Archive | November 13th, 2015

Palestine’s “can’t deliver” chief negotiator promoted to secretary-general

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Saab Erekat with Tipi Livni

By Stuart Littlewood

Watch this horror movie – if you can bear to. It stars Palestine’s top negotiator in action. And it’s not pretty.

I’ve seen/heard Saeb Erekat interviewed before. He gives the same cringe-making performance and quickly becomes hysterical. In 20 years he has learned nothing from the well honed skills of his Israeli and US counterparts.

Readers might not approve of Stephen Sackur’s line of questioning in the video, described by one viewer as a grim cat-and-mouse set-up by the BBC. But knowing our national broadcaster’s bias in favour of Israel it’s no great surprise. Some journalists are paid to savage their victims to boost viewing figures. Why else would it be called HARDtalk? Erekat has been interviewed by Sackur before so he knows what to expect: a rough ride and the need to prepare accordingly.

…after 20 years in the job he [Erekat] should be able to assemble “killer” facts, express them concisely and calmly, and steer the “interrogation” to suit the Palestinian agenda.

It’s clumsy journalism but Sackur, in his thirst for blood, provides many opportunities for Erekat to turn the tables and score – that is, if he’d been properly trained. Sadly, he has never been professional enough to get himself equipped. Nevertheless, after 20 years in the job he should be able to assemble “killer” facts, express them concisely and calmly, and steer the “interrogation” to suit the Palestinian agenda.

But despite (or maybe because of) his political science degree from San Francisco and doctorate in peace and conflict studies from Bradford, Erekat is a ranter. When the discussion gets heated he becomes erratic, confused, impatient and repetitious. He just loves to shout the other person down.

For two decades Erekat misread the Israelis and their intentions (which are an open book, after all). He and his team wasted precious time on worthless, lopsided negotiations with an unbending enemy whose policy has always been to defy international law and UN resolutions and carry on with their annexation and colonisation regardless, making the situation for Palestinians even more intolerable. Israeli negotiators rub their hands with glee whenever they see Erekat coming.

Even in this interview Erekat never utters the key word “justice”. He says plenty about peace and hope; but he must know, as we do, that there can be no peace without justice first. The Palestinians’ main weapons are truth, law and the many UN resolutions waiting to be implemented. Justice involves upholding international law and implementing those resolutions. From the start they should have pushed down the justice route and supported the effort with an effective communications programme to spread the truth and persuade the international community.

But “justice”, “law” and “truth” hardly, if ever, pass Erekat’s lips. Are they not in the Palestinian Authority’s wordbook?

It’s toe-curlingly obvious that Erekat isn’t cut out to play cat-and-mouse with the media and shouldn’t keep pushing himself forward.

Erekat is so deeply embedded in the Palestinian Authority/Palestine Liberation Organisation structure that he cannot easily be dislodged – just like his boss, Mahmoud Abbas, whose term ended in 2009 but whose backside is still superglued to the presidential throne, courtesy of Israel, the US and the UK.

It’s toe-curlingly obvious that Erekat isn’t cut out to play cat-and-mouse with the media and shouldn’t keep pushing himself forward. I happen to know that nearly 10 years ago the PA/PLO were offered, through their London embassy, media skills training by a firm that coaches government spokespeople, military chiefs, senior police officers, heads of research and top executives here in the West. They turned it down. I’ve heard from several sources since then that the PA is under strict instructions not to rock the boat, not to make waves. If you’ve had dealings with their lackadaisical London “embassy” you’ll know what I mean. Unresponsive is the name of their game. Proactive they are not. You seldom get to speak to someone who is briefed. It is much easier to ring the Israeli embassy for a story.

It’s a sobering thought that a stupid decision by the leadership a decade ago, denying themselves the essential tools to deal with Western media, counter Israel’s propaganda, manage the news and deliver it through a diligent communications network, may well have cost the delightful Palestinian people their country.

Some campaigners say they wept for him [Erekat]. My sympathy is for the people he is supposed to represent. They’ve been saddled with him for too long, and that misfortune isn’t over yet.

Erekat doesn’t come across any better in this interview with Mehdi Hasan, the presenter of AlJazeera English’s “Head to Head” programme. He may once have been riding high as the poster-boy for Palestinian diplomacy. But disclosures in the notorious Palestine Papers, secret documents from the peace process leaked by AlJazeera in 2011, shattered his credibility.

These days Erekat does the Palestinian cause no favours at all, which cynics will say is why he’s there. Despite threats to resign he never actually goes. By the end of the HARDtalk interview he cuts a sad figure, wallowing in self-pity. Sackur says: “I have never heard you this bleak, this negative, this despairing. Is it all over for you?” To which Erekat replies: “I was unable to deliver… not because I failed but because I was foiled.”

Some campaigners say they wept for him. My sympathy is for the people he is supposed to represent. They’ve been saddled with him for too long, and that misfortune isn’t over yet.

Instead of doing the decent thing and stepping down Erekat continues to cling to the negotiator job and, on top of that, was recently rewarded with promotion to secretary-general of the PLO. There is speculation that he’s being prepped to take over as president from Abbas, although he told Mehdi Hasan he wished to go back to being a university professor. Well go, dammit, go!

Fat chance of that, however. He and Abbas are Israel’s most valuable assets in Ramallah and will no doubt feel it their duty to bluff it out until the occupation is irreversible and “Greater Israel” is in the bag.

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The Iraq war, Blair and the other sucker

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Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush and Tony Blair

By Jamal Kanj

“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” Tony Blair told Fareed Zakaria during a CNN interview.

The TV interview came ahead of the much delayed British Chilcot Inquiryreport, investigating the Iraq war, now expected by summer 2016.

Blair also apologised “for some of the mistakes in planning” the war.

It didn’t, however, come clear from the interview what were “some of” the correct decisions made in planning for the war.

A war made for Israel

The war was neither a mistake, nor based on “wrong” intelligence. It was well thought of by those who cooked the intelligence book and sold it to two suckers named George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

The plan intended to break up Iraq, destroy its know-how by assassinating Iraqi scientists, and dismantle the Iraqi army.

…Blair’s infamous dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction included 11 pages copied “verbatim, from an Israeli journal, Middle East Review of International Affairs”. (Jeffrey Steinberg, Executive Intelligence Review)

Not because Iraq was a threat to America, but because destroying Iraq was on Israel’s agenda.

On 21 February 2003, Jeffrey Steinberg wrote in the Executive Intelligence Review that Blair’s infamous dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) included 11 pages copied “verbatim, from an Israeli journal, Middle East Review of International Affairs”. According to Steinberg, the Blair dossier was “cooked-in-Israel propaganda” to drive the US to invade Iraq.

Complementing Blair’s hoax, US Zionists-neoconservatives waged a misleading campaign to influence American public opinion and to deceive officials on the cost of war and its aftermath.

Israel’s war pimps

On 11 July 2002, Richard Perle, a Pentagon official who was on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s payroll in mid-1990s, professed the war will end “after the first whiff of gunpowder”.

His ex-boss, Netanyahu, gave a congressional testimony two months later where he promised America: “If you take out Saddam regime, I guarantee it will have enormous positive reverberation on the region.”

About a month before the war, Israel-firster and American official Kenneth Adelman published an op-ed in the Washington Post, positing that the war “would be a cakewalk”.

In briefing the Senate Armed Services Committee on 25 February 2003, General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the US Army, warned that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed to secure postwar Iraq. Days later, civilian Zionist-neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz countered: “The notion that it will take several hundred thousand troops is wildly off the mark.”

In his book Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward wrote that Secretary of State Colin Powell used to refer to the Office of Special Plans (war bureau) as “a separate government”.

The office was led by Zionist-neoconservatives Lewis Libby and Wolfowitz, and, according to Powell, was run from Douglas Feith’s “Gestapo” office.

Soon following the invasion, Wolfowitz assured the House Appropriations Committee and American taxpayers that the war cost and rebuilding “doesn’t have to be US taxpayers’ money”. We have “a country that can really finance its own reconstruction”. Wolfowitz’s statement cost the taxpayers between two to six trillion dollars.

After the Zionist-neoconservatives’ WMDs were exposed as a fiction, Wolfowitz offered a new fallacious assessment. He claimed that removing Saddam would help in the peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Suppressed FBI probe

The Zionist-neoconservatives’ undue influence drew the attention of the FBI. There were public reports in July 2004 of a probe by the FBI into potential Israeli spies in the Pentagon who might have influenced the US decision on the war.

The FBI inquiry was quashed and Americans never discovered the Israeli spies who blundered America and Britain’s human and financial resources on a “made for Israel war”. 

The FBI suspected the Israeli mole was a senior analyst closely associated with two senior officials: Zionist-neoconservatives Wolfowitz and Feith. It believed that “highly sensitive information” was passed to Israel via “the pro-Israel lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC].”

