Archive | May 18th, 2014

To Understand or Not to Understand Putin

NOVANEWS
That’s the Question…

by DIANA JOHNSTONE

Paris.

In Germany these days, very many citizens object to the endless Russia-bashing of the NATO-oriented mainstream media.  They may point out that the U.S.-backed regime change in Kiev, putting in power an ultra-right transitional government eager to join NATO, posed an urgent threat to preservation of Russia’s only warm water naval base in Crimea. Under the circumstances, and inasmuch as the Crimean population overwhelmingly approved, reinstating Crimea in the Russian federation was a necessary defensive move.

In Germany, anyone who says thing like that can be denigrated as a “Putinversteher” (a Putin understander).

That says it all. We are not supposed to understand.  We are supposed to hate.  The media are there to see to that.

While the West doggedly refuses to understand Putin and Russia, Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, seems to understand things pretty well.

He seems to understand that he and his nation are being systematically lured into a death trap by an enemy which excels in the contemporary art of “communication”.  In a war situation, NATO communication means that it doesn’t matter who does what.  The only thing that matters is who tells the story.  The Western media are telling the story in a way which depends on not understanding Russia, and not understanding Putin. Putin and Russia become fictional villains in the Western version, just the latest reincarnation of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

The horrific massacre in Odessa on May 2 proved this.  The photographic evidence, the testimony of numerous eye witnesses, the smoldering bodies and the shouts of the killers are all there to prove what happened.  Tents erected to collect signatures in favor of a referendum to introduce a federal system into Ukraine (now a politically divided but totally centralized state) were set on fire by a militia of fascist thugs who attacked the local federalists as “separatists” (accusing them of wanting to “separate” from Ukraine to join Russia, when that is not what they are seeking).  The local activists fled into the big trade union building on the square where they were pursued, assaulted, murdered and set on fire by “Ukrainian nationalists”, acting on behalf of the illegitimate Kiev regime supported by the West.

No matter how vicious the assaults, Western media saw no evil, heard no evil, spoke no evil.  They deplored a “tragedy” which just sort of happened.

Odessa is proof that whatever happens, the NATO political class, political leaders and media united, have decided on their story and are sticking to it.  The nationalists that seized power in Kiev are the good guys, the people being assaulted in Odessa and in Eastern Ukraine are “pro-Russian” and therefore the “bad guys”.

Understanding Putin

So despite everything, let’s try to understand President Putin, which is really not very hard.  Behind every conscious action there should be a motive. Let’s look at motives. Today, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who certainly gives every sign of never understanding – or wanting to understand – anything, parroted the NATO line that Russia was “trying to orchestrate conflict and provocation” in Ukraine’s east and south.

That makes no sense.  Putin has absolutely no motive to want civil war to rage in neighboring Ukraine, and very strong reasons to do all he can to avoid it.  It confronts him with a serious dilemma. Ongoing vicious attacks by fanatic nationalists from Western Ukraine on citizens in the east and south of the country can only incite the

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victimized Russian-speaking Ukrainians to call on Russia for help. But at the same time, Putin must know that those Russophone Ukrainians do not really want to be invaded by Russia. Perhaps they want something impossible.  And it is perfectly obvious that any use of Russia’s military force to protect people in Ukraine would let loose an even wilder demonization of Putin as “the new Hitler” who is invading countries “for no reason”. And NATO would use this, as it has already used the reunification of Crimea with Russia, as “proof” that Europe must tighten its alliance, establish military bases throughout Eastern Europe and (above all) spend more money on “defense” (buying US military equipment).

The Western takeover of the Kiev government is clearly a provocation to draw Putin into a trap that certain Western strategists (Zbigniew Brzezinski being the chief theorist) hope will cause Putin’s downfall and plunge Russia into a crisis that can lead to its eventual dismemberment.

Putin can only wish to find a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian mess.

While Washington reverts to Cold War “containment” policy to “isolate” Russia, Putin today held talks in Moscow with Didier Burkhalter, the Swiss president and current chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), in hope of initiating some sort of peaceful mediation.

Putin Pulls Back From False Flag Plan?

On this occasion, Putin announced that he had pulled back Russian forces from the border with Ukraine. He indicated that this was to ease concerns over their positioning, meaning claims that Russia was preparing an invasion. He also advised against holding referendums for greater autonomy in the Russophone areas until “conditions for dialogue” can be created.

However, news reports indicated that this reported military pullback caused new concerns among some Ukrainians, who felt Russia was abandoning them in their hour of need, and among some Russians, who feared the President was backing down under Western pressure.

It is not impossible that the pullback order was linked to a Novosti RIA report dated May 6, which indicated that the Ukrainian secret service was planning an imminent false flag operation in order to accuse Russia of violating the border with Ukraine.

Novosti said it had learned from security circles in Kiev that the Ukrainian secret service SBU had secretly shipped about 200 Russian army uniforms and some 70 forged Russian officer ID into the Eastern Ukrainian protest stronghold of Donetz, to be used to stage a false attack on Ukrainian border patrols.

Novosti said the reports were unconfirmed, but they could nevertheless be taken seriously by the Russians.  “The plan would be to simulate an attack on Ukrainian border troops and to film it for the media”, the report said.  In connection with the plan, a dozen or so combatants from the ultranationalist Right Sector were to cross the border and kidnap a Russian soldier in order to present him as “proof” of Russian military incursion.  The operation was scheduled for May 8 or 9.

By pulling Russian troops farther away from the border, Putin could hope to make the false flag operation less plausible and perhaps to forestall it.

The whole Ukrainian operation, at least partly directed by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department, has been characterised by false flag operations, most notoriously by the snipers who suddenly spread murder and terror in Maidan square in Kiev, effectively wrecking the internationally sponsored transition agreement.  “Pro-West” insurgents accused President Yanukovych of sending the killers and forced a rump parliament to give government power to Ms Nuland’s protégé, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk.  However, there has been plenty of evidence to show that the mysterious snipers were pro-West mercenaries: photographic evidence, followed by the telephone statement by the Estonian foreign minister to that effect, and finally by the German television channel ARD whose Monitor documentary concluded that the snipers came from the extreme right anti-Russian groups involved in the Maidan uprising.  Indeed, all known evidence points to a fascist false flag operation, and yet Western media and politicians continue to blame everything on Russia.

So whatever he does, Putin now has to realize that he will be deliberately “misunderstood” and misrepresented by Western leaders and media.  Over the heads of the American people, over the heads of the Germans, French and other Europeans, a private consensus has obviously been reached among persons we may describe as our own Western “oligarchs” to revive the Cold War in order to provide the West with an “enemy” serious enough to save the military-industrial complex and unite the transatlantic community against the rest of the world.

