Archive | July 14th, 2017

Yemen: Court Battle Exposes UK-Saudi Arms Deals And Humanitarian Tragedy

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By Felicity Arbuthnot 

On Monday 10th July, a ruling was handed down by London’s High Court, which should, in a sane world, exclude the UK government ever again judging other nations’ leaders human rights records or passing judgment on their possession or use of weapons.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) lost their case to halt the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the case based on the claim that they may have been used to kill civilians in Yemen.

Anyone following the cataclysmic devastation of Yemen would think it was a million to one that the £3.3 Billion worth of arms sold by the UK to Saudi in just two years, had not been used to kill civilians, bomb hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, decimate vital and economic infrastructure and all necessary to sustain life.

In context, a survey released by the Yemen Data Project in September last year found that between March 2015 and August 2016 in more than 8,600 air attacks, 3,158 hit non-military targets.

How casual the slaughter is, Saudi pilots (as their British and US counterparts) apparently do not even know what they are aiming at. So much for “surgical strikes” – as ever:

Where it could not be established whether a location attacked was civilian or military, the strikes were classified as unknown, of which there are 1,882 incidents.

All those “unknown” killed had a name, plans, dreams, but as in all Western backed, funded or armed ruinations “it is not productive” to count the dead, as an American General memorably stated of fellow human beings.

In context, the survey found that:

One school building in Dhubab, Taiz governorate, has been hit nine times … A market in Sirwah, Marib governorate, has been struck 24 times.

Commenting on the survey, the UK’s shadow Defence Secretary, Clive Lewis, said:

It’s sickening to think of British-built weapons being used against civilians and the government has an absolute responsibility to do everything in its power to stop that from happening. But as Ministers turn a blind eye to the conflict … evidence that Humanitarian Law has been violated is becoming harder to ignore by the day.

Forty six percent of Yemen’s 26.83 million population are under fifteen years old. The trauma they are undergoing cannot be imagined.

The original CAAT Court hearing which took place was a Judicial Review in to the legality of the UK government’s arms sales to Saudi, held on 7th, 8th and 10th of February in the High Court.

CAAT stated, relating to the case:

For more than two years the government has refused to stop its immoral and illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia – despite overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen.

They also quoted Parliament’s International Development and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees, who opined in October 2016:

Given the evidence we have heard and the volume of UK-manufactured arms exported to Saudi Arabia, it seems inevitable that any violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law by the coalition have involved arms supplied from the UK. This constitutes a breach of our own export licensing criteria. (Emphasis added.)

UK supplied arms since the onset of the assault on Yemen are:

£2.2 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)

£1.1 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles,

countermeasures)

£430,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks.)

Contacting CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith I queried what “countermeasures” might be (point two.) He said technically, protective items.  However:

CAAT feels that the overwhelming majority will be bombs and missiles including those being used on Yemen.

On 5th June CAAT had pointed out some further glaring anomalies:

The last two months have seen three terrible terrorist attacks carried out in the UK. The attacks were the responsibility of those that have carried them out, and they have been rightly condemned.

However:

Last week it was revealed by the Guardian that the Home Office may not publish a Report into the funding of terrorism in the UK. It is believed that the Report will be particularly critical of Saudi Arabia.

Andrew Smith commented:

Only two months ago the Prime Minster was in Riyadh trying to sell weapons to the Saudi regime, which has some of the most abusive laws in the world. This toxic relationship is not making anyone safer, whether in the UK or in Yemen, where UK arms are being used with devastating results.

Nevertheless:

Delivering an open judgment in the High Court in London, Lord Justice Burnett, who heard the case with Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave, said: “We have concluded that the material decisions of the Secretary of State were lawful. We therefore dismiss the claim”.

CAAT called the ruling a “green light” for the UK government to sell arms to “brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers”.

Interestingly, in increasingly fantasy-democracy-land UK:

The Court (also handed down) a closed judgment, following a case in which half of the evidence was heard in secret on national security grounds.

What a wonderful catch-all is “national security.”

Moreover:

UK and EU arms sales rules state that export licences cannot be granted if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the equipment could be used to break International Humanitarian Law. Licences are signed off by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox. (Emphasis added.)

Mind stretching!

So the oversight of what constitutes a “clear risk” of mass murder and humanitarian tragedy, goes to the Minister whose Ministry stands to make £ Billions from the arms sales. Another from that bulging: “You could not make this up” file.

‘The case … included uncomfortable disclosures for the government, including documents in which the Export Policy Chief told the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, then in charge of licensing: “my gut tells me we should suspend (weapons exports to the country).”

‘Documents obtained by the Guardian showed that the UK was preparing to suspend exports after the bombing of a funeral in Yemen in October 2016 killed 140 civilians. But even after that mass murder, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, advised Fox that sales should continue, adding: “The ‘clear risk’ threshold for refusal … has not yet been reached.”

For anyone asleep at the wheel, Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is supposed to be the UK’s chief diplomat. Definition: “a person who can deal with others in a sensitive and tactful way. Synonyms: Tactful person, conciliator, reconciler, peacemaker.” Comment redundant.

‘CAAT presented “many hundreds of pages” of reports from the UN, European Parliament, Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International and others documenting airstrikes on schools, hospitals and a water well in Yemen, as well as incidents of mass civilian casualties.’

However, to further batter the mind:

The reports “represent a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the coalition has committed serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”, the Judges wrote. “However, this open source material is only part of the picture”.

