Archive | July 5th, 2015

Nazi Nuclear Arsenal and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Threat to World Peace

Image result for ISRAEL Nuclear Arsenal PHOTO
By John Steinbach 

“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1)

“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2)

With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicaly recognized as such.

Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear program represents a serious impediment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and, with India and Pakistan, is a potential nuclear flashpoint. (prospects of meaningful non-proliferation are a delusion so long as the nuclear weapons states insist on maintaining their arsenals,) Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iraq, peace with justice in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli nuclear program.

Birth of the Israeli Bomb

The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104.(3)

There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria.(4) By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.(5)

Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide).(6) These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.

Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred(7)(8). In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.

South Africa and the United States

In 1977, the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that satellite photos indicated South Africa was planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Desert but the Apartheid regime backed down under pressure. On September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite detected an atmospheric test of a small thermonuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa but, because of Israel’s apparent involvement, the report was quickly “whitewashed” by a carefully selected scientific panel kept in the dark about important details. Later it was learned through Israeli sources that there were actually three carefully guarded tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells. The Israeli/South African collaboration did not end with the bomb testing, but continued until the fall of Apartheid, especially with the developing and testing of medium range missiles and advanced artillery. In addition to uranium and test facilities, South Africa provided Israel with large amounts of investment capital, while Israel provided a major trade outlet to enable the Apartheid state avoid international economic sanctions.(9)

Although the French and South Africans were primarily responsible for the Israeli nuclear program, the U.S. shares and deserves a large part of the blame. Mark Gaffney wrote (the Israeli nuclear program) “was possible only because (emphasis in original) of calculated deception on the part of Israel, and willing complicity on the part of the U.S..”(10)

From the very beginning, the U.S. was heavily involved in the Israeli nuclear program, providing nuclear related technology such as a small research reactor in 1955 under the “Atoms for Peace Program.” Israeli scientists were largely trained at U.S. universities and were generally welcomed at the nuclear weapons labs. In the early 1960s, the controls for the Dimona reactor were obtained clandestinely from a company called Tracer Lab, the main supplier of U.S. military reactor control panels, purchased through a Belgian subsidiary, apparently with the acquiescence of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.(11) In 1971, the Nixon administration approved the sale of hundreds of krytons(a type of high speed switch necessary to the development of sophisticated nuclear bombs) to Israel.(12) And, in 1979, Carter provided ultra high resolution photos from a KH-11 spy satellite, used 2 years later to bomb the Iraqi Osirak Reactor.(13) Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, and accelerating dramatically under Reagan, U.S. advanced technology transfers to Israel have continued unabated to the present.

The Vanunu Revelations

Following the 1973 war, Israel intensified its nuclear program while continuing its policy of deliberate “nuclear opaqueness.” Until the mid-1980s, most intelligence estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal were on the order of two dozen but the explosive revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician working in the Dimona plutonium reprocessing plant, changed everything overnight. A leftist supporter of Palestine, Vanunu believed that it was his duty to humanity to expose Israel’s nuclear program to the world. He smuggled dozens of photos and valuable scientific data out of Israel and in 1986 his story was published in the London Sunday Times. Rigorous scientific scrutiny of the Vanunu revelations led to the disclosure that Israel possessed as many as 200 highly sophisticated, miniaturized thermonuclear bombs. His information indicated that the Dimona reactor’s capacity had been expanded several fold and that Israel was producing enough plutonium to make ten to twelve bombs per year. A senior U.S. intelligence analyst said of the Vanunu data,”The scope of this is much more extensive than we thought. This is an enormous operation.”(14)

Just prior to publication of his information Vanunu was lured to Rome by a Mossad “Mata Hari,” was beaten, drugged and kidnapped to Israel and, following a campaign of disinformation and vilification in the Israeli press, convicted of “treason” by a secret security court and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served over 11 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 foot cell. After a year of modified release into the general population(he was not permitted contact with Arabs), Vanunu recently has been returned to solitary and faces more than 3 years further imprisonment. Predictably, The Vanunu revelations were largely ignored by the world press, especially in the United States, and Israel continues to enjoy a relatively free ride regarding its nuclear status. (15)

Israel’s Arsenal of Mass Destruction

Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, cruise missiles, land mines (In the 1980s Israel planted nuclear land mines along the Golan Heights(17)), and artillery shells with a range of 45 miles(18).

In June, 2000 an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile which hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation after the U.S. and Russia with that capability. Israel will deploy 3 of these virtually impregnable submarines, each carrying 4 cruise missiles.(19)

The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”

Israel also possesses a comprehensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a sophisticated delivery system, quoting a senior Israeli intelligence official,

“There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . . which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.”)(20)

The same report described F-16 fighter jets specially designed for chemical and biological payloads, with crews trained to load the weapons on a moments notice. In 1998, the Sunday Times reported that Israel, using research obtained from South Africa, was developing an “ethno bomb; “In developing their “ethno-bomb”, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive a gene carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus… The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.” Dedi Zucker, a leftist Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, denounced the research saying, “Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied.”(21)

Israeli Nuclear Strategy

In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy. As Seymour Hersh says in classic understatement ; “The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.”(22) Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union(and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister,

“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”(23)

(In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”)

In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992,

“…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”(24)

According to Israel Shahak,

“The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is.”


“Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states…. Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”(25)

Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage, such as to protect the so called moderate Arab states from internal insurrection, or to intervene in inter-Arab warfare.(26)

In Israeli strategic jargon this concept is called “nonconventional compellence” and is exemplified by a quote from Shimon Peres; “acquiring a superior weapons system(read nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”(27)

From a slightly different perspective, Robert Tuckerr asked in a Commentary magazine article in defense of Israeli nukes, “What would prevent Israel… from pursuing a hawkish policy employing a nuclear deterrent to freeze the status quo?”(28) Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face world wide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, most civilian. Despite the annihilation of a neighboring Arab state, not to mention the utter destruction of the Syrian Air Force, Israel was able to carry out the war for months at least partially due to its nuclear threat.

Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.’”(29) During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel.

The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time,

“If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…”(30)

Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said

“If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”(31)

Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. money spigots remain wide open.

Regional and International Implications

Largely unknown to the world, the Middle East nearly exploded in all out war on February 22, 2001. According to the London Sunday Times and DEBKAfile, Israel went on high missile alert after receiving news from the U.S. of movement by 6 Iraqi armored divisions stationed along the Syrian border, and of launch preparations of surface to surface missiles. DEBKAfile, an Israeli based “counter-terrorism” information service, claims that the Iraqi missiles were deliberately taken to the highest alert level in order to test the U.S. and Israeli response. Despite an immediate attack by 42 U.S. and British war planes, the Iraqis suffered little apparent damage.(32) The Israelis have warned Iraq that they are prepared to use neutron bombs in a preemptive attack against Iraqi missiles.

The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East,”Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy rests.”(34) According to Seymour Hersh, “the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force.”(35) General Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, former Israeli Chief of Staff is quoted “It is never possible to talk to Iraq about no matter what; It is never possible to talk to Iran about no matter what. Certainly about nuclearization. With Syria we cannot really talk either.”(36) Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretzsaid, “Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,”(37) and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”(38)

As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, the influence of the radical right becomes stronger. According to Shahak, “The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some some of the delerious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. … while israeli jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”(39) The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond) the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted. According to Shahak, “In Israeli terminology, the launching of missiles on to Israeli territory is regarded as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.”(40) (Which requires a “nonconventional” response, a perhaps unique exception being the Iraqi SCUD attacks during the Gulf War.)

Meanwhile, the existence of an arsenal of mass destruction in such an unstable region in turn has serious implications for future arms control and disarmament negotiations, and even the threat of nuclear war. Seymour Hersh warns,

“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”(41) and Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum(and the) next war will not be conventional.”(42)

Russia and before it the Soviet Union has long been a major (if not the major) target of Israeli nukes. It is widely reported that the principal purpose of Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel was to furnish satellite images of Soviet targets and other super sensitive data relating to U.S. nuclear targeting strategy. (43) (Since launching its own satellite in 1988, Israel no longer needs U.S. spy secrets.) Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney, “… if the familar pattern (Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.” (44)

Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies.

Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.


1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, New York,1991, Random House, p. 319 (A brilliant and prophetic work with much original research)2

2. Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, Amana Books, p. 165 (Excellent progressive analysis of the Israeli nuclear program)

3. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Warner D. Farr, The Third Temple Holy of Holies; Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College Sept 1999 <,htm (Perhaps the best single condensed history of the Israeli nuclear program)

4. Hersch, op.cit., p. 131

5. Gaffney, op.cit., p. 63

6. Gaffney, op. cit. pp 68 – 69

7. Hersh, op.cit., pp. 242-257

8. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, pps. 65-66 (An alternative discussion of the NUMEC affair)

9. Barbara Rogers & Zdenek Cervenka, The Nuclear Axis: The Secret Collaboration Between West Germany and South Africa, New York, 1978, Times Books, p. 325-328 (the definitive history of the Apartheid Bomb)

10. Gaffney, op. cit., 1989, p. 34

11. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, London, 1999, Vision Paperbacks, pp. 155-168 (The most complete and up to date account of the Vanunu story, it includes fascenating speculation that Israel may have a second hidden Dimona type reactor)

12. Hersh, op. cit., 1989, p. 213

13. ibid, p.198-200

14. ibid, pp. 3-17

15. Hounman, op. cit. 1999, pp 189-203

16. Hersh, 1989. pp.199-200

17. ibid, p. 312

18. John Pike and Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide Website, 2001, Web Address  (An invaluable internet resource)

19. Usi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi, Fears of New Arms Race as Israel Tests Cruise Missiles, June 18, 2000, London Sunday Times

20. Usi Mahnaimi, Israeli Jets Equipped for Chemical Warfare October 4, 1998, London Sunday Times

21. Usi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, Israel Planning “Ethnic” bomb as Saddam Caves In, November 15, 1998, London Sunday Times

22. Hersh, op.cit., 1991, p. 319

23. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p. 163

24. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, London, 1997,Pluto Press, p. 40 (An absolute “must read” for any Middle East or anti-nuclear activist)

25 ibid, p.2

26. ibid, p.43

27. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p 131

28. “Israel & the US: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?” Robert W. Tucker, Novenber 1975 pp41-42

29. London Sunday Times, October 12, 1986

30. Gaffney, op. cit. 1989. p. 147

31. ibid, p. 153

32. DEBKAfile, February 23, 2001

33. Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, London Sunday Times, February 25, 2001

34. Shahak, op. cit., p150

35. Hersh, op.cit., p. 319

36. Shahak, op. cit., p34

37. ibid, p. 149

38. ibid, p. 153

39. ibid, pp. 37-38

40. ibid, pp 39-40

41. Hersh, op. cit., p. 19

42. Aronson, Geoffrey, “Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question,” Middle East Journal, (Autumn 1992), 619-630.

43 . Hersh, op. cit., pp. 285-305

44. Gaffney, op. cit., p194

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1The British love suicide bombers when they are used to kill brown people whom they would normally oppress if the world were still right and proper.  The British imbeciles in Incirlik, Gaziantep and Reyhanli, regularly rub shoulders with their (inferior) counterparts in the Turk MIT as a grudging nod to the WOG in the neighborhood.  They meet with Syrian, but mostly foreign, “opposition” terrorists to give them the full confidence of the United Kingdom and all the encouragement they need to drive a lorry laden with explosives straight into a British manufactured oblivion.  This is what makes great conversation for tea time once back in Chelsea surrounded by chrysanths and hedgerows.  The smiling rodent, bearded, his teeth all smothered in plaque and soft-diet film, rotting molars, and breath so rank it would repel feral bats, blurts out his swan song, his Allahu Akbar, while comforted by the glow of the freckled British arse displayed on the dashboard.  This is what war criminal Cameron loves to hear about.   All for Mother England.  The bejeweled, sceptered isle whose drusy rocky shores are now haven for every toxic crustacean who had the spine to swim the ocean just to reach the carotid artery of that sleeping British bastard.

ALEPPO:  There is a new gang in town.  It’s called “Ansaar Al-Sharee’ah”.  It’s just been announced as a new replacement for “Jaysh Al-Fath”.  Oh, Yawn!  When will it end?  Not the war, I mean, the constant permutations of words all designed to awaken something useless in man or rodent.  SyrPer has learned that the British came up with new group after consulting with Turk “colleagues”.  All the news today about the assault on Aleppo is related to this new crime syndicate.