The FBI inquiry was quashed and Americans never discovered the Israeli spies who blundered America’s and Britain’s human and financial resources on a “made for Israel war”.

Hence, Chilcot has an opportunity now to dissect the Israeli “sacred cow” and identify the source of the “wrong” intelligence. It should start by deciphering the palpable link between the US Zionist-neoconservatives’ ideologues and Israel.

Undeniably, Saddam was a brutal dictator. But the war, the preceding economic blockade and Netanyahu’s promised “enormous  reverberation on the region” are causing more human deaths than Saddam ever did.

The world might be better with one less Arab dictator, though it would have been a much better place without Bush and his British toady.

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The Re-Enserfment of Western Peoples

 

NOVANEWS
by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

chase-bank

The re-enserfment of Western peoples is taking place on several levels.  One about which I have been writing for more than a decade comes from the offshoring of jobs.  Americans, for example, have a shrinking participation in the production of the goods and services that are marketed to them.

On another level we are experiencing the financialization of the Western economy about which Michael Hudson is the leading expert (Killing The Host).  Financialization is the process of removing any public presence in the economy and converting the economic surplus into interest payments to the financial sector.

These two developments deprive people of economic prospects.  A third development deprives them of political rights.  The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Partnerships eliminate political sovereignty and turn governance over to global corporations.

These so called “trade partnerships” have nothing to do with trade.  These agreements negotiated in secrecy grant immunity to corporations from the laws of the countries in which they do business.  This is achieved by declaring any interference by existing and prospective laws and regulations with corporate profits as restraints on trade for which corporations can sue and fine “sovereign” governments.  For example, the ban in France and other counries on GMO products would be negated by the Trans-Atlantic Partnership. Democracy is simply replaced by corporate rule.

I have been meaning to write about this at length.  However, others, such as Chris Hedges, are doing a good job of explaining the power grab that eliminates representative government.

The corporations are buying power cheaply.  They bought the entire US House of Representatives for just under $200 million. This is what the corporations paid Congress to go along with “Fast Track,” which permits the corporations’ agent, the US Trade Representative, to negotiate in secret without congressional input or oversight.

In other words, a US corporate agent deals with corporate agents in the countries that will comprise the “partnership,” and this handful of well-bribed people draw up an agreement that supplants law with the interests of corporations.  No one negotiating the partnership represents the peoples’ or public’s interests.  The governments of the partnership countries get to vote the deal up or down, and they will be well paid to vote for the agreement.

Once these partnerships are in effect, government itself is privatized.  There is no longer any point in legislatures, presidents, prime ministers, judges.  Corporate tribunals decide law and court rulings.

It is likely that these “partnerships” will have unintended consequences.  For example, Russia and China are not part of the arrangements, and neither are Iran, Brazil, India, and South Africa, although seperately the Indian government appears to have been purchased by American agribusiness and is in the process of destroying its self-sufficient food production system. These countries will be the repositories for national sovereignty and public control while freedom and democracy are extinguished in the West and among the West’s Asian vassals.

Violent revolution throughout the West and the complete elimination of the One Percent is another possible outcome.  Once, for example, the French people discover that they have lost all control over their diet to Monsanto and American agribusiness, the members of the French government that delivered France into dietary bondage to toxic foods are likely to be killed in the streets.

Events of this sort are possible throughout the West as peoples discover that they have lost all control over every aspect of their lives and that their only choice is revolution or death.

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Nazi regime suspends dialogues with EU in response to labelling goods

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 Israel suspends dialogues with EU in response to labelling goods

Nazi ministry of foreign affairs on Wednesday decided to suspend part of its dialog with the European Union (EU) in response to the latter’s decision to have “made in settlements” written on some Zionist products.

The ministry announced in a press release its withdrawal from several ‘Israeli’-EU forums dealing with the Palestinian issue.

Nazi regime will no longer attend meetings of the subcommittee on diplomacy and the subcommittee on human rights and international organizations, and there will be no dialog over any coming EU projects in area C, according to the ministry’s statement.

However, Nazi regime said it would keep its dialogue with the EU that serves its own interests, especially in the areas of science, education, culture and agriculture.

The EU on Wednesday published guidelines demanding Nazi regime producers to explicitly label their products that come from settlements built on Palestinian land occupied by Nazi army in the 1967 war before exporting them to its 28 member states.

The EU’s decision will apply to all goods produced in illegal Nazi Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

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67 years of Al-Nakba ( Catastrophe)

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63 years of Al-Nakba ( Catastrophe)

This is the month for Palestinians to remember their Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in which more than 700,000 women, men and children were pushed off their land and rendered homeless refugees by the Nazi attacks before, during and after war in 1948.

Isdud, a farming community to the north of Gaza’s current border, was ethnically cleansed, in the months after the Nazi expulsions began in May 1948. It was one of over 530 villages razed and destroyed after the residents were forced out by Nazi attacks.

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Nazi army kills then cries and lies

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 Zionist army kills then cries and lies

Despite the images of live broadcasts and the international reports, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Nazi army of occupation, Dan Harel, denied the illegal use of phosphorous bombs, and said that the use is consistent with international law. He added that during the war, they stop the use of those bombs because of international criticism. However, he pointed out that the Nazi army has no intention of stopping the use of such bombs.

About the Nazi soldiers witnesses on the Zionist television a month ago in Gaza, killing civilians without justification, and the accusation of Zionist politicians of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war on the Gaza Strip. Despite the confessions of the soldiers in the war on Gaza, Nazi entity acquitted itself of the charge.

The acquaintance came after alleged investigations and a report concludes that the army had not intentionally affect Palestinian civilians, admitting to some of intelligence errors that led to the deaths of civilians.

Palestinian lawyer Shawqi Al-Esa said, commenting on the report, that the Nazi entity deliberately expose some of the confessions by the Nazi soldiers and then set up a military commission of biased inquiry to reach this result, to hoodwink the international observers, to prevent the formation of an international commission of fair inquiry and to stop international criticism.

The media quoted from Nazi Deputy Chief of Staff of the army of occupation, Dan Harel, who presented the findings of the report, saying: small part of cases indicates the existence of intelligence or operational errors caused the harm the civilian population. He said that some of the claims of Palestinians turned out to be true or greatly exaggerated. Strangely, Harel blamed part of the “mistakes” of the Hamas movement. He added: An intelligence mistake led to the bombing of the house of  Ad-Daya  family in Az-Zeitoun neighborhood and killed in 21 people. We found a few mistakes after examining dozens of cases”.

Commenting on this, Dr. Ahmed Tibi said:  The Zionist army kills then start crying and lying. He added:” The credibility of the Zionist army and its leadership is shaky; this army kills and then cries and lies”.

Tibi called for the government and the army in the Nazi entity to back down from their refusal to deal with the Commission of Inquiry established by the United Nations because it is the authority in charge of this investigation.

 

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A Marine in Syria

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Brad Hoff A Marine in Syria

by Brad Hoff

Silhouettes of Beauty and Coexistence before the Devastation

He who has not lived in the years before the revolution cannot know what the sweetness of living is.

— Talleyrand, via Bertolucci, from the 1964 film Prima della Rivoluzione

IRAQ, LIBYA, SYRIA… Countries ripped apart through sectarian and political violence in the aftermath of cataclysmic external interventions: American invasion and occupation in Iraq, NATO intervention in Libya, and international proxy war in Syria. Mere mention of these countries conjures images of sectarian driven atrocities and societal collapse into the abyss of a Hobbesian jungle. And now it is commonplace to just assume it’s always been so. Increasingly, one hears from all corners of public discourse the lazily constructed logic, “but they’ve always hated each other”… or “violence and conflict are endemic to the region.” But it was not always so — I found a place of beauty, peace, and coexistence in a Syria that is now almost never acknowledged, and which risks being forgotten about. But Syrians themselves will never forget.

I SERVED IN THE MARINE CORPS during the first years of the Iraq War and was a 9/11 first responder while stationed at Headquarters Battalion Quantico, 2000–2004. I thought I knew something about Iraq upon the start of our new “war on terror:” Arab culture, with its intrinsic primal religious passions and resulting sectarian divisions, must be brought to heel under Western values of pluralism, secularism, and equality if peace and stability are to ever have a chance. This was a guiding assumption among the many Marine officers, active and retired, that I conversed with during my years at Quantico. Iraqis and Middle Easterners were, for us, abstractions that fit neatly into categories learned about by viewing a C-SPAN lecture, or perhaps in a college class or two: there are Sunnis, Shia, some dissident sects, they all mistrust each other, and they all want theocratic states with their group in charge.

My first visit to the region while desiring to study Arabic in 2004, just after completion of active duty service, and while still on the inactive reserve list, began a process of undoing every assumption I’d ever imbibed concerning Middle East culture, politics, and conflict. An initial visit to Syria from Lebanon was the start of something that my Marine buddies could hardly conceive of: Damascus became my second home through frequent travel and lengthy stays from 2004 to 2010, and was my place of true education on the real life and people of the region. While fellow service members were just across Syria’s border settling in to the impossible task of occupying a country they had no understanding of, I was able view a semblance of Iraq as it once was through the prism of highly stable Ba’athist Syria.

