate this shadowy world, who move between the government and the private spheres, almost seamlessly. They are opportunists who think they can make a buck by creating propaganda against foreign nations and peoples and cashing in.

They claim to be concerned about “democracy” and “human rights” but they are really only concerned with their lining their own pockets, and they don’t care how they do it. For them, lying is their business. ”

The Coming Antibiotic-Resistance Pandemic That Could Make COVID Look Like the Flu

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While the Global South overprescribes antibiotics, in the West farm animals are pumped full of them, farmers even giving them to healthy animals so they can be packed tighter in ever-increasing herd sizes.

By Alan MACLEOD

Big pharmaceutical companies have not come out of COVID-19 looking like model global citizens. Pfizer has been accused of bullying South American governments after demanding they put up military bases as collateral in exchange for vaccines. Meanwhile, Bill Gates persuaded Oxford University to sign an exclusive deal with AstraZeneca for its new offering, rather than allow it to be copied freely by all. The British/Swedish multinational quickly announced it would fall 50 million vaccines short on its first shipment to the European Union.

But what if there were a looming health crisis that could make COVID look almost minor in comparison? The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning of just such a case for some time now, predicting that antimicrobial resistance will kill up to 10 million people every year by 2050 — almost four times as many as the coronavirus has killed in the past 12 months.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today,” they write, noting that without effective antibiotics all manner of conditions — including pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis — could become far more deadly. Drug companies are making this situation worse by encouraging the overuse of our precious stores of antibiotics, particularly in the Global South and also by refusing to invest enough resources into creating new ones.

Global overuse

The more antibiotics are used, the more resistant bacteria become to them, meaning that humanity must guard its reserves and slow down the pathogens’ adaptive evolution by using them only when necessary. Between 2000 and 2015, antibiotic consumption decreased by 4% in rich nations but increased by 77% in developing ones, and their overuse has become rampant across the world. The poorer enforcement of medical laws in these countries leads manufacturers to “adopt unethical marketing approaches and develop creative ways to incentivize prescribing among healthcare providers,” in the words of Dr. Giorgia Sulis, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at McGill University, Quebec.

As Sulis explained to MintPress:

India is perhaps the best example in this regard, due to its large pharmaceutical market and the predominant role of the private sector in healthcare delivery. A private sector that is highly fragmented and largely unregulated, where a substantial proportion of providers lack any sort of formal medical training, is extremely vulnerable to [these kinds] of bad business strategies.”

Superbugs already kill an estimated 58,000 babies inside the country each year.

While India does have a national healthcare system, it is chronically understaffed and underequipped, leaving most of the population to rely on one of the millions of informal providers — health workers who have no official qualifications. Informal providers vastly outnumber trained professionals.

“There is a very haphazardly integrated type of medicine, which is practiced all over India. We have a professionalized modern healthcare system with regulations. But it is a system that is limited” in its size and scope, explained the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Meenakshi Gautham, an expert on antibiotic use in South Asia. “Informal providers or para-health workers are the ones who continue to meet the healthcare needs of millions of people who don’t have access to the formal health system.”

These informal providers are a goldmine of profits for big pharma. A 2019 study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that a host of drug companies ply them with cash incentives, gift cards, medical equipment, vacations, televisions, free samples, and discounts on bulk purchases — all of which were intended to increase antibiotic use, thereby risking overprescription. Some salesmen admitted to undercover reporters that they knew the drugs were being misused, but that they were motivated purely by profit. They also revealed that they would promote drugs to informal providers based on their profitability, not their efficacy.

These informal workers are commonly written off derisively as “quacks” who give out treatments mindlessly. While Dr. Gautham’s work found that they often do have major holes in their medical understanding, she defended them as a vital part of a healthcare system under which seeing a qualified doctor is beyond the financial means of millions. “You might assume that they are illiterate and they are quacks and they do not know what they are doing but that is not true. What we found was that about 30% may even be graduates or postgraduates,” she said, adding that most had worked as doctors’ assistants and continued to be mentored by them.

Informal practitioners are usually respected and important members of their communities and, when in doubt, often consult qualified doctors on the best course of action. Dr. Gautham’s study also found that they did not prescribe any “reserve” antibiotics — powerful medications considered a last resort and therefore used in hospitals as sparingly as possible.

Unfortunately, informal practitioners routinely prescribe less than full courses of antibiotics, despite the fact that this is a huge driver of resistance. This is not done out of ignorance, but rather because India is such an unequal society that poor patients simply cannot afford long courses of antibiotics. “Packages are customized based on patients’ paying capacity. If the patient cannot afford a full course, then they will be given two or three days of antibiotics — or even less,” Dr. Gautham noted. The effect of this is that bacterial infections become stronger and more resistant to treatment with antibiotics. And bacteria do not respect borders. Consequently, the extreme inequality in much of the Global South is a direct threat to human survival elsewhere.

Thus, any top down approach simply banning informal practitioners from handing out antibiotics would surely do more harm than good, given the huge shortage of qualified doctors. Furthermore, Dr. Sulis’s study found that qualified practitioners were actually more likely to prescribe antibiotics than the so-called “quacks.” This could be because licensed professionals are subject to exactly the same incentives and financial rewards that their unlicensed peers are under — a system that also prevails across the United States.

In 2019, ProPublica found more than 700 American doctors who had received more than $1 million each from drug and medical device companies. It is commonplace for U.S. doctors to receive financial and other rewards for prescribing certain drugs, a system that undermines their neutrality. Across the world, big pharma wines and dines medical professionals in expensive resorts, claiming these events are educational conferences. But the line between informative events and expense-paid vacations is not always easy to distinguish.

Making a big problem bigger

A second way in which giant pharmaceutical corporations are aiding the spread of resistance is their refusal to devote the necessary resources towards replenishing stores of new antibiotics. Investment in the area has rapidly dwindled. “The big problem is that we do not have any novel antibiotics in the pipeline that we can expect to see in the near future… So we really have to protect those that we do have,” Dr. Gautham told MintPress.

And while the Global South overprescribes antibiotics, in the West farm animals are pumped full of them, farmers even giving them to healthy animals so they can be packed tighter in ever-increasing herd sizes. The WHO notes that in many countries, 80% of medically important antibiotic consumption goes to farm animals and has strongly recommended a wholesale reduction of the practice.

Antibiotics used in farms spill over into the surrounding environment through run-off and waste, creating resistance to drugs and endangering human health. Unfortunately, the for-profit corporate agriculture sector has little regard for the consequences. As one paper in the British Journal of General Practice noted,

In animals and fish, antibiotics are used as a substitute for good hygiene, with little understanding of how this might impact on antimicrobial resistance in humans. As a society we must urgently reconsider how we use antimicrobials to preserve this valuable resource for future generations.”

The hyper-exploitation of animals is also leading to dangerous outbreaks of zoonotic (animal to human) diseases.

Ultimately, the problem of antibiotic overprescription is structural in nature, and there is little end to it in sight. As Dr. Sulis told MintPress: “The industry has no interest at all in raising awareness on the importance of using antibiotics wisely and the potential implications of inappropriate use, including overprescription,” although she noted that it was difficult to accurately weigh up the proportion of blame they deserved and to disentangle their role from other key drivers of the crisis.

Nothing to see here, just a looming disaster

The negative effects of this looming scenario are profound. Since the adoption of penicillin in the 1940s, the widespread use of antibiotics is estimated to have extended average life expectancy by 20 years. Dr. Gautham noted that “as antibiotic overuse keeps increasing, then all those antibiotics that we have today will slowly become ineffective against even the most common infections.”

Thus the conditions of the past will become the maladies of the future. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, cesarean sections, and other common surgeries will be in major jeopardy, as they require antibiotics to prevent any post-surgical and opportunistic infections. Healthcare costs will spike as conditions that were treatable in a few days will draw on for weeks, and some cases may not be recoverable. As Dr. Sulis warned:

The consequences ultimately affect everyone on the planet. We are already facing a dramatic increase in incidence of multi-drug- and extremely drug-resistant infections, but we are running out of effective therapeutic options. This scenario is bound to get worse over the next few years and, in the absence of countermeasures, it will have an impact on healthcare as a whole, not to mention the economic losses.”

For such a profound problem, which threatens the very foundation of modern medicine, the story is receiving barely any attention in the media. Indeed, so uninterested is the press in pharmaceutical profiteering accelerating superbugs that media-literacy group Project Censored chose it as one of their top 25 most censored stories of 2019-2020. The only substantial corporate reporting on the unethical sale of antibiotics, their research showed, was a single 2016 investigation by The New York Times.

Unlike with COVID, there is still time to prevent mass suffering. And yet this systemic problem appears to be getting worse, not better, as we move closer towards it. If the past year has taught humanity anything, it is that bugs do not respect borders and increased global planning and cooperation are vital to meet the planet’s most pressing problems head-on. Unfortunately, it seems we are sleepwalking into another preventable catastrophe. And few are even talking about it.

mintpressnews.com

China Rises in Latin America as Sun Sets on the Monroe Doctrine

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China’s rise in trade, business and influence in Latin America has been comparatively ignored. But it is happening. It is real.

China is rapidly surpassing the United States as the most influential nation across Latin America, in the U.S.’s own backyard. This is not a boast by the Chinese government. It is the considered assessment of the five star admiral who heads U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in his testimony on March 16 to the SenatUe Armed Services Committee.

For almost 200 years since President James Monroe first adumbrated it in a regular message to Congress in December 1823, successive generations of U.S. policymakers and the American people have taken it for granted that the entire vast continent of South America, as well as giant Mexico, the small and much-put-upon nations of Central American and the Caribbean have been and should always remain the United States’ backyard, with all the supposedly evil and repressive powers of the Old World kept out of them — in the sacred names, of course, of Democracy, Freedom and Free Trade.

In fact, with the exception of a handful all too brief eras of genuine shining idealism and goodwill under Presidents Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) and John F. Kennedy (1961-63), U.S. domination of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Western Hemisphere has been characterized, not by benign neglect but rather by a monstrously malign attention.

The repressions and depredations that President Porfirio Diaz, with the enthusiastic support of Wall Street and the City of London inflicted on the Mexican people during his 35 year reign of terror from 1876 to 1911 now known as the Porfiriato defy belief: Almost 10 million peasants were driven off their land and national life expectancy crashed to only 30 years when it was 50 in the neighboring United States. At the same time, $1.5 billion in U.S. business investment (and these were 19th century dollars) flooded in.

A new era of holier-than-thou heavy-handed intervention came with America’s first systematically imperialist President Theodore Roosevelt. TR was a ludicrous joke as a soldier and military leader. He charged up San Juan Hill in Cuba in 1898 managing to avoid getting himself shot and then in the first years of World War I endlessly tried to embrace the United States in World War I from almost the start: He imagined that a San Juan Hill-style cavalry charge across the Western Front would break the German Army. Had he had his way, 2 million American boys would have been plowed under to fertilize the fields of Belgium and Northern France — for nothing.

But in the Western Hemisphere, TR was far more effective: He waged shameless aggression against the nation of Columbia carving out an entire secessionist state from it so that the United States could build and control the Panama Canal — an essential step on America’s rise to global sea power. And the first Roosevelt also established the dark 20th century precedent that the nations of Central and South America needed the guiding hand of U.S. imperialism to whip them (literally) into shape. He dignified this policy of aggression and imperial exploitation with the title “The Roosevelt Corollary.”

Woodrow Wilson, an ugly anti-African-American racist of the most deep and implacable nature, initiated a new era of catastrophic interventions in the hemisphere, first in Mexico and then across the Caribbean region as well. This state of affairs continued through the 1920s.

The now revered and deified President Dwight D. Eisenhower knowingly approved an open CIA war to topple the genuine democracy of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954: It was an international crime that unleashed far worse — a generations-long Dark Age of genocide, mass rape and the slaughter and enslavement of children against the ancient Mayan peoples of the entire region. The late Irish political philosopher Conor Cruise O’Brien, before he became a neocon in his dotage, strikingly commented that continuing U.S. repression and crimes against humanity across Central America far exceeded anything the Soviet Union inflicted in establishing its security zone of friendly states in Central Europe after World War II.

President George Herbert Walker Bush’s no-nonsense toppling of the corrupt and genuine ugly but also small time thug Manuel Noriega set the tone for the generations since: The name Bush approved for the invasion “Operation Just Cause” perfectly reflected the combination of total, confident and unhesitating self-righteousness and instinctive readiness to ignore all standards of international law and fair play that successive U.S. leaders and policymakers have always felt about invading and toppling any government they like across Latin America.

However, all that was the story of the 19th and 20th centuries and already in this still young 21st century, things are finally changing at last: Overlooked in the entire U.S. Mainstream Media (MSM) SOUTHCOM chief Admiral Craig Feller’s honest, blunt and outspoken message to the Senate Armed Services Committee made this vividly clear. (Though in my long experience, almost all of the senators who heard it will have forgotten everything the admiral said after their three or four post-hearing martinis.)

One can certainly disagree with the tone of Admiral Fuller’s comments which focused on the advances and alleged iniquities of Russia and China rather than the ongoing disastrous bipartisan policies that that the George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now Joe Biden administrations have all systematically and consistently followed to repress and undermine democracy across Latin America in nations both great (Brazil) and small (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) as well as those in between (Colombia and Venezuela).

However, the sense of challenge, danger and alarm that the admiral tried to convey comes across all too clearly:

“I feel an incredible sense of urgency,” he said. “This Hemisphere in which we live is under assault. The very democratic principles and values that bind us together are being actively undermined by violent transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and the PRC and Russia. We are losing our positional advantage in this Hemisphere and immediate action is needed to reverse this trend.”

China is building, has bought or now controls outright 40 major ports across Latin America, the SOUTHCOM commander said. And now, in addition, COVID-19 is wrecking political stability across the continent, the admiral said.

“There is an accelerating spiral of instability gripping the region as the pandemic has increased the region’s fragility. Latin America and the Caribbean have suffered among the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world,” Feller said. “According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), per capita income in Latin America will not recover from the pandemic until 2025.”

To America’s strategic horror, China has launched a $1 billion COVID-19 aid offensive across Latin America to build influence in the region and is already rapidly advancing toward their goal of economic dominance in the region within the next 10 years, the admiral said.

“In 2019, the People’s Republic of China surpassed the United States as the leading trade partner with Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay and is now the region’s second-largest trading partner behind the United States. From 2002 to 2019, PRC trade with Latin America soared from $17 billion to over $315 billion, with plans to reach $500 billion in trade by 2025,” the admiral said.

China’s economic rise in Africa has been much commented upon and studied in the West. However its parallel rise in trade, business and influence in Latin America has been comparatively ignored. But it is happening. It is real. And it is changing the destiny of a continent.

Everything the West Claims It Values Is Invalidated by Its Treatment of Assange

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By Caitlin JOHNSTONE

The western world has a very high opinion of itself and its supposed values, and its treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a lie of it all.

Truth. Justice. Freedom. Democracy. We are taught from an early age that these are the sacred values our society upholds with the utmost reverence, and that we are very fortunate to have been born in a part of the world which holds such virtue.

You see this haughty self-righteousness pop up on a daily basis in the most influential circles on earth, from the way US presidents are still to this day referred to as the “leader of the free world”, to US Secretary of State Tony Blinken recently babbling about the “shared values” of the “free and open rules-based order”, to Magnitsky Act manipulator Bill Browder recently referring to the US-centralized power alliance as “the civilized world” in a bid to get Australia up to pace with the rest of the empire’s China hawkishness.

Australia is under pressure to pass its own version of a Magnitsky Act after it failed to join the civilized world in sanctioning Chinese officials over the Uyghur concentration camps https://t.co/H0c7J4En4b

— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) April 3, 2021

All of this is nonsense. All of this is fake. Everything the western world believes about itself and its values is invalidated by its treatment of Julian Assange.

The western world does not value truth.

If the western world valued truth, there wouldn’t be a journalist languishing in Belmarsh Prison for publishing it.

11 years ago today WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder. It was a defining moment in our understanding of the Iraq war.

The publisher, Julian Assange, faces a 175 year sentence for publishing evidence of such crimes, government abuses & corruption https://t.co/7ZquWpnImm pic.twitter.com/cgXkjouO02

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 5, 2021

Julian Assange is in prison entirely because of his authentic publications of the 2010 Manning leaks. He remains locked up for no other reason than the Biden administration’s efforts to appeal a British court’s rejection of its extradition request to try him in the United States for those entirely truthful publications.

If the western world valued truth, Julian Assange would be free. He never would have been imprisoned in the first place. He would be a celebrated hero.

The western world does not value justice.

Join our Protests 11th April 2021 Marking two years of #Assange in HMP Belmarsh https://t.co/kY0t22k4aQ via @greekemmy

— Rotkehlchen (@Buche1789) April 5, 2021

If the western world valued justice, Julian Assange would not have been forced into arbitrary detention for years trying to avoid a known (and since proven) campaign to extradite him to the United States. He would not have been dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy by force, and he would not have then been imprisoned for a further two years and counting. He would not have endured a Kafkaesque show trial culminating in the judge proclaiming him mentally unfit but still keeping him locked up in Belmarsh anyway pending a US extradition to a nation in which he stands no chance at a fair trial and would be completely silenced and disappeared under US Special Administration Measures.

The western world does not value freedom.

This former NSA lawyer thinks journalists should be prosecuted for receiving classified info. Cites Assange as precedent. That’d send a couple dozen natsec reporters to jail on day one. https://t.co/LG4sEdXYQj

— Jacob Silverman (@SilvermanJacob) April 2, 2021

If the western world valued freedom it would not be gravely imperiling press freedoms around the world by making a public example of what happens to an award-winning journalist who reveals inconvenient truths about the empire, and working to strengthen a legal precedent which some imperialists argue has already been set for the future persecution of disobedient press.

The western world does not value democracy.

Humanity Is Making A Very Important Decision When It Comes To Assange

“We are collectively being asked a question here, and our answer to that question will determine the entire course we will take as a species.”https://t.co/KHlcCOLr5w

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 1, 2020

If the western world valued democracy, it would not be persecuting a journalist for trying to create a more informed voting populace. Without an informed populace, democracy has no real existence. As long as public perception is being manipulated and obscured by government secrecy and propaganda, then people aren’t casting their votes based on a clear and educated perception of reality, they’re voting based on the convenience of the powerful.

Democracy’s reliance on an informed voting populace is the only reason the press are the only explicitly named profession protected in the US Constitution, yet a member of the press is being persecuted for trying to do exactly that.

The western world does not oppose the tyrannical oppression of political dissidents.

Two related bombshell revelations following today’s hearing:
1) US prosecutors are arguing the 1st amendment doesn’t apply to foreign journalists;
2) #JulianAssange will be under Special Administrative Measures if extradited.@JohnWRees, @DEAcampaign, reacts to both: pic.twitter.com/m6WBoaaNqo

— Mohamed Elmaazi (@MElmaazi) January 23, 2020

If the western world opposed the tyrannical suppression of political dissidents it wouldn’t be punishing a journalist for embarrassing the most powerful government on earth.

The western world does not oppose the torture of political dissidents.

How Julian #Assange was stitched up by the corrupt Swedish state, Britain and the US. Read this interview with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. It’s a lesson for every journalist who challenges power and why #Assange must be freed.https://t.co/KWTFILoHKV

— John Pilger (@johnpilger) February 1, 2021

If the western world opposed the torture of political dissidents, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer wouldn’t have found Assange showing signs of psychological torture, and they wouldn’t be working to send him into a torturous prison system.

Melzer reports:

“The case falls into my mandate in three different ways: First, Assange published proof of systematic torture. But instead of those responsible for the torture, it is Assange who is being persecuted. Second, he himself has been ill-treated to the point that he is now exhibiting symptoms of psychological torture. And third, he is to be extradited to a country that holds people like him in prison conditions that Amnesty International has described as torture. In summary: Julian Assange uncovered torture, has been tortured himself and could be tortured to death in the United States.”

The western world purports to value truth, justice and freedom and to oppose tyranny and oppression, but if you look at how that same western world has been treating a journalist whose only proven “crime” is publishing inconvenient truths about the powerful, you see this is a lie.

We believe our society upholds noble values because that’s what we’ve been trained to believe by our schooling systems and by our media, but those same information systems have also trained us to accept a ruling model wherein a journalist is being punished for telling the truth.

We’ve been lied to.

We’ve been duped.

Assange has proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt. With his publications, yes, but first and foremost with the brutish and tyrannical response to those publications.

We all owe him a great debt for exposing the lie of the western world.

caityjohnstone.medium.com

Major League Baseball’s Attack on Georgia Proves America Is Cancelling Itself Into Oblivion

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The so-called ‘cancel culture,’ should it continue on its iron track, will spell the doom of US democracy only to be replaced by something altogether un-American.

Baseball is America’s quintessential sport that speaks to the heart of the nation’s very existence. Yet it appears that not even the great game can protect itself from the cancel culture ideologues.

Amid political haggling between Democrats and Republicans over Georgia passing new election reform legislation, which the left says disenfranchises minorities, the executives at Major League Baseball (MLB) should have done what they been doing for over a century: keep the dirty world of politics far away from America’s national pastime.

At the very least, this would have been the best business decision, especially when it is considered that most Americans view “cancel culture” as an existential threat to the country. Unfortunately, corporate decisions today are no longer guided by the capitalistic profit motive, but rather by the progressive virtue signaling motive. Paradoxically, leftist ideology has supplanted capitalist ideology in America. Consequently, MLB made the lamentable decision to deprive Atlanta from hosting this year’s All-Star Game.

“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, aired by ESPN. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” the statement continued.

Regrettably, Mr. Manfred is seriously misguided. The best way for the MLB to “demonstrate our values as a sport” is by disallowing outside forces from interfering with an event that should be totally shielded from the shifting political winds. After all, one of the main reasons that fans are attracted to sport in the first place is it allows them to escape from the trials and tribulations of daily living. Their obvious displeasure with mixing politics and sports is visible by declining TV viewership ever since the Cultural Marxists crashed the gates.

Georgia’s laws don’t comport with @MLB “values” but China’s do?https://t.co/354BUflBd3

— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) April 3, 2021

Obviously, Manfred doesn’t know or simply doesn’t care about maintaining fan loyalty in a period of cultural madness that has descended on America like a Kool-Aid drinking religious cult. If he did, he would have taken a cue from the viewership statistics from Super Bowl LV between the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. That match saw the worst ratings for the big game since the 1969 clash between the then-Baltimore Colts and New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

Moreover, had he performed some due diligence, instead of taking his talking points from leftist fanatics, Manfred would have realized that Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021 has nothing in common with the segregationist Jim Crow laws, as the mainstream media has recklessly and dangerously suggested.

The state of New York, for example, a major Democratic powerhouse, provides voters just 10 days of early voting; Georgia, by comparison, provides a minimum of 17 days. At the same time, New York voters must provide a reason for voting absentee, whereas in Georgia no formal excuse is demanded. Approaching voters waiting in line to vote, perhaps to pass out water or food, will also be considered a criminal act. Finally, the decision to require voters to provide an ID to receive an absentee ballot cannot be blamed on ‘racism,’ as the left screams at every opportunity, but rather sound voting practice.

It is slanderous to say that people who care about honest and fair elections are racist. @MLB Major League Baseball and anyone else pushing that lie should be ashamed of themselves. At a time baseball is struggling to keep its fans, much less get new fans, this is disgusting.

— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 2, 2021

Past polls have found that Americans from across the political spectrum favor ID legislation to protect the integrity of elections.

Yet with pressure bearing down on the MLB executives from even the White House, as well as the newly empowered and financially supercharged social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, it is more understandable albeit no less conscionable how Manfred could have succumbed to the wild rhetoric.

“This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia,” US President Joe Biden told ESPN.

And it was not just the MLB that broke under pressure from the left.

Dozens of big name corporations, including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Cisco, expressed their discontent with the new election legislation signed into law by Georgian Gov. Brian Kemp, who many Republicans say did not do enough to challenge the presidential election results over accusations of voter fraud and irregularities, many of which were never adequately explained.

The full court press against the state of Georgia does not stop at the MLB. The National Black Justice Coalition is asking PGA Tour players not to compete in the Peach State until the voting law is repealed.

“The PGA Tour and Masters Tournament have both made commitments to help diversify golf and address racial inequities in this country — and we expect them to not only speak out against Georgia’s new racist voter suppression law, but to also take action,” said David J. Johns, executive director of the organization.

It is not difficult to see how many athletes, concerned about their public image from being (wrongly) branded “racist” or worse, will submit to the pressure, despite the fact that Georgia’s legislation has absolutely no connection to “systemic racism,” the canard of the progressives ever since George Floyd died under the knee of a white police officer last summer. For many Republicans, the only way to respond to this corporate and borderline fascist foray into politics is by hitting them in the wallet.

Former President Donald Trump called for conservatives to boycott the companies that threw their support behind the MLB decision.

“For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with the WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections,” Trump said in a statement on April 3rd released by Save America PAC.

“It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back— we have more people than they do— by far,” Trump continued. “We can play a better game than them!”

What is disturbing and even frightening about this latest development on the cancel culture front is that it exposes the yawning abyss that now separates millions of Americans from each other as civil war memories come to mind. Across this increasingly belligerent battle line everyone from corporations to average consumers are taking their battle stations, cancelling events here, and boycotting in response there.

Although it could be argued that this is merely evidence of the First Amendment in action, the opposing sides are too disparate for there to ever exist lasting peace. The left has been usurped by the radical progressives, while the right has latched on ever tighter to its conservative principles. The middle ground has been washed away and now exists as a perilous no-man’s land littered with landmines and other incendiaries.

Quite simply, the specter of a single political party and its corporate underlings strong-arming governments is a phenomenon one would expect to see in Mussolini’s Italy of 1925, not Joe Biden’s American presidency of 2021. This so-called ‘cancel culture,’ should it continue on its iron track, will spell the doom of US democracy only to be replaced by something altogether un-American.

Bombshell Book in Germany Revives 9/11 as a Business Model

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By Pepe ESCOBAR

Nearly 20 years after 9/11, Germany and the German-speaking world are being hit by a formidable one-two.

A ground-breaking study by gifted independent financial journalist Lars Schall, Denken wie der Feind – 20 Jahre Ausnahmezustand 9/11 und die Geopolitik des Terrors.

(“Thinking Like the Enemy – 20 Years State of Emergency, 9/11 and the Geopolitics of Terror”) is being published in Germany in two books.

The first one – Das Erdöl, der Dollar und die Drogen (“The Oil, The Dollar and The Drugs”) – is out this week. Volume II will be out next week.

Nomi Prins, formerly from Goldman Sachs, has described Schall’s “investigation of 9/11 insider trading” as “stunning”. Marshall Auerback, researcher at the Levy Institute in the U.S., noted how “most of the MSM still refuse to tackle the broader, more controversial aspects of the 9/11 tragedy”. Schall, he adds, “provides a healthy corrective”.

A sample of Schall’s work, already published by The Saker blog, is this interview on 9/11 terror trading.

I’ve had the pleasure to write the introduction for the German one-two. Here it is – hoping that such an extraordinary achievement may find its way in many other languages, especially across the Global South

9/11, or “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”

Until COVID-19 showed up on the scene in the Spring of 2020, nearly two decades after the fact, the world remained hostage to 9/11. This was the ultimate geopolitical game-changer that set the tone for the young 21st century. The book you have in your hands asks the ultimate question: why 9/11 matters.

Follow the money. It’s quite fitting that this meticulous investigation is conducted by a gifted, extremely serious financial journalist – and, in an unprecedented way, presents a mass of information previously unavailable in German.

I’ve known Lars Schall, virtually, for years – exchanging correspondence on politics and economics. When we met in person in Berlin in 2015, we finally had time, live, to also indulge in our number one pop culture mutual passion: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Lars may be a German incarnation of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. Or, better yet, the compassionate version of Albert Rosenfield, the sarcastic pathologist in Twin Peaks.

Take for instance this dialogue from Twin Peaks:

Albert Rosenfield: We sent a portrait of your long-haired man to every agency from NASA to DEA and came up empty. This cat is in nobody’s database. 

 Special Agent Dale Cooper: A man that four of us have seen here in Twin Peaks. 

 Albert Rosenfield: [smiling] Sure. Oh, by the way, you were shot with a Walther PPK. It’s James Bond’s gun, did you know that?

So what you have in your hands is 9/11 dissected by a thoroughly working pathologist, who had “a lot of cutting and pasting to do”. He was aware of myriad red lines from the start, as well as myriad vanishing acts and false non sequiturs. 9/11 may be the ultimate illustration of one of Twin Peaks’ legendary one-liners: “The owls are not what they seem”.

Our pathologist had in fact to disassemble a humongous matryoshka to break it down into smaller dolls. This process had some surprises in store: by following-the-money approach regarding 9/11, for instance, our pathologist was in the end confronted with the case of an anal prolapse at Guantanamo Bay. You don’t believe it? Just wait and read the research.

This journey will take you through hundreds of pages of text and myriads of endnotes, over 2,400 of them, quite a few dealing with many different sources, as well as selected sensitive documents treated by professional translators.

The double volume details the interconnected implications of extremely complex dossiers: the US national energy policy group chaired by former Vice-President Dick Cheney, in secrecy, only four days after the start of the Bush administration; the ramifications of Peak Oil; the interest by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Middle East oil, especially Iraq; the CIA’s major role in the drug trade business; the Saudi-U.S. alliance related to the protection of al-Qaeda; what happened with the U.S. air defense on 9/11; and last but not least, insider trading on 9/11, especially anomalies in the option and bond markets.

The nearly mythical computer software program PROMIS, created in the 1970s by former NSA analyst Bill Hamilton, plays a sort of Rosebud role in this narrative – complete with a trail of unexplained deaths and disappearing files that renders some of its avatars, especially those containing backdoor eavesdropping capabilities enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI) almost impervious to investigation.

As a matter of fact, Lars had been contacted by Bill Hamilton, who asked him if he could help in relation to the PROMIS affair. It was this request – which took place in the Spring of 2012 after Lars had just published a 9/11-Insider Trading article at Asia Times – that has been the spark which started the investigation you are about to read.

For the German reader, one of the firsts of this sprawling analysis is to take what is considered in the U.S. as a “conspiracy theory” – Mike Ruppert’s seminal 2004 book “Crossing the Rubicon” – and, in Lars’s words, “figure out how far it can be proven correct, more than 15 years after it was published.”

Lars shows in detail how 9/11 enabled a state of emergency, a permanent Continuity of Government (COG) in the U.S. and mass surveillance of U.S. citizens – connecting the dots all the way from missing trillions of dollars in the Pentagon to NSA data mining and leading U.S. neocons. The latter had been praying for a “Pearl Harbor” to reorient US foreign policy since 1997. Their prayers were answered beyond their wildest dreams.