This is what Russian leaders are obliged to understand.  What they need most to save the world from endless and useless conflict is the understanding of all those Americans and Europeans who have never been consulted or informed about this perilous shift in strategy, and who, if they understood, would surely say no.

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False Flag in Odessa

NOVANEWS
The Pathetic U.S. Media Coverage

by MIKE WHITNEY

“According to the evidence that I’ve seen …Odessa was a giant false flag operation. It… was one of those staged massacres that the pro-Western forces from Bosnia to Kosovo, now Ukraine, excel at staging, intended to draw Russia to overreact and commit military forces … I believe that the fact that they are willing to stage such a horrendous atrocity shows the depth of their desperation at this point.”

– Nebojsa Malic, political analyst, Russia Today

“Not under foreign skies
Nor under foreign wings protected –
I shared all this with my own people
There, where misfortune had abandoned us.”

– “Requiem” – Anna Akhmatova

Photos of the victims of the Odessa fire which have been circulating on the Internet have cast doubt on the official version of events. It’s now clear that many of the anti-junta activists who occupied the Trade Unions House were neither burned to death nor died of smoke inhalation, but were savagely shot at point-blank range by agents and thugs who had infiltrated the building to kill as many of the occupants as possible, burn the corpses, and then slip away without notice. Some of the victims–like a young woman who was eight months pregnant –were strangled with an electrical chord and left slumped backwards over her desk in a room that shows no sign of fire or smoke damage. In another case, a woman was stripped naked from the waste down, raped, killed, and set ablaze.

In still other cases, victims with bullet-holes through their skulls, had flammable fluid dumped on their heads and were incinerated, leaving a charred head atop a corpse whose clothes were untouched by fire. The sloppily-executed killing-spree proves that the fire was not the result of a spontaneous clash between pro and anti-Kiev demonstrators, but a carefully planned black-op that likely involved foreign Intel agencies working hand-in-hand with the fascist junta government in Kiev. Did we mention that the CIA has taken up residence in the Ukrainian capital? Here’s the scoop from the AFP:

“Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government … helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure…” (CIA, FBI agents ‘advising Ukraine government: report, AFP)

We all know about the CIA’s energetic efforts to create a “functioning security structure” in nations around the world. The CIA’s presence in Ukraine suggests that the US was either actively involved in the Odessa incident or knows who was. Either way, there should be an independent investigation before the case is referred to the ICC for prosecution.

The rampage in Odessa is part a broader strategy to provoke Moscow into a military confrontation. US war planners want to draw Putin into a conflict to justify NATO expansion, block further EU-Russian economic integration, and facilitate the “pivot to Asia.” The victims in this tragedy were sacrificed to advance Washington’s imperial ambitions and to establish US global hegemony. Obama has repeatedly reiterated his unwavering support for the crackdown on dissidents in the east. In a Rose Garden press conference just days ago, the president applauded the military attack on civilians saying, “The Ukrainian government has shown remarkable restraint throughout this whole process.”

Indeed, the Odessa graveyards are now full of people who can attest to the great restraint of the junta government that Obama so admires.

The coverage of the Odessa massacre by the western media is as bad as any in recent memory. The giant news conglomerates no longer make any attempt to pretend they’re anything other propaganda organs for the State. Even by that low standard, the coverage has been abysmal. Here’s a typical summary from an article on the liberal website, Huffington Post.

“Police said the deadly fire broke out in a trade union building, but did not give details on how it started. Earlier, police said at least three people had died in a clash between the two sides in the city of 1 million.

According to Ukrainian news reports, the pro-Kiev demonstrators broke up an encampment of Moscow supporters outside the trade union building. The latter took refuge in the building, which then caught fire.
Odessa police spokesman Volodymyr Shasbliyenko told AP the fire apparently was caused by Molotov cocktails. He had no further details or identities of the victims.” (Odessa Building Fire Kills Dozens, AP)

The author deliberately misleads his readers about what really took place. The fire did not “break out” in a trade union building. It was started. There’s no debate about this. There’s video footage of the whole incident and tons of eyewitness reports. Right sector goons started the fire by throwing Molotov cocktails through the windows. It’s all on tape.

Second, the “pro-Kiev demonstrators” (did not) “break up an encampment of Moscow supporters outside the trade union building…which then caught fire.” This is nonsense. The fascist extremists burned down the tent city, chased the activists into the building, barricaded the exits, and then set the building on fire with the obvious intention of killing the people inside. Again, there is no debate about this. It’s all on video. The US media is involved in a massive cover up, mainly because a investigation would undoubtedly point to US involvement. This is why none of the major news organizations are covering an incident which would normally be headline news. Odessa is unique blend of Waco and Columbine, a combo that editors typically use to boost sagging ratings by exploiting public empathy and outrage. Only this time, the media has minimized its coverage and refused to report on a story that would probably lead straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

While the New York Times has been widely criticized for publishing fake photos of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal wins the trophy for absolute worst coverage. In a piece titled “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”, the WSJ pushes the improbable theory that the anti-coup activists inside the building actually burned the building down themselves, a pathetic attempt to blame the victims of a ruthless government crackdown. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The fire began from the roof. There were extremists there, we found casings and firearms,” Mr. Chebotar said. “But something unexpected happened; their Molotov cocktails fell, and ignited the higher floors of the building.” (Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Wall Street Journal)

Utterly ridiculous. Are the editors of the WSJ aware of the fact that footage of the Neo Nazis throwing Molotov cocktails at the building are all over the Internet?

The article, of course, fails to explain how many of the people inside the building were either shot or strangled to death. Nor does the author speculate on why the police stood by while people hurled themselves from windows to escape the fire or were savagely beaten by right wing extremists on the pavement in front of the building. Instead, the WSJ tries to provide a plausible excuse for the one part of the story it chooses to focus on as if “who started the fire” can be separated from other important details. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the 40 victims of the incident were killed in a homicidal rampage that was perpetrated by Obama’s new friends in Kiev. No amount of whitewash is going to hide that one glaring fact. Here’s how Serbian historian and political analyst, Nebosja Malic, summed it up:

“According to all the evidence that I have seen, the entire thing in Odessa was a giant false flag operation. It was a provocation, it was one of those stage massacres that the pro-Western forces from Bosnia to Kosovo, now Ukraine excel at staging, intended to draw Russia to overreact…

“We have proof that the West is instigating this. And just the other day, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s commissioner for foreign policy, pretty much gave a green light to the extremists from Kiev. She pretty much said they had a right to establish law and order within the borders of the country. I would say that the EU has blood on its hands, especially Catherine Ashton. It’s the same thing they did in Yugoslavia in the 90s, when they started encouraging radicals, extremists, secessionists.” (Interview with Nebosja Malic, RT)

It’s true that Washington supports Neo-Nazi extremists who burned down the Odessa Trade Unions House. If that wasn’t the case, then Obama would have spoken out forcefully against the action, which he has not. That implies that things are going according to plan. Malic is also correct when he says the fire was a “giant false flag operation” which refers to a covert military operation where agents disguise themselves as members of their adversary’s group to initiate a provocation that will then be blamed on the other side. In this case, pro-regime fascists (and probably agents from the Security Services) disguised themselves as Kiev regime opponents, in order to throw bricks and stones at the police and Right Sector goons. This was the flashpoint that started the melee that ended in a massacre.

