Archive | February 14th, 2016

Obama to sign trade agreement that equates settlements with Jewish Nazi regime

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US President Barack Obama intends to sign a sweeping trade agreement including provisions that fail to differentiate between Nazi Jewish regime and Jewish illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as discourage the boycott of Nazi goods.

The agreement — H.R. 644: Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 — was passed 75-20 on Thursday, and includes a provision that no US court can enforce judgement from a foreign court on a US citizen who “conducts business operations in I$raHell, or any territory controlled by Israel.”

The provision in effect allows US citizens immunity from conducting trade with illegal  Nazi Jewish illegal settlements, while its terminology fails to distinguish Nazi settlements from the Nazi state of I$raHell, violating the US’ official line against the construction of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The White House in a statement released Thursday regarding the agreement said: “As with any bipartisan compromise legislation, there are provisions in this bill that we do not support.”

Of those provisions that the Obama administration did not support was a provision that contravenes longstanding US policy towards the Jewish Nazi regime and the occupied territories, including with regard to Nazi Jewish illegal settlement activity, the statement said.

Despite the contravention, Obama plans to sign the agreement into law “to help strengthen enforcement of the rules and level the playing field for American workers and businesses.”

The agreement also includes a provision that in creating commercial partnerships with foreign countries, the US should “discourage politically motivated boycotts of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel.”

The US government opposes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and while US law requires that products made in illegal Israeli settlements may not be labeled “Made in ‘Israel’,” the law is rarely enforced.

Nazi regime has been struggling to tackle a growing Palestinian-led boycott campaign which has had a number of high-profile successes abroad.

The BDS movement aims to exert political and economic pressure over Jewish Nazi occupation of the Palestinian territories in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa.

However, BDS initiatives have also faced pushback abroad, notably in France, where a court ruled in October that a group of activists advocating for BDS were guilty under French hate speech legislation.

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Why Are Neocons so Desperate to Rescue al-Qaeda in Syria?

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By Daniel McAdams 

Reading Dennis Ross and David Ignatius is a good reminder that the neocons live in a different world than the rest of us. They do not conform their analysis to reality, but rather they conform reality to their view of the world. Where most people would be encouraged to read that Aleppo in Syria was about to be liberated from its 3.5 year occupation by al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, the neocons see a disaster.

On the brink of al-Qaeda’s defeat in Aleppo, the Washington Post’s Ignatius is furious that, “President Obama won’t approve military tactics that could actually shift the balance.” Yes, he wants to shift the balance toward al-Qaeda because like the other neocons he is so invested in the idea of regime change in Syria that he would even prefer turning the country into another Libya than to see government forces defeat his jihadist insurgents. Failing to “shift the balance” toward al-Qaeda fighters in Aleppo only brings “greater misery for the Syrian people,” in the world of Ignatius.

Ignatius’s Washington Post, which has never seen a potential war it did not want to see turned into an actual war, thinks it a tragedy that the Syrian army’s advance on al-Qaeda occupied Aleppo has “cut off all vital routes of supply from Turkey to the rebel-held areas of the city.” Those would be Turkish supplies in support of al-Qaeda and ISIS rebels, but the Post is too deceptive to mention that fact.

It is as dishonest an inversion of reality as anything printed in Pravda of old.

In the same vein as Ignatius, former Bush/Clinton/Obama Administration Middle East “expert” Dennis Ross writes to tell us, “what Putin is really up to in Syria.” In the above-linked article, The Los Angeles Times does not reveal that Ross is hardly an objective observer of the situation. As one of the founders of AIPACs Washington Institute for Near East Policy — and a current counselor to that organization — Ross strongly supports AIPAC’s position in favor of regime change in Syria and Israel’s active role in assisting jihadist rebels from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government.

So what does regime change neocon Dennis Ross want us to believe is happening in Syria? The Russians, he asserts, are playing a dirty game by stepping up their bombing campaign against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and affiliated rebels instead of pushing for a ceasefire. How funny that when the US/Turk/Saudi/Israeli-back jihadists were on the verge of taking over all of Syria not that long ago there was no talk from neocon quarters about a ceasefire or a negotiated political solution. Only now that al-Qaeda’s stronghold in Aleppo is on the verge of liberation by government forces are the neocons screaming that diplomacy should be given a chance.

Russian operations are “designed to strengthen the Assad regime and weaken the non-Islamic State Sunni opposition in different parts of the country,” writes Ross. He doesn’t mention that particularly when it comes to Aleppo, the “non-Islamic State Sunni opposition” means al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and affiliated forces.

By relentlessly bombing Islamic State and other jihadist groups seeking to introduce Sharia law into secular Syria, “Putin is… undercutting our aim of isolating Islamic State and having Sunnis lead the fight against it.” Read that again. By attacking ISIS he is preventing the US from isolating ISIS. Doublespeak.

What is Putin really up to in the world of Dennis Ross? He is not sincere about defeating Islamist extremism in Syria or even helping Assad’s forces win the war. No, Putin “aims to demonstrate that Russia, and not America, is the main power broker in the region and increasingly elsewhere.” Ah yes, the old argument about Russian expansionism. Baltic invasion, restoration of the USSR. All the neocon tripe.