The investigation eventually displays a startling road map: the war on terror as a business model. However, as Lars also shows, in the end, much to the despair of U.S. neocons, all the combined sound and fury of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror, in nearly two decades, ended up bringing about a Russia-China strategic partnership in Eurasia.

It’s fair to ask the author what did he learn as he juggled for years with this immense mass of information. Lars points to the familiarity he acquired with the work of Peter Dale Scott – author, among others of “The Road to 9/11”, and a specialist in the origins of the U.S. Deep State – which is diametrically opposed to the sanitized narrative privileged by the Beltway and U.S. corporate media. Lars presents information by Peter Dale Scott that had never been translated into German before.

Special Agent Lars Cooper / Lars Rosenfield had in effect to kiss goodbye to a career as a journalist, because “I’ll be forever scorned as a ‘conspiracy theorist’,” as he told me. So a stark choice was in play; fearlessness, or a comfortable career as a corporate hack. In the end, Lars chose fearlessness.

In Twin Peaks, Special Agent Dale Cooper has ultimately to confront himself. He knows he’s lost if he tries to run away from his dark self – who is “the dweller on the threshold.” Our Special Agent Lars Cooper definitely did not run away from the dweller on the threshold this time around. He dared to cross to the other side to stare at the abyss. And now he’s back to tell us in a book what it looks like.

Denken wie der Feind – 20 Jahre Ausnahmezustand 9/11 und die Geopolitik des Terrors 

(“Thinking Like the Enemy – 20 Years State of Emergency, 9/11 and the Geopolitics of Terror”), by Lars Schall

Book 1: Das Erdöl, der Dollar und die Drogen

(The Oil, The Dollar and The Drugs)

Via Books on Demand (BOD):

ISBN for the book: 9783753442938. For the e-Book: 9783753414737

Book 2:  Das “Pearl Harbor” des 21. Jahrhunderts (The “Pearl Harbor “ of the 21st Century)

Via Books on Demand (BOD):

ISBN for the book: 9783753460796. For the e-book:  9783753433882

thesaker.is

Confrontation and Propaganda Continue Against Russia

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The propaganda drive against the Moscow government is gathering pace, Brian Cloughley writes.

In an era when sensible folk believe that nations should cooperate in doing everything possible to counter the hideous plague that has beset us, there remain many dedicated zealots in Western countries who believe that confrontation is more important than efforts to save lives. These activists detest Russia and China and seek to destroy their governments’ efforts to prosper economically while securing their borders.

Although China represents the greater commercial threat to the United States, the establishment in Washington, aided by the United Kingdom, its suitably slavish adherent under the stumbling administration of Boris Johnson, has recently intensified its focus on Russia, whose leader it wishes to overthrow. The core reasons for this energetic campaign are economic rather than ideological, and closely tied to the increasing U.S. production of expensive weaponry with which to combat the supposed threat from the East.

The happy days of the Cold War are with us once again.

The propaganda drive against the Moscow government is gathering pace, and the Western mainstream media are suitably cooperative with the plethora of “official sources” who feed them anti-Russia bits and pieces that are devoid of substance and evidence but tantalising enough to attract uncritical public attention. Open actions by governments in Washington and London, usually military but also economic, are presented with a nationalistic slant designed to guide its targets into belief. The campaign is a fairly good example of psychological warfare, to which the United Kingdom, for example, is devoting more time and money.

The U.S.-Nato military alliance is no foot-dragger in angling news reports and its description of “interceptions” of Russian aircraft on March 29 is a good example. It is a comparatively minor illustration, but demonstrates how the Washington-Brussels team go about reporting international affairs. The Nato media release declared that “In all, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours.”

The Russian aircraft were flying in international airspace and obviously were not going to take any action against any Nato country or anyone else, for that matter. But Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Operations at Nato’s Air Command located at Ramstein in Germany, declared that “intercepting multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO forces’ readiness and capability to guard Allied skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

“Allied skies”?

These Russian aircraft were based in Russia and flying, as acknowledged even by U.S.-Nato, in international airspace. This has nothing whatever to do with “Allied skies”.

As is not unusual, there was flexing of the truth in the U.S.-Nato statement which claimed that there were “six different groups” of Russian aircraft. In fact the media release said there were “two groups near Norway’s coast”, then one group over the Black Sea and a maritime patrol aircraft over the Baltic. That makes four “groups” out of the claimed six. But it wasn’t totally untrue (which is what psyops is all about), because there were indeed six interceptions by fighters from Norway, Britain, Belgium, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy. (It was, preposterously, a bold Italian fighter jet that “intercepted” the unarmed Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft over the Baltic.) The entire aerial pantomime was performed for media headlines.

On the other hand, there have not been many headlines concerning Russia’s development of the Sputnik V anti-Covid vaccine, because this has been a success, and the West’s mainstream media do not report Russian successes. The site Spaceflight Now does carry details concerning launches of Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, but there is only rarely a mention of this vital shuttle service in such outlets as the Washington Post, which prefers to give prominence to the U.S. private company SpaceX which, although it has managed to conduct space station dockings, is experiencing a series of failures. As one UK newspaper reported the most recent disaster, “SpaceX said the SN11 [rocket] ‘experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly’. In other words, it blew up.” If it had been a Russian rocket there would have been rather different publicity.

There has been U.S.-Russia space cooperation for about 25 years, and Reuters reported on April 3 that “the Russian government approved extending an agreement on cooperation in space with the United States until December 2030”, which is an admirable and important initiative that will attract no approval or even attention in the halls of the Capitol or the wires of the mainstream media. And to be fair, there is no attempt on the part of Uncle Joe’s administration in Washington to disguise its loathing of Moscow. His Secretary of Defence, General Lloyd Austin, on April 1 “reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. He condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine, and he offered condolences to the minister on the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers on the 26th of March.”

The Pentagon’s spokesman was far from being concise and enlightening when posed a question about this censure. Specifically he was asked “you said that the Secretary condemned the recent Russian actions… can you be a little more specific one more time about what he is condemning?” The reply rambled but had the merit of publicising the Pentagon’s unquestioning support of the corrupt government in Kiev. His stumbling response was “As I said yesterday, I mean, we’re monitoring the situation with respect to Ukrainian military reports of Russian military placements and forces along the border. We’re — these are Ukrainian military reports. We’re monitoring that very, very closely and we certainly call on the Russians to be more transparent about what this is about but we’ve learned from bitter history not to just take at face value Russian claims of their intentions.”

The Pentagon’s eager acceptance of “Ukrainian military reports” is a prime indicator of U.S. national policy, and it cannot be expected that this will alter, any more than the anti-Russia views of ultra-nationalists in England, one of whom, on the same day as General Austin’s war drumming pronouncements, wrote that “Brussels can’t call itself a force for good when its members are prepared to deal with Putin on vaccines. The EU’s top leaders are warming towards the Russian-made jab, in a propaganda coup for Vladimir Putin.” It is barely believable that a major newspaper such as the Daily Telegraph would countenance publication of such overt malevolence, but in spite of the fact that the Sputnik V vaccine has been approved by 58 countries (although still waiting formal endorsement by the European Medicines Agency), the blinkered bigots are determined to intensify their campaign of hatred. To them it does not matter that such crusades cause deaths.

While many Europeans dislike the policies of Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, it is difficult to disagree with his statement about Sputnik V that “There must be no geopolitical blinkers regarding vaccines. The only thing that must count is whether the vaccine is effective and safe.”

Absolutely right. But try telling that to the confrontationists and propagandists whose aim is to encourage the overthrow of leaders who disagree with their policies. Their silly fandangos in the air are intended to increase tension with Russia — and China — and the campaign against Russia’s vaccine has struck a new low in international relations. The Biden administration is brandishing the cudgels of confrontation and the world is a more dangerous place for that.

US Foreign Policy Shoots Self in Foot

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American foreign policy has created more enemies than it has ever been able to defeat.

Only the Good Get Canceled

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TAKI

This is for you writers out there: If you’re not canceled, you’re no good. The good Dr. Seuss is out, as is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but Adolf Hitler is still in, although I can’t say the same for William Shakespeare. Everyone who’s anyone is getting canceled, so I was glad to see Captain Cook also gone, because BLM said so for his “invasion” of Australia. Never mind that Cook discovered that beautiful continent and never sought violence, BLM insists he murdered loads of people because he was a white supremacist.

For any of you budding historians, do not ever let facts get in your way, just write what you feel like writing. It’s the new truth, especially if it comes from the internet. BLM says Cook invaded, so he must have done so. Actually the good captain was smitten by Maoris, and it has never been explained how one invades a continent with fifty men. Why didn’t someone point this out to George Patton? He could have landed in Bremen with fifty men and ended the war in 1942. But what the hell, BLM is not expected to get everything right, or anything, for that matter. Australia and New Zealand are two of the most advanced and beautiful countries on earth, but if Cook (or Abel Tasman) had not discovered the place, I wonder whether they would be as advanced as, say, Yemen or the Central African Republic are, countries not discovered by white supremacists like Cook.

But I’m getting away from the subject, which is writing. The greatest of them all, my direct ancestor Homer, is getting kicked out of college curricula because some of his heroes like Odysseus told off women in a manner that is unacceptable today, hinting at times that Greek women back then were a bit thick. The one I’m surprised about is the Bard, whom some woke American female teachers have accused of promoting “misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism and misogynoir.” This is a direct quote from their manifesto. Bad Willy Shakespeare, no wonder so many people love him.

“Everyone’s canceled except those who adhere to woke rules invented by halfwits, know-nothings, and morons.”

America at present is in a league of her own. If one comments, for example, on the size of a woman’s breasts, one’s canceled and probably arrested. I don’t know if Shakespeare ever commented on women’s breasts, in fact I don’t think so, but he’s been canceled for his portrayal of Shylock as a bit money-minded, and of Othello as dark and a bit jealous. But what really got Willy canceled was Romeo as some kind of hero. The girls are screaming their heads off: “Romeo’s a bum, he suffers from toxic masculinity.”

What bothers and intrigues me is why only Willy’s canceled among the oldies—what about those awful Greeks like Sophocles, why isn’t he included? He (Soph) has Orestes kill his mother for what she did to his father, and if that is not a result of toxic masculinity, I don’t know what is. And it gets worse. Sophocles also created Oedipus and Jocasta, as weird a mother-and-son relationship as you can get nowadays, and he invented them 2,500 years ago when people really did nothing of the sort because it was pre-Hollywood. Mother and son made whoopee, then the son had second thoughts and blinded himself, while his mother committed seppuku, or the Greek version of it.

After exhaustive research, I think I’ve found the reason why old Sophocles is still in the books: He’s a playwright commenting upon our society today, especially among the criminal classes so glorified by Hollywood and the media. An Oedipus-Jocasta scenario is far more likely to take place today than a Romeo-Juliet one. Especially among the drug culture that rules in the projects of large cities, and where 13-year-olds regularly give birth to babies whose fathers are as unknown as any unidentified fallen soldier.

With American life declining as I write, it’s not enough that poor young Americans are hardly literate at 18, they are now expected to uphold woke standards on their way to becoming total simpletons. And if some of these feminazis have it their way, more writers will go down with the Bard. Mind you, to be canceled is to be recognized as very good, so my friend Norman Mailer has to be first in line. In his An American Dream, the protagonist Rojack murders his wife and then buggers the maid. The girls are up in arms, as well they should be. Another friend, James Jones, has all those soldiers leering at women, and particularly at an officer’s wife, in From Here to Eternity. Still another buddy, Irwin Shaw, writes nicely about Christian Diestl, a German officer—Shaw’s gotta go.

So there we have it, everyone’s canceled except those who adhere to woke rules invented by halfwits, know-nothings, and morons. But there is hope. Adding a digital layer to the brain’s limbic system and cortex might close the gap of those who adhere to woke intelligence and normal folk. Elon Musk is working on it, and for the moment he seems humanity’s only hope.

takimag.com

How the Gods Made Britain’s Prime Minister Mad

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In the famous anthem “Rule Britannia,” Britons have proudly sung for hundreds of years that they never will be slaves: But in his Nietzschian mad dreams, Boris Johnson is turning them into slapstick clowns.

“Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

I have never been an admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche or the grandiose, usually absurd and repulsive statements that pass for his so-called “thought.” (As the Irish political philosopher Conor Cruise O’Brien pointed out, if you think Nietzsche didn’t enthusiastically embrace and urge the extermination of “lesser” races like Slavs, think again).

But this remark, at least is an obvious truth — and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the rapidly disintegrating United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland has just proved it again.

You might have thought that a country in economic and political chaos with its second main national component (Scotland) heading at full speed towards secession and full independence had enough problems on its own doorstep without trying to pick a full-scale global conflict with the largest (Russia) and most populous (China) nations on earth.

You might have thought that, but think again.

You might have thought that pulling out of the ramshackle European Union and imagining the Brussels Bureaucrats would treat Britain well after Johnson spent a life time making cheap, ludicrous abusive and false insults at it (He is good at that) would lead to more conflict.

You might have thought that any prime minister with a brain larger than a pea would at least order a serious sustained planning effort to reorient a UK national economy and society that had been integrated into Europe for 47 years.

You might have thought that, but think again.

Instead, Johnson and what passes for his “government” have come up with the most imbecilic Grand Strategy in British history: Open hostility and hatred towards the European Union, Russia and China — at the same time!

Having boldly cut loose from the EU, Captain Boris wants his Bold Ship Britain to cling closer than ever to the United States according to his major policy review proclaiming the master plan for post-Brexit foreign policy, released on Tuesday, March 16.

Britain will turn its back on all of Europe 22 miles away across the Channel, Johnson and his government proudly proclaimed. Instead, his grand strategic vision is to stir up a new era of hostility towards both Russia and China half a world away!

The claim that Britain will position itself as America’s trusty loyal sidekick in confronting Russia and China on the global stage is particularly risible. For President Joe Biden does not want him, or Britain at all. And in less than three months in office so far, he has humiliated the Brits on every conceivable occasion.

Biden removed the bust of Winston Churchill that Donald Trump kept in the Oval Office and consigned it to oblivion. The very day after Johnson boldly proclaimed his “new” grand strategic masterstroke of being America’s Poodle, Biden issued a joint declaration with visiting Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin clearly rebuking Britain’s stand on the Irish border issue.

Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki even went out of her way to praise the “courage” of Prince Harry and his wife, former US cable TV mini-star Meghan Markle for speaking out about their struggles with mental health after they enormously embarrassed Queen Elizabeth II. If that was not humiliatingly burning the tail of the proud and dignified Royal British Lion, what was?

Most tellingly of all, the Biden administration’s own foreign policy review emphasized the importance of restoring close ties with the European Union. Britain hardly rated more than a single sentence.

The one actual specific policy that Johnson spelled out in his foreign policy review was, of all things, wasting yet more of Britain’s overstretched defense budget on expanding its nuclear arsenal from 180 warheads to 260. Compared with the thousands of warheads that the United States deploys and Russia’s own arsenal, this is simply ludicrous: And southern England, with a population density cramming 50 million people into one of the most dense human concentrations on Earth has a vested obvious interest in reducing thermonuclear arsenals, not witlessly increasing them.

The 100-page report says little about cooperation on security with the European Union, which remains Britain’s largest trading partner and the 700 pound gorilla in its neighborhood. Since Britain’s Brexit withdrawal was finalized in January, relations between London and Brussels have gotten even worse.

The idea that China is a “systematic competitor” to tiny Britain is also insane. Britain these days is lucky to regard itself as a “systematic competitor” to Lithuania.

And of course the report reheats the unproven slander against Russia that Moscow was behind the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent and British double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

Johnson has also sent the 60,000 ton aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth halfway round the world to the Indo-Pacific region apparently in the conviction that it will terrify leaders in Beijing rather than convulsing them in helpless laughter.

Johnson’s fantasies resolutely march on apace. He has now invited the leaders of Australia, India and South Korea to attend a meeting of the G7 which Britain is due to host in June.

It is all delusional, of course. The prime minister of Britain is in a fugue state while his country disintegrates around him. Even Washington, usually prepared to feed its tattered old British pet poodle a half-chewed bone or two, has given up on it.

In the famous anthem “Rule Britannia,” Britons have proudly sung for hundreds of years that they never will be slaves: But in his Nietzschian mad dreams, Boris Johnson is turning them into slapstick clowns.

Biden, Pentagon, NATO Signal Readiness to Go to War Against Russia Over Ukraine

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By Rick ROZOFF

Recent press releases from the White House, the Defense Department and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization uniformly communicate the message that the U.S. and NATO are willing, and perhaps are preparing, to enter into armed conflict with Russia over their joint client regime in Ukraine.

On April 1 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Andrii Taran, in which he “reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.” The last expression means joining NATO, first, and the European Union, second (as has occurred with all thirteen NATO members inducted since 1999 that also joined the EU.) In the words of the Pentagon’s readout of the conversation, Austin also “condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine….” The defense chief also “reiterated the U.S. commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine’s forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression.”

Austin recalled that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with over $2 billion in military and security assistance since the American-engineered violent uprising in the nation seven years ago that resulted in the ouster of the legally-elected and internationally-recognized government of Viktor Yanukovych and war in the Donbas region. Austin also confirmed a recent $125 million package from the Pentagon to “enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.”

When the head of the mightiest military organization in the world, one which outspends Russia on defense more than ten times, speaks of a key political and military client regime – and one in a nation moreover that has enriched the family of the current U.S. president – as the victim of military aggression, the inevitable corollaries of his pronouncement are not hard to divine.

The following day President Joe Biden (or so it was reported) spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea.” Biden reportedly spoke of intensifying the strategic partnership between the two states and spoke of reforms – to repeat, Biden spoke of reforms in Ukraine – that are “central to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.” That is, to becoming a full member of NATO.

The same day Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for an “urgent American involvement in the de-occupation of (Donbas) and Crimea” in a newspaper interview.

On April 1 NATO itself joined the chorus of Western denunciations of Russia, with an alliance official stating, “Russia’s destabilising actions undermine efforts to de-escalate tensions,” in the Donbas, adding, “Allies shared their concerns about Russia’s recent large scale military activities in and around Ukraine.” The “in Ukraine” reference was no doubt concerning Crimea, and the “around Ukraine” one relating to Russian troop movements within Russia itself. Given the fact that the Ukrainian government has been waging war for seven years in Donetsk and Lugansk, which border Russia, and that Russian citizens have been killed and wounded by Ukrainian shelling across the border into Russia, would seem to justify Russian troop movements given the recent escalation of hostilities in the region.

U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has raised its alert status to the highest level. EUCOM is one of six geographical unified (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard) combatant commands the Pentagon employs to divide up the surface of the world. It shares its top commander with NATO.

In a recent Ukrainian television interview the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Ruslan Khomchak, affirmed that the nation’s armed forces are fully operational for a possible war, able to “protect the territorial integrity and independence of our state.”

That’s true of any army, of course, but Khomchak was more specific: “To accomplish this task, we must be ready to act both offensively and defensively and to carry out maneuvers. Of course we are preparing for the offensive….We have experience in warfare in eastern Ukraine.” Seven years of it in fact.

On February 8, President Zelensky approved a plan to admit foreign troops into Ukraine in 2021 to take part in several multinational military exercises led by the U.S. and other NATO nations, including the U.S.-led exercises Rapid Trident 2021 and Sea Breeze 2021, the British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace 2021 and Warrior Watcher 2021 exercises, the Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine 2021 exercise, and the Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords 2021 and Silver Sabre 2021 war games.

He also recently approved Ukraine’s new military strategy, which not surprisingly emphasizes the subjugation of Donetsk and Lugansk and even Crimea. All-out assaults against the first two would probably provoke a war with Russia; an attack on the third would make it inevitable.

NATO is mentioned 19 times in the document, which speaks of an impending war with Donetsk and Lugansk, and by inference with Russia, in which Ukraine would be provided “the help of the international community on terms favorable to Ukraine.”

More pointedly it mentions depending on “the political, economic and military support of Ukraine by the international community in its geopolitical confrontation with the Russian Federation.” The new military strategy also speaks of Ukraine becoming involved in a war between NATO and Russia in which Ukraine “will be drawn into an international armed conflict, especially between nuclear-armed states.”

The Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine advocated by Biden and Austin would make Ukraine’s participation in a war between the world’s two major nuclear powers inevitable. It might also make Ukraine the main battleground in such a war.

ANTI-BELLUM

China and Russia Launch a ‘Global Resistance Economy’

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The U.S. will ignore the message from Anchorage. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (c. 500 BCE) advises that: “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands; yet the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself … Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will; and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him”. This is the essence of the Chinese resistance economy – a strategy which has been fully unveiled in the wake of the Anchorage talks; talks that silenced any lingering thoughts in Beijing that America might somehow find some modus vivendi with Beijing in its headlong pursuit of primacy over China.

Although earlier there had been tantalising glimpses of déshabillé, the full reveal to China’s tough stance and rhetoric has only been permitted now – post-Anchorage – and the talks’ confirmation that the U.S. intends to block China’s ascent.

If it is assumed that this ‘resistance’ initiative constitutes some tit-for-tat ‘jab’ at Washington – through sinking Biden’s Iran ambitions, as revenge for America loudly crying ‘war crimes’ (‘genocide’ in Xingjian) – then we miss wholly its full import. The scope of the Iran pact by far transcends trade and investment, as one commentator in the Chinese state media made plain: “As it stands, this deal (the Iran pact) will totally upend the prevailing geopolitical landscape in the West Asian region that has for so long been subject to U.S. hegemony”.

So here is the essence to ‘a clever combatant moving to impose his will’ – there is no need for China or Russia or Iran to go to war to do this; they just implement ‘it’. They can do ‘it’ – quite simply. They don’t need a revolution to do it, because they have no vested interest in fighting America.

What is ‘it’? It is not just a trade and investment pact with Tehran; neither is it simply allies helping each other. The ‘resistance’ lies precisely with the way they’re trying to help each other. It is a mode of economic development. It represents the notion that any rent-yielding resource – banking, land, natural resources and natural infrastructure monopolies – should be in the public domain to provide basic needs to everybody – freely.

The alternative way simply is to privatise these ‘public goods’ (as in the West), where they are provided at a financialized maximum cost – including interest rates, dividends, management fees, and corporate manipulations for financial gain.

‘It’ is then a truly different economic approach. To give one example: New York’s Second Avenue Subway extension cost $6 billion, or $2 billion per mile – the most expensive urban mass transit ever built. The average cost of underground subway lines outside the U.S. is $350 million a mile, or a sixth of New York’s cost.

How does this ‘it’ change everything? Well, just imagine for a moment: the biggest element in anyone’s budget today is housing at 40%, which simply reflects high house prices, based on a debt-fuelled market. Instead, imagine that proportion at 10% (as in China). Suppose too, you have low-cost public education. Well then, you are rid of education-led debt, and its interest cost. Suppose you have public healthcare, and low priced transport infrastructure. Then you would have the capacity to spend – It becomes a low-cost economy, and consequently it would grow.

Another example: The cost of hiring R&D staff in China is a third to half the comparable cost in the U.S., so China’s tech spend is closer to $1 trillion a year (in terms of purchasing power parity), whereas the U.S. spends just 0.6% of GDP, or about $130 billion, on federal R&D.

At one level therefore, this ‘it’ is a strategic challenge to the western eco-system. In one corner, the debt-driven, hyper-financialised, yet stagnant economies of Europe and the EU – in which strategic direction and economic ‘winners and losers’ are set by the Big Oligarchs, and in which the 60% struggle, and 0.1% thrive. And, in the far corner, a very mixed economy in which the Party sets a strategic course for state enterprises, whilst others are encouraged to innovate, and to be entrepreneurial in the mould of a state-directed economy (albeit, with Taoist and Confucian characteristics).

Socialism versus capitalism? No, it is a long time since the U.S. was a capitalist economy; it’s hardly even a market economy today. It has become, more and more, a rentier economy since leaving the gold standard (in 1971). This forced U.S. exit from the ‘gold window’ facilitated the U.S. via the resultant global demand for U.S. debt instruments, (Treasury bonds), to finance itself for free (from out of the entire world’s economic surplus). The Washington Consensus ensured additionally that the inflows of dollars to Wall Street from around the globe would never be subject capital controls, nor would states be able to create their own currency, but would have to borrow in dollars from the World Bank and the IMF.

And that essentially meant borrowing from the Pentagon and the State Department in U.S. dollars, who ultimately were the system ‘enforcers’, as Professor Hudson notes. The shift in the U.S. financial system to being an entity that that prioritises ‘real’ assets, such as mortgages and real estate that offer a certain ‘rent’, rather than to invest directly in speculative business ventures, also means that debt jubilees are verboten. (The Greeks can recount the experience of what that entails, in grim detail).

The point is that – at the economic plane – the U.S., hyper-financialised sphere is fast shrinking, as China, Russia and much of the ‘World Island’ turn to trading in their own currencies (and do not buy U.S. Treasuries). In a ‘war’ of economic systems, America therefore starts on the back foot.

Halford Mackinder argued a century ago that control of the ‘Heartland’, which stretched from the Volga to the Yangtze, would control the ‘World Island’, which was his term for all Europe, Asia and Africa. Over a century later, Mackinder’s theory resonates as the two leading nations behind the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) transform this into a system of inter-relations from one Eurasian end to another. It is not so new, of course. It is simply the revival of the ancient trade-based economy of the Eurasian heartland, which finally was collapsed in the 17th century.

Alastair Macleod notes that commentators usually fail to understand ‘why’ this flourishing in West Asia is happening: “It is not due to military superiority, but down to simple economics. While the U.S. economy suffers a post-lockdown inflationary outcome and an existential crisis for the dollar – China’s economy will boom on the back of increasing domestic consumption … and increasing exports, the consequence of America’s stimulation of consumer demand and a soaring budget deficit”.

There, explicitly said, is Sun Tzu’s point! “Opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself”. There is in Washington (and to an extent in Europe too), a faction entertaining a pathological emotional desire for war with Russia, largely stemming from a conviction that the Tzars (and later Stalin), were anti-Semitic. Their emotion is one of hatred and anger, yet it is they who largely are responsible for bringing Russia and China together. This, and America’s proclivity to sanction the world, has given China and Russia their opportunity.

The underlying point however, is that – even for the EU – the Rimland periphery is less important than Mackinder’s World Island. There was a time when British and then American primacy outweighed its importance – but this may no longer be true. What is actualising here is the greatest challenge yet mounted to American economic power and technological supremacy.

Yet this economic Realpolitik is but half the story to China and Russia’s launch of a ‘global resistance economy’. It has a parallel geo-political frame, too.

It is to this latter aspect, most probably, that the Chinese official referred when he said that the Iran deal would “totally upend the prevailing geopolitical landscape in the West Asian region that has for so long been subject to U.S. hegemony”. Note that he did not say that it would upend Iran’s relations with U.S. or Europe – he said the whole region. He implied too, that China’s initiatives would free West Asia from American hegemony. How so?

In an interview last week, FM Wang Yi outlined Beijing’s approach to the West Asian region:

“The Middle East was a highland of brilliant civilizations in human history. Yet, due to protracted conflicts and turmoil in the more recent history, the region descended into a security lowland … For the region to emerge from chaos and enjoy stability, it must break free from the shadows of big-power geopolitical rivalry, and independently explore development paths suited to its regional realities. It must stay impervious to external pressure and interference, and follow an inclusive and reconciliatory approach to build a security architecture that accommodates the legitimate concerns of all sides … Against this backdrop, China wishes to propose a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East:

“Firstly, advocating mutual respect … Both sides should uphold the international norm of non-interference in others’ internal affairs … it is particularly important for China and Arab states to stand together against slandering, defamation, interference and pressurizing in the name of human rights … [the EU should take note]

“Second, upholding equity and justice, opposing unilateralism, and defending international justice … China will encourage the Security Council to fully deliberate on the question of Palestine to reaffirm the two-state solution … We should uphold the UN-centred international system, as well as the international order underpinned by international law – and jointly promote a new type of international relations. We should share governance experience … and oppose arrogance and prejudice.

“Third, achieving non-proliferation … Parties need to … discuss and formulate the roadmap and timeframe for the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA. The pressing task is for the U.S. to take substantive measures to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran, and long-arm jurisdiction on third parties, and for Iran to resume reciprocal compliance with its nuclear commitments. At the same time, the international community should support efforts by regional countries in establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

“Fourth, jointly fostering collective security … We propose holding in China a multilateral dialogue conference for regional security in the Gulf (Persian Gulf) …

“And fifthly, accelerating development cooperation …”.

Well, China has spectacularly made its entrance in the Middle East, and is challenging the U.S. with a resistance agenda. FM Wang, when he met with Ali Larijani, special adviser to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, framed it all in a single sentence: “Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries, and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call”. This single comment encapsulates the new ‘wolf warrior’ ethos: states should stick with their autonomy and sovereignty. China is advocating a sovereigntist multilateralism to shake off “the western yoke”.

Wang did not confine this political message to Iran. He had just said the same in Saudi Arabia, before arriving in Tehran. It was well received in Riyadh. In economic development terms, China earlier had linked Turkey and Pakistan into the ‘corridor’ plan – and now Iran.

How will the U.S. react? It will ignore the message from Anchorage. It will likely press on. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

For the EU, the Chinese entry into global politics is more problematic. It was trying to leverage its own ‘strategic autonomy’ by erecting European values as the gateway to inclusion into its market and trade partnership. China effectively is telling the world to reject any such hegemonic imposition of alien values and rights.

The EU is stranded in the midst. Unlike the U.S., it is precluded from printing the money with which to resurrect its virus-blighted economy. It desperately needs trade and investment. Its biggest trading partner, and its tech well-spring, however, has just told the EU (as the U.S.), to give up on its moralising discourse. At the same time, Europe’s ‘security partner’ has just demanded the opposite – that the EU strengthens it. What’s to be done? Sit back, and watch … (with fingers crossed that no one does something extremely stupid).

China Isn’t the Problem, Neoliberalism Is

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By Rob URIE

The ascendance of Wall Street, and of a managerial bureaucracy (PMC) more generally, largely explains the political realignments that have been playing out in the U.S. Beginning in the 1970s, the American political class made decisions at the behest of business interests and oligarchs to restructure the U.S. economy in ways intended to shift the balance of political and economic power towards capital. Finance was, and still is, the method of affecting this transfer of power. However, the current epoch of finance capitalism has run its course. Its logic has been lost. The threats to the neoliberal order are now internal to it.

