Archive | March 10th, 2015

NATO Lies and Provocations: Splitting the Atlantic Alliance

NOVANEWS
Global Research
NATO-Russia

“The war has been provoked to destroy the Russian World, to draw Europe into it, and to surround Russia with hostile countries. Unleashing this world war, America is trying to deal with its own internal problems.”

– Sergei Glazyev, Advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin

The fabrications of NATO’s top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, have driven a wedge between Germany and the United States that could lead to a collapse of the Atlantic Alliance. According to the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, Breedlove has repeatedly sabotaged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine by spreading “dangerous propaganda” that is misleading the public about Russian “troop advances on the border, (and) the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks.” But while the unusually critical article singles out Breedlove for his hyperbolic exaggerations of so-called Russian aggression, the real purpose of the Spiegel piece is to warn Washington that EU leaders will not support a policy of military confrontation with Moscow.

Before we explain what’s going on, we need to look at an excerpt from the article. According to Spiegel:

“…for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements … it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.

There are plenty of examples….At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.
Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements.”…

On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims.”
(Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine, Der Spiegel)

While it’s easy to get swept up in the Spiegel’s narrative of a rabid militarist dragging Europe closer to World War 3, the storyline is intentionally misleading. As anyone who’s been following the Ukraine fiasco for the last year knows, there’s nothing particularly unusual about Breedlove’s distortions. Secretary of State John Kerry has made similar claims numerous times as have many others in the major media. The lies about “Russian aggression” are the rule, not the exception. So why has the Spiegel decided to selectively target Breedlove who is no more deceitful than anyone else? What’s really going on here?

Clearly, the Spiegel is doing Merkel’s work, that is, undermining the credibility of Washington’s chief commander in Europe in order to discourage further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. But while Merkel wants to humiliate Breedlove to show that Germany will not sit on its hands while Washington plunges the region into the abyss; she has also shown considerable restraint in limiting her attack to the General while sparing Kerry and Obama any embarrassment. This is quite an accomplishment given that –as we said earlier–virtually everyone in the political establishment and the media have been lying nonstop about every aspect of the conflict. Merkel doesn’t want to discredit these others just yet, although the Spiegel piece infers that she has the power to do so if the “bad behavior” persists.

The Spiegel article is part of a one-two punch designed to force Washington to change its confrontational approach. The second jab appeared late Sunday afternoon when EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that Europe needed to field its own army. Here’s the story from Reuters:

“The European Union needs its own army to face up to Russia and other threats as well as restore the bloc’s foreign policy standing around the world, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a German newspaper on Sunday…

“With its own army, Europe could react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighboring state.

“One wouldn’t have a European army to deploy it immediately. But a common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values.” (Juncker calls for EU army, says would deter Russia, Reuters)

Can you see what’s going on? On the one hand, the Spiegel delivers a hammer-blow to the credibility of NATO’s top officer and on the other, the President of the EU Commission blindsides US powerbrokers by announcing a plan to create an independent EU fighting force that will render NATO redundant. These are big developments that have undoubtedly left the Obama troupe reeling. This is a full-blown assault on NATO’s role as the primary guarantor of EU regional security. Maybe the European people are gullible enough to accept Junker’s absurd claim that an EU army will “send an important message to the world”, but you can be damn sure that no one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue believes that nonsense. The move is clearly designed to send a message to Washington that Europe is fed up with NATO and wants a change. That means it’s “shape up or ship out time” for Breedlove and his ilk.

Ironically, these developments align Merkel with Putin’s view of things as stated in his famous Munich speech in 2007 when he said:

“I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue … The United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way … And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this — no one feels safe.” (Russian President Vladimir Putin, 43rd Munich Security Conference, 2007)

How can the US possibly cast itself as “steward of the global security system”, when its interventions have left a trail of decimated failed states from the southernmost border of Somalia to the northern tip of Ukraine, a chaotic swathe of smoldering ruin and agonizing human suffering that rivals the depredations of the Third Reich.

Europe’s security requirements cannot be met by a belligerent, warmongering US-controlled entity that acts solely in Washington’s interests. At present, NATO gets 75% of its funding from the US, which is why the alliance is less interested in peacemaking and security than it is in internationalizing its imperial war of aggression across the planet. Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, European leaders didn’t see the danger of this idiotic arrangement (even though interventions in Serbia, Libya and Afghanistan should have brought them to their senses) But now that NATO’s recklessness could vaporize Europe in a nuclear firestorm, leaders like Merkel and Hollande are starting to change their tune. Keep in mind, the ideal scenario for the US would be a limited war that levels large parts of the European and Asian continents, thus restoring the US to its post WW2 heyday when the “rubblized” world was Washington’s oyster. That would be just fine for genocidal maniacs and armchair warriors who rule the globe from the safety of their well-stocked DC bunkers. But for Europe, this is definitely not a winning strategy. Europe doesn’t want a war, and it certainly doesn’t want to be used as cannon fodder for the greater glory of the dystopian NWO.

Putin advisor, Sergei Glazyev, figured out what Washington was up to long before Kiev launched its wretched “anti terrorism” campaign against federalist rebels in the East. Here’s how he summed it up:

“The main task the American puppet masters have set for the (Kiev) junta is to draw Russia into a full-scale war with Ukraine. It is for this purpose that all of these heinous crimes are committed – to force Russia to send troops to Ukraine to protect the civilian population…

The bankruptcy of the US financial system, which is unable to service its foreign debt, the lack of investments to finance a breakthrough to a new technological order and to maintain America’s competitiveness, and the potential defeat in the geopolitical competition with China. To resolve these problems, Americans need a new world war.” (Sergei Glazyev)

Bingo. The steadily-declining empire, whose share of global GDP continues to shrivel with every passing year, has wanted a war from the get go. That’s the only way that the US can reverse its precipitous economic slide and preserve its lofty spot as the world’s only superpower. Fortunately, EU leaders are beginning to pull their heads out of the sand long enough to grasp what’s going on and change their behavior accordingly.

It’s worth noting, that no one in the Merkel administration or anyone else for that matter, has publicly challenged the allegations in the Spiegel article. Why is that, do you think?

Doesn’t their silence suggest that they knew all along that all the anti-Putin propaganda hullabaloo was pure bunkum; that “evil” Putin didn’t send tanks and soldiers across the border into Ukraine, that Putin didn’t shoot down Malaysian Airline 17, that Putin didn’t have a political opponent gunned down gangland style just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin? Isn’t that what their silence really says?

Of course, it does. The reason no one in power has spoken out is because –as the Spiegel cynically admits–“A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary.”

“Propaganda is necessary”?