Ah but here is where Ross plants his seed, whispers in the Administration’s neocon power brokers’ ears:

“Certainly, were Russia’s costs to increase, Putin might look for a way out.”

Hmm, now we see what he’s getting at:

… it is time we make it clear to the Russians that unless they impose a cease-fire on Assad and Hezbollah and insist that humanitarian corridors are open, we will have no choice but to act with our partners to create a haven in Syria — for refugees and for the organization of the Syrian opposition.

In other words, tell Russia if you do not stop fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria we will face-off in a WWIII-threatening stance to establish a “jihadistan” in part of Syria from where the hundredth or so version of a rebel fighting force can be re-assembled.

Ross’s plan is not for the weak of heart. “[W]e cannot threaten to create a haven without following through if Putin refused to alter his course,” he writes. Meaning of course that we must be willing to actually go through with WWIII if Putin does not blink, back down, and pull out of Syria just as Russia’s intervention is meeting its objective. Surrender when on the verge of victory in Syria or face a nuclear war with the United States.

No one ever accused the neocons of thinking small. But with much of the Middle East a smoldering ruin due to the disastrous interventions they lied us into, no one should count out even their most insane-sounding plan being seriously considered somewhere in Washington.

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Russia is not a threat to the West

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By Dr Alexander Yakovenko 

On December 31, 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed the update to Russia’s National Security Strategy 2016, a key strategic planning document that fully meets the needs of the current situation.

In contrast to the recently published National Security Strategy of the United States, which defines military supremacy as the main tool for maintaining their “global leadership,” the Russian Strategy emphasizes the importance of strategic stability and mutually beneficial partnerships based on the principles of international law. It reflects the objective process of a new multi-polar world order taking shape, and of global and regional instability on the rise.

The strategy confirms the continuity of Russian foreign policy, based on the respect for independence and sovereignty, on pragmatism, transparency, a multi-vector policy and a non-confrontational protection of national interests. The use of military force to protect national interests is only possible if all other means have been exhausted.

Russia attaches great importance to ensuring sustainable global development, which requires collective leadership, coupled with the central and coordinating role of the UN. To these ends, Russia will actively support further economic integration within the Eurasian Economic Union, enhance its participation in such forums as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, strengthen bilateral relations with China and India, and with other countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and Africa.

The document acknowledges the complex environment in which Russia is determined to protect and promote its interests and security. The anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the West under a false pretext and attempts to put pressure upon us on international affairs are part of this. It is worth mentioning the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine supported by the US and EU, which led to a deep schism in Ukrainian society and an armed conflict in the East. The consolidation of an extreme right-wing nationalist ideology and the vilification of Russia as an enemy turned Ukraine into a long-term source of European instability, right next to Russia’s borders.

Despite some speculation in the Western media that Russia considers NATO a threat, it is the actions by NATO, not the worn-out alliance itself, that could directly or indirectly harm Russia’s national interests. The buildup of NATO’s military potential, increased military activity and continued expansion to the East, and the deployment of its military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders are the threat to our security. Our assessments are based on real NATO moves and military planning aimed at changing the current European balance of powers. To mention just a few examples: additional troops and military equipment are deployed from NATO member-countries to regions bordering with Russia to conduct military exercises; forward-based command and staff units continue to be established; naval formations patrolling the Baltic Sea have been beefed up; and NATO member-states maintain their permanent naval presence in the Black Sea.

On the contrary, Russia, according to the Strategy, is ready to build a relationship with NATO on the basis of equality and common interests in strengthening the security in the Euro-Atlantic region. That’s why we have always spoken in favor of strengthening the arms control regimes, the cooperation in the fight against terrorism and promoting confidence-building measures and settlement of regional conflicts. Of course, the depth and content of these relations will depend on the alliance’s reciprocal readiness to take Russia’s legitimate interests into account while respecting the norms of international law.

Russia’s approach to national security is based on the principle of equal and indivisible security for all, regardless of the political and ideological affiliation of the states. Regrettably, the West forgot the Russian proposal to create a pan-European security zone by adopting a European Security Treaty, which is on the table.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

See also this interview on February 12, 2016:

British foreign policy always a reflection of US stance – Russia’s ambassador to UK

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Coalitions of Religious Organizations on War

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Rationalized, Hypocrisized, and Compromised

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By Gary Brumback 

National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
National Council of Churches of Christ in the US
National Council of Synagogues
Unitarian Universalist
US Council of Muslims
World Council of Churches
World Council of Independent Christian Churches

Were it not for its record of either engaging in war, promoting it or acquiescing to it, one would think organized religion would be a natural ally of and prominent activist for peace. There are, to be sure, some exceptions among the various denominations or religious sects (e.g., the Quakers and the Mennonites), and small religious, antiwar groups can be found protesting now and then, here and there. Overall, though, and throughout history organized religion has been an ally of war, not peace.

At the same time, however, there are coalitions of major organized religions that one might think because of their size if nothing else could conceivably mobilize and organize their members into launching a strategic confrontation of the political/military/war industrial triumvirate in America. With that thought in mind I wrote the leaders of the coalitions listed above. They provide overall leadership and guidance for religious organizations whose memberships total over 180 million Americans. If these leaders could persuade enough of their memberships to support the implementation of my proposal or some version of it America’s triumvirate would be seriously challenged to pacify America’s relationships with our global neighbors.