Videos on Russia Today show the agents in red arm bands mingled with the pro-Russia activists, initiated a confrontation with the cops, and then quickly switched sides when the fighting broke out. This is classic false flag operation. The police were obviously in on the scam, as they immediately opened their ranks to let the imposters slip by when the street-scrum began. These same imposters were later filmed shooting handguns and automatic weapons in the direction of the building just minutes after they had switched sides. (Take a look at this video from 3:30 minutes to the 6 minute-point and decide for yourself whether this was a false flag operation or not.)

Bottom line: There was nothing spontaneous about the clash that led to the catastrophic fire that killed 40 people in the Trade Unions House. It was a carefully planned and executed operation designed to shock Moscow into sending troops to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If the CIA is working in Kiev –as it is–there is no doubt that they either knew or actively assisted the operation.

In related news: Moscow has announced it will “deploy additional forces in Crimea as part of beefing up the Black Sea fleet…before year’s end”. According to RT: “The fleet will receive new submarines and surface ships of new generation this year.”

The Kremlin is responding to the buildup of NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea where additional aircraft, warships and ground troops have been deployed in case war breaks out. Also, according to RT:

“NATO’s three-week ‘Spring Storm’ drills, involving a record-breaking number of 6,000 troops, have begun in Estonia….(bringing) together a record number of allied troops.” (Also) around 150 personnel of the US airborne division arrived in a military transport aircraft to Amari airbase (while) the UK and France deployed eight fighter jets to Lithuania and Poland to strengthen NATO air defense over the Baltic regions.” (NATO’s record 6,000-strong drills kick off in Estonia amid Ukraine tensions, RT)

So while the death toll mounts, the slide to war continues to gain momentum. Odessa was supposed to be the tipping point, the “catalyzing event” that would draw Putin into the fighting. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Putin has stayed on the sidelines and refused to take the bait. That means there’ll be more provocations to come; more false flags, more bloodshed, more stage-managed terror disguised as civil unrest. Eventually, people will see who’s behind all the trouble. But how many will have died by then?

Note: Here’s a 12 minute video on Obama’s fascist friends in Ukraine. Listen to the last minute of the video to hear neocon Victoria Nuland praise Ukraine’s development of “democratic skills and institutions” with the appropriate backdrop of balaclava-clad Nazis and brightly colored swastikas.

Posted in USA, Ukraine1 Comment

US Media Follows White House Lead on Ukraine

NOVANEWS
The War Press

by RENEE PARSONS

One result of the current arson attack in Odessa last Friday is the inescapable truth that the US corporate-owned  mainstream media and its political allies in the White House, the Congress and the State Department have participated in a deliberate, conscious campaign to keep the truth from the American public.

Their reasoning is  understandable:   if, in fact, the American public knew the depth of the US involvement in the coup that ousted a democratically elected President in mid February and the ensuing assortment of lies, innuendos, deceptions and flagrant violation of democratic principles, they would be even more adamantly against any military involvement in Ukraine than they already are the minimum of information they currently have.

The American people, through bitter experience, have come to look upon official assertions of ‘democracy and freedom’ with well-founded suspicion.  The phrase “Weapons of mass destruction’ effectively used to justify war with Iraq may go down in history as a turning point of sorts  when Americans lost complete faith in their leaders ability to be truthful – and Barack Obama is no exception.

As a candidate and even in the early days of his Administration, President Obama whose political bio  touted him as a Constitutional scholar vowed  to have the most transparent administration ever – but that was before the prosecution of government whistleblowers challenged the President to deliver on his promise.

After a year and a half of Administration stonewalling, the recent releaseby Judicial Watch of documents regarding the Benghazi  attack in 2011 may have apparently directly implicated both the President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a coordinated effort to mislead the American public.   The full implications of those documents has yet to filter through the American media as another opportunity to withhold essential public information presents itself but when it does, the American public will react  viscerally as a further demonstration of official high level government  corruption deepening its alienation from the Federal government.

Which brings us to the truth-telling around the Ukraine crisis that has now blossomed into a civil war with a full barrage of military armaments and troops stationed at the borders of that once-obscure country, awaiting orders to initiate a once-inconceivable full-fledged war.

There is little doubt that Ukraine took a huge step toward  civil war last Friday in Odessa with the gruesome inferno  that took the lives of up to 60 citizens, many of whom were collecting referendum petition signatures, who were trapped inside, with all exits blocked and unable to escape as Molotov cocktails were thrown by the neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs,  members of the specially trained National Guard – and even as the news since Friday coming out of Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa indicate a dramatic escalation in  violence , the American mainstream media has yet to offer more than a brief reference usually along the crawler at the bottom of the television screen.

With the Kiev government ominously promising the ‘liquidation or detaining’ of all east Ukraine activists, the situation in Odessa continues to escalate with reports of an influx of up to 4000 well armed right wing militants brought in to keep the lid on Odessa, a crucial port city of one million, still the mainstream media fritters with nonsensical celebrity gossip while the world moves closer to a frightening conflagration of enormous proportions.

For example, the Saturday edition of the Washington Post, ran an article quoting an on-the-ground  Guardian reporter acknowledging that  “police said at least 31 people were dead after pro-Kiev demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails into a building where a pro-Russia contingent was holding out” yet otherwise  maintained the “pro-Kiev” ambiguous pose omitting the participation of  neo Nazi elements and their role in orchestrating the ensuing slaughter.

A  sporadic channel surfing search for media coverage of the Odessa assault by the Ukrainian special forces has still  produced no headlines, no bulletin,  no lead story across the media spectrum.   The few innocuous crawlers provided no real details of why, how and who set  the Trade Union building aflame and how was it that several dozen people were unable to escape –  but then what passes for today’s American journalists are mostly a non-curious lot.  It wasn’t until Monday evening  that Katty Kay on the BBC World Report dared to utter that the ‘images coming out of Ukraine look like a full fledged war.”