The other dominating interest that drew me to Syria was the country’s ancient churches and Christian communities. Discovery of the much neglected truth that the region has always been much more diverse than tends to be acknowledged did much to undo the false assumptions of my Texas Baptist childhood. I must admit that I grew up with the usual American stereotypes of the Middle East. To most Americans, the notion of Middle Eastern Christianity sounds like an oxymoron — or is at the very least highly suspect. Many Arab and Eastern Christians are asked, upon arriving in the U.S. for visit, work, or immigration, “when did you convert from Islam?” During the post 9/11 Bush years, when Syria as part of the “Axis of Evil” became a central formulation of U.S. foreign policy, such common cultural assumptions became even more deeply ingrained. How could one be a Christian and a citizen of a “rogue” Middle East state? And yet, Christians have called Syria their home for many hundreds of years prior to the foundation of the modern nation-state of Syria.

As I began to learn more about the multi-ethnic and religiously mixed kaleidoscope that is modern Syria, I marveled at how such a country could live in relative peace and stability in a region commonly perceived to be one of the most historically tumultuous and war racked on Earth, and I had to go and see for myself.

Damascus is a modern, bustling city. Manfred Schweda/thisfabtrek.com

DURING MY FIRST WEEKS in Damascus, I was pleasantly shocked. My preconceived notions were shattered: I expected to find a society full of veiled women, mosques on every street corner, religious police looking over shoulders, rabid anti-American sentiment preached to angry crowds, persecuted Christians and crumbling hidden churches, prudish separation of the sexes, and so on. I quickly realized during my first few days and nights in Damascus, that Syria was a far cry from my previous imaginings, which were probably more reflective of Saudi Arabian life and culture. What I actually encountered were mostly unveiled women wearing European fashions and sporting bright makeup — many of them wearing blue jeans and tight fitting clothes that would be commonplace in American shopping malls on a summer day. I saw groups of teenage boys and girls mingling in trendy cafes late into the night, displaying expensive cell phones. There were plenty of mosques, but almost every neighborhood had a large church or two with crosses figured prominently in the Damascus skyline. As I walked near the walled “old city” section, I was surprised to find entire streets lined with large stone and marble churches. At night, all of the crosses atop these churches were lit up — outlined with blue fluorescent lighting, visible for miles; and in some parts of the Damascus skyline these blue crosses even outnumbered the green-lit minarets of mosques.

Just as unexpected as the presence of prominent brightly lit churches, were the number of restaurant bars and alcohol kiosks clustered around the many city squares. One could get two varieties of Syrian-made beer, or a few international selections like Heineken or Amstel, with relative ease. The older central neighborhoods, as well as the more upscale modern suburbs had a common theme: endless numbers of restaurants filled with carefree Syrians, partying late into the night with poker cards, boisterous discussion, alcohol, hookah smoke, and elaborate oriental pastries and desserts. I got to know local Syrians while frequenting random restaurants during my first few weeks in Damascus. I came into contact with people representative of Syria’s ethnically and religiously diverse urban centers: Christians, Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Druze, Kurds, Armenians, Palestinians, and even a few self-declared Arab atheists. The characterization of Syrian city life that increasingly came to my mind during my first, and many subsequent visits and extended stays, was of Syria a consciously secular society when compared to other countries in the region.

Nights full of parties and dancing in Syrian homes. Author is behind the camera quickly overcoming his prior false orientalist stereotypes.

IN THE MORE TRADITIONAL COUNTRYSIDE, life moved at a slower pace. From my experience in villages from the Hauran region in the South, to Homs countryside in central Syria, there arose a common theme: a duality of work (typically agriculture) and family oriented leisure — with the year regulated by a pattern of village celebrations for weddings, baptisms, graduations, birthdays, and religious festivals. Movement of time in the village seemed to bring with it a palpable “lightness of being” — especially in the more picturesque mountain villages in places like the Valley of the Christians (Wadi al-Nasara) near Homs. The typical Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays in most any Syrian village were spent with extended family and village friends gathered on a patio around a slow burning coal barbeque pit. This is not unlike an American style barbeque, but the Syrian version tended to last for eight or more hours, and was sometimes a village-wide affair that easily extended to an evening party with live music. Women socialized while making kibbe and tabbouleh by hand (an hours-long affair) — so that food preparation itself became a kind of natural social ritual. Men exchanged news and speculated about village rumors, fanned the slow burning coal and endlessly sipped tea, strong Arabic coffee, and smoked cigarettes or hookah pipe.

Though much is now said of Syria’s sectarian divisions, religiously mixed villages were everywhere, and operated not much differently from religiously or ethnically homogeneous villages. If there was a party on the occasion of a Muslim holiday, Christians and Alawites came out and joined in on the feasting and traditional dancing. During Christmas and Easter parties, or for the Feast of St. George, Muslims were heard giving a “Merry Christmas” and other greetings of respect to Christians, and joined in on the festivities. In the multiple mixed Druze and Christian villages of the ancient Hauran region, there were common-use village party grounds situated near the main entrances to villages, which were used to celebrate weddings and national holidays. If a wedding took place, it was expected that all families of the village would come out — whether the wedding was Muslim, Druze, or Christian. The village patriarchs, including the local Orthodox priest, the Catholic priest, and Druze cleric, would attend the joint celebration.

Qraya is an example of one such diverse village set amidst the black volcanic crusted plains of the Hauran region (from the Aramaic word which means “cave land”). A somewhat recently erected gray and white concrete mosque memorial commemorating the “Great Syrian Revolution” — the 1925–1927 revolt that solidified Syrian national feelings during the French Mandate period, towers over the sleepy village. In 2009 the Syrian government, in an official ceremony, interred the remains of celebrated Druze patriarch Sultan Hilal al-Atrash there. He led what was initially a mass Druze revolt against the French, which had been ruling Syria since the close of World War I. What began as a Druze revolt primarily focused in southern Syria’s Jabal al-Druze (literally “Druze Mountain”) was soon joined by Sunnis, Christians, and Alawites. This represented Syria’s first popular movement toward nationalism which reached “street level” across the different segments of French-ruled Syria. Reflecting the far reaching impact and diverse appeal of the anti-colonial revolt, al-Atrash famously said, “Religion is for God, the fatherland is for all.”

With similar sentiment, Syrians that reject the notion of the contemporary conflict as a mere sectarian driven crises are now often heard to reply with a simple “I am Syrian” when asked about their religious identity.

The cross and the crescent side by side in the historic walled “old city” of Damascus.

I CERTAINLY WITNESSED plenty of examples of Islamic conservatism in Syrian public life, but it was the secular and pluralistic (represented in the diverse population living side by side) aspect that always seemed to dominate, whether I was in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, or coastal areas like Tartus. Syria’s committed secular identify was confirmed to me more than ever when I first traveled the freeway that wraps around Mt. Qasyoon — the small mountain against which the Damascus urban center is nestled. My speeding taxi passed a couple of expansive foreign car dealerships, but most prominent were a seeming myriad number of windowless entertainment venues, structured like residential mansions, lining both sides of the road. My taxi driver laughed at my perplexed expression and informed me that this was “brothel row” (my translation) — a red light district of sorts. When I later got to know a group of Syrian Christian guys — enough to where I could ask potentially awkward or embarrassing questions — they confirmed, with some degree of shame, that all big cities in Syria have their seedy underbellies (“like your Nevada,” my friend Michel said). Places like brothels and “pick-up bars” were allowed to operate in public, but didn’t necessarily advertise what they were about. The Christians looked upon this “dark side” of Syrian society with no less moral revulsion than local conservative Muslims. Yet, it was explained to me that while the Syrian government was deeply authoritarian in some respects, it generally allowed (and enforced) openness in social and religious areas unparalleled anywhere in the Middle East. Most Americans would be very surprised to learn of such elements in Syrian society that are not much different from what one would find in Europe or the U.S.

This social openness was most clearly to the advantage of Christians and other religious minorities living in a country numerically dominated by the about 70% Sunni Muslim majority. The secular face of the government and civic life allowed Christians to worship freely, and to even display their Christianity very publicly. My first experience of this came one particular winter evening in the Qassa neighborhood near Bab Touma — the expansive and most well-known among the Christian neighborhoods of Damascus. A special dignitary, the Orthodox Archbishop of Finland, was visiting a local church. He was greeted with a parade that took over an entire city street. He processed down the street and into the church with a uniformed marching band leading the way, made up of a local Christian scouting organization.

I witnessed similar displays especially at Christmas and Easter in all different parts of Syria: public processions, church bells ringing loudly, Christmas trees and lights, images of Jesus displayed prominently, church music blaring over loud speakers, and exuberant wedding parties. One small city, Maaloula — an hour northwest of Damascus, even had its annual local public holiday in celebration of the cross which Syrian news depicted as attracting tens of thousands of people.

