Archive | June, 2012

Netanyahu to Obama when we say ‘Jump’ you answer, ‘How High’?

NOVANEWS

Dr. Franklin Lamb

Salem-News.com

Graphics by Alex

(BEIRUT Al-Manar) – Presidential candidate Barack Obama is being targeted by the US Israel lobby from A to Z, (Ackerman, Gary & Aipac to Zuckerman, Mort & the Zionist Organization of America) as no American President seeking re-election has been in the country’s 236 year history.

Israel’s duel loyalty agents, as well as more fair minded American Jewish voters have historically intimidated and influenced US presidents seeking reelection, especially those in a tight race, with various financial and political threats and rewards. That’s part of the American political game and obviously plenty of other lobbies do it also.

And it pays off. From Truman’s recognition of Israel’s declaration of statehood during his tough reelection fight in 1948 when Chaim Weizmann and other Jewish leaders swarmed the Oval Office to Carter’s Camp David sell-out of American humanitarian values during his Democratic party splitting 1980 re-election challenge from Ted Kennedy.

For more than 60 years the Zionist lobby has used cash, real & fake polls, and tactics ranging from threats of exposing sex-capers and corruption to withholding or delivering Jewish votes in key states like Florida, New york, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to achieve maximum obeisance to Israel’s goals.

One might agree that all these tactics are part big leagues American politics.

According to long time Israeli diplomat, Abba Eban, President Truman would not have supported a Jewish state were it not for “a crucial $25,000 gift made by Jews to Truman’s vice presidential aspirations in 1944 and that in 1948 American Jews helped Truman again, this time to finance his campaign at a “desperate time”.

According to Eban, “No historian would question the judgment that without the support of, and political pressure from, American Jewry, Israel’s emergence could not have been conceived.” Eban concluded that the Zionist’s lobby’s “extraordinary solidarity and tactics” enlarged Israel’s power beyond the limited dimensions of its space and size.”

Concerned that Truman was too pro-Arab, Zionists enlisted Eddy Jacobson, a friend of Truman’s to sway the President to see Ezer Weizmann once again, despite Truman’s earlier ban on Zionists due to their “harassments.” Truman at first refused. He wrote on February 27, 1948, to Jacobson, just as the Nakba was ethnically cleansing nearly 800,00 Palestinians from their homes and lands, that he would not learn anything new from Weizmann, and added: “The Jews are so emotional, and the Arabs are so difficult to talk with that it is almost impossible to get anything done.” Nonetheless, after considerable persuasion which Jabonson claimed involved large amounts of campaign donations, Truman wrote Jacobson, “You win, you bald-headed SOB. I will see him.”

Concerning Camp David, Jimmy Carter explained a couple of years ago during a question and answer period following a lecture at the American University of Beirut that “the Jewish lobby was relentless with pressure tactics of various sorts and Begin lied to me about Israel’s willingness to make peace with the Palestinians. I regret to have to admit to you that we caved to their political pressure.”

One could perhaps feel for Obama and his campaign staff given what they are reportedly experiencing today, especially since America’s most powerful lobby has become even stronger since the 1980’s. Their tactics are many and aimed at sapping Obama’s will to do what American national interests require. One is Bill Clinton’s reported deal, being talked about on Capitol Hill, with Israeli officials to assure that if Obama is defeated Hillary will make his/her move and lock up the 2016 Democratic primaries and the general election with plenty of attendant joy for Tel Aviv.

The power to make credible demands on Obama involve much more that Jewish votes since they make up a bit less than 2% of the American electorate. Yet, even the smallest group can make an electoral dent if they move in unison and that may happen regarding Obama among those Jewish voters and Christian Zionists who put Israel first. Obama’s fate, though, is more closely tied to the Jewish vote in states Florida and Pennsylvania where they made up 4% of the 2008 electorate in both of these states.

Statistics being used by the Zionist lobby to pressure the increasingly jittery Obama campaign include recent polls. The Republican Jewish Coalition claims that 30% of Jewish voters who support Romney, represents the “highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks recently stated that if the Jewish vote poll numbers hold in November, they will spell “a disaster” for Obama.

In the 2008 election, Jews supported Obama by a 57 percentage point margin 1.1 points (57 x 0.02) of his popular vote margin. A recent Gallup poll has Jewish voters still in Obama’s camp, but only by barely 35 percentage points. That is the lowest percentage for a Democratic presidential candidate among the Jewish electorate since 1988. A recent Gallup polls reveals a 10-point drop in Jewish voter support (22% in New York) or five points worse than Obama’s shrinkage among all registered voters compared with 2008.

The Israel lobby knows, and they know that Obama’s campaign staff knows, that any diminution in his support from Jewish voters will have a major impact in a very tight election. They both realize that Obama needs to retain his 2008 Jewish vote levels and campaign cash – or risk defeat. . In a close election, one point either way could make the difference as it did in Florida’s 2000 election.

So what price is being demanded of the Obama campaign for Zionist lobby support between now and November 6th?

They include, but are not limited to the following:

-Obama must freeze Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” and block European Union pressures on Israel over the settlement and human rights issues;
-Israel wants Obama to pressure the government of Turkey to cancel the 5/28/12 indictment of four senior Israeli military commanders, who have been charged in a Turkish court in connection with the killing of nine Turkish citizens in 2010 on broad the Mari Marmara, one of the ships of the Freedom Flotilla. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of former Israeli military chief of staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, the former head of military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, head of the navy, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, and head of the air force, Brigadier General Avishai Lev. Israel wants them withdrawn. According to an aid of Senator John Kerrey, the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) of the US State Department has advised the US Senate Foreign Relations committee that the Israeli attack on the Mari Marmara constituted an international crime which involved lethal and excessive force and resulted in the killing of nine civilians and the wounding of at least 50 others. The State Department further advised Congress that while Israel carried out an inquiry into the attack, that inquiry failed to meet the requirements of international law. Israel has not prosecuted anyone who killed those on board the Mari Marmara;
-A green light to attack Iran in case the Zionist leadership decides to do it;
-An unequivocal White House commitment that the 2012 Democratic Convention Party Platform will back the 5/17/12 passed resolution (H. Res. 568 adopted by vote of 401-11) affirming that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and opposing any reliance on a policy seeking to contain a nuclear-capable Iran;
-That the White House force US Senator John Kerrey, Chairman of the Foreign Relation Committee to expedite a vote on a similar resolution in the Senate (S. J. Res. 41) which remains on hold in Kerrey’s committee. 
– That the White House publicly endorse the 5/23/12 Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act (S. 2101), which would dramatically escalate the level of sanctions against Iran and sharply tighten the enforcement of existing sanctions law. 
-A public pledge by Obama that the US will attack Iran and Hezbollah if either retaliates against Israel for its bombing of the Islamic republic.
-More money for fourteen new Research & Development projects for the Israeli military; 
– Free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard,
-More visible White House support for various congressional resolutions supported by Israel, ranging from those targeting Iran, Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians.
-Regime change is Syria,
Instruct Egypt that the price for continued US military and economic aid is to embrace the Camp ‘David accords and all its provisions requiring Egypt to “cooperate with Israel”
-Arrange for Israeli Embassy space in Cairo given that to date no one is willing to rent it any, and damp down Muslim Brotherhood calls for the recovery of Palestine;
– Support for the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 (H.R. 4133 and S. 2165), which recommends several ways to strengthen U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation in such fields as missile defense, homeland security, energy, intelligence and cyber-security. The House bill, which passed on May 8 by a vote of 411-2, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). 
-That the 2012 Democratic Platform and candidate Obama emphasize over the next five months the need for America to guarantee Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge over any and all combinations of adversaries on the battlefield.
Obama election year groveling to Israel was perhaps symbolized by the June, 13 2012 White House spectacle of bestowal on Israel’s President Shimon Peres of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States
The PMF recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” 
Peres, father of Israel’s colonial settlements, has committed myriad international crimes against the Lebanese people and Palestinian refugees, including the April 18, 1996 Qana Massacre thatkilled 106 Lebanese and Palestinians and wounded approximately 120 including four Fijian UNIFIL soldiers who were among the 800 civilians who had taken refuge in the compound. Peres sanctioned countless other attacks on civilians killing more than 14,000 civil and wounding more than 25,000 as part of various Israel aggression during his time as Prime Minister, meaning that he belongs on trial at the International Criminal Court at the Hague not at a White House dinner even in an election year. Despite knowing this, Obama caved to AIPAC and Congressional campaign pressure and sullied the PMF, his office and claimed American valves.
In an email from one Congressional staffer, she explained that the lobby wanted Peres to receive this honor which disgusted many on Capitol Hill and internationally, hoping to deflect some of the increasing condemnations the Apartheid regime has been receiving including the recent British government’s Foreign Office in its report, Children in Military Custody has accused Israel of illegal mistreatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding, solitary confinement and the use of leg irons. found that “undisputed facts” pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory.
The report claims that youngsters are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, have their wrists bound behind their backs, and are blindfolded and made to kneel or lie face down in military vehicles. The children are held in conditions that amount to torture, such as solitary confinement and no access to their parents.
In a damning conclusion, the report points out repeated breaches of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
In addition, Israel is a party to the Geneva Conventions, and bound by its obligations, yet Articles 76 and 65 of the 4th Geneva Convention were also found to have been breached, according to the report.

Article 76 prohibits detainees from being transported to the country of the authority which has detained them. In this case, Palestinian children were found to have been transported from the West Bank into Israel.

Article 65 states that any penal laws applied to prisoners in an occupied land must be translated into their own language. The lawyers said the Israeli authorities failed to translate Military Order 1676 from Hebrew into Arabic.

To the extent Obama convinces the Israel lobby between now and Tuesday November 6th may determine whether he is a one term President or returns for a second term with its uncertainties regarding traditional US Presidential support for Israel given that during his second term, as he has stated publicly thanks to a live media mike, he will have much more flexibility. 

It is too early to know what boast Obama’s campaign might receive from the US Supreme Court’s 6/29/12 decision upholding his truly historic achievement of reforming the American health system which will provide quality health care for more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Widespread public approval of Obamacare may significantly weaken Zionist lobby plans to control the White House as it has the Congress and how high President Obama needs to jump.

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“Dual Loyalty”? No, Multiple Loyalty is Closer to the Truth

NOVANEWS

The number of Zionist citizens who have applied for Polish citizenship in order to gain access to the European Union has increased dramatically since 2004, a news report has revealed.

An article in the Israeli Ynet news said that “Israelis say they view Polish passport as ticket to European prosperity.

“Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, the Polish Embassy building in Tel Aviv has become a site of pilgrimage for a growing tide of Israelis who are seeking to claim Polish citizenship.

“Over 10,000 Zionist have applied to become citizens of their parents’ and grandparents’ homeland and received the sought-after document, according to the Polish Embassy in IsraHell.

“According to data published on the occasion of the annual Business Opportunities in Poland conference, some 20,000 Zionist also hold Polish citizenship, some 50 percent of whom became Polish citizens after Poland joined the EU.

“The numbers also show that the demand for a Polish passport, which can open the door to other countries and other possibilities, is rapidly increasing. From 2006-2010, the number of Zionist who obtained Polish passports increased fourfold.

“Unlike other European countries, applicants seeking Polish citizenship are not required to speak the language in order to receive a passport. Indeed, 95% of the Zionist applicants do not speak Polish.

“According to the Polish Embassy, 25% of the applicants are second-generation Polish citizens while 55% are third-generation. Most applicants admit that they do not seek to immigrate to Warsaw, but hope to become citizens of the EU.”

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Orthodox Judaism Confirmed as “Incubation Center” for Jewish Community

NOVANEWS

World Jewry is sustained by the prolific reproduction rate amongst the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a new study has shown—a development which means that the most religiously extreme element of Judaism is setting the tone for that community.

Pini Herman, Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, in an article titled Will your great-grandchildren be Jewish?”  published in the Jewish Journal, said that the “just-released Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 clearly shows that the Jewish population decline in New York has been stemmed by large numbers of babies born to Orthodox families in America.

“The heroic fertility and educational efforts of Orthodox Jews is legendary,” the article continued.

Herman went on to explain that although large numbers of ultra-orthodox Jews move into more conservative Judaism as they get older, enough remain of this core community to keep on producing large numbers of Jews so that their race will not be absorbed away by intermarriage.

“Ironically, it is historically the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements that have unintentionally benefited from this Orthodox Jewish investment,” Herman wrote.

“In 1990, 44 percent of American Jewish adults had shifted from their childhood denomination. Just 10 years later, in 2000, denominational switching increased to 59 percent of American adults. According to the recent study, now only a minority has stayed in the Jewish denomination in which they were raised. The greatest shifts are away from Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.

“While this has greatly worried the Conservative movement’s rabbis, the denominational shift has always affected Orthodox Judaism proportionally to a far greater extent.

“Historically, Conservative and Reform Judaism owe their very existence and phenomenal growth to the vast Orthodox Jewish migration to America prior to 1924 and the massive shift away from Orthodox Judaism, primarily to Conservative Judaism.

“Orthodox Judaism has traditionally served as the feeder denomination for Conservative as well as Reform Judaism.  Conservative Judaism gets the majority of adult denominational shifters from Orthodox Judaism, but Reform Judaism currently has in its pews about one in 10 adults who were raised by Orthodox parents.

“It is in the self-interest of the Conservative and Reform movements to encourage the flowering of the Orthodox American Jewish community, for they are the ultimate beneficiaries of the adult choices of Orthodox-raised children.

“In spite of the best efforts of the Orthodox community, data shows that many of them will choose to live adult lives as something other than Orthodox Jews. In the same manner, it is in the best interests of Reform Jews to support the flowering of Conservative Judaism.

“So, American Jews of all stripes, be nice to the Orthodox Jews, who comprise about one-tenth of the community. When Orthodox polemicists ask: Will your grandchildren be Jewish? The answer is: Probably.”