Warning:  Click here for painful photos and videos of Trade Union victims –  graphic video  and More graphic photos

Not only have liberal MSNBC stars like Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow ignored the ongoing facts of the humanitarian crisis but also Democracy Now which, to date, has offered muted coverage on Ukraine provided a minimum of comment for the violence that spiraled out of control since Friday  down to two sentences – yet all three were all over the Arab Spring revolts for weeks.

Here’s my take on how the game is played:   if the American people were allowed to know that Ukraine is currently in the throes of a civil war and that  the US State Department  coordinated the entire crisis bringing the world to the edge of a major military confrontation,  it would rise up as it did last September in opposition to Obama’s proposed bombing of Syria.   Instead, the left over  Bush neo-cons  and  Obama’s neo-cons realize the necessity of  censoring the news and suppressing the facts.   In addition, we have already seen that news of a Ukraine civil war would send Wall Street  bananas!    There is no doubt that the US wants war with Russia, albeit with NATO as its proxy, but the US must manipulate Putin into invading before  the US  gives the green light to retaliate.

It should come as little surprise to those who have followed US media coverage of the Ukrainian situation since early February with its almost daily, savage attacks on Russia and personal antagonism towards  Putin who, you may recall, saved the world from a catastrophic calamity in Syria last September – for which Barack Obama has not yet forgiven him.   Obama’s cheap shot at Putin during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last weekend was not only unprofessional but confirmed that the President is less of a role model than he believes.

It is interesting  to note that neither the President nor Secretary Kerry see any contradiction in  their applause for the Kiev government as representing  democracy  while it was a neo-Nazi coup that ousted  a democratically elected President and that while the President and Kerry were ‘disgusted’ by the violence on the streets of Kiev in mid February but have no  reaction to the deaths in Odessa and other east Ukraine communities.  And  does it make sense that a new ‘democratic’ government which needs  the consent of the governed to be successful would go to war against its own citizens in order to stop an insurrection against itself?  And, most importantly,  exactly what grievous act did the citizens of east Ukraine commit  that deserved such a ruthless vicious response – they peacefully occupied public building while insisting on a referendum to consider a more autonomous future.   The US once supported a people’s right to self-determination.    Now where’s the logic in the kind of thinking that goes to war without any direct provocation  – seems we’ve  been there before.

As the US and its cronies believe they have Putin boxed in, his back to the wall with nowhere to turn and while Putin is no doubt shrewd enough to realize the trap is set  but he is also shrewd enough to search for a non-military response.   One good guess is that on his upcoming trip to China with President Xi Jinping, who is also shrewd enough to understand what the US “Pivot to Asia” is all about, they  will have an intense discussion  on how to take down the dollar faster and more efficiently than they had previously planned.

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Navigating Syria

NOVANEWS
The Impossible, Indispensable Mission

by RAMZY BAROUD

I unfriended another Facebook friend this week. It may seem to be a trivial matter, but for me, it is not. The reason behind my action was Syria. As in Egypt, Syria has instigated many social media breakups with people whom, until then, were regarded with a degree of respect and admiration.

But this is not a social media affair. The problems lie at the core of the Syrian conflict, with all of its manifestations, be they political, sectarian, ideological, cultural, and intellectual. While on the left (not the establishment left of course) Palestine has brought many likeminded people together, Egypt has fragmented that unity, and Syria has crushed and pulverized it to bits.

Those who cried over the victims of Israeli wars on Gaza, did not seem very concerned about Palestinians starving to death in the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. Some squarely blamed the Syrian government for the siege that killed hundreds, while others blamed the rebels. Some writers even went further, blaming the residents of the camp. Somehow, the refugees were implicated in their own misery and needed to be collectively punished for showing sympathy to the Syrian opposition.

The only line of logic that exists in the Yarmouk narrative, as in the Syrian story as a whole, is that there is no logic. It has turned out that solidarity with Palestinians has limits. If forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad do the shooting – and the shelling and the starving – then the plight of the refugees is open for discussion.

It also has turned out that some of those who pose as human rights activists are rarely compelled by ethical priorities, but rather dogmatic ideology that is so rigid it has no space for a sensible argument based on a serious investigation of facts.

Some self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ have decided to elevate the status of Bashar al-Assad to that of being the last line of defence against American imperialism. They have done so with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi as well. Their line of reasoning doesn’t stem from a serious understanding of the legacies of both men, but an entirely different set of representations, as in the West’s own attitude towards Libya and Syria. Syria supported Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel. True. Leading US neoconservatives have plotted for years to ‘roll back’ Damascus, and to subdue any resistance to Israeli hegemony. Also true. But between delineating these truths and others, in all that the Syrian government has done – the horrendous war crimes, the perpetual sieges, the unhindered violations of human rights – everything is somehow forgiven. They are not to be discussed, or even acknowledged. In fact, for some, they never happened.

The other side is just as culpable. Crimes committed by opposition forces and al-Qaeda affiliated groups are heinous and barbaric. A simple news search produces volumes of crimes, massacres of entire villages, and whole families or individuals who belonged to the wrong sect, or religion.

The intellectual crowd that opposes Assad is also unmoved by all of this. They often pin the blame on Assad or the thugs (shabiha) for any reported crime anywhere in Syria. And when news emerges that the victims were loyalists to Assad, they find ways to twist the story in order to place the blame on Assad forces anyway. But when more is revealed to prove the responsibility of an opposition-affiliated militia, or a gang, they simply shift gears to another massacre elsewhere, which is real or fabricated.

How is one to navigate a Syria where there are no ‘good guys’, where a return to the status quo of an inherently corrupt, oppressive and an undemocratic, clan-based government is unthinkable? And where neither al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant nor any other warning faction offers the antidotes to Syria’s many ills – even worse, they offer an archaic and essentially violent interpretation of Islam?

How is one to navigate the Syrian intellectual realm when both narratives are riddled with half-truths or outright lies, where each discourse is predicated on the complete dismissal of the other? How is one to navigate this territory when many intellectuals who also masquerade as ‘human rights activists’ turn out to be narrow-minded ideologues devoid of any humanism?

Bashar is not a deity. He is no Che Guevara either. The crimes his forces committed, would be enough to send thousands of his backers to a never ending imprisonment. His opponents are no liberators. Few amongst them have any potential of being a harbinger of democracy or justice. Their crime record is vile and frightening.

