Archive | April 28th, 2017

De-escalation Zone Memorandum – Decisive Step Towards Peace in Syria?

NOVANEWS
 

Following the results of the fourth round of Syrian talks in Astana the representatives of guarantor-states (Iran, Russia and Turkey) signed a memorandum on de-escalation zones in Syria.

According to the agreement, the de-escalation zones are to be created in the provinces of Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, northern part of Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and Quneitra for six months, with the option of further prolongation.

The memorandum, which comes into effect on May 5, envisages the cessation of hostilities between the sides, conditions for returning refugees, the restoration of destroyed urban infrastructure and the access of humanitarian organizations. Moreover, the checkpoints to control the movement of civilians and the ceasefire regime will be created along the de-escalation zone borders.

It is notable, that the agreement doesn’t apply to Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists, it doesn’t depend on whether they are inside a zone or not.

Moreover, the flights of the U.S.-led International Coalition are strictly forbidden in the area. The airspace will be also controlled by the guarantor-states.

The treaty caused positive reaction of the world community. In general, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highly appreciates the achievement of the guarantor-states. He also believes, that the memorandum should really improve the citizens’ lives.

The head of the Syrian delegation in Astana Bashar Jaafari expressed gratitude to the efforts of Kazakhstan, Iran and Russia, as the memorandum opens new opportunities for the political settlement of the crisis.

Even Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir supports the creation of de-escalation zones.

Unfortunately, during the signing of the memorandum a number of the opposition delegates opposed the peacekeeping initiatives. The actual initiatives of the opposition are unknown. As a mark of protest, a number of the “opposition delegates” decided to leave the room, referring that the adoption of the document violates the territorial integrity of Syria. In addition, the armed opposition insists that Iran can’t be a guarantor state and they don’t adduce any weighty arguments.

It sounds strange that the “opposition” has rejected the memorandum. The primary target of guarantor states’ initiative is the protection of civilians, and as it is temporary, it won’t affect Syria’s sovereignty. That’s why the actions of the armed opposition can show to the world community that they are not interested in the fast settlement of the crisis. In this case the armed opposition doesn’t differ from ISIS or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

That’s why the guarantors have taken the initiative to save Syria as the hesitation of the Syrian government’s opponents is a heavy burden for the country – innocent people keep dying and the civilian infrastructure is being damaged.

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America’s War for Global Domination. The Roadmap of Conquest

Author’s Note

To understand recent developments in Syria, it is important to address the history of Washington’s Middle East war.

The US led war on Syria was planned well in advance. Already in 2003, in the immediate wake of the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration had identified Syria as the next stage of the Middle East “roadmap to war”.

The bombing of presumed ‘terrorist bases’ in Syria were targeted by the Israeli Air Force in October 2003 with a view to providing a justification for subsequent pre-emptive military interventions against Lebanon and Syria.

Ariel Sharon launched the attacks with the approval of Donald Rumsfeld. 

This planned extension of the war into Syria announced in 2003 by the Pentagon (analyzed in my 2003 article):

“means that Israel becomes a major military actor in the US-led war, as well as an ‘official’ member of the Anglo-American coalition.”

Adm. Elmar Schmaelling and Prof. Michel Chossudovsky at Humboldt University, December 2003

The following text first published in December 2003 was presented at two public lectures, the Society for the Defense of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, 10-11 December, 2003 and Humboldt University, Berlin, 12 December 2003. 

Michel Chossudovsky, May 6, 2017

 

*     *     *

We are the juncture of the most serious crisis in modern history.

The US Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

The wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are part of a broader military agenda, which was launched at the end of the Cold War. The ongoing war agenda is a continuation of the 1991 Gulf War and the NATO led wars on Yugoslavia (1991-2001).

The post Cold War period has also been marked by numerous US covert intelligence operations within the former Soviet Union, which were instrumental in triggering civil wars in several of the former republics including Chechnya (within the Russian Federation), Georgia and Azerbaijan. In the latter, these covert operations were launched with a view to securing strategic control over oil and gas pipeline corridors.

US military and intelligence operations in the post Cold War era were led in close coordination with the “free market reforms” imposed under IMF guidance in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans, which resulted in the destabilization of national economies and the impoverishment of millions of people.

The World Bank sponsored privatization programmes in these countries enabled Western capital to acquire ownership and gain control of a large share of the economy of the former Eastern block countries. This process is also at the basis of the strategic mergers and/or takeovers of the former Soviet oil and gas industry by powerful Western conglomerates, through financial manipulation and corrupt political practices.

In other words, what is at stake in the US led war is the recolonization of a vast region extending from the Balkans into Central Asia.

The deployment of America’s war machine purports to enlarge America’s economic sphere of influence. The U.S. has established a permanent military presence not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has military bases in several of the former Soviet republics on China’s Western frontier. In turn, since 1999, there has been a military buildup in the South China Sea.

War and Globalization go hand in hand. Militarization supports the conquest of new economic frontiers and the worldwide imposition of “free market” system.

The Next Phase of the War

The Bush administration has already identified Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. The bombing of presumed ‘terrorist bases’ in Syria by the Israeli Air Force in October (2003) was intended to provide a justification for subsequent pre-emptive military interventions. Ariel Sharon launched the attacks with the approval of Donald Rumsfeld. (See Gordon Thomas, Global Outlook, No. 6, Winter 2003)

This planned extension of the war into Syria has serious implications. It means that Israel becomes a major military actor in the US-led war, as well as an ‘official’ member of the Anglo-American coalition.

The Pentagon views ‘territorial control’ over Syria, which constitutes a land bridge between Israel and occupied Iraq, as ‘strategic’ from a military and economic standpoint. It also constitutes a means of controlling the Iraqi border and curbing the flow of volunteer fighters, who are traveling to Baghdad to join the Iraqi resistance movement.

This enlargement of the theater of war is consistent with Ariel Sharon’s plan to build a ‘Greater Israel’ “on the ruins of Palestinian nationalism”. While Israel seeks to extend its territorial domain towards the Euphrates River, with designated areas of Jewish settlement in the Syrian heartland, Palestinians are imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank behind an ‘Apartheid Wall’.

In the meantime, the US Congress has tightened the economic sanctions on Libya and Iran. As well, Washington is hinting at the need for a ‘regime change’ in Saudi Arabia. Political pressures are building up in Turkey.

So, the war could indeed spill over into a much broader region extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian sub-continent and China’s Western frontier.

The “Pre-emptive” Use of Nuclear Weapons

Washington has adopted a first strike “pre-emptive” nuclear policy, which has now received congressional approval. Nuclear weapons are no longer a weapon of last resort as during the cold War era.

The US, Britain and Israel have a coordinated nuclear weapons policy. Israeli nuclear warheads are pointed at major cities in the Middle East. The governments of all three countries have stated quite openly, prior to the war on Iraq, that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons “if they are attacked” with so-called “weapons of mass destruction.” Israel is the fifth nuclear power in the World. Its nuclear arsenal is more advanced than that of Britain.

Barely a few weeks following the entry of the US Marines into Baghdad [April 2003], the US Senate Armed Services Committee gave the green light to the Pentagon to develop a new tactical nuclear bomb, to be used in conventional war theaters, “with a yield [of up to] six times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb”.

Following the Senate decision, the Pentagon redefined the details of its nuclear agenda in a secret meeting with senior executives from the nuclear industry and the military industrial complex held at Central Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The meeting was held on August 6, the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, 58 years ago.

The new nuclear policy explicitly involves the large defense contractors in decision-making. It is tantamount to the “privatization” of nuclear war. Corporations not only reap multibillion dollar profits from the production of nuclear bombs, they also have a direct voice in setting the agenda regarding the use and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has unleashed a major propaganda and public relations campaign with a view to upholding the use nuclear weapons for the “defense of the American Homeland.”

Fully endorsed by the US Congress, the mini-nukes are considered to be “safe for civilians”.

This new generation of nuclear weapons is slated to be used in the next phase of this war, in “conventional war theatres” (e.g. in the Middle East and Central Asia) alongside conventional weapons.

In December 2003, the US Congress allocated $6.3 billion solely for 2004, to develop this new generation of “defensive” nuclear weapons.

The overall annual defense budget is of the order of 400 billion dollars, roughly of the same order of magnitude as the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Russian Federation.

While there is no firm evidence of the use of mini-nukes in the Iraqi and Afghan war theatres, tests conducted by Canada’s Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), in Afghanistan confirm that recorded toxic radiation was not attributable to ‘heavy metal’ depleted uranium ammunition (DU), but to another unidentified form of uranium contamination:

“some form of uranium weapon had been used (…) The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf War veterans tested in 1999.” www.umrc.net

The Planning of War

The war on Iraq has been in the planning stages at least since the mid-1990s.

A 1995 National Security document of the Clinton administration stated quite clearly that the objective of the war is oil. “to protect the United States’ uninterrupted, secure U.S. access to oil.

In September 2000, a few months before the accession of George W. Bush to the White House, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) published its blueprint for global domination under the title: “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.”

The PNAC is a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which plays a behind-the-scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy.

The PNAC’s declared objective is quite simple – to:

“Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars”.

This statement indicates that the US plans to be involved simultaneously in several war theaters in different regions of the World.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney had commissioned the PNAC blueprint prior to the presidential elections.

The PNAC outlines a roadmap of conquest. It calls for

“the direct imposition of U.S. “forward bases” throughout Central Asia and the Middle East “with a view to ensuring economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential “rival” or any viable alternative to America’s vision of a ‘free market’ economy” (See Chris Floyd, Bush’s Crusade for empire, Global Outlook, No. 6, 2003)

The Role of “Massive Casualty Producing Events”

The PNAC blueprint also outlines a consistent framework of war propaganda. One year before 9/11, the PNAC called for “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor,” which would serve to galvanize US public opinion in support of a war agenda.

(See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NAC304A.html )

The PNAC architects seem to have anticipated with cynical accuracy, the use of the September 11 attacks as “a war pretext incident.”

The PNAC’s reference to a “catastrophic and catalyzing event” echoes a similar statement by David Rockefeller to the United Nations Business Council in 1994:

“We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.”

Similarly, in the words Zbigniew Brzezinski (left) in his book, The Grand Chessboard:.

 “…it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus [in America] on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter was one of the key architects of the Al Qaeda network, created by the CIA at the onslaught of the Soviet Afghan war (1979-1989).

The “catastrophic and catalyzing event” as stated by the PNAC is an integral part of US military-intelligence planning. General Franks, who led the military campaign into Iraq, pointed recently (October 2003) to the role of a “massive casualty-producing event” to muster support for the imposition of military rule in America.

(See General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution, November 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/EDW311A.html ).

Franks identifies the precise scenario whereby military rule will be established:

“a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.” (Ibid)

This statement from an individual, who was actively involved in military and intelligence planning at the highest levels, suggests that the “militarisation of our country” is an ongoing operational assumption. It is part of the broader “Washington consensus”. It identifies the Bush administration’s “roadmap” of war and “Homeland Defense.” Needless to say, it is also an integral part of the neoliberal agenda.

The “terrorist massive casualty-producing event” is presented by General Franks as a crucial political turning point. The resulting crisis and social turmoil are intended to facilitate a major shift in US political, social and institutional structures.

General Franks’ statement reflects a consensus within the US Military as to how events ought to unfold. The “war on terrorism” is to provide a justification for repealing the Rule of Law, ultimately with a view to “preserving civil liberties.”

Franks’ interview suggests that an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack will be used as a “trigger mechanism” for a military coup d’état in America. The PNAC’s “Pearl Harbor type event” would be used as a justification for declaring a State of emergency, leading to the establishment of a military government.

In many regards, the militarisation of civilian State institutions in the US is already functional under the facade of a bogus democracy.

War Propaganda

In the wake of the September attacks on the World Trade Center, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created to the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or “Office of Disinformation” as it was labeled by its critics:

“The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries — as an effort to influence public opinion across the world. (Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002.)

And, all of a sudden, the OSI was formally disbanded following political pressures and “troublesome” media stories that “its purpose was to deliberately lie to advance American interests.” (Air Force Magazine, January 2003)). “Rumsfeld backed off and said this is embarrassing.” (Adubato, op. cit. ) Yet despite this apparent about-turn, the Pentagon’s Orwellian disinformation campaign remains functionally intact:

“[T]he secretary of defense is not being particularly candid here. Disinformation in military propaganda is part of war.”(Ibid)

Rumsfeld later confirmed in a press interview that while the OSI no longer exists in name, the “Office’s intended functions are being carried out”.