In two eye-watering fox guarding hen house observations:

The Saudi government had conducted its own investigations into allegations of concern, the judges noted, dismissing CAAT’s concern that the Saudi civilian casualty tracking unit was working too slowly and had only reported on 5% of the incidents. The Kingdom’s “growing efforts” were “of significance and a matter which the Secretary of State was entitled to take into account” when deciding whether British weapons might be used to violate international humanitarian law.

So Saudi investigates itself and the Secretary of State overviews his own actions in the State profiting in £ Billions from seemingly indiscriminate mass murder and destruction.

There was “anxious scrutiny – indeed what seems like anguished scrutiny at some stages” within government of the decision to continue granting licences, wrote the Judges. But the Secretary of State was “rationally entitled” to decide that the Saudi-led coalition was not deliberately targeting civilians and was making efforts to improve its targeting processes, and so to continue granting licences.

Pinch yourselves, Dear Readers, it would seem we live in times of the oversight in the land of the seriously deranged.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith, said:

This is a very disappointing verdict and we are pursuing an appeal. If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

Every day we are hearing new and horrifying stories about the humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted on the people of Yemen. Thousands have been killed while vital and lifesaving infrastructure has been destroyed.

The case had exposed the UK’s “toxic relationship” with Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday 12th July, UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd again invoked “national security” (something Yemenis can only dream of in any context) and presented Parliament with a paltry four hundred and thirty word “summary” of the Report on the funding of terrorism, origins of which go back to December 2015.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott encapsulated the thoughts of many, telling Parliament:

 … there is a strong suspicion this Report is being suppressed to protect this government’s trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full.

Caroline Lucas, co-Leader of the Green Party said:

The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from – leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK.

Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Fallon condemned the refusal of the government to publish the Report as: “utterly shameful.”

Amber Rudd concentrated on pointing to individuals and organisations which might be donating, often unknowingly to: “ … inadvertently supporting extremist individuals or organisations.”

Peanuts compared to UK arms to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT’s appeal is to go back to the High Court and “If it fails, will go to the Court of Appeal” states Andrew Smith.

It also transpires that Saudi has dropped British made cluster bombs in Yemen, despite the UK being signatory to the 2008 Ottawa Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning their use, or assistance with their use. The Scottish National Party said it was a: “shameful stain on the UK’s foreign policy and its relationship with Saudi Arabia, as well as a failure by this government to uphold its legal treaty obligations”.

Final confirmation that the British government’s relations with Saudi over Arms and Yemen lies somewhere between duplicity and fantasy would seem to be confirmed in an interview with Crispin Blunt, MP., former army officer and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

In spite of the legal anomalies and humanitarian devastation, he assured the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse that the Saudis were “rigorous” in making sure there were no breaches of international law and adopted the sort of high standard of the British army.

In that case, the cynic might conclude, given the devastation caused by the British army in Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps it is not only arms and money that are the ties that bind the two countries, but scant regard for humanity itself.

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How Russia-gate Met the Magnitsky Myth

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By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

Near the center of the current furor over Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 is a documentary that almost no one in the West has been allowed to see, a film that flips the script on the story of the late Sergei Magnitsky and his employer, hedge-fund operator William Browder.

The Russian lawyer, Natalie Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and other advisers to Donald Trump Sr.’s campaign, represented a company that had run afoul of a U.S. investigation into money-laundering allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case and his death in a Russian prison in 2009. His death sparked a campaign spearheaded by Browder, who used his wealth and clout to lobby the U.S. Congress in 2012 to enact the Magnitsky Act to punish alleged human rights abusers in Russia. The law became what might be called the first shot in the New Cold War.

According to Browder’s narrative, companies ostensibly under his control had been hijacked by corrupt Russian officials in furtherance of a $230 million tax-fraud scheme; he then dispatched his “lawyer” Magnitsky to investigate and – after supposedly uncovering evidence of the fraud – Magnitsky blew the whistle only to be arrested by the same corrupt officials who then had him locked up in prison where he died of heart failure from physical abuse.

Despite Russian denials – and the “dog ate my homework” quality of Browder’s self-serving narrative – the dramatic tale became a cause celebre in the West. The story eventually attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a known critic of President Vladimir Putin. Nekrasov decided to produce a docu-drama that would present Browder’s narrative to a wider public. Nekrasov even said he hoped that he might recruit Browder as the narrator of the tale.

However, the project took an unexpected turn when Nekrasov’s research kept turning up contradictions to Browder’s storyline, which began to look more and more like a corporate cover story. Nekrasov discovered that a woman working in Browder’s company was the actual whistleblower and that Magnitsky – rather than a crusading lawyer – was an accountant who was implicated in the scheme.

So, the planned docudrama suddenly was transformed into a documentary with a dramatic reversal as Nekrasov struggles with what he knows will be a dangerous decision to confront Browder with what appear to be deceptions. In the film, you see Browder go from a friendly collaborator into an angry adversary who tries to bully Nekrasov into backing down.

Blocked Premiere

Ultimately, Nekrasov completes his extraordinary film – entitled “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes” – and it was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016. However, at the last moment – faced with Browder’s legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States, a situation that, in part, brought Natalie Veselnitskaya into this controversy.

Film director Andrei Nekrasov

As a lawyer defending Prevezon, a real-estate company registered in Cyprus, on a money-laundering charge, she was dealing with U.S. prosecutors in New York City and, in that role, became an advocate for lifting the U.S. sanctions, The Washington Post reported.

That was when she turned to promoter Rob Goldstone to set up a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. To secure the sit-down on June 9, 2016, Goldstone dangled the prospect that Veselnitskaya had some derogatory financial information from the Russian government about Russians supporting the Democratic National Committee. Trump Jr. jumped at the possibility and brought senior Trump campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, along.