The Syrian narrative is very complex because a ‘just solution’ is not a matter of a clever articulation of words. Aside from the Syrian camps, parties involved include Western powers, Arab governments, Israel, Russia, Iran, and a cluster of intelligence agencies and legions of foreigners, on all sides. The agendas are mostly sinister. The media campaigns are driven by lies. The story of the Ghouta chemical attack of last year is particularly poignant. A war was about to break out, led by the US and cheered on by Arabs. A recent investigation by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh suggests that the whole thing might’ve been a plot, involving Turkey, to indict the regime. He argues that the Americans knew it, yet still were ready to go to war.

If the Nusra group was indeed behind the Ghouta killings of hundreds of innocent Syrians, the Syrian army is not innocent; far from it; as it has killed thousands. The barrel bombs continue to level entire neighborhoods. Those who survived the chemical attacks, manage to die in numerous other ways.

New killing methods are now reportedly include crucifying victims. All of Syria is in fact being crucified. In fact, despite their differences, Syria’s warring parties are united in the blood of Syrians – and Palestinians – which they shed on a daily basis. When over 150,000 Syrians, including 10,000 children are dead, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, and 2.5 million have fled beyond the country’s borders, no one is innocent. As for the pseudo-intellectuals who are keeping track of one body count, and ignoring the other, they must wake up to the fact that there is only one pool of victims, the Syrian people.

Bishop Desmond Tutu is famous for his quote “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Some of those who applied the quote abundantly in the case of Palestine, are now ignoring it in the case of Syria, for it doesn’t fit perfectly with their ideas, where there can only be space for one single unadulterated and simplified narrative. All ‘facts’ are carefully selected and stacked in so carefully away to glorify one party and demonize the other. In their world, the story is convincingly clear, and those who don’t agree to its every component must be either a Jihadist, a Zionist, an Assad-sympathizer, a fan of Hezbollah or on the payroll of one intelligence service or the other.

But how do you navigate an impossible story? The answer: You side with the victim, no matter her colour, sect or creed. You remain committed to the truth, no matter how elusive. You drop every presupposition, abandon ideology, permanently discard dogma, and approach Syria with abundance of humanity and humility. We need to understand the roots of this heinous war, but we also need it to end for the good of the Syrian people. The Syrian conflict should not be a stage of bloody political intrigues for the West and Russia, Israel, Iran and the Arabs. Syria is not a God-given inheritance of the Assad-clan and their friends, or a space for another extremist experiment, as was the case in Afghanistan and Somalia, or another imaginary battlefield for social media leftists, whose claim to socialism is an occasional Facebook profile photo of a clasped fist, or an earth shattering quote about defeating capitalism.

Syria belongs to its people. You either stand on their side, or the side of the oppressor.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Navigating Syria

Egypt, Turkey and Iran

NOVANEWS
Exchanging Roles in a tumultuous Middle East

by FAIDI ELHUSSEINI

After less than a year of exceptional Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement, the events of June 30, 2013 ruptured this relationship. Similarly, when Egyptian and Iranian statesmen began to decrease tensions and a thaw in relations resulted, events evolved to return things to square one.

As these scenes, by and large, have been repeating over and over for many years, the overriding question is: Does this convergence and divergence stem from the free will of these states, or it is manufactured by foreign powers who have mapped out a specific plan for international relations in the region?

This article discusses this state of affairs in relation to three Middle Eastern countries: Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Many Arab and Western scholars have written about the importance of these countries for many reasons, including historical, cultural, demographic, geopolitical, strategic, military and others.

In their search for further dominance and bigger clout in the region, imperialist powers have been always trying to hamper any “emergence” of these countries, according to Samir Amin. Their ways differed, including either by sanctions (in the case of Iran), through debilitating and exhausting their capabilities and resources through wars and external loans (in the case of Egypt) or by isolating them from their surroundings (in the case of Turkey before the arrival of the Justice and Development Party [AK Party]). The upshot was selective containment, engagement or confrontation after subtly denying any form of indiscriminate policy towards these countries.

Intriguingly, other scholars have divided the region into circles: great, small and minor. Turkey, Egypt and Iran have been always placed in the most important position, hence the great circle. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq, float in a smaller circle, while the remaining countries roam around in the orbit of the minor, less important circle.

Countries in the Great Circle

This article focuses on the countries located in the great circle and their relations with the global powers. In fact, the importance of these three countries does not stop at the borders of this region, as some writers have gone on to describe these three as the gateway to the region. According to this assumption, this gate is formed of three corners or pillars, founded on these countries — if they huddle together, they can close the gateway and prohibit the entry of outsiders.

Ever mindful of the Sisyphean task of going through this gateway, which can be costly and sometimes impossible (due to an inability to keep balanced relations with all three countries), it is unequivocally obvious that any outsider who wishes to make a mark in the region must work on an arrangement to keep at least one corner of the gateway (Egypt, Turkey or Iran) open.

Going back to old times, there was fierce conflict between the Ottoman Empire, “Turkey,” and the Safavid state, “Iran.” After long years of bloody conflict, both sides realized that they were incapable of eliminating each other and accepted the existence of the other. When this front calmed, “Egypt,” which had been living under the Ottoman rule, suddenly rebelled, and Muhammad Ali Pasha attacked the Ottoman Empire. Tellingly, many attribute this to the British and French, who inspired Muhammad Ali to revolt and encouraged him with certain promises.

In modern history, several examples and incidents give a similar conclusion. When there was rapprochement between Iran — during the reign of the shah — and Turkey’s Atatürkists, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser was far from this convergence. With Anwar Sadat’s assumption of power in Egypt, all three countries came into one camp. Nonetheless, this situation did not last long, as the advent of the Iranian Revolution put Iran in an absolutely different camp.

Perhaps recent developments prove the accuracy of this diagnosis. When a rapprochement between Turkey and Iran was underway, especially through the role the former played in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program and in challenging US sanctions on Iran, Egypt, during the Hosni Mubarak era, was on a different side. Egyptian-Iranian relations were dormant, and Egyptian-Turkish relations were progressing tepidly.

Morsi’s Time in Office

During the Turkish-Iranian convergence, Mohamad Morsi came to power in Egypt and Egyptian-Turkish relations blossomed to an unprecedented level. On the other hand, a rare rapprochement between Egypt and Iran occurred and was reflected in mutual visits, most importantly by then-presidents Morsi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two countries started ironing out their differences and discussed the repair of a 35-year rupture in diplomatic relations.

Surprisingly, the events of June 30, 2013 took a different tack and altered the direction of these relations. Egyptian-Turkish relations deteriorated to the degree of recalling ambassadors and reducing the level of diplomatic representation. Similarly, Egyptian-Iranian relations have been, so far, tense, notably in the Iranian media’s treatment of what happened in Egypt as a coup, and Iranian officials have continued to criticize the new Egyptian leadership. The Monitor: Journal of International Studies says, “after the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, most of the region celebrated this change, except for Iran.” If this was true, one should also not forget that similar dismay took place in Turkey, as people crammed the streets in several Turkish cities condemning what had happened in Egypt.