Beauty amidst encroaching war: the sleepy village of Saidnaya sits at the edge of the now conflict-ridden Qalaman mountains

PRIOR TO VISITING SYRIA, I would have never conceived of the possibility of state TV in a Middle Eastern country actually airing coverage of a Christian festival. My Syrian friend, upon seeing my incredulous gaze as churches were being shown on the main government channel, shrugged and told me, “but this is Syria.” To him, Syria was stood alone in the region as an example of Christians and Muslims living together in peace and as equals. A Syrian could look for confirmation of this to his western border, where Lebanon was still attempting to come to grips with its two decades long sectarian civil war; or he could look immediately east, where Iraq’s ethnic and religious divisions were blowing up under U.S. and Coalition occupation; or north to Turkey, where it was illegal to discuss the Greek and Armenian genocide in public; as well as to the Arabian peninsula — where a culture of Sharia courts and religious police made church only a thing for Western expat workers living their lives within walled ARAMCO communities. But the cross and the crescent appeared side by side in every major Syrian city. Such public pluralism, where Christianity received constant public acknowledgement side by side with Islam, was the greatest surprise upon my initial visit to Syria.

All in all, what I unexpectedly observed in Syria was a high degree of personal freedom not found in other countries of the Middle East. This personal freedom was exercised in all areas of life except for politics — a strange paradox. The government seemed to leave people alone in areas of religion, social behavior, family life, and work pursuits; but political dissent was not tolerated, and Syrians seemed to accept this as a difficult fact of life. The average working class Syrian was resigned to accept the government promise of security and stability in exchange for limitations upon personal political freedoms. With multiple religions and ethnic groups living side by side in a volatile region full of historic and hidden animosities, as well as ceaseless external geopolitical pressures, it seemed a sensibly practical, even if unjust, solution. There was a palpable feeling of an “enforced secularism” binding Syrian society together.

The kind of religious and cultural pluralism represented in the liberal democracies of the West was present in Syria, ironically, through a government mandated “go along, get along” type policy backed by an authoritarian police state. One can even find Syrian Jews living in the historic Jewish quarter of Damascus’ walled old city to this day. I was told, upon visiting their synagogue, that most had gone to Brooklyn, though there were perhaps a dozen families left.

Just prior to early 2011, as the “Arab Spring” movement which had enveloped Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, seemed to be potentially losing steam, I was deeply skeptical that a mass uprising would gain traction in Syria. Syria had plenty of deep seated problems as a nation run by an old school Arab socialist ruling clique; but too much of the population, especially in the major cities, seemed heavily invested in the status quo ensured by a stable regime, however less than ideal the status quo might have been.

When Assad unexpectedly came to power in 2000 after the deaths of his father and brother, he promised to take Syria into a new, modern age of reform. These were the days of “early Assad,” when many in Washington declared “Assad is a reformer” (Hilary Clinton was declaring this even as late as early 2011). But the Syrian government has always been much more than a dictator, or even a ruling family. Even should President Assad desire reform, the old elites which form the outer circles of Ba’ath influence provide a strong “check” on what even he might hope to enact. The economic fortunes of these institutional elites were dependent on the Assad status quo, and this made the type of drastic change that leaders in Western capitals suddenly demanded practically impossible. In addition, the middle class families of the most populace cities, especially Damascus and Aleppo, were not discontent enough to go to the streets. This, not too much unlike middle-class Americans who merely shrugged when mass government abuses like domestic spying and pervasive government breaking of Constitutional rights were definitively revealed in 2013.

Most Syrians I knew were deeply fearful of a sudden cataclysm that might send Syria the way of sectarian Iraq, especially a program that took decision making away from actual Syrians. News savvy Syrians even had Western sponsored “democracy experiments” more recent in time than Iraq to consider: Post Gaddafi Libya began to unravel from the moment of its “liberation” by NATO. As international press generally fell silent on new Libya’s slow descent into chaos at the hands of accountable-to-no-one armed militias, it focused its eye on unreformed Syria. A few attempts at Facebook sponsored “days of rage” protests failed to gain any traction inside Syria, to the great disappointment of self anointed “democracy promoters” in the West. I was personally relieved during this brief period of Arab Spring “inactivity” — the examples of Egypt and Libya (and to some extent Tunisia) were making it abundantly clear that the main beneficiaries of this “springtime” were political Islamists from the the Muslim Brotherhood, to Ennahda Party (the Salafist Tunisian party), to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (an Al-Qaeda linked terror organization). The losers were increasingly the Arab Left, the secularists, and the religious and ethnic minorities.

A destroyed icon from the village of Maaloula, after it was taken over by Western and Gulf backed rebel forces in 2013. Source: Antiochpatriarchate.org

It is simply a self evident premise that the so-called “Arab Spring” has resulted not in greater democracy and individual liberties across the Middle East, but in the political and military ascendancy of radical Islamist groups from North Africa to the Levant. It would shock most Americans to know that Washington has aided, and is currently aiding, radical Islamic groups that are indistinguishable from Al-Qaeda throughout the course of these revolutions. This occurred openly and most directly in Libya through American-led NATO bombing (after which the first flag to fly over the main Benghazi courthouse was that of Al-Qaeda), and has now long been occurring clandestinely in Syria, though certainly an open and increasingly acknowledged secret. The most radical insurgent groups the world has ever seen are now popping up all over Syria. It should come as no surprise that Syria’s vulnerable religious minority communities have been the first to feel the wrath of these groups.

Disturbingly, Syria is now being slowly liquidated of its Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities (or really anyone desiring a pluralistic and relatively secular nationalistic public order) — a reality that was set in motion near the very beginning of armed uprising in Syria. America, NATO, and Arab Gulf countries continue to give political and material support to a Syrian rebel movement that is bent on exterminating Christians, Alawites, Shiites, Druze, and Muslims that don’t share the same radical ideology. One popular chant routinely echoed in rebel dominated areas of Syria is “Christians to Lebanon and Alawites to the sea… .” Sadly, the seemingly endless number of takfiri insurgent groups unleashed on Syria are making good on that promise.

Pre-war Syria was certainly not ideal; but the fruit of revolution — a country thrown into a state of utter chaos and destruction, cyclic violence, and economic ruin for at least years to come — has revealed itself to be, for most common sense people, the greatest of all possible evils.

Brad Hoff served as a Marine from 2000–2004 at Headquarters Battalion, Quantico. After military service he lived, studied, and traveled throughout Syria off and on from 2004–2010. His website is LevantReport.com and he currently teaches in Texas.

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TERRORIST MORALE AT ROCK BOTTOM ALL OVER SYRIA

NOVANEWS

THE ALEPPO CAMPAIGN CONTINUES IN EARNEST; MARJ AL-SULTAAN AIR BASE IS NEXT

image: http://albaathmedia.sy/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/12193858_1008360059228289_7604564313643027894_n-300×200.jpg

12193858_1008360059228289_7604564313643027894_nThis photo is of a Syrian Air Force pilot inspecting his bomber before take-off at the Hama Military Airbase from where many of our bombing runs start. (Photo: Ba’ath Party)  

Poor rats.  Their communications tell the whole story:  “we didn’t know they had that much firepower,”  said one ISIS commander to another on his cellphone.  Gee Whizz!    Well, I guess they know now.  The Syrian Army has begun a campaign to root out the remnant vermin around the Kuwayris Airbase using militias and local committees.  I have been told that the attitude of our allies in the paramilitary branches is extremely positive and vindictive.  Any ISIS rodent should be careful not to surrender to these militias because they do not operate under the disciplined code applicable to our SAA or Ba’ath Party units.  ISIS captives will be executed in very inventive ways, to reflect the manners and etiquette of ISIS in minority areas which they were able to infest.  I was informed that militia members tied down 5 ISIS rodents from Turkey and Western China (Uighers) after capturing them in Al-Shaykh Khudhr and set them on fire.  As the great British director and filmmaker, Ken Russell, once wrote:  “Hell will hold no surprises for them”.

image: https://cdn.rt.com/actualidad/public_images/2015.11/article/5643bfb6c36188a0178b45ff.jpg

La batalla sangrienta por el aeródromo militar Kweires

Khaled Nawaz Al-Noori sends us this photo of the assault on Kuwayris AB

Kuwayris Airbase:  The SAA is pouring new troops into the area while building up fortifications in case the rats try their hand at revanchism.  According to reports coming in the ISIS loonies in Al-Raqqa have sent out over 100 vehicles (mostly Toyotas) in the directing of Aleppo.  The RuAF and SAAF are already making gravy out of these hapless nincompoops.  Early reports seem to suggest they have given up on the plan and are returning to the dubious security of Al-Raqqa.   By the way, the SAA is in complete control of the Thermal Station now.