(Quoted in Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Secrecy News, http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2002/11/112702.html ,

Rumsfeld’s press interview can be consulted at:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2002/11/dod111802.html ).

A number of government agencies and intelligence units –with links to the Pentagon-remain actively involved in various components of the propaganda campaign. Realities are turned upside down. Acts of war are heralded as “humanitarian interventions” geared towards “regime change” and “the restoration of democracy”. Military occupation and the killing of civilians are presented as “peace-keeping”. The derogation of civil liberties –in the context of the so-called “anti-terrorist legislation”– is portrayed as a means to providing “domestic security” and upholding civil liberties.

The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush’s National Security Doctrine

Spelled out in the National Security Strategy (NSS), the preemptive “defensive war” doctrine and the “war on terrorism” against Al Qaeda constitute the two essential building blocks of the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign.

The objective is to present “preemptive military action” –meaning war as an act of “self-defense” against two categories of enemies, “rogue States” and “Islamic terrorists”:

“The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration. …America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.

…Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction (…)

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, (…). To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”12

(National Security Strategy, White House, 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html )

To justify pre-emptive military actions, the National Security Doctrine requires the “fabrication” of a terrorist threat, –ie. “an outside enemy.” It also needs to link these terrorist threats to “State sponsorship” by the so-called “rogue states.”

But it also means that the various “massive casualty-producing events” allegedly by Al Qaeda (the fabricated enemy) are part of the National Security agenda.

In the months building up to the invasion of Iraq, covert ‘dirty tricks’ operations were launched to produce misleading intelligence pertaining to both Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Al Qaeda, which was then fed into the news chain.

In the wake of the war, while the WMD threat has been toned down, Al Qaeda threats to ‘the Homeland’ continue to be repeated ad nauseam in official statements, commented on network TV and pasted on a daily basis across the news tabloids.

And underlying these manipulated realties, “Osama bin Laden” terrorist occurrences are being upheld as a justification for the next phase of this war. The latter hinges in a very direct way:

1) the effectiveness of the Pentagon-CIA propaganda campaign, which is fed into the news chain.

2) The actual occurrence of “massive casualty producing events” as outlined in the PNAC

What this means is that actual (“massive casualty producing”) terrorist events are part and parcel of military planning.

Actual Terrorist Attacks

In other words, to be “effective” the fear and disinformation campaign cannot solely rely on unsubstantiated “warnings” of future attacks, it also requires “real” terrorist occurrences or “incidents”, which provide credibility to the Washington’s war plans. These terrorist events are used to justify the implementation of “emergency measures” as well as “retaliatory military actions”. They are required, in the present context, to create the illusion of “an outside enemy” that is threatening the American Homeland.

The triggering of “war pretext incidents” is part of the Pentagon’s assumptions. In fact it is an integral part of US military history.(See Richard Sanders, War Pretext Incidents, How to Start a War, Global Outlook, published in two parts, Issues 2 and 3, 2002-2003).

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had envisaged a secret plan entitled “Operation Northwoods”, to deliberately trigger civilian casualties to justify the invasion of Cuba:

“We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington” “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.” (See the declassified Top Secret 1962 document titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba”16

(See Operation Northwoods at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NOR111A.html ).

There is no evidence that the Pentagon or the CIA played a direct role in recent terrorist attacks, including those in Indonesia (2002), India (2001), Turkey (2003) and Saudi Arabia (2003).

According to the reports, the attacks were undertaken by organizations (or cells of these organizations), which operate quite independently, with a certain degree of autonomy. This independence is in the very nature of a covert intelligence operation. The «intelligence asset» is not in direct contact with its covert sponsors. It is not necessarily cognizant of the role it plays on behalf of its intelligence sponsors.

The fundamental question is who is behind them? Through what sources are they being financed? What is the underlying network of ties?

For instance, in the case of the 2002 Bali bomb attack, the alleged terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiah had links to Indonesia’s military intelligence (BIN), which in turn has links to the CIA and Australian intelligence.

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament –which contributed to pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war– were allegedly conducted by two Pakistan-based rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Pure”) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (“Army of Mohammed”), both of which according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) are supported by Pakistan’s ISI.

(Council on Foreign Relations

 http://www.terrorismanswers.com/groups/harakat2.html, Washington 2002).

What the CFR fails to acknowledge is the crucial relationship between the ISI and the CIA and the fact that the ISI continues to support Lashkar, Jaish and the militant Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen (JKHM), while also collaborating with the CIA.

(For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Fabricating an Enemy, March 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO301B.html )

A 2002 classified outbrief drafted to guide the Pentagon “calls for the creation of a so-called ‘Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group’  (P2OG), to launch secret operations aimed at “stimulating reactions” among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction — that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to ‘quick-response’ attacks by U.S. forces.” (William Arkin, The Secret War, The Los Angeles Times, 27 October 2002)

The P2OG initiative is nothing new. It essentially extends an existing apparatus of covert operations. Amply documented, the CIA has supported terrorist groups since the Cold War era. This  “prodding of terrorist cells” under covert intelligence operations often requires the infiltration and training of the radical groups linked to Al Qaeda.

In this regard, covert support by the US military and intelligence apparatus has been channeled to various Islamic terrorist organizations through a complex network of intermediaries and intelligence proxies. In the course of the 1990s, agencies of the US government have collaborated with Al Qaeda in a number of covert operations, as confirmed by a 1997 report of the Republican Party Committee of the US Congress.

(See US Congress, 16 January 1997,

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/DCH109A.html ).

In fact during the war in Bosnia US weapons inspectors were working with Al Qaeda operatives, bringing in large amounts of weapons for the Bosnian Muslim Army.

In other words, the Clinton Administration was “harboring terrorists”. Moreover, official statements and intelligence reports confirm links between US military-intelligence units and Al Qaeda operatives, as occurred in Bosnia (mid 1990s), Kosovo (1998-99) and Macedonia (2001).

(See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalisation, The Truth behind September 11, Global Research, 2003, Chapter 3,

The Bush Administration and NATO had links to Al Qaeda in Macedonia. And this happened barely a few weeks before September 11, 2001, Senior U.S. military advisers from a private mercenary outfit on contract to the Pentagon, were fighting alongside Mujahideen in the terrorist attacks on the Macedonian Security forces. This is documented by the Macedonian press and statements made by the Macedonian authorities. (See Michel Chossudovsky, op cit).

The U.S. government and the Islamic Militant Network were working hand in glove in supporting and financing the National Liberation Army (NLA), which was involved in the terrorist attacks in Macedonia.

In other words, the US military was collaborating directly with Al Qaeda barely a few weeks before 9/11.

Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI)

It is indeed revealing that in virtually all post 9/11 terrorist occurrences, the terrorist organization is reported (by the media and in official statements) as having “ties to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda”. This in itself is a crucial piece of information. Of course, the fact that Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA is neither mentioned in the press reports nor is it considered relevant to an understanding of these terrorist occurrences.

The ties of these terrorist organizations (particularly those in Asia) to Pakistan’s military intelligence (ISI) is acknowledged in a few cases by official sources and press dispatches. Confirmed by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), some of these groups are said to have links to Pakistan’s ISI, without identifying the nature of these links. Needless to say, this information is crucial in identifying the sponsors of these terrorist attacks. In other words, the ISI is said to support these terrorist organizations, while at same time maintaining close ties to the CIA.

September 11

While Colin Powell –without supporting evidence-pointed in his February 2003 UN address to “the sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network”, official documents, press and intelligence reports confirm that successive US administrations have supported and abetted the Islamic militant network. This relationship is an established fact, corroborated by numerous studies, acknowledged by Washington’s mainstream think tanks.

Both Colin Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, who in the months leading up to the war casually accused Baghdad and other foreign governments of “harboring” Al Qaeda, played a direct role, at different points in their careers, in supporting terrorist organizations.

Both men were implicated –operating behind the scenes– in the Irangate Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration, which involved the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contra paramilitary army and the Afghan Mujahideen. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Expose the Links between Al Qaeda and the Bush Administration,

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO303D.html )

Moreover, both Richard Armitage and Colin Powell played a role in the 9/11 cover-up. The investigations and research conducted in the last two years, including official documents, testimonies and intelligence reports, indicate that September 11 was an carefully planned intelligence operation, rather than a act conducted by a terrorist organization. (For further details, see Centre for Research on Globalization, 24 Key articles, September 2003)

The FBI confirmed in a report made public late September 2001 the role of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence. According to the report, the alleged 9-11 ring leader, Mohammed Atta, had been financed from sources out of Pakistan. A subsequent intelligence report confirmed that the then head of the ISI General Mahmoud Ahmad had transferred money to Mohammed Atta. (See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization, op.cit.)

Moreover, press reports and official statements confirm that the head of the ISI, was an official visit to the US from the 4th to 13th of September 2001. In other words, the head of Pakistan’s ISI, who allegedly transferred money to the terrorists also had a close personal relationship with a number of senior Bush Administration officials, including Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, whom he met in the course of his visit to Washington. (Ibid)

The Antiwar Movement

A cohesive antiwar movement cannot be based solely on the mobilization of antiwar sentiment. It must ultimately unseat the war criminals and question their right to rule.

A necessary condition for bringing down the rulers is to weaken and eventually dismantle their propaganda campaign.

The momentum of the large anti-war rallies in the US, the European Union and around the world, should lay the foundations of a permanent network composed of tens of thousands of local level anti-war committees in neighborhoods, work places, parishes, schools, universities, etc. It is ultimately through this network that the legitimacy of those who “rule in our name” will be challenged.

To shunt the Bush Administration’s war plans and disable its propaganda machine, we must reach out to our fellow citizens across the land, in the US, Europe and around the world, to the millions of ordinary people who have been misled on the causes and consequences of this war.

This also implies fully uncovering the lies behind the “war on terrorism” and revealing the political complicity of the Bush administration in the events of 9/11.

September 11 is a hoax. It’s the biggest lie in US history.

Needless to say, the use of “massive casualty producing events” as pretext to wage war is a criminal act. In the words of Andreas van Buelow, former German Minister of Technology and author of The CIA and September 11:

“If what I say is right, the whole US government should end up behind bars.”

Yet it is not sufficient to remove George W. Bush or Tony Blair, who are mere puppets. We must also address the role of the global banks, corporations and financial institutions, which indelibly stand behind the military and political actors.

Increasingly, the military-intelligence establishment (rather than the State Department, the White House and the US Congress) is calling the shots on US foreign policy. Meanwhile, the Texas oil giants, the defense contractors, Wall Street and the powerful media giants, operating discreetly behind the scenes, are pulling the strings. If politicians become a source of major embarrassment, they can themselves be discredited by the media, discarded and a new team of political puppets can be brought to office.

Criminalization of the State

The “Criminalization of the State”, is when war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide “who are the criminals”, when in fact they are criminals.

In the US, both Republicans and Democrats share the same war agenda and there are war criminals in both parties. Both parties are complicit in the 9/11 cover-up and the resultant quest for world domination. All the evidence points to what is best described as “the criminalisation of the State”, which includes the Judiciary and the bipartisan corridors of the US Congress. .

Under the war agenda, high ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military, the US Congress and the Judiciary have been granted the authority not only to commit criminal acts, but also to designate those in the antiwar movement who are opposed to these criminal acts as “enemies of the State.”

More generally, the US military and security apparatus endorses and supports dominant economic and financial interests – i.e. the build-up, as well as the exercise, of military might enforces “free trade”. The Pentagon is an arm of Wall Street; NATO coordinates its military operations with the World Bank and the IMF’s policy interventions, and vice versa. Consistently, the security and defense bodies of the Western military alliance, together with the various civilian governmental and intergovernmental bureaucracies (e.g. IMF, World Bank, WTO) share a common understanding, ideological consensus and commitment to the New World Order.

To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems like WMDs) must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled. More generally we must reverse the “free market” reforms, dismantle the institutions of global capitalism and disarm financial markets.

The struggle must be broad-based and democratic encompassing all sectors of society at all levels, in all countries, uniting in a major thrust: workers, farmers, independent producers, small businesses, professionals, artists, civil servants, members of the clergy, students and intellectuals.

The antiwar and anti-globalisation movements must be integrated into a single worldwide movement. People must be united across sectors, “single issue” groups must join hands in a common and collective understanding on how the New World Order destroys and impoverishes.

The globalization of this struggle is fundamental, requiring a degree of solidarity and internationalism unprecedented in world history. This global economic system feeds on social divisiveness between and within countries. Unity of purpose and worldwide coordination among diverse groups and social movements is crucial. A major thrust is required which brings together social movements in all major regions of the world in a common pursuit and commitment to the elimination of poverty and a lasting world peace.