Bi-partisan claims that China is a growing economic and military threat to the U.S. places economic competition within the national frame that American capitalists have spent the last five decades arguing is no longer relevant because of globalization. This posture of a unified national interest follows several decades of American industrialists cum financiers doing everything they can to concentrate wealth and power for themselves. Now, having done so, the frame of ‘nation’ is being opportunistically reasserted to claim a unified national interest to oppose ‘foreign’ competition. However, China didn’t pass NAFTA and China didn’t bail out Wall Street.

Graph: the top contributors to U.S. GDP are also the beneficiaries of government bailouts and favorable policies. This may seem reasonable until you consider that they might not be the top contributors to U.S. GDP without bailouts and favorable policies. Contrast this with manufacturing that has been shedding workers as the result of trade policies. The balance between the people who make stuff and those who facilitate the making of stuff has grown top-heavy as a result of these policies. This imbalance threatens economic stability. Source: statista.

The contours of current U.S. political divisions can be seen in the graph above. The top three sectors in terms of contribution to GDP by industry are finance, professional services and government. Manufacturing has declined as a relative contributor just as the neoliberal program intended. Unionized industrial jobs have been replaced with non-unionized service jobs. The PMC is the functionary class facilitating this shift as it assumes roles as, and managing, service sector workers. It is the representative face of capital as manufacturing has been migrated abroad. The ‘anti-labor left’ that has emerged in the U.S. since the 1990s is concentrated within the PMC.

The latter point isn’t meant to be gratuitous. In descriptive terms, a central goal of liberalism is to make capitalism fair. However, fairness in capitalist terms is that .0000000000001% of the population owns half of the national wealth. This is equitable distribution in capitalist theory. So, liberalism wants to make the system where .000000000001% of the population owns half of the wealth fair without changing the system or redistributing wealth. Inclusivity— the ‘level playing field,’ is the metric of fairness. Support for labor, and the power of labor, is a challenge to that system of distribution. It balances the power of employers. But it is antithetical to neoliberalism.

Caution needs to be applied in considering the actual economic contribution of finance. In the first, the GDP arithmetic is Price X Quantity = Output. Government support for finance has resulted in a very large rise in ‘P’ in finance and professional services. Pay levels (‘P’) in these industries have risen as they have stagnated or declined for ‘ordinary’ service workers. This represents the concentration of economic power, not the production of the stuff that money can buy. The tautology that people are paid the value of what they produce gets turned around when bankers create most of the money.

The size of finance relative to the making of actual stuff is a case of the proverbial tail wagging the dog. The theoretical justification for its existence is as facilitator of the productive economy. As facilitator, its ‘cut’ should be a small fraction of what is produced. The same is true of the PMC whose role is to manage the production of stuff and the provision of services. What has been effectively created in the U.S. is a bureaucratic neo-feudalism where nominal facilitators take most of what is produced globally for themselves. The rising power of China is seen as a threat to this practice.

The imperial-colonial frame of ‘managerialism’ is of an elite class that organizes the labor of colonial subjects who are constitutionally incapable of organizing their own economic production. Modern managerial practices were first conceived and implemented to ‘manage’ slaves on American plantations. The 1990s narrative of neoliberalism was of American managers organizing global economic production. This explains in part the willingness of industrialists and the U.S. political ‘leadership’ to send industrial production abroad. The result: an eviscerated and immiserated domestic working-class now lorded over by wildly overpaid and self-congratulatory bureaucrats.

This economic taxonomy has thus far left out the petite bourgeois shopkeeps who Gramsci identified a century ago as the reactionary core of European fascism. While the prevalence of small business is often overstated through the inclusion of branch offices of large corporations, small business owners exist on the front-line of capitalist mythology. And they are often the victims of its ordinary tendency toward economic concentration. Most small businesses fail very quickly. Those that succeed feed a myth of self-reliance that turns to resentment when power or happenstance turn against them.

The fragility of the global ‘supply chain,’ the dependence of billions of people on the interdependence of globalized production, was brought to the fore through shortages caused by the pandemic. In fact, people who are dependent on international trade for critical supplies like food, energy, medical supplies, etc. are vulnerable to the whims of predictable and unpredictable forces. The power dynamic of this manufactured ‘state of nature’ is of economic dependencies to which screws are then applied. In good times, this leverage is used to enforce favorable terms of trade. In bad, famines and world wars are its product.

Since the pandemic began a large number of small businesses have gone under and large enterprises like automobile makers that made themselves reliant on global supply chains have been forced to limit production. On the one hand, the pandemic is a rare enough occurrence in recent history to have made planning for it a low-payoff endeavor for businesses. On the other hand, prior epochs of globalization ended quite poorly for related reasons. Economic dependencies are sources of political and economic leverage. Economic warfare tends to be taken with offense by those on its receiving end.

With globalization under reconsideration by economists in the West, the intersection of state with business interests is being restated in geopolitical terms. The base charge is against the utopian ‘one-world’ version of global capitalism that grew to prominence in the U.S. in the 1990s. In this version, an adjunct of the Marshall Plan capitalism that followed WWII, global trade would produce political integration to facilitate the economic integration undertaken between trading partners. This theory requires near-total ignorance of the impact of the Great Depression on global trade and its contribution to the rise of European fascism.

The newly restated frame of globalization whereby business interests represent the vanguard of state interests is (descriptively) liberal politics attached to a liberal theory of the state. Posed as an answer to the charge of globalization utopianism, it relies on the imagined history of the early capitalist theorists. ‘The state’ is neither singular, nor has its non-singularity been static across time. The American state has spent the last five decades in league with oligarchs to support their interests. In contrast, the Chinese state— motivated in part by a desire for political stability, has concentrated on raising living standards for the Chinese people.

In Western economic theory ‘Mercantilism’ is the integrated state-private enterprise whereby state power is used to support the expansion of business interests. The sleight-of-hand used to bring ‘us’ from this earlier period to the present is an imagined starting point where economic power was equitably redistributed in the way needed to make capitalism ‘fair.’ If Western states supported the accrual of private wealth— which many did, then capitalism was rigged from the start. At any rate, the fantasy of the clean break of capitalism from state support is just that, a fantasy. Otherwise, when did it occur? Please be specific.

More recently, the Obama administration rebuilt Wall Street under the theory that it would serve as a vanguard against growing Chinese political power. That Wall Street, in league with PMC neoliberals, spent three-plus decades outsourcing U.S. military production to China illustrates the not-well-thought-outness of economic liberalism with respect to so-called national interests. While most of the anti-China rhetoric in the U.S. is for domestic political consumption, the idea that the U.S. would launch a military conflict against China while it is dependent on military production from it illustrates the shallow logic of neoliberalism.

To bring this back around, Wall Street was rebuilt (in 2009) to serve the state interests that it effectively controls. This makes it true that capitalism is a projection of state power without answering the question of the nature of state power. The U.S. war against Iraq is a modern example of state power being used to assure a steady supply of oil for Western oil companies. All of the current U.S. geopolitical flash-points— Iran, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Ukraine, Russia, etc. tie to the resource needs of capitalist enterprises. The Bush administration stated publicly that Iraq played no role in 9/11— a geopolitical event, while it used the attack as a pretext for its war against Iraq.

The ‘political’ question within the U.S. from the perspective of citizens in an allegedly democratic nation is: what makes the economic interests of wealthy bankers any more worthy of state support than anyone else? In fact, banks make loans that create a legal obligation to repay. Debt has been used as a geopolitical weapon for centuries. Its utility as a weapon lies in the legal obligation to repay it. Failure to repay can be used to seize assets and / or assume a controlling interest in far more valuable enterprises. In this sense, debt joins other economic dependencies— such as fragile and tenuous global supply chains, as potential weapons in power politics.

Graph: one way to explain student debt is as the failure of the state to educate its people. Along with housing and transportation, in economic terms household debt represents costs of production borne by workers. And rising household debt in the face of stagnant wages means a falling capacity for ‘political’ self-determination. Source: New York Fed.

This isn’t to argue that debt is universally or intrinsically bad. It is to make the point that U.S. policy makers have long understood that it is a geopolitical ‘tool.’ Austerity is a term used to describe the economic conditions imposed by the IMF on debtor countries to force them to accept neoliberal reforms. However, if these reforms are mutually beneficial, why are countries being forced to accept them? Additionally, ‘countries’ are historically and legally contingent entities. From the side of power, oligarchs and political leaders benefit from the political leverage that indebtedness provides them.

For oligarchs, corporate executives and workers in industries favored by government policies and bailouts, neoliberalism is producing its promised benefits. That these benefits are the product of, or more minimally, associated with, specific government policies and largesse points to the role of ‘the state’ in economic outcomes. The IMF has long represented the economic interests of large banks along with the political interests of state representatives in the Federal government. This is an integrated relationship, not a matter of serendipity. The banks make loans, a business decision, after which the IMF forces reforms that assure both the repayment of money owed and future business for the banks.

What is being brought into focus is the growth in class privilege that is created through the integration of state with private power. There is no logical reason in purely political terms for the oil industry to have a say in U.S. foreign policy, for agricultural conglomerates to have a say in agricultural policy, or for the health care industry to have a say in healthcare policy. In ‘political’ terms, these are realms to be legislated by and for citizens, not corporations. And yet these industries determine policy. They not only determine it, but in many cases, they write the actual legislation.

The short-sightedness of elevating the alleged facilitators of capitalism—finance, professional services and government, has a bloated, lemon-socialist quality in that the question of how people get by in the world ultimately impacts the political-economic order. That this elevation is tied through policy and history to ‘freeing’ industrial workers to compete internationally while creating a large working class of service workers who labor for less than a living wage without benefits, gives a distinctive class character to this elevation. That managerialism is tied to the imperial / colonial projects through hierarchies of labor crafted through dubious distinctions adds to this class dimension.

This all ties back to the question of globalization through complicating the (descriptively) liberal conceptions of both ‘the state’ and capital. It is telling that a central role of U.S. presidents has been to sell wars of economic conquest as having geopolitical motives. One of Howard Zinn’s contributions in A People’s History of the United States was to ascribe economic motives to American ‘political’ history. Adam Tooze did an admirable job in The Wages of Destruction detailing the economic motives of the Nazis. In class terms, the PMC now plays the reactionary role of the petite bourgeoisie described by Gramsci in the 1920s. That didn’t end well.

counterpunch.org

Militarising the Amazon

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Despite the centrality of indigenous peoples to sustainable environments, governments and corporations are doing the utmost to ensure indigenous erasure.

While research has indicated the importance of indigenous conservation of land, the G7 countries are driving deforestation worldwide through consumption patterns targeting less developed countries. Tropical forests remain among the most targeted areas, with 46-57 percent of imported material deriving from such areas. More than 4.2 million hectares of primary tropical forests was lost in 2020 to deforestation; 1.7 million hectares forest loss were incurred in Brazil’s Amazon alone.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro certainly has failed to impress with his track record of exploiting indigenous terrain. Since the start of his presidency, he prioritised the industrialisation of the Amazon rainforest, home to indigenous communities and over 100 uncontacted tribes. Not in Bolsonaro’s language, however, who refuted the indigeneity and declared the communities as favourable to industrialisation of their land.

In 2019, the world witnessed a grotesque spectacle as the Amazon rainforest burned and Bolsonaro bided his time to save the terrain, while blaming environmental activists for the destruction, claiming arson attacks. Yet one of Bolsonaro’s first policies, enacted within hours of his taking office, was to subject the regulation of indigenous lands to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Another gimmick hand involved Bolsonaro’s rejection of the G7’s offer $20 million in aid to fight the Amazon fires – rhetoric he later retracted. The spectacle of exploiters offering aid to halt the fire spread illustrated nothing in terms of environment protection; rather it portrayed the vested interests of saving the forests to exploit through other means. The indigenous populations, for whom the Amazon is a home, existed in a realm far from capitalist consciousness. And in such reasoning, Bolsonaro and the G7 were on the same page.

For Bolsonaro, a leader enamoured with the dictatorship era, there were no qualms about militarising the Amazon. Allowing the military to occupy key positions in environmental matters had precedents during the years of the Brazilian dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, which ushered in the country’s industrialisation, even as indigenous communities were displaced and killed for their resistance. Brazil’s National Truth Commission report estimates that 8,350 indigenous people were killed during the dictatorship.

With a history of being in favour of industrialising the Amazon, Bolsonaro’s purported solution to preserving the terrain has turned out to be a recipe of oppression for the indigenous communities, and an avenue for exploitation to take place. A recent report by Reuters quotes former left-wing environment minister Izabella Teixeira stating, “The current Brazilian government has a 1970s mentality related to natural resources. That to control the forest means to cut it down.”

In January this year, indigenous leaders and human rights groups requested the International Criminal Court to investigate Bolsonaro for crimes against humanity as a result of his policies and violations of indigenous rights. A detailed report by Brazil’s Climate.

Observatory highlights the government’s refusal to engage in public debate, noting that 593 regulatory changes were signed in 2020 alone.

Furthermore, outsourcing the Amazon’s protection to the military resulted in an increase in fires and higher deforestation, which substantiates claims that the military and the government see eye to eye when it comes to indigenous exploitation. According to the report, one recurring tactic used by Bolsonaro is the purported collusion between non-governmental organisations and foreign governments. This is an attempt to obscure the true damage that is leaving a disastrous environmental impact as a result of agribusiness and deforestation – the former a strong lobby and vociferous support of Bolsonaro’s policies.

Bolsonaro has asserted the existence of “international greed” when it comes to the Amazon. However, such a statement leaves out the Brazilian government’s complicity in the mentioned greed – it was, after all, a prominent policy of Bolsonaro’s to open up the Amazon for international exploitation. An example of how, despite the centrality of indigenous peoples to sustainable environments, governments and corporations are doing the utmost to ensure indigenous erasure.

The Slave, the Orator & the Emperor

Par A A

By Pepe ESCOBAR

Stoicism, in Ancient Greece, was pop culture —reaching out in a way that the sophisticated Platonic and Aristotelian schools could only dream of. Like the Epicureans and the Skeptics, the Stoics owed a lot to Socrates — who always stressed that philosophy had to be practical, capable of changing our priorities in life.

The Stoics were very big on ataraxia (freedom of disturbance) as the ideal state of our mind. The wise man cannot possibly be troubled because the key to wisdom is knowing what not to care about. So the Stoics were Socratic — in the sense that they were striving to offer peace of mind to Everyman. Like a Hellenistic version of the Tao. The great ascetic Antisthenes was a companion of Socrates — and a precursor of the Stoics.

The first Stoics took their name from the porch — stoa — in the Athenian market where official founder Zeno of Citium (333-262 B.C.) used to hang out. But the real deal was in fact Chrysippus, a philosopher specialized in logic and physics, who may have written no fewer than 705 books, none of which survived. The West came to know the top Stoics as a Roman trio — Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. They are the role models of Stoicism as we know it today.

Epictetus (50-120 A.D.) was born as a slave in Rome, then moved to Greece and spent his life examining the nature of freedom. Seneca (4-65 A.D.), a fabulous orator and decent dramatist, was exiled to Corsica when he was — falsely – accused of adultery with the sister of emperor Claudius. But afterwards he was brought back to Rome to educate the young Nero, and ended up sort of forced by Nero to commit suicide.

Marcus Aurelius, a humanist, was the prototypical reluctant emperor, living in a turbulent second century A.D. and configuring himself as a precursor of Schopenhaeur: Marcus saw life as really a drag. Zeno’s teachers were in fact Cynics — whose core intuition was that nothing mattered more than virtue. So the trappings of conventional society would have to be downgraded to the status of irrelevant distractions at best.

No wonder there are very few true cynics left today. It’s enlightening to know that the upper classes of the Roman empire, their 1 percent, regarded Zeno’s insights as quite solid, while — predictably — deriding the first punk in History, Diogenes the Cynic, who masturbated in the public square and carried a lantern trying to find a real man. As much as for Heraclitus, for the Stoics a key element in the quest for peace of mind was learning how to live with the inevitable.

Serenity Link

Venus reflected on the Pacific Ocean. (Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This desire for serenity is one of their linkages with the Epicureans. Stoics were adamant that most people have no clue about the universe they live in (imagine their reaction to social networks). Thus they end up confused in their attitudes towards life. In contrast to Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics were hardcore materialists. They would have none of that platonic “forms” talk in an ideal world: for the Stoics these were nothing but concepts in Plato’s mind. For the Epicureans, the world is the unplanned product of chaotic forces (tell that to Evangelist fanatics).

The Stoics, by contrast, thought the world was a matter of organization down to the last detail. For the Epicureans, the course of nature is not pre-determined: Fate intervenes in the form of random swerves of atoms. Fate, in Ancient Greece, actually meant Zeus.

For the Stoics, everything happens according to Fate: an inexorable chain of cause and effect, developing in exactly the same way again and again in a cycle of cosmic creation and destruction — a sort of precursor of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence.

Resigned Acceptance

Zeus statue. (Mario Leonardo Iñiguez, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Stoics were heavily influenced by Heraclitus. Stoic physics dealt with the notion of interpenetration: the physical world as a stirred concoction of intermingled substances, quite an extraordinary precursor of the equivalence of energy and matter in Einstein. What the postmodern world retains from the Stoics is the notion of resigned acceptance —which makes total sense if the world really works according to their insights. If Fate — once again, Zeus, not the Christian God — rules the world, and practically everything that happens is out of our hands, then realpolitik means to accept “everything to happen as it actually does happen,” in the immortal words of Epictetus.

Thus it’s pointless to get excited about stuff we cannot change. And it’s pointless to be attached to things that we will eventually lose. But try selling this notion to the Masters of the Universe of financial capitalism.

So The Way — according to the Stoics — is to own only the essentials, and to travel light. Lao Tzu would approve of it. After all anything we may lose is more or less gone already — thus we are already protected from the worst blows in life.

Perhaps the ultimate Stoic secret is the distinction by Epictetus between things that are under our control — our thoughts and desires — and what is not: our bodies, our families, our property, our lot in life, all elements that the expansion of Covid-19 now put in check.

What Epictetus tells us is that if we redirect our emotions to focus on what is in our power and ignore everything else, then “no one will ever be able to exert compulsion upon you, no one will hinder you — neither there’s any harm that can touch you”.

Power Is Ultimately Irrelevant

June 2, 2020: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Republic Day. (Governo Italiano, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Seneca offered a definitive guide that we may apply to multiple strands of the 1 percent: “I deny that riches are a good, for if they were, they would make men good. As it is, since that which is found in the hands of the wicked cannot be called a good, I refuse to apply the term to riches.” The Stoics taught that to enter public life means to spread virtue and fight vice.

It’s a very serious business involving duty, discipline and self-control. This goes a long way to explain why over 70 percent of Italians now applaud the conduct of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in the fight against Covid-19. He did rise to the occasion, unexpectedly, as a neo-Stoic. The Stoics regarded death as a useful reminder of one’s fate — and the ultimate insignificance of the things of the world.

Marcus Aurelius found enormous consolation in the shortness of life: “In a little while you will be no one and nowhere, even as Hadrian and Augustus are no more.” When circumstances made it impossible to live up to the ideals of Stoic virtue, death was always a viable Plan B.

Epictetus also tells us we should not really be concerned about what happens to our body. Sometimes he seemed to regard death as the acceptable way out of any misfortune. At the top of their game the Stoics made it clear that the difference between life and death was insignificant, compared to the difference between virtue and vice. Thus the notion of a noble suicide.

Stoic heroism is plain to see in the life and death of Cato The Younger as described by Plutarch. Cato was a fierce opponent of Caesar, and his integrity ruled the only possible way out was suicide. According to Plutarch’s legendary account, Cato, on his last night, defended a number of Stoic theses during dinner, retreated to his room to read Plato’s Phaedo — in which, not by accident, Socrates argues that a true philosopher sees all of life as a preparation for death — and killed himself. Obviously he became a Stoic superstar for eternity.

The Stoics taught that wealth, status and power are ultimately irrelevant. Once again, Lao Tzu would approve. The only thing that can raise one man above others is superior virtue — of which everyone is capable, at least in principle. So yes, the Stoics believed we are all brothers and sisters.

Seneca: “Nature made us relatives by creating us from the same materials and for the same destiny.” Imagine a system built on a selfless devotion to the welfare of others, and against all vanity. It’s certainly not what inequality provoking, financial turbo-capitalism is all about. Epictetus: “What ought one to say then as each hardship comes? I was practicing for this, I was training for this”.

Will Covid-19 show to a global wave of practicing neo-Stoics that there is another way?

consortiumnews.com

The Chinese-Russian-Iranian Alliance Ushers in a New Hope for the Middle East

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The U.S. has little to offer a world whose underdevelopment has everything to do with America’s choice to reject its own Constitutional traditions.

As the USA continues its lunge into the abyss of obsolescence, under the new Don Quixote-modelled leadership of Joe Biden, Russia and China have accelerated the next phase of Middle East reconstruction and stabilization this week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s March 24-30th Middle East tour resulting in the finalization of the long-awaited Five Point Initiative for Security in Southwest Asia on March 30th and $400 billion Iran deal on March 27th. These milestones were accompanied by a powerful Chinese-Iran joint declaration on Syrian reconstruction standing in total unified opposition to the regime change fanatics of the west.

The fact that Wang Yi’s Middle East tour follows hot on the heals of the March 23rdRussia-China Joint Statement on Global Governance should come as no surprise as many disposable nations across the Arab world with more than a little blood on their hands, have increasingly come to recognize that their participation in the collapsing western-run order is no longer compatible with their desire to survive. Among these nations are included Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Oman, the UAE, and Bahrain- all of whom hosted Wang Yi last week and all of whom have begun their transitions towards a new pro-Chinese paradigm.

Wang Yi’s Five Point Initiative featured an explicit protocol to develop infrastructure via the Belt and Road Initiative, promote dialogue among civilizations, a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, promote policies of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and collective security with a focus on new and enhanced Middle East Trust mechanisms.

In his official announcement, Wang Yi stated: “As it fosters a new development paradigm, China is ready to share with Middle East countries the opportunities of the Chinese market, work with Arab countries to actively prepare for the China-Arab states summit, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and expand new areas of growth such as high and new technologies.”

Having himself just completed a tour of several key middle east nations (UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) and having met with high officials representing both Israel and Hezbollah in Moscow, Lavrov delivered remarks at the Valdai Discussion Club on the Middle East in Moscow on March 31st where the statesman promoted Russia’s Draft Security Concept for the Middle East (which not coincidentally looks a lot like the Chinese Five Point Initiative).

In his remarks, Lavrov stated: “We propose that the Middle East should cease to be an arena where the interests of leading powers clash. It is necessary to balance these interests and to reconcile them among the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as among non-regional powers”.

What shape will this new security concept look like in Russia’s mind?

Lavrov painted a picture of the Helsinki Process as a role model… except with one difference: Western geopoliticians cannot be permitted to sabotage the emerging Middle East version as they had with the well intentioned but ultimately failed Helsinki predecessor which has lost all viability since NATO expansion has accelerated under the unipolar Full Spectrum Dominance Strategy. Lavrov stated that “we should try to launch a process akin to the Helsinki Process… The Pan European process was launched on the basis of compromise ensuring a balance of interests and the west began to demolish it later on.”

In an April 1st interview, Lavrov described the effects of the anti-Eurasian war policy saying:

“We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea… This is a global system designed to back U.S. claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.”

While the earlier Helsinki Process relied on such institutions as the UN Security council and the sovereign enforcement of its 35 signatories, the Middle East version must rely upon the combined collaboration of every agency representing North Africa and the Middle East including the Arab Monarchies, Iran, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and UN Security Council.

How could the Anglo-Americans be kept from crashing this party as they so successfully did the Helsinki Process?

The answer is to be found in the combined power of Russia, China and Iran which is quickly evolving into one new unified power bloc of common interest. Through this new anti-imperial alliance, China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been given the support and lifeblood it needs to succeed in bringing fast-paced development to regions that have been kept under the heel of imperialism for decades. Empires across the ages have long known that “no economic development = no chance for peace”.

As of this writing, 139 nations have signed onto the BRI Framework with 17 found in the Middle East and North Africa. Additionally, 39 sub-Saharan African nations, 34 European and Central Asian, 25 east Asian, and 18 Latin American nations have joined the train which represents 63% of the world population.

Contrast this multipolar program with the dark age agenda of Obama-Bush era regime change and unipolarism, as every effort is made to relight the flames which nearly burnt Syria to the ground.

On March 29th, Anthony Blinken stood up at a UN Security Council meeting on Syria where he shed crocodile tears for the “poor starving people” of Syria whose pains, hunger and medical needs, he exclaimed were “not to be met by the Assad regime”. Blinken shamelessly ignored the words of the Russian and Chinese UN Ambassadors who were quick to remind him that Syria’s problems had more to do with the vicious Caesar Act sanctions of June 2020 than anything Bashar al Assad could be accused of doing. As it now stands, America’s unilateral sanctions have resulted in Syria finding herself among the poorest nations on earth with a 90% poverty level and a desperate citizenry waiting in lines several miles long every day for rations of bread and gasoline. To make matters worse, the same Americans whose hearts bled over the dying Syrians at the UN have been caught stealing grain and oil reserves using military convoys over the past several weeks.

How has the Biden team chosen to try to counter the Belt and Road Initiative whose existence so dearly threatens the unipolar order upon which his narrow idea of “U.S. interests” rests?

The insanity of the two available options are only matched by their disassociation from reality: 1) unleash a total war of extermination by kicking over the game board or 2) promote an “alternative U.S.-led Belt and Road Initiative” (according to Biden’s own words).

While this second option may sound unbelievable, the fact is that the geriatric Puppet-in-Chief actually stated in his recent call with Boris Johnson that the USA must create “an infrastructure plan to rival the BRI”. Biden went on to say “I suggest we have, essentially a similar initiative… helping those communities around the world that in fact need help”.

If only the USA were in a moral, intellectual and financial position to seriously offer investment strategies in the spirit of the BRI as Biden wishes to believe, then the world would have much to look forward to, as this form of constructive competition would actually benefit humanity. The truth is however that the bankrupt empire has little to offer a world whose poverty and underdevelopment has everything to do with a choice made generations ago to reject its own Constitutional traditions and sink into the cesspool of empire over the dead body of John F Kennedy.

The author can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Carry the Carrot and Stick in Central America

Par A A

With Kamala Harris now riding herd, the stage is set for a massive tech overhaul of the migrant crisis.

By Raul DIEGO

The White House announced recently that Vice President Kamala Harris would take charge of the Biden administration’s “efforts to deter migration to the southwestern border by working to improve conditions in Central America.” The effort would oversee an infusion of billions of dollars into the “ravaged economies” of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), comprising the nations of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

According to the Pew Research Center, immigration to the United States between 2007 and 2015 from these three countries outpaced all others, growing by 25%. More recent data provided by the UN Refugee Agency shows how the pandemic has exacerbated the endemic problems of violence and extortion that motivate the emigrants’ departure, causing over half a million people from the region to migrate in 2020.

The Missing Migrants Project, which tracks incidents involving migrants on their way to an international destination, reveals how dangerous such journeys can be – in particular for those who attempt the 2,000-mile excursion through Mexico towards the U.S. – with 65% of the 4,000 deaths recorded from 2014 until 2020 occurring along this migration corridor alone.

The brutality of this humanitarian catastrophe is underscored by the recent massacre of 19 Guatemalan migrants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in January by cartel-linked, U.S.-trained state police special forces called Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (GOPES). Early reports had pointed to drug cartel assassins looking to sabotage a competing cartel’s migrant smuggling business, but evidence increasingly mounted against the GOPES and 12 of its officers were formally charged with the heinous crime two weeks later.

News of Harris’s selection came one day after a delegation led by Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, arrived in the Mexican capital to engage in high-level talks between the governments to address the “root causes” of the ongoing immigration crisis at the border. The axiom seems to be an agreed-upon phrase that will be used as part of any public-facing discourse of this multilateral initiative, but it is unclear how far down into those actual roots any of the governments involved will be willing to dig.

The politics of the matter

Leading on one of the most polarizing and complicated issues in American politics is already being billed as Kamala Harris’s ‘signature’ issue. It comes on the heels of intense media scrutiny over the actions of the Biden administration, which has been accused of hypocrisy after it restored migrant detention facilities to “pre-pandemic” capacity, relying on its press secretary and establishment media to distinguish its approach from the previous administration’s family separation policy.

Despite their arguments, photos released by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) of a crammed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention center in his state, the day before the bilateral meeting was scheduled to take place in Mexico, reveal that conditions have changed little for migrants.

P released its own photos and video in response to Cuellar, accompanied by a statement assuring the public that it is doing the best it can to “transfer unaccompanied minors to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

As the golden goose egg of American politics, immigration will give Harris an opportunity to carve out a strong national profile and, with her background as California’s top cop, she is perfectly positioned to reap the political benefits sure to come her way as she parries predictable blows from the opposition, like Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s characterization of her as “the worst possible choice” for the assignment.

When children are ripped from their parents and put in cages, immigration justice is on the ballot. pic.twitter.com/gtSlFQAn5V

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 11, 2019

Attacks from a three-term Republican governor who signed Trump’s patch of border wall will help Harris to gloss over her troubling history as a state prosecutor and questionable track record as a member of Congress, which go right to the heart of those “root causes” she has now been tapped to address in relation to the crisis at the border.

Progressive deception

Among the litany of horrors hiding in the broad definition of the migrant crisis are issues like child labor, sex trafficking, kidnapping, organ trafficking, and the so-called war on drugs, which is often part and parcel of these crimes and goes hand in hand with the carceral state where Harris made her career.

During her tenure as attorney general for the state of California, Harris presented herself as a “progressive prosecutor.” Nevertheless, her record left a lot to be desired in terms of any actual progressive results and she has been roundly criticized for controversial stances on the death penalty and her staunch defense of California’s notoriously racist and trigger-happy police forces.

One of the California AG’s most high-profile cases centered on the issue of sex trafficking when she “zealously” prosecuted Backpage.com, forcing the online publication to shut down as part of her office’s ostensible campaign to prioritize the fight against human trafficking. The actual consequences of the state’s victory had the opposite effect of its purported goal, further pushing the sex trade underground and opening sex workers to greater risks of abuse and exposure to criminal networks, according to critics.

As a member of the Senate, Harris once again played a key role in the issue, this time at a national level with the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which were signed together into law as the FOSTA/SESTA by Donald Trump in 2018. The legislation has come under fire from sex workers and LGBTQ advocacy groups for worsening conditions for victims of sex trafficking by removing “safe” venues for sex workers to sell their services.