By all accounts, Veselnitskaya had little or nothing to offer about the DNC and turned the conversation instead to the Magnitsky Act and Putin’s retaliatory measure to the sanctions, canceling a program in which American parents adopted Russian children. One source told me that Veselnitskaya also wanted to enhance her stature in Russia with the boast that she had taken a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump’s son.

But another goal of Veselnitskaya’s U.S. trip was to participate in an effort to give Americans a chance to see Nekrasov’s blacklisted documentary. She traveled to Washington in the days after her Trump Tower meeting and attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, according to The Washington Post.

There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill. Browder’s lawyers. who had successfully intimidated the European Parliament, also tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.

Their stand wasn’t exactly a profile in courage. “We’re not going to allow them not to show the film,” said Scott Williams, the chief operating officer of the Newseum. “We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen.”

In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that “A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides.” Heaven forbid!

One-Time Showing

So, Nekrasov’s documentary got a one-time showing with Veselnitskaya reportedly in attendance and with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary’s discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.

After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov’s documentary Russian “agit-prop” and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder’s misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using “facts highly selectively” and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin’s “campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act.”

The Post also misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov’s original idea for a docu-drama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder’s self-exculpatory story to a skeptic. But the Post’sdeception is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one got to see the film.

The Post concluded smugly: “The film won’t grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin’s increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky’s family.

“We don’t worry that Mr. Nekrasov’s film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions.”

The Post’s gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.

New Paradigm

The Post’s satisfaction that Nekrasov’s documentary would not draw a large audience represents what is becoming a new paradigm in U.S. mainstream journalism, the idea that it is the media’s duty to protect the American people from seeing divergent narratives on sensitive geopolitical issues.

Over the past year, we have seen a growing hysteria about “Russian propaganda” and “fake news” with The New York Timesand other major news outlets eagerly awaiting algorithms that can be unleashed on the Internet to eradicate information that groups like Google’s First Draft Coalition deem “false.”

First Draft consists of the Times, the Post, other mainstream outlets, and establishment-approved online news sites, such as Bellingcat with links to the pro-NATO think tank, Atlantic Council. First Draft’s job will be to serve as a kind of Ministry of Truth and thus shield the public from information that is deemed propaganda or untrue.

In the meantime, there is the ad hoc approach that was applied to Nekrasov’s documentary. Having missed the Newseum showing, I was only able to view the film because I was given a special password to an online version.

From searches that I did on Wednesday, Nekrasov’s film was not available on Amazon although a pro-Magnitsky documentary was. I did find a streaming service that appeared to have the film available.

But the Post’s editors were right in their expectation that “The film won’t grab a wide audience.” Instead, it has become a good example of how political and legal pressure can effectively black out what we used to call “the other side of the story.” The film now, however, has unexpectedly become a factor in the larger drama of Russia-gate and the drive to remove Donald Trump Sr. from the White House.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

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US looks to become major oil exporter

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RT 

The US may transform into one of the world’s top oil exporters in only a few short years due to its production increase of shale oil, an energy consulting group says.

The consultancy PIRA energy group has released a new forecast relating to the current boom of US shale oil production. The group has estimated that by 2020, US crude exports will rise to 2.25 million barrels a day. This means the production would grow to four times the amount of what was produced last year. The recent uptick of crude production in the US looks to weaken the strength of OPEC exporting countries, according to CNN Money.

This boom would put the US almost on the same level as giant oil exporters such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Jenna Delaney, an analyst at PIRA, said that “in the years ahead, these developments position the US to potentially be one of the largest exporters of crude oil in the world,” CNN reported.

Various American cities may play a big role in the success of the US export market. One city in Texas was named specifically. Delaney commented that “PIRA believes Corpus Christi is positioned to become an increasingly prominent area for US exports.”

She continued, “Corpus Christi’s proximity to the Eagle Ford formation and projected pipeline expansions connecting it to the Permian offer it access to cheap supplies, infrastructure projects, both private and public, will allow for greater export scale,” according to the Oil and Gas Journal.

There are rival countries keeping an eye on the situation in the US. OPEC, which encompasses 14 countries, was exporting an average of 25 million barrels a day in 2016. These countries stand to lose a lot due to the rise of American oil crude exports.

The US will look to rise in the ranks and start to diminish the influence of the organization in the next few years. Saudi Arabia, a top ranking member, was a top exporter last year. They sent 7.5 million barrels into other countries last year, according to CNN.

The uptick in US production of crude oil is very surprising considering the country had banned the exports way back in 1975 and only lifted the ban in 2015, according to the Economist.

An increase in the production of shale is the main reason for the surge, Delaney said. In 2014, “the industry was hit hard by a collapse in oil prices. Major producers of oil were forced to reduce investment and production declined overall,” CNN reported.

After the collapse, operators started to be more efficient in the industry. The production of US crude began to slowly grow to reach 9 million barrels a day in February 2017, the US Energy Information Administration reported, according to CNN.

As the US is supposed to ascend to the top of the ranks in crude exports, allegations have arisen that Russia is working with environmentalists in America in order to undermine the shale oil industry.

Representative Lamar Smith, (R-Texas), along with Randy Weber (R-Texas), have sent a letter, dated June 29, to US Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin, alleging that Russia is funding environmentalist groups who spoke out against health concerns related to shale drilling, in order to protect the independence of Russian gas imports. However, the letter states that there is “no paper trail” leading to any strategy set forth by Russia, The Daily Signal reported.

