Archive | November 2nd, 2017

Opposition rejects Russian initiative to hold congress on Syria crisis

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The Syrian opposition has rejected an initiative put forward by Russia during the latest negotiations in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to hold a congress, which would bring together Syria’s warring sides in Sochi later this month.

Members of Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee and the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC) told Reuters on Wednesday that they do not approve of the plan, saying they would issue a joint statement later to express their opposition to the plan.

SNC spokesman Ahmad Ramadan said the plan seeks to circumvent the UN efforts to mediate Syrian peace talks in Geneva, adding, “The Coalition will not participate in any negotiations with the regime outside Geneva or without UN sponsorship.”

The Astana peace process has been underway since January with the mediation of Iran and Russia, the Syrian government’s allies, and Turkey, which supports armed opposition groups.

The latest round of the talks came to an end on Tuesday, with the three guarantor states agreeing on the Russia-proposed congress.

A joint statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website at the end of the Astana talks listed 33 Syrian organizations invited to a “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue,” which is to be held in the Russian city of Sochi on November 18.

Russia says the key task of the event is to pave the way for constitutional reforms.

Turkey against Kurdish presence

Despite Turkey’s approval of the Syrian congress plan, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the country opposes the invitation of the representatives of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to the talks.

Ibrahim Kalin’s remarks came a day after a senior Kurdish official said that Russia had invited the Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria to a proposed congress of Syria’s rival parties in November.

Kalin noted that Turkish and Russian officials had discussed the issue, and that he had held meetings of his own to “solve the problem on the spot.”

More checkpoints for Idlib

The latest round of Astana talks focused on humanitarian issues in Syria as well as the situation in Idlib Province.

Elaborating on the agreements in the seventh round, Iran’s top negotiator at Astana talks Hossein Jaberi Ansari said on Tuesday that each of the three guarantor states had agreed to set up 12 checkpoints in Idlib, where a de-escalation zone has been formed.

Jaberi Ansari noted that the three guarantor states agreed on continuation of the fight against Daesh and al-Nusra Takfiri terrorists and their affiliates, settlement of the Syrian conflict through political channels and delivery of humanitarian aid to all the areas across Syria.

Posted in USA, Russia, Syria0 Comments

UK PM Takes Russia’s Alleged Attempts to Intervene in Elections ‘Very Seriously’

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has voiced London’s concern over Russia’s alleged attempts to interfere in the electoral or democratic processes of any country.

“We take very seriously issues of Russian intervention or Russian attempts to intervene in the electoral processes or in the democratic processes of any country,” May told the House of Commons.

The British prime minister’s statement comes in the wake of the ongoing investigation in the US into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election dubbed a “witch hunt” by Donald Trump.

Asked if the UK authorities were cooperating with US Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his inquiry into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, May pointed out that London was working closely with Washington.

“As part of that relationship, we do cooperate when required,” May said.

The statement comes amid the launch of a UK Electoral Commission investigation into the funding of the campaign supporting Brexit by a pro-Leave campaigner.

Russia’s Alleged Meddling

Moscow has repeatedly denied Russia’s interference in the US election which is being investigated separately by US Congress and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, calling the claims “groundless” and “absurd.”

In the wake of US media reports claiming about the alleged Russia’s meddling in the November 2016 election, media outlets in several European countries, including France and Germany, have began speculating about Moscow’s “attempts” to interfere in their countries’ affairs.

Commenting on the growing number of foreign states’ accusations of alleged attempts by Moscow to undermine democracy, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the claims ridiculous, emphasizing that there was no proof that Russia was involved in the election processes of the United States, Germany, France, or the United Kingdom.