Whoa. Now there’s an admission you’re not going to see in the media too often. But it’s the truth, isn’t it? The Euro-leaders have been going along with the lies to keep the public in line. In other words, it’s a healthy dose of perception management for the sheeple, but the unvarnished truth for our revered overlords. Sounds about right. Only now these ame elites have decided to share the facts with the lumpen masses. But, why? Why this sudden willingness to share the truth?

It’s because they no longer support Washington’s policy, that’s why. No one in Europe wants the US to arm and train the Ukrainian army. No one wants them to deploy 600 paratroopers to Kiev and increase US logistical support. No one wants further escalation, because no one wants a war with Russia. It’s that simple.

For the first time, EU leaders, particularly Merkel, understand that the United States’ strategic objectives (the pivot to Asia) do not align with those of the EU, in fact, Washington’s geopolitical ambitions pose a serious threat to Europe’s security. Regrettably, it’s not enough for Merkel to simply understand what is going on. She needs to huddle with her EU colleagues and take positive steps to derail Washington’s plan now, otherwise the US will continue its incitements and false flags until Putin is forced to respond. Once that happens, a broader and, perhaps, catastrophic conflagration will be unavoidable.

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The Republican Senators Push for World War III

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Image result for WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

An Open Letter to the Republic of Iran from a cabal of 47 U.S. senators, written in the interests of the Israel lobby in Washington, on how ‘American democracy’ actually works to satisfy the demands of a foreign state to the detriment of the elected President of the United States and the vitally important current negotiations for peace being held by Iran, Britain, the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany, in Geneva.

The text of the letter is provided below:

United States Senate

Washington DC 20510.

March 9th. 2015

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution–the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices–which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have difference characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then–perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.

Sincerely

47 Republican Senators

http://go.bloomberg.com/assets/content/uploads/sites/2/150309-Cotton-Open-Letter-to-Iranian-Leaders.pdf

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“The Nobel Peace Prize Watch” Has Been Launched

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Image result for The Nobel Peace Prize LOGO

On March 3, 2015, The Telegraph and a few other major news sources broke the quite extraordinary story that the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee – the body that decides who is awarded the Prize – former Norwegian PM Thorbjoern Jagland had been demoted; it’s the first time it has ever happened.

It was during his chairmanship the will of Alfred Nobel was ignored most systematically; e.g., by awarding the world’s allegedly most prestigious prize to President Obama, the EU and Chinese human rights (but pro-war) Liu Xiaobo.

It’s about seven years ago that a small group of Scandinavian scholars decided to investigate how this prize is managed.

The basic research can be found in a book by Norwegian lawyer and author, Fredrik S. HeffermehlThe Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted which was the first major result of the group’s work.

It documents how this prize is “prestigious” only for those who either a) have never read Alfred Nobe’s will; b) don’t believe it should be interpreted with respect for his motives and goals and c) have very little knowledge about peace and peace research.

Nobel’s formulation in his will is short and clear – the Peace Prize shall go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” He calls such people “champions of peace”. More here.

Thus, the Nobel Peace Prize is not a do-good prize, not a human rights or environmental prize and not a pro-war prize.

But it is a reward work for disarmament, anti-militarism and the abolition of warfare and people – be it politicians, scholars, activists – who are pro-peace, champions of peace.

The legal challenges that the Nobel Peace Prize Watch has raised over the years can be found here.

The Nobel Peace Prize Watch

Over the years, the criticism of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s work has increased. Seven years ago, I cannot remember that any journalist who interviewed me about the Prize had read the will. Now about 75% of them seem to have before they call.

Fredrik Heffermehl, Oslo, and Tomas Magnusson, Gothenburg, have now established the Lay Down Your Arms Association which was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014 with a Scandinavian and an International Advisory Board.

The Association’s first project has been to set up the Nobel Peace Prize Watch where you can acquaint yourself with the Prize, its history, background, the criticism over time, etc.

The Nobel Peace Prize Watch has written a detailed letter, dated February 20, 2015, to the Norwegian Parliament, The Nobel Foundation in Stockholm and to the Norwegian Nobel Committee outlining what must be done and why a watch has become necessary.

These initiatives have, with few exceptions, been ignored by the media, media which profess to practise freedom of expression and freedom of the media but seem to hesitate to challenge the political establishment that preserves this prize as an emblem for Norway and its security and foreign policy.

Why? Few seem to be aware that the Nobel Committee, in contrast to other Nobel prize selection bodies, consists of former MPs and not of experts in the broad field of peace.

It is worth also mentioning that Nobel in his will stipulated that the Norwegian Parliament should appoint a qualified committee; he did not say it should consist of its members.

These circumstances place the “prestigious” Prize in danger of being tied to Norwegian political interests.

Whether this danger is big or small can be debated but not the fact that it is peculiar that the Peace Prize is the only one that doesn’t require any particular scientific or other competence – as if peace was not an area of knowledge, research and professionalism.

Breaking the secrecy: The candidates

A global research effort has been made to break the secrecy surrounding the selection process for the Prize and publish a list of known candidates for 2015 with documentation.

Transparency makes it possible for everyone to see for themselves which candidates satisfy Alfred Nobel’s criteria, which candidates are selected by the Committee and whether or not some were available who do satisfy the criteria.

Allegedly there are around 300 for 2015 and here is the result of the research – a list of the so far 25 known, documented candidates.*

You can read about each candidate, see who nominated them and with what motivations. And if you know about nominations not mentioned here, please alert the Nobel Peace Prize Watch.

The Prize must come back to Alfred Nobel’s champions of peace 

The work, begun seven years ago, to create debate about the Nobel Peace Prize has gained momentum.

It is unacceptable that the millions of people around the world who work for peace in the sense Alfred Nobel intended have been deprived of what is truly the most prestigious and noble thing: to be rewarded for their struggle against militarism and for a world with much fewer weapons and wars.

That work will be intensified and continue to develop a critical mass in support of Alfred Nobel’s will. I kindly urge you to spread this message through traditional media, social media and your various communities.

* TFF is immensely proud to see that four of its Associates are among the Candidates for the 2015 Prize: Richard Falk, David Krieger, Evelin Lindner and Jan Oberg.

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Obama Declares Venezuela “A Threat to National Security”, Seeks Regime-Change

NOVANEWS
Global Research

venezuela-us43

The Obama Administration, which in 2009 provided the crucial assistance that enabled the progressive democratic President of Honduras to be overthrown and a junta of oligarchs to replace him; and which in 2014 perpetrated a bloody coup that replaced the corrupt but democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, replaced by a rabidly anti-Russian equally corrupt Government, and thus sparked Ukraine’s civil war against the area of Ukraine that had voted 90% for Yanukovych; is now again trying to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected President, Nicolas Maduro. 