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US, UK and France Denounce Nuclear Ban Treaty

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By David Krieger 

The US, UK and France have never shown enthusiasm for banning and eliminating nuclear weapons. It is not surprising, therefore, that they did not participate in the United Nations negotiations leading to the recent adoption of the nuclear ban treaty, or that they joined together in expressing their outright defiance of the newly-adopted treaty.

In a joint press statement, issued on July 7, 2017, the day the treaty was adopted, the US, UK and France stated, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” Seriously? Rather than supporting the countries that came together and hammered out the treaty, the three countries argued: “This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.”  Rather than taking a leadership role in the negotiations, they protested the talks and the resulting treaty banning nuclear weapons. They chose hubris over wisdom, might over right.

They based their opposition on their belief that the treaty is “incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.” Others would take issue with their conclusion, arguing that, in addition to overlooking the Korean War and other smaller wars, the peace in Europe and North Asia has been kept not because of nuclear deterrence but in spite of it.

The occasions on which nuclear deterrence has come close to failure, including during the Cuban missile crisis, are well known. The absolute belief of the US, UK and France in nuclear deterrence seems more theological than practical.

The three countries point out, “This treaty offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, nor does it address other security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary.” But for the countries that adopted the nuclear ban treaty, North Korea is only one of nine countries that are undermining international security by basing their national security on nuclear weapons. For countries so committed to nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence, is it not surprising and hypocritical that they view North Korea’s nuclear arsenal not in the light of deterrence, but rather, as an aggressive force?

The three countries reiterate their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but do not mention their own obligation under that treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament. The negotiations for the new nuclear ban treaty are based on fulfilling those obligations. The three countries chose not to participate in these negotiations, in defiance of their NPT obligations, making their joint statement appear self-serving and based upon magical thinking.

If the US, UK and France were truly interested in promoting “international peace, stability and security” as they claim, they would be seeking all available avenues to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world, rather than planning to modernize and enhance their own nuclear arsenals over the coming decades.

These three nuclear-armed countries, as well as the other six nuclear-armed countries, continue to rely upon the false idol of nuclear weapons, justified by nuclear deterrence. In doing so, they continue to run the risk of destroying civilization, or worse. The 122 nations that adopted the nuclear ban treaty, on the other hand, acted on behalf of every citizen of the world who values the future of humanity and our planet, and should be commended for what they have accomplished.

The new treaty will open for signatures in September 2017, and will enter into force when 50 countries have acceded to it. It provides an alternative vision for the human future, one in which nuclear weapons are seen for the threat they pose to all humanity, one in which nuclear possessors will be stigmatized for the threats they pose to all life. Despite the resistance of the US, UK and France, the nuclear ban treaty marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age.

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Chile Court Orders Extradition of Pinochet Official in Miami

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An ex-Pinochet official currently residing in Miami, where he owns property and businesses, could face extradition by order of the Chilean Supreme Court.

Retired Pinochet era army officer Armando Fernandez Larios was indicted on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter, participating in the execution of a young communist activist named Manuel Sanhueza Mellado in July 1974.

Larios is also accused of having a role in the 1976 car bombing in Washington D.C. that killed Chile’s former ambassador to the United States Orlando Letelier, a U.S. citizen who served under the leftist government of former President Salvador Allende.

The Supreme Court decision, which was unanimous, decided that requirements for extradition were met, and linked his actions to the context of “serious violations of human rights, massive and systematic, verified by State actors” during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990. Pinochet’s brutal rule was imposed following a U.S.-backed and orchestrated coup against President Allende.

“It is declared appropriate to require the government of the United States to extradite the Chilean citizen Armando Fernandez Larios for responsibility attributed to him as the perpetrator of crimes of abduction and manslaughter,” the court said in a statement.

In spite of his crimes, he was able to negotiate a deal with the United States in 1987, only serving five months in prison before being released. He currently lives in Miami, where he is a businessman and entrepreneur with property and business holdings.

During the right-wing Pinochet regime, it is estimated that at least 3,200 Chileans were killed by state actors. In addition, at least 33,000 are estimated to have been tortured, disappeared, and imprisoned for political reasons.

Last year, U.S. intelligence documents were declassified which revealed that the assassination of Letelier was on the direct order of Pinochet.

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Message from the High Court: Carry on Arming The Saudis (And Never Mind the Slaughter in Yemen)

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Campaigners are furious with a High Court decision in London allowing the UK Government to carry on exporting arms to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemenis
By Stuart Littlewood 

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) brought the legal action against the Secretary of State for International Trade for continuing to grant export licences for arms to Saudi Arabia, arguing that this was against UK policy, which states that the government must refuse such licences if there’s a clear risk that the arms might be used to commit serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.

It is undeniable that Saudi forces have used UK-supplied weaponry to violate International Humanitarian Law in their war on Yemen. According to the United Nations, well over 10,000 people have been killed, the majority by the Saudi-led bombing campaign which has also destroyed vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and contributed to the cholera crisis. 3 million Yemenis have been displaced from their homes and 7 million are on the brink of dying from famine. UNICEF reports that a child is dying in Yemen every ten minutes from preventable causes including starvation and malnourishment.

A crippling naval blockade of the country by the US has been key to the cruel onslaught. The European Parliament and numerous humanitarian NGOs have condemned the Saudi air strikes as unlawful. And 18 months ago a UN Panel of Experts accused Saudi forces of “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians.

Yet the UK has licensed £3.3 billions worth of arms such as aircraft, helicopters, drones, missiles, grenades, bombs and armoured vehicles to the Saudi regime and refused to suspend the supply of  weaponry for use in Yemen in the face of the horrors perpetrated. It is claimed that the Government has even ignored warnings by senior civil servants and its own arms control experts, and that some records of expressed concern have gone missing.