According to Nina Luo of Decrim NY:

[The law] targets, arrests, and incarcerates clients of sex workers; as well as drivers, landlords, family members, partners, who provide services and care to sex workers; and sex workers collaborating to keep each other safe [and] puts people who trade sex at increased risk of violence, economic instability, and labor exploitation.”

Significantly, Harris’s participation was geared exclusively towards working with Big Tech and their concerns over how the bills would affect their business. In fact, Harris ­– along with Bernie Sanders – refrained from sponsoring the bills until these matters were settled to the satisfaction of Google, Facebook, and others represented by the Internet Association, which testified on their behalf in the Senate regarding the legislation.

Immigrant Song

Beyond Harris’s familial ties to Silicon Valley through her brother-in-law, who is Uber’s chief legal counsel, California’s former top cop has displayed an abiding interest in technology applied to government, which is especially concerning given her law enforcement background and the job she has now been tasked with in regards to the dispossessed of Central and North America.

In 2015, Harris launched a “first-of-its-kind” smart criminal justice platform called OpenJustice, which she touted as a way for the state to measure “effectiveness in the criminal justice system with data and metrics.” The platform’s publicly available dashboard features statewide data on arrest rates, death in custody, and arrest-related deaths, as well as law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. A year later, Harris expanded the system with URSUS – a use-of-force data reporting and collecting mechanism developed by social entrepreneurship non-profit organization Bayes Impact in conjunction with the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Crime Information and Analysis.

OpenJustice partnered with the White House to create multiple versions of the software that other states could implement. The “OpenJustice team” focuses on different parts of the criminal justice system, develops “roadmaps” for juveniles, and conducts “deep data dive[s]” into the “school-to-prison pipeline,” according to Justin Elrich who was Harris’s special assistant attorney general on tech policy matters and is currently head of trust & safety policy at Americans for TikTok. Another OpenJustice project, taken on by Stanford and Facebook engineers, revolved around “understanding of what goes on in jails and state prisons, as well as ending the vicious cycle of recidivism.”

Last year, Harris’s successor at the California attorney general’s office, Xavier Becerra, unveiled the newest OpenJustice dashboard before leaving to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the lead agency that provides housing for undocumented children coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. Add the former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Mayorkas — who Harris swore in on February 2 as the seventh Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and direct boss of CBP — and the stage is set for a massive tech overhaul of the migrant crisis.

Bread and circus and data

By the time Becerra had filed the one-hundredth lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump, the political circus was already drawing to a close. California had been the butt of Trump’s jokes since the early days of the campaign, and his crude insults against Mexicans and promises to build a wall that the neighbors would pay for made what was once the northernmost part of Mexico a natural ally of the “resistance” that ended up carrying Biden into office.

At the end of March 2019, only about 50 lawsuits had been filed by the California DOJ, but the tarp was still up and Trump was in the middle of the John Bolton epoch of his administration, which featured a number of very loud saber-rattling incidents targeting multiple Latin American nations. The world was living through the “migrant caravans,” the height of the Juan Guaidó quasi-regime-change efforts in Venezuela, and the short-lived “troika of tyranny” – a derisive moniker coined by Bolton to lump together all the “evil socialism” of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Nicolas Maduro’s government that failed to catch on.

That month, the President would announce the discontinuation of aid to the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in an ostensibly punitive move designed to teach the countries a lesson about keeping their unruly border-crashing citizens home. About $500 million in financial assistance was paused while Mike Pompeo’s state department developed “a list of criteria that governments of the three countries have to meet in order for U.S. assistance to resume.

The spectacle hid the reality. While some funds were cut, most were repurposed to serve the interests of the U.S. national security state in those countries. Approximately 58% of the revamped 2019 Central American aid budget was allocated to a program developed jointly by the Obama and Bush administrations called the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), which funds equipment, training, and technical assistance for the military and police in those regions.

Numerous companies were involved in CARSI. Israel’s Cellebrite, profiled by MintPress in a previous article, received $782,000 to furnish the Honduran police with its proprietary UFED mobile data extraction technology. IBM, Pen-Link, CellXion, and JSI Telecom are just a few of the many private sector security technology firms that have been benefiting from America’s vast transnational law enforcement client-state apparatus.

Most significantly, no aid was cut to federal programs working with NTCA countries to establish “information exchange mechanisms in the fight against human trafficking and other crimes,” most of which are conducted through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) International Operations Division, such as a program called Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP), first created in 2011.

The Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Authorization Act of 2018 was passed despite strong objections from the ACLU and other civil rights advocacy groups decrying the lack of privacy protections and allows ICE agents to provide biometric training and equipment in countries around the world. In addition, the data collected is shared with U.S. biometric databases like HART, developed by Northrop Grumman for DHS and intended to become the “largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States.”

According to Privacy International, a DHS presentation of HART in 2017 projected it would be able to “scoop up” 180 million “new biometric transactions per year by 2022.” The staggering figure won’t come from NTCA countries alone: BITMAP has already been deployed to more than 14 countries, with “near-term plans to expand” to others.

Show and tell

Harris has now been given the green light by the White House to “pump billions of dollars” into the economies of the Northern Triangle countries in order to “address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.” Considering that human trafficking is a $150 billion-a-year industry and the concomitant drug war waged by the government Harris represents produces many multiples of that, it would take a rather serious investment to pull those “root causes” from the ground.

The language dovetails with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s own exhortations calling for Washington to “spur development” in Central America in order to address the “root causes behind migratory flows in the region” — as posited in a statement by Mexico’s foreign ministry issued after the first leg of the talks, which were supposed to continue in Guatemala but were postponed thanks to a volcanic eruption.

Formal deployments by the Mexican military in the state of Chiapas and the ostensible closure of the border with Guatemala to “stop the spread” of Covid-19 show that Mexico is on board with the Biden party line. But, for now, the crisis at the U.S. border remains a political priority and hundreds of Central American migrants continue to cross daily into Mexico through deliberately unguarded portions of the border.

Any actual halt to the unfettered passage of refugees on their way north would also put a halt to the political ambitions of Kamala Harris, who is poised to make immigration the highest yielding asset in her burgeoning “portfolio,” which will be modeled on Biden’s own path to the Oval Office when he took the lead on these same issues during his time as Barack Obama’s VP.

According to La Jornada reporting from the ground in Chiapas, established transportation channels over land and water continue to funnel migrants through the Lacandon jungle as they make their way north to their intended destination.

“Look,” Harris told CBS, “we are addressing it. We’re dealing with it. But it’s going to take some time.”

mintpressnews.com

Biden’s Afghanistan Plan: More Disingenuous and Unrealistic Than Trump’s?

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We shouldn’t be surprised if Joe Biden’s efforts to get out of Afghanistan are also not so honest, Martin Jay writes.

It is often said that the first casualty of war is the truth. America’s campaign in Afghanistan is based on a foundation of lies and half-truths and we shouldn’t be surprised if Joe Biden’s efforts to get out of the country are also not so honest.

Joe Biden is on the same page as his predecessor Donald Trump when it comes to Afghanistan. Both want U.S. troops out of the country which defeated the British Empire, not to mention the Soviets at the end of the Soviet Union which is often called the graveyard of empires.

When I was there in 2008 reporting for Euronews, I saw such graveyards. Hundreds upon hundreds of Soviet tanks lined up neatly in a field waiting for the day when their parts will become useful to someone, somewhere.

But Afghanistan really is the place where superpowers fall on their swords and leave as in history, both Britain and Russia miscalculated what they were taking on.

And it’s the same with today’s NATO-led coalition, led by the U.S., of course, which is still there today, which entered under a completely bogus pretext of killing Al Qaeda troops and hopefully capturing its leader.

In reality, when 9-11 happened, something snapped in the George W Bush administration among its cabal of advisors many of whom were working with George Bush senior. People like Dick Cheney who, among others, were part of a team which was desperately trying to convince the Taliban government in Kabul in the early 90s to sign off a U.S. energy deal involving hundreds of miles of pipeline stretching from Kandahar in the South of Afghanistan all the way to the Pakistani coastline in Karachi. No matter what the Bush senior administration did, the Taliban never agreed to the deal, which is, in fact, one of the chief reasons why all of the might of the U.S. military is in that same region in Afghanistan today, fighting the Taliban.

And so, for George Bush senior’s son, to invade Afghanistan following the New York terror attacks, was more about pressure from the old guard advising his dad and settling scores, rather than dealing with terrorism head on. It was a lie which the American public swallowed. The Americans went into Afghanistan more based on securing energy deals and teaching ragtag Islamic dictatorships a lesson in geopolitics and what superpowers can really do when you don’t bend over for them. Refuse to do business with Uncle Sam on his terms and make yourself number one enemy with Washington, itching to press the button.

And it’s a similar story of lies and half-truths with Biden’s own problems with his strategy to get U.S. troops out today. Much is made of not letting the Taliban take the power vacuum left over and make a mockery of the 2300 U.S. soldiers who died fighting the Taliban in a war which no one can really explain in Washington, going back two decades. And just as Robert McNamara, America’s former defence secretary was exposed by his own papers in 1971 admitting that America’s main reason for not pulling out of Vietnam was to not lose face, the same rationale is being played today by Biden.

In 1971 no one cared about the lives of American soldiers. And it’s unlikely even today Biden is kept awake by those who lost their lives there in the U.S. military. And It’s really not even so much about leaving the country fall into the hands of the Taliban who Trump made, with the stroke of a pen an ally in the fight against terrorism there with two partners of the Taliban (ISIS and Al Qaeda), which it will. Biden’s real problem is what happens if American troops pull out and other key allies like the UK and France stay? The two scenarios if many NATO (or more specifically ISAF) partners stay both bode poorly for Biden. If NATO partners stay there and continue the fight against the Taliban, and keep the group from taking power, then this reflects badly on America. But if they stay and fight and take heavy losses, which then leads to the Taliban taking power and kicking them out, then this might end a few valuable alliances that America has around the world.

This is the core of why Biden is not pulling troops out now. Both his two top people on the foreign policy circuit Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin are both busy meeting with NATO and Afghanistan government officials. Blinken is trying to cajole the big NATO players like Britain, France, Canada and Germany to leave when the U.S. leaves. Austin, Biden’s own Robert McNamara was recently in Kabul trying, but without much luck, to convince the present government to accept a power sharing agreement with the Taliban to avoid a bloodbath when U.S. troops pull out. But Biden’s people are not making much headway. And there is the question of Russian troops there. Will they be part of this pact? Will they go along with Biden’s thinking? Unlikely.

The difference between Biden and Trump is really here with these relationships with other partners on the ground, fighting alongside U.S. troops. He can probably count on support from Boris Johnson but the others will have their own views about how to manoeuvre through this particular minefield. Trump didn’t give two hoots about NATO allies. Biden however puts enormous importance on these relationships, and so, in many ways, it will be these key allies which will decide if he goes ahead and pulls out troops next year (which is what he has hinted his plan is, in reality).  In reality, the chances though of getting a deal with the government in Kabul and the key NATO partners – as well as expecting a peaceful transition into power of the Taliban itself – is about the same as someone turning up in Afghanistan and buying up all those rusty Russian tanks. Don’t hold your breath.

‘Wipe Out China!’ U.S.-funded Uyghur Activists Train as Gun-Toting Foot Soldiers for Empire

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Cultivated by the US government as human rights activists, Uyghur American Association leaders partner with far-right lawmakers and operate a militia-style gun club that trains with ex-US special forces.

By Ajit SINGH

On March 21, US-government-funded Uyghur activists were caught on video disrupting a gathering against anti-Asian racism in Washington DC, barking insults at demonstrators including, “Wipe out China!” and “Fuck China!” The Uyghur caravan flew American and “East Turkestan” flags and drove vehicles adorned signs bearing slogans such as, “We Love USA,” “Boycott China,” and “CCP killed 80 million Chinese people.” 

Really wild stuff downtown. A Stop Asian Hate rally is clashing with a Pro-Uighur drive by. The pro-Uighur group is shouting “F— China!” The Asian rally is responding by calling them “racist.” pic.twitter.com/h8a2hB4Oqe

— Nic Rowan (@NicXTempore) March 21, 2021

Organized by the Uyghur American Association (UAA), the drive-by heckling of anti-racist demonstrators drew widespread condemnation on social media, including from other sections of the Uyghur separatist movement. Salih Hudayar, the self-proclaimed “Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile,” slammed “the UAA’s reckless drive-by” for causing “severe backlash against Uyghurs,” and insisted that Uyghur Americans were “not racist.”

The UAA has attempted to distance itself from accusations of extremism and racism, stating that its members’ actions were misrepresented. Despite refusing to rescind their call for China to be “wiped out,” the UAA declared that it “condemns any form of bigotry and stands with all victims of racism.”

Reposting from April 2020 – Uyghurs have been the victim of state-sponsored racism in the Chinese colony of East Turkestan and are facing genocide in China. With first-hand experience, Uyghur American Association condemns any form of bigotry and stands with all victims of racism. https://t.co/UrCnBiQXaE

— Uyghur American Association (@Uyghur_American) March 22, 2021

However, an investigation by The Grayzone into the Uyghur separatist movement in the Washington DC area has uncovered a jingoistic, gun-obsessed subculture driven by the kind of right-wing ideology that was on display during the March 21 car caravan through downtown.

Leading figures of the UAA operate a right-wing gun club known as Altay Defense. Proudly dressed in US military fatigues, Altay Defense drill in advanced combat techniques with former members of US special forces who also train private mercenaries and active duty US service members. Members of the militia-style gun club espouse pro-Trump politics and anti-immigrant resentment.

From the Instagram account of Altay Defense

The UAA is the US-affiliate of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an international network whose first president outlined an objective to precipitate the “fall of China” and establish an ethno-state in Xinjiang. The recipient of millions of dollars of funding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US government-sponsored entity, this network works closely with Washington and other Western governments to escalate hostilities with China.

Despite claiming to represent the interests of China’s Uyghur and Muslim minority populations, many of the UAA’s closest allies represent some of the anti-Muslim, far-right forces in Washington, from Republican Rep. Ted Yoho to the Family Research Council, as well as the FBI.

During the pandemic, the UAA and members of its affiliate organizations helped inflame anti-Asian resentment by spreading far-right propaganda referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus,” and claimed that China was waging a “virus war” against the world, “[p]urposefully, intentionally export[ing] the virus to cause the pandemic.”

Behind its carefully constructed image as a peaceful human rights movement, the UAA and its offshoots in the DC-based Uyghur separatist lobby are driven by far-right ideology and envision themselves as militant foot soldiers for empire.

“I belong to America!” Uyghur human rights leader teams up with far-right, Islamophobes in anti-China crusade

The UAA’s ultra-patriotic reverence of the US and fanatical anti-China politics have been on full display under the organization’s current president, Kuzzat Altay.

demonstration organized by the UAA in Washington DC on June 21st, 2020, to “thank the Congress and the White House for passing the [Uyghur Human Rights and Policy Act] into the law.”

Altay frequently takes to social media to make his allegiance to Washington known.

“May GOD bless you American Veterans! May GOD bless America!” declared Altay on Veterans Day in 2019.

Shortly following the illegal US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, Altay left no doubt as to where he stands: “Looks like the war just started […] I belong to America!”

Amid the US uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism sparked by the murder of George Floyd, Altay chided Black Lives Matter protesters, saying that he “support[ed] peaceful protestors […] but do[es] not support looters, rubbers [sic] and criminals”

“Your LOVE for #America should be greater than your HATE for #Trump,” Altay pronounced.

The degree of Altay’s infatuation with the US is only matched by the ferocity of his enmity towards China. “The most normal thing that I could ever imagine is anti-China activities every freaking day,” Altay stated on July 25, 2020. “You should help us to stop China. China is ALREADY the common enemy of humanity.”

Kuzzat Altay (left) and fellow Uyghur separatists visiting Rep. Ted Yoho

Altay is a staunch supporter of Washington’s new Cold War agenda. Applauding the Trump administration’s trade and technology war, Altay declared “[a]ll counties [sic] should treat #Huawei as war criminals.” 

Despite claiming to be the international representatives of Xinjiang’s predominantly Muslim, Uyghur ethnic group, and struggling against religious persecution, Altay and his comrades have routinely teamed up with far-right, Islamophobic forces in the US to advance their separatist campaign.

The UAA has worked closely with Republican Rep. Ted Yoho, a homophobic, anti-abortion ultra-conservative who once told a Black constituent that he was not sure if the Civil Rights Act was constitutional. Yoho was one of only four lawmakers to vote against legislation making lynching a federal hate crime. In a high-profile dust-up on Capitol Hill, he reportedly called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch.” In 2019, Yoho was one of 24 members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning bigotry because it included anti-Muslim discrimination.

Yoho has also ardently supported regime change in Venezuela, defended US missile strikes against Syria, and proclaimed that the “US army must defend Taiwan” against China.

A demonstration organized by the Uyghur American Association in Washington DC. Rep. Ted Yoho appears at the center of the photograph, with Kuzzat Altay to his right and Rushan Abbas to his left

In 2019, Altay spoke on a panel of US government-funded Chinese dissidents organized by the Family Research Council (FRC). The FRC has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) due to its extreme anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, and anti-Muslim ideology.

UAA President Kuzzat Altay speaking at the Family Research Council on February 6, 2019

Retired US General and undersecretary for defense under former President George W. Bush, Jerry Boykin, serves as the FRC’s vice president. Boykin is a virulent Islamophobe who believes that the religion is evil and should be outlawed, and that there should be “no mosques in America.” During a sermon at an evangelical church during the US war on Iraq, Boykin boasted of taking on a Muslim warlord in Somalia: “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol,” he declared. Boykin’s anti-Muslim tirades grew so extreme that he was investigated by the US Department of Defense and drew a rebuke from Bush.

In recent years, Altay has organized several events for Uyghur Americans in collaboration with the FBI, the federal law enforcement agency notorious for its surveillance of Muslim Americans and ensnaring countless mentally troubled young Muslim American men in manufactured terror plots. In 2020, the UAA organized an “FBI Workshop for Uyghur Community” which aimed to teach Uyghur Americans about “the role of the FBI in protecting Uyghurs” and how “Uyghurs [can] communicate with the FBI”.

Graphic designed for an “FBI Citizens Seminar” hosted by the Uyghur American Association

Throughout the pandemic, Altay and fellow leaders of the Uyghur separatist movement have incessantly spread right-wing conspiracy theories blaming China for Covid-19 and all related deaths. Such disinformation has played a key role in whipping up anti-Asian racism in the US and West.

Altay’s Twitter page is an endless stream of noxious, far-right coronavirus-related propaganda.

“I support @realDonaldTrump’s decision to call it ChineseVirus,” declared Altay on March 18, 2020, defending Trump against criticism from “[p]eople whining about racism.”  Altay also routinely referred to Covid-19 as “Wuhan virus” and “CCP virus”, as have WUC leaders such as Dolkun Isa and Rushan Abbas.

Altay promoted Steve Bannon’s claims that the “CCP unleashed [Covid-19] on the world”, and would later echo this sentiment. “China [p]urposefully, intentionally exported the virus to cause the pandemic,” Altay declared on July 5, 2020. “No war has kileed [sic] more people than China’s Virus war.”

World-famous UFC champion @TeamKhabib’s father has passed away because of #CCPVirus.

China Purposefully, intentionally exported the virus to cause the pandemic.

550,000 people died. No war has kileed more people than China’s Virus war. #HoldChinaAccountable pic.twitter.com/EAayRykilr

— kuzzat Altay (@KuzzatAltay) July 5, 2020

Altay also endorsed right-wing conspiracy theories which claimed that Covid-19 was engineered as a bioweapon in a Wuhan lab and the World Health Organization was controlled by the Chinese government 

Kuzzat Altay’s political activities are a reflection of the deeply rooted right-wing culture that pervades the Uyghur separatist movement.

Foot soldiers for empire: Uyghur human rights activists training with US military instructors for “mission readiness”

Leading members of UAA have founded Altay Defense, which arranges for constituents in the Uyghur separatist movement to receive arms training by former US special forces soldiers and instructors. The organization boasts that “[a]ll security training [is] provided by former special force officer!”

The Instagram page of Altay Defense

mission statement published by Shadow Hawk Defense outlines a goal to train “elite armed security professionals, who serve the high threat needs of the US government, military, and intelligence communities,” including “hosting and training classified security personnel.” The facility employs “trainers [who] have years of experience training contractors for the U.S. Government” with the goal of “achieving mission readiness.”

In a recent interview, Shadow Hawk’s co-founder and Director of Training, Randy Weekely, described his work in detail: “I teach military contractors before they deploy to these ‘other places’, defensive tactics, CQB [close-quarters battle], pistol, rifle, bounding, attack on vehicles, all the skills that they need […] before they deploy.”

Screenshot of Shadow Hawk Defense website

Altay Defense receives instruction from James Lang, a former US Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and works as a firearm instructor for the US Department of Defense. Lang also operates Ridgeline Security Consultants, which provides firearms and tactical training to “prepare law enforcement officers [and] armed security professionals […] to survive and win deadly force confrontations.

Altay Defense’s primary instructor is former US Army Ranger, Jim Lang

Leaving little to the imagination, UAA members conduct training using assault rifles while dressed in official-seeming battle dress fatigues bearing the US flag.

Altay Defense is led by Faruk Altay, brother of UAA President Kuzzat Altay and nephew of Rebiya Kadeer, who is perhaps the most prominent international figurehead of the Uyghur separatist movement.

A look at Faruk Altay’s online activity reveals him to be a far-right, anti-communist, ultra-nationalist.

“Trump is the best!!!” Altay posted to Twitter in 2018.  Altay also expressed support for Trump’s border wall and seemingly justified the “Stop the Steal” Capitol riot which took place on January 6, 2021. He has also shared an anti-immigrant meme comparing Central American migrants to the international criminal gang MS-13.

Faruk Altay flaunts his dedication to the US military, posting images on social media of himself dressed in US military fatigues, wearing a skull face mask, and holding an assault rifle, with captions reading: “I STAND WITH UYGHUR, TIBET, HONG KONG, AND FREEDOM AGAINST COMMUNISM”.

Altay refers to himself as a “freedom fighter” taking “revenge for my father,” and refers to his children as “[m]y future West Point officers!

Far from a lone wolf, Faruk Altay has been joined by leading figures of the Uyghur separatist movement. Social media posts show UAA President Kuzzat Altay, Murat Ataman, and Bahram Sintash, among others attending Altay Defense training sessions.

Kuzzat Altay (second from the left) at an Altay Defense training session

Faruk Altay (left), Kuzzat Altay (center), and Murat Ataman (right) at an Altay Defense training session
Murat Ataman is affiliated with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)– the funding engine of the US government’s regime change apparatus – UAA offshoot Uyghur Human Rights Project. A veteran of the Uyghur separatist movement, Ataman he works for US military and intelligence contractor, General Dynamics, and has previously held positions at the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veteran Affairs.

Murat Ataman embracing Nancy Pelosi

Bahram Sintash is also affiliated with the NED-funded UHRP, authoring reports which allege that the Chinese government is demolishing Uyghur mosques and shrines. Sintash was a key player in lobbying efforts to urge the US Congress to pass the Uyghur Human Right Policy Act of 2019, visiting more than 380 members of Congress.

In his spare time, Sintash keeps company with the far-right, evangelical Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz. During a meeting at Radio Free Asia (RFA), Sintash referred to Zenz as “the CIA agent,” and the US government-sponsored broadcasting service as “the original CIA branch of RFA’s headquarters in DC.”

While Sintash may have been sarcastic, the New York Times has described RFA in no uncertain terms as part of a “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the CIA.”

Adrian Zenz (middle) and Bahram Sintash (right) at Radio Free Asia headquarters in Washington DC

As prone as they might be to unalloyed expressions of right-wing jingoism, the leaders of UAA operate at the heart of a multi-million dollar lobbying complex funded and cultivated by the US government.

Uyghur separatist movement cultivated by the US government for “toppling” Beijing

Established in 1998, the Uyghur American Association (UAA) is the Washington DC-based affiliate of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which claims to be “the sole legitimate organization of the Uyghur people” around the world. Portrayed by Western governments and media as the leading voice for Uyghur interests and human rights, the WUC has played a central role in shaping Western understanding of Xinjiang.

As The Grayzone previously reported, the WUC is a right-wing, anti-communist, and ultra-nationalist network of exiled Uyghur separatists who have stated their intention to bring about the “fall of China” and establish an ethno-state called “East Turkestan” in Xinjiang. The WUC has developed deep ties to Washington’s regime change establishment and received extensive US government-funding and training.

In recent years, the WUC has worked closely with US and Western governments, and partnered with fraud-prone pseudo-scholars such as Adrian Zenz to intensify their New Cold War against China, advocating for Chinese policy in Xinjiang to be labeled ‘genocide,’ along with sanctions and boycott.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been central to the rising international prominence of the Uyghur separatist movement. In 2020, the NED boasted that it has given Uyghur groups $8,758,300 since 2004 (including $75,000 in annual funding to the UAA) and claimed to be “the only institutional funder for Uyghur advocacy and human rights organizations.”

“As a result of NED’s support, the Uyghur advocacy groups have grown both institutionally and professionally over the years,” said Akram Keram, a program officer and regional expert at NED. “These groups played critical roles in introducing the Uyghur cause in various international, regional, and national settings against China’s false narratives, bringing the Uyghur voice to the highest international levels, including the United Nations, European Parliament, and the White House. They provided firsthand, factual resources documenting the atrocities in East Turkistan, informing and inspiring the introduction of relevant resolutions, sanctions, and calls for action to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable.”

“The National Endowment for Democracy has been exceptionally supportive of UAA,” echoed former UAA President, Nury Turkel, in 2006, “providing us with invaluable guidance and assistance” and “essential funding.” According to Turkel, thanks to NED support, the “UAA and UHRP have gained a new level of influence and credibility among media organizations in the U.S. and other countries.”

“In short, NED has helped us to increase our credibility in Washington and throughout the world. We are very moved by and grateful for their steadfast assistance,” stated Turkel.

Turkel confirmed that the UAA aims to leverage Washington’s support to advance regime change in China. In 2006, he told his allies, “as we witnessed the ‘Tulip Revolution’ and the toppling of the former government of Kyrgyzstan, our hopes were again reinforced.” Turkel emphasized that the US-sponsored color revolution sent a “strong message” to China, and recalled how he was immediately summoned to Bishkek to coordinate with the new government.

Nury Turkel and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting with Chinese dissidents in July 2020

The NED helped the UAA launch the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) in 2004, serving as its principal source of funding, with $1,244,698 in support between 2016 and ’19 alone. The UHRP has brought together leading figures of the WUC, including Turkel and Omer Kanat, and NED, with former NED Vice President, Louisa Greve, serving as the group’s Director of Global Advocacy.

The UAA’s leadership consists of US national security state operators including employees of the US government, US propaganda network Radio Free Asia, and the military-industrial complex. Past leaders of the organization include:

Nury Turkel, former President (2004-2006) — Co-founded the UHRP with the NED. In 2020, Turkel was appointed a commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Rebiya Kadeer, former President (2006-2011) — A self-described oligarch and longtime figurehead of the Uyghur separatist movement. According to The New York Times, Kadeer’s “[d]issidence brought the end of her Audi, her three villas and her far-flung business empire”. Kadeer’s husband, Sidik Rouzi, worked for US government media outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Under Kadeer’s leadership, the WUC and UAA forged close ties with the Bush administration.

Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, former President (2016-2019) — Since 2008, Kokbore has worked with notorious private US military and intelligence contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton. Edward Snowden was employed at the firm when he decided to blow the whistle on the National Security Agency’s invasive, all-encompassing system of mass surveillance.

Omer Kanat, former Vice President – Serves as the WUC’s Chairman of the Executive Committee. Kanat helped found the WUC and has been a permanent fixture in its executive leadership. The veteran operative has a lengthy history of work with the US government, from serving as senior editor of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009 to covering the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and interviewing the Dalai Lama for the network. In an interview with Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal at a 2018 NED awards ceremony in the US Capitol building, Kanat took credit for furnishing many of the claims about internment camps in Xinjiang to Western media.

Rushan Abbas, former Vice President — Previously boasted in her bio of her “extensive experience working with US government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, and various US intelligence agencies.” Served the US government and Bush administration’s so-called war on terror as a “consultant at Guantanamo Bay supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.” Following a disastrous publicity appearance on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” question and answer forum, during which participants blasted Abbas as a “CIA Asset” and US government collaborator, she has attempted to scrub her biographic information from the internet. Abbas currently heads the WUC affiliate organization, Campaign for Uyghurs.

The UAA current leadership includes:

Kuzzat Altay, President — Nephew of Rebiya Kadeer. As documented above, Altay is a rabid anti-communist and ardently pro-US. He has favorably compared the establishment of Israel to the separatist movement for “East Turkestan.”

Elfidar Itebir, Secretary — Sister of Elnigar Itebir, who was appointed by the Trump administration as Director for China in the White House National Security Council. Itebir’s father, Ablikim Baqi Iltebir, worked for the US government media outlet, Radio Free Asia, from February 2000 to August 2017

Arslan Khakiyev, Treasurer  — Previously worked at Radio Free Asia for over 18 years. Khahkiyev’s wife, Gulchehra Hoja, has worked for Radio Free Asia since 2001.

* * *

The weekly deluge of US media reports of Uyghur oppression in Xinjiang is clearly designed to appeal to liberal sensibilities, presenting the struggle of an oppressed minority against a tyrannical government, and omitting any pieces of context that might prove disruptive to the David-versus-Goliath narrative. But it is becoming clear that some profoundly illiberal forces lie behind the veneer of a peaceful campaign for human rights.

The US government has engaged in a marriage of convenience with a Uyghur separatist movement that is firmly aligned the gun-obsessed, anti-immigrant subculture of Trumpism. As the Biden administration turns up the heat on China, it has turned a blind eye to the far-right politics of one of its most important proxy groups.

The UAA did not respond to multiple requests for interviews from The Grayzone sent by email and on Twitter.

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A Damned Murder Inc: Kennedy’s Battle Against the Leviathan

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The Eisenhower presidency would see Washington taken over by business executives, Wall Street lawyers, and investment bankers—and by a closely aligned warrior caste that had emerged into public prominence during World War II.

As discussed in part two of this series, the war in Vietnam did not start on its official date, November 1st, 1955, but rather 1945 when American clandestine operations were launched in Vietnam to “prepare the ground”.

  1. Fletcher Prouty, who served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Kennedy and was a former Col. in the U.S. Air Force, goes over in his book “The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy,” how the CIA was used to instigate psy-ops and paramilitary (terrorist) activities in Vietnam to create the pretext required for an open declaration of war and for the entry of the U.S. military into a twenty-year-long meat grinder.