But what would be the rationale behind keeping at least one corner of the gateway open?

To answer this, one must recall the role of the colonial powers, who tried to make an arrangement to keep the governments in this region dependent on them even after their formal independence. To that end, they deliberately installed and assigned new governments that differed from the social structure of the state (for example, a ruling Sunni elite in a Shiite majority country, or vice versa). For this reason, these governments would remain dependent and continue to seek external resources and foreign support for their domestic or regional struggles and survival.

The gateway hypothesis is congruent with this approach. The need to leave at least one corner open to foreign powers could not be realized unless these three countries were not close enough to each other to seal the gate. To do this, stoking conflict and keeping at least one of these countries aloof from the others would bring the required result.

A corollary of this is that the polities of these countries will search for foreign support and extended links from outside the region for any potential regional struggle lest there are unexpected repercussions. This, without a doubt, leaves one corner loose, and hence the gate will remain open to outsiders.

What we have been witnessing recently in the exchange of roles and shift in alliances gives a good indication of the accuracy of this hypothesis. When Iran had very good relations with Russia (after its isolation from Egypt and Turkey), the Egyptians and Turks sought closer relations with the US. Most starkly, when it diverged from Egypt, Iran worked on improving its relations with the US and Egypt worked on mending bridges with the Russians, and thus a remarkable rapprochement that had not happened since the days of Nasser has been the result.

To recap the chief argument of this analysis, many argue that all this comes in the context of a conspiracy aiming to keep this region fragmented. Yet I believe that such developments have ushered in a new mode of international relations, designed solely for this specific region.

Posted in Egypt, Iran, TurkeyComments Off on Egypt, Turkey and Iran

The Corporate Land Grab in Africa

NOVANEWS
“When Our Land is Free, We are Free”
by SILAS SIAKOR and JACINTA FAY

Right now in Abuja, Nigeria, agribusiness corporations are courting African governments at the Grow Africa Investment Forum to“further accelerate sustainable agricultural growth in Africa”.

That sounds harmless enough, until you know what it really means. Corporate interest in agriculture in Africa has certainly accelerated corporate control of land, seeds and water. But it has done little to support agriculture that will feed the continent.

Rather than support family farming and smallholder agriculture, private sector investment in agriculture has resulted in grabbing land from communities – the land which they farm sustainably and rely on for their survival.

Resisting the corporate bully boys

Communities are resisting this corporate takeover of their land and they are winning. All over Africa people are sending a clear message to their governments: “Stop selling Africa to corporations!” The Jogbahn Clan in Liberia is one such community and here is their story.

The sense of jubilation in Blayahstown, small town in Liberia, is palpable. People come from surrounding villages to join in the celebrations and the town is filled with singing and dancing.

The Jogbahn Clan is celebrating a victory as the President of Liberia has now recognised their right to say no Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) a British palm oil company grabbing their land.

This is no small feat in a country where over 50% of the land has been given to corporations without the consent of the communities who customarily own the land.

We come from this land – it is ours!

The sense of accomplishment is not lost on Chief Elder Chio Johnson who looks like he hasn’t stopped smiling since he returned from the Clan’s meeting with the President of Liberia – where she committed to support them in protecting their land from being grabbed by EPO.

“Why should a company take away our livelihood?” asked Chio. “We come from this land. Everything our ancestors left us is preserved in the forest, so why should we give up our forest?”

Walking through the forest with Deyeatee Kardor, the Clan’s Chairlady, she picks leaves and describes the different medicines that they can be used for. She recounts how she and her family hid in the forest throughout the Civil War and managed to survive on the plants and fruits growing in the bush.

Though the land bears the scars of the recent past it also represents the Clan’s ancestral home and they would not willingly allow this deep connection to the land to be fractured.

20,000 hectares of community land given away

The land gives us everything”, Chio says as he surveys the area; the vegetables, wild palm and sugar cane growing all around. Like other rural communities in Liberia they make their livelihood from the land they manage collectively.

The clan are self-sufficient and manage the land sustainably. For the Clan, to lose their land is to lose everything.

The communities’ resistance began in 2012 when EPO began to expand their plantation onto the community land of eleven towns. The Government of Liberia and EPO had signed a concession agreement allowing the company’s plantation to engulf communities’ land amounting to over 20,000 hectares.

Communities all over Liberia are facing the same threat as their lands are given to companies without their consent. As a result conflict between communities and companies has been widespread.

Police and EPO security intimidation

The Clan organised and came together to resist their land being grabbed. Men, women and youth from the affected towns chose representatives to form a core group to lead the resistance.

They met the company and the government several times to object to the company’s expansion. In spite of this towards the end of 2012 EPO began clearing and planting their land destroying crops and farmland.

In September 2013 EPO began surveying the communities’ land without their consent. When the communities attempted to stop the survey a paramilitary police unit was deployed into the area, and began to run a campaign of harassment and intimidation by both the police and EPO’s security force.

They drove through villages at night flashing their emergency lights and arrived in villages riding on top of vehicles the same way rebel fighters did during the war.

People were also assaulted during a peaceful march and 17 people suffered arbitrary arrest. The Clan Chief was also suspended from his position by the government because he spoke out against the company.

Divide and rule – this time, it failed

Despite these aggressive tactics the community continued resisting. They lodged a complaint to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and presented a petition to the government stating their objections.

“All they have done is try to divide us”, commented Deyeatee. “They offer important people a little money to try to convince them.”

However the community refused to be weakened by division and eventually secured the crucial meeting with the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf where she recognised their right to say ‘no’ to the company.

The struggle has made us stronger than ever before and we’ve learned a lesson to stay united”, said Anthony Johnson, a youth representative.

“The success is so great as it secures my future and the future of my children to come. I will stay on this land and plant crops for my children so future generations can live off the land.”

But for EPO, it’s business as usual

Despite the President’s commitment EPO has still not recognised that the Clan has said no to their operations. They are operating as if things are business as usual and conducting studies of the Clan’s land in preparation for clearing.

But the Clan are not discouraged and they continue their resistance for the hope of a better future.

Land clearance and other preparatory activities would be unlawful, as they do not respect communities’ right to give or withhold their Free Prior and Informed Consent, which is a requirement provided for under both national and international law.

“We want the government to support us to be self-sufficient on our land instead of giving it to a company who will just take the money and go home”, said Garmondeh Benwon, who suffered assault on the march. ”Instead we can keep the money in Liberia and we can live better lives.”