I told the leaders of the coalitions that any serious antiwar effort must be one of escalating confrontation of the leaders of war. Timidity, pleading, compromise or any of the other conciliatory and conventional approaches to ruling regimes will absolutely fail as they always have. Even mice know better than to sit down at the table with cats.

I also told them that the effort must focus first on the war and spy complex in the U.S. There clearly can be no world peace if militarism is not subdued in the nation that is perceived and correctly so by the rest of the world as the greatest threat to world peace.

I then suggested for their prayerful consideration the following outline for a strategy of escalating confrontation:

  1. Create an interreligious task force to plan in detail a strategy for peace, oriented first toward the U.S.
  2. Establish a steering council, pick leadership, obtain funding and recruit staff.
  3. Help unite the dozens of movements protesting all sorts of different injustices. Connect the dots for these people–no injustice can really end if war doesn’t end. Give the coalition an inspirational and galvanizing name.
  4. Warn the leaders of the warring and spying complex in America that the grand movement and its leaders are serious in their intent and actions and are not simply posturing.
  5. As an interreligious entity morally and publically condemn the current administration, Congress, the war and spy industries, the mass media, and Hollywood.
  6. Unleash a torrent of escalating litigation. The first would be a rehearsal in which a prestigious group of Americans conducts a Tribunal Court ending in the informal prosecution and conviction of all US international war criminals. Follow up by compelling the International Criminal Court to prosecute all U.S. international war criminals even though the U.S. regime refuses to join the ICC.
  7. Promote and engage in all forms of lawful civil resistance coupled with organized rallies of millions of protesters in the four regions of the US.
  8. Monitor progress. If there is little to none, don’t despair. Try a Plan B. We must be good and responsible ancestors of future generations. For their sake we must not fail.

What do you think was their response? Commitment to act? No. Non-committal and platitudinous? No. No reply or unmet promise to reply? Yes.

Was I surprised? Not really. I suspect these leaders and their organizations are rationalized, hypocricised, and compromised. If so, they are much like an unending history of leaders and institutions in the corporate and political sectors of America.

Rationalized

Religion is the art of “seeing what is believed,” not of “believing what is seen,” and beliefs, much more so than facts, are susceptible to moral rationalizations. The late psychologist Lawrence Kolhberg theorized that there are six levels of moral development and that by adulthood the person’s moral development would come to rest at one or the other of the levels.1 I have condensed his six levels into three and labeled them thusly:

  • Unconditional morality: “Wrongdoing is wrong, period.”
  • Conditional morality: “It depends.”
  • Unprincipled morality: “Do whatever is necessary.”

Only saints and maybe a few mortals are at the top of the three. I would argue that the religious and particularly the religiosity are at the two lower levels. Had the religious organizations on my list given me any explanations for not accepting my proposal, I imagine the explanations would have been in the form of excuses they had rationalized as morally justified. Since they are capable of rationalizing or ignoring the ghastly violence and death promoted by their spiritual leaders as illustrated in the three scriptures shown below they are very capable I am certain of doing the same for themselves.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am
come to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother, and the
daughter in law against her mother-in-law. And
a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
— Matthew 10:34-35

I will fill your mountains with the dead.
Your hills, your valleys, and your streams
will be filled with people slaughtered by the
sword. I will make you desolate forever.
Your cities will never be rebuilt. Then you
will know that I am God.
— Ezekiel 35:7-9 NLT

And when We wish to destroy a town,
We send Our commandment to the people
of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress
therein; thus the word proves true against it,
so We destroy it with utter destruction.
— Quran

Hypocricised

A hypocrite not only does not walk the talk but walks against it. A good epithet for religion, government and big business ought to be hypocrisy, for within the houses of worship, within the chambers of politics, and within the corner offices of corporations what is spoken and written are often the opposite of what is done. A classic example common to all three sources of deceitfulness is the claim that war is waged to defend freedom and democracy.

I will add a personal example. In the mainline church I attend (out of respect for my wife who is a PK, or preacher’s kid) a ritualistic saying after one of the prayers is “May the Peace of Christ be with you.”  But I have never heard a voice from the pulpit or from the congregation speaking out against America’s endless warring and spying. Oh, there are plenty of platitudes expressed but nothing more. I am increasingly finding the place repugnant.

Compromised

Organized religion depends on hand outs to keep going, two different hands as a matter of fact, and they compromise any tendency religious organizations might have to speak out meaningfully and concretely against war. These organizations are not going to bite the hands that feed them

One hand out comes voluntarily from givers within the organization. I doubt if there is any spiritual leader who dares alienate his or her flock that is either an accomplice (e.g., by being a silent bystander) or an agent (e.g., military members in the congregation). For instance, there was a backlash among affiliate churches when their federated body, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the US, took a strong stance against the Vietnam War.2

The other hand out is from government, both the source of war and the source of financial support. Religious organizations currently get government handouts of one form or another that amount to about 75 percent of their total annual revenue.3,4  Religious organizations are no different from corporations in the war and spy industries that milk the government and taxpayers dry.