READ MORE:

UK Electoral Commission Opens Probe Into Brexit Campaigner Banks
German Election: Futile Hunt for ‘Russian Meddling’ Continues
France Finds No Traces of Russian Hackers in Attack on Macron’s Campaign

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Young photographers from Gaza capture moments of joy

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Gaza’s young photographers record moments of happiness

An impoverished family from the north of Beit Lahia enjoys a light moment. The father is strumming a guitar, a young girl is dancing while the boys are playing music with simple household utensils. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mouhamad Al-Barawi
ICRC 

A quick Google search for Gaza will show you multiple images of rubble and raw sewage pouring into the Mediterranean. These are the images that often appear in our mind together with the things we once heard or read about the place. For example, that it is “the world’s largest outdoor prison” or that it “will become unlivable”. But is this the way Gazans themselves see their homeland?

The photo competition we launched among young and extremely talented Gazan photographers was meant to answer this question. At first, we were not sure, whether a photo competition was even a good idea. Would people, who are trying to live their lives though the economic crisis and the electricity crisis, unable to access basic goods and services, have time and energy to spare for such a trivial and unnecessary thing as a photo competition? It turned out they did. And we were taken aback by the results.

Young photographers, contemplating their immediate surroundings, showed that life in Gaza is much more than crises, fences, isolation and the enormous suffering they cause. It is a quiet moment where a little fisherman, who almost seems like a part of the seascape, is looking under the sea surface, probably wondering what the future will be like for him and his generation, in a place where the young face 66% unemployment rate. It is children holding candles in the darkness, not metaphorical, but very real, as people have to organize their lives around four hours of electricity per day. It is also immense joy and laughter when an improvised family band explores music making potential of aluminum cooking pots.

This diversity of moments of happiness, laughter, quiet contemplation show that people of Gaza did not just put their lives on hold waiting for long overdue political solutions. Every single day, they demonstrate incredible resilience in the face of the harsh realities that surround them.

This photo shows the joy and fun that children can experience in the face of poverty. It relays a profound message: Happiness is in simplicity. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Fadi Badwan
This photo shows the joy and fun that children can experience in the face of poverty. It relays a profound message: Happiness is in simplicity. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Fadi Badwan
Children from Gaza sit in the trunk of an old car. They play music on a toy and enjoy the moment despite their poor living conditions. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Hasaball
Children playing infront of their house seeking joy from the things around them. These kids lack toys and play grounds in light of the poor living conditions in Gaza. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Salameh
Youth performing parkour stunts at the eastern borders of Khan Younis. Due to the scarcity of playing areas and limited resources, they are forced to practice their sport in the empty areas near the borders. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mohamad Dahman
Raees is a deaf boy who doesn’t stop smiling despite his disability. He plays with a wheel and a stick with his brother, in east of Jabalia, near the borders, where they reside in tents. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Hijazi
A Palestinian girl plays with her doll during the power outage. Gaza suffers from power cuts reaching up to 20 hours a day. CC BY-NC-ND / ICR Ibrahim Nofal
A child from Deir Al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ayesh Haroun

… More Photos

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Iran’s snub to US has meaning for India

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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline

Only Tehran could have punctured US President Donald Trump’s massive ego with just a delicate deflection by the wrist. It all began in the weekend with an innocuous media disclosure in Iran that Trump had sought a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani during the latter’s visit to New York in September to address the UN General Assembly, but the latter spurned the overture summarily. On Sunday Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qassemi commented crisply, “A request indeed was made by the US side, but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani.”

Of course, Washington went into a tizzy with White House struggling to deny the Iranian report at first, but belatedly realizing, perhaps, that a lie might boomerang, allowed the State Department spokesperson to tamely confirm it on Tuesday. Trump’s request was apparently transmitted to the Iranian side when the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javed Zarif were closeted together on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the P5+1 and Iran to review the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal in September.

The episode speaks volumes about Trump, the man and the statesman – and his times in the White House and the US foreign policies in such extraordinary times. Countries such as India or China must draw appropriate conclusions. Indian analysts, in particular, are still crowing about Tillerson’s recent rhetoric at the CSIS conjuring up from thin air a quadripartite alliance between the US, Japan, India and Australia to contain China, while Trump on the other hand is preparing for a momentous state visit to China looking for some foreign-policy trophy as outcome in his barren presidency.