Advanced Research Complex:  SAA artillery has inflicted massive losses on the attacking rodents.  While some troll websites report terrorist success in infiltrating some parts of the complex, my sources in Aleppo say “absolutely not”.  So far, rat losses in this area exceed 100 as SAAF continues to fly sorties and drop laser-guided missiles smack into the concentrations of rodents.  SOHR is continuing to spread lies coordinated with the wishful thinking in British operations rooms in Incirlik.  Total lies.  Attack crushed.

Air Force Intelligence Complex:  In the same area, another miserable and failed British-planned assault comes a big cropper.  They just don’t get it. They don’t even get the fact that the complex directors have transferred all files to Damascus and there is nothing there which is going to embarrass the Syrian government.  If the rats are dreaming of displaying the booty of war, they will be lucky to come up with the brand of toilet paper used.

Al-Raashideen:  Entire rat operation to enter 4 blocks in this area failed with the usual rodent screaming and sounds of vans rushing in to speed the writhing carcasses away to quack field hospitals which (by the way) are being shellacked by SAAF.


Dayr Haafir Village

Tal ‘Alam

Tal Al-Turkus

Al-Jabbool Village


انتحاري يفجر نفسه في أريحا ويقتل 40 مسلحاً بينهم أمير Kafr Hamraa:  Nusra took a beating here along with Al-Jabha Al-Shaamiyya, 3 kms northwest of Aleppo City.  Reports indicate direct hits on several vehicles without much detail.

Castillo Road:  Reports coming in from various sources indicate a major ambush laid by the SAA and PDC for moving rodents resulting in over 80 killed or wounded.  The road used was mined by SAA engineers and the mines were detonated by remote control when spotters espied the convoy moving at around 2 o’clock at night.  A real turkey shoot.  No names.  No assessments.

Maskana Village:  A platoon of SAA rangers with members of the PDC engaged a pack of hyenas belonging to Nusra and killed all 8:

Saari Ahmad Baddoor

He was the only Syrian in the group made up of mostly Daghestanis and Chechens.

Heavy fighting here: Al-Burayj, ‘Ayn Al-Hanash (The Serpent’s Eye), Bustaan Al-Qassr, Al-Shaykh Sa’eed. 


مراسل العالم: مقتل قطري في ريف حلب+فيديوAl-Shuwayhana Hill:  Artillery struck pay dirt killing an estimated 10+ rodents.

Air Force College area:  This citadel, repelled another repugnant pack of ISIS rats, their bad breath and all.

‘Ayn Jaara and Al-Mansoora:  SAA foiled attempts to infiltrate.

Al-Manbij:  Finally. ISIS is being pounded by the SAAF here in a first major effort to soften up the defenses in preparation for the assault.  Very important.






fgdfgdfDAMASCUS:  I have just received an ecstatically jubilant memo from Monzer’s wife in Damascus: the MoD is about to announce the complete eradication of all rats from the summer resort town of Al-Zabadaani.  The assault, as many know, started on Friday night and continued into Saturday morning, Damascus time.  The assault was carried out by mostly Syrian Army infantry and Hizbullah commandos.  The city was, for the most part, already liberated except for areas where stubborn, non-local resistance continued its reign of terror.  The military surrounded the area completely beginning in the sister resort city of Bloodaan and capping the process off by occluding the former supply routes through the western mountains.  Initial reports, based on intercepted communications between Zionist rodents in northern Occupied Palestine and rat leaders inside the town, prove the Zionist imbeciles knew the game was over and suggested the rodents try to escape.  That, naturally, was not an option.  They were speaking, by the way, in English and Arabic, although most of the Arabic was described as “broken” indicating the rodents had been in Syria long enough to pick up some kitchen Arabic.  TAKE IT TO THE BANK.  THE TOWN OF ZABADAANI IS NOW COMPLETELY UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE LEGITIMATE SYRIAN AUTHORITIES LED BY DR. BASHAR AL-ASSAD.  From Al-Qusayr, to Dayr El-Zor, to Al-Hasaka, to Tal Kalakh, to Der’ah, to Qalamoon, to Latakia — the Syrian Army is establishing a concatenation of victories which cannot be denied and which will lead this year to the liberation of the lands of Syria and the defeat of the Jordanteezian-Zionist-British-Saudi-Qatari- supported vermin.



The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World



On Wednesday, the Pentagon released its 2015 National Military Strategy, a 24-page blueprint for ruling the world through military force. While the language in the report is subtler and less incendiary than similar documents in the past, the determination to unilaterally pursue US interests through extreme violence remains the cornerstone of the new strategy. Readers will not find even a hint of remorse in the NMS for the vast destruction and loss of life the US caused in countries that posed not the slightest threat to US national security. Instead, the report reflects the steely resolve of its authors and elite constituents to continue the carnage and bloodletting until all potential rivals have been killed or eliminated and until such time that Washington feels confident that its control over the levers of global power cannot be challenged.

As one would expect, the NMS conceals its hostile intentions behind the deceptive language of “national security”. The US does not initiate wars of aggression against blameless states that possess large quantities of natural resources. No. The US merely addresses “security challenges” to “protect the homeland” and to “advance our national interests.” How could anyone find fault with that, after all, wasn’t the US just trying to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria?

In the Chairman’s Forward, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempts to prepare the American people for a future of endless war:

“Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. … We must be able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones … the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly … that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important.” (Document: 2015 U.S. National Military Strategy, USNI News)

War, war and more war. This is the Pentagon’s vision of the future. Unlike Russia or China which have a plan for an integrated EU-Asia free trade zone (Silk Road) that will increase employment, improve vital infrastructure, and raise living standards, the US sees only death and destruction ahead. Washington has no strategy for the future, no vision of a better world. There is only war; asymmetrical war, technological war, preemptive war. The entire political class and their elite paymasters unanimously support global rule through force of arms. That is the unavoidable meaning of this document. The United States intends to maintain its tenuous grip on global power by maximizing the use of its greatest asset; its military.

And who is in the military’s gunsights? Check out this excerpt from an article in Defense News:

“The strategy specifically calls out Iran, Russia and North Korea as aggressive threats to global peace. It also mentions China, but notably starts that paragraph by saying the Obama administration wants to “support China’s rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security,” continuing to thread the line between China the economic ally and China the regional competitor.

“None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies,” the strategy reads. “Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action.” (Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy, Defense News)

Did you catch that last part? “None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nevertheless, they each pose serious security concerns.”

In other words, none of these countries wants to fight the United States, but the United States wants to fight them. And the US feels it’s justified in launching a war against these countries because, well, because they either control vast resources, have huge industrial capacity, occupy an area of the world that interests the US geopolitically, or because they simply want to maintain their own sovereign independence which, of course, is a crime. According to Dempsey, any of these threadbare excuses are sufficient justification for conflict mainly because they “pose serious security concerns” for the US, which is to say they undermine the US’s dominant role as the world’s only superpower.

The NMS devotes particular attention to Russia, Washington’s flavor-of-the-month enemy who had the audacity to defend its security interests following a State Department-backed coup in neighboring Ukraine. For that, Moscow must be punished. This is from the report:

“Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests. While Russia has contributed in select security areas, such as counternarcotics and counterterrorism, it also has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms.” (2015 NMS)

Russia is an evildoer because Russia refused to stand by while the US toppled the Ukrainian government, installed a US stooge in Kiev, precipitated a civil war between the various factions, elevated neo Nazis to positions of power in the security services, plunged the economy into insolvency and ruin, and opened a CIA headquarters in the Capital to run the whole shooting match. This is why Russia is bad and must be punished.

But does that mean Washington is seriously contemplating a war with Russia?

Here’s an excerpt from the document that will help to clarify the matter:

“For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies designed to counter U.S. military advantages and curtail access to the global commons.” (2015 NMS)

It sounds to me like the Washington honchos have already made up their minds. Russia is the enemy, therefore, Russia must be defeated. How else would one “counter a revisionist state” that “threatens our homeland”?

Why with Daisy Cutters, of course. Just like everyone else.

The NMS provides a laundry list of justifications for launching wars against (imaginary) enemies of the US. The fact is, the Pentagon sees ghosts around every corner. Whether the topic is new technologies, “shifting demographics” or cultural differences; all are seen as a potential threat to US interests, particularly anything related to the “competition for resources.” In this skewed view of reality, one can see how the invasion of Iraq was justified on the grounds that Saddam’s control of Iraq’s massive oil reserves posed a direct challenge to US hegemony. Naturally, Saddam had to be removed and over a million people killed to put things right and return the world to a state of balance. This is the prevailing view of the National Military Strategy, that is, that whatever the US does is okay, because its the US.

Readers shouldn’t expect to find something new in the NMS. This is old wine in new bottles. The Pentagon has merely updated the Bush Doctrine while softening the rhetoric. There’s no need to scare the living daylights out of people by talking about unilateralism, preemption, shrugging off international law or unprovoked aggression. Even so, everyone knows that United States is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do to keep the empire intact. The 2015 National Military Strategy merely confirms that sad fact.

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The Future of Greece Without Illusions




In this country where we live today, on the very soil we tread, the “ideologist” of the Athenian Republic, Protagoras, proclaimed “Man is the measure of all things”, for the first time in the history of humanity.

The Greek people, at one of the most critical and dramatic crossroads of a history going back several thousands of years, for which they feel proud and justifiably so, shall be called, this coming Sunday, to decide once again whether man is the measure of all things or money is the measure of all things, the latter being the central “motto” and “belief” of the global financial oligarchy, the European “elites” and their domestic offshoots, attacking Greece. And in the face of the Greeks, they are attacking the social and democratic conquests of all Europeans after their victory in 1945 against fascism, if not after the French Revolution.

A moment comes for man, societies and nations alike, when they have to decide «where they stand». This moment has now come for the Greek people. They will have to decide once for all that their Alexandria[1]  of a few decades of a relatively stable and democratic prosperity that followed the fall of the junta in 1974 and accession to the EC in 1981 is definitively lost. The real question facing this people, though, is whether they will abandon this Alexandria with dignity, as urges their great Poet, whether they will take the thorny and dangerous road towards a new future, a new perspective for their country, or whether they will fall apart in a state of enslavement.

1940, 2004, 2015

The answer the Greeks are going to give to the creditors’ ultimatum is of no less importance than the importance of the answer they gave to Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum on October 28, 1940. An answer that led to the first victory of the Allies in World War II and to a delaying of the German attack against the USSR which was probably decisive for the outcome of the war. Their answer made Winston Churchill, celebrated for his wit and not a friend of the Greeks, say: “Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks!.”

The Greeks didn’t give this answer to Mussolini’s ultimatum out of sympathy for their own regime, nor because they were in a better position than they are today. They didn’t put up the strongest resistance, proportionally to the country’s size, in the Nazi-occupied Europe, because the conditions were favorable to them or because they didn’t have anything to lose. They acted the way they did because, deep down, they felt that they could not survive without their dignity. As a people, we may be full of faults. But, I find it hard to believe that some decades of consumerism were sufficient to undermine our sense of self-pride (“filotimo”) that has always been with us during the critical times of our history.

The significance of a NO in 2015 is no lesser than that of the NO uttered by the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus in the 2004 referendum, who refused to give in to the strongest international pressures in order to accept a plan which would abolish their independent and democratic state. It is no lesser either than that of the NO uttered by the French and the Dutch (2005 referendum), the Irish (2008 referendum) and the Icelanders (2010) against Euroliberalism, despite the fact that these NOs, with the exception of the one in Iceland, were later belied by their leaderships.

What these NO had in common, despite the different circumstances, was people’s opposition to the dissolution of their national  and popular sovereignty, of their independence and democracy, in the only context where it still exists in today’s world, that of the nation-state. This is what the Annan plan attempted to do in Cyprus or the European constitutional treaty in Europe.


The question History is now asking us, by means of the «take it or leave it» question of the creditors, is whether we continue or not to consider our national and individual dignity as the fundamental value which allowed our people and civilization to survive in the midst of defeats, incredible threats and disasters for several thousands of years. We have known many  defeats in the course of our history. But we never signed off our enslavement – this is the reason that the Greek state exists today, be it a miserable, poor one; but the only one we have got. We shall suffer of course if we resist the will of the mighty. But, where shall we be without our own state, in the ocean of a barbarous, “prehistoric” globalisation which causes whole nations to perish?