 

Photos of GBM event in Berlin, click here

The German Text was published by Junge Welt: Vortrag von Michel Chossudovsky Neuordnung der Welt Der Krieg der USA um globale Hegemonie (Teil 1)

Die Gesellschaft zum Schutz Von Bürgerrecht Und Menschenwürde (GBM), 10 December 2003
www.globalresearch.ca 15 December 2003

The original URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO312A.html

Posted in USAComments Off on America’s War for Global Domination. The Roadmap of Conquest

France: A Nation’s Conscience and the Question of Terror

The French presidential election being contested by Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen has provided analysts with much to ponder over the direction offered by two candidates who are presenting themselves to the electorate as non-establishment outsiders.

Points of demarcation over foreign and domestic policy often posit Macron and Le Pen respectively as  representing “internationalism” versus “nationalism” and of “centrism” against “neo-fascism”.

Elections also provide a platform for grappling with national existential anxieties. The French nation is one which is perennially involved in soul-searching; of presenting a rationale for its nationhood and the ‘mission’ it has within the global community of nations and cultures. Such soul-searching has included periods in history concerned with the ceding of global power and influence to the Anglo-Saxon nations, the experience of defeat and temporary occupation by Germany during World War Two, the loss of empire and more recently the impact on national identity of immigration from non-white and particularly Muslim lands.

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

One constant in these episodes of national meditation has been the matter of re-asserting pride in La Grande Nation. The restoration of national pride as well as the reassertion of national independence formed the backdrop to President de Gaulle’s resistance to the irresistible rise of the American empire which saw de Gaulle evicting Nato from its original headquarters in Paris, removing France from the military command hierarchy of the United States dominated Nato and maintaining a nuclear deterrence capability independent of America.

But Gallic pride has often blinded its people to facts and realities. For instance, the Gaullist-inspired narrative of the French Resistance having liberated France during the Second World War has been definitively exposed as a myth. It was pride and with the objective of underscoring her nationalist credentials that Marine Le Pen recently claimed that France was not to blame for the round-up and deportation of Jews during that war.

Her statement contradicted the 2009 ruling of a French high court which held France

“responsible for damages caused by actions which did not result from the occupiers’ direct orders, but facilitated deportation from France of people who were victims of anti-Semitic persecution.”

The disconnect between national sentiment and reality continues to the present day.

While many French may wish to perceive themselves as an independent nation only somewhat impeded by obligations imposed by its membership of the European Union, the truth is that France has lost a great deal of control over its foreign policy.

President Nicolas Sarkozy

For one, France’s decision under President Nicolas Sarkozy to reintegrate into all structures of Nato in 2009 has effectively put it under direct American influence. Far from representing, as Sarkozy put it, a

“strengthening of our sovereignty”,

France’s mutation to a certain kind of vassalage was exposed in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis.

An American stage-managed coup d’etat on Russia’s border created the conditions for a Russian reaction -the annexation of Crimea- which was interpreted as Russian aggression; an act that warranted the imposition of sanctions.

The imposition of American-directed sanctions under the auspices of the European Union forced France to cancel a multi-billion dollar sale of warships to the Russians. Sanctions have also proved harmful to French agriculture. In early 2017, the former forerunner in the presidential race, Francois Fillion declared the regime of anti-Russian sanctions to be “pointless”.

An exchange between Macron and Le Pen during the recent debate in the forthcoming presidential run-off also provides evidence of an inability on the part of many of the French to be self-critical and to appraise the realities of their subservience to external interests.

When Le Pen accused Macron of being weak in regard to the threat of Jihadists in the midst of the country -vowing that she would make France safer by expelling all foreign suspects- Macron, not unreasonably, responded by noting that a great many terrorists were in fact French and that France needed to examine its own conscience for letting that happen.

Much of the media viewed that as an own goal by Macron which perceived Macron to be making France as responsible for the situation as the terrorists. The public reaction was as unfavourable to Macron as was the reaction to his comments made earlier this year castigating France for its colonial history in Algeria which he described as a “crime against humanity”.

If the French are still resistant to the idea of acknowledging responsibility for facilitating the deportation of Jews and waging brutal wars in their colonial territories to suppress the right to self-determination, they appear equally resistant in present times in acknowledging their part in facilitating the United States-led wars of aggression in the era of the so-called ‘war on terror’.

After taking the lead in protesting the US-led invasion of Iraq which was accomplished under the false pretext of removing Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, France resumed a role of supporting the United States in a number of ill-fated military adventures which have only served to stir the cause of jihadism.

President Nicolas Sarkozy and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

Even before Sarkozy re-integrated France into Nato’s military command structure, French troops served in Afghanistan. The French air force took the lead in bombing Libya to smithereens, in the process overthrowing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and creating the circumstance of lawlessness that has allowed the country to be taken over by jihadi-supporting Islamists as well as becoming the staging post for invasions of swarms of migrants heading to parts of Western Europe including France.

The war in Syria has provided the impetus through which the numbers of homegrown Jihadists has expanded as well as enabling an increase in the numbers of European-bound refugees. Yet, many refuse to acknowledge France’s part in this self-inflicted crisis.

The revelation in 2013 by Roland Dumas, France’s former foreign minister, that the war in Syria was the result of an operation which was pre-planned by Western intelligence agencies provides a great deal of illumination.

While France may have been the dominant colonial power in Syria, its interest in overthrowing the secular government of Bashar al-Assad is not readily apparent. If an argument can be made that French policy is based on following the dictates of its ally, the United States, an equally persuasive argument can be made of French policy toward the Middle East being framed by the needs of the state of Israel.

As Dumas related,

“In the region (i.e. the Middle East), it is important to know that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance…and I have this from the former Israeli prime minister who told me “we’ll try to get on with our neighbours, but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed.”

The influential French Jewish umbrella organisation CRIF is implacably opposed to the government of Syria. In 2008 it denounced a decision by then President Sarkozy to invite Assad to National Day celebrations although at a 2012 dinner hosted by the organisation Sarkozy predicted that the regime of Assad would fall. Sarkozy, who would be publically critical of his successor Francois Hollande’s perceived weakness in failing to militarily attack Syria, was alleged to have been inspired to intervene in Libya by the French Zionist media intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy.

It was Levy who, before an audience of the first National Convention of the CRIF in November of 2011, claimed that

“it is as a Jew that I participated in the political adventure in Libya. I would not have done it if I had not been Jewish. I wore my flag in fidelity to my name and my loyalty to Zionism and Israel.”

When bombs explode and bullets are fired during episodes of terroristic violence on French soil, anti-Muslim sentiment is ratcheted up while critical commentary related to the policies pursued by the French state which have arguably contributed to the cycle of violence is correspondingly suppressed.

But it was revealed in 2012 that France had funded Syrian rebels. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of militias described as rebel factions in Syria have an Islamist agenda. Many of those militias portrayed as ‘secular’ have close working arrangements with more overtly Islamist ones who in any case have consistently proved to be militarily stronger and in many documented incidents have acquired Western supplied munitions and equipment from other rebel factions whether consensually or by force. In 2014, President Francois Hollande confirmed that France had delivered arms to Syrian rebels.

Mohamed Merah, the alleged perpetrator of terror attacks in Toulouse and Montauban was believed to have been a double agent working for French intelligence. Merah was not the first or last Islamist apparently under the radar of French intelligence who nonetheless managed to leave and re-enter France with relative ease even after travelling to war zones or countries which are hotbeds of jihadist activities.

In November 2015, the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafri revealed that an attempt made two years earlier by the Syrian government to share the names of French citizens fighting in Syria was rebuffed by the French authorities.

The truth is that France has slavishly followed the United States-led policy of using Islamist insurgents as proxies in overthrowing secular Arab regimes. In doing so, France has been complicit in providing the cover used by the United States to intervene in the affairs of Muslim nations which in turn has provided the circumstances through which many young Muslims have been radicalised into becoming terrorists and jihadist insurgents. These wars have also contributed to an increase in refugees from those affected nations.

The institution of anti-terrorism laws covering state-sanctioned surveillance of citizens as well as the curtailment of freedoms through the evolution of a perpetual state of emergency have arguably effectively brought the republic to an end.

France’s resolute support for intervention in Syria does not come with the promise of any substantive political or economic benefits. While some among the French elite view it as a recolonisation project that will reassert French grandeur in the region, the proceeds to be obtained from the destruction of Syria will be largely acquired by other state actors including Israel which has claims on Syrian territory and is also anxious to profit from economic opportunities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The largely negative response to Emmanuel Macron’s call for the French to examine their conscience once again demonstrates a recurring blind spot in a nation with a historical predilection for self-examination, and the costs to its national interests are all too apparent.

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Macron and Le Pen: Two Faces of the Same Con

It is sad that a nation defined by a great revolution has come to this: the docile copycat of a pseudo-ideological struggle at play elsewhere between globalism and nationalism. It is sad that in the country of Danton, Mirabeau, Montesquieu and de Gaulle millions have become resigned to their fate and submissive like farm animals. It is sad when lions behave like sheep, but it doesn’t have to be that way in France. The French electoral system and its two-round presidential election gave citizens a lot of options for their big-ticket item.

Yet, after the first round, from either impulses dictated by anger and fear, or some convoluted Byzantine calculus, the French people have once again shot themselves in the foot and embraced their own collective submission in the old adage: plus cela change, plus c’est la même chose. It seems that, regardless of the country, the handful of kingmakers of the global corporate elite finds ways to con the citizenry into dead-end choices, ways to breed an eternal status quo that serves their interests and places their servile politicians in apparent positions of power. In a global economic system where eight men own as much as one half the world population, income and wealth have been siphoned upward at an alarming rate. Banker Nathan de Rothschild once bluntly said,

“I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the British Empire on which the sun never sets. The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply.”

Anti-establishment Rothschild man

One of Emmanuel Macron’s keys to success in the first round of the French presidential election was to pose as a political outsider. Let us keep in mind that he was a member of the Socialist Party and also Minister of Economy and Finance for two years in the unpopular Hollande administration. As a matter of fact, he was groomed at the exclusive École Normale d’Administration (ENA), which is the hallmark of almost all the so-called French top public servants. Pretending to be an outsider is his best campaign trick. In 2016, Macron shrewdly did a bait-and-switch and started his own En Marche! Party, to distance himself from Hollande. One cannot help but notice the Orwellian irony of a former Rothschild banker’s party name echoing a verse and the mood of the revolutionary song “La Marseillaise.”

As expressed by last year’s movement Nuit Debout, France, like most countries worldwide, is fed up with its conventional political class. The French term raz le bol captures this notion best and also implies that, at any given point, spillovers will occur in the form of social unrest.

Many in the international press, for the sake of analogy and simplification, compare Emmanuel Macron to Hillary Clinton and Marine Le Pen to Donald Trump but, as a matter of fact, Macron’s trajectory is similar to that of Trump in the sense of pretending to be anti-establishment and not to belong to the conventional political class. Like Trump, Macron’s recipe for success is the made-up charm of the fake political outsider. Of course Macron is purely an establishment tool, a company man just like Trump, and he will be France’s next president, handpicked by the Rothschild family. The country’s political system has become moribund and democracy not much more than a con game. Case in point: regardless of the French people’s fate, the global financial market was already salivating after the first round at the prospect of a Macron victory.

Vichy patriot

After five years of the corporate technocrat fake-socialist François Hollande’s presidency, many in France were hoping that Jean-Luc Mélenchon would be in the second round against Marine Le Pen to give the country a real-left political option.

image left Macron and Hollande

But Mélenchon came in fourth, behind Fillon, Le Pen, and Macron respectively third, second, and first. What was remarkable about the French presidential first round is that the top four candidates came within less than a four-percent margin bracket in the polls, in a range of 19 to 23 percent of the votes. The third-placed François Fillon has already urged his supporters to vote Macron. The leader of La France Insoumise, Mélenchon, who has denounced the elections as a charade and said that France was on its way to become a banana republic, came up short of endorsing Macron but said that he would vote in the second round and that it will be under no circumstance for Le Pen. It happened before in France: a sort of union sacrée is shaping up to prevent the Front National’s candidate from getting elected.