These areas have been liberated from the porcine aroma of ISIS and Nusra:

Tal Al-Arba’een

Khirbat Al-Mazaari’

Khirbat Nuzha

Khirbat Mashooh

image: http://www.jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/95056.jpg

ماذا بعد Syrian Air Force and Russian Air Force bombers are flying numberless sorties over these areas destroying terrorist infrastructure and fortifications:

Taadif

Al-Baab

Al-Shaykh Ahmad

Baab Al-Nayrab

Al-Shaykh Khudhr

Al-Sukari

Al-Haydariyya

Karm Al-Nuzha

Al-Ansaari

South Rural Aleppo:  The SAA assaulted Nusra/Alqaeda forces at both the Engineers’ Association Quarter and the Aleppo-Idlib Highway.  In the West, the SAA struck at Hawr, Qubtaan Al-Jabal, ‘Anjaara, Daarat ‘Izza.  In the City,  the SAA struck at Saaliheen, Sayf Al-Dawla, Al-Raashideen No. 5.  

Dayr Haafir:  The campaign to liberate this town has begun.  Last night, SAAF and SAA hit hard at ISIS and destroyed 3 pickups with 23mm cannons.

DAMASCUS:  We can confirm the campaign to totally liberate the Marj Al-Sultaan Helicopter Airbase has begun.  It has started with the liberation of Nawla and Al-Mahaalij.  Prepare for good news during the next 72 hours.

SERMON OF THE WEEK:  Nicholas Reardon sends this insightful seminar from David Icke about the Syrian situation:  A must-see.  Make it viral:

image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/12227159_947431511962272_6396408255948265238_n.jpg?oh=628cb1f04d9d64fcb08b788d611ec537&oe=56F59BE5

(From Al-Assad Mustafa)

image: https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/12241676_1100222286664190_974238613450205932_n.jpg?oh=545c3bd92d4c86d6bdfde88f5b60a01d&oe=56B25843

(Thanks to Bashar Murtada)

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Notes on cultural imperialism

NOVANEWS

Presentation made by Ella Rule to the 6th World Socialism Forum held in Beijing on 16-17 October 2015 under the aegis of the Chinese Academy of Social Science

culture

The origin of all culture is the daily life of the community from which it arises (Plekhanov). Literature, art and music, although themselves often referred to as ‘culture’ are merely forms in which the culture of a community expresses itself.

Like the collage reproduced on this page, a national culture is made up of thousands of different subcultures, many of which are quite distinct from the overall picture. In the case of a national culture, however, it should be noted that each of the constituent parts of the collage influences and is influenced by the others to a greater or lesser extent at different times, and that the overall picture is ultimately determined by the state of its constituent parts. Each constituent part encompasses the contradiction between the future (necessity) and the past (tradition), which are in constant struggle against each other. As Mao Zedong explained in ‘On Contradiction’, ” the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development. Contradictoriness within a thing is the fundamental cause of its development, while its interrelations and interactions with other things are secondary causes “.

Class culture

Even where the national culture is dominated by elements that cling to the past, i.e., that are historically reactionary, within the imperialist nation collage there will be sections who will be predominantly progressive, such as is, for example – I hope – our Party the CPGB-ML in the UK, who will in fact oppose imperialism and endeavour to mobilise the historically progressive class, the working class, in its own interests, to overthrow bourgeois rule, the capitalist system of production, and imperialist super-exploitation and aggression. These progressive elements will be seeking to establish the proletarian dictatorship and a socialist planned economy. However, until the proletariat manages to wrest power from the bourgeoisie, this does not prevent the ugly face of imperialism imposing itself on the collage as a whole.

Indeed, Lenin reminds us that in every nation there are always two major cultures – that of the oppressor and that of the oppressed. This is necessarily so because the daily life of the oppressed is quite different from that of the oppressor. Marxism is an expression of the culture of the oppressed.

Historically speaking, the culture of a class whose power is waning is reactionary and that of a power which is rising is progressive.

In the modern world, it is the power of the bourgeoisie which is dying away – which has become an anachronism and a danger to the whole future of humanity – and it is the power of the proletariat which is rising and holds the key to the future.

The clash of these cultures, the struggle between them, dominates our era be it at the national or at the international level.

The culture of imperialism is an extension of the culture of domination that necessarily exists in all class societies where a minority ruling class needs to control a majority exploited class.

The essence of this culture is that the exploited and oppressed masses should accept minority class rule in spite of the hardships inflicted on them by this form of organisation of the life of society. In class societies the dominant minority class has a thousand and one ways of penetrating its ideology into the culture of the oppressed. The main vehicle traditionally was religion, but, as we shall see, this has now changed.

The essential norms of this culture are that only the ruling class has the ability to provide society with the leadership and organisation it needs. In the old days, credence was given to this theory by the fact that the education and training to develop these skills was confined to members of the ruling class. The ruling class, however, encouraged the belief that it was their superior genetic inheritance that entitled them to the life of privilege they enjoyed.

Imperialist culture

In order to extend this culture for overseas domination, some variations are introduced into imperialist culture. When the ruling class is seeking to mobilise the oppressed at home for support in its foreign ventures, this supposed superiority is attributed to all the people who share the exploiters’ nationality and/or skin colour. The oppressed classes of the exploiter nation become imbued with racism, only too willing to consider those people of a different race or nationality as inherently inferior beings, not fully human.

The culture of an imperialist nation potentially sets that nation against all others: it’s a question of ‘us or them’. And ‘we’, of course, must consider ourselves better than them, more entitled than them. This lays the basis for proletarians of imperialist countries to be mobilised by their masters to commit even the vilest barbarism overseas.

As far as influencing the masses of the conquered country is concerned, imperialism is able to use the fact of its superior economic development (that actually arises from historical accident) to sell itself as naturally superior.

Until relatively recently religion was used to pacify the masses not only at home but also abroad. Imperialist conquest was invariably accompanied by boatloads of proselytising missionaries of Christianity, the traditional religion of the European imperialist countries.

In the modern world, however, the advance of scientific knowledge has somewhat undermined the influence of religion, which in any event was not always very successful in displacing the traditional beliefs of the conquered peoples. Therefore modern imperialism has developed, along with modern weapons of mass destruction, new methods of spreading mass deception. It pays particular attention to its export of such cultural products as films, television, literature, music and academic studies, and of course intervention in the social media.

The imperialist propaganda is usually subliminal rather than grossly explicit. J A Hobson advised that ” The selfish forces which direct Imperialism should utilise the protective colours of disinterested movements”, advice that the modern imperialists take very seriously through their plethora of NGOs supposedly promoting ‘human rights’, which nowadays put the boatloads of missionaries rather in the shade.

‘Freedom and democracy’

These days the mantra is that being ruled by western imperialism is the best way to live because only western imperialism offers the masses freedom and democracy. Obviously, this was not a line that could be taken by imperialism when it was in control of India or Ireland, for instance, where ‘freedom and democracy’ would not have worked at all in a way beneficial to imperialism. The imperialists point to the regular elections held in the countries of the imperialist heartlands, and the relative freedom of speech enjoyed there, since even genuine opponents of the ruling class have all the freedom of speech they can afford. This is usually not much since it is so expensive to participate effectively in national elections, for instance, that without the backing of the moneybags it can’t be done, What goes unsaid, however, is that such ‘freedom and democracy’ as does exist in imperialist countries is only available because of the weakness of the proletarian movements in those countries. This has arisen because the proletariat of imperialist countries have tended to benefit marginally from their masters’ wealth, with the result that the working-class movement has for decades tended to focus on obtaining a slightly larger share of that wealth rather than on mounting any significant challenge on the right of a tiny minority of exploiters to maintain their capitalist economic system on their territories. The rot has caused many communist parties to ‘revise’ their Marxist ideology in favour of class collaboration, thus depriving the working class of its proletarian leadership. This passivity has not yet been overcome, despite the increasing hardship being inflicted on the working class as a result of economic crisis. But, despite the passivity, as soon as the slightest real challenge appears to even the profiteering of the rulers, never mind to their class rule, out come the forces of the state to suppress it.

Academia targeted

The attention on academic culture as a vehicle for spreading imperialist ideology became especially focussed as a result of the shock received by the imperialist powers when the Soviet Union beat them to become the first to send a satellite into space – the sputnik – in 1957. This shock prompted a rapid overhaul of the educational system which was blamed for the fact the imperialist world was lagging behind a beleaguered socialist country in technical advances. The United States passed the National Defense Education Act in 1958 which allocated $295 million to promote the study of subjects deemed to be important for imperialist ‘national security’. Among the departments benefiting from this largesse were those involved in teaching comparative literature, a major bedrock of imperialist culture. As Edward Said points out (op.cit. p.56), ” the academic work of anthropologists, historians, philologists often went hand in glove with a consciously undertaken imperial enterprise”. Academic departments frequently depend on direct grants from imperialist enterprises to finance their research, and it is well known that they have to be careful to produce results that will be at least acceptable to their ‘benefactors’!!! It goes without saying that it takes great wealth to finance the publication of novels, the making of films, the setting up of broadcasting channels, and the artists the media moguls will choose to broadcast will certainly not be those that undermine bourgeois class rule!