So who is the UK’s helping hand behind that vile regime’s murderous adventure in the Yemen? Why, it’s none other that senior Israel stooge Dr Liam Fox, now Secretary of State for International Trade and the lead on trade and investment in the defence and security sector. He of course oversees export licensing.  He also has ‘form’ when it comes to thinking silly thoughts and doing stupid things in the foreign affairs arena, and he’s known as a crazed flag-waver for Israel and a sworn enemy of Iran.

While Secretary of State for Defence, Fox told us: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.”

Fox was forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011 following the scandal involving him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werritty, the UK ambassador to Israel, and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.

The reason for the British government’s hostility towards Iran was spelled out by David Cameron in a speech to the Knesset in 2014: “A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world not just Israel. And with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that it is never allowed to happen.” That position carries forward into the present day.

And in June 2015 Fox declared: “It is logical to assume that Iran’s intentions are to develop a nuclear weapons capability and any claims that its intentions are exclusively peaceful should not be regarded as credible… Iran’s nuclear intentions cannot be seen outside the context of its support for terror proxies, arguably the defining feature of its foreign policy. The risks are clear.”

What he omitted to say was that Iran’s intentions must also be seen in the context of Israel’s foreign policy, its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the grave threat posed by the Zionist regime’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads. Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention either, and has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, likewise the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iran and all the other nations in the region have every right to feel nervous.

As is well known, Israel and Saudi Arabia have formed a cosy alliance. No entities deserve each other more. And Britain will do anything, it seems, to get at Iran through these repulsive ‘friends’.

Instead of dangling from a lamp-post on Tower Bridge, Fox was quickly rehabilitated and re-promoted to senior office by fellow stooges like Theresa May. Just lately prime minister May has accused Iran of working with Hezbollah, interfering in Iraq, sending fighters to Syria to help Assad, and supporting the Houthis in the conflict in Yemen. The British Government, of course, can meddle where it pleases and do dirty weapons deals with the Saudis which, Mrs May assures us, are for the sake of long-term security in the Gulf. “Gulf security is our security,” she says, arguing that the same extremists who plot terror in the Gulf states are also targeting the streets of Europe.

Toxic relationship with Saudi Arabia exposed

So how did Fox manage to defeat the campaigners in court? After all, as Rosa Curling of Leigh Day (acting for CAAT) said, “The law is clear: where there is a clear risk that UK arms might be used in the commission of serious violations of international law, arm sales cannot go ahead.

“Nothing in the open evidence presented by the UK government to the court suggests this risk does not exist in relation to arms to Saudi Arabia. Indeed, all the evidence we have seen from Yemen suggests the opposite: the risk is very real…. Our government should not be allowing itself to be complicit in the grave violations of law taking place by the Saudi coalition in Yemen.”

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “If this verdict is upheld then it will be seen as a green light for government to continue arming and supporting brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia that have shown a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law….

“This case has seen an increased scrutiny of the government’s toxic relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is a relationship that more than ever needs to be examined and exposed. For decades the UK has been complicit in the oppression of Saudi people, and now it is complicit in the destruction of Yemen.”

Rachel Sylvester in The Times noted that the judges concluded there was “a substantial body of evidence suggesting that the [Saudi-led] coalition committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law in the course of its engagement in the Yemen conflict”, but the ruling was based on a narrow legal point about whether ministers had followed proper procedures and acted rationally in assessing the risks.

“Whatever the result of the legal process,” she wrote, “it’s time for the government to reconsider Britain’s poisonous relationship with Saudi Arabia, starting with the suspension of arms sales to a country that stands accused of appalling human rights abuses within its own borders as well as the funding of extremism abroad. What is UK foreign policy for if not the promotion of this country’s values around the world?”

And, as she points out, last year the UK committed £85 million to the aid effort in Yemen, making the Department for International Development the fourth largest donor to the crisis.

So, just as we pour £millions of aid into the Palestinian Territories to subsidise the illegal Israeli occupation while at the same time supplying the regime in Tel Aviv with arms to sustain its occupation, we are spending all this taxpayers’ money in Yemen to clean up the mess we’re helping the Saudis to make.

Secret evidence favours the evil

Fox succeeded thanks to ‘closed sessions’. This meant that CAAT and their legal team weren’t allowed to see much of what was presented by the Government, which could only be examined by a security-cleared “special advocate”.

The secret evidence is said to have included Saudi Arabia’s “fast-jet operational reporting data”, “high-resolution MoD-sourced imagery” and “UK defence intelligence reports and battle damage assessments”. The MoD and Foreign Office analysis had “all the hallmarks of a rigorous and robust, multi-layered process of analysis” while the evidence presented by the campaigners was “only part of the picture”. The Court said the secret evidence could not be referred to in open court for reasons of “national security”.

But what has all the MoD’s high-faluting technical tosh to do with justice? Or the basic concept of right and wrong? An especially International Humanitarian Law?

And our national security? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the slaughter must go on in that distant land…

Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardenier suggested in the House of Commons that the “secret” evidence should be made available to MPs for scrutiny “on privy council terms” or handed to the Intelligence and Security Select Committee. Sounds reasonable enough.

But Fox is reported saying: “This idea that somehow, if we have closed sessions, that makes the judgment less valid, I simply don’t accept. Because I don’t accept this idea that we simply can’t have closed sessions that protect our national security or the personnel involved in our national security. Our sources need to be protected.”

Yeah, and so do Yemeni civilians…. from us.

He admitted that “Yemen is indeed a humanitarian disaster” but said it was right to keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia. He may have won the legal point – for now. But he has clearly lost his moral compass, if he ever had one.