Many French people feel that they now have a moribund democracy, at least as far as the executive branch of government, which has been reduced to a lesser of two evils scenario all too familiar to American voters. It is incredibly ironic that Marine Le Pen has lately styled herself after General de Gaulle, and even called her supporters patriots, after shamelessly seeking some form of foreign endorsement from both Moscow and Washington. Le Pen’s fans in Russia and the United States, as well as her sometimes gullible French supporters, should remember that the Front National ancestor, called Action Française, was the ideological force behind the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy in the 1930s. Older generations of French people will not forget that her father and former Front National leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was on the side of the military junta that wanted to topple the French Republic in a coup during the war in Algeria.

Marine Le Pen has said that

“Macron is the candidate of the oligarchy and I am the candidate of the people.”

She is right about Macron, but wrong in her case, as she still represents La France aux Français, a notion with a clearly noxious Vichy aftertaste. Le Pen’s fundamental xenophobia makes her a candidate of exclusion in a country that has become a racial and, to some extent, a cultural melting pot brought in the form of the poetic justice of colonialism in reverse. One look at the French national football team, largely composed of players with African or North-African ethnic roots, is a testimony of France’s multi-racial reality. Le Pen might drape herself under the patriotic tricolor, but she still exudes the stench of the World War II pro-German Vichy government.

Ideological con: globalism versus nationalism

The French presidential election is getting worldwide attention like no other French election ever before. This is because it superficially opposes the Rothschild-certified globalist Macron to the nationalist Le Pen. In what seems to be the universal political debate of our times, the nationalist alternative right, which supported Trump and now supports Le Pen, fails to understand that you can only be anti-globalist if you are also anti-capitalist, or at least anti-corporate imperialist. In the US the remaining Trump supporters cheer for Le Pen and attack Macron. This is a conveniently exotic distraction from the fact that Trump has fully embraced the neocon globalist ideology of his predecessors and is therefore getting high marks from the likes of John McCain and Paul Wolfowitz. It’s amazing what a few bombs dropped randomly on Syria and Afghanistan can do for a president’s popularity!

The victim of the global con game is democracy itself, an electoral chance to the real left. Far-right nationalists are on the rise worldwide because they have adopted an anti-globalist discourse partially stolen from the left, and also because the global domination of finance has become so extreme that it is now a form of dictatorship. Macron, who will be elected president of France, is a servant of this global corporate imperialism, but so is Trump despite his original nationalistic and non-interventionist rhetoric of a supposed outsider. Plus cela change, plus c’est la même chose, until la France Insoumise decides to forget the ballot box and take its revolt into the streets.

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Free Speech in Canada Suppressed and Negated

NOVANEWS

In October, 2011, Canadian peace and human rights activist Ken Stone attended a conference in Iran dealing with Apartheid, Israel’s illegal oppression of Palestinians.

In January, 2012, Stone wrote an op-ed for the Hamilton Spectator, in which he criticized the Canadian government for demonizing Iran, which the Canadian government continues to falsely describe as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Subsequently, in January 2013, two Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officers made an unannounced visit to Stone’s home, questioning him about his trip to Iran. Stone felt anxious and intimidated. He felt that the visit amounted to a suppression of his Constitutional rights of freedom of expression. Consequently, he filed a complaint with the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

SIRC dismissed Stone’s complaint, but recommended that the spy agency revisit its interviewing policy, and chided the officers for their sloppiness with note-taking.

Stone, for his part, takes solace from the fact that, despite the dismissal, the case highlighted for a broader Canadian audience, that talking to agents in the aforementioned circumstances is voluntary.

Image result for ken stone canadian

Canadian peace and human rights activist, Ken Stone

All of this was covered by Canada’s mainstream media. But the broader issue of the irony of the incident was entirely omitted.

The irony is this. Whereas Canada continues to falsely condemn Iran as being a state sponsor of terrorism, Canada itself is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Stone explains in an article, dated November 12, 2013, entitled Canada’s Harper Government Supports Covert Mercenary War On Syria, Funds al Qaeda Affiliated Groups that

if CSIS is looking to find state sponsors of terrorism, they should look much closer to home – in Ottawa, in fact, at 26 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s residence. Under the Harper government, Canada played a significant role in organizing the proxy war for regime change in Syria, in which terrorist mercenaries from over 80 countries (including Canada) have taken part. In December 2011, for example, the Canadian ambassador to Tunisia, Glenn Davidson, was tasked with organizing the pre-conference to the founding conference of the so-called “Friends of Syria” Group of Countries (FSG).

The FSG was founded a few months later in Tunis in February 2012, with Hilary Clinton sitting in the front row. The FSG was the international group of countries that organized, recruited for, co-ordinated, and funded the proxy war for regime change in Syria, which resulted in nearly half a million deaths and widespread destruction inside of Syria. In June 2013, the Harper government hosted a meeting of the Economic Sanctions Subcommittee of the FSG in Ottawa. That meeting, which Canada chaired, created a regime of broad international economic sanctions against Syria, which were illegal because the sanctions did not have the approval of the United Nations Security Council. However, the FSG illegal sanctions were very effective. They rendered hundreds of thousands of Syrians jobless, put the price of food out of reach of working people, and turned hordes of Syrians into refugees.

The Harper government also hosted representatives of the so-called Free Syrian Army in Ottawa and foreign minister, John Baird, appeared several times abroad in public with FSA “rebel” leaders.

The FSA referenced in the above passage are sectarian terrorists. In 2013, they and their al Qaeda counterparts occupied and committed atrocities in the ancient, primarily Christian town of Maaloula Syria, and in the same year they committed genocide in Latakia, Syria, fighting shoulder to shoulder with other al Qaeda affiliated terrorists. “Moderate” terrorists never existed in Syria.

Mainstream media (MSM) messaging about Syria amounts to criminal war propaganda, and Canada’s direct support and sponsorship for all of the terrorists infesting Syria — where there were none prior to the West’s dirty war on this non-belligerent country – constitutes the supreme crime of War of Aggression according to Nuremberg Standards.

Without a doubt, Canadians’ freedom to express – and learn — the truth is almost completely suppressed in this country. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya writes in The Globalization of NATO that

(t)he mainstream media is a vital instrument for inundating society with the views of the most powerful groups and organizations. It helps shape the views of what the sociologist C. Wright Mills has termed a mass society, one where most members are not involved in expressing their opinions as outputs, but only receiving opinions as instructions and as a form of social programming …

Stone’s case presents a window through which we can better perceive the blindness that the warmongering elites are imposing on us through their apparatus of social programming and deception.

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The Revitalization of Detroit: Disempowerment and Displacement Serve as Major Impediments

NOVANEWS
Prestige projects financed through tax captures and forced removals of African Americans breeds rejection of existing development models
 

On May 12 the much-heralded QLINE will be launched along Woodward Avenue in the city of Detroit.

This transportation vehicle looks like a hybrid of both a street car and an extended bus which operates on rails.

The project has been touted by the corporate media as the latest edition in a number of other business ventures which ostensibly represent the renaissance of the city.

However, if this effort had undergone any serious analysis, evaluation and debate among the people of Detroit it would have never been funded at the level of the official cost of $140 million. Any debate and electoral referendum in favor of the QLINE would have failed if the desire was to meet the needs of the people of Detroit.Image result for detroit qline

This QLINE scheme was ten years in the making when it was first broached in 2007 under the administration of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. There were persistent funding shortfalls until the federal government under the Department of Transportation, along with the State of Michigan agreed to provide assistance.

Nonetheless, it was the same federal government which reduced subsidies to municipalities in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession which brought massive cuts in public transportation services throughout the metropolitan Detroit area. The Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority (SMART) in response to federal cutbacks slashed routes which would take people from the central city to the suburbs and back. Within the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), whole routes were eliminated and dozens of bus lines were rescheduled to run less frequently providing no services at certain times of the day.

Such a policy does not provide the people of the city, documented as being the poorest of any other major urban center in the United States, with the public transport needs to travel to work, for shopping, medical visits and other necessities. Most of the people who are new residents in the Midtown and Downtown areas of Detroit own automobiles or utilize Uber, Lift and Zipcar.

Image result for joe louis arenaIn addition to the QLINE, there is the new hockey and basketball arena owned by Ilitch Holdings through the granting of free land, massive tax breaks and the transferal of public revenue to private interests. The Ilitch operation located on the edges of downtown was a totally unnecessary project since Joe Louis Arena on the riverfront was perfectly suited for the same sports activities. Joe Louis Arena, named after the legendary African American boxing champion of the 1930s and 1940s, is scheduled to be demolished with its land turned over to a private bond holding group which was involved in the forcing of the City of Detroit into financial ruin.

To build the arena which is to be accompanied by another entertainment and housing district for the partaking of wealthy white residents who are expected to re-locate and frequent these establishments, thousands of people were systematically forced out of the area previously known as the Cass Corridor. The Ilitch Holdings arena-entertainment complex is uncritically praised as a hallmark of the commitment of the billionaire ruling class to the rebuilding of the city.

The City of Detroit’s first white corporate-imposed mayor in 40 years, Mike Duggan, announced in late April that there was a new acquisition of land in the Cass Corridor, now often referred to as Midtown by the local business and government-funded news outlets, to the tune of $77 million in investments to construct a housing complex. Undoubtedly, if the trend continues for Midtown and Downtown apartments, lofts and condominiums, the prices are far above the level of affordability for the majority of the African American people who constitute over 80 percent of the population.

Although the Duggan publicity narrative about the latest Cass Corridor/Midtown site is that the location is vacant after the closing years before of the Wigle Recreation Center, its abandonment being a manifestation of the economic and social downturn in Detroit, a group says that it has already rejuvenated the location through a sporting association.

Image result for wigle recreation center

According to the Detroit News,

“The site is the home of ‘the Wig,’ a DIY skatepark built by Community Push three years ago, when [Derrick] Dykas says the area surrounding the Wigle Recreation Center was in disrepair. At that point, the center had been shut down for almost a decade, and left in its place was tall grass and trash.” (May 1)

This same report goes on to quote this local activist as saying,

“When we came and started building, we were picking up dirty needles, condoms, and there were kids that were right out here playing on recess while there’s guys shooting up in the building next door,’ Dykas said, pointing to a school across the street. We got them out of here. We made this place safe again.”

Such an occurrence as this illustrates clearly that none of the projects being promoted by the leading corporate interests now effectively running the municipal government are designed to encourage African Americans, Latinos, Middle Easterners and working class people in general to remain in the city. At present tens of thousands of owner-occupied homes across Detroit and Wayne County are slated for tax foreclosure.

Moreover, there is no documented proof that the proliferation of a small number of prestige projects can actually generate sustainable economic growth. Beyond the construction of the arena and high-priced housing units how many people will be able to benefits from the profits gained through the exorbitant rents charged by the landlords who are given tax breaks in such operations?

Poverty and Displacement: By-products of a Failed Policy

Despite the propaganda of the Duggan administration and his corporate backers, Detroit is still the most underdeveloped major municipality in the United States. The decline of the automotive industry (1975-2009) and its subsequent packaged-bankruptcy and restructuring, has not benefited the people of Detroit as a whole.

Image result for mike duggan

Left: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Car transportation was deliberately promoted in the city for decades. In 1956, the remaining street car lines which at one time had provided citywide and regional transportation links were pulled up at the aegis of the automotive industry. Nothing was ever implemented as an alternative for the needs of the working population and poor except the insufficient bus lines which have suffered from neglect and downsizing for years.

These factors are compounded by the predatory municipal lending practices of the financial institutions that ensnarled the declining population in unrepayable loans and interests-rate swap swindles. In 2013, under the undemocratic imposition of emergency management, the City of Detroit was forced into bankruptcy by a corporate law firm, Jones Day, in contravention of the electoral will of people throughout the state of Michigan.

Over 600 people with employment, residential and business interests in the city filed objections during the initial bankruptcy court proceedings before Judge Steven Rhodes in 2013. Yet Rhodes continued with the farcical process further transferring wealth from pensioners, the City of Detroit public assets and its homeowners to the same banks which engineered the economic crises.

Transportation, Housing and Education: The Keys to a People’s Revitalization

The Motor City Freedom Riders (MCFR), a grassroots organization which has advocated the development of a genuine regional transportation system in metropolitan Detroit, recently called for a demonstration on the opening day of service for the QLINE. MCFR will gather at the northern starting point of the QLINE on Woodward Avenue near Grand Boulevard early on the morning of May 12 to expose the utter waste of public resources and lack of practicability of such a venture.

In a May 2 statement issued by MCFR it emphasizes that,

“the region’s political and economic elite is breaking out the champagne to celebrate the QLINE, but they’ve shown little interest in a new push for real regional transit that will address the transit crisis and make a positive difference for bus riders and the broader public. If they refuse to act, we will…. The transit crisis is an issue which intersects with so many others: education, environmental health, access to employment, disability justice, economic development, climate change, racial equality, and independence for our elders, and so much more.”