What Hermann did not add, of course, is that fact that the ultra-Orthodox Jews, as the most strictly religious, are the most vehemently anti-Gentile and make up the most extreme element of the Jewish Supremacists who regard Gentiles as little better than beasts made to serve Jews.

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Is Putin Under the Jewish Supremacist Spell?

NOVANEWS

Is Vladimir Putin also under the Jewish Supremacist spell? This is the question which can rightly be asked after the Russian president meekly stood by as Zio-Nazi Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed at a joint press conference that “Both Israel and Russia agree that Iranian proliferation of nuclear weapons poses a great danger to both Israel and the world.”

Putin said nothing about the fact that IsraHell is the Middle East’s only nuclear armed state, and which contains elements which have repeatedly threatened a “Samson Option” of nuking European and Russian cities should IsraHell ever be threatened.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Zio-Nazi Netanyahu made the claim at the press conference held in his office, where Putin had just finished talks prior to attending the unveiling of a monument to the Red Army in Netanya.

Nazi regime was the sixth regime in the world to develop nuclear weapons, and is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Although IsraHell first built a nuclear weapon in the late 1960s, it was not publicly confirmed from the inside until Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, revealed details of the program to the media in 1986.

IsraHell is currently believed to possess between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads with the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile, aircraft, and submarine.

Iran, on the other hand, has uranium enrichment facilities which can only produce material sufficient for medical purposes, and according to all official intelligence agencies, is nowhere near building a nuclear weapon.

It is obvious that Iran is being targeted not for its non-existent “atom bombs” but because that nation opposes International Zionism, and, like its neighbor Iraq, is now the subject of Zionist Jewish Supremacist lies and propaganda designed to incite the goyim in the West to sanction the bombing of yet another country.

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“At Putin’s side, an army of Jewish billionaires” Boasts the Jerusalem Post

NOVANEWS

An “army” of “Russian” billionaires—actually Jewish Supremacist oligarchs who made their fortunes in Russia after the collapse of Communism, where they had previously served that state, sat alongside Vladimir Putin at the unveiling of a monument to the Red Army in IsraHell yesterday.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the guests at the ceremony included Mikhail Fridman, the seventh-richest man in Russia, whose fortune is estimated at $15 billion by Forbes; Moshe Kantor, the chemicals tycoon who Forbes said was worth $2.3b.

“Some, like Fridman, flew in especially from Russia. Others, like Kantor, drove from nearby Herzliya, where many businessman from the former Soviet Union including Leonid Nevzlin and Gabriel Mirilashvili, to name a few, have made their homes,” the Jerusalem Post reported,

Others in attended included natural resources and property oligarch Lev Leviev (wealth estimated to be about $1.7b.), Alexander Levin, a “Ukrainian” businessman who was among those who donated to build the monument to the Soviet Army, who last year set up the World Forum for Russian Jewry, an “advocacy group based in New York.”

According to the report, “Members of United Israel Appeal-Keren Hayesod, which raised the money to build the marble and concrete monument overlooking the azure Mediterranean Sea,” were tight-lipped as to how much the homage to Communism cost.

“We organized a group of 10 to 15 top businessmen who raised the money that helped transform this dream to reality,” said Gadi Dror, the UIA’s director of the eastern region. “We do not go [into the] figures because they [the donors] prefer not to but it is meaningful amount.”

A source later said each businessman had donated at least $100,000.

The Jerusalem Post ended off with this interesting observation:

“Watching the group of mega-wealthy interact, one cannot help but wonder how so many affluent businessmen in the former Soviet Union are Jewish.

“German Zakharyaev, vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, cited two main reasons for that. First, Jews are few among many.

““We are a minority and as such we have to be strong [if we are] to preserve our customs,” said the businessman who, as a member of the Mountain Jewish community of the eastern Caucuses, is a minority within a minority.

““This is something in our commandments that we have to keep our Jewishness and be united in the Diaspora.”

“Second, he said, Jewish businessmen are hard workers. “We think a lot and we sleep a little,” he said.”

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Bank for International Settlements on Big Banks

NOVANEWS
by Sartre Batr

 

The shadow-banking component that adds to the risk of non-regulatory oversight just deepens the mystery behind the most powerful banking institution that runs roughshod over global finance. In order to gain an insight into the complexity of deception, examine the function of the BIS. The granddaddy of all central banks, the Bank for International Settlement, latest BIS Annual Report 2011/2012, foretells future financial consolidation.

Watch the Banker to the World’s Bank: Time to Deleverage, video interview on CNBC.

From Chapter V. Restoring fiscal sustainability, in this report concludes:

“Sovereigns have been losing their risk-free status at an alarming rate. Fiscal positions were already unsustainable in many advanced economies before the financial crisis, which in turn led to significant further weakening. The deterioration of public finances has undermined financial stability, lowered the credibility of fiscal and monetary policy, impaired the functioning of financial markets, and increased private sector borrowing costs. Restoring sustainable fiscal positions will require implementing effective fiscal consolidation, promoting long-term growth, and breaking the adverse feedback loop between bank and sovereign risk.”

The section called, Box VI.A: Shadow banking, states:

“While definitions differ, the term “shadow banking” broadly refers to financial activities carried out by non-bank financial institutions that create leverage and/or engage in maturity and liquidity transformation. Thus, even though they are subject to different regulatory frameworks, shadow and traditional banks operate alongside each other.

Shadow banking exists because historical and institutional factors, the rapid pace of financial innovation and specialization have all increased the attractiveness of performing certain types of financial intermediation outside traditional banking. In normal times, shadow banking enhances the resilience of the broader financial system by offering unique financial products and a range of vehicles for managing credit, liquidity and maturity risks. But shadow banking also creates risks that can undermine financial stability in the absence of prudential safeguards.”

The bombshell news that raises alarm is the admission that “Too Big To Fail” is still the operative principle that drives the banking system into an unsustainable servicing of debt obligations. The cloak of the shadow banking practice, intended to circumvent usual regulatory standards, creeps along the soft underbelly of respectable central banking. When a collapse catches up with the racket of excessive leverage, the ensuing scandal is directed to some esoteric phantom operation that is expendable.

The analysis in Big Banks Take Risks Expecting Taxpayers To Cover Losses identifies who ultimately bears the risk of the world fiat, debt created, financial system.

“The report also emphasized the need to increase the safety of the banking system by pushing banks to be responsible for their losses, add to their financial buffers and avoid risky practices. It added that big banks still have an interest in using high-risk debt – so-called “leveraging” – to magnify any trading gains because they can expect taxpayers to step in and cover their losses if things go bad.

“Big banks continue to have an interest in driving up their leverage without enough regard for the consequences of failure: because of their systemic weight, they expect the public sector to cover the downside, ” said BIS. “Another worrying sign is that trading, after a brief crisis-induced squeeze, has again become a major source of income for large banks.”

Protecting the fractional reserve scheme, at all cost, is the true purpose of the BIS. Sovereign holdings, with their ensuing national debt owed to the banksters pays homage to the real owners of underlying collateral assets.