The point is, Trump could so blithely befool the wily Saudi King Salman and the pompous Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one go, sending them into wild ecstasy that he is about to go after the jugular veins of the Iranian leaders, while in reality also desiring to cultivate them on the quiet or at least keep open a line of communication to them – and, perhaps, even do some business with Tehran for ‘America First’.

The bad part is that the US is also intruding into India’s Iran policies. Did India have to cut back oil imports from Iran and replace it with US shale oil? For the US (or Israel), it is important that India-Iran relations remain sub-optimal for as long as their own relationships with Iran remain problematic. India’s interests, on the other hand, lie in forging a strategic partnership with Iran that can be highly productive and beneficial for advancing its development strategy as well as for strengthening regional security. To borrow the American expression, Iran is India’s ‘natural partner’.

Nothing brings this home as when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proposed to the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday that a transportation corridor could be built connecting the Iranian port of Chabahar with St-Petersburg. India cannot miss the point that Russia and Iran could be meaningful partners in fostering regional connectivity. Simply put, geography dictates geopolitics and geo-economy.

The bottom line is that the Iranian snub to Trump also highlights its strategic defiance of the US’ attempts to (re)impose hegemony in what the Americans call the ‘Greater Middle East’ – stretching from the Levant to the Central Asian steppes. Delhi should pay serious attention to the remark by Khamenei to Putin yesterday when he said that the “good cooperation” between Iran and Russia in Syria has proved “meaningful” and bore “important results”, and above all, “this cooperation showed that Tehran and Moscow can realize common goals in difficult situations.” (Tehran Times )

Khamenei didn’t specifically refer to Afghanistan, but the thought couldn’t have been far from his mind. The US’ plans to consolidate an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan is actually aimed at encircling Iran and Russia and containing them. It is useful to recall in this context that the then Iranian and Russian foreign ministers – Ali Akbar Velayati and Evgeniy Primakov – had worked closely together to bring the Tajik civil war to an end in 1997. Equally, Iran and Russia were on the same page in supporting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan during 1997-2001.

No doubt, the preference of Tehran and Moscow once again will be to carry Delhi along with them in the struggle for strengthening regional security and stability through regional initiatives – as Khamenei’s remark on connecting Chabahar with St. Petersburg implies.

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Stop the War Coalition is pro-War

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A chance to change foreign policy – we need your help

Britain’s foreign wars have been a disaster, * ”BUT YOU SUPPORTED IN LIBYA AND SYRIA SHAME ON YOU ‘ but the political tide is starting to turn. Anti-war politics are gaining increasing power and influence in British political life. But these things are far from settled: the establishment in power and pro-war forces  * ” LIKE THE SO CALLED ‘STOP THE WAR’ IS PRO WAR SHAME ON YOU ”  in both major parties will continue to use all their might to marginalise anti-war forces and arguments.

This means we will need to be better organised and better funded in order to ensure that anti-war politics assume centre stage. Stop the War is a key force in this campaign ?? . We have organised a number of protests against the threat of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and we are mobilising for this Saturday’s demonstration for Palestine  as well as continuing our campaign against intervention in the Middle East. But we are also producing more information and analysis  , ​trying to win the anti-war case in trade union *”TU IS THE LABOUR PART  THE PARTY OF WAR ” and political party branches and improving our social media operation.        

 

All Stars is Shoah comments 

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N.Korea Nuclear Testing Tunnel Collapse, Fears of Radiation Leaks, Will Trump Resort to “Fire and Fury” Insanity?

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Trump’s Sudden Change of Plans, International Double Standards

Urgent warnings of a radiation leak have been issued after the collapse of a tunnel under North Korea’s 7,200 foot high Mount Mantap, under which the country tests their weapons systems.

The accident, believed to have happened on 10th October – though it only came to light on 31st October – is a disaster which is reported to have killed two hundred people. Were it anywhere else on earth it would surely be a headline tragedy, with Heads of State sending their condolences and offering assistance.