This was a strategy reserved not just for Vietnam, but had become the general U.S. foreign policy in all regions that were considered threats to the Cold War Grand Strategy, as seen under the directorship of the Dulles brothers (See Part 1 and Part 2 of this series).

Any country that was observed to hold views that were not aligned with U.S. foreign policy could not simply be invaded in most scenarios, but rather, the ground would need to be prepared to create the justification for a direct military invasion.

This is one of the roles of the CIA which abides by the motto “fake it till you make it.

Don’t have an actual ‘enemy’ to fight and justify your meddling into another country’s affairs? Not a problem. Just split your paramilitary team into “good guys” and “bad guys” and have them pretend fight. Go village to village repeating this action-drama and you will see how quickly the word will spread that there are “dangerous extremists” in the area that exist in “great numbers.”

Prouty described this paramilitary activity, which is called “Fun and Games,” and how this tactic was also used in the Philippines, resulting in the election of Ramon Magsaysay who was declared a hero against a non-existing enemy. In fact, the Filipino elite units that were trained by the CIA during this period were then brought into Vietnam to enact the very same tactic.

Prouty writes:

I have been to such training programs at U.S. military bases where identical tactics are taught to Americans as well as foreigners. It is all the same…these are the same tactics that were exploited by CIA superagent Edward G. Lansdale [the man in charge of the CIA Saigon Military Mission] and his men in the Philippines and Indochina.

This is an example of the intelligence service’s ‘Fun and Games.’ Actually, it is as old as history; but lately it has been refined, out of necessity, into a major tool of clandestine warfare.

Lest anyone think that this is an isolated case, be assured that it was not. Such ‘mock battles’ and ‘mock attacks on native villages’ were staged countless times in Indochina for the benefit of, or the operation of, visiting dignitaries, such as John McCone when he first visited Vietnam as the Kennedy appointed director of central intelligence [after Kennedy fired Allen Dulles].

What Prouty is stating here, is that the mock battles that occurred for these dignitaries were CIA trained agents “play-acting” as the Vietcong… to make it appear that the Vietcong were not only numerous but extremely hostile.

If even dignitaries can be fooled by such things unfolding before their own eyes, is it really a wonder that a western audience watching or reading about these affairs going on in the world through its mainstream media interpreter could possibly differentiate between “reality” vs a “staged reality”?

Not only were the lines between military and paramilitary operations becoming blurred, but as Prouty states in his book, the highest ranking officers who were operating and overseeing the Vietnam situation were all CIA operatives, not only within the U.S. military but including the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge.

Prouty writes:

U.S. Ambassador Lodge – had since 1945 been one of the most important agents of the OSS and later the CIA in the Far East. His orders came from that agency.

Prouty goes further to state in his book that Lodge was brought into the role as Ambassador on August 26th, 1963 specifically to remove Ngo Dinh Diem President of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), who was seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict at that point.

Ngo Dinh Diem was killed two months after Lodge’s arrival in Vietnam, on November 1st, 1963. Twenty one days later John F. Kennedy who was in the process of pulling out American troops from Vietnam, was assassinated. The Vietnam War continued for 12 years more, with the Americans having nothing to show for it. And in 1976, the city of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh city.

A “Legacy of Ashes”

The militarization of government began to return power to the corporate elite, as captains of industry and finance moved into key government posts. The Eisenhower presidency would see Washington taken over by business executives, Wall Street lawyers, and investment bankers—and by a closely aligned warrior caste that had emerged into public prominence during World War II.

Eisenhower wished to establish U.S. supremacy while avoiding another large-scale shooting war as well as the imperial burdens that had bankrupted Great Britain (to which the U.S. now did its bidding under NSC-75). By leveraging the U.S. military’s near monopoly on nuclear firepower, the president hoped to make war an unthinkable proposition for all American adversaries.

The problem with Eisenhower’s strategy was that by keeping Washington in a constant state of high alert, he empowered the most militant voices in his administration. Eisenhower had made the grave error of choosing Foster Dulles as one of his close if not closest advisers, and thus whether he liked it or not, Allen Dulles – I doubt Eisenhower ever had a free moment from the poisoned honey that was constantly being dripped into his ear.

The line between CIA and military became increasingly blurred, as military officers were assigned to intelligence agency missions, and then sent back to their military posts as “ardent disciples of Allen Dulles,” in the words of Prouty, who served as a liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA between 1955 and 1963.

Approaching the end of his presidency, in May 1960, President Eisenhower had planned to culminate a “Crusade for Peace” with the ultimate summit conference with USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Paris. It was Eisenhower’s clear attempt to finally push forward an initiative that was his own and which did not receive its “blessing” by Foster. If Eisenhower were to succeed in this, it would move to dissolve the Cold War Grand Strategy and remove the justification for a military industrial complex.

In preparation for the summit, the White House had directed all overflight activity over communist territory to cease until further notice. Yet on May 1st, 1960, a high flying U-2 spy plane flown by Francis Gary Powers left Pakistan on a straight-line overflight of the Soviet Union en route to Bodo, Norway, contrary to the Eisenhower orders.

The U-2 crash landed in Sverdlovsk, Russia. Amongst the possessions found in the plane, were of all things, identification of Powers being a CIA agent, something highly suspect for an intelligence officer to be carrying during a supposed covert mission.

The incident was enough to cancel the peace summit, and the “Crusade for Peace” was bludgeoned in its cradle.

Rumours abounded quickly thereafter that it was the Soviets who shot down the plane, however, it was Allen Dulles himself, who gave testimony before a closed-door session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U-2 spy plane had not been shot down but had descended because of “engine trouble.” (1) This important statement by Dulles was largely ignored by the press.

Later, Eisenhower confirmed in his memoirs that the spy plane had not been shot down by the Soviets and had indeed lost engine power and crash-landed in Russia.

Prouty suspected that the “engine failure” may have been induced by a pre-planned shortage of auxiliary hydrogen fuel and that Powers’ identification items were likely planted in his parachute pack. With only a certain amount of fuel and a straight line trajectory, it would have been easy to calculate exactly where Powers would be forced to make a landing.

Prouty suspected that the CIA had intentionally provoked the incident in order to ruin the peace conference and ensure the continued reign of Dulles dogmatism.

Interestingly, the man who was in charge of the Cuban exile program, Richard Bissell (deputy director of plans for the CIA), was the same man who ran the U-2 program and who, according to Prouty ostensibly sent the Powers flight over the Soviet Union on May 1st, 1960.

Richard Bissell, who was most certainly acting upon the orders of Dulles, was among the three (Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA and Charles Cabell, Deputy Director of the CIA) who were fired by Kennedy as a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, or more aptly put for their act of treason.

On Jan. 5th, 1961, during a meeting of the National Security Council, a frustrated and worn down President Eisenhower, put on public record just weeks before Kennedy was to assume office, that the CIA under Dulles, had robbed him of his place in history as a peacemaker and left nothing but “a legacy of ashes for his successor.”

All Eisenhower had left of his own was his farewell address, which he made on Jan. 17th, 1961, where he famously warned the American people of what had been festering during his eight-year presidential term:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex… The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

A Phoenix Rising

Eisenhower may have left a legacy of ashes for his predecessor, but out of those ashes would emerge a force that would come to directly challenge the rule of the “power elite”. (2)

In April 1954, Kennedy stood up on the Senate floor to challenge the Eisenhower administration’s support for the doomed French imperial war in Vietnam, foreseeing that this would not be a short-lived war. (3)

In July 1957, Kennedy once more took a strong stand against French colonialism, this time France’s bloody war against Algeria’s independence movement, which again found the Eisenhower administration on the wrong side of history. Rising on the Senate floor, two days before America’s own Independence Day, Kennedy declared:

The most powerful single force in the world today is neither communism nor capitalism, neither the H-bomb nor the guided missile – it is man’s eternal desire to be free and independent. The great enemy of that tremendous force of freedom is called, for want of a more precise term, imperialism – and today that means Soviet imperialism and, whether we like it or not, and though they are not to be equated, Western imperialism. Thus, the single most important test of American foreign policy today is how we meet the challenge of imperialism, what we do to further man’s desire to be free. On this test more than any other, this nation shall be critically judged by the uncommitted millions in Asia and Africa, and anxiously watched by the still hopeful lovers of freedom behind the Iron Curtain. If we fail to meet the challenge of either Soviet or Western imperialism, then no amount of foreign aid, no aggrandizement of armaments, no new pacts or doctrines or high-level conferences can prevent further setbacks to our course and to our security.” (4)

In September 1960, the annual United Nations General Assembly was being held in New York. Castro and a fifty member delegation were among the attendees and had made a splash in the headlines when he decided to stay at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem after the midtown Shelburne Hotel demanded a $20,000 security deposit. He made an even bigger splash in the headlines when he made a speech at this hotel, discussing the issue of equality in the United States while in Harlem, one of the poorest boroughs in the country.

Kennedy would visit this very same hotel a short while later, and also made a speech:

Behind the fact of Castro coming to this hotel, [and] Khrushchev…there is another great traveler in the world, and that is the travel of a world revolution, a world in turmoil…We should be glad [that Castro and Khrushchev] came to the United States. We should not fear the twentieth century, for the worldwide revolution which we see all around us is part of the original American Revolution.” (5)

What did Kennedy mean by this? The American Revolution was fought for freedom, freedom from the rule of monarchy and imperialism in favour of national sovereignty. What Kennedy was stating, was that this was the very oppression that the rest of the world wished to shake the yoke off, and that the United States had an opportunity to be a leader in the cause for the independence of all nations.

On June 30th, 1960, marking the independence of the Republic of Congo from the colonial rule of Belgium, Patrice Lumumba, the first Congolese Prime Minister gave a speech that has become famous for its outspoken criticism of colonialism. Lumumba spoke of his people’s struggle against “the humiliating bondage that was forced upon us… [years that were] filled with tears, fire and blood,” and concluded vowing “We shall show the world what the black man can do when working in liberty, and we shall make the Congo the pride of Africa.”

Shortly after, Lumumba also made clear, “We want no part of the Cold War… We want Africa to remain African with a policy of neutralism.” (6)

As a result, Lumumba was labeled a communist for his refusal to be a Cold War satellite for the western sphere. Rather, Lumumba was part of the Pan-African movement that was led by Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah (who later Kennedy would also work with), which sought national sovereignty and an end to colonialism in Africa.

Lumumba “would remain a grave danger,” Dulles said at an NSC meeting on September 21, 1960, “as long as he was not yet disposed of.” (7) Three days later, Dulles made it clear that he wanted Lumumba permanently removed, cabling the CIA’s Leopoldville station, “We wish give [sic] every possible support in eliminating Lumumba from any possibility resuming governmental position.” (8)

Lumumba was assassinated on Jan. 17th, 1961, just three days before Kennedy’s inauguration, during the fog of the transition period between presidents, when the CIA is most free to tie its loose ends, confident that they will not be reprimanded by a new administration that wants to avoid scandal on its first days in office.

Kennedy, who clearly meant to put a stop to the Murder Inc. that Dulles had created and was running, would declare to the world in his inaugural address on Jan. 20th, 1961, “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

And so Kennedy’s battle with the Leviathan had begun.

La Resistance

Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, Kennedy was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.

The Bay of Pigs set-up would occur three months later. Prouty compares the Bay of Pigs incident to that of the Crusade for Peace, both events were orchestrated by the CIA to ruin the U.S. president’s ability to form a peaceful dialogue with Khrushchev and decrease Cold War tensions. Both presidents’ took onus for the events respectively, despite the responsibility resting with the CIA. However, Eisenhower and Kennedy understood, if they did not take onus, it would be a public declaration that they did not have any control over their government agencies and military.

Further, the Bay of Pigs operation was in fact meant to fail. It was meant to stir up a public outcry for a direct military invasion of Cuba. On public record is a meeting (or more aptly described as an intervention) with CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell, Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer, and Navy Chief Admiral Burke basically trying to strong arm President Kennedy into approving a direct military attack on Cuba. Admiral Burke had already taken the liberty of positioning two battalions of Marines on Navy destroyers off the coast of Cuba “anticipating that U.S. forces might be ordered into Cuba to salvage a botched invasion.” (9) (This incident is what inspired the Frankenheimer movie “Seven Days in May.”)

Kennedy stood his ground.

“They were sure I’d give in to them,” Kennedy later told Special Assistant to the President Dave Powers. “They couldn’t believe that a new president like me wouldn’t panic and try to save his own face. Well they had me figured all wrong.” (10)

Incredibly, not only did the young president stand his ground against the Washington war hawks just three months into his presidential term, but he also launched the Cuba Study Group which found the CIA to be responsible for the fiasco, leading to the humiliating forced resignation of Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell and Charles Cabell. (For more on this refer to my report.)

Unfortunately, it would not be that easy to dethrone Dulles, who continued to act as head of the CIA, and key members of the intelligence community such as Helms and Angleton regularly bypassed McCone and briefed Dulles directly. (11) But Kennedy was also serious about seeing it all the way through, and vowed to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

* * *

There is another rather significant incident that had occurred just days after the Bay of Pigs, and which has largely been overshadowed by the Cuban fiasco.

From April 21-26th, 1961, the Algiers putsch or Generals’ putsch, was a failed coup d’état intended to force President de Gaulle (1959-1969) not to abandon the colonial French Algeria. The organisers of the putsch were opposed to the secret negotiations that French Prime Minister Michel Debré had started with the anti-colonial National Liberation Front (FLN).

On January 26th, 1961, just three months before the attempted coup d’état, Dulles sent a report to Kennedy on the French situation that seemed to be hinting that de Gaulle would no longer be around, “A pre-revolutionary atmosphere reigns in France… The Army and the Air Force are staunchly opposed to de Gaulle…At least 80 percent of the officers are violently against him. They haven’t forgotten that in 1958, he had given his word of honor that he would never abandon Algeria. He is now reneging on his promise, and they hate him for that. de Gaulle surely won’t last if he tries to let go of Algeria. Everything will probably be over for him by the end of the year—he will be either deposed or assassinated.” (12)

The attempted coup was led by Maurice Challe, whom de Gaulle had reason to conclude was working with the support of U.S. intelligence, and Élysée officials began spreading this word to the press, which reported the CIA as a “reactionary state-within-a-state” that operated outside of Kennedy’s control. (13)

Shortly before Challe’s resignation from the French military, he had served as NATO commander in chief and had developed close relations with a number of high-ranking U.S. officers stationed in the military alliance’s Fontainebleau headquarters. (14)

In August 1962 the OAS (Secret Army Organization) made an assassination attempt against de Gaulle, believing he had betrayed France by giving up Algeria to Algerian nationalists. This would be the most notorious assassination attempt on de Gaulle (who would remarkably survive over thirty assassination attempts while President of France) when a dozen OAS snipers opened fire on the president’s car, which managed to escape the ambush despite all four tires being shot out.

After the failed coup d’état, de Gaulle launched a purge of his security forces and ousted General Paul Grossin, the chief of SDECE (the French secret service). Grossin was closely aligned with the CIA, and had told Frank Wisner over lunch that the return of de Gaulle to power was equivalent to the Communists taking over in Paris. (15)

In 1967, after a five-year enquête by the French Intelligence Bureau, it released its findings concerning the 1962 assassination attempt on de Gaulle. The report found that the 1962 assassination plot could be traced back to the NATO Brussels headquarters, and the remnants of the old Nazi intelligence apparatus. The report also found that Permindex had transferred $200,000 into an OAS bank account to finance the project.

As a result of the de Gaulle exposé, Permindex was forced to shut down its public operations in Western Europe and relocated its headquarters from Bern, Switzerland to Johannesburg, South Africa, it also had/has a base in Montreal, Canada where its founder Maj. Gen. Louis M. Bloomfield (former OSS) proudly had his name amongst its board members until the damning de Gaulle report. The relevance of this to Kennedy will be discussed shortly.

As a result of the SDECE’s ongoing investigation, de Gaulle made a vehement denunciation of the Anglo-American violation of the Atlantic Charter, followed by France’s withdrawal from the NATO military command in 1966. France would not return to NATO until April 2009 at the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit.

In addition to all of this, on Jan. 14th, 1963, de Gaulle declared at a press conference that he had vetoed British entry into the Common Market. This would be the first move towards France and West Germany’s formation of the European Monetary System, which excluded Great Britain, likely due to its imperialist tendencies and its infamous sin City of London.

Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson telegrammed West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer directly, appealing to him to try to persuade de Gaulle to back track on the veto, stating “if anyone can affect Gen. de Gaulle’s decision, you are surely that person.”

Little did Acheson know that Adenauer was just days away from singing the Franco-German Treaty of Jan 22nd, 1963 (also known as the ÉlyséeTreaty), which had enormous implications. Franco-German relations, which had long been dominated by centuries of rivalry, had now agreed that their fates were aligned. (This close relationship was continued to a climactic point in the late 1970s, with the formation of the EMS, and France and West Germany’s willingness in 1977 to work with OPEC countries trading oil for nuclear technology, which was sabotaged by the U.S.-Britain alliance. For more on this refer to my paper.)

The Élysée Treaty was a clear denunciation of the Anglo-American forceful overseeing that had overtaken Western Europe since the end of WWII.

On June 28th, 1961, Kennedy wrote NSAM #55. This document changed the responsibility of defense during the Cold War from the CIA to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and would have (if seen through) drastically changed the course of the war in Vietnam. It would also have effectively removed the CIA from Cold War operations and limited the CIA to its sole lawful responsibility, the coordination of intelligence.

The same year that de Gaulle and Adenauer were forming a pact to exclude Britain from the Commons Market, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 on June 4, 1963, effectively bypassing the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on controlling U.S. currency for the first time since the private central bank was created in 1913. This executive order authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue silver backed notes and “to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury”.

By Oct 11th, 1963, NSAM #263, closely overseen by Kennedy (16), was released and outlined a policy decision “to withdraw 1,000 military personnel [from Vietnam] by the end of 1963” and further stated that “It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel [including the CIA and military] by 1965.” The Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had the headline U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY ’65.

With the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, likely ordained by the CIA, on Nov. 2nd, 1963 and Kennedy just a few weeks later on Nov. 22nd, 1963, de facto President Johnson signed NSAM #273 on Nov. 26th, 1963 to begin the reversal of Kennedy’s policy under #263. And on March 17th, 1964, Johnson signed NSAM #288 that marked the full escalation of the Vietnam War and involved 2,709,918 Americans directly serving in Vietnam, with 9,087,000 serving with the U.S. Armed Forces during this period.

The Vietnam War would continue for another 12 years after Kennedy’s death, lasting a total of 20 years for Americans, and 30 years if you count American covert action in Vietnam.

The Last Days of Kennedy

By Germany supporting de Gaulle’s exposure of the international assassination ring, his adamant opposition to western imperialism and the role of NATO, and with a young Kennedy building his own resistance against the Federal Reserve and the imperialist war of Vietnam, it was clear that the power elite were in big trouble.

There is a lot of spurious effort to try to ridicule anyone who challenges the Warren Commission’s official report as nothing but fringe conspiracy theory. And that we should not find it highly suspect that Allen Dulles, of all people, was a member of this commission. The reader should keep in mind that much of this frothing opposition stems from the very agency that perpetrated crime after crime on the American people, as well as abroad. When has the CIA ever admitted guilt, unless caught red-handed? Even after the Church committee hearings, when the CIA was found guilty of planning out foreign assassinations, they claimed that they had failed in every single plot or that someone had beaten them to the punch.

The American people need to realise that the CIA is not a respectable agency; we are not dealing with honorable men. It is a rogue force that believes that the ends justify the means, that they are the hands of the king so to speak, above government and above law. Those at the top such as Allen Dulles were just as adamant as Churchill about protecting the interests of the power elite, or as Churchill termed it, the “High Cabal.”

Interestingly, on Dec. 22nd, 1963, just one month after Kennedy’s assassination, Harry Truman published a scathing critique of the CIA in The Washington Post, even going so far as to state “There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position [as a] free and open society, and I feel that we need to correct it.” (17)

The timing of this is everything.

As Prouty has stated, anyone with a little bit of free time during an afternoon could discover for themselves that the Warren Commission was an embarrassingly incompetent hodge-podge, that conducted itself as if it were a done deal that Oswald killed Kennedy and was disinterested in hearing anything contrary to that narrative.

Not only did the record of Oswald’s interrogation at the Dallas Police Department go up in smoke, likely because he was making the inconvenient claim that he was a “patsy,” but his nitrate test which proved that he never shot a rifle the day of Nov. 22nd, 1963, was kept secret for 10 months and was only revealed in the final report, (18) which inexplicably did not change the report’s conclusion that Oswald shot Kennedy.

During Garrison’s trial on the Kennedy assassination (1967-1969) he subpoenaed the Zapruder film that had been locked up in some vault owned by Life magazine (whose founder Henry Luce was known to work closely with the CIA (19)). This was the first time in more than five years that the Zapruder film was made public. It turns out the FBI’s copy that was sent to the Warren Commission had two critical frames reversed to create a false impression that the rifle shot was from  behind.

When Garrison got a hold of the original film it was discovered that the head shot had actually come from the front. In fact, what the whole film showed was that the President had been shot from multiple angles meaning there was more than one gunman.

This was not the only piece of evidence to be tampered with, and includes Kennedy’s autopsy reports.

There is also the matter of the original autopsy papers being destroyed by the chief autopsy physician, James Humes, to which he even testified to during the Warren Commission, apparently nobody bothered to ask why…

In addition, Jim Garrison, New Orleans District Attorney at the time who was charging Clay Shaw as a member of the conspiracy to kill Kennedy, besides uncovering his ties to David Ferrie who was found dead in his apartment days before he was scheduled to testify, also made a case that the New Orleans International Trade Mart (to which Clay Shaw was director), the U.S. subsidiary of Permindex, was linked to Kennedy’s murder.

Garrison did a remarkable job with the odds he was up against, and for the number of witnesses that turned up dead before the trial…

This Permindex link would not look so damning if we did not have the French intelligence SDECE report, but we do. And recall, in that report Permindex was caught transferring $200,000 directly to the bankroll of the OAS which attempted the 1962 assassination on de Gaulle.

Thus, Permindex’s implication in an international assassination ring is not up for debate. In addition, the CIA was found heavily involved in these assassination attempts against de Gaulle, thus we should not simply dismiss the possibility that Permindex was indeed a CIA front for an international hit crew.

In fact, among the strange and murderous characters who converged on Dallas in Nov. 1963 was a notorious French OAS commando named Jean Souetre, who was connected to the plots against President de Gaulle. Souetre was arrested in Dallas after the Kennedy assassination and expelled to Mexico. (20)

Col. Clay Shaw was an OSS officer during WWII, which provides a direct link to his knowing Allen Dulles, and thus we come around full circle.

After returning from Kennedy’s Nov. 24th funeral in Washington, de Gaulle and his information minister Alain Peyrefitte had a candid discussion that was recorded in Peyrefitte’s memoire “C’était de Gaulle,” the great General was quoted saying:

““What happened to Kennedy is what nearly happened to me… His story is the same as mine. … It looks like a cowboy story, but it’s only an OAS [Secret Army Organization] story. The security forces were in cahoots with the extremists.

…Security forces are all the same when they do this kind of dirty work. As soon as they succeed in wiping out the false assassin, they declare the justice system no longer need be concerned, that no further public action was needed now that the guilty perpetrator was dead. Better to assassinate an innocent man than to let a civil war break out. Better an injustice than disorder.

America is in danger of upheavals. But you’ll see. All of them together will observe the law of silence. They will close ranks. They’ll do everything to stifle any scandal. They will throw Noah’s cloak over these shameful deeds. In order to not lose face in front of the whole world. In order to not risk unleashing riots in the United States. In order to preserve the union and to avoid a new civil war. In order to not ask themselves questions. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out.”

(1) L. Fletcher Prouty, “The Cia, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, ” pg 147
(2) C. Wright Mills, “The Power Elite”
(3) David Talbot, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” pg 304
(4) Ibid, pg 305
(5) Ibid, pg 295
(6) Ibid, pg 319
(7) Ibid, pg 319
(8) Ibid, pg 319
(9) Ibid, pg 337
(10) Ibid, pg 337
(11) Ibid, pg 359
(12) Ibid, pg 350
(13) Ibid, pg 353
(14) Ibid, pg 347
(15) Ibid, pg 354
(16) L. Fletcher Prouty, “The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy,” pg xxxiv
(17) David Talbot, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” pg 201
(18) Jim Garrison, “On the Trail of the Assassins,” pg 116-117
(19) David Talbot, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” pg 72, 128
(20) Ibid, pg 422

The author can be reached at cynthiachung@tutanota.com

‘Held to Ransom’: Pfizer Plays Hardball in Covid-19 Vaccine Negotiations With Latin American Countries

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By Madlen DaviesIvan RuizJill Langlois, and Rosa Furneaux — The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Pfizer has been accused of “bullying” Latin American governments during negotiations to acquire its Covid-19 vaccine, and the company has asked some countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases, according to an investigation by the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

In the case of one Latin American country, demands made by the pharmaceutical giant led to a three-month delay in a vaccine deal being reached. For Argentina and Brazil, no national deals were agreed to at all with Pfizer. Any hold-up in countries receiving vaccines can lead to more people contracting Covid-19 and potentially dying.

Officials from Argentina and the other Latin American country, which cannot be named as it has signed a confidentiality agreement with Pfizer, said the company’s negotiators demanded more than the usual indemnity against civil claims filed by citizens who suffer serious adverse events after being inoculated. They said Pfizer also insisted the governments cover the potential costs of civil cases brought as a result of Pfizer’s own acts of negligence, fraud, or malice. In Argentina and Brazil, Pfizer asked for sovereign assets to be put up as collateral for any future legal costs.

One government health official who was present in the unnamed country’s negotiations described Pfizer’s demands as “high-level bullying” and said the government felt like it was being “held to ransom” in order to access lifesaving vaccines.

Campaigners are already warning of a “vaccine apartheid” in which rich Western countries may be inoculated years before lower-income regions. Now, legal experts have raised concerns that Pfizer’s demands amount to an abuse of power.

“Pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be using their power to limit lifesaving vaccines in low- and middle-income countries,” said Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown University and director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. “[This] seems to be exactly what they’re doing.”

Protection against liability shouldn’t be used as “the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of desperate countries with a desperate population,” he added.

Pfizer, which partnered with BioNTech, a German biotech, to make the vaccine, has been in talks with more than 100 countries and international bodies, and has supply agreements with nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay. The terms of those deals are unknown.

Pfizer declined to comment on the allegations about its demands in negotiations, citing “ongoing negotiations which are private and confidential.”

The company told the Bureau in a statement: “Pfizer and BioNTech are firmly committed to working with governments and other relevant stakeholders to ensure equitable and affordable access to our COVID-19 vaccine for people around the world.” The company said that in addition to the nine Latin American countries with which it has struck supply agreements, it has “allocated doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries at a not-for-profit price, including an advance purchase agreement with COVAX to provide up to 40 million doses in 2021.” COVAX is a global initiative to pool purchasing power and ensure vaccine access for low-income countries. “We are committed to supporting efforts aimed at providing developing countries with the same access to vaccines as the rest of the world,” Pfizer said.

Most governments are offering indemnity — exemption from legal liability — to the vaccine manufacturers they are buying from. This means that a citizen who suffers an adverse event after being vaccinated can file a claim against the manufacturer and, if successful, the government would pay the compensation. In some countries people can also apply for compensation through specific structures without going to court.

This is fairly typical for vaccines administered in a pandemic. In many cases, adverse events are so rare that they do not show up in clinical trials and only become apparent once hundreds of thousands of people have received the vaccine (a 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine, for example, was eventually linked to narcolepsy). Because manufacturers have developed vaccines quickly and because they protect everyone in society, governments often agree to cover the cost of compensation.

However, the government officials from Argentina and the unnamed country who spoke to the Bureau said Pfizer’s demands went beyond those of other vaccine companies, and beyond those of COVAX, which is also requiring its member countries to indemnify manufacturers. This presents an additional burden for some countries because it means having to hire specialist lawyers, and sometimes pass complex new legislation, so manufacturers’ liabilities can be waived.

‘An extreme demand’

Pfizer asked for an additional indemnity from civil cases, meaning that the company would not be held liable for rare adverse effects or for its own acts of negligence, fraud or malice. This includes those linked to company practices — say, if Pfizer sent the wrong vaccine or made errors during manufacturing.

“Some liability protection is warranted, but certainly not for fraud, gross negligence, mismanagement, failure to follow good manufacturing practices,” said Gostin. “Companies have no right to ask for indemnity for these things.”

Mark Eccleston-Turner, a lecturer in global health law at Keele University in England, said Pfizer and other manufacturers have received government funding to research and develop the vaccines and are now pushing the potential costs of adverse effects back on to governments, including those in low- and middle-income countries. (Pfizer’s partner, BioNTech, was given $445 million by the German government to develop a vaccine and the U.S. government agreed in July to preorder 100 million doses for nearly $2 billion, before the vaccine had even entered Phase 3 trials. Pfizer expects to make sales of $15 billion worth of vaccines in 2021.)

In Eccleston-Turner’s opinion, it looks like Pfizer “is trying to eke out as much profit and minimize its risk at every juncture with this vaccine development then this vaccine rollout. Now, the vaccine development has been heavily subsidized already. So there’s very minimal risk for the manufacturer involved there.”

The Bureau spoke to officials from two countries, who all described how meetings with Pfizer began promisingly but quickly turned sour, and reviewed a report by the Brazilian Ministry of Health.

The Argentinian Ministry of Health began negotiating with the company in June and President Alberto Fernández held a meeting with the company’s general manager for Argentina the following month. During subsequent meetings Pfizer asked to be indemnified against the cost of any future civil claims, said an official from the president’s office. Although this had never been done before, the country’s Congress passed a new law in October allowing for it. However, Pfizer was not happy with the phrasing of the legislation, according to the official, who declined to be identified because the negotiations were confidential. The government believed Pfizer should be liable for any acts of negligence or malice. Pfizer, said the official, disagreed.

The government did offer to amend the existing law to make it clear “negligence” meant problems in the distribution and delivery of the vaccines. But Pfizer was still not satisfied. It asked the government to amend the legislation through a new decree; Fernández refused.

“Argentina could compensate for the vaccine’s adverse effects, but not if Pfizer makes a mistake,” said the official, who has detailed knowledge of the negotiations. “For example, what would happen if Pfizer unintentionally interrupted the vaccine’s cold chain [of -70 Celsius during transport and storage] … and a citizen wants to sue them? It would not be fair for Argentina to pay for a Pfizer error.”