From a source in the essay, Revolution against Central Banks, explains a scheme of global magnitude for financial control.

“The BIS is taking national currency deposits from the 55 member/owner central banks and converting them to SDR’s on its own balance sheet. The SDR’s are “claims on the freely usable currencies of IMF members,” therefore, the deposits of the central banks become claims on those currencies–the deposits of the fiat central banks who can deposit as much as they feel at the BIS in whatever currency the chose–including the SDR’s allotted to their “nation,” as the central banks are the sole depositories for the national wealth/sellers of the national debt. The BIS is then paying out dividends to these same member CB’s in the form of SDR’s, which again can be used to claim currencies. By August 2009, they had just made up out of thin air almost twelve times the supposed global supply of SDR’s. They are truly acting like the “central bank of the world,” complete with printing!”

By any objective standard of decency and accountability, the BIS is the ultimate clearinghouse of worldwide debt for the New World Order. Need proof, just reflect on the diversion used by a captain from one of the most powerful “Godfather” family of investment banking.

Finally in, Time to Stop Expecting So Much From the Fed?, Goldman Sachs strategist Jim O’Neill told CNBC:

Even the central bank for central banks, the Bank for International Settlements, is playing down the power of the Fed and other central banks.

“It would be a mistake to think that central bankers can use their balance sheets to solve every economic and financial problem,” the BIS said in its annual report.

“In fact, near-zero policy rates, combined with abundant and nearly unconditional liquidity support, weaken incentives for the private sector to repair balance sheets and for fiscal authorities to limit their borrowing requirements,” the report said.

World consumers are being pick-pocketed in the graveyard of financial ruin. Strip away the skin of a decayed corpse and what remains is the stark skeleton of a dead paper monitory system. The life-support methods used to keep the interest payments accruing, only forestall the day of reckoning. The end game for the central bankers is foreclosure on pledged guarantees. Currency swaps will become a recall of national fiat species and a replacement with a float of a new world coinage.

National governments are mere public diversions from the real power behind the thrones.

For additional information on the BIS, visit the Facebook Group, BIS (Bank for International Settlements)awareness.

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SYRIA: No to Intervention, No to Illusions

NOVANEWS
By Phyllis Bennis

 

Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “’Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”

Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!”   But exactly whatany army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn’t very clear.  U.S./NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.

The one crucial outside approach that could help resolve at least the immediate conflict – serious negotiations in which both sides are represented – for the moment remains out of reach. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint UN and Arab League envoy in Syria, has proposed at a new diplomatic initiative that would include the Syrian regime’s supporters, Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.-allied western countries and those Arab and regional governments backing the armed opposition.  So far the U.S. has rejected the proposal, at least regarding Iran, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that Tehran is part of the problem in Syria and thus can’t be part of the solution. The current UN secretary-general, Ban ki-moon, who frequently reflects Washington’s interests, further undercut the potential of his own envoy’s proposal, saying that Assad has “lost all legitimacy” – diplomatic code for “we don’t have to talk to him.”

For those eager for analogies or counterparts, this isn’t Egypt or Libya, where opposition to the leader was overwhelming.  Despite his government’s history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys significant support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi’a, parts of the Druse and even some Kurds) whom the regime had cultivated for many years.  The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the Assad regime was their goal. It divided still further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began to call for international military intervention. The non-violent opposition movement, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but under extraordinary threat.

There is no question that the regime has carried out brutal acts against civilians, potentially including war crimes. It also appears the armed opposition is responsible for attacks leading to the deaths of civilians. It is increasingly difficult to confirm who may be responsible for any particular assault. The UN monitors on the ground, whose access was already severely limited, have now been pulled from the field.  The regime has allowed a few more foreign journalists to enter the country, but restrictions remain and the fighting is so severe in many areas they are often unable to get solid information. The regime is clearly responsible for more attacks with heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery, but it is also clear that the anti-government forces are being armed with increasingly heavy weapons, largely paid for by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and coordinated by Turkey and the CIA. Indications are growing of well-armed outside terrorist forces operating in Syria as well.

Accountability, whether in national or international jurisdictions, is crucial – but stopping the current escalation of violence and avoiding all-out war must come first.

SECTARIANISM ON THE RISE

Syria is erupting in a region still seething in the aftermath of the U.S. war in Iraq. While most U.S. troops and mercenaries have left Iraq, the destruction and instability left behind have created a legacy that will last for generations.  One aspect of that legacy is the sectarian divide that the U.S. invasion and occupation imposed in Iraq – and as the expansion of that divide continues across the region, the threat of increasing sectarianism in Syria looms.  Although the Assad regimes – from father Hafez’s rise to power in 1970 through his son Bashar’s rule since 2000 – have always been ruthlessly secular, Syria remains a poster-country for sectarian strife.  The ruling Assad clan are Alawites (a form of Islam related to Shi’ism), ruling over a country with a large Sunni majority.

If the increasing sectarianism of the Syrian conflict extends beyond its borders, it could lead to regional conflagration involving even greater refugee flows and potentially battles in or around Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey or elsewhere. Already, alongside the international power interests colliding in Syria, there is the beginning of a Sunni-Shi’a proxy war taking shape, with Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Shi’a Iran, backing opposing forces.

THREATS OF U.S./WESTERN INTERVENTION

Iran’s role is the single most important basis for U.S. and other western interest in Syria, making that emerging proxy war even more dangerous. At this moment of continuing U.S. pressure, increasing U.S. and EU sanctions, and Israeli threats against Iran, Syria remains a tempting proxy target.  Syria itself isn’t a significant oil producer, and Washington has been far more concerned about keeping Syria’s borders secure for Israel, and reducing Iranian influence than with getting into Syria itself.  Damascus’s longstanding economic, political and military ties with Tehran mean that efforts to weaken or undermine Syria are widely understood to be at least partly aimed at undermining Iran, by destroying Tehran’s one reliable Arab ally.  This is perhaps the most influential factor pushing the U.S. towards greater action against Syria.

Certainly the U.S., the EU and the U.S.-backed Arab Gulf governments would prefer a more reliable, pro-western (meaning anti-Iranian), less resistance-oriented government than Assad’s in Syria, which borders key countries of U.S. interest including Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey.  They would also prefer a less repressive government, since brutality brings protesters out into the streets, threatening instability.  But for the moment, despite the U.S. involvement in helping its allies arm the opposition, conditions in the area still make a direct Libya-style U.S./NATO military strike on Syria somewhat less likely.

The U.S. and its allies are all too aware of the consequences for their own interests of direct military involvement in Syria – based on what they see now in post-Qaddafi Libya.  That model in Syria would create greater instability in the core of the strategic Middle East; expanding regional sectarianism; chaotic borders adjoining Israel, Iraq and Turkey; extremist Islamism gaining a foothold in Syria; and the end of any potential diplomatic arrangement with Iran.