Imperialist tactics

Imperialism’s principal tactic for penetrating foreign cultures is to seek out sections of society who can be persuaded that they would be better off in collaboration with imperialism.

When it has capitalist countries that are resistant to imperialist domination in its sights, then it has no problem in finding alienated sections of society who can be seduced with demagogic phrases. Ignorant people deprived of all power and influence over their lives are susceptible to being mobilised with promises of a ‘democracy’ that will supposedly lead to their voices being heard, to be led by the nose by petty-bourgeois and bourgeois elements who think they can advance their selfish interests best by allying with imperialism. Although, as we have seen in Iraq, Libya and Syria, for instance, a majority of citizens often remain deaf to imperialism’s blandishments, the disaffected and unpatriotic minority can cause untold misery for their fellow citizens when supported and armed ideologically and militarily by imperialism and given training and guidance on sabotage.

When imperialism has socialist countries in its sights it has to be more cunning. Of course sanctions are imposed and the ensuing economic problems are blamed on the supposed ‘economic mismanagement’ of the countries in question. At the same time, imperialism targets the intelligentsia and ideologically weak sections in the Communist Party as such people are particularly well placed to influence the general population. Its academic arm has at its disposal to overwhelm them an infinite mass of ‘learned’ material all geared to ‘proving’ that communism doesn’t work, that the market must be forever, that Marxism is out of date, etc., etc., and must at very least be ‘revised’ to take account of the ‘new’ learning.

Of course, a socialist country which feels that it must reintroduce capitalist norms to a significant extent in order to boost production must realise that capitalism cannot be reintroduced without its accompanying ills – periodic crises of overproduction, an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and the inevitable alienation of the working masses.

Even then, provided workers are thoroughly imbued with class consciousness, with a deep understanding of Marxism-Leninism, then they may for the most part be persuaded to accept that sacrifices on their part may be necessary for a while in order to achieve the greater good. In the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, however, political education declined after market socialism was introduced as did the production of revolutionary literature and art. And where proletarian consciousness is lacking there is a vacuum that imperialism is very well adept and practised at filling. It has a whole armoury of literature, art, films and music on hand to sugar the pill when socialist countries start to neglect and abandon the production of promoting revolutionary culture.

In the Soviet Union, imperialist ideology took hold among factory managers and academics in the guise of improvements in socialist efficiency. These then succeeded in overwhelming the ruling Communist Party with this ideology from within, leading to the wholesale revision (distortion) of Marxism and, ultimately, to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Defences

So what are our defences?

  • Class consciousness, class consciousness and again class consciousness.
  • Thoroughgoing political education at every level
  • The promotion of revolutionary literature, art, music, films, television of a quality and in a quantity that leaves no room for the degenerate products of imperialism
  • Academic studies that debunk the fables manufactured in imperialist universities
  • Genuine social progress achieved through public ownership of the means of production and socialist planned economy.
  • Genuine social empowerment of the masses through their creative involvement in socialist planning and its implementation

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Colour Revolution (presentation by Harpal Brar)

NOVANEWS

www.lalkar.org

Presentation by Harpal Brar to the 6th World Socialism Forum, organised by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Center for Contemporary World Studies, held in Beijing on 16-17 October 2015.

Dear comrades, allow me to thank the organisers of this very important seminar – the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Center for Contemporary World Studies – for their kind invitation to the representatives of my party to attend and have the opportunity to engage in a mutual exchange of views on the very important topic which is the subject of discussion at its proceedings.

While I shall concentrate in my presentation on the question of colour revolutions, my comrade Ella Rule would be speaking on cultural hegemony.

Imperialism seeks domination, not freedom. In order to attain domination, it resorts alternately to brute naked force, on the one hand, and subtle forms of sabotage, on the other, aimed at overthrowing foreign governments that present an obstacle to this domination. Most of the time imperialism covers its predatory wars and sabotage in sublime language, but in their unguarded and candid moments the political, ideological and military spokesmen of finance capital quite brazenly state the true purpose of their state policy.

Since the late 19th century, British and US imperialism have sought complete hegemony over the globe. Following the Second World War, US imperialism emerged as the most powerful among the imperialist powers and it has since acted as the main counter-revolutionary gendarme against the powerful currents of socialism and national liberation.

Since 1945 the US has been involved in over 70 foreign wars and interventions, in the course of which it has slaughtered millions of people all across the globe. Although much weakened since the Second World War, British imperialism has inter-vened with armed forces against foreign countries on more than 130 occasions.

At the beginning of the imperialist era, Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, had the frankness to state: “To me, I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard upon which is played a great game for the domination of the world”. This was in 1898. Since then it is a sentiment which has been expressed at regular intervals, especially by the statesmen and ideologues of US imperialism.

While for public consumption, hypocritically chanting the praises of democracy, the rule of law and humanitarianism, the spokespersons of imperialism have been quite clear about maintaining their position of domination.

George Kennan, a prominent US strategic planner, had this to say in 1948:

” We have 50 per cent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period … is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality … we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation”.

At the beginning of the 1990s, just as the bloc of eastern European socialist countries, including the once glorious Soviet Union, had collapsed, the US defence department’s objectives were clearly outlined in the following words:

” Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role” (a Defense Department planning paper quoted in ‘Pentagon’s planning guidance for the fiscal years 1994-1999′, New York Times, 8 March 1992).

Writing in the New York Times of 19 October 2001, the reactionary US journalist Thomas Friedman only too candidly exposed the connection between the hidden hand of the market and the fist of US armed might in the following memorable words:

” The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps”.

Nothing is left here to the imagination in making clear the true meaning of the ‘free market’.

Applauding UK prime minister Blair’s speech to the 2002 Labour Party Conference, Niall Fergusson, a politics professor at Oxford University at the time, with his ability to utter the unthinkable, wrote:

” Imperialism may be a dirty word, but what Tony Blair is essentially calling for is the imposition of western values – it is really the language of liberal imperialism. Political globalisation is just a fancy word for imposing your views and practices on others”,adding that only America could lead this new imperial world” (The Guardian, 31 October 2002).

While waging wars in pursuit of world domination, imperialism, forever chanting hypocritical phrases about democracy and humanitarianism, is ever ready to slaughter innocent men, women and children without a moment’s hesitation. And its mercenary representatives are only too willing to justify such slaughter:

We think the price is worth it”, US Ambassador Madeleine Albright replied when asked if the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were a price worth paying for sanctions (‘Punishing Saddam’, CBS TV programme ’60 Minutes’, 12 May 1996).

In uttering the above disgusting words, Ms Albright was only following in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, the implacable defender of British imperialism, who has been falsely portrayed by bourgeois journalism as a great defender of democracy and a fighter against fascism. In his position as Colonial Secretary in the British government, this is what he had to say on the use of gas warfare against the rebellious Kurds:

I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes” (Winston Churchill, Colonial Secre-tary, on the use of gas against the Kurds).

The first Gulf war against Iraq was allegedly waged, inter alia, to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Even after the evacuation of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Anglo-American imperialism imposed draconian sanctions on Iraq which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, including half a million children – justified so cheerfully by Ms Albright – and imposed a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, as well as keeping up relentless bombing of that country. The real purpose of that war was laid bare by the aptly named General William Looney, director of the aerial bombing of Iraq, in these words:

” If they turn on their radars we are going to blow up their goddam SAMs. They know we own their country. We own their airspace … We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need”.

Since World War 2, through its wars for world domination, from Korea, through Indo-China, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, US-led imperialism has claimed the lives of tens of millions of people and laid waste to country after to country.

Hand in hand with the use of armed force, it has developed the tools of coercion and subversion. The military, intelligence and propaganda agencies of the US, such as the Department of Defense and the CIA, have helped fund almost all of the post-World War 2 generation’s research into techniques of persuasion, opinion formation, interrogation and mass propaganda of the most crude as well as of the most sophisticated type.

Little is left to chance in the Selling of America. “It’s a free country”, the mantra of US imperialism, which is fed to every American with their mother’s milk. Repeated millions of times every day, it is exported all over the world, thus preparing the Americans at home and foreigners abroad for the moral right of US imperialism to do what it does at home and abroad.

The truth, however, is just the opposite. Openly and secretly, legally and illegally, the military-industrial-financial complex has combined with the prison-industrial complex and the omnipresent national security-police complex, all clasping hands tightly with the ‘War on Drugs’ at home and abroad, in a declaration of war on the people of the US and everywhere else. In this nefarious enterprise it has the full assistance of the legislature, the judiciary, a compliant media, and the chief executive of US imperialism, namely, the US president.