Apparently, however, the parents, sons, daughters which are the workforce of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are children of a lesser God and the ‘phone lines, emails are seemingly silent; the Eiffel Tower and Brandenburg Gate have not been lit with the nation’s colours in memory of those lost and mourned.

Dangers of radiation are the only headlines, assistance to attempt to assess and curtail it by the world’s expert bodies and institutions; hands held out in the light of a major disaster, have not been forthcoming.

Initially, a tunnel collapsed on 100 workers, and an additional 100 went in to rescue them, only to die themselves under the unstable mountain,” Business Insider reports. (Photo: TV Asahi/Screengrab)

Business Insider’s Alex Lockie reports that according to North Korean sources, the tunnel initially “collapsed on 100 workers, and an additional 100 went in to rescue them, only to die themselves under the unstable mountain.” (1)

Not only is there no help from the “international community”, but: “If the debris from the test reaches China, Beijing would see that as an attack on its country, Jenny Town, the Assistant Director of the U.S.-Korea Institute and a Managing Editor at 38 North, previously told Business Insider.”

Conveniently forgotten is America’s fecklessness testing in Nevada, where the mushroom clouds could be seen a hundred miles away and: “Las Vegas experienced noticeable seismic effects” (“Nevada Test Site”, Wikipedia) and the fate of the called “down-winders” who suffered radiation related diseases from the nuclear fallout.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea …” Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly in September.

He is clearly ignorant of the feckless nuclear history of his own country.

Also forgotten are the US and UK atomic testing in the Pacific (1946-1962) for which servicemen – unwarned of the dangers – who survived, fought for compensation for cancers and deformities of their children until the end of their lives. A few, now very elderly, still fight on.

The population of Bikini Island of course, was evacuated and still remains so radioactive that families or descendants have not been able to return. More of America’s disposable populations.

Whilst it is still not certain whether North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, they have been testing the possibilities in response to over sixty years of US threats. However, unlike the US, their tests have been undertaken under a vast mountain and: “Successive tests have so far not caused any radiation leaks in nearby regions, analysts said.” (2)

Exercise Desert Rock I (Buster-Jangle Dog) 002.jpg

November 1951 nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. Test is shot “Dog” from Operation Buster, with a yield of 21 kilotons of TNT (88 TJ). It was the first U.S. nuclear field exercise conducted with live troops maneuvering on land. Troops shown are 6 mi (9.7 km) from the blast. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

However, in the week of the collapse there was a stark warning that:

“Continued nuclear testing by North Korea could trigger a radioactive leak, South Korea’s chief meteorologist warned this week. Nam Jae-Cheol, the head of the Korea Meteorological Administration, said the hollow space in the bottom of the mountain where the tests are conducted could implode, leading to radioactive material seeping through.”

Moreover:

“Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geology and Geophysics last month also warned about the possibility of a catastrophic implosion in the mountains …”

Meanwhile the same report states that North Korea, surely in the light of Trump’s apocalyptic threats to the nation of just 25.4 million, “was reportedly conducting mass evacuation drills and blackout exercises in recent days amid increased threats of nuclear war.” Poignant and shaming.

But if there is, rightly, such fear of radiation leakage, what, as he has threatened, if Donald Trump unleashes his threat of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”?

On 22nd October, Trump decided that he was preparing to put the US fleet of B-52 fully nuclear capable bombers on 24-hour alert.

“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared”, Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, told Defense One.

The first targets, as Trump has made clear, would be the DPRK’s weapons facilities, which would make the horror of the current leak fears pale in to insignificance. And as said before, the region, indeed the planet could be rendered incinerated history.

The US President, now in a tight corner, with impeachment an approaching possibility and with seemingly increasingly fading grasp reality, might just resort to such insanity as a diversionary tactic.

Time for neighbouring countries and US allies to use this disaster to put out the hand of friendship, offer help, diplomacy and normality to a country which has literally built itself up from the ashes, of every town, city and village destroyed by America little over sixty years ago.

And the time to act is now. Next week might be too late.

Incidentally Donald Trump is to leave for the region and for South Korea on Sunday. He was to visit the border area, a must-do photo-op for visiting warmongers. The day the possible radiation leak was announced, he cancelled the visit.