As Rachel Sylvester remarks, “So craven is the Whitehall establishment that the government has refused to publish a report on the foreign funding of terrorism, for fear of annoying its Saudi friends.”

*(London, UK. 11th July, 2016. Human rights campaigners dressed as Grim Reapers protest against the Farnborough International arms fair, and in particular against arms sales to Saudi Arabia used in human rights abuses in Yemen, at Waterloo station. Image credit: Campaign Against Arms Trade/ flickr).

Posted in Saudi Arabia, Yemen0 Comments

Nazi documents on USS Liberty

NOVANEWS

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Israeli documents on USS Liberty: ‘Americans have findings showing our pilots were aware the ship was American’
If Americans Knew 

Recently discovered documents show Israeli leaders were worried that evidence would come out that Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty was intentional.

The Liberty was a Navy electronics surveillance ship operating in international waters during the Six-Day War. Israeli forces perpetrated an extended air and sea assault on the ship that killed 34 Americans, injured 175, and damaged the ship beyond repair. Afterward, Israel claimed the assault was an accident and provided $6 million in compensation for the loss of the $40 million ship. (More information here.)

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Israeli historian Adam Raz recently examined hundreds of documents related to the Liberty that had been posted by Israeli State Archives.

(Raz is author of The Battle Over the Bomb,” available only in Hebrew. He also is reported to have written “a fascinating article about Israel’s nuclear secrets in last week’s Hebrew Haaretz supplement.”)

Ha’aretz reports that Raz is “fully aware of the fact that the ‘smoking gun’ won’t be found in the papers in the State Archives, because if Israel really had intended to hit the ship, that would have been known only to a handful of people.”

One of the documents Raz did find is an Israeli Foreign Ministry communication sent from New York to Jerusalem. Ha’aretz quotes the document:

“Menashe [apparently an Israeli official] informed us we had better be very careful… The reason is apparently that the Americans have findings that show our pilots were in fact aware the ship was American.”

And later: “Menashe believes there is a recording on the ship of the conversations between the ship and our pilots, in which the ship’s crew said the ship is American. Menashe says that, in his opinion, our only chance of getting out of the crisis is to punish someone for negligence.”

In another document, the Israeli Embassy in Washington writes to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem under the heading “Urgent.”

“We must change the above mentioned letter [to the U.S.], because we certainly won’t be able to say there is no basis for the accusation that the identity of the ship was determined by Israeli planes prior to the attack.”

Other documents show Israeli preparations for the U.S. investigation and the American demands for compensation that were to follow. A telegram from the Israeli Embassy in Washington to the Foreign Ministry said:

“The issue has turned into a malignant wound, which involves serious dangers for all of our relationships on all levels here, whose friendship was ours until now and which are crucial to our status in the United States. In other words, the president, the Pentagon, public opinion and the intelligence community.”

An Israeli Foreign Ministry letter warned:

“In the grave situation that has been created, the only way to soften the result is for us to be able to announce to the U.S. government already today that we intend to prosecute people for this disaster. We have to publicize that in Israel already tonight. This activity is the only way to create the impression, both to the U.S. government and the public here, that the attack on the ship was not the result of malicious intent by the Israeli government – I repeat, the Israeli government – or authorized groups in the IDF. For obvious reasons, it is crucial that our announcement about prosecuting those who are to blame be publicized before – I repeat, before – the publication of the American report here.”

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Palestinian NGO statement on the World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

NOVANEWS
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Palestine Center for Human Rights

The undersigned Palestinian NGOs call on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to halt all forms of cooperation with the World Bank-sponsored Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project (RSDSCP) and to take an unequivocal public stance of rejection to the project.

It has become clear beyond doubt that the project is an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on their own rights.

Any lack of a clear position by the Palestinian leadership on this outrageous project, any stand of ambiguity or positive criticism towards it, contributes to the impunity that for far too long has allowed Israel to appropriate Palestinian water and deny Palestinians their rights.

Five reasons why the RSDSCP must be rejected:

1. The project undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Palestinian dispossession from the Jordan River. Israel unilaterally controls the flow from the upper Jordan River and prevents Palestinians from making use of their rightful share of the lower river’s water. This is the sole cause for the gradual disappearance of the Dead Sea. Instead of addressing Israel’s water theft, the project aims to maintain the unjust status-quo of the river and allegedly “save” the Dead Sea through large scale Red Sea water transfer.

2. The project attempts to replace the river’s natural fresh water appropriated by Israel from the upper Jordan River with desalinated Red Sea water sold at high costs to severely water-dispossessed Palestinians and at pitiful quantities. Even these sales remain merely an “option” and the World Bank studies plan to ‘supply’ only Jericho, which is currently the only water-rich place in the occupied West Bank. With every drop of water that Palestinians purchase, they capitulate to their own deprivation.

3. Neither the World Bank’s Feasibility Study (FS) nor its Environmental & Social Assessment study (ESA) address the grave damage to the West Bank Eastern Aquifer, currently the only source Palestinians have for water supply and development. The Eastern aquifer is rapidly depleting, and its water table is dropping at an alarming rate – both as a direct result of the shrinking Dead Sea. Consenting to the project entails closing an eye to the rapid destruction of the only other water resource in the Eastern West Bank. Instead, Israel should be held accountable for the damage it caused to this vital resource on which over 1 million Palestinians currently depend.

4. Far from “saving the Dead Sea”, the RSDSCP will actually destroy the unique features of the Dead Sea and its ecosystem. Under the project, the Dead Sea is slated to turn into a dead, engineered pool of Red Sea water and desal brines, destroying this Palestinian and world heritage site.