This coming Sunday we are not merely called to decide whether we accept the creditors’ ultimatum. We are called to determine whether we consider the existence of a state of even a rudimentary independence and democracy, as the most fundamental prerequisite for our national survival.

Peoples have been called times and again in their history to choose between destruction and enslavement. The creditors do not even place us before such a dilemma. They want both. Our destruction and our enslavement! The only thing they are offering us is the continuation of a program which has caused, beyond the shadow of a doubt, as the greatest economists of Europe, America and Russia admit, the biggest financial, social and political disaster in Western (capitalist) Europe after 1945. Instead of apologizing for the destruction they have caused, they are now impeding the Greek government from taking even elemental measures to enable hundreds of thousands of people to have some food, the medication they need, electricity, and heating, a roof over their heads; they are killing the hopes of a whole people. These are the hands we have permitted to take the control of Europe!

The disillusionment

Many, including the SYRIZA leadership, had been under huge illusions and, unfortunately, they are still suffering under them. They believed that the Greek disaster was nothing but a misunderstanding, a mistake of the prevailing European elites. After Monday, June 22, however, all these illusions ought to have been dispelled. The Greek government presented to the institutions a proposal which was in line, unfortunately, with the program’s spirit, and a far cry from SΥRΙΖΑ’S pre-electoral announcements on the basis of which it won the elections. Had the proposal been accepted, it would not have solved any problems. For many, this was an unacceptable proposal of capitulation.

What was the creditors’ reaction to this proposal? Initially, they expressed their satisfaction because the spoiled leader of a «spoiled» country was finally beginning to «see reason». After that they began asking him for more concessions! They as good as told him “we are not interested in taking prisoners of war, we are demanding your full surrender and suicide.”

Faced with the political suicide option he was given for himself and the option of a national-social suicide for his country, Alexis Tsipras and his closest associates, who never wanted or prepared for a rupture (on the contrary, they turned against all those of us who kept telling them to prepare for the worse option), proclaimed – and rightly so – a referendum, an idea which had been «brewing» since 2012 in the highest echelons of SYRIZA.

It is now the time for the Greek people to answer whether they accept or not the ultimatum. We hope that they will reject it with a sweeping majority, although the indecisive stance of the SYRIZA leadership, its weakness in defending its own choice, risks to bring about disastrous results, aggravating the population’s doubts and fears.

The leaders of SYRIZA need to understand that they have already crossed the Rubicon. They did so when they asked for the vote of the Greek people in order to stop the disastrous course of the memorandum. They crossed it yet again when they decided to hold a referendum. By so doing they cut off bridges. They will drown and will drown us if they attempt to reverse their course.

If they now turn around and look where they were, even a week ago, they will turn into pillars of salt like Lot’s wife did. If they capitulate, if they do not assume the consequences of their choices, they will be adding ridicule to defeat.

Let not Alexis Tsipras entertain any illusions. If he cops out now, he will not even be allowed to have George Papandreou’s relatively quiet retirement. George is a man who always belonged to the “family”, to the club of the “international establishment”, he is their man. Alexis Tsipras shall be humiliated and thrown to the dogs, as an example for all European peoples and politicians to see what is the fate of those who dare challenge the masters.

There is only one way for the SYRIZA leaders. Rid themselves of their remaining illusions and finish off what they started, taking all necessary measures to organize the Greek people’s struggle for the rescue of their country, and explaining to them what to do and why. We shall never tire of repeating that it is not possible to organise the Missolonghi exodus [2] by inviting people to a drink of ouzo on the beach of Aitolikon. Α la guerre, comme à la guerre, Napoleon used to say. And Greece has been at war since 2010, only, till now, it has chosen not to retaliate!

We hope that the Greek citizens, when asked by their children if they personally accepted the TROIKA ultimatum in 2015, will be in a position to answer them without lowering their heads. We also hope that the leaders of the country will find the will and the mind to meet the historical challenge it is facing.


[1] A poem by C. Cavafy,  a Greek poet from Alexandria (1863-1933)

[2] A town which had been besieged by the Ottomans during the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the inhabitants decided on a heroic exodus after they had been exhausted by the long siege of their town. Aitolikon is a small city near it.

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Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites



To overlook tremendous progress that Ecuador registered under the current administration, would take great determination and discipline.

New airports, highways, hospitals and culture centers are everywhere, and they are impressive. Cities are counting with wide sidewalks, and public parks are equipped with all sorts of playgrounds for children, some extremely innovative.

There are public libraries in some of the parks, armed with free Wi-Fi zones. Buses and trolleybuses are running on dedicated lanes and are heavily subsidized (25 cents per ride), while Quito is planning to build its first line of metro.

Government puts great emphasis on health, education and culture.

You want to check your pulse before a powerwalk in the park, or are you a single mother who wants to talk to a nutritionist? Help is always there, available. Not only at the hospitals, but in small, modern health centers. And help is always free!

While, when I used to live in this part of the world some two decades ago, most theatres were out of reach for indigenous people, now cultural institutions, including the National Theatre, are celebrating great culture of the original owners of this land. 85% of all cultural events in Ecuador are free of charge and even those that are charging some entry fee are heavily subsidized.

But above all, it is confidence and optimism on the faces of common people that is impressive. While in 1990’s it was all doom and gloom, young and old people coming from once deprived neighborhoods of the cities, as well as countryside, are now smiling assertively. Once again, this is their country, and their home!


It is great news for majority of Ecuadorian citizens – but terrible nightmare for the ‘elites’.

They no longer feel unique, no longer is this country their huge, private playground and a milking cow. The ‘elites’ still have money and their villas, as well as servants, luxury cars and regular trips to those lands they are faithfully serving – North America and Europe.

But their status is diminishing. No longer they feel admired, no longer they are feared. Increasingly they are forced to play by rules and to respect local laws. That would be unimaginable just ten years ago. For some, this is the end of the world!

The rich, the ‘elites’, are sour losers. In fact, they have no idea how to accept defeat. Never before in the history of this country they actually had to. To them this is new reality, this nation ruled by the government, which is working on behalf of the people. The ‘elites’ feel let down, cheated, even humiliated. They have no idea how to respect democracy (rule of the people). They only know how to make decisions, and to give orders, and to loot.

This could lead to inevitable conflict, and Ecuador is not an exception. To greater or smaller extend, the same is happening in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and even in Chile. Immediately after people vote a socialist government in, immediately after the government begins working for the majority, the elites start reacting. Their goal is clear and predictable: to discredit the administration and to reverse the course.

Attacks can be performed through ‘nonviolent’ means, including protests, disinformation campaign through mass media, even hunger strikes. Or they can be conducted by extremely aggressive means: economic sabotage, creation of shortages; things that extreme right wing used so successfully against the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, before the 1973 military coup.

If everything else fails, ‘elites’ unite their forces with the military and with the West, commit treason, and attempt to overthrow legitimate left-wing government, through direct actions.

This happened on several occasions in Venezuela, and now, such violent scenario could not be excluded in Ecuador and elsewhere.


Lately, in Ecuador, right-wing ‘elites’ are continuously protesting against the administration, accusing it of corruption and other ills.

The latest chapter was related to proposed progressive inheritance tax law, which would order those who own houses priced over 1 million dollars, to pay 70 percent to the state. Poor people would pay nothing, if their houses cost lesser than 35.000 dollars. Those whose dwellings are priced under US$100.000 would still pay very little.

Rich Ecuadoreans see this as unacceptable. They began stalking government offices. They protested all over the capital. They launched tremendous propaganda campaign against the government. And they threatened to disrupt the visit of the Pope Francis, to Ecuador. Fearing huge scandal, the government postponed passing of the law. That calmed down passions for a day or two, but in no time the protesters returned to the streets of Quito.

“We will not rest until this government collapses!” A man taking his family to one of protest sites told me. Entire family dressed in black, crosses hanging on their chests.

And then again, before leaving Ecuador, I was approached by a well to do family, as I was walking towards my hotel:

“Please, our daughter is writing an essay in English… It is her homework, for her English language class… Private school, you know… She was asked to approach a foreigner, and encourage him or her to describe everything negative that is happening in this country.”

How did they know I was a foreigner? Oh yes, I was holding a novel written in English.

I patted their cute private-school daughter on the head.

“I will teach you a nice song”, I said, in Spanish.

Then I clenched my right fist and began singing “International”, loudly and clearly, in Russian.

In horror, they fled. One passer-by applauded.


Corruption is one of the main rallying cries of the ‘elites’. They claim that the government is mismanaging the country.

They can get away with such statements only because they are controlling mass media – most of the television networks and newspapers. Otherwise, entire country would die from laugher.

When right wing was in charge, it grabbed everything. Like in Paraguay where 2% of the population is still controlling well over 75% of land. Like in Chile, where, after Pinochet was forced to step down, his country was suffering from the greatest income disparity in South America. Like in Venezuela, where, before Hugo Chavez became the President, ‘elites’ grabbed billions, using oil deposits as collateral for insane loans that were happily supplied by the West and its institutions. Corruption and theft had been synonymous with the upper class rule, everywhere in Latin America.

It should not be forgotten that John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, was actually working mainly in Ecuador and Indonesia, when he was administering sex, alcohol and cash as tools to persuade local elites to take more and more unnecessary loans, because indebted nation is easy to control from Washington or London.

Entire nations, including Ecuador, were robbed, plundered, forced into perpetual underdevelopment. By whom?! By those damned elites who are now talking about corruption in the government ranks!

Instead of being grateful that they are not facing treason trials, ‘elites’ in places like Ecuador are now, once again, on the offensive, selling their souls and their country to the Empire!


In an indigenous city of Riobamba, I speak to Pablo Narvaez, director of culture, and to his wife Carina.

Pablo and Carina created impressive regional youth orchestra, not unlike those in Venezuela. But here, they did it first with almost no help, by training poor boys and girls from the villages, turning them into impressive professional musicians.

Local house of culture, under their management, is inspiring, as a building but mainly because of what it is offering: high quality art, most of it political: pigs devouring dollar bills, while poor indigenous children are watching in desperation and spite. In another room, great satirical painting demonstrates that indigenous people from Amazonia are not pure, anymore, squeezing their VAIO computers and mobile phones.

After discussing local art, we all walk to the market, where countless cheeky women serve local delicacy – suckling pigs.

“Hey!” they scream at me and at my friend Walter Bustos, who used to be part of the government, and who is still deeply involved in the ‘process’. “Hey, eat my pig and then marry me!”

These are not shy, depressed indigenous women, anymore. These are confident good-hearted matrons living in the country that gave them back their dignity, and sense of humor.

Pablo, originally concert pianist and professor, is not always holding the same political line as the President of Ecuador, but they agree on many issues:

“Ideologically, I come from the left. But I do not belong to any political party. We are all human beings, and so I intuitively believe in equality. I share many believes with the government, when it comes to social inclusivity and education, as well as the infrastructure. The process is long, we all have to be patient…”

We talk about the progress that had been already made: great improvement in health, water supply, electricity, education and culture.

Riobamba has only over 200.000 people. Before Pablo and his wife came on board, the city had 50 live events annually.

“Now we arrange over 750 events per year”, says Pablo. “We utilize all infrastructure that we have here: theatres, museums, even churches…. Markets, too, as well as public squares.”

Culture and arts always form important part of the Latin American revolutions. On this continent, it is not only about ideology, ideas and hard work; it is also about heart and dreams.

“And what about the taxes?” I ask, before we part. I know that Carina used to work in this field. I told her, that on the way to Riobamba, we stopped in a village, where people complained even about symbolic one dollar per month taxation.

Carina smiles: “Taxes always existed. I used to help collecting them. But now they are formalizing the tax system. Here, until now, there is no ‘culture’ of paying taxes, formally…”

And this is what the right wing is using for its own political gains. Their propaganda shouts: “Let us win and you will pay nothing!” They dare to say this to the poor whom they were robbing for centuries!

Before we leave, youth orchestra is blasting old traditional Quechua tune, to celebrate out visit. It is all touching and we all feel optimistic.