Trump has a phobia. In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback”, he wrote about how he hated shaking hands because of the risk of germs:

“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.

“I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.”

There are other reports alleging that he prefers to drink with a straw in case the vessel he drinks out of carries the germs of others.

When Theresa May visited him a week after his taking office, there was speculation that the reason he held her hand so tightly ascending stairs was because of  his fear of germs on handrails grasped by others before him.

For all his “fire and fury” perhaps he has just realized that no amount of washing can flush off radiation. Any chance that is why he has so suddenly cancelled his visit to the border? Just wondering.

Notes

1. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/10/31/fears-radiation-leak-soar-after-north-korea-nuclear-site-collapse-kills-200

2. http://www.ibtimes.com/south-korean-scientists-warn-north-koreas-nuclear-tests-could-trigger-radioactive-2608031?utm_source=internal&utm_campaign=right&utm_medium=related1

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Balfour Declaration: Britain broke its feeble promise to the Palestinians

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Theresa May and Binyamin Netanyahu

By Jonathan Cook

There is more than a little irony in Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to attend a “celebration” dinner this week in London with his British counterpart, Theresa May, marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

Palestinian objections to the 1917 document are well-known. Britain’s Lord Balfour had no right to promise a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, on the land of another people.

But Israelis have been taught a different history in which they, not the Palestinians, were betrayed.

In 1939, Britain appeared to revoke its pledge, stating “unequivocally” that it would not establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Limits on Jewish immigration were imposed, at a time when Europe’s Jews were fleeing the Nazi holocaust.

A transparently colonial project

It was for this reason that nearly a quarter of a century ago, in his book, A Place Among the Nations, Netanyahu accused Britain of perfidy.

One can understand the reluctance of Israelis today to concede the pivotal role provided by Britain. The Balfour Declaration is an embarrassing reminder that a Jewish state was the fruit of a transparently colonial project.

In fact, Britain assisted the Zionists as best it could, given the need to weigh its imperial interests. Restrictions on immigration were introduced under the severe strain of a three-year armed uprising by Palestinians, determined to prevent their country being given away.

Historian Rashid Khalidi has noted that the Palestinian revolt of the late 1930s included possibly the longest-ever anti-colonial general strike. It posed such a threat that Britain committed thousands of extra soldiers to repress the insurgency, even as war loomed in Europe.

By the time Britain departed Palestine in 1948, it had overseen three decades in which the Zionists were allowed to develop the institutions of statehood: a government-in-waiting, the Jewish Agency; a proto-army in the Haganah; and a land and settlement division known as the Jewish National Fund.

By contrast, any signs of Palestinian nationalism, let alone nation-building, were ruthlessly crushed. By the end of the Arab revolt, less than a decade before the Palestinians would face a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Zionists, Palestinian society lay in ruins.

Colonial offspring

Israel learnt two lessons from Britain that guided its subsequent struggle to quash Palestinian attempts at liberation.

First, Israel continued the draconian measures of British colonial rule. In the early 1950s, Menachem Begin, leader of the pre-state Irgun militia and a future Israeli prime minister, famously called Britain’s emergency regulations “Nazi laws”.

Nonetheless, they were incorporated into the military orders Israel uses against Palestinians under occupation. Significantly, the regulations are also still in force inside Israel against the country’s large minority of Palestinian citizens, one in five of the population. Israel has yet to end its seven-decade state of emergency.

The other lesson derives from the wording of the Balfour Declaration. It referred to the native Palestinians – then 90 per cent of Palestine’s inhabitants – as “existing non-Jewish communities”. It promised only to protect their “civil and religious rights”, denying them recognition as a nation deserving of political and social rights.

Israel followed suit. Palestinians in Israel were characterised as “the minorities”, or generic “Israeli Arabs”, rather than Palestinians. Israel’s perverse nationality laws assign them largely religious classifications as Druze, Arameans (Christians) and Arabs (increasingly synonymous with Muslims).