5. Both Red-Dead studies (FS & ESA) and the entire conduct of the World Bank lack credibility and transparency, and make a mockery of the alleged consultation and participation process. Throughout the process, the Bank has systematically turned a blind eye to Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights.

The Bank repeatedly and deliberately ignored key concerns expressed by Palestinians since the project’s inception and during the “consultation” meetings in severe breach of its very own Code of Conduct, as well as the project’s Terms of Reference.

In addition, the Bank management has so far refused to make public the results of the Feasibility and ESA studies. The World Bank’s actions are tantamount to a cover-up.

Palestinian civil society organizations reiterate their rejection of the Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project and invite Palestinians of all walks to demand that the PLO and the PNA honor their aspirations for self-determination and justice by voicing a clear, loud and unequivocal “No!” to the Red-Dead Sea scam.

This project can only result in further damaging and undermining Palestinian water rights and all cooperation with it should cease immediately. Reparation and compensation for past damages and respect for Palestinian water rights are long overdue and the only way forward.

Endorsing organizations and individuals:

1. Palestinian Environment NGO Network (PENGON)
2. MAAN Development Center
3. Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PalWEG)
4. Stop the Wall
5. Palestinian Farmers Union
6. Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)
7. Land Research Center
8. Media Environmental Center
9. Palestine Hydrology Group (PHG)
10. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
11. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC)
12. Environmental Education Center (EEC)
13. Institute of Environmental and Water Studies – Birziet University
14. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
15. Palestinian Environment Friends (PEF)
16. Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)
17. Earth and Human Center for Research and Studies (EHCRS)
18. Palestinian Farmers Association
19. The Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)
20. Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie (PTUK)
21. Clemens Messerschmid, Hydrologist
22. Prof. Dr. Samir Afifi, Environmental & Earth Sciences Department, Islamic University of Gaza

Posted in Palestine Affairs0 Comments

How the Clinton’s Longstanding Ukrainian Donor Allegedly Sponsored Hillary’s Run

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Sputnik 

CyberBerkut hackers believe that the Clinton Foundation’s donor Victor Pinchuk, a son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Kuchma, could have been behind the money laundering scheme involving IMF funds intended for Ukraine. The hackers alleged that these funds were then redistributed to the Clinton charity through offshores.

While the American mainstream media is struggling to find Russian “traces” in the US 2016 presidential campaign, the story of the Ukrainian interference in the election remains largely neglected.

During his testimony at the Senate Confirmation Hearing on Russia future FBI Director Christopher Wray said that he would be interested in looking into Kiev’s alleged meddling in the electoral process in the United States.

For her part, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier that there was “real collusion” between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Ukraine during the campaign.

On July 12 the CyberBerkut hacker group released what it called the email exchange of Thomas Weihe, the head of the board of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, assuming that the Pinchuk entity threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton during the US 2016 presidential campaign.

Victor Pinchuk is one of the most influential Ukrainian oligarchs and a son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

In addition, Victor and his wife Elena Pinchuk (also referred to as Olena Franchuk) are well known for their longstanding cooperation with the Clinton Foundation.

According to the Clintons’ charity website, the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation established a partnership with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) back in September 2006.”The two Foundations have committed a total of $2.5 million dollars to support CHAI’s HIV/AIDS work in Ukraine over the five-year period of 2006 through 2010,” the official press release read.

Still, according to Elena Pinchuk Foundation’s site, her cooperation with CHAI actually started in 2004 when Elena Pinchuk, the daughter of then-Ukrainian President Kuchma, “initiated the negotiations between the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative and Ukraine.”

The emails hacked by CyberBerkut have indicated that the Pinchuk-Clinton cooperation has not waned over the years.

“On behalf of CGI, we are delighted to kick off preparations for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI] with you and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. We very much appreciate all of your Victor and Elena Pinchuk’s continued support of the work of the Clinton Global Initiative and look forward to working with you,” one of the emails said.

Furthermore, citing the Clinton Foundation’s website, the hacker group called attention to the fact that “over the past 5 years the Victor Pinchuk Foundation transferred to the Clinton Foundation from 10 to 25 million dollars.”

What is more interesting, however, is that “the largest tranches from the Pinchuk Foundation to the Clinton Foundation were held in 2015 and 2016,” according to CyberBerkut.

“By a ‘fortune chance,’ Hillary Clinton fought for the Oval at the exact same time,” the hacker group highlighted.

Interestingly enough, just two weeks before Hillary Clinton officially announced her decision to run for the presidency, Victor Pinchuk “relentlessly” sought to meet Bill Clinton wanting him to “show support for Ukraine,” as one of the Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks indicated.

“Victor Pinchuk is relentlessly following up (including this morning) about a meeting with WJC [Bill Clinton] in London or anywhere in Europe. Ideally he wants to bring together a few western leaders to show support for Ukraine, with WJC probably their most important participant. If that’s not palatable for us, then he’d like a bilat with WJC,” the email allegedly written by Ami Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director on March 30, 2015, said.

It appears that the Pinchuks and their Ukrainian allies were interested in Hillary Clinton’s victory in the 2016 presidential run given their longstanding and close collaboration. However, that is not all.

Cyberberkut assumes that the funds given to the Clinton Foundation by Pinchuk could have originated from vanished IMF loans allocated for Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian investigation case connected to commercial banks that laundered the IMF’s money from the National Bank of Ukraine is still going on. According to the investigation, such banks as Tavrika, Pivdenkom Bank, Avtokraz Bank, CityCommerce Bank, Finrost Bank, Terra Bank, Kyivska Rus Bank, Vernum Bank, Credit Dnepr Bank, Delta Bank were involved in the criminal scheme. Funds were transferred through Austrian Meinl Bank AG,” the CyberBerkut site reads.