Pablo gives me several books of poetry published in Riobamba, his own and those of other poets. All of them are published in two languages: in Spanish and in local language – Quechua.

We drive back to Quito, part of our long journey on a perfect, new 6-lane highway.

Countryside is stunning. On the left, spectacular volcano Cotopaxi, one of the highest in the world, is hiding its snow-capped peak in the clouds. Ecuador, President Correa often says, is like a paradise on earth. It has tall mountains, stunning coastline, jungle of Amazonian basin, and Galapagos Islands, overflowing with pristine fauna and flora.

It also has natural great resources. If there is no sabotage from ‘elites’, if there is no intervention from the West, this country could continue flourishing under progressive, people-oriented, socialist government.

But there is sabotage, there is subversion, and there are interventions.

And all this could collapse, if not defended!


Back in Quito, I speak to Sonya Maria Bustos and her husband Norberto Fuertes, both journalists, now working for the magnificent Ecuadorian Cultural Center.

They offer to connect me to some top government officials, including Oscar Bonillo, the secretary general of Allianza.

I refuse. Next time, yes, but during this visit I want to travel and see with my own eyes; I want to hear directly what people of Ecuador have to say.

Sonya is sad:

“Because of ‘elites’, country is now unstable, despite the fact that so many things changed for better! No more hospitals full of poor children! Do you remember – before, sick people were everywhere! New hospitals are growing all over the country. But some very rich people are trying to get into the government – to infiltrate it…. In order to stop the progress.”

She pauses. We are both lost in thoughts. Then she continues:

“Now rich people get out of their Hummers in order to protest. 8 years of great progress, but they are still protesting. They have no shame… People like Guillermo Lasso, who has definitely some sort of contract with the United States…”


My friend Tamara Pearson, an Australian journalist who spent many years living in and covering Venezuela, is now working for TeleSUR in Quito. Like myself, she is impressed by developments in Ecuador, under Correa:

“If you ask people in Ecuador: in Quito, in the big and small towns around it, how they feel about the current government, almost all of them are positive – in stark contrast to the people in Honduras and Guatemala, for example. Often the first thing they’ll mention is the roads: a lot of infrastructure has been improved, and roads mean a lot to so many communities, many of them indigenous, that were cut off and isolated with only harsh dirt roads, often broken up by landslides from the constant rain, to connect them to larger towns and to food and gas supplies. Though there is much still to do, poverty has decreased, corruption has notably decreased, and people feel that things are decent, dignified, and stable and want that to continue. Most remember the greedy presidents of the past who lied and stole, and unlike Correa, did not speak Quechua, and don’t want to return to those days. Like Chavez, Correa has his weekly show (though on Saturdays here – in Venezuela it was on Sunday mornings). The show goes for hours, and Correa discusses issues and provides information on what the government is doing. A summary is given in Quechua at the end. Though there is much less of a push towards political participation here than in Venezuela – I’d say almost none – its clear that this is a government that puts people first, the poor majority first, and Correa at least prioritizes informing people of what the government is doing, – something the Australian government for example, doesn’t even bother to do.”

But many others, including Walter Bustos, worry about the future. Walter worries that President Correa does not have the military covering his back. He also worries that dollarization of Ecuadorean economy could prove to be a weak point for political resistance against the West. He worries that many young people are turning into technocrats, and that, at the end, as long as they keep their good jobs, they wouldn’t care for whom they are working, for Correa or for someone else.

His friend Paola Pabon, Assembly member representing Pichincha, worries as well. She supports President Correa, and she sees him as a great regional leader, but she also admits that Ecuadorian revolution is fragile, and that there is lack of unity between the government and the military.

Both agree that the US is behind the recent protests.


At the end of my work in Ecuador, I fly to Cuenca, to that beautiful colonial city, and from there I hire a car and drive to the hard of Cañari land, to Ingapirca, where massive Inca castle still dominates gentle landscape, and where old Inca and pre-Inca road systems are still connecting villages and towns.

Miguel, a local comrade, is travelling with me. He also translates when we enter deep villages that are lost at the bottom of valleys, or are hugging steep green hills.

“Spaniards robbed everyone here,” I am told. “They took everything. They destroyed castles and settlements. Then capitalism took the rest.”

“People were forced into Christianity”, I say. “They were ruined by Christianity. Do they really still believe in it?”

I am told that Christianity is just a ritual, for the majority here. People do not attach much importance to it, anymore. Their lives go on, and their original culture is once again prevailing.

Near Ingapirca I am witnessing people celebrating The Inti Raymi, “Festival of the Sun”, dating back to Inca Empire.

I am told about determined government drinking water projects and schemes, and about improvements in both health and education. Most of the people here, as well as around Riobamba, are benefiting from those revolutionary changes.

But many are not able to formulate their support for Correa. They take recent developments for granted.

And Correa and his men and women are not very good at propaganda, or with mobilizing the people, definitely not as good as President Chavez used to be in Venezuela.

Here, the revolution is gentle and shy, as is the accent of Cañari people near Cuenca.

And there lies the danger.

Ecuadorean ‘elites’ are not gentle at all. Their arrogance, greed and selfishness are ready to smash all achievements of the revolution. Their message is clear: to hell with Ecuadorian people, especially those who are poor, as long as we can keep our villas, Hummers and our kids in those private schools!

Just recently, President Correa warned that the plan of destabilizing the government is being put in action.

Leaders of the “opposition” will wait until arrival of Pope Francis, or perhaps they will wait bit longer, until his departure from Ecuador. Then they will hit. And they will hit hard. The mayor of Quito leads the anti-government forces in the capital.

The government should not follow the path of President Allende. It has to counter-attack, before it is too late! Treason is serious crime in all societies. And treason is exactly what Ecuadorean elites are now committing!

children in public parkChildren in public park.
public art exhibitionsPublic art exhibitions.
young dancers rehearsingYoung dancers rehearsing.
buy my pork and marry meBuy my pork and marry me.
Youth Orchestra in RiobambaYouth orchestra in Riobamba.
for these children Ecuador should not be allowed to fallFor these children Ecuador should not be allowed to fall.
Inti Raymi near IngapircaInti Raymi near Ingapirca.
public free medical postFree public medical post.

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Dumping on Dixie Again



For the second time this year, Americans rallied as one on the side of the angels. Both times we felt good about ourselves afterwards. Why wouldn’t we? We got to be virtuous on the cheep.

The instigating cause the first time was the murderous assault on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket in Paris. The cause this time was the attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

In France, the perpetrators were radical Islamists affiliated with Al Qaeda. In South Carolina, the gunman was a twenty-one year old white supremacist named Dylann Roof.

The worthy cause that brought people together the first time was support for free speech and freedom of expression.

This included a right to blaspheme, as indeed it should. It is unlikely, though, that everyone declaring “Je suis Charlie” realized this or that, if they did, they agreed.

In any case, it was plain almost from the beginning that hypocrisy was rife and that free speech wasn’t really everybody’s main concern.

The events in Paris provided an opportunity for self-righteous liberals to voice Islamophobic sentiments without incurring social disapproval; more than a few of them jumped at the chance.

After the furor subsided, nothing changed. That nothing would change had been obvious from Day One. Nothing demanded; nothing gained.

The Charleston church bombing brought people together around a hodgepodge of issues. There was a dominant motif, however: opposition to white supremacist ideology and politics. Hypocrisy is a factor this time too.

This time, though, a change for the better is underway. In a remarkable about turn, Southern politicians are leading an effort to get Confederate flags and symbols out of public spaces.

This is a commendable turn of events, though not nearly to the extent that is widely believed. Also, the thinking around the issue is muddled, and some of it is plain wrong-headed.

It has been suggested that the murders in Charleston are relevantly similar to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The Ku Klux Klan was behind that atrocity.

Because it was a church that was attacked and because four little girls perished, the Birmingham bombing struck a nerve. The Charleston atrocity also struck a nerve – in part because that happened in a church as well, and because, in Charleston too, even the most mean-spirited rightwing pundits could hardly villainize the victims.

Neither could they villainize their families or friends – especially when, as was widely reported, some of them publically forgave Dylann Roof. And, for keeping peoples’ minds focused on the atrocity that had gone down, it helped too that Charleston remained calm.

Historians agree that what the Klan did in Birmingham in 1963 changed public opinion around the country, making it easier for the 1964 Civil Rights Act to pass. Roof’s gun rampage seems to have affected public opinion too. This time, some flags are coming down.

The disparity is indicative of the fact that the differences between Birmingham and Charleston far outweigh the similarities.

For one thing, Dylann Roof is a marginal and pathetic figure, a troubled post-adolescent. He is also a mass murderer and a terrorist, but, as such, he only represents people as marginal and pathetic as he. In the 1960s, the Klan was the face of the Jim Crow South.

And, while militants in 1964 criticized the Civil Rights Act for being too little too late, it did realize objectives that people had struggled for intensely since the end of the Reconstruction era.

Keeping state and local governments from putting Confederate symbols on display has been a civil rights issue for a long time too, but it has never been a major concern, much less a cause for struggle.

The day before Roof’s rampage, removing Confederate flags from public spaces would hardly have made anybody’s top twenty to-do list. It hardly compares, for example, to restoring jobs lost to “free trade,” or stopping police from shooting unarmed black and Hispanic men, or beating up teenage African American girls.

Only a few years ago, when the threat of a tourist and business boycott forced the South Carolina government to negotiate with the NAACP over the placement of Confederate symbols on public buildings, the NAACP actually agreed to the placement of a Confederate flag on the State House lawn. This was the flag that the state decided to remove several days after the shootings.

If Confederate flags were the big deal that they are now being made out to be, agreeing, as the NAACP did, that one could be placed in front of the State House, but not on top of the building itself, would have been like agreeing, in 1963, that toilets and swimming pools could stay segregated if lunch counters and hotels were opened to all.

Now the flag on the State House lawn is on its way to some other location. Bravo! Even small victories count.

But the real story is the one that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley inadvertently revealed, the day before she flip flopped, when she insisted that the Flag Question is “complicated.”

What she said, in so many words, is that, African Americans’ sensitivities notwithstanding, there was no reason to remove this or any other Confederate symbols, because the CEOs she has on speed dial didn’t care; indeed, not one had ever raised the issue. Therefore, for tradition’s sake, those white folks who do care about Confederate flags and the like should continue to get their way.

There it is: accommodating retrograde attitudes is the default position, but the important thing is what CEOs want. They pay the piper; they call the tune.

Haley is a piece of work, but at least she doesn’t prevaricate the way that liberals do.

Her CEOs, seeing which way the wind was blowing, must finally have ordered her to stand down. She then flip-flopped faster than a speeding terrorist bullet.

Ironically, she was right the first time – the issue is complicated.   It is complicated because symbols mean different things to different people in different contexts.

What this particular one meant seven score and a dozen years ago is not what it has meant since 1948, when South Carolina’s very own Senator Strom Thurmond made it the symbol of his short-lived segregationist Dixiecrat Party.

What it has meant since then is only tenuously connected to memories of the Confederacy. The battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, Thurmond’s Confederate flag of choice, became a symbol of white supremacist ideology. This is why it has no business flying on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.

But, again, it is only a symbol.  Its removal will change nothing fundamental; it will barely even change anything symbolic. There are no breakthroughs here.

However, the fact that so many think there are is symptomatic of an increasingly debilitating turn in America’s political culture.

The old platitude, that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is being turned on its head.

This is the political expression of post-modern gobbledygook, of the idea that politics is a struggle over “discourses,” symbolic representations – not, as people used to assume, over political economic realities.

For example, in today’s America, it is more or less acceptable for police to beat up on African Americans or even kill them when they don’t show proper respect, but even cops are strictly forbidden ever to use a derogatory racial epithet that even here I dare not spell out – the fearsome and forbidden n-word.

Or when the Obama administration engineers trade pacts for its corporate paymasters that take away good jobs from African American communities and from workers generally, liberals express mild disapproval and move on, reserving their outrage for Dylann Roof’s flags.

Still, even in a political universe that attaches more importance to words and symbols than to harms more grievous than can be inflicted by sticks and stones, flags occupy a special place. How did it come to that?

* * *

It is a bizarre case of American exceptionalism. Flags make Americans, white Americans especially, loco en el coco.