In Europe, there is no “attack Syria” pressure equivalent to the political demands brought to bear on French and Italian leaders to intervene in Libya last year, following the PR fiasco of their overt colonial-style disdain for the earlier uprising in Tunisia.  For Turkey, among the most active supporters of arming the opposition, Syria’s shoot-down of the Turkish plane could lead to even stronger calls for military intervention; so far, though, while Ankara’s call for a NATO “discussion” of the matter means risks of escalation continue, the uncertainty of whether the plane was over international or Syrian waters has allowed both governments to moderate their responses.

So at the moment it still appears unlikely the Obama administration would risk an attack on Syria without a UN Security Council endorsement. And that endorsement is simply not going to happen in the near future. China and Russia have both indicated they oppose any use of force against Syria, and so far they are both opposing additional sanctions as well.

Russian opposition to an attack on Syria goes beyond Moscow’s usual resistance to Security Council endorsement of intervention anywhere in the world. It goes to the heart of Russia’s strategic national interests, including its military capacity and its competition with the west for power, markets and influence in the Middle East. Russia’s relationship to Syria more or less parallels the U.S. relationship to Bahrain: Damascus is a major Russian trading partner, especially for military equipment, and most crucial of all, hosts Moscow’s only Mediterranean naval base (and only military base outside the former Soviet Union), in Tartus on Syria’s southern coast.

Certainly there are no guarantees. Politics still trumps strategic interests.  The risk of a U.S./NATO attack on Syria remains, and the threat could be ratcheted up again in a moment.  This isn’t about humanitarian concerns –neither the U.S. nor any other country has ever used military force for purely humanitarian purposes. But the “CNN factor” –the relentless depiction of all-too-real heart-wrenching suffering – creates a political reality that influences decision-making in Washington, London, Paris, Ankara and beyond.  As the violence escalates in Syria, as more civilians, especially children, are killed, calls for intervention, some real and some cynical, escalate as well.

In the U.S. and Europe, the media and politicians’ earlier embrace of the armed opposition has subsided somewhat as reports rise of opposition attacks and resulting civilian casualties. But anti-Assad propaganda remains dominant.  And Washington is in election mode, so the pressure to “do something” is on the rise. The calls for military intervention are coming from the media and some in Congress, from neo-cons who never gave up on their plans for regime change across the Arab world, and from hawkish liberal interventionists who again see military force as a solution to every human rights or humanitarian problem.

There are also prominent opponents of military force inside the White House and Pentagon, who recognize it would create worse problems for U.S. interests (even if they don’t care much about the impact on Syrian civilians). Whether they can stand up to election-year “do something” pressures remains unclear. The push-back by those in civil society who say no to military intervention, while refusing to accept the mechanical “enemy of my enemy is my friend” claims that the Syrian regime is somehow a fraternal bastion of anti-imperialist legitimacy, will be crucial.

SYRIA, RESISTANCE, ANTI-IMPERIALISM?

Syria’s position, geographic and political, and the resulting interest in it from outside actors, makes things very complicated.  The country lies on the fault lines of the Middle East – from sectarian divides in war-battered Iraq and precariously-balanced multi-confessional Lebanon and across the broader region, to great power competition including the U.S and NATO vs. Russia, to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to the roles of non-Arab Turkey and Iran.  There is a crucial divergence between the role the Assad regime has played domestically and its regional position. As Jadaliyyaco-editor Bassam Haddad has written, “most people in the region are opposed to the Syrian regime’s domestic behavior during the past decades, but they are not opposed to its regional role. The problem is the Syrian regime’s internal repression, not its external policies.” That opinion could describe the view of many Syrians as well.

Of course unlike Egypt or Tunisia the target of Syria’s original non-violent protests was not a U.S.-backed dictator but a brutal though somewhat popular leader at the center of the anti-western resistance arc of the Middle East.  Of course even if Assad had played a consistent anti-imperialist role in the region, Syrians would have every right and reason to challenge his regime’s brutality and denial of human rights. But the claim led some international activists to lionize the Syrian government as a bastion of anti-imperialism and therefore to condemn all opposition forces as lackeys of Washington.

In fact the regime’s reality is far different. Certainly the U.S. views Syria, largely based on its alliance with Iran (and somewhat for its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon) as an irritant. But Damascus has never been a consistent opponent of U.S. interests. In 1976 it backed a massive attack by right-wing Falangists and other Christian militias against the Palestinian refugee camp at Tel al-Zataar during Lebanon’s civil war. In 1991 Syria sent warplanes to join the U.S. war coalition to attack Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. After 9/11 George W. Bush collaborated with the Assad regime to send innocent detainees such as Maher Arar to be interrogated and tortured in Syria.

It is also crucial to note which important U.S. ally in the Middle East has been uncharacteristically silent regarding the Syrian uprising: Israel.  One would have expected Tel Aviv to be leading the calls for military intervention against Syria, the demands for regime change, the constant drumbeat of demonization and the calls for war. But Israel has been largely silent – because despite the rhetorical and diplomatic antagonism between the two, Syria has been a generally reliable and predictable neighbor.  The occasional border clash or small-scale eruption of violence aside, Assad has kept the border, and thus the economically strategic and water-rich Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, largely quiescent.

As late as 2009 Assad was offering Israel negotiations “without preconditions” over the Golan Heights.  And further, Assad is a known quantity; despite Syria’s close ties to Iran, Israel has little interest in a post-Assad Syria like today’s Libya, with uncontrolled borders, unaccountable militias, arms flooding in and out, rising Islamist influence, and a weak, illegitimate and corrupt government ultimately unable to secure the country.  For Israel, the “anti-imperialist” Assad still looks pretty good.

ORIGINS, IMPACTS & CONSEQUENCES

The Syrian uprising that began in early 2011 was part of the broader regional rising that became known as the Arab Spring. Like their counterparts, Syria’s non-violent protesters poured into the streets with political/democratic demands that broke open a generations-long culture of fear and political paralysis. Like those who mobilized against U.S.-backed dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, the Syrian protesters were both secular and religious, reflecting a wide diversity of backgrounds and opinions. There were calls for democratization, demands that long-silenced voices be heard and empowered, and for immediate and massive political changes.

For some that meant that the regime must end, some were willing to negotiate with the government without Assad, still others called for broad reforms, ending political repression and opening the political system, within the existing governing structures.  But at first none called for international military intervention.

Then, like in Libya, some in the Syrian opposition, particularly military defectors, took up arms in response to the regime’s brutal suppression of the initially non-violent protests. The defensive use of arms soon morphed into a network of militias and fighters, largely unaccountable and uncoordinated – some of whom later began to call for military assistance.

Now some U.S. and supporters of western military intervention in Syria, last year’s assault on Libya provides the model of how to respond to a human rights/humanitarian crisis.  They believe it was a victory for human rights when a couple of European leaders proposed a no-fly zone, and part of the anti-Qaddafi opposition eagerly accepted their offer, and part of the Arab League and part of Europe and part of the Obama administration and most of NATO agreed.  With the fig leaf of Arab League approval (the African Union was sidelined as soon as it refused to support the military assault), the U.S./NATO warplanes quickly became the air force of the armed Libyan opposition, the “no-fly zone” was immediately transformed into an all-out air war and bombing campaign, and “protection of civilians” was instantly redefined as regime change.