When there is inadequate public transportation and a burgeoning housing crisis this can only lead to further population decline. During the census period of 2000-2010, the city of Detroit lost approximately 237,000 residents, one-quarter of its people. This was largely due to the elimination of industrial jobs and the targeting of the majority African American neighborhoods for predatory mortgage lending resulting in 100,000 foreclosures after 2006.

Image result for detroit moratorium now

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs has waged a campaign for the last nine years to halt both mortgage and property tax foreclosures in Detroit and around the state of Michigan. Federal Hardest Hit Funds, the pittance of the Congressional bailout monies allocated ostensibly to the people in late 2008, are not being utilized in Detroit to keep working families in the neighborhoods. These resources are misallocated for demolition purposes through the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA), a supposed quasi-public entity which is under Department of Justice investigation based upon its corrupt practices. The Duggan administration has pressured the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to redirect all funds from the Hardest Hit program to demolition furthering the displacement of Black and working class people. (www.moratorium-mi.org)

A restructured K-12 educational system transforming the Detroit Public Schools into a Detroit Community School District has not resolved the deterioration which under state-control for more than a decade resulted in the closure of over 250 buildings and the elimination of thousands of employees. There are more for-profit charter schools providing largely sub-standard education to Detroit youth than the public system.

It is impossible to revitalize a municipality without quality education being available to the families living there. The majority of students attending charter and public schools come from households which fall below the poverty line.

Until the questions of housing, public transportation, education and water services are seriously addressed there cannot be a genuine reconstruction of the city of Detroit. As an edict of the Duggan administration’s policy, some 18,000 households are scheduled for the termination of their water services over the coming weeks.

The policy orientation of Duggan is weighed heavily in favor of the wealthy conglomerates controlled by the likes of Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske and the Ilitch family. The banks work in conjunction with the local capitalist class to perpetually disempower the African American majority.

This reality is mirrored across the U.S. where increasing amounts of the wealth of American society is utilized for the enrichment of the corporate elites. Only a redistribution of wealth and empowerment of the working and oppressed peoples will remedy the situation creating a viable system of living and governance in the urban areas.

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Safe Zones in Syria: Astana’s Key to Political Settlement?

NOVANEWS
 

According to the director of the Kazakh MFA Department for Asia and Africa Aidarbek Tumatov, the Astana process of signing a new memorandum on tensions de-escalation zones will allow to stop bloodshed in Syria and initiate a new political dialogue.

The main points

According to the document at our disposal, 4 zones of the escalation of tensions are to be created in Idlib governorate, to the north of Homs, Eastern Ghouta and in the south part of Syria. The exact coordinates of the zones will be determined by guarantor states May 22. The working group will be created within five days.

It is expected that the usage of arms will be prohibited inside the zones and the humanitarian organizations will be provided with all the necessary assistance. The measures on restoring urban infrastructure, water supply and other life support systems will be also taken.

Along the de-escalation zones borders it is planned to create lines of demarcation to prevent ceasefire violations. There also should be checkpoints for civilians, delivery of goods and humanitarian aid.

It was also said that Iran, Russia and Turkey act as a guarantor of peace and security in the region and at the same time support the territorial integrity and independence of Syria.

Opposition’s view

Inside Syria Media Center tried to find out opposition’s point of view on this issue.

Qadri Jamil

The head of the Syrian opposition’s Moscow Group Qadri Jamil said, that all sides support the idea of creation such zones and their presence can actually stop bloodshed and create favorable conditions for political settlement in Syria.

Mahmoud al-Hamza

Mahmoud al-Hamza, a member of the Syria National Council also stated that he welcomes any steps aimed at reducing violence as the Syrians are tired of war and yearn for peace. He stressed that such an initiative should be implemented.

Along with this, some analysts express their concern regarding that it’s not clear which foreign troops may be placed in Syria to provide security for the four-zone perimeter in the country. Some observers call upon strengthening the security for civilians not only inside the safe zones.

Analogies

Not so long ago the U.S. put up an initiative to create “no-fly zones” and “safe zones” in Syria while Turkey offered to set up refugee zones along the Syrian-Turkish border. However, there were concerns that Washington and Ankara may support the Syrian opposition under the pretext of a humanitarian operation. According to CNN, Donald Trump is ready to discuss and even adopt the initiative.

The two previous scenarios of informal zones of influence according to ISMC and XAirForces

Conclusion

To sum up, such zones is a decisive step towards the settlement of the conflict. It’s important that their creation goes side by side with the political dialogue. Meanwhile, a lot will depend on how scrupulously the parties will comply with the memorandum.

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The “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”: Humanist Peacekeeping or…?

On Sussex Drive in Ottawa, just a few steps away from the enormous US embassy, stands the Peacekeeping Monument. The structure titled “Reconciliation” was erected to honour the more than 125,000 Canadians who have served in United Nations peacekeeping forces since 1947. The current article documents one particular instance –the February 2004 intervention in Haiti – where the historical record conflicts with the “good peacekeeper” narrative communicated by the Canadian government, reiterated by the corporate media, and represented by “Reconciliation.”

Seeing themselves as a generous people, most Canadians also consider that their noble ideals are reflected in the foreign policy of their government. The importance of nurturing this positive image both at home and abroad is well ingrained in the national psyche and, every now and again, surveys are conducted to confirm its resilience.[1]

Walter Dorn, Associate Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, writes that:

For Canadians, peacekeeping is about trying to protect people in mortal danger… about self-sacrifice as well as world service. These notions of courage and service resonate with the public, and politicians across the political spectrum have readily adopted the peacekeeping cause… Canadian support for its peacekeeping role has been so strong for so long that it has become a part of the national identity.[2]

Canada’s intervention in Haiti is represented and legitimized in such terms. On the very first line of the section of its website devoted to Haiti, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) boasts how

“Canada has committed to allocate $555 million over five years (2006-2011) to reconstruction and development efforts in Haiti.” Such “special consideration” is given to Haiti because “[t]he Government of Canada is committed to helping the people of Haiti improve their living conditions.”[3]

Unequivocally endorsing the government’s line as reiterated by its Ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher, Maclean’s Magazine answers its own question in an April 2008 feature article:

“it’s easy to forget that what Boucher says is true. Haiti is a less dangerous, more hopeful place than it has been for years, and this is the case, in part, because of the United Nations mission there and Canada’s involvement in it.”[4]

The Ottawa Initiative

In contrast to Maclean’s pronouncement, a growing number of international critics insist that what is happening in Haiti is instead an odious imperialist crime in which Canada is shamefully complicit.[5] These skeptics argue that in January, 2003 the Canadian government organized a meeting to plan the illegal and violent overthrow of the democratically-elected government of the small Caribbean nation for political, ideological and economic reasons.[6] The meeting, called the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti,” was held at the government’s Meech Lake conference centre in Gatineau, Québec, on January 31 and February 1, 2003, one year before the February 29, 2004 coup d’état.

The extraordinary decisions taken at this gathering of non-Haitians were first leaked to the general public in Michel Vastel’s March 2003 article, published in French-language magazine l’Actualité. Under the prophetic title “Haiti put under U.N. Tutelage?,” Vastel described how, in the name of a new Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, parliamentarians of former colonial powers invited to Meech Lake by Minister Denis Paradis, decided that Haiti’s democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, had to be overthrown, a Kosovo-like trusteeship of Haiti implemented before January 1, 2004 while the US- subservient Haitian Army, the Forces armées d’Haiti (FAdH), would be reinstated alongside a new police force. The UN trusteeship project itself first surfaced in 2002 as mere rumor (or trial balloon?) in the neighboring Dominican Republic’s press.

Denis Paradis

While Canadian soldiers stood guard over Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, the president of Haiti and his wife were put on an airplane by US officials before dawn on February 29, 2004. According to world-renowned African-American author and activist Randall Robinson, who interviewed several eye-witnesses, the aircraft was not a commercial plane. No members of the Aristide government and no media were at the airport as Mr. and Mrs. Aristide were effectively abducted and taken to the Central African Republic against their will, following a refueling stop in the Caribbean island of Antigua.

***

In its December 10, 2004 report titled “An Economic Governance Reform Operation,” the World Bank bluntly declared that (thanks to the coup),

The transition period and the Transitional Government provide a window of opportunity for implementing economic governance reforms with the involvement of civil society stakeholders that may be hard for a future government to undo.”[7]

Within the same post-coup period, said transitional government adopted a budget plan baptised “interim cooperation framework” (ICF) which outlined extensive privatization measures, accompanied by massive layoffs of public sector employees. This was done without the benefit of any legal sanction from a Haitian parliament. De facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, who was hand-picked by the U.S. to implement the ICF, promptly began the distribution of $29 million dollars to remobilized soldiers and paramilitaries whom the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had recruited and trained for the coup over the previous years in neighboring Dominican Republic and whom Latortue dubbed “freedom fighters”. The announcement of special pay to Latortue’s “freedom fighters” was made within days of a December 6, 2004 announcement of new “aid to Haiti” by the Canadian government.[8]

As of September 2008, most of the objectives attributed to the Ottawa Initiative have come to fruition. Haiti’s democratically–elected government has been overthrown, the country has been put under UN tutelage, new armed forces have been formed, and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still in exile. As for Canada’s promised “improvement to living conditions”, such improvements can easily be demonstrated for the over 9000 foreign troops (police and military) whose salaries have in many instances doubled during their tour with the UN force in Haiti (MINUSTAH). However, as far as the overwhelming majority of Haitians are concerned, there are no reasons to rejoice. In the past five years, they have been subjected to an unprecedented wave of kidnappings, rapes and murders, among other forms of urban violence. The Haitian state has been further weakened and destabilized. The trauma and social divisions of the Haitian people have been greatly exacerbated as a consequence of the coup. Understandably, many charge that the R2P doctrine has proven to be “a nightmarish and violent neo-imperialist experiment gone terribly mad” conducted on Haitians in blatant contravention of international law.[9]

At the time of the first leak of the Ottawa Initiative meeting to the public, Canadians of Haitian origin warned Prime Minister Jean Chrétien not to engage in such “a foolish adventure in neocolonialism.”[10] But these warnings were to no avail. After several changes in government in Ottawa, there is no indication of any change in policy. On the contrary, Canadian officials are steadfastly implementing the same ill-fated policy while disingenuously diverting blame for failure onto its victims. Does it not speak volumes that in Haiti, as in foreign-occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, kidnappings and the “brain drain” are two phenomena that have markedly intensified with the arrival of the foreign troops?[11]

Four shaky pillars

The post-coup regime in UN-occupied Haiti rests on four unstable pillars: money, weapons, class solidarity and racism.

Money: Those who call the shots in Haiti today are those who control the bank accounts. Contrast, for example, the $600 million budget of the UN force with that of the Republic of Haiti. The latter grew from $300 million in 2004-05 to $850 million in 2005-06 to 1.8 billion in 2006-07 and finally to $2 billion in 2008-09, with the caveat that above 60% of the budget is dependent on foreign sources and their associated conditions. President Préval’s pleas for MINUSTAH tanks to be replaced by construction equipment remain as futile as they are incessant.[12] The “grants” allocated to Haiti at never-ending donors’ conferences are largely directed towards the donor’s own selected non-governmental organizations.

In response to last year’s food riots, Préval vowed in a speech delivered in Creole that he would no longer subsidize foreign rice imports but would instead stimulate the production and consumption of Haitian rice. This statement was retracted in a matter of hours, and Préval announced instead that he was in fact using the country’s meager resources to subsidize imported (American) rice to reduce the retail price by 16 percent.[13] The balance of power being what it is in these complex relationships, Haiti is expected to accept without a whimper the poisoned gifts “donated” by her generous benefactors in the name of “peace” or “humanitarian aid.” I recall how in 1997, when confronted with the poor quality of a foreign “expert’s” report submitted to the Minister, a junior Canadian NGO staff person, who was supposedly working in support of Haiti’s Ministry of Environment, arrogantly interjected that “beggars cannot be choosers.”

Weapons: MINUSTAH, comprised of some reputedly ruthless forces of repression including those of Brazil, China, Jordan and the U.S. has no rival on the ground in terms of sheer fire power. MINUSTAH’s marching orders are especially clear following the “suicide” of its former military leader, Brazilian General Bacellar, who was found dead on January 7, 2006, following a night of heated exchange with members of Haiti’s business elite who were openly critical of him for being too “soft” with “slum gangs”, “bandits” or “chimères.” MINUSTAH serves the role of place holder for the defunct Haitian army (FAdH), the traditional tool by which Haiti’s elites and their foreign allies have kept the “black masses” under control.