While being subjected to this horrendous coercion, misinformation and downright lies, and repression, Americans think that they are living in the freest country in the world. Even foreigners often take this bait of US imperialist self-glorification. This brings to mind the profound observation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”.

The tools of coercion and subversion are sometimes used to supplement the use of force and, when the latter is not an easy option, as a substitute for it – all for the purpose of undermining governments and movements which stand in the way of US imperialism’s unceasing quest for world domination.

Having decided to target a country, the US propaganda machine goes into overdrive and invents – you have guessed it – a Hitler-of-the-month, or a mad man or a mad dog. On the pretext of waging a ‘war against drugs’, or the ‘fight against organised crime’, or the ‘war on terror’, or to rid the world of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (often non-existent), it softens up public opinion in the run up to its predatory wars for domination.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bloc of East European socialist states, US imperialism and its junior imperialist partners, all grouped in the war-mongering neo-Nazi NATO military organisation, have become even more brazen in their attempts at world domination and to impose the US’s ‘New World Order’ through bullying, intimidation and force of arms.

Before the disappearance of the Soviet Union, imperialist powers used to defend the existence of NATO by the alleged threat of Soviet communism and the existence of the Warsaw Pact which, they claimed, presented a grave danger to the security and prosperity of ‘peace-loving’ and ‘free democracies’ of western Europe.

Now that the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union and the East European socialist countries are no more, we are told that NATO must continue its existence precisely because the Soviet Union is no more; that it has a right to intervene anywhere outside of its own geographical boundaries -NATO out of area or NATO out of business – without as much as an approval from the United Nations Security Council; that it must become the military arm of the New World Order, with its corporate headquarters in Washington DC.

The New World Order is driven by the following imperatives:

1. Make the world hospitable for ‘globalisation’ – particularly for US inc.;

2. Backing US defence contractors who have contributed generously to the members of Congress and US presidents;

3. Preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model;

4. Extending US hegemony over the globe and preventing the rise of any power that might challenge that hegemony.

Globalisation, the much-touted expression over the past two decades, is nothing but ‘respectable’ terminology for covering up the hideous features of imperialism. It serves to hide the ugly reality of assassinations, torture and abductions by US imperialist agencies; the use by it of depleted uranium and chemical and biological weapons in country after country; its harbouring of war criminals and its maintenance of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains right-wing death squads and helps them to overthrow legitimate government of various countries. No wonder then that the Latin Americans call it ‘La Escuela de Golpes’ (the school for organising coups d’etat).

As to the US’s instruments of subversion, the National Endowment for Democracy serves as the best, but not the only, example. It was set up in 1983 to ” support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, non-governmental efforts”, yet every cent of its funding comes from the US federal government. It does everything that the CIA used to do covertly in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The four principal recipients of its funds are:

(a) The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs;

(b) the International Republican Institute;

(c) an affiliate of the AFL-CIO (such as the Center for International Labor Solidarity);

(d) and an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce (such as the Center for International Private Enterprise).

These above four then disburse funds to other organisations in the US and all over the world.

NED meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries by supplying funds, technical know-how, training, educational material, computers, fax machines, copiers, automobiles and so on, to selected political groups, civic organisations, labour unions, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, etc. It aims to promote private (‘free’) enterprise, class collaboration, opposition to socialism, and non-interference by government in the economy.

A free market is equated with democracy, with an emphasis on foreign investment.

NED’s programmes are in sync with the basic objectives of the New World Order’s economic globalisation.

It funds the Cuban-American National Foundation – an ultra-fanatic anti-Cuban outfit ; it funded Luis Posada Carriles, who was involved in blowing up a Cuban aeroplane in 1976, which killed 72 people. In 1997 he was involved in a series of bomb explosions in Havana hotels.

Terror bombing for regime change in Cuba and elsewhere in pursuit of globalisation translates into democracy in the insane world of imperialism. It is hardly to be surprised at that this insanity and double standards should have prompted the late Nelson Mandela, whom the US tried to dissuade from visiting his friend Muammar Gaddafi, the president of Libya, whom imperialism was to go on to murder and destroy his country, to protest in these forceful terms:

” How can they have the arrogance to dictate as to where we should go or which countries should be our friends? Gadhafi is my friend. He supported us when those who tried to prevent my visit here today were our enemies. They have no morals. We cannot accept that a state assumes the role of the world’s policeman” (Nelson Mandela, Washington Post, 4 November 1997).

Sadly, not many leaders around the world have Mandela’s courage to condemn US imperialism’s hypocrisy and quest for domination in such candid terms as he did.

Imperialist propaganda agencies, in accordance with the changing needs of finance capital, are well equipped to turn the latter’s opponents into demons overnight or paint them in glowing colours when these opponents cave in to its pressure. Here are two examples – the first relating to Poland and the second to Romania.

After the 13 December 1981 coup d’etat in Poland, General Jaruzelski was characterised as a symbol of tyranny and ‘Stalinist totalitarianism’. Yet Le Figaro of 21 October 1989 was saying that Jaruzelski was a soldier devoted to the Party trying to invent a new image – the president above all Parties, who will incarnate the whole nation and not an ideology.

As to Romania, its President, Ceaucescu, received a royal medal from the British Queen and was her guest at Buckingham Palace. Described in the imperialist media as a “great worker”, a “humanist”, and “enemy of bureaucratic abuses” and a “sober man, leading a very simple life”, by 1989 he had become a “bloody tyrant”, the“Dracula of the Carpathians”, a ” vampire”, the “Sun King of Romania” – for the simple reason that he had opposed, albeit belatedly, the wave of counter-revolution that was sweeping over eastern Europe. Earlier he had opposed Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and contributed to the development of anti-Soviet nationalism in the break-up of the socialist camp. He had accepted western loans and permitted the growth of privilege, and spread the notion that socialism could be combined with the growing power of multinational corporations in his country. By 1989, however, he was no longer needed as those openly waving the American flag had already come to power in Poland and Hungary – the more so as Ceaucescu began to backtrack on capitalist reforms.

Imperialism began in earnest to undermine socialism in eastern Europe, as well as in the USSR, soon after the end of the Second World War. Apart from the imperialist-inspired counter-revolutionary uprisings in the German Democratic Republic, Poland and Hungary, which were made short shrift of by the combined forces of the Soviet Union and the Communist Parties of these countries, imperialism and its henchmen struck lucky in Czechoslovakia in 1968 during what was dubbed the Prague Spring. The leadership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party under Dubcek declared that class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat were in contradiction to the aims of his movement, which wanted “socialism with a human face” – a euphemism for the restoration of capitalism through the dismantling of the planned socialist economy and its replacement by a market economy, not to speak of replacing the rule of the Communist Party by a multi-party bourgeois parliamentary system.

The Prague Spring anticipated the later peaceful counter-revolution in Budapest and elsewhere.

The Communist Party in the Czech Republic was totally paralysed in 1968. If Dubcek had remained at its head, there would have been the same evolution that transpired in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s.

The Soviet intervention of 20 August 1968 put a brake on the activities of counter-revolutionary groups linked to imperialism and struck a blow at the revisionist wing of the Czech party.

In 1989, however, knowing that Soviet intervention could be ruled out, the imperialist intelligence agencies planned and executed a return to the Prague Spring and pushed the rotten sections of the Czech Party and society in the direction taken by the counter-revolutionaries in Poland and Hungary.

Two main forces joined hands in Czechoslovakia in Charter 77, namely (a) the Roman Catholic right wing and (b) social democracy – both united in their hatred of socialism.

To reach a wider public, Charter 77’s organisers went to great trouble to rally those revisionists who had left the Communist Party since 1968.

Thanks to their links with the imperialist media and the imperialist intelligence agencies, they received wide publicity as the “courageous democrats” struggling against Stalinism and seeking salvation through ” Evangelical theology and Catholic theology as the fundamental source of human freedom“.

They were characterised in the bourgeois media as the upholders of democracy and universal human values, and fearless combatants against ‘totalitarianism’ in Czechoslovakia – values which could only be achieved through the dismantling of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

August 1978 saw the first meetings between Charter 77 and the three main leaders of Solidarnosc in Poland – Adam Michnic, Jacek Karon and Jan Litynski. Solidarnosc, with its visceral anti-communism, was a logical follow-up to the Prague Spring and its alleged “socialism with a human face”. The two sides signed agreements for exchange of information and for mutual support, and together they made contacts with the ‘defenders of human rights’ in Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

On 29 June 1989, Charter 77 issued an appeal for permanent mass action and for a national referendum to ” free the mass media and cultural activity in Czechoslovakia from all forms of manipulation and open them to free debate” – an appeal which was advertised far and wide through radio stations run by the intelligence agencies of the imperialist countries and through their press.