Is it because generations of American school children started their day by pledging allegiance to one?

No doubt, this played a role, but the lunacy must have started long before the Pledge of Allegiance became part of young Americans’ mornings. If we were not already predisposed, who would have thought of anything so nonsensical?

The man who did think of it, Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist – and a cousin of the socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy – had lofty intentions.

For one thing, he wanted to remind Americans that theirs is “one nation…indivisible.” Apparently, a quarter century after the Civil War ended, there was still enough pro-Confederate sentiment around to cause Bellamy to think that Americans needed reminding.

But his main goal was to join the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” then streaming to America’s shores from all over Europe, to the descendants of the English, Scottish and Scotch-Irish settlers of earlier generations.

The Pledge celebrates “liberty and justice for all,” but not equality. Bellamy wrote that he would have included “equality” too – he was a socialist, after all – but didn’t because, he feared that school boards, in the South especially, would object. No doubt, he was right.

He wrote the Pledge for school children to recite at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition, called to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World – and, not incidentally, the beginning of a protracted and continuing physical and cultural genocide of the indigenous peoples of two continents.

Journalists and politicians were eager to take up the cause; before long, factories were turning out American flags by the carload, and healthy, non-truant children across the land were pledging allegiance to pieces of cloth five days a week (with time off for summer).

Of course, they also pledged allegiance “to the republic for which it stands.” That, at least, makes sense. Pledging allegiance to a flag makes no sense at all.

Six decades later, in a fit of Cold War piety and in order to draw “a line of demarcation,” as Lenin might have said, between American principles and “Godless atheistic Communism,” President Eisenhower added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

He didn’t think this up all by himself; the idea had been proposed and championed by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Knights of Columbus, and others of their ilk. Ike therefore had no trouble gaining “bipartisan” support for the idea; it fit the mood of the time.

But long before Eisenhower’s contribution, the American flag had become an object of veneration. To Americans steeped in their country’s civil religion, it was sacred.

Perhaps this is why Dylann Roof put a picture of himself burning an American flag on line. He wanted the world to know that he had contempt for a faith from which he, and other white supremacists, felt alienated.

This too is probably why white supremacists are keen on swastikas and, like Roof, on the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes: the Rhodesian flag, for example, and the flag of Apartheid South Africa. Understandably, Confederate flags get added to the mix – especially in parts of the country where people still have strong positive feelings about the ante-bellum South.

In light of all this American exceptionalism, it doesn’t seem so odd, after all, that a Confederate battle flag would become the focus of attention after the Charleston atrocity.

In a saner political climate, we would now be talking about gun control instead. The issue always comes up, briefly, whenever a major tragedy involving guns occurs. This time was no exception.

Nothing ever comes of it, however; and nothing will come of it this time either. Flags are where all the action is.

Therefore, when the furor and grief over Charleston subside, we Americans will be no safer than we were before. But if, as is likely, the inevitable backlash is contained, a few flags will have been moved to less conspicuous places.

* * *

In 1977, the United States Supreme Court ordered the Illinois Supreme Court to consider the First Amendment implications of a ban on a march planned by neo-Nazis in Skokie, a predominantly Jewish suburb of Chicago, where, at the time, approximately one out of six residents was a Holocaust survivor.

The authorities wanted to ban the march on the grounds that, for many of the citizens of Skokie, the sight of Nazi uniforms and swastikas was tantamount to a physical assault. District and appellate courts in Illinois, all the way up to the state Supreme Court, agreed.

But, upon review and under pressure from the Supreme Court in Washington, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the swastika and other Nazi symbols are entitled to First Amendment protections; that, although the Nazis’ intent was plainly provocative, their proposed use of Nazi symbols did not constitute “fighting words” and therefore did not compromise their right to express their views.

This was a landmark ruling in American jurisprudence; to this day, it remains the law of the land.

No doubt, there are white supremacists who, like neo-Nazis with swastikas, flaunt Confederate flags for hateful and provocative purposes. And just as people find swastikas disturbing, there are people who find Confederate flags disturbing too.

From a legal point of view, what holds for the one holds for the other; displaying these symbols is a protected form of expression that cannot be proscribed.

But displaying flags and other symbols, provocative or not, in tax supported public spaces is a matter for politically accountable officials, not judges, to decide. Those officials will normally be guided by the attitudes and sensibilities of the people they represent.

In general, since acts of commission are more salient than acts of omission, this would entail keeping symbols that significant constituencies find offensive out of government buildings. This would be the default position.

But in race conscious societies like ours, where inequalities of power and privilege are legion, not all constituencies are created equal. The default position would therefore tend to reflect the views of the dominant group.

In South Carolina, there are probably many more blacks who find Confederate flags offensive than there are whites who, for whatever reason, positively value their presence.   But the whites have more influence – electorally (especially now thanks to Republican voter suppression efforts) and culturally. Therefore, when the issue arises, striking a balance can be “complicated.”

This, presumably, was what the good Governor had in mind when she discussed the Flag Question immediately after the Charleston killings; before her CEOs focused their minds on the impact on their bottom lines of Confederate flags in public places. Once they did, Haley discovered that she favored moving that damned flag after all.

Complication gone? Not exactly. What is gone, for the time being, is a political problem that was complicating her life and the lives of other Southern politicians.

But Haley’s way of uncomplicating her life has almost nothing to do with a host of genuinely complicated issues that rise to the surface every now and then because, more than a century and a half after it ended, the Civil War is still very much on the minds of many Americans.

In this respect, it is like the Second World War. World War II ended seven decades ago, but, even as the World War II generation is passing away, the war — and the events surrounding it, especially the Nazi Judeocide — remains in peoples’ minds. The swastika therefore remains a potent symbol.

In that case, the war is indeed the important thing. Because Nazi ideology is essentially defunct, what miniscule neo-Nazi groups around the world do with swastikas hardly matters.

It is different with Confederate flags. In the United States today, outright white supremacist groups are also marginal. But soft versions of white supremacist theory and practice are pervasive. This is what makes institutional racism possible, and it is why racist attitudes persist.

And it is why the struggle against symbols that homegrown racists have made their own is not about what those symbols meant a century and a half ago. It is about present realities. African Americans bear the brunt of those realities, but, in one way or another, they affect us all.

When those symbols feel like “fighting words,” in the way that swastikas do, it is because of what they signify now. What they meant during the Civil War, and what they imply about that war and about the Confederacy – or about the descendants of Confederate soldiers and other Southerners today — is another matter altogether.

White supremacists don’t grasp the distinction. How could they? They are morons.

It is understandable that, in the heat of battle, others sometimes go along with their confusion. In struggles for justice, drawing distinctions can seem like splitting hairs. But it is important – conceptually and politically – not to fall into their muddle. Distinctions must be made.

What makes Confederate symbols offensive – here and now — is their role in post-World War II rearguard struggles against desegregation, and in continuing efforts to buttress remaining bastions of white supremacy.

All the rest is for historians and other “disinterested” investigators to sort out.

The Civil War and Reconstruction have been contested topics from Day One. Everything, it sometimes seems, is debatable. However, there are a few obvious points that are hardly controversial and that evidently still need to be made.

One is that although slavery was a very great evil indeed, likening the Confederacy, which defended slavery, to, say, the Third Reich – in other words, to a regime that represents the very embodiment of Evil in the minds of most people nowadays — is profoundly wrong-headed.

Another is that well-meaning liberals and others who effectively draw the comparison are guilty of inconsistency, if not outright hypocrisy.

Except for a few “conservative” historians and pundits, and Southerners who think that they are only defending their “heritage,” the orthodox view these days is that the Civil War was fought over slavery, not sovereignty.

The facts are not in dispute, except in marginal ways. The debate is about what to make of them. As happens often in such discussions, people typically talk past one another.

Obviously, the war was about slavery. Were it not for slavery, the states that formed the Confederacy would not have seceded, and there would have been no war.

But were most of the soldiers in the Confederate army fighting for slavery? The evidence is overwhelming: this is not how it seemed to them.

Southern planters were fighting for their slave-based way of life, and, to a degree that is uncommon for economic elites, they did send their sons off to war. They comprised the backbone of the Confederate army’s officer class.

But what the vast majority of Southerners were fighting for, insofar as they were fighting for any ideal at all, was the “homeland” with which they most identified.

In the South in the middle of the nineteenth century, that was more likely to be their home state than any federation, or confederation, of states. In this sense, the war, as they understood it, was indeed about sovereignty.

Nowadays, this attitude seems improbably parochial. Remember, though, that in the same period, in those parts of Europe where paradigm cases of “nation states” were being formed – in France, for example and in Germany and Italy – most peoples’ loyalties were more parochial still. Nation building is a long and arduous process, and loyalty to nations is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

Most Confederate soldiers, like most soldiers everywhere and always, were drawn from the ranks of the desperately poor. Many, probably most of them, never owned slaves. This would not have changed had the Confederacy survived.

Those that lived, as most of them did, in hilly and mountainous regions unsuited for plantation labor, had no use for slaves in any case; and no use for slave-dependent plantation elites either.

For most Union soldiers too, the war had more to do with sovereignty than slavery. It was about maintaining the union of sovereign states formed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Because northern soldiers were fighting states that had seceded in order to keep the slave economies of the planter elites secure, they were, in effect, fighting against the South’s system of slave labor. But few northerners went to war for this purpose; few saw themselves embarked on a moral crusade.

Northern schoolchildren have been taught otherwise for generations, but all the evidence suggests that the idea seldom, if ever, crossed the minds of the vast majority of Union soldiers.

Indeed, northern soldiers were fighting to maintain a Union that included five states where slavery was legal throughout the Civil War: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and, after it broke away from secessionist Virginia, the newly minted state of West Virginia.

If the North had been deeply committed to the anti-slavery cause, it would certainly have ended slavery within its own borders — even if doing so would have made prosecuting the war against the Confederacy more difficult.

But slavery was not ended in the non-Confederate slave states until after the Confederacy’s slaves were formally “emancipated” and the last Civil War battles were concluded.

It is also worth noting that leading figures in the North’s political class – including Abraham Lincoln, for most of his tenure in office — were inclined to support efforts to send liberated slaves back to Africa.

They did not actively promote the kinds of white supremacist policies that would afflict American society from the end of Reconstruction on — but, for white supremacist reasons, they were hardly intent on integrating former slaves into (white) American society.

So, yes, debates about rights and wrongs in the Civil War and its aftermath are complicated, unlike debates about Civil War flags. Debates about flags are complicated only to the extent that muddled minds get distinct issues entangled.

It wasn’t always this way. At a time when politics, especially left politics, was on a more robust track, there were people actively involved in anti-racist struggles who made common cause with white southerners who displayed Confederate flags.

The Young Patriots Organization of the late sixties and early seventies is an example. Growing out of an SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) organizing project called JOIN (Jobs or Income Now), it took root mainly in Chicago neighborhoods where white migrants from Appalachia had settled.

The Young Patriots were allied with the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, a like-minded Puerto Rican revolutionary group.

Along with the berets that members of all three organizations wore, the Young Patriots sported jackets with Confederate flag insignias on the back, even as they fought against police brutality and housing discrimination alongside their black and brown comrades.

The Panthers and the Young Lords welcomed them – flags and all.   It was a matter of proletarian solidarity.

This would be unthinkable on today’s liberal left. But even liberals should be able to appreciate the glaring inconsistency, bordering on outright hypocrisy, inherent in recent debates about Confederate flags.

The Confederacy lasted only a few years. And even if, contrary to fact, its sole aim had been to keep human beings in bondage, the harm it did, as distinct from the harm that the institution of slavery did, was trivial in comparison with the harms done by the United States.

It was under the American flag, the flag to which Americans pledge allegiance, that the North American side of the Atlantic slave trade took place. Many prominent New England and mid-Atlantic merchant families enriched themselves egregiously by buying and selling slaves.

This was how more than a few of our great “philanthropists” acquired the fortunes with which they established and supported many of America’s most esteemed cultural and educational institutions.

It was not the Confederacy but the United States that organized genocidal campaigns against the indigenous peoples of North America.

And the Confederacy had no empire; it never spread murder and mayhem around the world.

Moreover, with no working class to speak of and hardly any financial sector, the Confederacy was comparatively blameless in sustaining and spreading the evils of capitalism itself.