In the context of a country with an estimated 210,000 firearms (the vast majority of which remain securely in the hands of its ruling families and businesses)”, writes Peter Hallward, “it may be that a ‘chimère’ arsenal of around 250 handguns never posed a very worrying threat.”[14]

The dramatic increase of weapons entering Haiti by way of Florida immediately after the 2004 coup suggests that the powers in place aren’t willing to take any chances.

Class solidarity: By caricaturing the base of support for the toppled Lavalas government as a violent underclass of “chimères” (monsters), mainstream media inside and outside of Haiti helped the coup forces to gather much sympathy. The attack on Lavalas was systematic, but the casualties of the coup went far beyond a single political party. Today, there remains not a single political party in Haiti which is independent of the foreign forces. Préval himself declares that he does not belong to a political party.[15] The Lespwa platform under which he was elected is already in shambles. Hallward provides an in-depth analysis of 20 years of efforts deployed by the US and its allies to destroy Haiti’s emerging popular democracy. The devastating impact of the assassinations in the 1990s of key figures of the progressive bourgeoisie linked to Lavalas, such as the Izmery brothers, attorney Guy Malary, agronomist and journalist Jean Dominique, are key to understand the class struggle still unfolding in Haiti. The web of connections between the Port-au-Prince-based ambassadors, NGO directors, food importers and sweatshop owners, all of whom live in the same neighborhoods, send their kids to the same schools and have developed an acute sense of (Apartheid-like) community is an important element that remains to be thoroughly researched, documented and analyzed. Meanwhile, mainstream media continues to propagate the stereotypes which sustain this mentality of a “besieged class” that must be protected from “savage others.”[16]

In order to meet the class-based “responsibility to protect” they have assumed in post-Aristide Haiti, Canada, the US, the UN and the Préval Government are steadfastly enforcing undemocratic and illegal practices such as the maintenance in African exile of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the exclusion of his Fanmi Lavalas party from the Senatorial elections of April 19, 2009[17]. Clearly, rather than contribute to inter-Haitian reconciliation, social appeasement or political stability, such practices further exacerbate political tensions among a people that has heroically struggled for peace but have consistently been denied the benefit of genuine international brotherhood.

Racism: The lingering influence of white supremacist ideology in world affairs is seldom referred to in mainstream publications about Haiti. Yet, it is a key pillar of the Ottawa Initiative and the R2P doctrine on which it was predicated. Indeed, the racial features of the conflict brewing in Haiti are quite visible.

At the international level, the anti-coup and pro-Haitian sovereignty positions adopted by members of the US Congressional Black Caucus, the nations of the Caribbean and Africa, have consistently stood in sharp contrast to those in the US White House, Canada and Europe.

In Haiti, the black majority stands in opposition to a foreign-backed minority represented by the likes of white American sweatshop owner André Apaid, his brother-in-law and unsuccessful presidential candidate Charles Baker, American Rudolph Boulos, his brother Reginald Boulos, Hans Tippenhauer, (uncle and nephew of the same name), Jacques Bernard, etc.[18]

The similarities abound with the 1915 US occupation of Haiti which resulted in the imposition of a string of light-skinned, U.S.-subservient, dictators ruling Haiti: Sudre Dartiguenave, Louis Borno, Elie Lesco, Louis Eugene Roy and Stenio Vincent. As in 1915-1934, members of Haiti’s black majority resisting the humiliating occupation of their land today are deemed to be a horde of “bandits” who endanger “private property.” Back in the 20th century the private property being protected by Yankee troops was mostly American. Today, MINUSTAH’s ‘responsibility to protect’ also extends to important Canadian investments such as Gildan Active Wear’s sweatshops and Ste-Geneviève Resources’ gold exploration concessions.[19]

In a research paper titled Defining Canada’s role in Haiti, Canadian Armed Forces Major J.M. Saint-Yves writes that:

While the solutions may sound colonial in nature it is clear that the endemic corruption of Haitian society will prevent the establishment of a sound economic solution to Haiti’s problems under Haitian control. Rather, foreign investment under foreign control is required to establish a new Haitian economy based on industries that will directly benefit the rural Haitian population”.[20]

As we will see in further detail, the “foreign control” Saint-Yves is calling for is already in place. But, it appears that the results of such racist and imperialist take-over have thus far proven to be the kind of ugly orphan that no one wants to officially claim as their own.

Documenting Canada’s Role

From the early hours of the coup, Haitian-American activist and attorney Marguerite Laurent has been a powerful and relentless voice denouncing the overthrow of the Aristide government and in documenting its consequences for thousands of people worldwide.

“If justice, and not power, prevailed in international affairs,” writes Laurent, “the coup d’état corporatocracy in Haiti, that is, the governments (US/France/Canada), international banks and rich multinational corporations, and their Haitian minions who funded the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government, would be paying reparations to the people of Haiti who lost and continue to lose loved ones, property, and limbs.”[21]

Ten days after the coup, Stockwell Day, then-foreign affairs critic for the Conservative opposition, declared in Parliament that

we have an elected leader Aristide. We may not have wanted to vote for him… But the (Canadian) government makes a decision that there should be a regime change. It is a serious question that we need to address. That decision was based on what criteria?”[22]

At first, the Liberal government attempted to cast doubt on whether the infamous coup-plotting meeting of January 31, 2003 ever took place. Records of a March 19, 2003 Senate hearing titled “Meeting on Regime Change in Haiti” include Senator Consiglio Di Nino inquiring about a “secret initiative referred to as the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” that is being led by the Secretary of State for La Francophonie.” The Senator asked:

“Can the leader of the government in the Senate tell us if this meeting actually took place?” to which Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs answered: “I cannot honestly say whether this meeting took place. I have no information whatsoever on such a meeting.”[23]

Since this exchange in the House of Commons, successive governments – Liberal and Conservative alike – have steadfastly pursued the agenda developed under “The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”, the minutes of which have yet to be made available as requested by New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson. Vancouver-based Journalist Anthony Fenton, who eventually obtained a severely edited set of documents concerning the meeting and its aftermath under Access to Information, wrote to the author as follows:

It remains a reasonable question to ask why these full, uncensored minutes haven’t been tabled in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. Since the coup, the same committee has heard Haiti-specific testimony on at least thirteen separate occasions. Between May and June of 2006, the Committee heard from over thirty ‘witnesses,’ in the course of conducting their ‘Study on Haiti.’ This resulted in the December 2006 tabling of the ‘Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canada’s International Policy Put to the Test in Haiti.’

Fenton notes that, of course, no reference to a coup or Ottawa Initiative is to be found in the Report or the Government’s response.

In “Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority,” written with colleague Yves Engler, Fenton documents various aspects of Canada’s involvement in the 2004 coup d’état.[24] Of particular note is the role CIDA played in both the destabilization campaign that prepared the way for the coup and the PR campaign which followed. In Damming the Flood, a book published by UK-based Canadian author Peter Hallward, Canada is deemed to have executed “its client functions in rare and exemplary fashion” in the eyes of the US, the ultimate leader of the multinational coup. “Canada’s foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew reportedly met with leading figures in the anti-Aristide opposition and insurgency shortly before the February coup and, as we have seen,” Hallward continues, “CIDA provided significant financial assistance to pro-coup pressure groups like the National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR-Haiti) and SOFA.”[25]

Upon analysis, the case of CIDA’s funding to NCHR-Haiti is particularly disturbing in that it provides direct evidence of collusion between the highest level of Canadian government and a pro-coup NGO of much disrepute in the eyes of Haitians and international observers alike. NCHR-Haiti is said to have caused great harm to the cause of peace and justice in Haiti. Chiefly among NCHR-Haiti’s damages, critics often point to the wrongful jailing of Haiti’s Prime Minister Yvon Neptune for over two years on trumped-up charges that were – through the CIDA/NCHR-Haiti connection – essentially financed by Canadian tax-payers. NCHR-Haiti has been so discredited on account of the Yvon Neptune wrongful imprisonment scandal that its US-based parent organization demanded that it change its name, which has since been modified to Réseau national de défense des droits humains (RNDDH).

In his well-researched article “Faking Genocide,” Kevin Skerrett writes that:

Within days of the coup, accusations of Prime Minister Neptune’s responsibility for a major massacre, a “genocide” of 50 people, were published by a human rights organization called the National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR-Haiti)…The particular episode of violence and political killings for which Neptune was being blamed took place in the city of St. Marc on February 11 2004, during the three-week “death squad rebellion” that began February 5 in Gonaives and was then spreading through the north of Haiti. The attacks launched through this “rebellion” culminated in the coup of February 29.[26]

Documents obtained in 2007 through Anthony Fenton’s Access to Information Request (CIDA A-2005-00039) reveal that, in the name of the victims of coup violence, NCHR-Haiti submitted a $100,000 project to CIDA on Friday March 5, 2004. By Monday March 8, Mr. Yves Petillon, Chief of Canadian Cooperation at the Embassy in Haiti, received a recommendation from his staff to approve the funding and on Thursday, March 11 (within less than 5 working days from the original submission), Mr. Pétillon signed and approved the 10 page grant request. As someone with over 17 years of experience in the federal grant funding world, the author can attest that this is an unusually rapid response time.

In their March 5 funding proposal, the applicants wrote:

“Just as NCHR aided and assisted victims of the Lavalas regime, the organization has the obligation to do the same for Lavalas supporters now coming under attack.”

Yet, the same document confirms NCHR’s deliberate decision to limit the dates covered by the victims’ fund to February 9 through 29, 2004. Thus, they purposely exclude the victims of anti-Lavalas violence which peaked as the death squad “rebellion” hit Gonaives in the first days of February and in the days following Aristide’s removal on February 29, 2004. In addition, NCHR openly refused to enter the Bel Air neighborhood to investigate widespread reports of killings of unarmed Lavalas supporters by foreign occupiers in early March 2004.[27]

Two days after the coup, in an interview given to journalists Kevin Pina and Andrea Nicastro, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune declared:

“The resignation of the President is not constitutional because he did that under duress and threat. The chief of the Supreme Court was brought here into my office by representatives of the international community. I was not invited or present when he was sworn in”.[28]

In sharp contrast to the CIDA-funded reports produced by NCHR-Haiti, the above statement goes a long way to explain the true motivations behind the illegal incarceration and torment suffered by Haiti’s constitutional Prime Minister during the post-coup period when “Haitian” justice and prison systems effectively fell under Canadian control. While Mr. Neptune was being punished in jail for his refusal to condone the coup, Paul Martin went to Haiti in November 2004. This was the first ever official visit of a Canadian Prime Minister to Haiti. During his visit, Martin, who dubs himself a proud champion of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, was quoted by Agence France Press as saying that “there are no political prisoners in Haiti.”[29]

Haiti’s Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune, was eventually freed under René Préval’s presidency. His release occurred after all risk was effectively cleared that dozens of illegally incarcerated top leaders of Fanmi Lavalas would register and win the foreign controlled elections of 2006.

Months after his return to Canada, Prime Minister Martin was publicly denounced by activist Yves Engler with the infamous heckle “Martin lies, Haitians die” for his shameful behavior in Haiti. During another episode of colourful protest, Engler decorated then Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew’s hands in the red of Haitian blood. For his efforts, Engler ended up spending several days in jail.[30]

What is becoming clearer is the hugely embarrassing contradiction between the multi-million dollar contributions which the Canadian government boasts having made to help fix the Haitian police and justice systems and the fact that said systems are deemed by several independent studies to be in much worse shape several years after the coup. The suggestion that this “failure” is solely that of Haitians also falls flat in the face of scrutiny. Consider the bold statements made by Chief Superintendent David Beer, Director General of International Policing at the RCMP at the April 3, 2008 meeting of The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development:

“Mr. Chair, I think the committee might be interested to know that although our numbers are down to a certain degree in the total number of almost 1,900 serving police officers, in the mission Canada continues to have very key roles. Indeed, Canada holds the position of deputy commissioner of operations, senior mentor and advisor, and senior mentoring unit for the police for the city of Port-au-Prince. We are in charge of the Bureau de la lutte contre le trafic des stupéfiants, the counter-narcotics unit. We’re also in charge of the anti-kidnapping unit. We also contribute to border management, the academy, and la formation de la police nationale. Also, we’re involved in a financial integrity and assets management project within the Haitian National Police. Finally, Mr. Chair, the vetting and registration of the HNP is also a responsibility of a Canadian police officer”. [31]

The conspicuous exchange of funds between CIDA and NCHR-Haiti which financed Mr. Neptune’s ordeal may never make the front pages of Maclean’s Magazine or the Globe and Mail. Generally speaking, Canadians meet with great surprise and disbelief the recurring corruption scandals involving their political elite. One of the cases currently in front of the courts involves former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who is accused of having accepted bribes in cash, while in office, from German arms dealer Karlheinz Shreiber. Many are shocked by the case. However, that the Mulroney-Shreiber deal in question allegedly involved the purchase of weapons destined to “peacekeeping” has attracted no special attention. If anything, it seems, Brian Mulroney stands to benefit from the “peacekeeping” connection that he volunteered about his dealings with the infamous arms dealer.