In Closing

In my book, America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying, is a chapter entitled “Habit Helpers” because they help rather than hinder the political/military/war industrial triumvirate’s endless warring and spying addiction.5 Some of the “helpers” beside religious organizations I wrote about were education, science, think tanks, news media, the entertainment industry, and the public relations industry.

If there is a Hell, more so than any of the other “habit helpers” religious organizations deserve top priority in that place of gnashing teeth and fire. Why? No other non-military, non-political, non-industrial institution or organization in my opinion has been more hypocritical and more of a facilitator for America’s wars.

  1. Kohlberg, L. The Psychology of moral development: Essays on moral development. Vol. 2, Harper & Row, 1984.
  2. Gill, J.K. Embattled ecumenism: The National Council of Churches, the Vietnam War, and the trials of the Protestant left. Northern Illinois University Press, 2011.
  3. Mathews, D. “You give religions more than $82.5 billion a year.” The Washington Post, August 22, 2013
  4. IBIS World. “Religious organizations in the US: Market research report”,August, 2015.
  5. Brumback, G.B. America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

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$470 mil HSBC settlement, but no one is in jail

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The federal government announced a $470 mil settlement with banking giant HSBC on Friday, despite causing financial crisis worth $22 tril

American Herald Tribune 

Banking giant HSBC has reached a settlement with the Federal government and most U.S. states for their part in the 2008 financial crisis—the largest such economic downturn since the Great Depression.

But as with Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, no individuals will face trial for engaging in predatory lending tactics, selling bad mortgages to homeowners and forcing illegal foreclosures on millions.

The Justice Department announced the $470 million settlement on Friday, saying that HSBC’s tactics hastened the country’s economic meltdown.

The settlement includes the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as 49 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia’s attorney general.

In a Justice Department press release, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller states that such a settlement serves as precedent for how banks are allowed to behave.

“This agreement not only provides relief to borrowers affected by HSBC’s past practices, it puts in place protections for current and future homeowners through tough mortgage servicing standards,” Miller said. “For years we’ve worked together to hold mortgage servicers responsible for their past conduct.  We’re doing that here through this settlement and we’ll continue to address bad conduct in the future.”

According to the terms of the agreement, HSBC’s payments will include $100 million to be distributed between the federal government and a state-administered escrow fund, allowing the states to reimburse borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and 2012.

Another $370 million in relief is slated directly for borrowers and homeowners in order to reduce mortgage principals for those at risk of default. The federal government says this relief is already underway, noting that the actual cost could be higher because HSBC cannot claim credit for every required consumer relief dollar.

2013 study by the Government Accountability Office, funded by a cost-analysis stipulation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010, found that the economic crisis cost the American economy $22 trillion.

HSBC will be responsible for implementing standards for mortgage loan servicing, foreclosure procedure and ensuring accuracy of information provided to federal bankruptcy court, according to the federal government.

The deal unfortunately gives HSBC leeway in how it imposes the new standards.

In the past, the bank employed a plethora of intentionally ambiguous practices like robo-signing, false documentation and lost paperwork, in order to continue foreclosures.

The new standards also make it imperative that foreclosure is a last resort by requiring HSBC to provide loss-mitigation options first.

It is unclear how stringent the government will be in accepting applications for the state’s reimbursement plans, but the settlement will almost certainly not be a fix-all for homeowners still reeling from the economic crisis.

Tanuka Loha, then-director of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity program wrote in 2011 about the severe consequences of the crisis.

“Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over.  This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing.,” Loha said. “In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.”

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Counter-terror laws hampering Islamic charities’ work – former ministers

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RT 

Former cabinet ministers have urged the government to set up an inquiry into the way UK counter-terror laws are affecting the humanitarian work of Islamic charities, many of which operate in Syria.

Two former international development secretaries have discussed the issue with parliamentary officials and have written to the Commons International Development Select Committee to call for an inquiry into complaints that Islamic charities are being treated unfairly.

Clare Short, who was international development secretary from 1997 to 2003, and Andrew Mitchell, who served in the same job from 2010 to 2012, have responded to concerns that Muslim charities are being discriminated against by banks or members of the authorities who worry funding could make its way to extremist organizations.

Almost one-fifth of government development aid goes to charities, and Islamic charities are some of the few British aid organizations that can operate in Syria.

Short wrote that the issue needed examining.

“This is an issue that needs clarifying and sorting out. It has been around as a problem for some time, but it has been getting worse and worse. We have got this enormous capacity in the UK of these Muslim humanitarian charities, yet they are struggling with one hand behind their back. We need a proper scrutiny and examination bringing all this out. It is preventing efficiency.”

Mitchell said: “These are some of the few charities that can get into Syria and help the benighted people of that country, yet they are being held back due to misunderstandings and banking bureaucracy.”

Commons International Development Committee chair Stephen Twigg said he would examine the request “very sympathetically.”

One charity which has complained of discrimination is Islamic Relief, one of the largest Muslim charities, who say their work is being hampered. The charity is funded by the Department for International Development, yet has had one of its bank accounts closed by HSBC.

Other charities have reported the closure of bank accounts, Pay Pal accounts and the blocking of financial transactions.

The government set up a working party to examine any issues after the complaints were made.

Short and Mitchell also travelled to Turkey to see some of the charity work by the Muslim Charities Forum, an umbrella organization for nine charities, being done to get aid into Syria. They returned with praise for the organization and its work.