Reuters on Monday March 9th headlined “U.S. Declares Venezuela a National Security Threat, Sanctions Top Officials,” and their report gives its closing word to an opposition politician, whom Obama supports and who says: ”It’s not a problem with Venezuela or with Venezuelans; it’s a problem for the corrupt ones” (i.e., Maduro and his Government).

In other words, yet again, the idea Obama is pushing is: we’re just trying to replace a ‘corrupt’ elected head-of-state.

The White House explains its Executive Order on March 9th by saying: “President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. … Specifically, the E.O. targets those determined by the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, to be involved in … actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions.”

The Executive Order itself declares that the existing Government of Venezuela limits rights and is corrupt, which “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

On 14 February 2015, President Maduro had thwarted a coup-attempt against him by the Governments of Canada and the UK. This followed almost exactly a year after he had already thwarted such an attempt by the U.S. Government. In December 2013, the Maduro Government presented detailed evidence that the U.S. was planning a coup against him.

On 15 January 2015, Maduro met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. The Obama Administration is, of course, especially trying to bring down President Putin.

President Obama is also trying to bring down Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. In 2011, he had bombed away the regime of Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi. Both Assad and Gaddafi also are/were allies of Russia, as is Iran. The Obama Administration is now assisting ISIS in its war against Assad, even while bombing ISIS.

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The Legacy of Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara

NOVANEWS

Sankara Courts to Allow Exhumation of Thomas Sankara Remains. Investigation is needed which would be international in scope

Global Research
ThomasSankara

Martyred Burkinabe revolutionary Pan-Africanist and Marxist leader from 1983-1987, Capt. Thomas Sankara, was assassinated in a coup on October 15, 1987. He was only 37 years old. 

Sankara came to power during a critical period in the transition to a new phase of imperialist exploitation and oppression of the emerging African states. The role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other global financial institutions was generating tremendous social restructuring and consequent political struggle and debate.

Born in 1949, Sankara grew up during the turbulent 1950s and 1960s when independence struggles swept various African states. He joined the Upper Volta military at a young age and was stationed in Madagascar where he witnessed a popular left-leaning uprising that toppled a neo-colonialist regime in 1970.

During the 1970s he rose through the ranks of the military and was made an administrator of a training program for soldiers in the city of Po. In 1972 he went for further military training in France where he was exposed to Marxist ideas advocated by leftist organizations active during the period.

By the 1980s, unrest had reached a boiling point in Upper Volta when trade unions and students engaged in strikes and mass rebellions. A series of military coups took place and Sankara’s uncompromising positions landed him in prison on at least two occasions.

On August 4, 1983, left-wing elements within the military backed by the popular will of the masses liberated Sankara and made him leader of the National Council of the Revolution. The change of power although initiated by the junior army officers drew broad support among the working class, youth and the peasantry.

After coming to power in 1983, Sankara led a movement to change the name of the landlocked West Africa state, a former French colony labelled Upper Volta, to Burkina Faso, the land of the upright people. The program of his government called for the creation of import-substitution industries to curtail the reliance on essential and luxury goods from capitalist countries, the mobilization of youth and women to fight neo-colonialism and the cancellation of the debt owed to financial institutions based in the western imperialist states.

An article published in the Guardian on March 5 says that under Sankara the Burkina Faso government:

“launched nationalization, land redistribution and grand social programs in one of the world’s poorest countries. During his four-year rule, school attendance leaped from 6% to 22%, some 2.5 million children were vaccinated and thousands of health centers opened. Housing, road and railway building projects got under way and 10 million trees were planted.”

In addition, this same article continues,

“Sankara declared war on corruption and embraced personal austerity, paying himself a salary of $450 a month, slashing the wages of his top officials and forbidding the use of chauffeur-driven Mercedes and first class airline tickets by his ministers and senior civil servants. He refused to have his picture displayed in public buildings, still a rare thing in the Africa of 2015, and was staunchly opposed to foreign aid, declaring: ‘He who feeds you, controls you.’”

Also the Sankara government prioritized gender quality, working towards the end of female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. His influence extended far beyond Burkina Faso leading to close relations with Libya under Gaddafi and Cuba during the leadership of President Fidel Castro.

After a four year experiment in social revolution, Sankara was overthrown in a military coup led by Blaise Compaore, who was his deputy within the government. After Compaore seized power, the government moved rapidly towards the West, honoring international debts and abolishing the anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanist foreign policy of Sankara.

Blaise Campaore emerged from a meeting where Sankara was assassinated as the head-of-state who remained in power until a mass uprising during late October 2014 toppled his pro-Paris and Washington-allied regime. Compaore immediately fled to neighboring Ivory Coast.

An Investigation into the Assassination and Coup Are Required 

The courts in Burkina Faso have recently paved the way for the proper identification of the remains of the martyred leader who was buried in 1987 without an official ceremony or an explanation of the circumstances surrounding his death.

However, the widow of Sankara, Mariam, is demanding a broader inquiry into the assassination of the revolutionary leader which led to his overthrow. Compaore has stated in the past that he had no information on what happened to Sankara.

Yet he was in the meeting where the struggle erupted over the future of the government. Moreover, it was Compaore who emerged as the head-of-state after the murder of Sankara.

Any inquiry would have to look at the role of neighboring Ivory Coast and France in the coup and assassination. The policies of Sankara went radically against the French neo-colonial system so prevalent then and even now in West Africa.

Ivory Coast during the 1980s was still under the leadership of the-then President Felix Houphoet-Boigny, a proponent of the post-colonial system of economic and political integration with Paris. Tensions between Abidjan and Ouagadougou were at an all-time high.

In a promotional article for the documentary film entitled “Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man”, it says that by 1987 “Clandestinely, elements in the Burkinabe leadership forged relationships with Côte d’Ivoire president Félix Houphoet-Boigny, France’s staunchest ally and an outspoken opponent of Sankara’s increasingly influential attacks on neo-colonialism. On October 15th during a staff meeting, a gang of armed soldiers, either led or ordered by Blaise Compaoré, Sankara’s closest friend and most trusted comrade throughout the revolution, assassinated him. His body was dismembered, buried in a make-shift grave and any mention of him was erased from public view.” (October 31, 2014 Facebook posting)

Of course during the uprising that toppled Compaore last October the masses revealed that they had not forgotten Sankara at all. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding the ouster of Compaore, many of these demonstrators were youth and workers wearing t-shirts and holding banners displaying Sankara’s image.

Elections will be held later on this year in Burkina Faso and it will remain to be seen how well the parties committed to the ideals of Sankara fair in the process. Sankara’s views on self-reliance and anti-imperialism are essential during a period of escalating French and United States military interventions in Africa.