Peace Be Unto Them . . . With Tanks and Bullets

In fact, bloody foreign interventions dubbed ‘peacekeeping’ enjoy such a positive aura in Canada that para-governmental bodies such as FOCAL are openly calling for Canada to engage ever deeper in the imperialist adventure that is The Ottawa Initiative.

Source: www.focal.ca

It is this aura which inspires military figures such as Major Michael D. Ward to write that

“strong commitment to the sovereignty [and] independence … of Haiti is a crucial barrier to the international engagement required to rebuild and reform the Haitian state.”[32]

Such crude and condescending statements explain why the North-South Institute cautioned, as early as October 2005, that

“The Canadian government’s justification for the 2004 intervention in Haiti, without open debate from an R2P perspective, has damaged the R2P campaign, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.”[33]

The CIDA-funded think tank proceeds to lament how ‘peace-building’ in Haiti has been compromised by de facto collaboration with paramilitary leaders responsible for past human rights violations.

In the very document produced by the R2P Commission, it was boldly highlighted how governments engaged in such interventions must prove themselves to be very agile at spinning and controlling information.

“The key to mobilizing international support,” it states, “is to mobilize domestic support, or at least neutralize domestic opposition.”

Further, it highlights the crucial role that government-funded entities (wrongly referred to as ‘non-governmental agencies’ – NGOs) have to play in this regard:

“NGOs have a crucial and ever increasing role, in turn, in contributing information, arguments and energy to influencing the decision-making process, addressing themselves both directly to policy makers and indirectly to those who, in turn, influence them.”[34]

It thus falls to heavily-funded NGOs to ensure that racism is seen as humanism and imperialism as peacekeeping – no matter the native body count. It is hardly surprising, then, that in the eyes of people of African-descent worldwide, Canada’s “good” image has suffered a considerable blow as a result of the 2004 coup and its aftermath.

Commenting on the food riots that rocked Haiti in April 2008, veteran journalist John Maxwell, wrote in the Jamaica Observer:

“Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery…Mr Bush and Mr Colin Powell and a mixed gaggle of French and Canadian politicians had decided that freedom and independence were too good for the black people of Haiti. Lest you think I am being racist, there is abundant evidence that the conspiracy against Haiti was inspired by racial hatred and prejudice…I have gone into this before and I will not return to it today . . . Suffice it to say that the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called ‘civilised world’, decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in the world”.[35]

Conclusion

According to Walter Dorn, there exist two groups of advocates of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

“The idealist or internationalist school often clashes with the realpolitik school, whose members are usually called realists (although not necessarily realistic),” says the military professor. “Canadian realists hold that Canada’s contributions do not arise from the purity of our souls or national benevolence, but because of basic national interest.” Dorn tells us that, for the realists, “Canada’s large contributions to the UN’s successive missions in Haiti are also explained in part by a desire to assist the US in the continental backyard.

Speaking about his own ‘civilized world’s responsibility to protect ‘others’ in early 2003, then-Minister for la Francophonie Denis Paradis was quoted by journalist Michel Vastel as follows:

I do not want to end up like Roméo Dallaire…” “Time is running out because, it is estimated that Haiti’s population could reach 20 million in 2009,” observed Vastel, before proceeding to quote Minister Paradis describing Haiti’s 99 percent African population as “a time bomb which must be stopped immediately! ”[36]

It is frightening for a historically-conscious person, especially one of African descent, to observe how the logic of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘White man’s burden’ emanates so easily from the minds of high-ranking Canadian officials and intellectuals, and then is translated into foreign policy that is implemented with brute force. As Sherene Razack writes in Black Threats, White Knights,

Peacekeeping today is a kind of war, a race war waged by those who constitute themselves as civilized, modern and democratic against those who are constituted as savage, tribal and immoral.”[37]

Luigi Einaudi

A report issued by the International Commission argues that

“there is much direct reciprocal benefit to be gained in an interdependent, globalized world where nobody can solve all their own problems: my country’s assistance for you today in solving your neighbourhood refugee and terrorism problem, might reasonably lead you to be more willing to help solve my environmental or drugs problem tomorrow.”[38]

One is indeed well advised to ask the crucial question: What are they talking about as far as R2P is concerned? This so-called responsibility is to protect who from what? Are soldiers being mobilized to protect vulnerable populations from massive human rights horrors or to protect the interests of world elites from threats such as Haiti’s perceived black “time bomb”, or Europe from the advances of the wretched of the earth arriving by way of Morroco and Spain?

While seeking the answer to that pivotal question, I am mindful of the shocking statement made by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, in front of myself as well as several other witnesses at Haiti’s Hotel Montana, on December 31, 2003:

“The real problem with Haiti” said Luigi Enaudi, “is that the ‘International Community’ is so screwed up & divided that they are actually letting Haitians run Haiti.

Less than two months after Einaudi uttered these words, US Marines entered the residence of Haiti’s president, while Canadian RCMP soldiers secured the airport to facilitate the coup and occupation of Haiti. Since that fateful night, Haitians are no longer running Haiti and the bloodbath the foreign invaders claim to have intervened to avoid has reached unprecedented proportions, with full involvement of the UN forces engaged in what can only be defined as class and race warfare. Meanwhile, the world still awaits a serious report on the circumstances surrounding the death of U.N. Commander Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar, at Hotel Montana, on January 7, 2006.

Bill Graham & Colin Powell

“there is a limit to how much we can constantly say no to the political masters in Washington. All we had was Afghanistan to wave. On every other file we were offside. Eventually we came onside on Haiti, so we got another arrow in our quiver.”

Bill Graham, Former Canadian Foreign Minister in January 2007 interview cited in Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (Toronto, ON: Viking Canada, 2007), pp. 126-27

What Should Canadian Policy Towards Haiti be? – beyond figurehead politics… making a real paradigm shift!

Contrary to the IMF style of “aid”, the Cuba-Venezuela model is, in essence, what activists for peace with justice have been advocating for several years. Unfortunately, successive Canadian governments have chosen to ignore this message and, instead, have multiplied workshops, conferences, meetings (usually, with little or no Haitian participation) to coordinate even more “aid” to Haiti. This is done in blatant disregard of the evidence that Haiti has, for far too long, been “aided to death” by its self-appointed foreign friends.

The appalling poverty found in Haiti is no recent phenomenon due to “bad governance,” as is often posited by apologists for the violent conquest of this continent. The endemic vulnerability of the African and First Nations populations of the Americas stems from 500 years of inhumane colonial and neo-colonial policies. A strategy consisting in piling up money and weapons, while patching up a brick school, a dispensary and a few prisons in return for shameless waving of countless Canadian flags, is no solution at all.

Commenting the current world hunger crisis, Jeffrey Sachs suggested that the long-term solution involves putting brakes on the U.S. ethanol industry, creating a $5-billon fund for agriculture, and financing better research and development for crop technologies in the developing world.[39] Laudable goals, indeed! However, judging from the Haitian experience, governments of enriched societies who built their wealth on racial slavery, theft of indigenous land and shameful trickery of the world financial system, can hardly be counted upon to make such a radical 180 degree conversion. It will necessitate a mass mobilization of peoples worldwide to force these urgently needed changes. Reversing the situation requires us all to force the enriched states to adopt new policies and approaches, rather than rehashing the same old racist practices, masked or not, with clever and cynical humanitarian rhetoric. Their challenge is to first stop doing harm, and then repair the damage already done. Our challenge is to consistently practice genuine people-to-people solidarity.

NOTES

[1] “World Sees Canada as Tolerant, Generous Nation,” Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research (November 12, 2006).

[2] Walter Dorn, “Canadian Peacekeeping: Proud Tradition, Strong Future?” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 12, No. 2, (Fall 2005)

[3] Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) website [www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/CIDAWEB/acdicida.nsf/EN/JUD-12912349-NLX]

[4] Michael Petrou, “Haiti: Are we helping?,” Mclean’s (April 7, 2008)

[5] See Marguerite Laurent, “It’s Neither Hope nor Progress when the International Community is Running Haiti,” Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, [www.margueritelaurent.com] and Aaron Lakoff, “The Politics of Brutality in Haiti: Canada, the UN and “collateral damage,” Dominion Paper (January 21, 2006).

[6] Anthony Fenton and Dru Oja Jay, “Declassifying Canada in Haiti” Global Research [www.globalresearch.ca]; and Canada Haiti Action Network website [www.canadahaitiaction.ca]

[7]Report No. 30882-HT, “Program Document of TheInternational Development Association to the Executive Directors for an Economic Governance Reform Operation”, World Bank, (December 10, 2004)

[8] DeWayne Wickham, “Payoffs to Haiti’s renegade soldiers won’t buy peace,” USA Today (January 3, 2005)

[9] Jean Saint-Vil, “Please Fix Canada’s Policy Towards Haiti,” Letter to Minister Peter McKay, (May 29, 2008) [www. archivex-ht.com]

[10] Jean Saint-Vil. “New Canadian Premier Gets Sound Advice on Haiti,” Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, (February 6, 2006) [www. windowsonhaiti.com]

[11] Five LDCs — Haiti, Cape Verde, Samoa, Gambia and Somalia — have lost more than half their university-educated professionals in recent years because these professionals have moved to industrialized countries in search of better working and living conditions. UNCTAD, “Least Developed Countries Report 2007: Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation for Development” [www.unctad.org] (July 19, 2007)

[12] President René Préval’s Inaugural Speech, Haiti, (May 14, 2006) [www.margueritelaurent.com]

[13] The New York Times appears to have been better connected to the real powers running the show in Haiti. Because of its precipitous attribution of the price reduction measure to Mr. Préval, the Times issued a correction note dated April 10, 2008, in which one reads “A picture caption last Thursday about rioting in Haiti over high food prices misstated President Rene Préval’s position on the issue. He urged Haitians to become agriculturally self-sufficient; he did not say he would urge Haiti’s congress to cut taxes on imported food.” See “Haiti’s President Tries to Halt Crisis Over Food,” New York Times (April 10, 2008).

[14] Cited in Robert Muggah, “Securing Haiti’s Transition,” Small Arms Survey Occasional Paper no. 14 (October 2005)

[15] In interview with Haitian President René Préval, March 2006, Ottawa.

[16] “An Inside Look at Haiti’s Business Elite, An Interview with Patrick James,” Multinational Monitor (January/February 1995)

[17] HAITI: Fanmi Lavalas Banned, Voter Apprehension Widespread, By Jeb Sprague, IPS (april 17, 2009)

[18] Jean Saint-Vil, “Haiti’s ‘Ambassador’ to Canada” Znet (June 9, 2005) [www.zmag.com]

[19] Reed Lindsay, “Haiti’s future glitters with gold,” Toronto Star (July 21, 2007)

[20] Maj. J.M. Saint-Yves, “Defining Canada’s Role in Haiti”, (Toronto: Canadian Forces College Master of Defence Studies Research Project, 2006), [http://wps.cfc.forces.gc.ca]

[21] Marguerite Laurent, “Debt Breeds Dependency Equals Foreign & Corporate Domination” [www.margueritelaurent.com], (January 4, 2005)

[22] Hansard,House of Commons, 37th Parliament, 3rd Session (March 10, 2004)

[23] Hansard, Debates of the Senate, 2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
 (March 19, 2003)

[24] “Using NGOs to Destroy Democracy and the Canadian Military Connection,” excerpt from: Canada in Haiti Waging War on the Poor Majority by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton. Fernwood Publishing, 2005

[25] Peter Hallward, “Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment”, Verso Books, 2007

[26] Kevin Skerrett, “Faking Genocide: Canada’s Role in the Persecution of Yvon Neptune,” Znet (June 23, 2005) [www.zmag.org]

[27] Tom Reeves, “Haiti’s Disappeared,” Znet [www.Zmag.org] (May 5, 2004)

[28] Kevin Pina and Andrea Nicastro, “Interview with Prime Minister Yvon Neptune,” Haiti Action (March 2, 2004) [www.haitiaction.net]

[29] “Canada in Haiti for long run, says PM,” Caribbean Net News (November 19, 2004)

[30] Marcella Adey and Jean Saint-Vil, “Human Rights worker arrested for heckling Prime Minister Paul Martin” globalresearch.ca (December 4, 2005)

[31] Hansard, 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, Number 021 “Evidence” Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, (April 3, 2008)

[32] Major Michael T. Ward, “The Case for International Trusteeship in Haiti” Canadian Forces Journal, vol. 7, no. 3 (Autumn 2006)

[33] Stephen Baranyi, “What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era?” North-South Institute , (October 2005)

[34] ICISS (IBID)

[35] John Maxwell, “Is Starvation Contagious?” Jamaica Observer (April 13, 2008)

[36] Michel Vastel, “Haiti mise en tutelle par l’ONU?” L’Actualité, (March 15, 2003)

[37] Sherene H. Razack, “Black Threats & White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeing, and the New Imperialism”, University of Toronto Press, (2004)

[38] ICISS, “Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty” (page 71), [www.iciss.ca] (December 2001)

[39] Sinclair Stewart, “Facing a food crisis, optimist finds hope in the dismal science,” The Globe and Mail (Wednesday April 30, 2008)

Posted in Canada, HaitiComments Off on The “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”: Humanist Peacekeeping or…?