Arguably, it was for the sake of the emerging industrial and financial institutions of capitalist America, and in order to facilitate capitalism’s westward expansion, that northern politicians, including Abraham Lincoln, made preserving the Union their highest priority.

In the final reckoning, the stars and bars are almost blameless in comparison with the stars and stripes.

So come off it, prissy liberals with “beautiful souls” and refined sensitivities.

Stop getting so worked up over pieces of cloth – especially when the one to which you don’t mind pledging allegiance is associated with much worse than the one you would excoriate.

By all means, get that infernal Confederate battle flag off the South Carolina State House lawn, and, wherever possible, do the same with other symbols that white supremacists have made their own. But then stop deluding yourselves over the importance of literally symbolic victories. Get real!

The time to get on with what politics is ultimately about was long before anyone outside his immediate circle had ever heard of Dylann Roof or cared about the flags he waved.   Black lives matter.   Flags only matter to the muddled minds of pathetic people, and to the good people who mindlessly follow their lead.

Posted in USAComments Off on Dumping on Dixie Again

The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada



“This abuse of executive power is tilting toward totalitarian government and away from the foundations of democracy and the rule of law on which this country was founded.”

-Errol Mendes, Professor of constitutional and international law (University of Ottawa)

The current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks like a tattered and ragged old stuffed animal these days. You know–the ones with one button-eye missing and the other hanging by a single thread. Although he has survived endless scandals and sleazy acts over the past decade, Harper’s musical tune is now screeching and discordant.

Two of his top ministers (the obedient Peter McKay and the attack-dog, know-nothing John Baird) have decided to abandon politics. A third (Jim Prentice) left to run Alberta, but was soundly defeated by a resurgent New Democratic Party. Harper’s possible successor, Jason Kenney, now Minister of Defence, looks bewildered as he repeats NATO’s lies about Russian aggression and fumbles along in a totally incoherent foreign policy.

On the international scene, this mean autocrat has had the gall—if you can believe this—to point his finger at Vladimir Putin and tell him to get out of the Ukraine. This moronic demand bespoke of his ignorance of the Ukraine’s common history and culture with Russia. Harper has murky ties with right-wing Canadian Ukrainians and has adopted the fantastical narrative pushed by the US and its pliant allies in the EU and NATO. He thinks this may get him some votes. He sent 200 troops (disguised as trainers) into the Ukraine to help quell the rebellion in Eastern Ukraine.

The opposition parties are demanding that Stephen the Sneaky come clean regarding his support for the neo-Nazi gangs of thugs in the Ukraine armed forces (like the Azov battalion). He appears to love vilifying Putin. Recently Russian MP Aleksey Puskov (United Russia) stated that Canada is the “most anti-Russian state in the western alliance as a whole and definitely also in the G7 group.”

Indeed, for the past decade Stephen the Sleazy has been continually asked to tell us what he is really up to in the dark alleys. One thing for certain: the old peace-making Canada has been tossed out the window. Harper has raised no questions whatsoever about the criminal acts of the government of Kiev. He has leapt on the American military bandwagon. Canadians have little understanding of what Canada now stands for on the fraught geo-political scene. Canada can no longer think for itself. Our brain has been replaced by someone else’s.

This guy supports Netanyahu more than any western leader alive. He is a right-wing Christian Zionist wh0 will not bat an eye at shouting “hate-speech” when anyone supports the Palestinian cause. No wonder Palestinians pelted Baird’s car when he made a zip trip to the West Bank.

Harper is also a leading opponent of doing anything about climate change. He withdrew from the Kyoto Accord. He despises scientifically-informed, evidence-based policy. He loathes public health care systems. Right-wing Canadian evangelicals make up his base. This support for Harper who cares not at all for the weak and oppressed is in itself a travesty of Christian ethics and understanding.

And he despises passionately any person, movement or association that dares to criticize his government. He does not permit debate within his own party or the parliament itself. He has used the egregious tactic of the giant omnibus bill to push through dubious policies without deliberation. It appears to many of us on the Canadian Left that the man who adopted Alberta Oil Country as his home base does not much like his own country and has contempt for its parliamentary traditions. His latest sickening move is Bill C-51, which criminalizes dissent and opens the door for more surveillance than Canadians have ever experienced.

He has prorogued the parliament four times; one occurring just in time to head off accusations that Canada participated in the rendition of detainees to places where they could be tortured. On the local front, the Harper Conservative government tried to interfere with Canadians voting by using robocalls to misdirect voters to non-existing poll stations in the 2011 election. The recent Fair Elections Act tried to disenfranchise students and people living on reserves. Harper used attack ads—learned from the amoral American Arthur Finkelstein—to smear the hapless Michael Ignatieff as “just visiting.” And three senators chosen by him to do Conservative partisan bidding—Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau—have all been accused of falsifying their expense accounts (the Duffy case is presently in the courts where he has been charged with one count of breach of trust and one for fraud).

Taking a page or two from George W. Bush’s playbook, Harper has systematically and stealthily sought to change a social democratic country into a neo-con satellite of the US Empire of chaos. For those still on the Canadian left who affirm the necessity of a vibrant and dynamic civil society where debate and dissent are supported by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Harper’s crushing, stifling and criminalizing of dissent has raised loud alarm bells. The recently published document (by Voices-voix, an organization of 200 civil society organizations and around 5,000 individual members),Dismantling Democracy: stifling debate and dissent in Canada(2015), is shocking reading even for those who know quite a bit about Harper’s tipping of Canada toward totalitarianism.

Perhaps for the first time, this exceptional document provides the analytical framework and empirical evidence which enables us to see the Big Pattern of Harper’s attempt to dismantle Canada’s democracy. It is as if the dots have all been connected. It’s all here, and what is striking about Dismantling Democracy is the outlining of the variety of devious tactics used by the Harper theo-cons to remove every possibility, legal and otherwise, of objecting to and blocking the complete capitulation of Canada to the triumphant rule of corporations (and America’s domination of the world) and its ultimate seepage into the US whirlpool.

The report is divided into two parts: Part A sets out the key elements of a vibrant democracy and Part B examines how Canadian democracy is undermined. The latter part has four sections: Silencing the public sector; Silencing knowledge; Silencing the voices of marginalized communities and Silencing voices through national security and foreign policy. Everybody on the global left should read Dismantling Democracy closely to learn more about how the enemy actually stifles debate and silences criticism (its nefarious playbook of assault on its citizenry). Many countries in the world have experienced similar sorts of things.

Human rights, an enabling environment and a vibrant democracy (Part A)

The steering group for Voices-voix, primarily people with scholarly knowledge of law and human rights, are deeply worried that “freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are among the fundamental pillars necessary to hold Canada’s democracy upright. But, as our human rights and civil participation come under attack, we’re exceptionally worried about Canada’s future as a safe, healthy and inclusive democracy” (p. 4). Voices-voix feels betrayed. Canada’s proud traditions of deliberative forms of democracy have been seriously undermined and tarnished (see Michael Welton,Unearthing Canada’s Hidden Past: a short history of adult education[2013] for an explication of this emancipatory tradition). Harper and his neo-con flunkies have set the state against the people. The citizens are now enemies.

Essentially, the introductory section of the report is a primer on human rights and the ideal of conversational democracy. It sets the stage for the specific analysis of part B. They affirm that: “Canada’s Constitution provides the building blocks for achieving this goal. The Supreme Court of Canada has interpreted Canadian democracy as requiring ‘a continuous process of discussion,’ in which dissenting voices are heard and their concerns addressed This discussion should not be limited to those in the Parliamentary majority. A truly democratic conversation must include the claims of competing groups and consideration of conflicting evidence”. But under the Harper regime, the use of silencing techniques has intensified as they have limited “dissent, public debate and democratic participation” (p. 6).

Part A’s most innovative concept is the idea of an “enabling environment.” The report explicitly critiques the ideas that, once elected, the governing party can forget the people and do whatever it likes behind parliament walls without responsibility to actively intervene to ensure that all barriers are removed to enable citizens to engage in deliberative public spaces.

Voices-voix define the enabling environment as “one where the government actively supports, promotes and celebrates the inclusion of diverse voices in public debate and discussion. Many of these voices come from civil society: organizations, such as non-government organizations, trade unions, and faith-based groups, as well as individuals such as activists, artists and human rights defenders. What makes individuals and groups part of civil society is that they are working together to advanced shared interests” (p. 13).

By failing to promote an enabling environment or foster the human rights that are critical to democracy, the government denies Canadians the dynamic, innovative society they aspire to build” (ibid.). We will now see that the Harper government receives an “F” in every category.

Undermining democracy (Part B)

Theme 1: Silence the public sector

One might characterize Harper and his gang in government as a pack of wild dogs. With their noses sniffing the air for the smell of dissent, they have gone on the attack to silence the public sector (theme 1). One of Canada’s respected traditions—an independent public sector, robust oversight mechanisms and protection for those reporting government wrong-doing—has been systematically undermined and abused by the Harper authoritarian regime.

The report contends (with lots of examples) that the Harper wild dogs attack dissenting and diverse voices within the public sector. They introduce omnibus bills (800 pages no less) that propose massive changes and provide little time for careful consideration. If a parliamentarian or civil servant disagrees publicly with the government, they are vilified. Advice emanating from the public service is often ignored or eliminated. And the Harper government runs roughshod over oversight mechanisms through incessant government meddling.

Dismantling Democracy takes great pains to reveal how the federal government cuts to the public service have curtailed the ability of public servants to “provide timely, thorough and comprehensive advice. New public codes of conduct have added a chill, dissuading public servants from offering independent advice or speaking publicly for fear of being seen as partisan or disloyal” (pp. 19-20). The cuts to The Departments of Justice and Environment Canada have been particularly devastating. For example, public legal programs and institutions such as the Court Challenges Program and the Law Commission of Canada have been eliminated, leaving Canada’s courts less accessible to many and discriminatory practices more likely.

It is shocking—in this age of panic over climate change—to discover that the anti-science, anti-enlightenment government of Sleazy Stephen has cut back seriously the budget of Environment Canada. Jobs have been lost; and similar cuts have happened in Canada’s entire public scientific community, including Agriculture Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and Natural Resources Canada. Funding cuts had the intended effect of muzzling scientists. Their ability to address the media, even collaborate professionally and generate impartial advice, was restricted. The scientists now feared that speaking truth to power would face the bared-teeth of the dog pack.

One of the most compelling and disturbing sections of theme 1 in Part B is the explication of how the federal government muzzled watchdog mechanisms and ruined the careers of many civil servants. Oversight agencies must maintain the requisite distance from the government. They must be cushioned from political interference and receive adequate funds. The report points out that the Harper authoritarian regime used two main tactics to enfeeble watchdog agencies from doing their jobs.

They provided inadequate funding and interfered directly with the agencies activities. Perhaps the most egregious example of these tactics was the “federal government’s myriad efforts to obstruct an independent oversight agency” from “investigating the Canadian Forces’ treatment of Afghan detainees by the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC)” (p. 21).

Established in 1998 as an independent civil oversight agency, the MPCC had the responsibility to investigate complaints against military conduct. But Peter Tinsley, then chair of MPCC, decided to proceed with an inquiry and soon discovered that the federal government withheld “requested information and documents” and sought to “supress evidence gathered in the course of the MPCC hearings” (p. 21).

The government challenged the jurisdiction of the MPCC, and twenty-nine public servants who were subpoenaed to give evidence, reported receiving intimidating letters. They were discouraged from even appearing as witnesses. Then, in December 2009, Harper prorogued Parliament in the midst of its investigation. The work of the parliamentary committee was derailed—just two weeks after the government had to hand over unredacted documents. The case of Peter Tinsley is not an isolated one.

The report provides the reader with a chart showing the means of silencing the public sector. Nine percent of the cases studied used political interference, thirteen percent vilification and smearing, seventeen percent funding cuts and restrictive internal policies, four percent used funding cuts alone and fifty-seven percent fired, forced the removal or did not re-appointment public servants.

Chills run up and down one’s spine as one reads the long list of organizations (such as the Status of Women Canada, Library and Archives Canada or Canadian Human Rights Commission) and persons (such as Tinsley, who was fired, Scott Vaughan, Yves Cote, Marc Raymond and many more who were silenced with the tactics at the government disposal).