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Film Review: American Sniper

NOVANEWS

I saw a dangerous pro-war movie, not the anti-war film described by the director and producers.

Global Research
american sniper

I saw a dangerous pro-war movie, not the anti-war film described by the director and producers.

American Sniper is a popular war movie about an actual decorated US sniper, Kyle, who claimed 255 ‘kills’ in Iraq. Kyle is a ‘good guy’ from Texas who failed as a cowboy only to find his true calling as a sniper in the Navy Seals.

The sniper kills from his rooftop perch, including a woman and a young boy who attempt to throw a bomb at the American invaders. He is a cog in a war killing machine.

Killing at times appears to trouble his conscience, but as a macho Navy Seal he is taught to do his job as a loyal patriot of his country.

The real Kyle was killed in the US by a fellow veteran whom Kyle offered to help overcome his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both were victims of PTSD.

The movie was adapted from the best selling and controversial 2012 book: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (above), which netted Kyle’s family $3 million.

The film is the highest-grossing war movie ever, netting $0.5 billion. The film won 9 of 30 film awards nominated.

Because American Sniper is beautifully-produced, it appears to me to be a dangerous pro-war propaganda film, supporting an old colonial strategy that might is right. It invites young people to join the military, learn a trade and make money from the killing machine — all in the name of protecting ‘our way of life.’ ‘We must kill’ them with new weapons of mass destruction, because ‘they’ threaten ‘us,’ goes the argument. This is a deadly knee-jerk reaction orchestrated by politicians, military generals, and those seeking opportunities to profit from killing.

In my opinion, director Clint Eastwood’s claim that American Sniper is an anti-war apolitical film lacks context. It depicts the Iraqi people as savages and terrorists who must be destroyed because they threaten the American way of life. Much is missing:

  • This and most military films don’t mention the alternative paradigm of nonkilling peacemaking.
  • The repugnance of militarism and war as an institution with no viable future. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: ‘An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.’ The film continues the notion that war is the way of the future.
  • We are dealing with blood oil,’ cheap oil for North America, taken by violent invasion if necessary, and the failure of the leadership to deal with climate change. The solution is to develop alternative sources of energy in ones own country.
  • We see the failure of the leadership to learn the basic lessons of physics: ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. The remedy: Stop poking your nose into someone else’s business. Bring your troops home.
  • The film lacks humanizing the opponents in the battle. The military model is demonizing in that it pursues ‘us against them solution, without any attempt at discovering friends.
  • There is no mention of why the Americans invaded Iraq in the first place. No mention is made of money, oil, and a faulty foreign policy based on ‘exceptionalism.’
  • No mention is made of the money spent on war preparations, on spying, on secrecy and war itself. Just think of how trillions of dollars could be used to solve poverty, housing, healthcare, education, and cultural enrichment in our communities and the wider world?
  • We need to discover that real heroism and real patriotism is not based on killing but on getting rid of weapons. My ancestors, the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors, influenced by world writer and philosopher Lev N. Tolstoy, did this in 1895 when 7,000 of them burnt their guns in three locations of Transcaucasia, Russia.

Once a broad disarmament program gets underway, preferably with support of the United Nations, we need to rapidly develop a design for a viable world order. Presently a nonkilling paradigm is available and efforts are being made to create Departments of Peace at the government’s cabinet level. Future filmmakers ought to take note and develop scenarios with exciting films featuring the role of cooperation, respect for humanity, compassion, and love in our emerging global society.

Other Reviews

  1. Vic Thiessen. The winter’s most dangerous filmCanadian Mennonite, March 2, 2015: 32.
  2. Richard Falk. Viewing American Sniper’. Transcend Media Service, February 2, 2015.
  3. Cindy Sheehan. Casey vs. Kyle: On Bloodlust, Loss, and Wars of Choice.Common Dreams, January 21, 2015.
  4. Criticisms and Eastwood’s responsesWikipedia.

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For Washington: “What is Inexcusable is Venezuela’s Political independence”

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Global Research
venezuela-bandera

An interview with John Pilger, conducted by Michael Albert.

Why would the U.S. want Venezuela’s government overthrown?

There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because it is independent of U.S. designs for the region and because Venezuela has the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically rapacious U.S. An Oxfam report once famously described the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as ‘the threat of a good example’. That has been true in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez won his first election. The ‘threat’ of Venezuela is greater, of course, because it is not tiny and weak; it is rich and influential and regarded as such by China. The remarkable change in fortunes for millions of people in Latin America is at the heart of U.S. hostility. The U.S. has been the undeclared enemy of social progress in Latin America for two centuries. It doesn’t matter who has been in the White House: Barack Obama or Teddy Roosevelt; the U.S. will not tolerate countries with governments and cultures that put the needs of their own people first and refuse to promote or succumb to U.S. demands and pressures. A reformist social democracy with a capitalist base – such as Venezuela – is not excused by the rulers of the world. What is inexcusable is Venezuela’s political independence; only complete deference is acceptable. The ‘survival’ of Chavista Venezuela is a testament to the support of ordinary Venezuelans for their elected government – that was clear to me when I was last there.  Venezuela’s weakness is that the political ’opposition’ — those I would call the ‘East Caracas Mob’ – represent powerful interests who have been allowed to retain critical economic power. Only when that power is diminished will Venezuela shake off the constant menace of foreign-backed, often criminal subversion. No society should have to deal with that, year in, year out.

What methods has the U.S. already used and would you anticipate their using to unseat the Bolivarian Revolution?

There are the usual crop of quislings and spies; they come and go with their media theatre of fake revelations, but the principal enemy is the media. You may recall the Venezuelan admiral who was one of the coup-plotters against Chavez in 2002, boasting during his brief tenure in power, ‘Our secret weapon was the media’. The Venezuelan media, especially television, were active participants in that coup, lying that supporters of the government were firing into a crowd of protestors from a bridge. False images and headlines went around the world. The New York Times joined in, welcoming the overthrow of a democratic ‘anti-American’ government; it usually does. Something similar happened in Caracas last year when vicious right-wing mobs were lauded as ‘peaceful protestors’ who were being ‘repressed’. This was undoubtedly the start of a Washington-backed ‘colour revolution’ openly backed by the likes of the National Endowment for Democracy – a user-friendly CIA clone. It was uncannily like the coup that Washington successfully staged in Ukraine last year.  As in Kiev, in Venezuela the ‘peaceful protestors’ set fire to government buildings and deployed snipers and were lauded by western politicians and the western media. The strategy is almost certainly to push the Maduro government to the right and so alienate its popular base. Depicting the government as dictatorial and incompetent has long been an article of bad faith among journalists and broadcasters in Venezuela and in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe. One recent U.S. ‘story’ was that of a ‘U.S. scientist jailed for trying to help Venezuela build bombs’. The implication was that Venezuela was harbouring ‘nuclear terrorists’. In fact, the disgruntled nuclear physicist had no connection whatsoever with Venezuela.