But they were wrong to see it as a “human rights victory” then and they are more visibly wrong now. A year later, following the overthrow (and killing) of Qaddafi and the deaths of thousands of Libyans, the now-divided country struggles with out-of-control militias holding thousands of prisoners, torture, escalating violence, continuing attacks on sub-Saharan Africans and other foreigners, a virtually powerless government with more legitimacy in the West than at home, and a shattered national, social and physical infrastructure.

The impact of a military strike in Syria could be even worse. Syria’s conflict poses far more complex challenges than any of the earlier derailments from the non-violent mobilizations of the Arab Spring in Bahrain, Yemen or even Libya. Inside the country, the nature of Syria’s diverse economy, its strong middle class, the once relatively small gap between Syrian wealth and poverty, all mean that the regime maintains some level of legitimacy despite years of repression against political critics. Bashar al-Assad appears to maintain significantly more support than did Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, for instance.

The Assad regime’s own minority status strengthens claims it is protecting other Syrian minorities. And the tight links between ruling family and the military, mean that despite significant numbers of increasingly high-level military defections, the government and top military command appear largely intact.  If the defections, such as the high-visibility flight to Jordan of Syrian air force officer in their Russian-made MiG fighter plane, escalate, the military capacity of the regime will be seriously undermined. But so far, the military-government unity remains viable.

For ordinary Syrians, struggling to survive amid escalating fighting, with virtually no access to electricity, water or medical assistance in more and more cities, the only hope starts with ending the fighting. The best – probably the only – useful thing outside powers can do, would be to move immediately towards serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate, with the goal of imposing an immediate ceasefire. Kofi Annan’s call for just such a diplomatic option could be the start, if Washington could be pressured to reverse its opposition.

Such a diplomatic channel – bringing together Iran and Russia on one side, the U.S., EU, Turkey and pro-western Arab monarchies on the other, under UN auspices – would not solve all the problems that led to the Syrian crisis. The United Nations, particularly the veto-bound Security Council, remains thoroughly undemocratic, with U.S. domination a longstanding challenge. This kind of diplomacy would likely not reflect all the diverse interests of the Syrian people – but it would stop the current escalation towards full-scale civil war, and perhaps open enough political space to re-empower the original indigenous non-violent democratic movements in Syria.  It will only work if it is kept out of the UN’s currently popular “responsibility to protect” (R2P) framework, which inevitably leads to outside military force.

The best the Annan plan could achieve would be to bring enough pressure to bear on the two sides (assuming the U.S./western/Arab monarchy side and the Russian/Iranian side could agree on a goal) to reverse the current military escalation and perhaps impose a lasting ceasefire, long enough to force real negotiations inside Syria between a re-empowered internal opposition and the regime on some kind of political transition. Finding agreement between the diplomatic sponsors, let alone between the two sides inside Syria, will obviously not be easy.

But only with an end to the war, will the original unarmed opposition forces have a chance to remobilize public support for the internal, non-violent protest movement for real change, reclaiming social movements for Syria’s own freedom and democracy, and reasserting Syria’s place in the Arab Spring.

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam and of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. Her books include Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN.

THE UPRISING

There are at least five distinct forces at play in the Syrian uprising:

·      The regime – power largely concentrated in the extended Assad family and broader Alawite community; political leadership closely interconnected with top military command and mukhabarat (secret police).  Maintains some popular support also from key business and banking powers in Syria, especially in Damascus and Aleppo. Has political support and some military assistance from Iran; recent expressions of political support from ALBA countries of Latin America (Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela) in context of U.S. and other western threats. Key military and commercial ties with Russia, especially through providing Russia with naval base at Tartus. Higher-level defections from military on the increase.

·      The original non-violent opposition – broad and diverse, secular and faith-based. Many activists came together in new informal coalitions and groupings that bypassed some older, more staid organizations.  Maintains opposition to arming of opposition and especially to any outside military intervention. These activists were the primary force of the early uprising, but achieved less visibility as regime’s repression targeting non-violent actions succeeded in suppressing protests, international media was largely excluded, and internal independent media focused primarily on attacks on civilians. Renewed attention in recent months, including documenting street protests that are continuing despite civil war-like conditions in the country. It appears that more public mobilizations, including but not limited to street protests, are on the rise again with broadly democratic participation, especially in and around the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo, once known as relative strongholds of regime support.  In April a young woman stood alone outside the parliament in Damascus with a banner that read “Stop the Killing, we want to build a homeland for all Syrians.” Islamist forces are among those involved in the non-violent opposition; longtime Syrian non-violent leader Sheikh Jawad Said.

The non-violent opposition also includes the National Coordination Committee, made up of 13 political parties including some leftist forces, and independent mainly secular activists. They are against any military intervention, including a so-called “no-fly zone” (that opened the assault on Libya); their leader, Hussein Abdul Azim, said “we reject foreign intervention – we think it is as dangerous as tyranny. We reject both.”  They do, however, support economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Assad.  The NCC does not call for overthrowing the regime, but instead for a national dialogue – though it does not support Assad’s proposed dialogue initiative, but rather a process conditioned on the pullback of military forces from the streets, ending attacks on peaceful protests, and release of all political prisoners. Some in the NCC have called for trying to replace the SNC as the “official” or recognized representative of the Syrian opposition.

·      The internal Syrian armed opposition – originally based on military defectors who created Free Syrian Army, morphed into assorted militias using FSA name, but with little central coordination; includes both defectors and armed civilians. FSA leaders have admitted they are not in control of the proliferation of groups of armed civilians operating under the FSA name. In recent weeks numbers of soldiers reported killed have escalated, as have reports of direct fights between regime soldiers and armed opposition groups. Appear to be receiving heavier weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey is providing logistical support to transfer weapons, and U.S. providing “non-lethal” military equipment including night-vision goggles, GPS gear, etc.

·      The internal/external supporters of the armed opposition –  grouped primarily in the Syrian National Council (SNC), and call explicitly for overthrow of the regime.  Includes Muslim Brotherhood, Local Coordination Committees (grassroots activist groups inside Syria), Kurdish factions, and others, including exile factions.  Muslim Brotherhood probably most organized single organization within it; consistent disagreements over Islamist influence. Have political base outside Syria, in Italy and Turkey.  Originally claimed to defend non-violent nature of uprising but later called for coordinating role over armed factions inside and control of all weapons going in (FSA says will not cooperate with that, want weapons directly).  At least some of SNC leadership calling for outside military assistance. The SNC recently asked individual countries to provide the Syrian opposition with “military advisers, training and provision of arms to defend themselves.”  Very diverse politically, secular and Islamist, have had continuing problems with achieving enough unity to engage with international forces. Despite divisions, uncertain leadership and questionable levels support from inside Syria, SNC has been adopted by western (U.S., parts of EU) and Arab Gulf (Saudi, Qatar) governments and to some degree Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “they will have a seat at the table as a representative of the Syrian people.”  The SNC has appeared weaker in recent months.