Clearly, Canadians (and their international friends) are not facing the odd anti-democratic action on the part of Harper’s government. They are an anti-democratic regime, and they are dismantling democracy brick by brick as we have known it. But, despite Harper’s 2006 speech from the throne intending to protect whistleblowers, his government has done nothing of the sort. Edgar Schmidt, a senior lawyer in the Department of Justice, went public in December 2012 claiming that the government had not met its obligations under the Charter.

One of his tasks was to ensure that any law proposed had to comply with the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Charter. But he soon discovered that government lawyers had been instructed to reject proposed legislation only if it was “’manifestly’ or ‘certainly’ inconsistent with human rights standards” (p. 26). Schmidt repeatedly raised concerns with the deputy minister, the chief legislative counsel and the associate deputy minister. Nothing was done. Schmidt decided to proceed with legal proceedings against the government. The Harper government suspended him; he was put out of his office shortly thereafter. Legal proceedings are still underway.

Theme 2: Silencing Knowledge

These days we routinely identify our post-industrial societies as knowledge or information societies. The report, Dismantling Democracy: stifling debate and dissent in Canada (2015), maintains that: “The collection and free flow of data and information are crucial for a robust democracy, and important aspects of the right to freedom of expression” (p. 30). In an “educative democracy” or “just learning society” the public needs credible knowledge to “properly evaluate the government’s conduct and make informed political choices. If taken into account in government decision-making, sound information results in more transparent, accountable, and responsive policy” (ibid.).

But since gaining power in 2006 (at first as a minority government), the Harper autocrats have systematically impeded developing Canada into a culturally and economically literate space. Dismantling Democracy contends that, rather than doing everything they can to lay the groundwork for a knowledge-based, critically oriented Canadian society, the Harper government has dismantled the very agencies that can help to create the basis for evidence-based policy.

They have made increasingly severe cuts to an organization like Statistics Canada (almost $30 million since 2012 as well as 18% of its staff). StatsCan can no longer respond to questions pertaining to job vacancies in Canada. In 2014, the Auditor General Michael Ferguson requested information about job vacancies in Canada. This information was necessary to make wise decisions about the controversial temporary foreign worker program and cuts to employment insurance. But StatsCan pleaded lack of resources to provide the needed data. Informed decision-making was stomped into the ground.

The cuts to StatsCan can be linked with the replacement in 2010 of the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary National Household Survey (NHS). This census provided important data to “inform government policies on important matters such as public transportation plans, employment insurance plans and the Canada Pension Plan” (p. 31). With only partial evidence available, it is much easier for the government to manipulate data to serve its own ends. Recently, StatsCan admitted that it will not have a thorough analysis of Canadian income trends ready before the next federal election (scheduled for the fall, 2015).

Particularly devastating cuts have taken place in scientific organizations. Everybody needs scientific thought and empirical research in order to create an environmentally sustainable world. Alas! The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) budget cuts since 2009 have led to the firing of 2,000 government scientists. This merely adds to earlier firings associated with Environment Canada. Seventy-five scientists were fired from the Marine Toxicology Program alone. The program ended in April 2013. Few Canadians, I believe, know much about these firings and quashing of research that might call into question profit-making corporations who love a de-regulated and unethical world.

How can we assure accountability when we lack information and vibrant public spaces for debate and dissent? Knowledge has been silenced by restrictive government policies (12%), forcing the resignation or removing perceived threats to the government’s appalling agenda (25%), defunding organizations that raise critical questions (38%) and engaging in enhanced scrutiny and audits by the Canada Revenue Agency [CRA] (25%).

In 2007—to give one example—the Harper autocrats muzzled government scientists from speaking at conferences or to the media or public. As expected, the media coverage of climate change and other pertinent matters decreased dramatically (by 80%). And as expected, the muzzled scientists feared retaliation if they spoke truth to power. Harper was successfully creating a culture of fear and suspicion.

Under the Harper regimes tilting towards a totalitarian society (or “police state” as Joyce Nelson has argued in “Police state Canada,”CounterPunchMarch 13-15, 2015)), government secrecy and lack of transparency (like knowing what Harper is up to in recent international trade agreements) has radically increased. Canadians cannot get easy access to information. Nor can they discuss themes like sustainable development openly. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE)—its mandate was to act as an independent, non-partisan advisor on sustainable development—produced a report in 2011 that has severely critical of Canada’s measures to reduce climate change. The government eliminated the NRTEE.

Most despicably, the Harper attack dogs have proven hostile to Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives related to Indigenous people’s issues (there are many). They cut the funding of The First Nations Statistical Institute in half in 2012 and eliminated it completely in 2013. They have been particularly hostile and cavalier in response to evidence concerning Indigenous women in Canada (the organization Sisters in Spirit compiled a data base pertaining to 600 unsolved murder cases). Harper’s gang cut their funding completely.

The theo-con Stephen Harper (he of hyper-conservative evangelical worldview) has turned a blind eye to opening up a serious inquiry into violence against native women. It is easier to misrepresent and ignore the cries of the vulnerable when advocacy organizations are kicked to the margins or quashed like cockroaches under foot.

The dictatorial Harper (my way or the highway) wants a subdued and subjugated citizenry. He has attacked advocacy groups with anti-capitalist, environmental and scientific agendas (The Sierra Club Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, ForestEthics, and Environmental Defence). In January 2012, then natural resources minister Joe Oliver issued open letter accusing environmental advocacy groups of being “radicals”—who desire “to stop any major [industrial] project, no matter what the cost.”

Murray Dobbin (“Terrorizing Canada with Stephen Harper,”CounterPunch, March 20-22, 2015) rightly worries that Canada’s civic literacy is so permeated with the mass media’s deceptions and prevarications that its citizenry will be unable to fight the fierce fanatic Harper.

That’s it: the Harper submission to corporate domination of society cannot stand any organization that stands up against a pipeline cutting through Indigenous people’s lands. So if you are a new social movement association in Canada, you will be audited by the CRA and your leadership will be investigated behind closed doors. And your participati0n in government spaces to discuss development projects will be serious curtained. The Harper regime is the government of the closed door.

Dismantling Democracy concludes that: “Ultimately, the government is dramatically impairing Canada’s diverse knowledge-base and eroding the ability of public servants, civil society and the general public to oppose or even simply debate government policies and hold it to account” (p. 39).

Theme 3: Silencing the voices of marginalized communities

The report gives considerable attention to the government’s devaluing, dismissing and misrepresenting of Indigenous voices. Voices-voix insists that ensuring equality and a vital democracy requires that the voices of the marginalized be heard and listened to. “Canadian democracy is only strong if it is inclusive and fair for its most vulnerable communities” (p. 42).

But the federal government has neglected the vulnerable through using the tactics of “funding cuts, controversial legal reforms, and the forced removal of several ombudspersons who have spoken out about the treatment of vulnerable Canadians” has “undermined public discourse in Canada, reinforcing existing exclusion based on gender, Indigineity, age, and socio-economic issues” (ibid.).

Between 2012 and 2015, the Harper gang cut about $60 million to Indigenous leadership organizations. The keystone native organization—the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)—was punched in the head as they faced cuts of 59%.

These cuts had a ripple effect: affecting other organizations such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and other regional organizations. Moreover, Indigenous-led non-profits also lost funding (such as the Aboriginal Healing Foundation), thus disenabling responding to some of the wounds of Residential schooling and ennui on poverty-stricken reserves.

The federal government obstructed voices for women’s equality. Canadians may have forgotten that in 2006, the Harper government cut extensively the Status of Women (SWC), pressing it to shut down most of its regional offices. An historic organization created in 1976, the SWC had struggled to provide resources and care for women’s shelters and research places. Attack-dog John Baird defended the cuts because they were “wasteful” and “ineffective.” In 2007, the National Association for Women and the Law (NAWL) lost its SWC funding. Now, women had a tougher time getting legal rights—including changes to sexual assault laws.

Harper cares little for the struggle for gender equality: 1 in 9 Canadian women still live in poverty, and, yes, they still earn only 70.5% of what men earn for full-time work. And of course women do the bulk of labour for care-giving to their kids, seniors and the disabled. The assault on women’s rights by the government yap-dogs even includes resistance to women’s right to pay equity. The federal government of the straw-hearted Harper wanted to leave women’s pay to market forces (and they knew damn well that neo-liberalism drives down wages without blinking an eye).

Canadians did wake up a little when the Harper regime passed the New Veterans Charter (NVC) in its first term that significantly reduced veteran’s benefits. It is not surprising, however, that the government has maligned persons who expressed concern over existing policies. Pat Strogan, Yves Cote and Pierre Daigle—all defence force ombudsmen—were prevented from serving second terms as reward for their critical questioning and advocacy for veterans. Other critical voices were punished with the government digging into personal medical records to find something to turn into dirt to throw in the face of the accused.

Nor does the federal anti-labour government of Harper have any love for trade unions and the labour movement. The government castigated those politicians with ties to labour as public enemies. They sought to interfere with union-sponsored political events and pressed them to release public financial statements. And Labour Minister Lisa Raitt broke strikes by Air Canada and CP Rail as fast as one can say the Market is God.

It is scarcely surprising that the government introduced Bill C-6 to force workers to return to work after only five days on strike. This Bill seriously eroded established norms for “conducting labour arbitrations, and specified a maximum wage rate the arbitrator was able to impose. These changes interfered with the usual powers and process at play in arbitrations, and resulted in a decision that involved a wage rate considerably lower than Canada Post’s previous offer” (p. 50). Other bills—C 377 and C 525 are anti-labour, throwing sand into certification and decertification processes that undermine fully democratic procedures. Canadian workers have had their teeth kicked in.

Theme 4: Silencing voices through foreign affairs and national security

Our final theme takes us into the dirty world of the “ugly Canadian” (see Yves Engler, The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy [2012])Here, we can merely touch on some salient issues as we enter the Hall of Shadowy Mirrors. Basically, Harper the Tough Guy found the new 9/11 security landscape to his liking. His actions have been “marked by secrecy and repeated complicity in the violation of the rights of both Canadians and citizens of other countries” (p. 54).

In the aftermath of 9/11, Canadian intelligence and security forces “were complicit in the detention of Abousifan Abdelrazik, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Almaki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, Muayyed Nureddin and Mahar Arar by countries well-known for committing human rights abuses, including torture—respectively Sudan, the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Syria and Egypt” (ibid.). The Arar Inquiry revealed numerous serious problems in intelligence collection and sharing. It called for more “robust oversight mechanisms for national security investigations” (ibid.). Arar—as we now know—was tortured and innocent. A judicial inquiry into the cases of Almaiki, Bimaati and Nureddin discovered similar problems as the Arar inquiry.

Harper seized the opportunity after the killing of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial sentry duty, on October 22, 2014—I believe—to fabricate this singular event into a monumental “war on terror”—with Canadian rights now apparently threatened by violent jihadists. To fight this war on terror, Harper introduced Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorist Act 2015, to position himself as Defender of the Nation, crush the opposition parties and those who would pierce through Harper’s ideological fog.

The Bill gave the government—already skilled at snooping and false accusations—“unprecedented powers to investigate the democratic activities of Canadians, to infringe the privacy of individuals both inside and outside Canada, to share information extensively, as well as detain and ‘list’ individuals on the basis that they might pose a threat to national security” (ibid.). Nelson points out that Bills C-13, C-44 and C-635 also link with C-51 to increase surveillance and curb rights to assemble and protest.

Dismantling Democracy accuses the federal government of placing dubious foreign policy before human rights and development. What is revealed is an appalling government record of withdrawing funding from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) in July 2010 because the organization was expending effort to monitor federal policies on foreign affairs, aid, peace-keeping, trade and human rights. The Canadian government has, for instance, silenced “individuals and civil society organizations engaged in development or humanitarian work in the West Bank or Gaza, or with advocating human rights of Palestinians” (p. 56).

Examples of attacks on critics of the state of Israel include KAIROS, a faith-based charity that works on a range of issues, including peace between Palestine and Israel. They lost their funding, and so did The Canadian Arab Federation in 2009. The Arab Federation had tried to nurture links between Arabs in Canada and the Arab homelands. They supported causes such as human rights for Palestinians.