The official said talks soon became tense and complicated: “Instead of giving in on some points, Pfizer demanded more and more.” In addition to the changes sought in the new law, it asked Argentina to take out international insurance to pay for potential future cases against the company (countries were also asked by vaccine makers and the WHO to do this during the H1N1 outbreak).

In late December, Pfizer made another unexpected request: that the government put up sovereign assets — which might include federal bank reserves, embassy buildings, or military bases — as collateral.

“We offered to pay millions of doses in advance, we accepted this international insurance, but the last request was unusual: Pfizer demanded that the sovereign assets of Argentina also be part of the legal support,” the official said. “It was an extreme demand that I had only heard when the foreign debt had to be negotiated, but both in that case and in this one, we rejected it immediately.”

The failed negotiations mean Argentinian citizens, unlike those in neighboring countries, do not have access to Pfizer’s vaccine, leaving them with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, AstraZeneca’s vaccine, and those delivered through COVAX. The government is also negotiating to acquire vaccines from Moderna, Sinopharm, and CanSino.

“Pfizer misbehaved with Argentina,” said Ginés González Garcia, Argentina’s former minister of health. “Its intolerance with us was tremendous.”

‘Good cop, bad cop’

The same demands were made of Brazil’s Ministry of Health, according to a ministry statement. Pfizer asked to be indemnified against all civil claims and asked the ministry to put up sovereign assets as collateral, as well as create a guarantee fund with money deposited in a foreign bank account. In January, the ministry refused these terms, describing the clauses as “abusive.”

An official from the Latin American country that cannot be named described talks unfolding similarly. This person said the government began negotiating with Pfizer in July, before the vaccine was approved. There was a perception that Pfizer’s negotiators had a “good cop, bad cop” routine, with the “bad cop” pressing the government to buy more doses.

“[At that time] there was not a single drug or vaccine in the world with this kind of technology that had been shown to be safe and effective. … You had this lady putting pressure saying: ‘Buy more, you’re going to kill people, people are going to die because of you,’” the official said.

Negotiations became fraught when the company asked for additional indemnity, for civil cases alleging Pfizer’s acts of negligence, fraud, or malice. The government had never awarded any kind of indemnity before and did not want to waive liability, but Pfizer said this was non-negotiable. Negotiations continued and eventually a deal was signed that included the additional indemnity provisions, but after a delay of three months.

As Pfizer has only 2 billion doses to sell across the world this year — apparently on a first-come, first-served basis — the official is angry about a delay that likely pushed the country further back in the queue.

One of the reasons the government wanted Pfizer’s vaccines was because the company said they could be delivered quickly. Yet in the contract, Pfizer wanted to reserve the right to modify the schedule. There was no room for negotiation. “It was take it or leave it,” said the official.

The official added: “Five years in the future when these confidentiality agreements are over, you will learn what really happened in these negotiations.”

Based in the U.K., the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is an independent, not-for-profit organization. This story was produced by its Global Health desk.

statnews.com

The West Is More Concerned With the Multipolar ‘Virus’ Than the Corona Virus in the Balkans

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The collective West is busy showing what it thinks of Serbia’s determination to conduct an independent policy through an old-fashioned show of force.

The weekend of March 27-28, thousands of vehicles from neighboring countries formed lines waiting to enter Serbia. The reason? Vaccines. For free. Lots of them, from both East and West. Sputnik V, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer. More than the rest of the ex-Yugoslav republics combined. And Serbia decided to open its doors to those among its former compatriots who have lost all hope that their Western-approved “democracies” would obtain them in respectable quantities any time soon.

So, does this humane gesture make Serbia a white hat in Western eyes? Of course not. Silly question. Did the saintly Western democracies spend all those years and millions in demonizing the region’s largest and most influential country only to blithely give up the divide et impera policy so successfully applied during the dismantling of ex-Yugoslavia? Just because lives are at stake? Another silly question. Come on, this is the zero-sum West we’re talking about. The world is divided into winners and losers. Those that obey, even at their own expense, are the “good guys,” and those that don’t – are not. “Win-win” is not an option.

In fact, the collective West is busy showing this spring just what it thinks of Serbia’s determination to conduct an independent, multilateral and – egads! – pro-multipolar policy through an old-fashioned show of force. In a rare journalistic display of directness, the EU-related EURACTIV news site ran the following headline announcing the entire enterprise: “NATO, U.S. to stage large-scale military exercises around Serbia until summer.” The accompanying map of the Defender-Europe 21 operation, as it is officially called, is even more to the point, eerily recalling the encirclement of Yugoslavia by Axis forces in April 1941. Hard to find clearer messaging that that.

Imagine if the 30,000 or so soldiers slated to participate in the event were instead deployed to deliver vaccines and mobile field hospitals to the virus-stricken region. But it seems that the Serbian pro-multipolar “virus” is raising more alarm in Western capitals than the actual pandemic. And it needs to be contained, or at least isolated. Can’t have the entire region weaning itself off the neoliberal, er… democratic teat and start looking collectively in any other direction but due West, can we?

Consider the recently adopted European Parliament resolution on Serbia, especially its “concerns” regarding the country’s efforts to pursue balanced external relations:

“77. [The EP] Expresses concern about China’s increasing influence in Serbia and across the Western Balkans and the lack of transparency and environmental and social impact assessment of Chinese investments and loans; calls on Serbia to strengthen its legal compliance standards for Chinese business activities;

“87. Reiterates the importance of alignment with the EU common foreign and security policy (CFSP), which must progressively become an integral part of Serbia’s foreign policy as a condition for the accession process; expresses concern about Serbia’s alignment rate, which is the lowest in the region; notes that some government officials and some politicians continue to make occasional statements that call into question Serbia’s foreign policy orientation; is concerned by Serbia’s repeated support for Russia in the UN General Assembly over the annexation of Crimea;

“88. Welcomes the fact that Serbia aligned with the EU’s position on the presidential elections in Belarus; remains concerned, however, that Serbia has failed to align with the sanctioning of Belarusian officials and with the EU’s position on the new security law in China; calls on Serbia to increase its level of alignment with the declarations of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU, and with Council decisions;

“98. Expresses concern over Serbia’s increasing dependence on defence and security  equipment and technologies from the People’s Republic of China, including a mass surveillance system in Belgrade and mass personal data collection without appropriate safeguards, and the insufficient transparency of the security sector’s public procurement practices; continues to be concerned about Serbia’s close political and military cooperation with Russia, including the continued presence of Russian air facilities in Niš; calls on Serbia to align with the CSDP and its instruments…”

Add to this the periodic calls for NATO to wrap up its “unfinished business” in the Balkans, or the constant stream of “concern” with Russian or Chinese “malign influence” in the region, and the picture of the never-ending Western obsession with Serbia and its stubborn independent streak becomes complete.

Recently, the country marked the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of NATO’s illegal “humanitarian” intervention against ex-Yugoslavia, which took an untold human(itarian) and, yes, ecological, toll on Serbia’s population. Unlike the totally unrepentant West, both Russia and China made sure to call this Western campaign by its real name – “aggression” – and made a public show of solidarity with Serbia. This was especially the case with the Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe, whose three-day visit to Serbia, fortuitously coinciding with the anniversary, also provided the opportunity for China to send some unequivocal messages of its own.

As he laid wreaths at the site of the Chinese embassy “accidentally” bombed by a U.S. B-2 “stealth” bomber on May 7, 1999, when three Chinese journalists were killed and 20 people injured, Wei stated that “the Chinese military will never allow history to repeat itself as China is capable and determined to defend its national interests.” For her part, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying added that NATO “still owes blood debt” to the Chinese people and that “it shall not be forgotten that the U.S.-led NATO blatantly bombed Yugoslavia in 1999 in a severe violation of relevant international conventions and basic norms of international relations.”

In fact, there is ample proof that NATO’s 78-day attack on Serbia and Montenegro was not the least bit “humanitarian” in its purpose but had an ice-cold geopolitical raison. Perhaps the key public proof of this was provided by Willy Wimmer, former member of the German Bundestag and Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, in a letter written to then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on May 2, 2000, or less than a year after NATO’s illegal operation.

Wimmer’s 11-point brief of what was said at a closed security conference organized in Bratislava by the U.S. State Department included the following key points:

“4. The war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was waged in order to rectify General Eisenhower’s erroneous decision during World War II. Therefore, for strategic reasons, American troops must be stationed there, in order to compensate for the missed opportunity from 1945.

“7. It would be good, during NATO’s current enlargement, to restore the territorial situation in the area between the Baltic Sea and Anatolia such as existed during the Roman Empire, at the time of its greatest power and greatest territorial expansion.

“8. For this reason, Poland must be flanked to the north and to the south with democratic neighbor states, while Romania and Bulgaria are to secure a land connection with Turkey. Serbia (probably for the purposes of securing an unhindered U.S. military presence) must be permanently excluded from European development.

“11. The claim that, during its attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO violated all international rules, and especially all the relevant provisions of international law – was not disputed.”

No less devastating was the experienced German diplomat’s own conclusion:

“It seems that the American side, for the sake of its own goals, is willing and ready to undermine, on a global scale, the international legal order, which came about as a result of the two world wars in the previous century. Force is to stand above law. Wherever international law stands in the way, it is to be removed.

“When the League of Nations experienced a similar fate, World War II was not far off. The manner of thought that takes into regard solely its own interests can only be referred to as totalitarian.”

This is the stuff for some future iteration of the Nuremberg trials, where the crime of aggression was identified as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” For now, it can at least serve as a handy tool in the current global info war, another reminder of the foreign policy roots of some of the self-styled moral crusaders staffing the Biden Administration, such as Anthony Blinken, who openly invokes the reprehensible Madeleine Albright as a “role model.”

So, if having a war of aggression named after you and causing the death of half a million Iraqi children was “worth it” in Albright’s mind, the untold millions being spent in efforts at eradicating all traces of multipolarity from European soil, instead of helping alleviate the region’s health crisis, are most certainly “worth it” in the minds of her political and spiritual successors in the White House and across the Atlantic.

In any case, the situation in and around Serbia, Europe’s most stubborn multipolar outpost, is bound to heat up in the near future.

In Alarmist Turn, NATO Is Increasingly Positioning Itself in Opposition to China

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By Ann WRIGHT

During the March 23-24 meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) council, Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, encouraged NATO members to join the U.S. in viewing China as an economic and security threat to the U.S. as well as to NATO countries, thereby expanding NATO’s areas of focus to include the Pacific. This is a dangerous move that must be challenged.

To gain insight into what transpired at the March NATO meeting, we can look to a roadmap for NATO’s future, which was released last fall. The report, entitled “NATO 2030: United for a New Era,” is intended to be a guide for the military alliance in meeting the challenges it will face in the next decade. In the report, released in November, the “independent group” of five advisers from 10 NATO countries identified 13 challenges and threats to NATO in the next decade.

This new proposed roadmap for NATO reflects an alarming expansion: It is as much about China and the Asia/Pacific region as it is about NATO’s traditional area of operations and concern, Europe and Russia.

Although the group identified the number one threat to NATO as Russia, China was named as threat number 2.

The document brings the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the Pacific and attempts to provide a justification to expand and strengthen “partnerships” in the Asia/Pacific region. NATO already has four “partners” in the Pacific through bilateral agreements with Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. As NATO partners, Australia and New Zealand have deployed many troops under the NATO banner in Afghanistan, while Japan and South Korea have had reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the United States, NATO’s mega-member, has military bases all over the Pacific, including in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, Singapore and Hawaii that are used by NATO “partners” during regional war drills.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, in his address on March 24 to NATO members, strongly rebuked China and urged NATO allies to join with the U.S. in this adversarial position.

Blinken said the U.S. wouldn’t force its European allies into an “us-or-them choice,” but he then implied the opposite, emphasizing that Washington views China as an economic and security threat, particularly in technology, to NATO allies in Europe.

“When one of us is coerced we should respond as allies and work together to reduce our vulnerability by insuring our economies are more integrated with each other,” Blinken said.

Blinken cited China’s militarization of the South China Sea, use of predatory economics, intellectual property theft and human rights abuses.

In his March 24 press conference after the meetings of the North Atlantic Council and after U.S. Secretary of State Blinken’s statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg focused on primarily on Russia but echoed Blinken’s oppositional rhetoric regarding China. While saying “We don’t regard China as an adversary,” Stoltenberg nevertheless continued to spell out specific reasons NATO agrees with the U.S.: “The rise of China has direct consequences to our security…. So, one of the challenges we face as we now have this forward looking process with NATO 2030 is how to strengthen and how to work more closely together as allies, responding to the rise of China.”

NATO’s concerns about Chinese military expansion include the construction of nine naval bases on atolls in the South China Sea and an increasing number of ships: China now has the largest navy in the world, with 350 ships and submarines, including over 130 ships. In comparison, the U.S. Navy has 293 ships as of early 2020, but U.S. naval ships have substantially more firepower than Chinese Navy ships.

While China’s military budget has increased dramatically in the past decade, it still amounts to only one-third of the military budget of the U.S. and is very small compared to the combined military budgets of NATO members and partners.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2019 estimates show the U.S. military budget of $732 billion is 38 percent of global military expenditures, while China’s $ 261 billion is 14 percent and Russia’s military budget of $61 billion is 3.4 percent. Six of the 15 highest military global spenders are members of NATO: the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Italy and Canada. Together, these six accounted for 48 percent ($929 billion) of global military expenditure. Total spending by all 29 NATO members was $1035 billion in 2019.

At the March meeting, NATO members spoke frequently about China’s increasingly global military footprint, including the development of an overseas base in Djibouti, which now “hosts” military bases of the United States, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Japan and China. China also has several smaller bases around the world, including in the province of Neuquén, Patagonia, Argentina, on land loaned to the Chinese government during Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s presidency. China claims the land is for space exploration and intelligence services. The Chinese government also has a naval electronic intelligence facility on the Great Coco Island of Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal and a small military post in south-eastern Tajikistan.

China has a total of 13 military bases worldwide, including the 9 on atolls in the South China Sea. For perspective, the United States has over 800 military bases around the world.

Meanwhile, NATO is also raising alarm about China’s economic Belt and Road Initiative, which includes a “belt” of overland road and rail corridors and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes and ports.

NATO Members Increase Military Presence to Counter “Threat” From China

The groundwork has already been laid for NATO’s expansion into Asia: The dominant and continued presence of the United States in the Pacific has given NATO a permanent foothold in the region. The Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” was a NATO stepping-stone for increased military actions in the region.

For many years, NATO countries have participated in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest naval exercise held every two years in Hawaii. In 2020, the COVID-modified RIMPAC had ships from 25 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. China participated in the 2014 RIMPAC with four ships and in 2016, but was disinvited in 2018 due to its military activities in the South China Sea.

The United Kingdom and France have increased their presence in the Indo-Pacific. At the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018, French and British defense ministers announced they would sail warships through the South China Sea to challenge China’s military expansion. The Shangri-La Dialogue is a security forum attended by defense ministers and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific states and is named for the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore where it has been held since 2002.

Subsequently, the United Kingdom deployed the HMS Albion to conduct freedom of navigation exercises near the Paracel Islands in August 2018 and conducted its first joint exercise with the United States in the South China Sea in 2019. NATO member France has exclusive economic zones in the Pacific around its overseas territories and in February 2021, France conducted a patrol through the South China Sea with a nuclear attack submarine and two other navy ships as a part of its freedom of navigation exercises.

Additionally, the U.S. military is already reorienting much of its military equipment and war maneuvers to the Pacific. The U.S. Army’s longstanding massive land maneuvers “Defender” exercises in Europe will be in the Pacific in 2021. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps is reorganizing its forces in the Pacific to be “fast moving counterweights to China’s growing navy fleet.”

NATO’s new strategy in the Pacific is for Marines, as well as small Army units, to operate in “littoral operations or operations around shorelines from the islands around the Western Pacific in small units with ship-killing missiles.” The Corps is testing missiles fired from these smaller vehicles, which according to the Marine Corps, will “make it incredibly hard for the enemy to find us. … We will have dozens and dozens and dozens of these platoons and vehicles placed strategically throughout the region.”

In 2021, Hawaii will become the home of the Marine Corps’s first Marine Littoral Regiment, with initial operating capability in 2023. The Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment will be composed of 1,800- 2,000 Marines from the 3rd Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, which has about 3,400 Marines.

Currently, the Marines have two regiments on Okinawa and one in Hawaii. In the next two years, the new strategy calls for one littoral regiment each on Okinawa, Hawaii and Guam.

The new strategy not only redesigns units but is also redesigning the sea transportation to move the forces around the Pacific. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Light Amphibious Warship, a proposed new class of Navy vessel, will be between 200 and 400 feet long and cost $100 million. The Navy wants to have 28 to 30 of these amphibious ships, which will have the capability to pull up onto beaches. How many ships would be based in Hawaii, Guam and Okinawa remains unclear, as is where they would practice beach landings in the islands, which will be watched closely by local environmental activists.

The U.S. Marines are also adding weaponized drones to their war-fighting equipment. Beginning in 2023, 18 Predator drones will come into the Pacific region, 6 in Hawaii and the others going to Guam and Okinawa.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is building new bases in the Pacific. In 2020, the president of Palau, a small Pacific island nation of a population of only 17,000, offered his country as a new base of operations for the U.S. military in the Pacific. The U.S. has already constructed a runway and has increased the number of U.S. Navy ships using Palau’s ports. The Trump administration quickly sent the secretary of defense and secretary of the navy to consolidate the agreement. Palau already receives extensive funding from the U.S. through an economic and defense agreement called the Compact of Free Association.

U.S. military operations from other Pacific islands have increased in recent years. U.S. nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and their accompanying escorts of 10 ships and B-2 nuclear-equipped bombers operate daily from the U.S. territory of Guam on “freedom of navigation” sea drills and overflights of Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese military has responded with its own naval drills in the South China Sea and air armadas of 18 aircraft flying to the edge of Taiwan’s air defense zone during the Trump administration’s increased diplomatic engagement and military sales to Taiwan, an island the People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers as a renegade province of the PRC.

The level of air and sea confrontation in the Western Pacific between the U.S. and NATO forces and China has increased dangerously over the past two years, and it’s only a matter of time until an accident or purposeful incident presents a potential war incident that can lead to horrific consequences.

As NATO advisors name China as the number two threat to the organization after Russia, the U.S. top diplomat echoes their rallying call as the U.S. military ramps up its forces in the Pacific region. These worrisome developments suggest the U.S. will continue to play a leading role in pushing NATO to train its sights on China, which will heighten the dangerous confrontation in the Western Pacific.

truthout.org

Russia, China Uphold Rules-Based Order – In Spite of Western Roguery

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The United States and its allies are behaving in a reckless, illegal way by invoking unilateral sanctions based on subjective accusations.

A growing, solid alliance between Russia and China is a necessary stabilizing factor against the United States and its allies who are recklessly firing off unilateral sanctions and inflaming international tensions and insecurity.

Hardly a week goes by when Washington and its allies announce sanctions against Russia or China based on spurious claims. Dozens of smaller nations are also under the lash of Western strictures, all of which are unilateral breaches of international law.

This week, both Canada and Australia gave notice of financial and diplomatic penalties on Russia over its alleged annexation of Crimea in 2014. The remoteness of Ottawa and Canberra in such a matter speaks of a tortuous, disingenuous agenda. Moscow vowed to take counter-measures.

The U.S. and European Union have already imposed sanctions on Russia over similar claims. As Russia’s foreign ministry pointed out, such Western interventions are a futile denial of the historic reality that the Crimean people voted in a legally constituted referendum to join the Russian Federation, following the NATO-backed coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014.

Last week, the United States, Canada, Britain and the EU coordinated  punitive measures against China citing accusations of human rights violations.

Beijing caused a shock when it hit back immediately with counter-sanctions, saying the Western accusations were baseless and represented a gross interference in its sovereign affairs. Sure enough, the West’s provocative claims about “genocide” against the Uyghur ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang region have been exposed as fabrication and distortion. Britain’s state-owned BBC has also been outed for running blatant disinformation campaigns regarding Xinjiang, as well as Hong Kong and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that any Western sanctions will be reciprocated. He indicated that Russia and China had consolidated a policy of returning Western measures with counter-measures.

This is an important line in the sand. The United States and its allies are behaving in a reckless, illegal way by invoking unilateral sanctions based on subjective accusations. Such behavior is a violation of the United Nations Charter, the bedrock of foreign relations.

What Washington and its allies are doing is trampling over international law and kicking it to the curb. Their conduct is that of rogue states who perceive themselves to be above the law, entitled to act in whatever way they please with no accountability.

Ironically, and sickeningly, the Americans, Europeans, Canadians, Australians and other partners, talk loftily about respecting “values” and “rules-based international order”. They are the ones who are trashing any semblance of order. It is these NATO powers that have launched numerous criminal wars of aggression without any mandate from the UN Security Council. They have carried out covert regime-change operations which have unleashed mayhem and terrorism. They impose unilateral sanctions on nations suffering from NATO’s intrigues, such as Syria and Venezuela. They run assassination programs and torture-renditions to black sites around the world. Their troops kill Afghan civilians in cold blood after kicking down their doors in the middle of the night. The United States rips up nuclear arms control treaties with Russia, while sailing warships into Chinese territory.

Western powers are deluded in their vanity and pretensions of virtue. Their self-regarding rhetoric about upholding rule of law and human rights is hallucinatory hyperventilation.

Russia and China are not going to let Western states get away with their dangerous games of making up the rules to suit their orders. That way leads to perdition, as history has shown us in former periods of lawlessness with catastrophic consequences.

It is Moscow and Beijing who are upholding the UN Charter and the rule of law that all nations are obliged to abide by. Central to that framework is mutual respect for the sovereignty of all nations. Unilateral actions are impermissible as enshrined in the UN Charter. They undermine global security and inevitably lead to a law-of-the-jungle scenario where strong powers presume predatory privileges over weaker ones.

Earlier this month, on March 22, Russia’s top diplomat Lavrov held a landmark summit with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in China’s southern city of Guilin.

Both statesmen reiterated the paramount, inviolable principles of the UN Charter. They condemned bullying and hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its partners. And they declared that any unilateral violations will be held to account by Russia and China upholding international law and guaranteeing justice.

This is an historic moment in international relations. The world either embraces principles of equality and sovereign mutualism, dialogue and diplomacy – or the alternative is barbarism, conflict and ultimately war.

Absurdly, Russia’s Lavrov was obliged to explain that such warning to Western states of adhering to international law is not a threat from Moscow. It is simply a statement of fact and of their legal, moral duty. It shows how deranged these powers have become whenever they have to be reminded to obey the law.

The United States and its allies seem to think that “diplomacy” means “diktat”. Their arrogance and deluded self-entitlement has made them blind to the reality of their own degeneracy. Fortunately, Russia and China are formidable enough to remind others of reality.

We may conclude with a quirky news story this week that serves as an allegory of a bigger picture. One of President Joe Biden’s pet dogs reportedly went rogue and took a dump inside the White House. The mess was inflicted on a carpet outside the Diplomat Room – of all places. The story sort of sums up how the conduct of America and its lackeys has lost all sense of decency and restraint these days. They’re going to have be re-trained.

The Longer Telegram: A Baby Pacifier for Infantile Washington Policymakers

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The Longer Telegram reflects the intellectual, moral and emotional bankruptcy of what passes for “thought” inside the Washington Beltway, Martin Sieff writes.

The now famous – and ludicrous – Atlantic Council “Longer Telegram” on China, unintentionally has made a global laughing stock of the Atlantic Council.

But it still deserves careful consideration as an example of the pathetic  – and infantile – intellectual pretensions of Washington’s geo-political supposed “elite.” And their ever-fresh infantile wonk need to be “tougher”, “bigger” and “better” than their childhood heroes such as George Kennan and George Marshall.

Francois-Marie Arouet – Voltaire – shredded the remaining pretensions of the thousand-year-obsolete Holy Roman Empire in his day (the 18th century Enlightenment) by pointing out that it was not Holy, nor Roman nor even an Empire. Similarly, the “Longer Telegram” that purported to lay out a new US National Strategy towards China is not a telegram at all. The title of course comes from George Kennan’s now revered – as secular American Scripture – “Long Telegram” of 1946 to Secretary of State James Byrnes that was eagerly seized upon as the blue print for supposed containment of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War.

(Kennan in fact condemned US global policies of confrontation, militarization and destruction of democracies around the world from the 1950s on as a travesty of what he had advocated. He lived long enough to condemn the US expansion of NATO  throughout Central Europe in the 1990s as the greatest catastrophic US policy decision of the post Cold War world, as I heard him say in person.)

But no matter, the Atlantic Council – part of the heart and soul of the US neoconservative/neoliberal think tank foreign policy establishment in its age of infantile regression – must have its Pacifier or Baby Comforter to reassure itself that it will still Run the World (at least in its own imagination) half a century from now: And that is the purpose of the “Longer Telegram.”)

For the Longer Telegram of course is not a telegram at all. Telegrams are ludicrously obsolete in our modern high tech world of the 21st century. We Veteran Foreign Correspondents have never bothered to use them for 30 or 40 years or so. The very Executive Summary of the Longer Telegram gives that aspect of the game away. Since when has anyone ever heard of any telegram having an “Executive Summary”? The entire point of telegrams for the 150 years of their practical existence from around 1840 to 1990 was that they were terse and succinct to save money on the cost and speed of transmission.

The Longer Telegram is not only not a Telegram: It is not terse or succinct at all. It ponderously, pompously and slowly lays out a policy for a generations-long global confrontation with China with eventual aim of imploding China and destroying China’s unity, prosperity and industrial power. Its ultimate aim in fact is to do what the British and French Empires – the First NATO – did to China in the First Opium War of 1839-42. That war unleashed a nightmare century of slavery, drug addiction enslavement, humiliation misery massacre and death on the Chinese people.

Chinese leaders are understandably enraged at “The Longer Telegram” whose neocon/neolib authors coyly elected to remain anonymous, again childishly trying to echo Kennan’s initial anonymity as “X” for his later 1947 article on Soviet foreign policy published in “Foreign Affairs” magazine. In fact, the 2021 Longer Telegram bears all the marks of a misshapen monster designed by committee.

However, Beijing should not fear the Longer Telegram for its most crucial and salient characteristic is that is delusional, worthless nonsense. The global unified alliance of the United States and the nations of Europe and Asia against Big Bad China is never going to happen. The United States in the Golden Age of Joe Biden (and Kamala Harris) is too chaotic, too confused, too divided and its leaders too ludicrous to ever bring it about.

The Longer Telegram is a misshaped Frankenstein baby born of the inbred Washington Deep State Establishment. America’s insane 18 main (of course there are hundreds of others) so-called “intelligence ” agencies (an obvious oxymoron but let that pass) are embracing it. So are the bipartisan performing baboons of Congress and their multiple thousands of staffers and so of course are the enormous defense contractor corporations from whom all greenback blessings ultimately flow.

Most revealing of all, the Longer Telegram reflects the intellectual, moral and emotional bankruptcy of what passes for “thought” inside the Washington Beltway. The Beltway Establishment can no longer even manufacture any plausible new justifications, myths or downright lies to con the American people into pouring out the remains of their rapidly disappearing and stolen wealth and sending their precious children off for more to die and  have their limbs blown off in more yet decades of needless, meaningless global wars.

Instead, the rotting skeletons of arguments made in a different place, for a different world, three quarters of a century ago must be dusted off and pulled off their dust-covered shelves to be recycled for the totally different circumstances of the 21st century world. Since Washington, as I have previously pointed out, is now run by Liberal Zombies whose ideas really died 50 years ago.

Thererfore, it should be no surprise that the apologies for “ideas” and “strategies” they frantically reach out for should be pacifiers for babies and zombie ideas exhumed from their long-forgotten  graves as well.

The Endless War: Afghanistan Goes On and On

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All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield.

Given the present atmosphere in Washington in which there is no lie so outrageous as to keep it out of the mainstream media, a great deal of policy making takes place without even key players in the government knowing what is going on behind their backs. Of course, there is a long tradition of government lying in general but most politicians and officials have probably convinced themselves that they are avoiding the truth because complicating issues might lead to endless debate where nothing ever gets done. There may be some truth to that, but it is a self-serving notion at best.

The real damage comes when governments lie in order to start or continue a war. The Administration of George W. Bush did just that when it lied about Iraq’s secular leader Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and developing delivery systems that would enable Iraq to attack the U.S. with the nukes. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice knew she was not telling the truth when she warned that “the problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” She also was a key player in the Bush team approval of the CIA’s use of torture on captured al-Qaeda.

Rice is, by the way, not in jail and is currently a highly esteemed elder statesman serving as Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Likewise for her friend and patron Madeleine Albright who famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions were worth it. In the United States the only ones who are ever punished are those who expose the crimes being committed by the government, to include a number of whistleblowers and journalists like Julian Assange.

The active American military role in lying probably started at Valley Forge but it came into prominence with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which was an alleged attack by the North Vietnamese on U.S. Navy ships that led to an escalation in Washington’s direct role in what was to become the Vietnam War, which produced 58,000 American dead as well as an estimated three million Vietnamese. No one was punished for faking the casus belli and today Vietnam is a communist state in spite of the martial valor of the U.S. Army.  Overall commander of US forces in Vietnam General William Westmoreland, who died in 2005, repeatedly advised the media and the White House that the American military was “winning” and there would be victory in six more months. General Westmoreland knew he was lying, as the Pentagon Papers subsequently revealed, and he also proved reluctant to share his plans with the White House. He even developed a contingency plan to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam without informing the president and Secretary of Defense.

Prize winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter has written an article “Trump Administration Insider Reveals How US Military Sabotaged Peace Agreement to Prolong Afghan War” that describes how the brass in the Pentagon currently are able to manipulate the bureaucracy in such a way as to circumvent policy coming out of the country’s civilian leadership. The article is based in part on an interview with retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat arms officer who served as an acting senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense during the last months of Donald Trump’s time in office.  He would have likely been confirmed in his position if Trump had won reelection.

Porter describes the negotiations between the Taliban and Trump’s Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, which began in late 2018 and culminated in a peace agreement that was more-or-less agreed to by both sides in February 2019. The Pentagon, fearing that the war would be ending, quickly moved to sabotage a series of confidence building measures that included disengagement and cease fires. In short, US commanders supported by the Pentagon leadership under Secretary of Defense Mike Esper as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to attack Taliban positions in spite of the agreements worked out by the diplomats, blaming all incidents on the Taliban. They also used their “perception management” media contacts to float fabricated stories about Taliban activity, which included the false account of Russians paying Taliban fighters bounties for every American they could kill.