Largely through the SNC, the U.S. is providing the Syrian opposition with “non-lethal” military supplies, including communications gear, GPS equipment more. Washington is also apparently supporting some kind of military training and backing efforts to unify the disparate opposition elements into a more coherent whole.

·      Non-Syrian armed forces – unknown forces, apparently mostly non-Syrian, including volunteers or others from international Islamist fighting groups appear to be arriving to fight in Syria.  Goals unclear, could include opposition to Alawite/Shi’a government (Alawites considered an off-shoot of Shi’a Islam, and thus heretical to some extremist Sunni fundamentalists), and/or efforts to create chaos through military attacks resulting in power vacuums they might hope to fill.

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The End Is Near

NOVANEWS

by David Swanson

 

Apocalypse has been given a bad name.  The Seventh Day Adventists are still around.  The Nike sneaker cult failed to open Heaven’s Gate.  The new millennium brought us George W. Bush, not Jesus H. Christ.  And everybody’s terrified of “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

But our species is living beyond its means.  If we continue down this path, the planet, our food supplies, our climate, and life as we know it will collapse.  If we bring population growth, consumption, and pollution under control, the damage already set in motion will play out for centuries, but complete catastrophe will likely be averted.

Nobody likes to be told that the end might be near.  Either it is or it isn’t.  And the question is resolved by a personal lifestyle choice.  Do I wish to be a pessimist or an optimist?  Of course, optimist is far more popular.  Even most predictors of apocalypse have actually believed they were predicting a good thing.  The world was to be replaced with something better.  Even our best environmentalists who understand the radical changes needed for survival guarantee they will happen.  Harvey Wasserman says he simply believes in happy endings.

Meanwhile, we can barely get half of us in the United States to “believe” that global warming is happening.  Of course, we step outside and there’s a sauna, but that could just be “natural.”  So what if the ocean is a few inches higher?  The people who’ve been predicting that for decades have been wrong until now, and now they’re only a little right — if you even believe them.  The ocean looks about the same to me.  And if they predict exponential acceleration of such changes, meaning that once the changes have become visible it won’t be long before they’re enormous, well that just proves one thing: they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.  They’re pessimists.

In 1992, governments finally got together in Rio and took some baby steps.  In 2012, they reconvened andcollectively proclaimed, “To hell with all that.  This rock may be doomed, but that’s our great-grandchildren’s problem.  Screw them! This is Rio.  Roll down the windows.  Turn up the air conditioning.  Pass me a drink!”  Well, actually, a few scientists and diplomats stood off to the side and muttered, “What we need to save us is a really bad catastrophe.”  And a 17-year-old girl stood up and blurted out the truth, which made everybody feel really important.  Imagine: you were at the meeting that could have chosen to save the planet; how cool is that?  Imagine how the judge feels who is sitting in Washington, D.C., deliberating on whether the atmosphere ought to be protected or destroyed.  The atmosphere!  Of the earth!  Now that’s power, and the longer you deliberate the longer you can fantasize about possibly even using that power.

In 1972 a group of scientists published a book called Limits to Growth.  It passionately urged the changes needed before human growth and destruction exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet.  In 1992, the same authors published Beyond the Limits.  There were by then, they found, too many humans doing too much damage.  We were beyond sustainable limits and would need to change quickly.  In 2004, they published an update, arguing that we were already 20 percent above global carrying capacity, and that we had “largely squandered the past 30 years.”  Their warnings grew sharper: “We do not have another 30 years to dither.”

The updated book charts the course we’ve been on these past 30, now 40, years.  Population has exploded in less industrialized countries.  Many millions of poor people have been added to our species, while a shrinking percentage of the world’s population has continued to hoard most of the wealth.  The planet has become less equitable through the repeated act of giving birth.  Then it has become less equitable still through economic growth that has been made to benefit most those least in need.  Meanwhile, nations with high population growth have been least able to invest in infrastructure, being obliged to take care of their people’s immediate needs.  This has resulted in still greater poverty, triggering higher birth rates in families dependent on children to survive.  These vicious cycles can be broken, and have been broken, but not by wishing or hoping.  And time is running out.

Sustainable agriculture is being practiced in some places and could feed us all if practiced everywhere and the food distributed to everyone.  The problem is not figuring out what to do so much as simply doing it.  But we can’t do it individually, and we can’t wait for those in power to do it on their own.

Corporations will not learn to make more money by behaving responsibly, not to a sufficient extent to reverse current trends.  The logic of the market will not correct itself, except in the most brutal sense.  If we wait for Wall Street to decide that destroying the Earth is a bad idea, the basic systems of life on Earth will collapse in shortages, crises, and widespread suffering.  Instead, we have to enforce change as a society, and we have to do it now.  If we’d acted in 1982, write the authors of Limits to Growth, we might have avoided serious damage.  If we’d acted in 2002, we also still had a fighting chance.  By 2022, it will be too late to avoid decline.  We’re halfway there.

Limits to Growth offers the crisis of the ozone layer as evidence that humanity can face up to a global environmental disaster and correct it.  Of course, we can.  We have always had that option and always will.  Even beyond 2022, we will have the option of lessening the destruction to as great an extent possible.  But slowing the damage to the ozone layer required changes to a relatively small industrial cartel, nothing to compare to big oil.  The question is not, I think, whether the world can act collectively on behalf of the Earth.  The question is whether the world can act collectively against the organized strength of the fossil fuels industry, its closely aligned military forces in the United States and NATO, and governments far gone down the path of inverted totalitarianism.

For you optimists, I should point out that living sustainably need not mean suffering.  We could live better lives with less consumption and destruction.  Our culture can grow while our population declines.  Our society can advance while our production of waste products retreats.  Our mental horizons can broaden while our food sources narrow.  Millennia from now, people living sustainably on this planet could look back with wonder at the insanity of the notion that everything had to grow, and with gratitude toward those who gave their fellow passengers an awakening smack to the face.

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Birmingham jobseeker self immolation demo Saturday 30 June

NOVANEWS

Activists in Birmingham staged a small demonstration today outside Selly Oak jobcentre where a Birmingham claimant this week set himself on fire in protest to changes to his benefits. According to The Guardian:

“A man has set himself on fire outside a Birmingham jobcentre after what reports suggest was an argument over benefit payments.

The 48-year-old unnamed man is understood to have doused himself in flammable liquid and tied himself to railings after a dispute inside the Jobcentre Plus in the Selly Oak area on Thursday.

Police arrived at the scene and extinguished the fire after the jobcentre was evacuated.

The man was later taken to hospital with burns to his legs.

A source with links to staff at the centre told the Guardian the man had been recognised by the staff as vulnerable with outstanding health issues but had recently been found fit to work precipitating a move from one benefit to another. This had caused payment delays.”

Whilst the imperialist media here in the UK is usually quick to praise such acts of self immolation when undertaken by reactionaries, fascists and medievalists in Tiananmen Square – our Police have decided that this individual needs a mental health assessment – and no doubt they’ll be quick to have him sectioned and away from the media spotlight! Its quite clear to us at Red Youth that it is this system of monopoly parasitism which needs to be treated urgently.