All this is reminiscent of the unrelenting attacks on Chávez, each with that peculiar malice reserved for dissenters from the west’s ‘one true way’. In 2006, Britain’s Channel 4 News effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The Washington correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Chávez as a sinister buffoon, while allowing Donald Rumsfeld, a war criminal, to liken Chavez to Hitler, unchallenged. The BBC is no different. Researchers at the University of the West of England in the UK studied the BBC’s systematic bias in reporting Venezuela over a ten-year period. They looked at 304 BBC reports and found that only three of these referred to any of the positive policies of the government. For the BBC, Venezuela’s democratic initiatives, human rights legislation, food programmes, healthcare initiatives and poverty reduction programmes did not exist. Mission Robinson, the greatest literacy programme in human history, received barely a passing mention. This virulent censorship by omission complements outright fabrications such as accusations that the Venezuelan government are a bunch of drug-dealers.  None of this is new; look at the way Cuba has been misrepresented – and assaulted – over the years. Reporters Without Borders has just issued its worldwide ranking of nations based on their claims to a free press. The US is ranked 49th, behind Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso and El Salvador.

Why might now be a prime time, internationally, for pushing toward a coup? If the primary problem is Venezuela being an example that could spread, is the emergence of a receptive audience for that example in Europe adding to the U.S. response?

It’s important to understand that Washington is ruled by true extremists, once known inside the Beltway as ‘the crazies’. This has been true since before 9/11. A few are outright fascists. Asserting U.S. dominance is their undisguised game and, as the events in Ukraine demonstrate, they are prepared to risk a nuclear war with Russia. These people should be the common enemy of all sane human beings. In Venezuela, they want a coup so that they can roll-back of some of the world’s most important social reforms – such as in Bolivia and Ecuador. They’ve already crushed the hopes of ordinary people in Honduras. The current conspiracy between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil is meant to achieve something more spectacular in Venezuela, and Russia.

What do you think the best approach might be to warding off U.S. machinations, and those of domestic Venezuelan elites as well, for the Bolivarians?

The majority people of Venezuela, and their government, need to tell the world the truth about the attacks on their country. There is a stirring across the world, and many people are listening. They don’t want perpetual instability, perpetual poverty, perpetual war, perpetual rule by the few. And they identify the principal enemy; look at the international polling surveys that ask which country presents the greatest danger to humanity. The majority of people overwhelmingly point to the U.S., and to its numerous campaigns of terror and subversion.

What do you think is the immediate responsibility of leftists outside Venezuela, and particularly in the U.S. 

That begs a question: who are these ’leftists’? Are they the millions of liberal North Americans seduced by the specious rise of Obama and silenced by his criminalising of freedom of information and dissent? Are they those who believe what they are told by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC? It’s an important question. ‘Leftist’ has never been a more disputed and misappropriated term. My sense is that people who live on the edge and struggle against US-backed forces in Latin America understood the true meaning of the word, just as they identify a common enemy.  If we share their principles, and a modicum of their courage, we should take direct action in our own countries, starting, I would suggest, with the propagandists in the media. Yes, it’s our responsibility, and it has never been more urgent.

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on For Washington: “What is Inexcusable is Venezuela’s Political independence”

Russia’s Remarkable Renaissance

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Image result for KREMLIN PHOTO

Something remarkable is taking place in Russia, and it’s quite different from what we might expect. Rather than feel humiliated and depressed Russia is undergoing what I would call a kind of renaissance, a rebirth as a nation. This despite or in fact because the West, led by the so-called neo-conservatives in Washington, is trying everything including war on her doorstep in Ukraine, to collapse the Russian economy, humiliate Putin and paint Russians generally as bad. In the process, Russia is discovering positive attributes about her culture, her people, her land that had long been forgotten or suppressed.

My first of many visits to Russia was more than twenty years ago, in May, 1994. I was invited by a Moscow economics think-tank to deliver critical remarks about the IMF. My impressions then were of a once-great people who were being humiliated to the last ounce of their life energy. Mafia gangsters sped along the wide boulevards of Moscow in sparkling new Mercedes 600 limousines with dark windows and without license plates. Lawlessness was the order of the day, from the US-backed Yeltsin Kremlin to the streets. “Harvard boys” like Jeffrey Sachs or Sweden’s Anders Aaslund or George Soros were swarming over the city figuring new ways to rape and pillage Russia under the logo “shock therapy” and “market-oriented reform” another word for “give us your crown jewels.”

The human toll of that trauma of the total collapse of life in Russia after November 1989 was staggering. I could see it in the eyes of everyday Russians on the streets of Moscow, taxi-drivers, mothers shopping, normal Russians.

Today, some two decades later, Russia is again confronted by a western enemy, NATO, that seeks to not just humiliate her, but to actually destroy her as a functioning state because Russia is uniquely able to throw a giant monkey wrench into plans of those western elites behind the wars in Ukraine, in Syria, Libya, Iraq and well beyond to Afghanistan, Africa and South America.

Rather than depression, in my recent visits to Russia in the past year as well as in numerous discussions with a variety of Russian acquaintances, I sense a new feeling of pride, of determination, a kind of rebirth of something long buried.

Sanctions Boomerang

Take the sanctions war that the Obama administration has forced Germany, France and other unwilling EU states to join. The US Treasury financial warfare unit has targeted the Ruble. The morally corrupt and Washington-influenced Wall Street credit rating agencies have downgraded Russian state debt to “junk” status. The Saudis, in cahoots with Washington, have caused a free-fall in oil prices. The chaos in Ukraine and EU sabotage of the Russian South Stream gas pipeline to the EU, all this should have brought a terrified Russia to her knees. It hasn’t.

As we have earlier detailed, Putin and an increasing number of influential Russian industrialists, some of the same who a few years ago would have fled to their posh London townhouses, have decided to stand and fight for the future of Russia as a sovereign state. Oops! That wasn’t supposed to happen in a world of globalization, of dissolution of the nation-state. National pride was supposed to be a relic like gold. Not in Russia today.

On the first anniversary of the blatant US coup in Kiev that installed a hand-picked regime of self-professed Neonazis, criminals, and an alleged Scientologist Prime Minister Andriy Yansenyuk, hand-picked by the US State Department, there was a demonstration in downtown Moscow on February 22. An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 people showed up—students, teachers, pensioners, even pro-Kremlin bikers. They protested not against Putin for causing the economic sanctions by his intransigence against Washington and EU demands. They protested the blatant US and EU intervention into Ukraine. They called the protest “Anti-Maidan.” It was organized by one of many spontaneous citizen reactions to the atrocities they see on their borders. Internet satirical political blogs are making fun of the ridiculous Jan Paski, until last week the fumbling US State Department Press Spokesperson.