After the 2020 election, which Donald Trump appeared to have lost, Esper, Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie and the senior field commander General Scott Miller took the offensive against any withdrawal by sending a memo to the president warning that no troops should be removed from the country until “certain conditions” had been met. An enraged Trump, who believed that the disengagement from Afghanistan was the right thing to do, then used his authority to order a withdrawal of all US troops by the end of the year. He also fired Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller as SecDef and brought in Macgregor, who had openly expressed his belief that the war in Afghanistan should be ended immediately as well as the wars in the Middle East.

Macgregor and Miller reasoned that the only way to remove the remaining troops from Afghanistan by year’s end would be to do so by presidential order. Macgregor prepared the document and President Trump signed it immediately. On the next day November 12th, however, Colonel Macgregor learned that Trump had subsequently met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Acting Secretary Miller. Trump and Miller were told by Milley and O’Brien that the orders he placed in the memorandum could not be executed because a withdrawal would lead to a surge in violence and would damage chances for an eventual peace settlement. Trump was also told that an ongoing US presence in Afghanistan had “bipartisan support,” possibly a warning that he might be overruled by Congress if he sought to proceed. Trump later agreed to withdraw only half of the total, 2,500 troops, a number that has continued to remain in place under President Joe Biden. A current agreement has the US withdrawing those last soldiers, together with allied NATO troops, by May 1st but it is under attack from Congress, think tanks, the mainstream media and the military leadership for the same reasons that have been cited for staying in Afghanistan over the past twenty years and predictably Biden has folded. Last week he announced that some American soldiers will remain in country to maintain stability after the deadline.

The story of Trump and Afghanistan is similar to what took place with Syria, where plans to withdraw were regularly reversed due to adroit maneuvering by the Pentagon and its allies. It remains to be seen what Joe Biden will do ultimately as he is being confronted by the same forces that compelled Trump to beat a retreat. The more serious issue is, of course, that the United States of America portrays itself as a nation that engages only in “just wars” and which has a military that is under control and responsive to an elected and accountable civilian government. As Afghanistan and Syria demonstrate, those conceits have been unsustainable since the US went on a global dominance spree when it launched its War on Terror in 2001. All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield. It will continue to have its pointless wars, and its bloated “defense” budgets.

Opposing All Governments Equally Is Supporting The Most Powerful Government

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By Caitlin JOHNSTONE

The US-centralized empire is waging nonstop wars that have killed millions of human beings just since the turn of this century, and people will still say things like “We’ve really got to do something about Cuba.”

The US-centralized empire is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases, working to destroy any nation which disobeys its dictates and brandishing armageddon weapons at its enemies like a drunken hillbilly with a shotgun, and people are still like “Something must be done about China’s intellectual property theft!”

Among the violent and destructive governments in our world, one towers high above all the others in a league entirely of its own. Add in the malign behavior of its allies, who effectively function as arms of the same single empire on foreign policy, and the gap between it and the next-worst offender grows even greater. And yet, somehow, many people act as though this power structure should not face a unique level of criticism and scrutiny.

When imperialists yell the word “whataboutism” what they really mean is “Stop pointing out the damning contradictions, inconsistencies and hypocrisy of my position.”

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) August 6, 2020

A lot of propaganda-addled empire loyalists bleat the terms “whataboutism” and “false equivalency” at anyone who responds to criticisms of nations like Russia or China by pointing out the terrible things the US does and continues to do, implying that America is far better than those other nations and that even bringing them into the same conversation is absurd. And they are correct, it is absurd, but for the exact opposite reason they think: the US is far, far worse.

There is no other power structure that is anywhere near as violent, thuggish and authoritarian as the one that is currently using its military and economic might to murder, starve, bully and cajole the rest of humanity into submission and obedience to its interests. No one else comes anywhere remotely close. Any analysis of international dynamics which fails to place this fact front and center in its understanding is necessarily a flawed, power-serving analysis.

It’s not just the brainwashed human livestock of the mainstream who fail to take this reality into account, but also many self-styled “anarchists” and other ideologues who fancy themselves to be up-punching critics of power. The mantra “I oppose all governments equally” will often see such types enthusiastically supporting the downfall of US-targeted governments like Syria and China, simply because those governments are more authoritarian than they’d like. Because it’s not informed by a reality-based weighting of world power dynamics as they actually exist, their “anti-authoritarianism” sees them supporting the most tyrannical agendas of the most tyrannical power structure on earth.

The “I oppose all governments equally” flag. pic.twitter.com/MJGdXerObo

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 31, 2021

You’ll hear them called “anarcho-imperialists” or “anarcho-neocons” by anti-imperialists; people whose internet anarchism leads them to actively facilitate western propaganda initiatives against targeted governments because those governments are not pure and utopian enough for the delicate sensibilities in their blond dreadlock-adorned heads. They’ll pay lip service to opposing the US government too, but “opposing all governments” without that opposition reflecting the fact that one government is orders of magnitude worse than any other is supporting that very government.

The fallacy of “I oppose all governments equally” is best summarized by the Anatole France quote, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” All things are not equal, and treating all governments as though they are the same will always serve the interests of the most powerful government.

It’s like those American libertarians who say “I oppose all forms of welfare, including corporate welfare!” Well guess what mate? Put your shoulder against that value system and shove, and then watch whose welfare ends up getting cut. I’ll give you a hint: it won’t be the rich guys.

Force always flows most freely when it’s being directed against those who power opposes, next most freely when it’s directed against those to whom power is indifferent, and least freely when it’s directed against the most powerful themselves. It’s always far easier to flow with power than against it; that’s why the richest people are always those who collaborate with existing power structures. Firing your energy at “all governments equally” will see that energy picked up and ran with wherever it opposes the governments the largest power structure doesn’t like.

“Neither Washington nor Beijing”, is essentially (and secretly) a pro-Washington, anti-Beijing position.

Equating both sides always helps the more evil side.

Just because both US and China are wrong, doesn’t mean both are equally wrong.

— Maitreya Bhakal (@MaitreyaBhakal) February 28, 2021

As journalist Maitreya Bhakal recently put it:

“Neither Washington nor Beijing”, is essentially (and secretly) a pro-Washington, anti-Beijing position. Equating both sides always helps the more evil side. Just because both US and China are wrong, doesn’t mean both are equally wrong.

The problem is the nation that is infinitely less wrong than the other, is criticized infinitely more. Criticism should be proportional to the crime. This is why those who push for “equality before law” in China — ignore it while comparing China to US.

It’s basically like saying “Neither Hitler nor Obama”: Imagine how pleased Hitler would be at being equated with Obama — no matter the latter’s crimes. Those who call for nuance when opposing “whataboutism” fail to apply nuance when comparing US and China. Thus, the effect (and in many cases, the purpose) of Bothsidesism is to not only to make the more evil side look less evil, but also to justify the more evil side’s evil atrocities against the less evil side.

People often tell me “You don’t oppose imperialism, you only criticize US imperialism!” And to them I always reply, well, show me the other government that’s circling the planet with hundreds of military bases, waging nonstop wars and orchestrating the destruction of any nation which disobeys it. I’ll criticize that one too.

China is just as imperialist as America, Caitlin! pic.twitter.com/f6pdfimMja

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 20, 2021

I make no bones about the fact that I prefer to focus my criticisms on the most powerful and destructive power structure in the world. It’s not weird and suspicious to do this, it’s weird and suspicious that more people don’t do it. It is the sane and normal thing to do, and the fact that this isn’t the default assumption says so much about how extensively our society is wound around the convenience of the powerful.

Not only is focusing your opposition on the most powerful and destructive government the most rational use of your energy, it’s also impossible to circulate criticisms of US-targeted nations without facilitating and participating in the US propaganda campaigns against those governments. I guarantee you that if I changed my tune and suddenly began authoring articles decrying the treatment of Alexei Navalny and the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, those articles would go more viral than anything I have ever written, because they flow in the direction of existing imperialist propaganda campaigns. I would be responsible for the consequences of my doing this.

And there would be consequences. Before they launch missiles, they launch narratives. Before they drop bombs, they drop propaganda. The path to every bullet in every war is paved with mass-scale narrative manipulation, and when we choose to participate in that paving we are just as culpable for the death and destruction that ensues as the guys who drop the actual bombs. The devastating effects of war against nations like Syria or Iran and the potentially world-ending consequences of cold war aggressions against Russia and China rest on the shoulders of those who helped circulate the narratives which facilitated them.

So be real with yourself about what you’re putting out there, and be responsible about it. Be mindful of whether you’re helping to advance an agenda with a lot of energy behind it from the most powerful forces on earth, because those are the agendas that will be enacted. Don’t let your “anarchism” turn you into a goddamn stormtrooper for the empire.

caityjohnstone.medium.com

If Feminism Is the Disease Then MGTOW Is the Euthanasia – Another Hegelian Dialectic

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Their “solution” to the problem is doing exactly what Radical Feminists want – for men to give up and go silently off into the night forever.

Third-wave Feminism and now Fourth-wave Feminism have become the status quo. No matter how much “woke” politically active people complain about “The Patriarchy”, the fact is that the big multinational corporations and many of the governments of the world are on their side. It is everywhere in media, products and educational curriculum. Feminism has challenged us all to try to live in a new different way disconnected from the past and what many would see as human nature. With time, to this pursuit of building a utopia of sexual equality there would naturally arise some sort of countermovement. No matter what the mainstream ideology is, it will never satisfy everyone and other options will fight for their place under the limited ideological sunlight. Of the growing groups of those who reject feminism it would seem that the “winner” as it stands today is certainly the MGTOW movement which has been exploding over social media, especially YouTube. The problem is that their “solution” to the problem is doing exactly what Radical Feminists want – for men to give up and go silently off into the night forever.

The MGTOW movement stands for “Men Going Their Own Way” which is their response to the family and relationship-unfriendly world that the Feminists are building. Their method of doing this looks like a form of peaceful protest – walking away from society to be completely alone. Essentially, the logic is that since the deck seems to be stacked against men especially in terms of divorce policies it is best just not to play the game at all and reject women and especially marriage entirely. They believe that it is better to go lone wolf as to not be exploited for their resources, paying “child support” to bitter exes for kids they are not even allowed to see, even if that means zero physical contact with women and dying alone in a trailer.

On the one hand this way of thinking makes sense and does fit a stereotypically male mindset which is probably why it is so popular. It is a natural male response to a problem, be it a horrible job, the betrayal of a friend or some other issue to just bail on the problem and possibly start over. This is a sort of “take this job and shove it” attitude that makes perfect sense to the male mind and on some level it even seems bold and heroic. History is filled with monks, hermits, sages, ronin samurai and others who left society for very lonely yet possibly fulfilling existence. This tendency seems to be predominantly for men.

Much in the way that Feminism is rooted in a stereotypical negative female mythos of victimhood and hysterics and demanding to be taken care of by others just for breathing, MGTOW is rooted in some sort of sole-survivor macho logos that can be found in many video games and movies especially about the Apocalypse – which is a power fantasy enjoyable only by the weak and helpless.

Divorce laws are unfair, the overwhelming majority of homeless are men, men are vastly more likely to suffer from violence. Feminists continue to dream up new forms of madness like making men across the UK have a 6pm curfew so women feel safe. The correlation between fatherlessness and a whole host of life problems for children is undeniable, and the kind of “woman” that Feminists want to make will be so “independent” and “strong” that she is destined to die alone and unloved. Yes, the rainbow-haired Liberal crowd has lost their minds long ago, but ultimately they are winning in their battle to destroy “Patriarchy” i.e. every last shred of the remnants of how the world worked before WWII. And “worked” is the keyword as despite our massive technological advancements, humans in the West especially, cannot execute the most basic and important function of society – making lasting families.

The death of the family, one of the occasionally stated but always felt goals of the Feminists, is happening before our eyes and society if suffering from this. We are obese, fatherless, miserable, drug addicted and unable to form lasting relationships and the children we do produce in limited numbers are subjected to a castrated childhood of “safety” and bizarre Post-Modern kindness-overloaded genderless expectations.

And when faced with the death of the family MGTOW’s answer is to just give up. Men’s Rights Activists (MRE’s) at least try to fight for what they believe in legislatively, but MGTOW just says to buy a dog and go live in a trailer, so no woman can exploit you. When you boil this reasoning down to its core it is both pathetic and acts in a way that is contradictory to its desired outcome. The situation is working out to look like one of those Hegelian Dialectics that are all the rage nowadays…

Thesis: Feminism fights to destroy the family/traditional society under the guise of fighting Patriarchy/Inequality. They use a rhetoric of victimhood and exploitation that suits women and pulls on the heartstrings of men in a natural way to want to protect them.

Antithesis: MGTOW’s solution is to walk away from this situation as a victorious lone-warrior relying only on one’s self, which is a mythos that speaks to almost all men on some level. It looks like rebellion but it is actually submission.

Synthesis: The result is that the Feminists get what they want and the family dies along with Patriarchy (coded language the old way of doing things especially under Christianity) and masculinity in general.

If there is to be an answer to today’s hateful anti-family anti-human dominant ideological trends from men, then it needs to tap into a different aspect of the male mythos – the will to fight. This is in direct contrast to the mystique of walking into the desert alone. Men were made to butt heads, to conquer, to be aggressive. We should not forget that before the seemingly endless hell of modern warfare in WWI, the male of the species really suffered no mental trauma from the horrors of war with blade and musket. The evidence suggests that most men were born to fight and that this for the male of the species is normal. The answer is in the aggressive masculinity of knights, legionnaires, and Zulus, not lone wanderers.

A form of hyper-masculine reasoning will not provide an antithesis in some Hegelian Dialectic. Furthermore, the promotion of what was a successful mythos for manhood for centuries should be rather appealing and not just to men. The idea of a male provider/protector who knows what they want and takes it will certainly win over a lot of women after they get past the programming of “strong independence”. This strategy will work, MGTOW, will not.

But we should also not forget that one of the huge intellectual barriers in rejecting the wacky paranoid notions of Feminism is our own Liberal system.

For some reason, generations ago thought it would be obvious and natural to build a system based around the individual when humans have existed in groups since the dark days of prehistory. This rejection of groups as a whole giving the individual his “Liberty” also laid the foundation for the downfall of the traditional and then the nuclear family. When all that matters is “me” there cannot be healthy families. Our ancestors often saw the family as the base unit of society, not this new idea of the individual, and we cannot forget this.

When Liberty was enshrined as the core concept of the West and rights were issued out, they were given only to men, meaning that individual male humans were the only actors politically speaking. There were individual men with expressed rights and unmentioned non-actors in a way it was like there were only men and minors by today’s reasoning. The interesting thing is that as time went on rather than adding women as a new type of actor we instead chose to just make women into “men” legally speaking, which is extremely insulting to women and completely devalues their role in humanity.

It was essentially implied by Liberalism that the only way for women to have value was to be put into the male status of being which is a tendency that still rings true today. Motherhood gets zero respect in society when it is just as critical for the future as everything that men do in fancy suits at meetings or welding under bridges. If perhaps we had a dualistic rather than purely individualistic Liberalism there would have never been the rise of Feminism trying to achieve a status of equality by ironically rejecting femininity to become part of the boy’s club. Perhaps the real fight lies not in battling what Fourth-wavers are screaming online but in moving away from Liberalism which is essentially a uni-gendered construct that will NEVER suit the needs of our blatantly dimorphic species.

If there is an answer, it is not MGTOW but some confluence of hyper-masculinity and the rejection or revisioning of Liberalism to account for the existence of men, women and the family.

Biden Plans Afghanistan Train Wreck

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 On May 1, U.S. may face an “entirely new war.”

By Doug BANDOW

The seemingly eternal war in Afghanistan continues. American forces have been on station for nearly 20 years, longer than the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War combined.

Some $2 trillion have been spent. More than 6,000 U.S. service members and contractors have died, along with roughly 1,100 allied soldiers. Many more have been wounded, some suffering crippling injuries. Absent a speedy exit, those numbers will continue upward.

The U.S. is supposed to leave Afghanistan on May 1, the timetable agreed to by the Taliban. However, at his recent press conference President Joe Biden essentially admitted that American forces won’t be leaving then. He expressed hope that they would not be there next year.

Even if there was trust between Washington and the Taliban, that sentiment probably would not suffice. The American military has spent nearly two decades seeking to end the insurgents’ bid for power. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump both increased the number of American personnel in Afghanistan before reducing them.

Moreover, Biden, despite joining his predecessor in criticizing “endless wars,” never committed to implementing the peace accord. Worse, the president is under significant pressure from the Pentagon, hawkish establishment media, mostly interventionist think-tank paladins, and a bipartisan war lobby, which heretofore have dominated Afghan policy. Typical was the Afghanistan Study Group—established by Congress and including former political and military figures who had backed and mismanaged the war—which came to the unsurprising conclusion that U.S. forces should stay. Never mind two decades of failure, even after America put in nearly 100,000 troops, and (largely European) allies added another 40,000. Acknowledging error was simply beyond members’ comprehension.

The best that co-chair Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of many architects of the present imbroglio, could offer was: “If we take advantage of the opportunity we have right now then there is at least a prospect of achieving that end state [a U.S.-friendly outcome] even as we recognize how difficult it will be.” That is supposed to be a serious argument for violating the withdrawal plan, putting troops at risk, and sticking around months or years more, with reinforcements likely necessary? Afghanistan is truly an endless war.

Of course, if Biden folds this time, similar claims will be advanced again whenever the possibility of withdrawal looms. Indeed, if negotiations between the Kabul government and Taliban continue to go badly, Biden will face pressure to do more militarily to strengthen Afghan forces. The Ghani government would have an incentive to hinder progress to justify a continued and even expanded American presence. Countries in the region also would push harder for delay, preferring that the U.S. continue to relieve them of responsibility for confronting the conflict.

Most of those advocating America’s forever role in Afghanistan assume that relative peace would continue. Thankfully, no American lives were lost over the last year, but that reflected the Taliban’s assumption that the U.S. was leaving. If the Pentagon keeps several thousand troops on station—about 3,500 are there now—the insurgents would have less reason to stick to the deal. Indeed, the Taliban issued a statement warning that it “will be compelled to defend its religion and homeland and continue its Jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate its country.”

Of course, that could be an empty threat, an effort to pressure the administration to stick to the withdrawal schedule. However, the Islamist movement has been fighting for decades, starting well before the U.S. arrived. Absent a serious and credible U.S. promise to leave soon after May 1, the Taliban would be unlikely to hold back. It has seen American force levels wax and wane over the last two decades; Biden is the fourth president to deal with Afghanistan and he might mimic his predecessors by trying a troop surge first.

Indeed, retired Army Col. Chris Kolenda, who was involved in earlier negotiations with the Taliban, warned what abandoning the agreement might unleash:

The Taliban have already prepared militarily for this scenario. We’ve had a false sense of confidence over the past 14 months in which the Taliban have not attacked any U.S. bases or facilities. If we tear up the agreement, we can look forward to a Vietnam-style, Tet-like offensive by the Taliban in the summer of 2021. Some of those major attacks are going to be much more successful than the Tet Offensive was.

None of this is certain, of course, but what would Biden do then? Withdrawing quickly would be the only proper response, ending American involvement in Afghanistan’s endless civil war. However, countervailing pressure would be heavy. Public outrage would encourage retaliation. The entire pro-war establishment would declare the administration’s policy a failure and demand that he send in heavy reinforcements, which would not likely prove temporary.

There also would be a crescendo of cant about the threat of withdrawal to American global credibility. Every intervention, no matter how foolish and counterproductive, is always defended as essential to convince the world that Washington is willing to undertake even more foolish and counterproductive interventions in the future. Biden would be told that if he didn’t punish the Taliban for attacking U.S. forces to punish his administration for violating the agreement, no one would ever again believe American promises. He would be warned that U.S. credibility was at risk, that inaction would trigger an avalanche of Chinese, Iranian, North Korean, and Russian aggression worldwide to “test” U.S. resolve. Biden would be told that acting tough is essential for America’s security and even survival.

However, there are no good arguments for staying. Imagine Afghanistan as it is, except without U.S. forces. Would anyone suggest that Washington intervene militarily? Would anyone single out Afghanistan as a land warranting invasion and occupation, a country 40 years into a civil war involving a kaleidoscope of changing combatants? Would anyone insist that given the many challenges facing America, this is one of its highest priorities, warranting what amounts to a permanent military presence? At least, would anyone not residing in Washington, D.C.’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital do so?

Central Asia is not important for America. Rather, it is geographically about as far from a vital national interest as any location on earth. That doesn’t mean the region isn’t important to several significant and even great powers nearby—China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran. But their presence is an obvious reason for the U.S. to stay out. All would benefit from a resolution of the Afghan conflict, especially Pakistan, which would most gain from ending the war. And these governments should take over efforts to promote peace. Rather than maintain a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, Washington should encourage regional discussions on how those states could best cooperate to yield a country with a modicum of stability, prosperity, and peace.

There remain enthusiasts for nation-building. For instance, Ronald E. Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, asked: “At this time, when so many young Afghans are dying to build the kind of society we preached to them, have we no moral responsibility to sustain what we helped build?” Similar was the argument from Rina Amiri and Mark Kustra, who served in Afghanistan in civilian and military positions, respectively: “If the Taliban prevails militarily, it will surely unwind the substantial social, political, and economic gains that have allowed Afghans to advance over the last 20 years.”

The war is a tragedy, but Americans are not obligated to fight and die, and especially to do so seemingly forever, to transform other nations. And there certainly is no reason for Afghanistan to be Washington’s top responsibility in a troubled world. The list of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East in which the U.S. could launch similar missions, and perhaps with greater chances of long-term success, is long. War should be a last resort to protect Americans, not a first resort to fix other systems. Especially when almost two decades of U.S. involvement have not delivered the desired peace.

This is no less the case when considering the status of women. On my two trips to Afghanistan I met many who enjoyed a better life because of America’s presence and who understandably feared for their future in a Taliban-dominated nation. However, as then-Vice President Biden reportedly responded to the argument that the U.S. should stay to remake Afghan society: “I am not sending my boy back there to risk his life on behalf of women’s rights! It just won’t work, that’s not what they’re there for.” It isn’t. If the status of women was a casus belli for America, Saudi Arabia and Iran long would have been at the top of the Pentagon’s hit list.

Another emotional appeal is what economists call the sunk cost fallacy. At a recent meeting Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apparently cited “all of the blood and treasure spent” there, asserting that it was important to “honor the sacrifices that have been made.”

Alas, sacrificing more blood and treasure in the future would not redeem all that was sacrificed in the past. Other than the initial action to wreck Al Qaeda and oust the Taliban, the war has been a terrible mistake, and its costs have exceeded any benefits. Those who died have done so in vain. That is not their fault, but of U.S. policymakers, who should be held to account. Indeed, polls indicate that Afghan veterans are in the lead in supporting withdrawal, with nearly three-quarters in favor. The best way to honor the dead is to stop sending Americans in harm’s way for less than compelling causes.

Perhaps the worst but most common argument is that withdrawing from Afghanistan would leave a vacuum for terrorists. Even Trump was taken in by this argument, admitting that he abandoned his campaign promise for a speedy exit because his aides claimed that “if we don’t go there, they’re going to be fighting over here.” That is, unless America occupies, say, Lashkar Gah, Kunduz, or Kandahar in Afghanistan, a coalition of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and myriad other bad guys will be battling for control of Omaha, Dallas, or Boise. It is an inane claim.

The Taliban is an insurgency, not a terrorist organization, and is focused on ruling Afghanistan. Its fighters have no interest in the U.S. otherwise. They welcomed Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets, the same reason America armed and funded similar fundamentalist Islamic groups in Afghanistan four decades ago. It appears that the Taliban was unhappy when its guests unexpectedly brought down America’s wrath upon them. Although Taliban fighters have fought alongside the Al Qaeda remnant currently in Afghanistan—most combatants, like the Allies in World War II, take help from anywhere they can get it—a Taliban government would be unlikely to tolerate future terrorist attacks which would bring the U.S. back militarily. Nor would Afghanistan’s neighbors, which also would suffer in the aftermath.

Anyway, geography is not destiny when it comes to terrorism. The 9/11 plot was concocted and organized almost entirely outside of Afghanistan. After America’s invasion of Afghanistan, Bin Laden simply moved next door to Pakistan, a nominal U.S. ally. In subsequent years the most effective Al Qaeda operatives were located in Yemen, where, ironically, the U.S. has spent six years aiding forces, including the legally recognized Hadi government, that have subsidized and armed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Elsewhere, too, the world has plenty of ill- and ungoverned spaces in which terrorists can operate.

Whatever happens vis-à-vis the Taliban, the U.S. will remain capable of mounting counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Equally important, withdrawal would be an important step toward lowering Washington’s military profile in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Over the last two decades America has generated enemies faster than it has killed them. That is a losing long-term strategy.

Ultimately, fighting in Afghanistan makes America and Americans less safe. The conflict is a tragedy, but not one the U.S. can resolve. Despite the understandable desire to do good, Americans are not obligated to war forever to remake other societies. Our wealth and lives should not be Washington’s to sacrifice for anything other than defense of our own land.

theamericanconservative.com

The Dawning of the Age of Nefarious

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If Friedrich Engels were alive today, he would likely define the criminal neglect of Covid-19 by the like of Trump and Bolsonaro as “social murder,” Wayne Madsen writes.

When governments were have expected to have stood up and displayed leadership during a catastrophic pandemic, certain leaders not only ignored the threat posed by the Covid-19 virus but advocated dangerous and ineffective “cures” and therapeutics that drove up an already astronomically high death toll. There are growing calls for criminal manslaughter charges to be brought against certain leaders in countries subjected to such nefarious and deadly Covid-19 actions. There have also been suggestions that because Covid-19 is a worldwide pandemic, those leaders who helped spread the virus through their malfeasance and inaction should be brought before an international tribunal.

At the top of the suspect list for facilitating a public health emergency that, at last count, saw 2.79 million deaths worldwide, with the United States topping the list at 549,000 and Brazil placing second at 312,000, are the respective leaders of those countries at the outset of the virus breakout. The actions of lack thereof by former U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro enter the legal realm of criminal negligence and manslaughter, if not medical genocide, on a massive scale.

Among those calling for prosecuting Trump and others in his administration for criminally-negligent manslaughter is Democratic U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. In December 2020, Omar reflected on how Trump’s criminal neglect affected her own family. She told MS-NBC, “My dad was in Kenya. He came back into the United States when COVID hit because he thought he was going to be safer here,” adding, “I know that my father and over 300,000 people have lost their lives to COVID because of dangerous criminal neglect by Trump and his administration.”

Those calling for Trump’s prosecution point to his February 7, 2020 remarks to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, in which Trump said that Covid-19 was “ deadly stuff,” and “five times more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” Yet, even after privately admitting the lethality of Covid-19, Trump told the public on February 27 that Covid-19 was “the same as the flu.” On July 4, 2020, Trump stated that “99 percent” of the Covid cases were “totally harmless,” another lie. Trump’s more ardent political supporters refused to socially distance, practice hygiene, and continued on as if there was no pandemic. That resulted in the United States having the world’s highest death count, something that points right back to Trump’s criminally negligent policies and false statements.

In July 2020, the UNISaúde network, an alliance of over one million Brazilian health care professionals, filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. The complaint accused Bolsonaro of committing a crime against humanity by treating the Covid pandemic with “contempt, neglect, and denial.” It further contended that Bolsonaro’s urging Brazilians to take ineffective drugs like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, along with urging them to not wear masks, directly contributed to Brazil’s high death count, only second to that of the United States. In addition to the health care professionals, over 150 Roman Catholic bishops in Brazil signed an open letter that cited Bolsonaro for “systematically using unscientific arguments… to normalize a COVID-19 plague that is killing thousands, and to treat this as if it was an accident or divine punishment.” Bolsonaro and Trump, who have in common far-right politics and opinions, triggered what constitutes grounds to be charged with second degree murder. That is, a “depraved indifference to human life,” according to many criminal statutes.

If Friedrich Engels were alive today, he would likely define the criminal neglect of Covid-19 by the like of Trump and Bolsonaro as “social murder,” a term he coined in his 1845 opus, “The Condition of the Working-Class in England.”

Engels’s words in 1845 certainly describe the actions of Trump, Bolsonaro, and their advisers and administration members with regard to the present day:

“When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live — forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence — knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.”

While Trump and Bolsonaro appear to be guilty of social murder, at least in the second degree, if not the first, what about other leaders who prescribed various ineffective tonics and other herbal remedies to combat Covid-19? A case of manslaughter against them might be successfully argued in a court.

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina urged people to drink an herbal tonic called “Covid-Organics,” which is produced in his country from the Artemisia annua plant. Planeloads of Covid-Organics were delivered to Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and Liberia. Tanzanian President John Magufuli was one of the tonic’s proponents. He told the Voice of America in May 2020, “Now when the Madagascars [sic] claim that they have the medicine for coronavirus… now, the debate is: ‘Why should [we] not just support this innovation from our own continent?’ ”Magufuli’s question was answered on March 17, 2021, when he died from what was suspected to have been complications from Covid-19. At the very least, Rajoelina might be found guilty by a court of negligent manslaughter. But he would not be alone. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed the anti-flu drug Avigan, which is produced by Toyama Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation of Japan. The drug, also known as favipiravir, is known to cause birth defects and other serious side effects. In August 2020 and during a surge in Covid-198 cases in Japan, Abe suddenly resigned from office, citing his suffering from ulcerative colitis. One of the properties of Covid-19 is that it can exacerbate pre-existing conditions like colitis.

Among its many other crimes, the Central Intelligence Agency-installed military junta that ruled Bolivia from November 2019 to October 2020 promoted another unproven drug, ivermectin, as a cure for Covid-19. Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic worm drug that is mainly used to treat animals. After ivermectin was touted as a Covid-19 cure by the right-wing Bolivian regime’s Health Ministry, it found other enthusiasts in other Latin American countries governed by right-wing regimes, namely Brazil, Guatemala, and Peru.

Considering all of the possibly criminally negligent policies enacted by right-wing regimes to deal with Covid-19, the international court’s docket in The Hague could become as crowded as that in Nuremberg when the German Nazi leadership was brought to justice for their crimes against humanity.

Inside Pompeo’s Pitch for President

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Laugh if you’d like, but this writer isn’t confident the ambitions of the former secretary of State are a joking matter. 

By Curt MILLS

There is a renewed push for President Pompeo.

It’s something I first reported for this magazine three springs ago. Now, as then, that push comes from at least Mike Pompeo, anyway. The former secretary left little doubt of that speaking last week in Iowa. “This feels like home,” Pompeo said to the Westside Conservative Club in suburban Des Moines. He then paused for a moment, seemingly fearing how canned he sounded, and then bounced back appropriately. “To me.”