In occupied East Jersualem, Palestinians are denied all national and institutional representation. And in the West Bank, the powers of the Palestinian Authority – supposedly the Palestinians’ fledgling government – extend no further than acting as a security contractor for Israel and carrying out municipal services like garbage collection. In practice, the PA’s severely circumscribed authority is confined to a tiny fraction of the West Bank.

As a result, the Palestinians’ national ambitions have shrunk precipitously: from Yasser Arafat’s struggle for one secular democratic state in all Palestine, to today’s enclaves in Gaza and slivers of the West Bank.

Denial of inalienable rights

Israel has consistently rejected for Palestinians the very self-determination it once demanded from the British.

Netanyahu’s government is preparing to nullify any lingering hopes of Palestinian statehood with the most significant move towards annexation of Palestinian territory in 40 years, when Jerusalem was annexed. The plan is to greatly expand Jerusalem’s boundaries to include large Jewish settlements in the West Bank, like Maale Adumim.

In addition, Netanyahu has reportedly promised $230 million to build five highways in the West Bank, aiding movement between Israel and the settlements.

Is there an opposition? Avi Gabbay, new leader of the centre-left Zionist Union, sounds no different from the far-right. Last month he stated: “I believe all of the Land of Israel [historic Palestine] is ours.” No West Bank settlement would be evacuated, even for the sake of peace, he added.

Britain fulfilled its promise to the Zionists in full, but broke even its feeble commitment to the Palestinians to protect their civil and religious rights. An apology from Britain is long overdue, as are efforts to repair the damage it initiated 100 years ago.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UK0 Comments

Democrats, Class and Russia-gate Magic

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Stunned by the defection of working-class whites, many Democrats respond by calling these Trump voters “stupid” and hoping that Russia-gate will be the “deus ex machina” to restore Democratic power, as poet Phil Rockstroh explains.

Recently, Democratic Party elites have purged progressives from positions of power within the Party; have been exposed in creating and promulgating, and swallowing whole the dodgy Russian Dossier subterfuge; and have gone round-heeled for war criminal and torturer-in-chief George Bush the Lesser — yet Democratic partisans and lesser-of-two-evils, fainting-couch jockeys still retail in the fiction that the Democrats present a viable alternative to their more crass Republican doppelgängers.

It must take hours of dedicated practice to become such virtuosos of self-deception.

Desperate liberals have convinced themselves that the risible, Russiagate fool’s mythos will provide a deus ex machina miracle to rid the (sham) republic from the likes of boxy-suit-clad, two-legged toxic waste dump who ascended to the presidency due to the Democratic Party gaming their primary and nomination process for a candidate who performed the seemingly impossible — to wit, preventing the craven Trump from defeating himself.

The best thing Republicans have going for them is, the Democrats themselves, from their corrupt-to-their-reeking core leadership class down to their willfully and belligerently obtuse rank-and-file. In particular, professional and political-class liberals’ refusal even to acknowledge the grim plight of the besieged U.S. working class, and when they deign to notice their economic lessers, at all, they, as a rule, evince an aura of condescension and scorn.

Apropos, I recall a piece published in the New York Times after Trump’s “pussy grabbing” palaver came to light, late in the 2016 presidential campaign. Quoting from the article, headlined: “Inside Trump Tower, an Increasingly Upset and Alone Donald Trump,” published Oct 9, 2016:

“But the real source of comfort to Mr. Trump seemed to be the small band of supporters waving Trump signs on the Fifth Avenue sidewalk outside the building. His fans clashed with people walking by, including a woman who told a female Trump supporter that she should go back to her ‘trailer.’”

It is a given that Trump’s misogynist remarks displayed the very emblem of mouth-breather inanity. Yet the demeaning jibe bandied by the passing pedestrian, who I’m certain would self-identify as “progressive” in her politics, was emblematic of liberal classism. When was the last time you witnessed an affluent liberal expressing umbrage in regard to their caste’s proclivity for class-based shaming?