Not even an evident False Flag attempt in the London Financial Times and Western controlled media to blame Putin for “creating the climate of paranoia that caused” Boris Nemtsov’s murder is being taken seriously. Western “tricks” don’t work in today’s Russia.

And look at US and EU sanctions. Rather than weakening Putin’s popularity, sanctions have caused previously apolitical ordinary Russians to rally around the president, who still enjoys popularity ratings over 80%. A recent survey by the independent Levada Center found 81 percent of Russians feel negatively about the United States, the highest figure since the early 1990s “shock therapy” Yeltsin era. And 71 percent feel negatively about the European Union.

The renaissance I detect is evident in more than protests or polls, however. The US-instigated war in Ukraine since March 2014 has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, one which the US-steered German and other western media have blocked out of their coverage. More than one million Ukrainian citizens, losing their homes or in fear of being destroyed in the insane US-instigated carnage that is sweeping across Ukraine, have sought asylum in Russia. They have been welcomed as brothers according to all reports. That is a human response that has untold resonances among ordinary Russians. Because of the wonders of YouTube and smart phone videos, Russians are fully aware of the truth of the US war in eastern Ukraine. Russians are becoming politically sensitive for the first time in years as they realize that some circles in the West simply want to destroy them because they resist becoming a vassal of a Washington gone berserk.

Rather than bow to the US Treasury’s Ruble currency war and the threat that Russian banks will be frozen out of the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) international interbank clearing system, something likened to an act of war, on February 16, the Russian government announced that it had completed its own banking clearing network in which some 91 domestic credit institutions have been incorporated. The system allows Russian banks to communicate seamlessly through the Central Bank of Russia.

That is inside Russia among banks that otherwise were vulnerable even domestically to a SWIFT cut. Russia joined the Brussels-based private SWIFT system as the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989. Today her banks are the second largest users of SWIFT. The new system is inside Russia. Necessary, but not sufficient, to protect against SWIFT cutoff. The next step in discussion is joint Russia-China interbank clearing independent of SWIFT and Washington. That is also coming.

The following day after Russia’s “SWIFT” alternative was announced as operational, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said China will build up its strategic partnership with Russia in finance, space and aircraft building and “raise trade cooperation to a new level.” He added that China plans to cooperate more with Russia in the financial area and in January Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said that payments in national currencies, de-dollarization, were being negotiated with China. China realizes that if Russia collapses, China is next. Failing empires try desperate measures to survive.

Russians also realize that their leaders are moving in unprecedented ways to build an alternative to what they see as a morally decadent and bankrupt American world. For most Russians the disastrous decade of poverty, chaos and deprivation of the Yeltsin era in the 1990’s was reminder enough what awaits should Russia’s leaders again prostitute themselves to American banks and corporations for takeover, Hillary Clinton’s infamous “reset” of US-Russian relations she attempted when Medvedev was President. Russians see what the US has done in neighboring Ukraine where even the Finance Minister, Natalia Jaresko, is an American, a former State Department person.

Russia and its leaders are hardly trembling behind Kremlin walls. They are forging the skeleton of a new international economic order that has the potential to transform the world from the present bankruptcy of the Dollar System. Moscow and Beijing recently announced, as I discussed in a previous posting, their project to create a joint alternative to the US credit rating monopoly of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. President Putin’s travel agenda in the past year has been mind-boggling. Far from being the international paraiah Washington and Victoria Nuland hoped for, Russia is emerging as the land which has the courage to “just say No!” to Washington.

Russia’s president has been in Cyprus where possible basing for the Russian navy was discussed, in Egypt where General al-Sisi warmly welcomed the Russian leader and discussed significant economic and other joint cooperation. Late last year Russia and the BRICS states agreed to form a $100 billion infrastructure bank that makes the US-controlled World Bank irrelevant. The list grows virtually every day.

The special human side

For me, however, the most heartening feature of this Russian renaissance is in the generation which is today in their late thirties to early forties—young, highly intelligent and having experience of both the depravity of Soviet communist bureaucracy but as well of the hollow world of US-led so-called “free market capitalism.” I share some examples from the many Russians I have come to know in recent years.

What is unique in my mind about this generation is that they are the hybrid generation. The education they received in the schools and universities was still largely dominated by the classical Russian science. That classical Russian science, as I have verified from many discussion with Russian scientist friends over the years, was of a quality almost unknown in the pragmatic West. An American Physics professor from MIT who taught in Moscow universities in the early 1990s told me,

“When a Russian science student enters first year university, he or she already has behind them 4 years of biology, 4 of chemistry, of physics, both integral and differential calculus, geometry…they are starting university study at a level comparable to an American post-doctoral student.”

They grew up in a Russia where it was common for young girls to learn classical ballet or dance, for all children to learn to play piano or learn a musical instrument, to do sports, to paint, as in classical Greek education of the time of Socrates or Germany in the 1800s. Those basics which were also there in American schools until the 1950s, were all but abandoned during the 1980s. American industry wanted docile “dumbed-down” workers who asked no questions.

Russian biology, Russian math, Russian physics, Russian astrophysics, Russian geophysics—all disciplines approached their subject with a quality that had long before disappeared from American science. I know, as I grew up during the late 1950’s during the “Sputnik Shock,” where we were told as high school pupils we had to work doubly hard to “catch up to the Russians.” There was a kernel of truth, but the difference was not lack of American students working hard. In those days we worked and studied pretty hard. It was the quality of Russian scientific education that was so superior.

Teaching of the sciences especially, in Russia or the Soviet Union, had been strongly influenced by the German education system of the 1800s, the so-called Humboldt Reforms of Alexander von Humboldt and others.

The strong ties in Russian education with classical 19th Century German culture and science went deep, going back to the time under Czar Alexander II who freed the serfs in 1861, following the example of his friend, Abraham Lincoln. The ties were deepened to German classical culture later under Czar Alexander II prior to the 1905 Russo-Japanese War when the brilliant Sergei Witte was Transport Minister, then Finance Minister and finally Prime Minister before western intrigues forced his resignation. Witte translated the works of the German national economist Friederich List, the brilliant opponent of England’s Adam Smith, into Russian. Before foreign and domestic intrigues manipulated the Czar into the disastrous Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907 against Germany a pact which made England’s war in 1914 possible, the Russian state recognized the German classical system as superior to British empiricism and reductionism.