Omayma El Ella, the operations manager of the Muslim Charities Forum, explained that there was no one to hold to account for the problem.

“No one is accountable for what is going on right now. Every time we speak to the government about this, they say it is a private sector issue and they cannot get involved. That is not good enough anymore. We are told no one will be prosecuted for ‘benign engagement’, but what is ‘benign engagement’? That has not been clarified.”

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Democratizing the EU

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By Steve Church 

So, superstar Yanis Varoufakis is inaugurating his new outfit, DiEM25, the other day in Berlin, at the Volksbühne theatre, calling for the democratization of the European Union. What?, you say.  Isn’t the EU already democratic?

It is if you think the United States is a democracy. The US was one of the prime movers behind the creation of the EU. And if you don’t believe me, read Circus Politicus (Deloire and Dubois, Albin Michel, 2012).

Post WW II, the US didn’t like the idea of all those foreigners experimenting with communism and socialism, getting the idea that unbridled capitalism maybe wasn’t in their best interests. Best to gather all those idiosyncratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, difficult-to-control tendencies under one big homogenized tent in Brussels, far from the prying eyes of the “people ,” and under the control of obedient, willing proxies taking their orders from thousands of Anglo-American lobbyists. This is one time that the mission was pretty much accomplished.

If you don’t believe me, just look at Greece. Or the EU’s support of the illegal interventions in the Middle East or Africa.

eu_vs_greece

If you go to DiEM25’s web site and read the Manifesto, you’ll probably say to yourself that what they’re saying seems reasonable and just. And I would tend to agree if it were not for the idea that reforming the EU is like trying to reform capitalism. And trying to do it within the confines of the labyrinthine hazards of the system in place in Brussels by creating yet another layer of commissions and representatives will only hinder the process of liberation.

What happened to the idea that independent, sovereign countries can get along? Given our present means of communications, do we still need a separate, distant overlord to settle disputes of whatever nature? A distant collective of officials subject to the same pressures that exist in Brussels today? Whatever happened to the saying, “Think globally, act locally”?

I rather doubt that, without the propaganda of the globalized media, or their captive NGOs, we would have had all the conflicts that are tearing so many countries apart.  How many Greeks really want to go around the world bombing other countries into democracy?

Plus, take a look at the outfits that are promoting the Varoufakis initiative. The European University Institute, sponsor of ROAR magazine. Or another outfit, European Alternatives, and take a look at their funders.  Seems to be a lot of corporate, lords and ladies types there, and I doubt Jeremy Corbyn is their favorite politician. Reminds me of USAID or NED (or NPR, for that matter), or any of the other so-called democracy advocacy groups that go around funding and provoking “liberation” movements like what happened in the Ukraine.

Does that sound like fun?

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Do We Need a Bigger War?

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By Paul Larudee 

The Syrian Army and its allies have clearly turned the tide in the Syrian war. The “facts on the ground” have changed dramatically for all the major players, and constitute a major reversal for all the forces that have tried to institute “regime change” in Syria, in violation of its sovereignty.  The Geneva “Peace Conference” opposition delegation, composed of marginal figures representing a tiny fraction of the armed anti-government factions but ostensibly speaking for all of them, is now largely irrelevant. As the terrorists and foreign mercenaries and their families flee Aleppo, thousands or tens of thousands of Syrian civilians are returning to their homes in secure government held areas.

Given the reversal of fortunes for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, NATO and their allies and mercenaries, what’s next? The sensible thing would be for all the actors to declare victory by finishing off the ostensible terrorist enemy and accepting a face saving solution that includes a Syrian government commitment to reform, with expertise provided by a friendly international team of experts that puts Russia, the US, Europe, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia on the same side.

But this is not the advice we are hearing from the advisers that got us into this mess in the first place, and who are disappointed that Syria might not go the way of Iraq, Libya and Somalia after all. They are suggesting that a more and bigger war is the way to complete the job of turning Syria into a failed state. Such a war would involve an invasion of Turkish forces amassed and poised on the border, direct intervention by Saudi forces, US and perhaps other NATO ground forces, and potentially Israeli forces as well.

Such a plan risks putting these forces directly in confrontation with Syrian and Russian units and objectives. It is a recipe for great power confrontation on a scale rarely seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Rarely, but not totally. When Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft on November 24, 2015, only very cool Russian heads prevented the unthinkable by deciding that the Russian response might best be served cold.

That dish is now on the table, and it is for the Turks and bigger warmongers to decide if they want to risk Armageddon by unleashing even greater forces of destruction.  There are players that would love to do so; they profit from death, misery and cataclysm, and would never miss such an opportunity. Chief among them are the arms merchants that dominate in the US and Israel, the neoconservative movement, also heavily subsidized by Israel and its Zionist lobbies in other countries, and by Israel’s investment in weakening all potential adversaries. Saudi Arabia has decided that it has much the same adversaries and has therefore thrown its lot in with Israel. The Erdogan administration in Turkey finds that its interests, including territorial aggrandizement, are congruent, and US objectives are defined by the neoconservative movement and the Israel Lobby, which have kidnapped US strategic policy in this regard, to the dismay of the Foreign Service, intelligence and military professional core of the American government.