Organise and resist!

Every year, an area five times the land size of Liberia is grabbed from communities around the world. The Jogbahn Clan show that stopping it is possible when communities stand together, mobilise and resist.

The government has recognised their right to say no – and now EPO and KLK, their majority shareholder, must do the same.

It is a privilege to work in solidarity with the Clan and their drive and resilience has been a constant source of inspiration for everyone in SDI / FoE Liberia.

The Clan are preparing to share the lessons of their struggle and give hope to other communities resisting land-grabbing. And as Deyeatee says:

“I am very happy my land is free – because when our land is free, we’re all free.”

Silas Siakor is a campaigner on Community Rights and the founder of the Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth, Liberia a national civil society organisation promoting the sustainable and just use of Liberia’s natural resources. Silas has received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2006, the Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Environmental and Human Rights Activism from The Alexander Soros Foundation in 2012 and TIME Magazine chose him as one of the 2008 Heroes of the Environment.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on The Corporate Land Grab in Africa

Breaking the Last Taboo

NOVANEWS
The Ouster of Martin Indyk
by ALEXANDER REID ROSS

Back in September of 2000, Edward Said declared, “American Zionism has made any serious public discussion of the past or future of Israel—by far the largest recipient ever of US foreign aid—a taboo. To call this quite literally the last taboo in American Life would not be an exaggeration.” In accordance with Said’s position, Israel-Palestine “negotiation” expert Martin Indyk is resigning as US special envoy after being outed as an “anonymous source” who blamed Israeli settlements for the failure of negotiations.

Indyk’s statements speak for themselves:

 “There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shou- ldn’t ignore the bitter truth—the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Pale- stinians don’t  believe  that  Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at thesame time, it is building  settlements on the  territory meant for that state. We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now,  after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.”

Ironically, in his book, Innocent Abroad, Indyk places part of the blame for the peace processes’ failures on the “perception of increased settlement activity” when such activity was purportedly negligible. To be factually accurate, during the time period in question (the 1990s), the settler population actually increased by over 100,000. More of the fault, according to Indyk, lies in Israeli politicians duping US representatives. It bears contemplation as to whether or not Indyk is actually so naïve as to have been duped twice over an almost identical issue—after all, how could an authority with the National Security Council with decades of experience specializing in Israel-Palestine relations not know?  To sum up his approach: wherever the blame lies, it does not lie with the US—except for the thought that the US may have played too naively into Israeli interests.

Indyk parachuted into the US National Security Council by way of an inauguration-eve executive order by Clinton in 1994. Seen as a hardliner of the Israeli lobby during his reign as president of the Washington lobby group-cum-think tank, Institute for Near East Policy (akin to AIPAC) in the 1980s, the Australian national of Jewish descent was speedily naturalized as a US citizen, and took a privileged place in the “negotiations.” His role would be to continue the Clinton Administration’s appearance as “moderate” by normalizing the political position of Israel in West Asia and supporting “other moderates” from Iran to Palestine.

In fact, during the Clinton Administration, the US team coordinating the Israel-Palestine talks presented a far cry from a balanced, diverse approach. Said explained the process in his essay  “A People in Need of Leadership,” “After eight fruitless, immiserating years of further ‘negotiations,’ orchestrated by a team of US functionaries which has included such former lobby staffers for Israel as Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross, more abuses, more settlements, more imprisonments, more suffering have been inflicted on the Palestinians —including, since August 2001, a ‘Judaized’ East Jerusalem, with Orient House grabbed and its contents carted off: invaluable records, land deeds, maps, which Israel has simply stolen, as it did PLO archives from Beirut in 1982.”

These maps apparently did not help the State of Israel follow the accords that it signed during the 1990s; according to Indyk: “The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.”

For Josh Reubner, national advocacy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we are witnessing history repeat itself: “[John] Kerry’s initiative to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace was foreordained to fail because it replicated the same patterns of previous botched US efforts. Kerry relied upon a ‘peace process’ team chocked full of pro-Israel ideologues to attempt to foist on the Palestinians a non-sovereign entity. Far from constituting a state in any meaningful sense of the term, the U.S.-Israeli offer on the table would have kept this Palestinian entity under the complete control of Israel, with Israel annexing the vast majority of its illegal settlements and maintaining in place its infrastructure of military occupation, including the illegal apartheid wall.”

Reubner is absolutely correct that the terms were impossible. But what if the resignation of Indyk shows that matters are even worse than a historical mimicry? Indyk, who crafted his image as a hardliner in the 1980s and a moderate in the 1990s, now seems like a rogue—even though his politics have apparently remained consistent with the Wye Agreements and the Clinton parameters. Clues emerged that this pattern was already presenting itself when Indyk was stripped of his security clearance by the US State Department for apparently lax laptop usage. His status was reinstated, but he maintains the honor of being the first US diplomat ever stripped of security clearance.

About the current failure of the peace process, Indyk declares, “At this point, it’s very hard to see how the negotiations could be renewed, let alone lead to an agreement. Towards the end, Abbas demanded a three-month freeze on settlement construction. His working assumption was that if an accord is reached, Israel could build along the new border as it pleases. But the Israelis said no.” This is a far cry from the Wye Agreements, which actually restored lands to the Palestinians. Indyk’s prognosis is, therefore, a far more damning testament to the absence of honest discussion about the State of Israel, the failure of his “moderate” approach, and the resulting backslide of US-Israel policy. “The Palestinians are tired of the status quo,” Indyk insists. “They will get their state in the end—whether through violence or by turning to international organizations.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Breaking the Last Taboo

Indefinite Military Detention and the NDAA

NOVANEWS
The Creeping Hand of Fascism


by BINOY KAMPMARK

In declining to hear the case of Hedges v Obama and declining to review the NDAA, the Supreme Court has turned its back on precedent dating back to the Civil War era that holds that the military cannot police the streets of America.

Carl Mayer, Attorney for Chris Hedges, May 2014

President Barack Obama’s administration has that curious quality that marks it as authoritarian even as it embraces principles of liberty; an enemy of freedoms even as it claims to be promoting them in bookish fashion.  The tendency is part schizophrenic, part conscious bloody mindedness when it is found out.  Obama has shown a particular liking for various draconian laws which he hopes will sail past judicial and congressional scrutiny.  The National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, signed by the President last December, was devil spawn, engendered by a security atmosphere that has the executive and law makers enthral.