The Trotskyite Petr Uhl was one of the most active members of this anti-communist coterie grouped round Charter 77. He openly admitted that almost all the signatories to Charter 77 “want no more talk of Marxism”. As in all other socialist countries, the Czech Trotskyites were fervent supporters of the anti-communist agitation instigated and organised by the CIA and the entire rainbow coalition of those clamouring for a return to the free market while deluding themselves with the thought that all other constituents of Charter 77 were unconsciously helping the Trotskyist ‘vanguard’ to carry out their ” anti-bureaucratic political revolution” for the dismantling of the “Stalinist system“.

The Czech counter-revolutionaries, as indeed such outfits in other socialist countries, enjoyed enthusiastic support from western Trotskyites, such as Ernest Mandel who openly welcomed the unfolding counter revolution in country after country, which eventually became a continuous zone for absorption of imperialist corporations.

May 1989 witnessed the conference of the ‘reformist’ wing of the Hungarian Communist Party adopt a manifesto which marked a clear rupture with the entire socialist past: it renounced communism as a form of “Asiatic despotism”; it rehabilitated the 1956 counter revolution and its leader, Imre Nagy; it promoted transition to a multi-party system and the transformation of the economy. This wing became dominant at the Congress of 7 October 1989, which buried the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and formed the new Hungarian Socialist Party, with the watchwords: a market economy, a multi-party parliamentary democracy, and democratic socialism in place of communism.

‘Freedom of speech’ was realised through the opening in Budapest in October 1989 of the offices of Radio Free Europe, financed by the CIA to begin with and later by the American Congress, with one media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, buying 50% of the shares of two popular Hungarian journals and television, and another, Robert Maxwell, also announcing his intention to invest in Hungarian journals and television.

Trotskyites wholeheartedly support counter-revolution as the realisation of Trotsky’s ‘anti-bureaucratic’ social revolution.

By the end of November, counter-revolutionary movements with harmless sounding names such as Solidarnosc (Solidarity) in Poland, Civic Forum – the last incarnation of the opposition in Czechoslovakia, the Union of Democrats in Bulgaria (which started as a movement for improving ecology, Econoglasnost), New Forum in the GDR, were in the ascendant. Without a single shot being fired, this counter-revolution, taking the form of mass peaceful street processions, candle-lit marches and demonstrations, and using the deceptive and seemingly non-class slogan of ‘greater democracy’, overwhelmed the ruling communist parties with bewildering rapidity. One after the other, communist party-led governments in the east European countries made way for government in which non-communist or anti-communist, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois elements with longstanding ties to imperialism and local reactionaries predominated. The last to fall was Romania, with the overthrow of Nicolai Ceaucescu in December 1989, followed a week later, on 27 December, by his and his wife Helena’s judicial murder.

The most representative spokesman of British finance capital, The Financial Times,describing the year 1989 as “a true annus mirabilis”, declared its smug satisfaction thus:

” With the bloody uprising against Ceaucescu, the totalitarian epoch in European history, begun by Lenin in 1917, has virtually ended, with Albania, the sole, unabashed survivor” (2 January 1990).

Not only tiny Albania, the mighty Soviet Union, too, was to collapse shortly thereafter.

Having come to power, the new counter-revolutionary governments, fully backed by imperialism, soon took off the velvet glove and revealed the iron fist of counter revolution by getting on with the job of liquidating socialism, destruction of the planned economy, installation of market mechanisms and political pluralism – with all the attendant consequences of mass unemployment, vast scale destitution, crime and theft of the property of the people by imperialism and a tiny clique of its local flunkeys. This was the true essence of the counter revolution’s slogans of ‘freeing Marxism from Stalinist and bureaucratic distortions’!

The Belgians collected chocolate, sugar, powdered milk, old clothes, medicines, to do their bit in the unfolding counter revolution in Romania.

” The fall of communism is accompanied by economic reforms which have put an end to the dogma of ‘socialisation of the means of production’. The new laws passed practically everywhere ‘will make 1990 the year of privatisation of enterprises’”,declared the Belgian Echo de la bourse of 19 December 1989.

On 20 December 1989, Ceaucescu correctly declared that the counter-revolutionary demonstrations against his government were organised in cooperation with reactionary and imperialist circles and the secret services of various countries. The imperialist propaganda machine went for an extravaganza of half-truths, falsification and downright lies. It spread the lie that 12,000 people had been killed in Timosoara – the truth turned out to be that 90 people had died of whom an unknown number were in fact communists.

An official Romanian report a few days after the murder of the Ceaucescus stated that in the disturbances preceding the overthrow of Ceaucescu, 688 people throughout the country had been killed – not the more than 76,000 as deliberately falsely claimed by the electronic and print media organs of finance capital. And of those killed, 280 were military personnel and civilians working for the Ministry of Defence. Many were members of the Communist Party and adherents of Ceaucescu, and many belonged to the Securitate.

The question arises: how could the east European governments, after four decades of socialist construction, collapse in such a dramatic way? The answer lies in the undermining of the ruling parties through the ravages of Khrushchevite revisionism, which became ascendant in the Soviet Union following the death of J V Stalin, especially after the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU, and which then, under Khrushchev’s loving, tender care, spread to, or rather was forced on, the communist parties of the east European socialist countries.

After the Warsaw Pact intervention to suppress the so-called Prague Spring of 1968, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia analysed the disastrous developments and came up with the following correct conclusions on the basis of the terrible experiences it had undergone:

“One of the determining causes for this catastrophic development was the gradual penetration into the leading organs of the Party of persons who had more or less betrayed Marxism-Leninism and prole-tarian internationalism, who violated the norms of party life and the principles of democratic centralism. These people gradually took the upper hand in the leadership of the party. In the course of the last years the class point of view on problems weakened, revolutionary vigilance and ideological principles regressed, petty bourgeois methods as well as careerism and opportunism developed. The formation of socialist man, the struggle for a socialist consciousness and against non-class tendencies, were not founded upon an effective programme, adapted to our conditions, and in our programme there was strong evidence of petty-bourgeois forces and various social democratic traditions and influences. International aspects of our evolution which were determinated by the acute class antagonisms of the contemporary world substantially reinforced the urgency of the political and ideological struggle. No adequate struggle was carried out against right-wing opportunism, which was growing inside the party, reflecting both the actions of petty bourgeois sections and of international influences. Nor did the leadership of the party draw the necessary conclusions from the Hungarian counter-revolution or prepare the party to confront the methods of ideological diversion, which the imperi-alists were beginning to use as their main weapons against the socialist countries”.

All the reactionary forces, from social democracy to the Churches, fully abetted, aided and nurtured by imperialism, took advantage of these developments to produce the 1968 explosion.

Although the Soviet and Warsaw Pact intervention stopped in its tracks the attempted counter revolution in Czechoslovakia, it could not be long before it resurfaced as long as Khrushchehvite revisionism remained dominant in the Soviet Union. It was all very well for the Soviet revisionist ideologues to criticise the Czech revisionist economist, Ota Sik, but the rot could not be stopped while the USSR continued to implement similar economic policies at home.

By the time of the last years of Gorbachev’s stewardship of the CPSU, the Soviet Union had, through the twin policies of Perestroika and Glasnost, been brought to the brink of collapse. With the spread of the counter-revolutionary current in eastern Europe, Gorbachev gave up the ghost and pulled the plug, allowing imperialism’s agents to overwhelm the socialist governments one after the other in a surprisingly short time.

From the foregoing it is clear that colour revolutions succeed only where the intended victim is neither strong enough ideologically or physically to resist the onslaught of the combined forces of local reactionaries and their imperialist puppet masters. Even the attempt at regime change through subversion and sabotage – euphemistically dubbed a colour revolution – is a sign of the weakness of the targeted government. If, however, the intended government has the resilience, the will and resourcefulness to resist, it can defeat such attempts at regime change. This is precisely what happened during the disturbances in Tienanmen Square, Beijing, in the summer of 1989, resulting in the dramatic events of 3-4 June.

After the People’s Liberation Army had successfully crushed the counter revolution, the imperialist bourgeoisie’s protest at the crushing of ‘democracy’ reached a crescendo, as did its denunciation of the Communist Party’s ‘dictatorship’.

This was nothing but hypocritical cant. For the truth is that to the bourgeoisie there is only one freedom which is supreme, namely, the freedom of one person to exploit another. In the euphemistic language of the Financial Times editorial of 2 January 1990, ” Democracies crumble when the state encroaches too far on the market”.

No matter how obliquely, these words betray the real essence of the bourgeoisie’s advocacy and love of freedom. In other words, all infamies, all butchery, all holocausts and wars are permissible and legitimate in defence of this, the only real bourgeois freedom. All the rest of the talk about freedom, democracy and the rule of law is nothing but a sham and a humbug.

It is the duty of communists and progressives to take this message to the masses of people, to make sure this truth permeates their thinking.

One could write a very large volume on the subject of colour revolutions. But neither time nor space allow for that on this occasion.

With these words I submit this presentation on behalf of my Party to the deliberations of the 6th World Socialism Forum and thank all the participants for listening to me.

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Colour Revolution (presentation by Harpal Brar)

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