The hacker group highlighted that Credit Dnepr Bank and Delta Bank, related to Victor Pinchuk, offshored much more money than their counterparts.

“As it turns out, the offshore organizations that received the IMF’s money such as Melfa Group LTD (Belize), Tandice Limited (Cyprus), Tosalan Traiding Limited (Cyprus), Agalusko Investment Limited (Cyprus), Winten Trading LTD (Cyprus), Silisten Trading Limited, Nasterno Commercial Limited, are also connected to this gentleman,” CyberBerkut wrote.

“Moreover, most of the money went to the account of his main money laundering machine — the Victor Pinchuk Foundation,” the hacker group suggested.

The hackers also noted that at that time (from 2014 to 2016) the Ukrainian Finance Ministry was run by Natalie Jaresko who served as the First Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Ukraine (1992 —1995) under President Bill Clinton.

“Coming back to the Credit Dnepr Bank which belongs to V. Pinchuk it is worth to mention that his supervisory board includes former IMF managing director D. Strauss-Kahn who probably still has an influence on the international credit organization,” the hacker group remarked.

SEE ALSO:

Ukraine May Have a New President in Waiting, But He’s Another Oligarch

Posted in USA, Ukraine0 Comments

Russia Baiters and Putin Haters

NOVANEWS

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By Pat Buchanan 

“Is Russia an enemy of the United States?” NBC’s Kasie Hunt demanded of Ted Cruz. Replied the runner-up for the GOP nomination, “Russia is a significant adversary. Putin is a KGB thug.”

To Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr., entertained an offer from the Russians for dirt on Clinton could be considered “treason.”

Treason is giving aid and comfort to an enemy in a time of war.

Are we really at war with Russia? Is Russia really our enemy?

“Why Russia is a Hostile Power” is the title of today’s editorial in The Washington Post that seeks to explain why Middle America should embrace the Russophobia of our capital city:

“Vladimir Putin adheres to a set of values that are antithetical to bedrock American values. He favors spheres of influence over self-determination; corruption over transparency; and repression over democracy.”

Yet, accommodating a sphere of influence for a great power is exactly what FDR and Churchill did with Stalin, and every president from Truman to George H. W. Bush did with the Soviet Union.

When East Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Poles rose up against Communist regimes, no U.S. president intervened. For those nations were on the other side of the Yalta line agreed to in 1945.

Bush I and James Baker even accused Ukrainians of “suicidal nationalism” for contemplating independence from Russia.

When did support for spheres of influence become un-American?

As for supporting “corruption over transparency,” ex-Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili resigned in disgust as governor of Odessa in November, accusing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, our man in Kiev, of supporting corruption.

As for favoring “repression over democracy,” would that not apply to our NATO ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, and our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte? Were U.S. Cold War allies like the Shah of Iran and Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile all Jeffersonian Democrats? Have we forgotten our recent history?

The Post brought up the death in prison of lawyer-activist Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Under the Magnitsky Act of 2012, Congress voted sanctions on Russia’s elites.

Yet China’s lone Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to 11 years in prison for championing democracy, died Thursday of liver cancer, with police in his hospital room. Communist dictator Xi Jinping, who makes Putin look like Justin Trudeau, would not let the dying man go.

Will Magnitsky Act sanctions be slammed on China? Don’t bet on it. Too much trade. Congress will do what comes naturally — kowtow. Yet our heroic Senate voted 98-2 to slam new sanctions on Russia.

What are the roots of this hostility to Russia and hatred of Putin, whom a Fox analyst called “as bad as Hitler”?

During the Cold War, every president sought detente with a USSR that was arguably the most blood-soaked regime of the century.

When the Cold War ended in December 1991, the Soviet Union had dissolved into 15 nations. Moscow had given up her empire, a third of her territory, and half the population of the USSR. Marxist-Leninist ideology was dead. An epochal change had taken place.

Yet hostility to Russia and hatred of Putin seem to exceed anything some of us remember from the worst days of the Cold War.

Putin’s Russia is called imperialist, though Estonia, next door, which Russia could swallow in one gulp, has been free for 25 years.

Russia invaded Georgia. Well, yes, after Georgia invaded the seceded province of South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers.

Russia has taken back Crimea from Ukraine. True, but only after a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev replaced the elected pro-Russian regime.

Russia has intervened to back Bashar Assad in Syria. Yes, but only after our insurgent allies collaborated with al-Qaida and ISIS to bring him down. Is Russia not allowed to support an ally, recognized by the U.N., which provides its only naval base on the Med?

Russia has meddled in our election. And we have meddled in the affairs of half a dozen nations with “color-coded revolutions.” The cry of “regime change!” may daily be heard in the U.S. Capitol.

Putin is not Pope Francis. But he is not Stalin; he is not Hitler; he is not Mao; and Russia today is not the USSR. Putin is an autocrat cut from the same bolt of cloth as the Romanov czars.

His cooperation is crucial to the peace of the world, the freedom of the Baltic States, an end to the Syrian civil war, tranquility in the Persian Gulf, and solving the North Korean crisis.

While our tectonic plates may rub against one another, we are natural allies. The Russia of Tolstoy, Pushkin, Solzhenitsyn and the Orthodox Church belongs with the West.

If America stumbles into a war with Russia that all our Cold War presidents avoided, the Russia baiters and Putin haters will be put in same circle of hell by history as the idiot war hawks of 1914 and the three blind men of Versailles in 1919.

Posted in USA, Russia0 Comments


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