The Syria Solidarity Movement suggests that further escalation is not a solution, but that the application of international law can bring the hostilities to a close. Astonishingly, this a war in which there are few declared enemies. Of the many parties and their sponsored combatants, only the armed groups and the Syrian government have declared themselves to be enemies, unless you count the insincere protestations that “terrorist” groups are also enemies of the same nations that are aiding and abetting them.

Syria is still recognized universally and diplomatically as a sovereign state, and under international law no power may interfere in its security considerations except by invitation from the recognized government of that state. To seek “regime change” (overthrow) is strictly illegal under international law, and prohibited by the United Nations. Governments that are pursuing such an objective should be sanctioned by the UN, although there is no realistic possibility of such action.

The Syria Solidarity Movement believes that it is time to complete the expulsion of the terrorist and mercenary forces that have been attacking Syria for the last five years. This can be accomplished by denying all support of arms and funding from the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and other countries. In addition, these countries can choose to either cooperate with the Syrian government and its allies to rid Syria of this scourge, or at least not interfere while Syrian, Russian and other allied forces complete the job. In this case, Syria can resume its role of providing government services and representation for its people, and its people can resume shaping their own government without outside interference.

It is time to end this ill-advised adventurism, and to put to flight the rascals and criminals, not only in Syria but also inside the countries whose strategic policies have been hijacked by gangs who are in many respects worse than those who bring beheadings and crucifixions to our computer screens.

The Syria Solidarity Movement

ILLEGAL USE OF OUR NAME:  Counterpunch recently published an article from an individual claiming to be from “Syria Solidarity UK”. This constitutes infringement of the use of the name of the Syria Solidarity Movement and a misrepresentation of who we are.  We wish to caution all persons and organizations against the fraudulent use of our name, even if published in good faith as a result of information provided by third parties. We are pursuing legal remedy and would not wish anyone to unnecessarily incur liability.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Do We Need a Bigger War?

US Blames Putin When Erdogan Caught Weaponizing Refugees

NOVANEWS
By Andrew Korybko 

The recently released minutes from a November meeting between Erdogan and the EU prove that the Turkish strongman is manipulating the immigrant flow into Europe for strategic ends.

The Greek financial website euro2day.gr published the shocking record of what transpired at a November meeting between Erdogan, Tusk, and Juncker in Antalya. In attempting to squeeze more money out of Brussels for his cooperation in halting the refugee flow, the Turkish leader thuggishly threatened that “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses”, snarling to the EU leaders and rhetorically taunting them by asking “how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?”

€3 billion later, Erdogan shut up but he didn’t shut his borders, and the human wave continues to crash into Europe.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag and there’s a smoking gun to prove what most Europeans had already figured out by now — that the immigrant crisis is a strategically engineered weapon against them — the US has gone into full spin mode by doing what it does best, blaming Russia.

A day before the minutes were leaked, Carnegie Europe published a mudslinging piece which alleges in its title that Putin Uses The Refugee Crisis To Weaken Merkel, and a day after the Erdogan bombshell was made public, George Soros followed up with one of his famous speculative attacks (albeit this time non-financial) in which he ludicrously proclaimed that “Putin’s current aim is to foster the EU’s disintegration, and the best way to do so is to flood the EU with Syrian refugees.”

Ironically, but as is the established pattern, every time that the US is caught doing something unsavory, they always reflexively resort to blaming Russia for their own sins, and the immigrant crisis is no different. What’s new this time around, however, are the strange “anti-imperialist” bedfellows that they’ve aligned with in doing so.

‘Weapons Of Mass Migration’

The first thing to understand about the immigrant crisis is that the on-the-ground conditions for it were created by the US’ aggressive unipolar wars on the Mideast and North Africa, and that the resultant humanitarian catastrophe has been strategically weaponized by Washington and its allies for various geopolitical and economic ends.

Kelly M. Greenhill, an Associate Professor at Tufts University and Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, published a groundbreaking 2010 book about “Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy” in which she proved that there are at least 56 instances in which states have purposefully generated, provoked, and exploited massive waves of human migrations as an instrument to further their respective policies. Excerpts from her book were culled to form a summarized article that’s available for free at the Naval Postgraduate School’s website.

In terms of the present application of “Weapons Of Mass Migration”, the US and Turkey have a few overlapping goals in mind. Ghassan Kadi brilliantly explained that Erdogan wants to use the immigrants as leverage in order to extract financial and institutional concessions from the EU, while concomitantly flooding the West with Islamist-sympathizing individuals that can act as a fifth column of support for his expansionist policy of Neo-Ottomanism.

The latter goal segues in nicely with what the US wants to do, which is to kaleidoscopically fracture hitherto largely homogeneous European societies via provoked and prolonged Hobbesian conflict between the locals, refugees, and host governments. It’s aware that the civilizational dissimilarity between the native Europeans and the migrating Muslim masses will inevitably lead to multifaceted tension, and it aims to perpetually exploit the resultant identity cleavages in order to conveniently craft various Color Revolution scenarios in keeping certain governments in check and away from pragmatic cooperation with Russia and China (e.g. Nord Stream II, Turkish/Balkan Stream, and the Balkan Silk Road).