Neo-Nazi Network in German Army Exposed

The arrest of a German army officer suspected of plotting the assassination of leftist politicians and high-ranking state officials has exposed the operations of neo-Nazi forces at the highest levels of the German military (Bundeswehr).

The information that has emerged thus far indicates that the suspected officer-terrorist was part of a broader network of fascists within the Bundeswehr, and that his activities were known to his superiors and covered up by them.

Most astonishing is the official reaction to these alarming revelations. They have prompted an outpouring of anger in the German media and from the establishment parties directed not at the existence of this network and evidence of its toleration by high-level state forces, but at mild criticisms of the military by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Given the historic crimes of German imperialism in the 20th century and the current revival of militarism in Germany, it is remarkable how little attention has been paid to these developments in the American and international press.

Lieutenant Franco A., 28, was arrested last week after coming to the attention of Austrian police when he sought to retrieve a weapon hidden at the airport in Vienna. It quickly emerged that the officer had been leading a double life. In addition to his activities in the Bundeswehr, Franco A, who does not speak a word of Arabic, had registered as a Syrian refugee and been recognized as such.

He apparently intended to carry out a terror attack under a false flag. A police search of his home uncovered a list of possible targets, which included, together with leftist politicians and activists, Justice Minister Heiko Maas and former German President Joachim Gauck.

Franco A. did not operate alone. The police have recovered shells and handguns from a 24-year-old accomplice, who was also arrested. The Defence Ministry has informed the parliamentary defence committee that the arrested officer may be part of an ultra-right network within the Bundeswehr.

The reaction of the military leadership suggests that this network is far more extensive and reaches much higher than has thus far been revealed. Defence Minister von der Leyen cancelled a planned trip to the US and invited 100 high-ranking military officers to Berlin on Thursday “to discuss the implications and consequences of the accumulated cases in the Bundeswehr.”

It is now clear that, for some time, Franco A.’s superiors were aware of his fascistic views and shielded him. As far back as 2014, his graduate thesis at the French military university Saint-Cyr was rejected on the grounds that it was not a scholarly work, but rather “a radical nationalist, racist appeal,” calling for “existing conditions to be adapted to the alleged natural law of racial purity.” The responsible French general advised Franco A.’s German superiors to sack him, but the latter concluded that he was not a racist. They hushed up the case and promoted his military career.

The neo-Nazi views of the first lieutenant were an open secret in the French town of Illkirch, where he served in a Franco-German unit. Investigators from the Bundeswehr have found “indications of right-wing and racist ideas” in his room. In addition to a swastika carved on an assault rifle, they discovered pictures glorifying Hitler’s army, the Wehrmacht.

Racist and authoritarian views and the glorification of violence are not only widespread in the Bundeswehr, they are actively encouraged by its leaders. The military intelligence service is currently investigating 275 extreme right-wing suspects. These investigations are exercises in damage control. Charges were dropped against one soldier who placed a photo of a machine gun on the Internet with the caption:

“The fastest German asylum procedure: rejects up to 1,400 requests per minute.”

The tradition of Hitler’s Wehrmacht continues to be officially cultivated in the Bundeswehr. Many barracks bear the names of military officers who were implicated in the Nazis’ genocidal racial and war policies.

The universities of the Bundeswehr in Munich and Hamburg have repeatedly generated headlines by promoting right-wing extremism. In Munich, there was a controversy in 2011 surrounding the student magazine Campus when three of its editors expressed their support for the Conservative Revolutionary movement, one of the leading ideological forbears of the Nazis.

In Hamburg, the book Armee im Aufbruch (Army on the Move) was published in 2014 with contributions from sixteen officers who studied at the Bundeswehr University there and had combat experience in Afghanistan. The book is full of language typical of Nazi literature glorifying war.

The officers consider themselves to be an elite, opposed to a “hedonistic and individualistic” society focused on “self-gratification, consumption, pacifism and egoism,” a society that has no appreciation for the “striving for honour through great sacrifice,” for a “patriotic attitude to the people (Volk) and Fatherland” and for “courage, loyalty and honour.”

There was no protest against the book within the German political establishment. The right-wing, dictatorial standpoint it expressed is shared across the political spectrum.

When Defence Minister von der Leyen, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union, responded to the exposure of the Franco A. case by warning that

“the German army has an attitude problem and it apparently has weak leadership at different levels,” she provoked a storm of protest.

She may well lose her post, not because terror attacks on the former president and current ministers and members of parliament were planned from within the ranks of the Bundeswehr, but because she spoke out too sharply against it!

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Left Party are protesting the loudest against von der Leyen. SPD Chairman Martin Schulz accused the defence minister of lacking a sense of responsibility. SPD defence expert Rainer Arnold called on her to apologise to her troops. Former Deputy Juso (SPD Young Socialists) Chairman Lars Klingbeil accused von der Leyen of “stabbing hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the back.”

The Green Party defence expert Tobias Lindner declared,

“It is not the Bundeswehr’s fault if it is increasingly attractive to right-wing extremists.”

His colleague from the Left Party, Alexander Neu, proclaimed his opposition to placing all soldiers under general suspicion due to the case of Franco A.

These developments reveal the enormity of the swing to the right by the entire German ruling class and the advanced state of its campaign to again make Germany the hegemon of Europe and a world military as well as economic power. The deepening crisis of world capitalism and rising economic and geo-political tensions are tearing Europe apart and fracturing the Atlantic alliance, increasingly pitting Germany against the United States.

Under these conditions, German imperialism must seek to sanitize its criminal past and rewrite its history to rehabilitate fascism, as it transforms the Bundeswehr into a lethal force of professional killers, capable of waging war all over the world.

Claims that the German ruling class learned its lesson from the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazis, and that the military had purged itself, are exposed as myths.

In a commentary on Tuesday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung co-editor Berthold Kohler derided the “fantasy image” of the Bundeswehr “as a kind of missionary military that spreads the gospel of the German constitution so that the German spirit shall heal the world.” He wrote:

“Whoever sends soldiers into crises and wars must prepare themselves and the soldiers for the harshness and cruelty that awaits them.” Because the Bundeswehr has to teach its recruits “to fight and kill … it must be able to go to the limits of what is permissible in terms of hardship in training its fighting units.”

The spread of militarism into all spheres of society is an international phenomenon. In the US, Donald Trump, the most right-wing president in American history, has appointed generals to all the main security-related ministries, as American imperialism spearheads the drive to World War III. In France, heavily armed soldiers routinely patrol the streets since the imposition of a state of emergency a year and a half ago.

Posted in GermanyComments Off on Neo-Nazi Network in German Army Exposed

The omnipresent pressure to conform

NOVANEWS

Conformity

By Graham Peebles

It was the school holidays and there were lots of teenagers in my local park. I sometimes spot them meandering home, but I rarely see them en masse as it were. Blind to the bluebells, peacocks and glories of nature all around us, they were glued to their palm-sized screens. What were they so engrossed in – some kind of game or trivial video, a map of the park perhaps, unnecessary given the proliferation of signs? Are they texting, emailing, or trawling through the internet, or all of the above? If one did not know what these shiny seductive objects were, one might think that they controlled the person, rather than the other way round. And to a large degree they do.

For parents of teenagers, seeing groups of young people within a smartphone bubble, isolated from and, crucially, with no awareness of the environment around them or other people, is, I expect, commonplace. For me it was shocking. Equally startling and somewhat depressing was the herd-like behaviour. Where was the individuality here? Has the uniformity of the high street or shopping centre, the café or restaurant, hotel or housing development infiltrated the minds of human beings, young and not so young? So it would appear.

We’re no longer persons anymore, of course. We’re vessels of consumption into which stuff, mostly stuff we don’t need, can be endlessly poured.

There is tremendous pressure on everyone to conform to a particular stereotype, to be easily categorised as a certain type of person. The reasons are clear and predictably crude: to allow governments to build a database of who we are and what we think, and to enable advertisers to better target “consumers”. We’re no longer persons anymore, of course. We’re vessels of consumption into which stuff, mostly stuff we don’t need, can be endlessly poured.

The pressure to conform to a constructed ideal is perhaps most acute within youth culture: to look and dress in a particular way, act in a certain manner and want a specific lifestyle. Girls and young women are expected to be slim, beautiful, dressed in the latest high street fashions, which of course change with every season to maintain the consumer frenzy; they should be sexy and sexually active, glossy, as well as achieving high marks at school or university. For men or boys, the predominantly macho image presented on TV, in films, video games, etc. is perhaps even more prescriptive and inhibiting. The pressure is colossal: it is not accidental, and it is making lots of people, young and not so young, ill.

Independent thinking and creative exploration are key enemies of the forces behind this worldwide attack on true individuality, and so an assault on the creative arts is being waged in many developed countries. Under the spurious banner of “austerity” and “fiscal responsibility” – a set of far-right excuses to justify demolishing public services – funding to the creative arts – theatres, dance groups, opera, ballet – is being slashed. The scope of work groups can offer is reduced, admission prices, already too high, increased, further restricting access to a predominantly elitist world.

The problem with creative education from the point of view of those who want a drowsy, frightened population that won’t challenge the status quo too loudly or think of alternative ways of running society, is that it stimulates independent thought, allows for individuality and feeds anarchic discontent.

Education budgets are being attacked in many countries, and art education (together with social science and physical exercise) in schools is the first to be axed or drastically reduced – despite the fact that it improves students’ academic results. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “students who study art are four times more likely to be recognised for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance”. The problem with creative education from the point of view of those who want a drowsy, frightened population that won’t challenge the status quo too loudly or think of alternative ways of running society, is that it stimulates independent thought, allows for individuality and feeds anarchic discontent.

Conformity, together with fear, is the cornerstone of control, and the current education system in most developed countries drives both into children from beginning to end. Conformity and competition are built into the system; both are crippling and inhibiting, feeding fear, and conditioning the mind, not just for childhood and early adulthood but often for life. As Krishnamurti made clear in Education and the Significance of Life,

conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist [one’s] environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success… the search for inward or outward security, the desire for comfort – this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent understanding of life. With increasing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in.

And whatever fight there was in the man or woman to begin with is drained away.

Add to the inhibiting education environment in which many young people find themselves, a social media blanket of uniformity, mainstream media – TV, radio, crass gossip magazines, trashy tabloids and dishonest advertising selling a hollow materialistic life-style – and the many headed hydra pushing people to think and act in a certain way, begins to raise its ugly head above the sea of stress, self-harm, and suicide. The inability to express oneself’ naturally and freely for fear of being seen to be “different”, inevitably results in stasis of some kind, which may lead to so-called disruptive behaviour, or some form of disease, mental or physiological.

Of course, we all need to live within the moral codes agreed by society, but psychological and sociological conformity has nothing to do with respecting the laws and traditions of a country. They are to do with control and fear, and with the rise of the right that is now taking place throughout the world, such suppressive methods are set to become even more intense.

True individuality – the manifestation of our innate nature, not the distorted individuality that places selfish desire and ambition above the welfare of others, should be encouraged and fostered, and conformity in all its devious, pernicious forms called out and resisted.

Posted in EducationComments Off on The omnipresent pressure to conform


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