The indefinite detention clause – section 1021, more specifically 1021(b)(2) – allows for the “indefinite detention of American citizens without due process at the discretion of the President.” It actually made its ignominious debut in the NDAA Act of 2012.  The wording is astonishingly bruising to civil liberties, and has received considerable criticism from a range of sources.  Public polling by OpenCongress.com showed a 98 per cent disapproval rating.  The ACLU considered the statute “particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”  It can, in fact, be argued that the provision makes the entire domestic and global space of US policy a potential battlefield, governed by executive fiat.

The subsequent bill of 2013 contained amendments made by Congress attempted, in part, to limit the reach of the indefinite detention clause.  Sections 1031 to 1033 ostensibly attained those goals, affirming the right to due process for American citizens and the right of habeas corpus.  But the legislative Frankenstein would not go away – indefinite detention was simply something too good to let go.

On the legal front, a constitutional challenge was mounted by Christopher Hedges, Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, and joined by Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Alexa O’Brien, Tangerine Bolen of RevolutionTruth, Birgitta Jonsdottir and Occupy London activist Kai Wargella. They were to be rudely disappointed.

Things began promisingly enough. In 2012, US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest was sufficiently troubled by the offending section to rule it unconstitutional and grant a permanent injunction. “Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention – potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever.  The Constitution requires specificity – and that specificity is absent.”  She also repelled suggestions by lawyers for the Obama government that the section be re-instated as they appealed the decision.

The US Court of Appeal for the 2nd circuit did two things. It reinstated the law, swallowing the argument that it was needed for national security purposes.  The claimants immediately got suspicious[1] – was it already being used to detain US citizens “in black sites, most likely dual citizens with roots in such countries as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen”?  The national security premise seemed too pressing.

Second, the court decided to make a spurious legal exit in refusing to rule on the constitutionality of s. 1021(b)(2), citing the old issue of standing which was similarly used in the Supreme Court case of Clapper v Amnesty International USA (2013)[2]  In other words, those challenging the law could not show that the provision had any bearing on the government’s authority to indefinitely detain US citizens.  Those plaintiffs who were not US citizens could not show “a sufficient threat that the government will detain them” in the course of their conduct.  Similarly, in Clapper, the plaintiffs, of which Hedges was also one, could not show to the court’s satisfaction that secret wiretapping of US citizens under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was genuine in inflicting “real, unavoidable injury”.  The effects on such organizations as Amnesty International by wiretapping was “speculation”.

The refusal to hear the case of Hedges v Obama[3] by the Supreme Court on April 28, effectively affirming the appeals decision, threw the police state manual right back at the appellants.  A disgusted Hedges[4]showed justifiable frustration, calling it a “dirty game of judicial avoidance on two egregious violations of the Constitution.”

The rather contorted form of reasoning on the subject of proof and injury in surveillance and detention laws suggests that a patently authoritarian provision can’t be deemed unconstitutional unless it is proven to be directly exercised against the plaintiffs. If this can’t be shown, such reprehensible provisions will be allowed to remain on the books. If the proof be in the national security pudding, the judges were not interested in seeing, let alone tasting it.

As Daya Gamage[5], US national correspondent for the Asian Tribunesuggested, “The United States set a precedent for other nations that face terrorist threats, internally or externally, letting the government indefinitely detain people – under military custody – it deems to have ‘substantially supported’ al Qaeda, the Taliban or ‘associated forces.’”

The hallmark of any tyranny is arbitrariness exercised without limits, without guardians, without those controls that soften the blows of authority.  Hedges argues that the United States has “entered a post-constitutional era.”  He sees courts compliant, subject to a corporate ideal that is propelling his country into a legal wilderness; where citizens are marginalised from legal redress against the abuses of state power; where the seemingly invisible hand of fascism is becoming more discernible.  But that era was well and truly marked by the Bush administration, whose legacy is being bolstered, rather than modified, by his duplicitous successor.  So much, it seems, for constitutional protections.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Posted in USAComments Off on Indefinite Military Detention and the NDAA

Shocking report: US launched 201 out of 248 wars in world since WWII

NOVANEWS
The United States is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending.
The United States is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending.
The United States has launched 201 out of the 248 armed conflicts in the world since the end of WWII, a new report says, adding that 90 percent of causalities in these wars were civilians.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, June 2014 edition and written by David Swanson says, “Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The report adds, “The proportion of civilian deaths and the methods for classifying deaths as civilian are debated, but civilian war deaths constitute 85% to 90% of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

Swanson notes, “A top defense of war is that it must be used to prevent something worse, called genocide. Not only does militarism generate genocide rather than preventing it, but the distinction between war and genocide is a very fine one at best.”

The report future notes “The United States is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending. The next largest in spending are China, accounting for 8.2%; Russia, 4.1%; and the United Kingdom and France, both 3.6%. . . . If all military . . . costs are included, annual [US] spending amounts to $1 trillion”.

In other words, America has apparently adopted an “total power standard,” spending more on military than most of the rest of the world combined: “The United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined in 2011,” the report says.

The United States is one of the strongest supporters of the extremist-marked war in Syria which has killed tens of thousands of people over more than three years.

Washington has been conducting a provocative policy toward the crisis in Ukraine, heating tensions with Russia, causing many to suspect rise of a new cold war between the two world powers.

Posted in USAComments Off on Shocking report: US launched 201 out of 248 wars in world since WWII

Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main opposition pins hopes on Modi for Kashmir resolution

NOVANEWS

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, May 18 (Xinhua) — The main opposition party in Indian-controlled Kashmir, pro-India Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday said Indian people gave decisive mandate to Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi for a stable and government.

“At the national level people have voted and given a decisive mandate to the BJP for a strong and stable government at the centre,” Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the PDP patron said.

“Narendra Modi has got the political and electoral legitimacy to head the new government as the Prime Minister and we must all respect this legitimacy that has been accorded to him by the people,” said Mufti.

Mufti congratulates Modi and his party on their outstanding victory and hopes the new government to take steps towards resolving Kashmir issue.

“I hope the new government under the leadership of Modi will take tangible measures to address the causes of alienation and trust deficit in Kashmir and work towards finding long-lasting solution of the problem plaguing the region for the past more than six decades,” he said.

Mufti, the former chief minister of restive Indian-controlled Kashmir is a veteran Indian politician and has served as the first Muslim Home Minister of India in 1989.

His party PDP decimated the ruling National Conference, Congress party coalition in recently concluded Indian elections and bagged three seats. The other three seats of region were won by right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP.

The Indian-controlled Kashmir sends six members to the 543- strong lower house of Indian parliament known as Lok Sabha. In the new parliament there would be only 20 Muslim parliamentarians, of which three are from PDP.

Posted in IndiaComments Off on Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main opposition pins hopes on Modi for Kashmir resolution

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