An understanding of society (theory) and a way of uniting to change it (organisation) are the two things that we need to make the change necessary so that people aren’t driven to such acts of desperation. We need socialism now! Young people have everything to gain by getting involved in this process sooner rather than later. This world isn’t working for us and we deserve better!

Not only do we need to campaign against the bad conditions and lack of prospects for the youth in Britain today, but we need to work for a completely different type of society – one where people’s needs decide everything.

So many problems face this world: environmental catastrophe, poverty, disease, racism and war. They’ll never be solved while capitalism remains, but they could all be sorted if society was set up for the benefit of the majority rather than the private gain of a few billionaires.

Studying Marxism, organising the young people in your area and learning about how we fight for socialism is the only way we can defeat the ruling class.

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Foreign Aid: Who Benefits?

NOVANEWS

Foreign “aid” often benefits NGOs of the donor country as well as the local business elites in the recipient country.  The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has blamed both Bill Clinton as well previous U.S. presidents for having maintained  Haiti in conditions of “endemic poverty through a self-serving U.S. rice export policy […] By 2003, approximately 80% of all rice consumed inHaiti was imported from the United States.” (Leah Chavla, Bill Clinton’s Heavy Hand on Haiti’s Vulnerable Agricultural Economy: The American Rice Scandal, Council on Hemispheric Affairs,April 13, 2010.)

Last January iWatch News reported:

According to [U.S] government figures, 1,537 contracts had been awarded [to U.S. Companies] for a total of $204,604,670, as of last fall. Only 23 of the contracts went to Haitian companies, totaling $4,841,426. (Marjorie Valbrun, Haitian firms few and far between on reconstruction rosters, iWatch News, January 11, 2012.)

 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank, has also invested $7.5 million in the project, claiming it will “create employment, generate business opportunities for small businesses and promote sustainable development.” Since 2006, $68.6 millions have been invested by IFC in the Haitian private sector. Despite those investments, the per capita GDP in Haiti has seen very little improvement during that period. There is a fine line between slavery and an average $2 a day salary, which ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide wanted to abolish prior to his overthrow in a US-French-Canadian sponsored Coup d’Etat. (La Société Financière Internationale (IFC) investit dans un projet hôtelier en Haiti pour supporter les efforts de reconstruction, IFC, June 30, 2010.)

 

“The good news” is that the project will create jobs for Haitians. The Oasis foundation has also created a program to train workers for the tourism industry. The project promoter, Jerry Tardieu told AP “the new hotels will help more people get out of the camps by giving them jobs to pay for rent on homes being rehabilitated by government and non-profit organizations.” He says 600 people have been employed for the hotel’s construction and once open and running, 250 to 300 new jobs will be created. On top of the $2 million invested in the hotel, a modest grant of $264,000 goes to the “Oasis Hotel’s nonprofit arm, the Oasis Foundation […] bolstering the hospitality sector by reopening l’École Hôtelière Haitienne (the Haiti Hotel School) […](Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Programs: Oasis). Basically those funds are used to make comfortable hotel rooms, lounges and cafes for foreigners and “train Haitians to serve them ” in a congenial five star environment.

 

While, Haiti was lacking in hotel rooms in the wake of the earthquake and job creation is a key to poverty reduction, a majority of the population still live in makeshift shelters of cardboard, scrap metal and old bed sheets. People struggle to have water to drink and food on their table — and in many cases they do not have a table. Meanwhile, the construction of luxury hotels for foreigners is a number one priority, in comparison to “housing for the locals”.

Tourism Minister Stephanie B. Villedrouin “said all of those [850] hotel rooms [destroyed in the earthquake] will have been replaced by the end of the year […] Villedrouin said Port-au-Prince officially has a 60 percent occupancy rate but many of the hotels are too rustic for international travelers [including the NGO, World Bank and USAID staff on mission to Haiti].”(AP, op cit, emphasis added)

 

The “international travelers” are the unspoken victims of rudimentary and rustic hotel accomodation when on mission to Haiti, according to Mariott’s executive Alejandro Acevedo. “Marriott International, …is building a $45 million, 174-room hotel [in Haiti] in partnership with mobile phone company Digicel Group.” Marriott’s Acevedo complained that  “even he had to share a room with his boss on a recent visit because of the dearth of hotel space.”

Camp near Royal Oasis (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Meanwhile, most Haitians live in overcrowded camps such as Champ de Mars camp in Port-au-Prince, “densely packed with shacks made from bed sheets, tarpaulin and scrap metal, which provide flimsy shelter for some 17,000 people.” Forced evictions also take place regularly, according to AlertNet. (

Anastasia Moloney, Haiti’s homeless face housing lottery, AlertNet, February 23, 2012.) 

Champ de Mars camp. Photo: Haiti Press Network

The AP report adds that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) bought land for $10.5 million and are also thinking of building a hotel: “The money came from donations raised by national Red Cross agencies for quake recovery, causing some to wonder if the money would be better used to house displaced people rather than aid workers.” (AP, op. cit, emphasis added).

Where did the money come from? Where did that money go?

Millions of people in the US, Canada and Western Europe donated part of their savings to their local Red Cross, which was then channeled to the IFRC, the world’s largest humanitarian umbrella organization. The IFRC claims to be “providing assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.” (See IFRC website, emphasis added)

This land purchase by IFRC not only violates its humantiarian mandate but also the trust of its constituent Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations worldwide. Red Cross donations should have gone supporting IFRC’s mandate with regard to “shelter recovery and settlement planning”, in a post-disaster environment as clearly stated on the IFC website:

“Most people who have lost their homes through a disaster want to repair or rebuilt their homes as soon as possible. Many start the reconstruction process immediately after a disaster, whenever circumstances and resources permit. Shelter assistance provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) recognises this, and where appropriate prioritises the provision of materials, tools, cash and technical assistance to support the process.” (emphasis added)

According to the AP report:  “Signs of Haiti‘s comeback can also be seen in the 105-room Best Western hotel being built within blocks of shanty-covered hillsides.”  The five star Best Western project is worth $15.7 million and is located in the plush city of Petionville. The “firstUS hotel in Haiti” is funded by local investors but will be managed by a Dallas firm and is expected to create 150 jobs. (Ibid.)

 

While several hotels are being built to provide “room and board” for potential foreign investors, very few homes are being built for locals and “the vast majority of construction has been temporary shelters with a life span between two, maximum five years”, according to Gerardo Ducos from Amnesty International. (AlertNet, op. cit.)

In order to shut down the Champ de Mars camp, which would be tantamount to the expulsion of more than 17,000 people, a controversial Haitian government program funded by Canada has been offering 500$ to dwellers who leave and find a home elsewhere. In practice this project leads to the de facto expropriation of slum dwellers in high value central downtown area of Port-au-Prince. While the amount is enough to pay the rent for a year, Ducos wonders: “What happens to the people when their rent money runs out in a year?” (Ibid.).

Will there be enough jobs for them in the hotel industry?

Will the salaries be high enough to pay the rent?

A lot of unanswered questions remain. 

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