Many times I have asked Russians of the 1980s generation why they came back to Russia to work after living in the USA. Always the reply more or less, “The US education was so boring, no challenge…the American students were so shallow, no idea of anything outside the United States…for all its problems, I decided to come home and help build a new Russia…”

Some personal examples illustrate what I have found: Irina went with her parents to Oregon in the early 1990s. Her father was a high-ranking military figure in the USSR. After the collapse he retired and wanted to get away from Russia, memories of wars, to live his last years peacefully in Oregon. His daughter grew up there, went to college there and ultimately realized she could be so much more herself back in Russia where today as a famous journalist covering US-instigated wars in Syria and elsewhere including Ukraine, she is making a courageous contribution to world peace.

Konstantin went to the USA to work as a young broadcast journalist, did a master’s degree in New York in film and decided to return to Russia where he is making valuable TV documentaries on dangers of GMO and other important themes. Anton stayed in Russia, went into scientific and business publishing and used his facility with IT to found his own publishing house. Dmitry who taught physics at a respected German university, returned to his home St Petersburg to become a professor and his wife also a physicist, translates and manages a Russian language internet site as well as translating into Russian several of my own books.

What all these Russian acquaintances, now in their late 30s or forties share is that they were born when the remnants of the old Soviet Russia were still very visible, for better and for worse, but grew to maturity after 1991. This generation has a sense of development, progress, of change in their lives that is now proving invaluable to shape Russia’s future. They are also, through their families and even early childhood, rooted in the old Russia, like Vladimir Putin, and realize the reality of both old and new.

Now because of the brazen open savagery of Washington policies against Russia, this generation is looking at what was valuable. They realize that the stultifying bureaucratic deadness of the Soviet Stalin heritage was deadly in the USSR years. And they realize they have a unique chance to shape a new, dynamic Russia of the 21st Century not based on the bankrupt model of the now-dying American Century of Henry Luce and FD Roosevelt.

This for me is the heart of an emerging renaissance of the spirit among Russians that gives me more than hope for the future. And, a final note, it has been policy among the so-called Gods of Money, the bankers of London and New York, since at least the assassination in 1881 of Czar Alexander II, to prevent a peaceful growing alliance between Germany and Russia. A prime aim of Victoria Nuland’s Ukraine war has been to rupture that growing Russo-German economic cooperation. A vital question for the future of Germany and of Europe will be whether Germany’s politicians continue to kneel to the throne of Obama or his successor or define their true interests in closer cooperation with the emerging Eurasian economic renaissance that is being shaped by President Putin’s Russia and by President Xi’s China.

Ironically, Washington’s and now de facto NATO’s “undeclared war” against Russia has sparked this remarkable renaissance of the Russian spirit. For the first time in many years Russians are starting to feel good about themselves and to feel they are good in a world of some very bad people. It may be the factor that saves our world from a one world dictatorship of the bankers and their military.

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Greece Told Deeper Austerity Needed to Secure Additional Loans

NOVANEWS
Global Research
greece-euro-crisis

Euro zone finance ministers met Monday to discuss a set of proposals from the Syriza-led Greek government based on the austerity programme both sides signed on February 20. Greece was required to submit a list of austerity measures deemed acceptable to its creditors as a precondition for receiving a pending load of €7.2 billion and any further loans.

The Eurogroup meeting ended within 90 minutes. In a clear sign that there would be no retreat from finalising an austerity package, the finance ministers agreed that “technical talks” between Greece and its main creditors, the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), would begin Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said, “We have spent the last two weeks discussing who will meet whom, where, and in what configuration. It’s been a complete waste of time…”

The Eurogroup “needed to see signs that reforms are being implemented,” he demanded, warning that there “can be no talk about early disbursement if there is no agreement and no implementation.” The Greek government, he added, had promised the Eurogroup that it would take no unilateral actions or roll back austerity measures already adopted.

Without billions of euros being made available in loans, Greece faces default on its €320 billion foreign debt in a matter of weeks. The euro zone meeting took place amid dire warnings that Greece’s banks can no longer finance the economy due to their lack of liquidity and an ongoing flight of deposits.

Nearly €20 billion were withdrawn from the banks in January and February. There is a nearly €80 billion gap between the €135 billion available in the banks’ deposits and their loan balance, which exceeds €210 billion. The banks only have temporary access to high interest rate emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the ECB, which can be ended at any time.

One senior bank official told Kathimerini, “As things stand, it is simply impossible for us to finance the economy, as we can only marginally cover the cash needs of our clients.”

Last Friday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis submitted a letter to the Eurogroup with a list of six proposed reforms. These included hiring students and even tourists as temporary “nonprofessional” tax inspectors, vague “antibureaucracy” initiatives, and measures to raise revenue from online gambling. The letter was derided as being nowhere near adequate.

Upon taking office, Syriza began its rapid capitulation to the demands of global capital, insisting it had already agreed to 70 percent of the austerity measures in place. Addressing Syriza’s latest proposals Sunday, Dijsselbloem said, “Those absolutely won’t be accepted as the 30 percent that they wanted to replace.”

In a letter to Varoufakis, Dijsselbloem stressed that the proposals would also have to be evaluated and approved by the ECB and the IMF.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis rejected Greece’s letter out of hand, telling a German newspaper that “a letter here or there isn’t going to change much.”

Since the February agreement, the ECB has tightened the screws, insisting that there is no alternative to continuing with mass austerity and repayment of Greece’s mountain of debt. ECB Governing Council member Luc Coene told the Belgian daily De Tijd Saturday that Greece would have to carry out new austerity measures or face leaving the euro zone, which “will be ten times worse for them. Ten times.”

Coene declared, “I do not believe there is a radically different way… Syriza has made promises it cannot keep,” and the Greek people “will understand quickly that they were deceived by false promises.”

He threatened, “Reform is the only way… Tell me where the money should come from if the Greeks do not want reform and do not want to repay other European countries?”

In agreeing last month to an extension of the austerity agreement signed by the previous New Democracy/PASOK government, Varoufakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, farcically claimed that they would no longer be accountable to the widely despised EU, ECB, IMF “troika,” which, they declared, would no longer be returning to Athens to monitor austerity. In fact, they had agreed to a continuation of Greece’s subordination to the troika members, merely—and with consummate cynicism—renaming them the “institutions.”

This terminological sleight of hand was the only “concession” won by the Greek government in nearly a month of negotiations.

In reality, everything is being done on the troika’s terms, as has been the case since 2010. Even the pretence of renaming the troika has been ditched, with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble purposefully using the word numerous times as he entered Monday’s meeting and other euro zone ministers, including Dijsselbloem, following suit. Far from an end to the troika’s monitoring of the Greek government in Athens, the technical talks beginning Wednesday will be held in both Brussels and Greece, Dijsselbloem told the press conference.