Their criticisms of the federal government and the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration were caustic. They were dumped, and the Harper government withdrew support for two research grants of the Mada al-Carmel Arab Centre for Applied Social Research in 2010. They were researching democracy and the human rights of Palestinian women in Israel. Like his mentor Netanyahu, Harper despises the Palestinian cause.

The silencing process has taken the form of interfering directly with individuals. Professors who even try to set up a conference on Israel-Palestine come under attack and find their funding vanished. The Canadian government even bans activists and humanitarians like George Galloway from speaking in Canada. The internationally respected Palestinian doctor, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, was prevented from speaking at a meeting organized by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME). The government delayed working on his visa.

One grows weary reading this relentless report: there is more. The government even interferes with parliamentary agencies like Rights and Democracy over funding to three Israeli human rights groups—B’Tselem, Al Haq and Al Mezan. Harper ended up shutting Rights and Democracy down.

The report makes several conclusions. We cite just a few. The Canadian government is “failing to enhance democratic participation and the flourishing of Canadian democracy, its undermining of democracy is much more fundamental. It erodes established rights and practices that foster democratic participation, and silences the voices necessary to develop sound policy that serves all Canadians. Far from enhancing democracy, the Canadian government is stifling it” (p. 64).

“Parliamentary processes have been misused, and reduced funding and restrictive codes of conduct have threatened the ability of the public service to deliver frank, independent and competent advice. Interference with oversight mechanisms has frustrated their ability to hold the government accountable, and a weak framework for the protection of whistle-blowers has led to reprisals against those willing to expose government misconduct” (ibid.).

The tragedy of Harper’s Canada is that it has slid considerably down the slippery slope of the end of politics. Once the bottom has been reached—totalitarian rule from above—it is not easy to roll participatory democracy back up the hill.

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White Skin Crisis


Over the last few weeks the U.S. has faced a racial crisis not seen since the ‘60s.  But while civil-rights protests and urban riots marked racial conflict a half-century ago, todays’ crisis is defined by a wave of white racist violence.  It is a rage epitomized by numerous “urban lynchings” (i.e., police killings of unarmed people of color, most often men); Dylann Roof’s (apparent) killing of nine African-American parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, SC, on June 17th; and the subsequent burnings of eight African-American churches in Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida between the 21st and the 30th.

These developments bring to a boil the long, painful history of slavery, Jim Crow Reconstruction, the tumultuous civil-right era and the reconstitution of the U.S. now underway.  It’s led to much soul searching, especially among African-Americans and well-meaning Southern whites.  Ever sensitive to bad press, white Republican politicians are moving to banish the Confederate flag as a token appeasement so as to avoid addressing more systemic issues.  They want race and inequality off the political agenda as the 2016 election cycle gets underway.

Much of the current national debate about the killings has, rightly, focused on America’s legacy of racism, gun control and the forgiveness expressed by some of the family members of the deceased.  Its also led many to link white-nationalist violence to police killings of people of color, often committed by white law-enforcement officers.  Together, they reveal the roots of racism in America.  Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the deeper crisis besetting America’s white population which likely fuels the racist rage, a recognition that white skin privilege is being eroded.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Since 2000, the number of [white] hate groups has increased by 30 percent.”  It estimates that since Pres. Obama’s 2008 election the number of such group rose 1,360 in 2012 from 813 in 2008; in 2014, there were 874 such groups.  One group, Stormfront, claims 300,000 members.  These groups incubate a particularly American form of race-based domestic terrorism.

The American Dream is over.  Politicians – especially Republican presidential wannabes — are the last to speak the truth.  They will do anything to misdirect public attention from the deepening social crisis gripping the U.S.   They will continue to play the race card to avoid acknowledging the toll globalization and inequality as taking on their constituencies, especially poor, working- and middle-class whites.  Sadly, as the U.S. social crisis deepens, one can expect more such incidents like that which took place in Charleston and the church burnings.

* * *

The Charleston killings fueled a national debate over the cause of such wonton violence.  Was it a hate crime or an act of domestic terrorism?; was it an act of racism or yet another mass-murder by a psychopath?  Much has been made of Roof’s website, “Last Rhodesian”; his jacket sporting flags of white-ruled Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa; his car license plate featuring the Confederate flag; and his racist manifesto.

“I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country,” he apparently wrote.  “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.  Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Interviews with Roof’s family and friends paint a postmodern portrait of the classic “lone-wolf” killer.  He seems to be a shy if unhappy, introverted loner who was politicized by racist ideology – and is digital-media savvy.  News reports note that he lived in Gaston, SC, a town 97 percent white.  His parents were separated but lived nearby.  He reportedly dropped out of high school after repeating the 9thgrade; he apparently used illegal drugs and was busted twice (once for possessing an illegal drug, Suboxone, a narcotic analgesic); and he drank a lot and hung out with friends in strip bars.  He got a pistol for his 21st birthday and used it on the 17th.

Friends report he was smart, used the Internet to study race-related issues, and wrote and published a rabidly-racist personal manifesto.  According to a high school friend, Antonio Metze, who is black, “He had black friends.”  According to another friend, “He wanted to do something big, like the Trayvon Martin case.”  And he did.  (In these ways, he seems not unlike the Swedish mass murderer, Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people and was also driven by racist beliefs.)

Gaston, SC, is a small satellite town of Columbia, the state capital.  In 2010, it claimed only 1,645 residents and was 97 percent white.  In 2012, according the Census Bureau, there were 313 million Americans and “non-Hispanic whites” made up 63 percent of the U.S. population.  The non-white population made up 37 percent (116 million people) and consists of Hispanics (17%), African-Americans (12%), Asians (5%) and multiracial Americans (2.4%).  Perhaps more telling, people of color will likely eclipse the current white majority in 2043.


Gaston’s median income is just about half the national average for “white, not Hispanic” households.  Wikipedia reports that household median income in Gaston is $31,411.  In 2013, South Carolina medium income was $44,163.  It notes, “About 17.1% of [Gaston] families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty, including 26.1% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.”  The 2013 medium income for all U.S. “white” households was $55,257 and, for “white, not Hispanic” households it was $58,270.

The slow U.S. economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-09 is gradually reducing the national poverty rate.  However, the Census Bureau reported that as of 2013, nearly 30 million “white” Americans lived in poverty and that the number of “white, not Hispanics” in poverty was 18.8 million people. The highest concentration of poverty is in the South where an estimated 18.9 million people (16.1%) live in poverty.  The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates, using Census data, that 23 states had a poverty rate of 10 percent or greater.  The highest rates of white poverty were in Kentucky (18%) and West Virginia (17%); South Carolina’s poverty rate was 15 percent.  Gaston is a snapshot of small-town white America, a segment of the nation now in deepening crisis.

The situation for poorer whites, especially in the South, gets bleaker when demographic and income factors are linked to education attainment and drug use.  Together, these elements suggest the soil of despair out of which a reactionary nativist movement — epitomized by Roof – festers.

Between 1990 and 2013, the percentage of white people 25- to 29-year who had received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent increased to 94 from 90 percent.  More revealing, during that period the gap between white, black and Hispanic high-school grads narrowed considerable.  For African-Americans, it declined to 4 from 8 percent and for Hispanics it fell to 18 from 32 percent.

However, drilling down into the formal, 4-year graduation rates at the state level reveals a more disturbing picture of the long-term crisis facing white Americans.  A revealing study, “State High School Graduation Rates By Race, Ethnicity,” drawing upon U.S. Department of Education data from the 2011-12 period, found the formal white graduation rate was 86 percent.  Most disturbing, the white students in 20 states fell below 80 percent graduation rate – South Carolina’s graduation rate was 78 percent and Roof was not one of them.

According to news reports, Roof used a variety of drugs, everything from alcohol to marijuana to Xanax.  Among whites, drug use or abuse is rampant.  In 2013, the “legal” drug of choice was alcohol, where nearly three-fifths (58%) were drinkers and nearly a quarter (24%) binge drinkers.  The use of tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes, cigars) among whites is still over one-quarter (28%).  With regard to “illegal” drugs, in ’13, marijuana was Americans favorite means of getting high, accounting for four-fifths (81%) of illicit drug users and involving about 20 millions users per month.

The new drugs of choice among white Americans are psychotherapeutic drugs and heroine.  A 2010 report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that, during 2009, 2.4 million individuals used psycho drugs, including anti-anxiety drugs (like Xanax that Roof apparently used), pain relievers (like Suboxone), tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, for nonmedical purposes.  Most alarming, it found for 2007 – the last year data was available — deaths from unintentional overdoses from such drug use increased to approximately 27,000.  Now, almost a decade later, one can only wonder how many have died from such drug overdoses?

* * *

Racism is America’s great shame.  It’s embedded in the nation’s very founding, with the first Africans arriving as slaves and theConstitution establishing the value of a slave at 3/5th a white male citizen.  A century-and-a-half after the Civil War, it still finds resonance among a significant segment of the white American electorate.  It’s one of the defining, if unspoken, principles of the Republican Party.

Conservative politicians love playing the anti-race “race card.”  It’s the practice of accusing someone, most often Pres. Barack Obama or another African-American figure, of using race as a factor in an analysis of a critical current event.  They claim that such statements invoke prejudice, violating the spirit of civil political discourse.  With rare exception, its not been invoked about the Charleston killings or the subsequent church burnings.

Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Republican politicians have followed what Pres. Richard Nixon’s advisor, Patrick Buchanan, called the “Southern strategy.”  It was a devils bargain, struck between opportunist conservative politicians and many white Americans to use the ballet to protect traditional power relations, white skin privilege.

The strategy has, for nearly a half-century, successfully divided the American people along race lines.  It’s a mean-spirited form of distraction, a sentiment that took root in the country four centuries ago when the first black slaves were auctioned off as private property.  In the U.S., race is the great divide and playing the race card has worked for decades — and will likely be a key (if moderated) part in the Republican’s 2016 campaign playbook.

Playing the race card permits Republican politicians – and white voters! – to avoid confronting the deeper social, economic and demographic changes remaking the nation.  White Americans, especially poor, working- and middle-class, are facing an historical crisis.  They are being, simultaneously, eclipsed and squeezed; their relative proportion of the country’s population is shrinking while their economic situation is growing evermore insecure.

White privilege is eroding, driven less by people of color (who are poorer and suffer greater hardships) then by the policies of the – mostly white — 1 percent oligarchs.  (And, as only U.S. politics could accomplish, America’s first mixed-race president who identifies as African-American has led the campaign for the Pacific trade pact to ensure the 1 percent’s global hegemony.)  Often overlooked, the racism of white skin privilege plays a key – if unspoken – role in the repression of white people; it keeps them blind, in denial, to what causes their deepening immiseration.

Amidst these profound social changes, the Southern strategy is also eroding.  It needs to be rebuked once and for all.  Roof’s (apparent) killings of nine innocent black parishioners has led many Southern politicians to utter public mea culpas, distancing themselves from the Confederate flag and calling for racial brotherhood.  Whether this new spirit will separate more “moderate” whites from hardcore racists and spawn a new political realignment remains to be seen.  Sadly, as the U.S. social crisis deepens, one can expect more such incidents like the Charleston killings and the church burnings.

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Yemen’s Ansarullah, UN Envoy Confer on Ceasefire

Yemen’s Ansarullah, UN Envoy Confer on Ceasefire
A delegation of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and the United Nation’s special envoy for Yemen discussed ways to reach a truce in the war-torn country, a spokesman for the movement announced.

In a meeting between Ansarullah delegation and UN Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in the Omani capital of Muscat, the two sides conferred on calling a humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen, Ansarullah Spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said in a post in his social network account.

The meeting was also attended by the ambassadors of some European Union member states, Youm7 website reported on Saturday.

The talks came 100 days after I$raHell and  Zio-Wahhabi and some of its Arab puppet’s began to launch deadly air strikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to the fugitive C.I.A agent Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Zio-Wahhabi regime.

According to a civil coalition monitoring Saudi Zio-Wahhabi crimes, 3043 people, including 722 children and 532 women, have been killed during 100 days of Zio-Wahhabi-led military strikes on the Arab country. More than 8,000 others have been also injured in the attacks, including 581 women and 766 children.

The Zio-Wahhabi-led aerial strikes have targeted 61 hospitals and 13 ambulances.


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