The former secretary of State continued: “I’m from not too far down the road… you hit Wichita [Kansas].” Pompeo noted, to audience chuckles: “I see a lot of cameras in the back. [Is] there going to be some big announcement?” Pompeo answered: “But my announcement today is really about you,” to some audible audience groans.

Pompeo has seen himself as in striking distance of the Oval Office for some time. In 2018, the new secretary of State completed a remarkable two-year turnabout from ambitious, if aimless, backbencher—a Trump-skeptical member of the Congress who suddenly morphed into the new president’s consigliere.

Pompeo was a surprise choice for director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But then, many of Trump’s inaugural cabinet choices were surprises.

From a probably disingenuous dance with Mitt Romney, to the selection of the man who would actually become his secretary of State, Exxon honcho Rex Tillerson (who Trump met once before offering him the job), to the installation of James Mattis at the Pentagon, Trump’s first cabinet underscored the softest of soft underbellies in the former president’s political operation: personnel.

Importantly, but now forgotten, both Pompeo and Mattis were on the wishlist of NeverTrump godfather William Kristol to mount a conservative, independent run for president against the New York wheeler-dealer. It’s true; once upon a time, Pompeo’s relationship with Trump was limited, if not non-existent, beyond some self-interested niceties in the close of the campaign. They were most definitely not tight during the primary. The then-Congressman was an enthusiast and loyal surrogate for Marco Rubio—the 2016 model of the Florida senator, anyway.

But come draft day, Trump liked the cut of Pompeo’s jib. For a populist Trump is something of a credentialist snob, those around him concede. The president-elect thrilled at the willingness of the West Point valedictorian and Harvard Law Review alumnus to come aboard the pirate ship.

He sent him to Langley.

Where Pompeo didn’t stay long. He didn’t waste time—or an opportunity for facetime. Trump’s interest in the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) was passing, charitably, but when the president received it in those early days, then-Director Pompeo is said to have always made sure to apply the personal touch. He made the not considerably convenient trek from Virginia to hold court at the White House, and Trump got to know his spymaster perhaps even as much as Mike Pence, the president’s seemingly inexhaustibly loyal lieutenant at the bottom of the ticket.

And, certainly, Trump got to know his second “Mike P” far better than Secretary Tillerson. By fall 2017, Pompeo seemed to be outright licking his chops. He drew both subliminal and public contrast with Tillerson.

Tillerson had been installed at Foggy Bottom, for his part, but approached the job more as a management consultant than master diplomat. He pursued a vainglorious “redesign” of the State Department, which has since been mercifully junked. Pompeo made clear he didn’t have such picayune preoccupations.

Speaking at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon-friendly think tank that, like Pompeo, found themselves surprisingly happy campers in the Trump years, the CIA director assailed the micromanagement of his predecessor, John Brennan. Brennan, who went on to become an inveterate, if lunatic, anti-Trumper, had favored a “modernization effort” at the CIA. Sound familiar? It was hardly hopscotch to draw a comparison to Tillerson’s labored style. And Pompeo let Tillerson—that is, Brennan—have it.

“I think less about org charts than I do about mission,” Pompeo told the FDD crowd, in which I was included. “I’ve told our team this. I’ve asked everyone to say, ‘Do not print the org chart out!’” In a nod to Exxon, Pompeo said: “I mean look, the finest companies in the world are restructuring their team every day.” He continued: “Start with mission, not with org chart. The organization and the team will fill itself out if everyone’s focused on the mission.”

Process was for the rubes. Whether it was the Boy Scout’s “code of the West” that didn’t allow Tillerson to deny having called Trump “a moron,” or whether Trump was just in a hawkish mood—the early administration, lest it be forgotten, was defined by a fairly mad drive to tear up Barack Obama’s Iran deal, “fire and fury” with North Korea, and what by all rights looks like a greenlight for a regime change in Doha—or whether it was simply that Pompeo outmaneuvered Tillerson with tricks like these, it matters little now, because replace him the 45th president did.

In a little less than three years in the high command, Pompeo extinguished that Iran deal—by the looks of the early Biden administration, likely permanently. Unusual for a diplomat, he ran point on the most undaunted maneuver of the Trump presidency, an assassination of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader, the legendary Qasem Soleimani. Pompeo deemed Soleimani, and many other leading members of the Iran apparatus, a terrorist—a designation Biden’s crew has not reversed. The U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords, the normalization between Israel and several of the Sunni autocracies, is quite rightly viewed by Pompeo and administration alumni as a crowning achievement in an otherwise ruinous 2020.

But lest he be parodied as an unreconstructed neocon, Pompeo also showed he could play ball. Though the Pyongyang press was never a fan, and though Trump apostate John Bolton made clear the former CIA director was uneasy about it, Secretary Pompeo essentially did his duty as a loyal soldier in what became the 45th president’s glad-handing approach to North Korea. It was a strategy that, while pilloried, was nonetheless a half thaw, at the very worst a partial peeling off of a client state of Beijing’s, and by all appearances preferable to the fight night rhetoric currently coming out of Lloyd Austin’s Pentagon. Deploying the veteran viceroy Zalmay Khalilzad, Pompeo carried out Trump’s wishes to set the table for withdrawal from Afghanistan, an off ramp that’s still there for the taking if Biden is interested, which he is not.

Pompeo has also shown himself to be cleverer than his doubters are willing to concede. Pompeo is no foreign policy restrainer, or even a foreign policy Trumpist. He is to the hawkish right of the ex-president, and was even bold enough to employ former NeverTrumpers in the upper echelons of his State Department. Indeed, Bolton is probably right Pompeo would never have pursued North Korea policy, for instance, in the manner Trump did. But he has proven a master pitchman of picking and choosing the elements of the new zeitgeist he likes, and selling the new blend as a coherent continuation from past to future.

Case in point: Pompeo took a term, “principled realism,” favored by former Trump apparatchiks such as Michael Anton, who is a foreign policy moderate, and turbocharged it. He’s even had the good sense to ape the “endless wars” refrain bandied about by his old boss. “Endless wars are the direct result of weakness,” Pompeo said in the days after slaying Soleimani. Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here, one might say.

As of now, Pompeo has something that he didn’t five years ago: a real record, hate or love it. He is no longer a meandering ex-businessman from Koch country, the uber-credentialed all-star who had perhaps underachieved, “the Benghazi guy” known only as a committeeman heckler of Hillary Clinton. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he now has the curriculum vitae to mount a credible campaign for the presidency, and man, does he know it.

When Pompeo spoke to the Westside Club last Friday, it was openly billed by C-SPAN as its kickoff to the 2024 election. Perhaps it’s the malaise of the Biden moment. The new president was asked himself last week if he will be running as an 81-year old in 2024, and likely out of machiavellian necessity, though possibly out of sheer boredom, he just said yes. Iowans relish their starting lineup status in America’s presidential circus, so perhaps they’re something of a highly-selected audience.

But apparently, they like Mike.

Despite Pompeo’s reputation as a sort of unnatural politician, the folks at Westside seemed kind of amped. Braving the primaveral morning cold in Iowa, a grey-haired audience rolled, as many Republican crowds do, as if COVID-19 was yesterday’s news. They had an eye toward the future…Mike Pompeo?

At a time of new culture war, Pompeo, who is now banned by the Chinese Communist Party from visiting that country, takes lessons learned abroad and applies them at home, weaving something of a grand narrative. And it is a narrative that is gaining currency.

“The greatest threats, of course, are that we get it wrong here at home,” Pompeo told the club. “Too many in the Democrat party don’t understand that, frankly, in a way… A woman in the United States Senate the other day said she would not vote for a nominee—she would not vote for a nominee, if they were white. That’s not who we are. That’s not the values we should be championing. And the Chinese Communist Party grabs that.” Pompeo noted the inanity on display in Anchorage earlier this month: “My successor’s counterpart talked about BLM. Think about that. You had the foreign minister, [Wang Yi] and Yang Jiechi talking about Black Lives Matter.” The duo, of course, elided the regime’s monstrous reputation in Africa, as well as its renewed taste for concentration camps.

Pompeo’s China hawkishness, like the hawkishness of many if not most in the GOP, lumps in Iran with the concern with Beijing. It’s an ideological sleight of hand that ignores the pesky reality that recent U.S. policy has served only to bolster Iran’s partnership with the Chinese. Unflinching U.S. demands on the internal structure of the world’s peripheral powers are hardly stripping Beijing of friends, quite the opposite. But Iran hawkishness would seem to be a commitment, not only of the Republican Party, but of President Biden. The choice then would appear to be between a political party comfortable with truly assailing the United States’s direct rival, a rival responsible for a global pandemic that shuttered the world, at minimum, and another party whose raison d’etre is stamping out bigotry, existent or not—sure enough, they say it exists when blaming Beijing for the bare minimum.

Pompeo is counting on such crude stakes.

The hydrogen bomb of the 2024 Republican field is Donald Trump. The blast radius if he runs will be considerable, possibly as successful a clearing of the field as Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, who contended only with a party radical (Bernie Sanders) and a nationally anonymous egomaniac (Martin O’Malley), and yet still almost lost her nomination. So, Trump may have to take some comers, and one could be Pompeo, who would reprise Mr. Kristol’s imagined role for him as a kind of establishment savior, albeit long after Kristol has denounced him. Tellingly, Pompeo was not on a recently spouted-off list of Republicans Trump favored as his heir, but the details of a possible broader rift between the two men are as yet unknown.

If Trump signals he’s in for sure, by next year Pompeo could look at a long-whispered run for Kansas governor in 2022, staying in the game and biding his time. But Trump is not likely to signal until the last minute, those around the president say, thus lording his clout over his frenemies in the Republican Party until as late as possible, and disrupting their plans. Add in the fact that Pompeo clearly wants to be president now, he will likely have to gamble, and pass on reigning in Topeka.

Pompeo’s path to power is, of course, more gilded if Trump doesn’t run. Trump’s run would presently seem about a coin-flip. If it’s tails for Trump, and heads for everyone else, the field would be mammoth. For instance, Pompeo apparently can’t even teach a foreign policy series at the Nixon Foundation without sharing the stage with another 2024 aspirant, former national security advisor Robert C. O’Brien.

But Pompeo would bank on the peculiarity of the primary system and a few, key defining characteristics.

First, he would sell himself as the peerless champion of Israel, and try to take the evangelical crown in Iowa, which has a closed caucus system, not a primary. Delusions that Pompeo is guided by anything other than power, let alone by the rapture, are the stuff of high-handed foreign columnists who view America as a safari.

But Pompeo’s evangelical bona fides, however cultivated, are the real deal.

Ted Cruz, who few thought at the outset would finish as decent as second-place overall, was advantaged in 2016 in such formats, that is, religious plains states’ caucuses. Pompeo has been laying the groundwork for this for some time. He delivered his Republican National Convention address (unprecedented for a sitting secretary of State) from Jerusalem (a foreign city, also unprecedented). Those in attendance at Westside said that Pompeo plugging the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was perhaps the morning’s most raucous applause line. Moving down the state map, Pompeo would try to capture South Carolina, and then possibly Florida, two states where his military bona fides and staunch support of Israel will matter, respectively.

And Pompeo would try to muscle those such as Senator Tom Cotton from the China lane. He would also likely raise gobs of money, then gird for a bloodbath, and finally, attempt to be the last man standing. Even in the social media influencer age, political parties don’t always anoint celebrities and forces of charisma. Just ask President Biden.

If nominated, critics would doubtless try to dredge up Pompeo’s curious use of government monies to finance his lavish “Madison dinners” while secretary. The American Conservative submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for Pompeo’s spending, and found notably only what is widely known: that Pompeo’s wife, Susan, is his right-hand woman. Pompeo was married and divorced once before, as a young man, but that’s the stuff of yesteryear as much as the fact that the former secretary grew up not in Kansas, but Orange County, California (if you listen closely to him, you can hear the faintest bit of surfer voice). Susan Pompeo is Mike Pompeo’s consigliere, wartime and peacetime; of that there can be little doubt.

Which makes the rest of his political entourage more barebones, and harder to report on. One former senior advisor said that they had never met before coming aboard the seventh floor of his State Department. In a line of work where relationships are power and loyalty is so often the game, that’s unusual.

A look at Pompeo’s top lieutenants at Foggy Bottom—the neoconservative historian Peter Berkowitz, the establishment Republican Mary Kissel, the notorious Elliot Abrams, even his retention of the Iran addict Brian Hook (a holdover from Tillerson)—shows a Wall Street Journal editorial page conservative. That’s concerning news for those who would remake the party. But unlike other rivals in this lane, such as the former U.N. envoy Nikki Haley, Pompeo is never going to denounce Donald Trump. He’s savvier than her.

Pompeo’s ascent would be depressing for many conservative reformers, but would also come at a time when conservatives, and even many not on the right, feel the stakes are civilization. Would anyone in this camp really flinch to vote for him over, perhaps, Kamala Harris? Pompeo’s “take me or leave me” style is gambling, perhaps presciently, that you’ll take him. For anyone who would seek to prevent this binary, it would appear time to take Pompeo as seriously as he takes himself.

theamericanconservative.com

Serbs Observe Another Anniversary of Tragedy and Valor

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Initially modelled after Hitler’s rapid war-winning strategy, the NATO offensive was not expected to last more than three or four days before Yugoslavia folded. In the event, it lasted more than seventy days.

While March 24 passed largely unnoticed in the West, where it should have evoked enormous outpourings of shame and repentance, in Moscow it was remembered by Maria Zakharova who correctly called it “a forever stain on NATO’s reputation.” On that day in 1999, invoking as its the pretext the urgent need to protect from persecution Kosovo’s Albanian minority, the NATO alliance, under the coordinated leadership  of major Western countries, began its Blitzkrieg against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Initially modelled after Hitler’s rapid war-winning strategy, the NATO offensive was not expected to last more than three or four days before Yugoslavia folded. In the event, it lasted more than seventy days, with a military and political ending in the field that was not among the brightest moments in NATO’s annals. In the final days of the unequal struggle to subdue a brave nation which had only a fraction of the aggressor’s resources to fight with, it was practically as if Hitler had been compelled to sue for peace from one of his intended victims. Other than being mindlessly destructive of civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, post offices, and bridges, and after killing several thousand civilians, the NATO offensive was getting precisely nowhere. Chastened by their full spectrum failure to dent Serbian ground defences, NATO generals repeatedly postponed and finally discarded the option of a ground invasion that in their probably correct estimate would have led to a politically unacceptable carnage of their troops.

What remained was to redouble the effort to vindictively and systematically, from the safe altitude of 30,000 feet, raze the victim country’s wherewithal for any semblance of civilized life. It was a practical application in the heart of Europe (not that it would have been justified anywhere else) of the neanderthal refrain of “free world” military planners that this or that country must either obey or be “bombed back to the stone age.” The neanderthals were, of course, safely ensconced in their Pentagon and Brussels offices while their acolytes were conducting murderous raids from heights that were largely unreachable for Yugoslavia’s air defences. The steady obliteration of Yugoslavia’s assets was taking its toll while the immense popular mobilization against barbarism that was taking place on the streets of Europe and America posed a severe political challenge to vassal European governments and began to strain the very fabric the NATO alliance.

In the end, NATO was ready for almost any sort of face-saving peace. Parallel to the intensification of bombing raids, it played its last card in the person of a corrupt Finnish politician, Martti Ahtisaari, who blustered President Slobodan Milosevic into adopting a more “flexible” stance by threatening to carpet bomb Belgrade, a clear war crime even if not actually enacted and used only as a tool of perverse neanderthal diplomacy. President Milosevic made the judgment call, rightly or wrongly, and decided in return for a badly needed respite to give the wicked alliance the face saver it needed by bringing its aggression to a close on something akin to “honourable” terms.

The political price for the cease fire that Yugoslavia exacted was formidable, at least in purely theoretical terms. It was UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which stipulated that the provinces of Kosovo and Metohija were inalienably Yugoslav (and with the subsequent dissolution of Yugoslavia, successor-state Serbia’s) territory and that under UN auspices NATO troops would be allowed to enter it only for the purpose of policing the peace and ensuring the safety of all ethnic groups residing there, pending a negotiated resolution of outstanding issues. Considering the gross disproportion in strength between the parties, for the Serbs that was on its face an epic moral and political victory even though NATO had not the slightest intention of honouring the terms of the agreement it signed. To rub it in, in plain view of the entire world the Serbian army withdrew from Kosovo virtually intact and in perfect order after over two months of bombardment which had almost entirely missed its target.

What remained, however, were tons of illegal toxic uranium munitions with a half-life of several million years to contaminate the soil and ruin the health of generations to come. But that was the predictable price of NATO “liberation.”

By far the most world-historical and plainly unintended consequence of NATO’s Kosovo adventure is what happened next, something that the Alliance and the Western political leadership will rue until their dying day. As noted in the Tweet of the Russian Embassy in Washington, “For the first time since WWII an aggression was committed against a sovereign European nation, an active participant in the anti-Hitler coalition, one of the UN founders.” The implications of these sombre facts did not pass without being thoroughly grasped in Moscow. In fact, they were firmly grasped and in real time by Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov who was on his way to Washington when the aggression started and immediately ordered his aeroplane, without further ado, to make a mid-Atlantic U-turn and return home. That sobering experience inaugurated a new era in geopolitics, further elaboration of this point being entirely unnecessary.

This writer, who in 2004 was seeing Mr. Primakov on another matter, upon the specific request of his mother and on behalf of the Serbian people, had the extraordinary honour of thanking the Russian statesman for his courageous and inspiring gesture which – now in retrospect we can confidently conclude – truly changed the world.

Faced with ICC Investigation, Apartheid Israel Asserts Moral Superiority Over The Victims of Its Terror

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Having created enemies by its own criminal behavior, Israel then claims the right to protect itself from the very people it alienated through these criminal acts.

By Miko PELED

Israel’s army chief of staff, General Aviv Kochavi, recently commented on the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to investigate Israel for war crimes. In his speech, General Kochavi said:

There is a moral abyss that exists between us and our enemies. They do everything in order to target civilians; we do everything to prevent hurting their civilians. They rejoice when our civilians are killed; we investigate when theirs are killed.”

Sounds like a pretty good opening statement for his defense once the trial at The Hague commences. The only problem is, none of what he said is true.

As these words are being written, Israel is in the process of figuring out the results of its fourth elections in two years. These elections mark what could be the final step in a political strategy that would make Machiavelli proud. This strategy is one that was planned and executed brilliantly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that brought about the total disintegration of his opposition.

All that is left of those who ran against him are tiny fragments. The hungry politicians who lead these fragments cannot possibly compete with Netanyahu’s domestic political acumen.

Similarly, no Israeli politician is able to compete with Netanyahu’s gravitas in the international arena. This is something that was clearly demonstrated by the recent visit to Tel-Aviv by the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, and the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, to discuss cooperation among the three countries.

“A moral abyss”

The speech given by the Israeli army chief represents a righteous indignation that is typical of Israeli officials. He says that “a moral abyss” exists between Israel and its enemies, and that is a very interesting choice of words. One might think it is self-defeating for the Israeli military and political officials to bring up morality. And yet, here is yet another general who made a career of killing civilians and maintaining a brutal military regime claiming moral superiority.

In truth, a moral abyss does exist between Israel and the Palestinian people. A quick comparison shows the following: From its very founding, Israel had invested billions of dollars in developing and maintaining its military; Palestinians have never had as much as a tank, much less a military force.

For decades Palestinians have been searching for ways to make Palestine peaceful again. Palestinians had suggested establishing a secular democracy with equal rights. When that was rejected, they had agreed to end their resistance and recognized the State of Israel. Then the Palestinian Liberation Organization entered negotiations with Israel and accepted that all it would receive was a small Palestinian State on less than one-quarter of historic Palestine.

When this proved to be impossible, the Palestinians initiated a peaceful, dedicated, and morally just campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanction against the State of Israel. The demands set out by this call are all remedial and are all rooted in international law.

During these same decades, Israel had been engaged in dispossession, land theft, and violence. Palestinians are targeted by Israel regardless of their status or geographic location. Be they citizens of Israel, residents of the West Bank or Gaza, internally displaced, or refugees in camps outside of Palestine, Palestinians are living without rights — pushed off of their lands, prevented from access to basic resources like water, roads, and health care — and are killed on a daily basis.

Israel will not even provide Palestinians with a Covid vaccine. So yes, General Kochavi is right about the moral chasm. However, he and his army have nothing to be proud of.

“Our enemies”

One constantly hears that Israel is surrounded by enemies and that therefore it has no choice but to maintain a strong military force and strike whenever and wherever it sees a threat.

This is not unlike criminals who steal and are then afraid of retribution from their victims or the authorities. The criminals are constantly in need of more weapons, more recruits, and they must always hit first in order to strike fear into their potential enemies.

The State of Israel was established by acts that constitute crimes. Killing, mass displacement of a civilian population, theft of property and money, and the creation of an apartheid regime. Israel then built a military force that to this day continues to terrorize Palestinians and occasionally its neighboring countries, referring to them all as “enemies.”

One could argue, and indeed should argue, that Israel created enemies by its own criminal behavior. Then Israel feels it has the right to protect itself from the very people it alienated through criminal acts.

They rejoice

Driving south from Jerusalem towards Gaza, one reaches an intersection just north of the first entry point into Gaza, called Erez. Then you drive down a road that goes along the Gaza Strip just east. At one intersection there is a gas station and a dirt road that winds from behind the gas station and up a sandy hill.

At the top of the hill, there are a few trees — one can see the Mediterranean from there, and also Gaza City. When Israel drops bombs on Gaza one can see the smoke and hear the explosions from that spot. Someone dragged up a couch and a few chairs, turning this spot into a favorite for Israelis who enjoy the spectacle.

A Danish news report shows Israelis watching the 2009 bombing of Gaza. TV2 Denmark | YouTube

In fact, a piece in the British paper The Guardian describes the place and the scene during the 2014 assault on Gaza: “People drink, snack and pose for selfies against a background of explosions as Palestinian death toll mounts in ongoing offensive.”

It goes on, describing what I too personally witnessed:

A group of men huddle around a shisha pipe. Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke…Some bring their children.”

“We investigate”

Kochavi claimed the army investigates, though clearly Israel’s investigations of its own crimes are few, far between, and rarely end up with the violators being held accountable.

“We do everything to prevent killing their civilians,” he says, which should make us wonder in what world General Kochavi lives. Israel not only does not do anything to prevent the death of civilians but for decades has been targeting civilians in both Palestine and Lebanon. This is obvious because, as stated earlier, Palestinians have never had an army.

As the world wonders what the next Netanyahu government will look like, it is clear that Palestinians will continue to live in fear of Israeli terrorism. One has to wonder at what point the world is likely to end the destruction of Palestine and its people by Israel.

mintpressnews.com

They’re Not Even Trying to Make Sense Now

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In short, we are supposed to believe that in 2016 the Russian hacked nothing but the election and in 2020 they hacked everything but the election.

The US intelligence community published a report on 10 March, widely reported in the US free speech news media, on foreign interference in the US election (how many oxymorons so far?). The report establishes a new level of idiocy on the long-running “Russiagate” nonsense.

The idiocy began when Trump, campaigning, remarked that it would be better to get along with Russia than not. A sentiment that would not have surprised Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan or any of the others who recognised that, like it or not, Moscow was a fact. A fact that had to be dealt with, talked to, negotiated with so as to produce the best possible result. Why? Well, apart from the diplomatic reality that it is better to get on with your neighbours, the fact that the USSR/Russia was a nuclear power that could obliterate the USA was adequate reason to keep communications alive. If relations could be improved, all earlier US Presidents would agree, so much the better. But for Trump – the outsider – to dare to say so was an outrage. Or more accurately, a hook on which to hang enough simulated outrage to cost him the election. Then, upsetting all expectations, he won. Immediately pussy hat protests, blather about tax returns, Electoral College speculations, 25th Amendment, psychiatrists opining unfitness (COVFEFE: Bizarre Trump Behavior Raises More Mental Health Questions): an entire industry was created to get Trump out, or, if he couldn’t be got out, then at least prevented from doing any of the things he campaigned on. All the swamp creatures were mobilised. The most enduring of these efforts was the Russia allegation. A Special Counsel was created to investigate Russia, Trump and the election. Leaks from this and other investigations fuelled outrage and talk shows.

One of the indications that the story was actually an information operation and not based on fact was its imprecision. Was Trump merely too friendly with Putin, or was he his puppet? Was Trump just a fool to think that relations with Russia could be improved, or was he following instructions? In short, was he a dupe or a traitor? How exactly had Russia interfered in the election and to what effect? Had a few voters been influenced or had the result been completely determined by Moscow? In short was Moscow running the USA or just trying to? Proponents of these crackpot theories never quite specified what they were talking about – it was all suggestion, innuendo, rumours and promises of future devastating revelations. Some of the highlights of the campaign: Keith Olberman shouting Russian scum! Morgan Freeman solemnly intoning that we were at war, and, night after night, Rachel Maddow spewing conspiracies. Some media headlines: Opinion: Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset. Trump is ‘owned by Putin’ and has been ‘laundering money’ for Russians, claims MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch. Mueller’s Report Shows All The Ways Russia Interfered In 2016 Presidential Election. A media firestorm as Trump seems to side with Putin over US intelligence. Trump and Putin, closer than ever. All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump. And so on. Four years of non-stop nonsense promising, tomorrow, or the next day, the final revelation that would disgrace Trump and rid the country of him forever: my personal favourite is this mashup of TV hairstyles telling us that the walls were closing in. Information war. Propaganda. Fake news.

All this despite the fact that the story as presented simply made no sense at all. As I pointed out in December 2017, if Moscow had wanted to nobble Clinton, it had far more potent weapons at its disposal than a too-late revelation of finagling inside the DNC.

And it wasn’t just TV talking heads; the US intelligence community participated. There were two laughable “intelligence assessments”. The DHS/FBI report of 29 December 2016 carried this stunning disclaimer:

This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.

The DNI report of 6 January 2017 devoted nearly half its space to a four-year-old rant about RT and admitted that the one Agency that would really know had only “moderate confidence”. In short: ignore the first report, and don’t take the second one seriously. Were people inside these organisations trying to tell us it was all phoney? No matter, the anti-Trump conspiracy shrieked out the reports immediately.

One by one, it fell apart. Mueller, despite the prayer candles, came up with nothing. The “Dirty Dossier” was a fraud. The impeachment for something that Biden actually did failed. These dates should be remembered – Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry told the House committee that he had no evidence on 5 December 2017; this classified testimony was not made public until 7 May 2020. Simply put: the key allegation, the trigger for all the excitement and investigations that followed, was a lie, many people knew it was a lie, the lie was kept secret for 884 days. But the lie served its purpose.

There were no investigations of this fraud, only pseudo investigations that went nowhere. When the Republicans had a majority on the House of Representatives there were serious investigations but the testimonies – like Henry’s – were kept secret because they were “classified”. When the Democrats gained control, there were continual boasts that the evidence of collusion was overwhelming, but nothing happened either. Trump’s first Attorney General recused himself and the investigation was conducted by the conspirators. His second Attorney General promised much, set up a Special Counsel, but nothing happened. Well, not quite nothing: a junior conspirator had his knuckles rapped for faking a FISA warrant. In short, the Deep State ran the clock out: the swamp drained Trump.

Ran it out quite successfully too: relations with Russia got worse and Trump himself was hamstrung. His orders were ignored everywhere: on investigating the conspiracy and on removing troops; here’s an insider telling us that the Pentagon ignored his orders on Afghanistan. He was stonewalled on Syria: “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.” The “most powerful man in the world” was blocked on almost every initiative and the long false Russia connection story was a powerful weapon in the conspiracy to impede his attempts to change course.

In 2021 Trump left office and there was no need to mention any of it again. But here’s where it gets really stupid. In December 2020, the NYT solemnly told us: Russian Hackers Broke Into Federal Agencies, U.S. Officials Suspect: In one of the most sophisticated and perhaps largest hacks in more than five years, email systems were breached at the Treasury and Commerce Departments. Other breaches are under investigation. At the same time we were equally solemnly told by US officials “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history”.

In short, we are supposed to believe that

in 2016 the Russian hacked nothing but the election

and in 2020 they hacked everything but the election.

How stupid do they think we are? Even stupider evidently. Instead of retiring the Trump/Russia/collusion/interference nonsense when it had achieved its purpose, the Intelligence Community Assessment on Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections takes us right back down the rabbit hole. I haven’t read it and certainly don’t intend to (see oxymoron above), but Matt Taibbi has and eviscerates it here; he’s read far enough to have mined this gem “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact”. (Is this a hint from insiders that it’s all fake?) The report claims that Putin authorised, and various Russian government entities conducted, a campaign to denigrate Biden. Specifically by using Ukrainian sources to talk about corruption of Biden and his son Hunter; despite the video of Biden boasting about firing the investigator, we’re assured that this is all disinformation. And the consumers of the NYT and CNN will believe what they were told. Or, actually, will believe what they weren’t told: the media kept quiet. (Now that’s interference and interference that actually might have changed votes.) The report goes on to say that China did something or other and Iran, Hezbollah, Cuba and Venezuela also chipped in. But fortunately no foreign actor did anything to affect the technical part of the election.

The US security organs expect us to believe,

giving no proof,

that there was lots of malign activity

which had no effect on the election whatsoever.

Which is telling us they think we’re even stupider. Russia swung the election four years ago but forgot how to this time? Putin’s attempt to keep Trump in was blocked by security measures adopted when his tool was President? This time Putin wanted Biden in? Russia’s efforts on behalf of Trump were countered by China’s on behalf of Biden and Iran’s interference broke the tie? But then, information operations don’t have to make sense, they just have to create an impression: Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela do bad things to good people.

Oh, and the latest is that Moscow cultivated Trump for over 40 years, Imagine that: in 1980 they were so perceptive as to see the future importance of a property developer; who’ve they got lined up in the wings now? And Rachel Maddow is back at the old stand pushing some conspiracy theory about Trump, Putin and COVID. I guess it’s not yet time to put away the tinfoil hats.

As I have said before, English needs a whole new set of words for the concept “stupid”: the old ones just don’t have the power any more.

Why Does NATO Want to ‘Kill Kaliningrad’?

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NATO planners see the tiny Russian exclave of Kaliningrad as a threat to the alliance’s eastern members. In 2019, a top U.S. commander said the Pentagon has a plan for destroying the defenses of Kaliningrad with a non-nuclear missile strike that would match the profile of a nuclear one. But is it NATO or Russia who should feel vulnerable?

(Click on the image to enlarge)

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