The response of the euro zone ministers to the Greek government reveals the ruthless character of this capitalist body. Greek voters, who elected Syriza based on the party’s election promises to end austerity, have been told their votes count for nothing. The financial aristocracy and its institutions will tolerate nothing that impedes the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

The response of the ruling class to Greece’s catastrophe exposes the fraudulent perspective on which Syriza secured its election victory. Syriza claimed its agenda of negotiating a debt restructuring programme on the basis of remaining in the European Union would be persuasive to sections of the ruling elite and was the only realistic way forward. Instead, Syriza was made to grovel and capitulated in a matter of days.

The Greek government moved quickly Sunday to quash comments attributed to Varoufakis in an Italian newspaper that if Athens’ proposals were not accepted, new elections or a referendum on EU membership could be contemplated.

Even after having his letter of proposals to the Eurogroup ridiculed, Varoufakis spent the weekend attempting to shore up illusions in the EU. Forced to acknowledge that his proposal to replace Greece’s current debt with bonds linked to nominal growth had met with “silence,” he pleaded, “I’d like for Europe to understand that this would be a way of paying back more money, not less.”

While a section of the ruling elite is concerned about the impact of a “Grexit” on the stability of Europe’s fragile economy, other voices are demanding that if Greece does not carry out deeper cuts, it should be allowed to leave the euro zone. The aim is to make clear that there will be no let-up in austerity in either Greece or anywhere else in Europe.

At a recent forum of the Financial Times’ FT City Network, comprised of 50 of the City of London’s most influential financiers, asset managers and insurers, Robert Swannell, chairman of Marks and Spencer, and Stephen Hester, head of insurer RSA, described Greece’s position within the euro zone as akin to “an emperor with no clothes.”

The Financial Times noted that Hester “argued that the euro zone should take a more aggressive stance, triggering Grexit if the Greek government baulks at further reforms.” Hester said, “If Greece isn’t prepared to reform enough to stay in, I don’t think the EU should risk the knock-on political dangers of too much compromise towards Greece that could halt reform in other member states.”

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NATO Begins Military Manoeuvres in Black Sea

NOVANEWS
Global Research
SNMG2

On Monday, NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) began exercises in the Black Sea, including standard anti-submarine and anti-aircraft exercises, led by the US Navy cruiser USS Vicksburg.

According to NATO sources, other ships taking part include Canadian, Turkish and Romanian frigates, and a German tanker Spessart. A NATO web site describes the SNMG 2 as a “potent NATO maritime force [that] possesses substantial sea-control, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare capabilities.”

Before the exercises began, the group commander, US Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, stated: “The training and exercises we will conduct with our Allies in the Black Sea prepares us to undertake any mission NATO might require to meet its obligations for collective defence.”

The exercise is yet another provocation against Moscow that increases the risk of war between the Western powers and Russia. It is part of a systematic military build-up in Eastern Europe since the Western-backed coup in Kiev and the subsequent integration of Crimea into Russia last year.

The SNMG 2 is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), a so-called rapid intervention force that was doubled in size to 30,000 soldiers by NATO defence ministers at the beginning of February.

Before the exercise, Russian ships and aircraft were seen in the area close to the NATO warships. However, Williamson noted that they “all abided by international regulations.”

“They (the Russians) are following their plans, and we are following ours,” the rear admiral stated at a press conference aboard the USS Vicksburg in the Bulgarian port of Varna.

According to the Russian defence ministry, around 2,000 Russian soldiers will be involved in air defence exercises until April 10 in southern Russia and the north Caucasus, near the Black Sea. In addition, Russian military bases in Armenia and pro-Russian sections of Georgia will also be included.

The military exercises take place in the context of the shaky Minsk ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine and ongoing provocations by the pro-western regime in Kiev and its supporters in Washington and European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels.

Last Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a proposal from President Petro Poroshenko which orders an increase of the army deployed against the east Ukrainian population by a third, to 250,000.

Moscow sharply criticised the West’s actions. Reacting to constant threats from the US to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, a Russian foreign minister spokesperson warned, “Russian-US relations will suffer severe damage if the people in the Donbass are killed by US weapons.”

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov accused NATO members of using the Ukraine crisis as a pretext to move closer to Russia’s borders.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag over the weekend, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for the founding of a European army, capable of militarily standing up to Russia. According to Juncker, this would allow the EU to credibly respond to a threat to peace in a EU member state or neighbouring states.

“A European army does not exist to be deployed immediately,” said Juncker. “But it would send a clear message to Russia that we are serious about the defence of European Union values.”

Juncker’s demand was based on a strategy paper recently published by the Centre for European Policy Studies think tank in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The main authors of the paper were former NATO Secretary Generals Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Schefer. As a pretext for a joint and autonomous European defence policy in alliance with NATO, the authors repeated the lie that Russia was guilty of aggression against Ukraine and that Moscow poses a threat to the whole of Europe.

The paper stated,

“Russia’s infiltrations in Ukraine and provocations against member states’ territorial, water, and air defences have, however, delivered a blow to Europe’s post-Cold War security order and have revived awareness in the EU about the possibility of military attack and occupation in Europe.”

According to Solana and de Hoop Schefer, the establishment of a joint European defence policy and military build-up presents “financial, technological and industrial challenges.” All of the proposals in the paper, including the creation of permanent and special rapid response troops and armed forces for deployment “would entail, for most member states, a sharp rise in military spending, even beyond NATO’s Wales Summit pledge of moving towards 2 percent of GDP by 2014.”

For this reason alone, the combination of the national capacities of the member states’ armies was required, the paper stated.

Juncker’s proposal was welcomed above all by the German government. Through deputy spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) called for “intensified military cooperation in Europe.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party, SPD) and Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen (CDU) spoke out in favour of a European army. “For the SPD, the long-term goal of a European army is an important political issue and has been part of the party programme for many years,” Steinmeier told the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel .

“Confronting the new dangers and threats to our peaceful European order” requires “a rapid adjustment and modernisation of the joint European security strategy,” said Steinmeier. “I am pushing for that. We have brought our ideas to Brussels on this.”

Even if the German government does not express this openly, Berlin sees Juncker’s proposal as an opportunity to achieve military dominance in Europe on top of its economic dominance, and to militarise Germany under the guise of a joint European defence force.

In an interview on Deutschlandfunk, Von der Leyen declared, “This integration of armies with the view one day to even have a European army is in my opinion the future.”

She made clear that German militarisation was intimately bound up with this agenda. She said it was

“important that we have a German army in the alliance that is in fact capable of undertaking the tasks that it has to do. That means not only sounding good on paper, but rather fulfills these in its core operations. And that’s why, if one seriously wants security, one has to seriously invest in it. And that’s why these discussions about [defence] budgets are really about the fact that the things that we want also have to be supported with substance.”

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