Qualifying Caveats And The Smoking Gun Pattern

It’s useful at this moment to point out that while there definitely are some legitimate refugees reaching Europe’s shores, many of the newcomers are economic migrants that aren’t even from Syria, and that a highly disproportionate number of the people who have come to the continent are draft-age young males. This is why the author collectively and more accurately refers to these people as immigrants and not “refugees”. Russian Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov, American Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian have all recently warned that Daesh terrorists are actively infiltrating borders under the guise of being “refugees”, so there are absolutely some legitimate concerns about the types of people getting into Europe undetected.

Another thing is that “Islamist” isn’t a synonym for Muslim (as it’s commonly mistaken to be), but rather a label in referring to those that seek to impose Islam on others, such as Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi sympathizers. These individuals don’t have to be instructed on how to stir up problems in their host countries because their Islamist ideology naturally inspires them to clash with the locals, which thus organically satisfies the US’ 21st-century “Operation Gladio” plans. Regrettably, the sexual terrorist attacks in Cologne and other cities leave no doubt that many of these undesirable immigrants have already gotten into the EU, confirming that the US and Turkey’s destabilizing geopolitical plans are already in full swing.

Most Europeans figured out on their own that something was amiss about the whole immigrant crisis, questioning why so many of the new arrivals, if they were genuine refugees, would behave with such arrogant, ungrateful, and callous disregard for the host population that literally (as they were led to believe) saved their lives. The smoking gun of Erdogan’s transcribed threat, proving the degree of control that he has over the floodgates and his willingness to leverage this in as self-interested of a manner as possible, showed many Europeans that they weren’t wrong for questioning the mainstream media’s  narrative on this whole matter.

Similar smoking guns have dispelled the Western myth about other high-profile crises as well. The Nuland-Pyatt recording proved that the US was scheming for regime change in Ukraine, and a 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency memo explicitly states that the Syrian “opposition” was full of terrorists from the beginning and that a “declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria”, which later turned out to be Daesh, was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want”. The latest revelation validates many people’s prior fears that the immigrant crisis had been strategically engineered, and it casts a damning light on the US’ role and intended agenda behind it. Tellingly, the faked hysteria that Putin is “flooding the EU with Syrian refugees” to “weaken Merkel” seems to imply that the German Chancellor’s days are numbered, but the US wants to cover its tracks and clumsily pretend that it’s Moscow which actually has something to gain by deposing its strategic Nord Stream II partner and not Washington like is actually the case.

Strange Bedfellows

Up until the point where the US had to begrudgingly acknowledge that strategically engineered “Weapons of Mass Migration” were being used against the EU and predictably blame it all on Russia, its allied “NGOs” and information outlets had categorically denied that such a planned phenomenon was taking place, slurring anyone who dared to even infer this possibility as being “racist”, “fascist”, and “white supremacist”. Astonishingly, this mainstream media-imposed “political correctness” and ideological intimidation was aggressively repeated by social and alternative media “activists” who fashioned themselves as (militant) far-left “anti-imperialists” — typically the sort of individuals who speak out against the US’ “thought police” or at least respect others’ right to do so.

These “anti-imperialists” claim to support Russia’s role in the world, yet state that border controls and assimilative & integrational immigration policies are some kind of “new fascism”. Apparently they never read President Putin’s 2012 manifesto on the topic, otherwise they would know that the Russian leader has a very firm and publicly declared stance against open borders and the Western conception of “multiculturalism”. By attacking concerned individuals that espouse these exact same principles as “racist”, “fascist”, and “white supremacist”, they’re indirectly attacking Russia and associating it with those slurs. It’s a documented fact that the tentacles of unipolar influence are long and deeply embedded in all sorts of social and political movements, so it’s reasonable to question whether these “anti-imperialist” voices are just “misguided activists” or if they’re really just anti-Russian provocateurs with an ideological ax to grind.

Posted in USA, Russia, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on US Blames Putin When Erdogan Caught Weaponizing Refugees

Naziyahu’s Zoomorphic Bigotry: A Retrospective

NOVANEWS
By Nima Shirazi 

Image result for Netanyahu’s IN THE ARAB WORLD CARTOON

Benjamin Naziyahu pets his dog Kaia, a biter, at the Prime Minster’s residence in Jerusalem. (Credit: Facebook)

“Anyone who approaches the Zionist problem in a moral aspect is not a Zionist.” – Moshe Dayan, quoting David Ben-Gurion

Ha’aretz correspondent Barak Ravid reported yesterday:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a tour to the construction site of a barrier on the eastern border on Tuesday that he wishes to surround the country with fences and barriers “to defend ourselves against wild beasts” that surround Israel.

Dehumanization of one’s real or perceived adversaries, often in the form of animalization, has long been a hallmark of propaganda. As Netanyahu reinforces Israel’s garrison mentality, he continues building a literal fortress by extending the apartheid wall further around the Zionist state, promising more division, segregation, discrimination, and violence.

“For most human beings, it takes an awful lot to allow them to kill another human being,” Anthony Pratkanis, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told ABC News back in 2003, as the United States was gearing up to invade Iraq. “The only way to do it is to justify the killing, to make the enemy look as evil as possible.”

The report also quoted Hayward communications professor James Forsher, an expert on propaganda films. “The secret in propaganda is that when you demonize, you dehumanize,” Forsher explained. “When you dehumanize, it allows you to kill your enemy and no longer feel guilty about it. That is why during World War II, a lot of caricatures became animals… You can kill a monkey a lot more easily than you can kill a neighbor.”

Nazi dehumanization of Jews as “vermin” to be exterminated and American anti-Japanese caricatures of rats and snakes from the 1940s are especially grotesque, but the phenomenon was around long before that. Anti-Tsarist and, subsequently, anti-Soviet propaganda often employed the image of an octopus, spreading its imperial tentacles across the globe. During World War I, Germany was depicted a crazed, club-wielding gorilla in a U.S. Army poster encouraging enlistment.

In their 1994 book, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media, Ella Shohat and Robert Stam note that the common colonial/racist trope of “animalization” was “rooted in a religious and philosophical tradition which drew sharp boundaries between the animal and the human” and “renders the colonized as wild beasts… projected as body rather than mind.”

Zionist colonists and Israeli officials have for years employed this type of rhetoric to dehumanize those they seek to forcibly displace, dispossess, disenfranchise, oppress, occupy and subjugate. The Zionist project is always presented as a bulwark of civilizationagainst the savagery and barbarism of the brutish Eastern, Arab, and/or Muslim hordes; the settlement on the hill; the light amidst the darkness; the “villa in the jungle,” as Ehud Barak once said.

“At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” Netanyahu fantasized yesterday. “I’ll be told, ‘this is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the area that we live in, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”

The animalization of Palestinians, and other perceived enemies, in Israeli rhetoric goes back decades.

Dogs, Animals, Roaches, Grasshoppers and Worms

Shortly after Israel seized military control over the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan told officials in his center-left political party, Rafi, that unless Palestinians in the newly-occupied territories make “peace” with Israel, they “shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.”

On June 8, 1982, two days after the Israel invaded Lebanon, Prime Minister Menachem Begin delivered remarks before the Knesset justifying the military assault as a defense of Jewish lives worldwide. Begin insisted that the widespread rallying cry of terrorists around the globe was that “there is no innocent Jew. Every Jew is doomed – he must be killed.” In response, he declared, “This terror must be eradicated.” Setting Jewish people apart from the rest of humanity, Begin said:

The fate of a million and half a million Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

In April 1983, outgoing Israeli Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan (who was losing his post due to his responsibility for the 1982 Sabra-Shatila Massacrereportedly told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, “The Arabs will never win over us by throwing stones. Our response must be a nationalist Zionist response. For every stone that’’s thrown, we will build ten settlements. If 100 settlements will exist, and they will, between Nablus and Jerusalem, stones will not be thrown. If this will be the situation, then the Arabs will only be able to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.”

During the First Intifada, on March 31, 1988, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told reporters at the ruins of an ancient Herodian fortress in the occupied West Bank, “Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls,” adding that Palestinians who resist the Israeli occupation “are like grasshoppers compared to us.”

In late 2004, Yehiel Hazan, a Likud minister and leader of the biggest settler lobbying group, declared on the floor of the Knesset, “The Arabs are worms. You find them everywhere like worms, underground as well as above,” adding, “Until we understand that we’re doing business with a nation of assassins and terrorists who don’t want us here, there will be no let up. These worms have not stopped attacking Jews for a century.”

On June 30, 2012, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party posted a Facebook message that identified “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and calling for the total elimination of Palestine, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” The post, alleged written years ago by now-deceased settler leader Uri Elitzur, added that Palestinian mothers should be executed for giving birth to “little snakes,” that is, Palestinian children. Less than a year later, Netanyahu appointed Shaked to be Israel’s Minister of Justice.

Netanyahu, too, has a penchant for animal allusions when speaking about those he despises most, be they Palestinians, Iranians, or Muslims, in general.

Insatiable Crocodile

While a possibly apocryphal quote has then-Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak saying in August 2000, “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more,” Netanyahu brought the reptilian analogy up to date when, during a typically verbose and combative speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2011, he said:

[Israel’s] critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’s security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

Netanyahu probably didn’t realize he was channeling his fellow apartheid champion, P.W. Botha, who led South Africa from 1978 to 1989, and is credited with complaining that “the free world wants to feed South Africa to the red crocodile [Communism], to appease its hunger.” Botha, incidentally, was widely known by the Afrikaans nickname Die Groot Krokodil, or “The Big Crocodile.”

Nuclear Duck

The following March, in one of his most tedious diatribes about the non-existent threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, Netanyahu toldattendees at AIPAC’s annual conference that Iran’s fully safeguarded uranium enrichment facilities and medical research reactor were actually a cover for a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck – but this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Quack.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Appearing on Face The Nation on July 14, 2013, Netanyahu decried Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” whose devious Persian strategy is to “smile and build a bomb.” He repeated this description to a group of U.S. lawmakers the following month.

On October 1, 2013, Netanyahu returned to the UN General Assembly and accused Rouhani of being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“Rouhani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad,” Netanyahu wailed. “But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes — the wool over the eyes of the international community.”

Fittingly, Netanyahu’s faithful lapdog, Yuval Steinitz, also took to the media in July and September that year to describe Rouhani the same way.

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