The supercilious mindset is the result of an insularity borne of privilege. Moreover, when do liberals ever converse, one on one, with members of the laboring class, unless, of course, the situation involves the de facto master/servant relationship involved in a service industry exchange?

On a personal basis, liberals with whom I used to clash when I was a resident of Manhattan, almost to a person, were completely removed from and, worse, utterly incurious, about the lives of the working class. When traveling around my native South, for example, when visiting my wife’s family in the rural South Carolina Low Country, I found the people there far more receptive to a socialist critique of the capitalist order than that of liberals. Why? Unlike upscale liberals, the working class, on a day-by-day basis, endure perpetual humiliation under depraved capitalism.

Why do liberals refuse to acknowledge class-based deprivation as a defining factor in the angst and animus of the laboring class?

In short, an honest reckoning would cause Liberalcrats to acknowledge classism is, as is the case with sexism and racism, hurtful, destructive, and flat-out reprehensible. Moreover, an acknowledgement would call them to account for their own privilege thus revealing the imperative to make amends and provide restitution for their complicity in the oppression inflicted on the less fortunate by capitalism, the system that is the source of liberal affluence and the progenitor of their snobbery.

A Buffer for the Rich

The Liberal Class have, on an historical basis, acted as the buffer zone between leftist, minority, and laboring-class aspirations and the capitalist over-class — i.e., the bestower of liberacrat privilege. As the man limned in lyric, “same as it ever was.” Thus we come upon a reason for the mistrust held by people languishing on the boot-on-the-neck side of the capitalist class divide for economically privileged liberals.

Moreover, when was a last time you noticed a laboring class person parroting that the meany-pants Russian Bear ate poor, little Hillary’s homework fool’s mythos? The Cold War 2.0 tall tale that avers:

“Putin has penetrated the precious bodily fluids of the U.S. electoral system,” as a Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper of the Liberal Class might rant, thereby coming off like a liberal version of Alex Jones reading the minutes of a John Birch Society meeting, circa 1955, on communist infiltration of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Bingo Club, due to reports of an inordinate number of winners wearing red poodle skirts.

In short, there is a howling, class chasm between the cultural criteria that separates affluent liberals from the struggling laboring class. How could sneaky Vladi and his fake news-wielding squads of internet Cossacks be responsible for the neoliberal economy, comprised of low wage, no benefits, no future mcjobs, that plague the working life of the latter? Thus the Russiagate storyline holds little resonance for downscale working people.

The rise of rightist demagogues and their angst-ridden, resentment-reeking followers, both on an historical and present day basis, can be traced to a primary source: the loss of hope and the daily doses of humiliation inflicted on the working class by capitalist economic despotism. In the hollow regions of the psyche where hope has been banished, rage rises and fills the aching void.

Adding to the host of miseries, an odious aspect of the capitalist greedscape imparts, in both an overt and subliminal basis, the insidious message: The psychical injuries inflicted by the economic order are caused by personal failings. If internalized, concomitant feelings of shame will torment the mind of the sufferer — feelings freighted with intense self-reproach that tend to manifest themselves in a host of pathologies, e.g., intense anxiety and severe depression.

Hence, the dark art of shame displacement, in the form of racist and xenophobic tropes, can and will be retailed by demagogues. Don’t blame the capitalist Plundering Class, they exhort, instead blame immigrants and minorities (who, in reality, are also victims of capitalism’s inherent depravities) for your dismal prospects. Build an unscalable border wall, deport the interlopers en masse, put an end to the practice of “reverse racism” (of which, polls reveal the majority of white people, in utter defiance of reality, believe is widespread) then America’s greatness will be restored and the usurped futures of hard-working, true Americans will be seized back from  undeserving hordes of interlopers.

A deft demagogue’s tropes of blame shifting can serve to dissipate feelings of aloneness and mitigate the miasmic shame attendant to capitalist economic despotism, a phenomenon that liberals, and history confirms the tragic fact, ignore at the peril of all concerned.

Russia-gate to the Rescue

And what is the Democrats plan? From all appearances, a full spectrum deployment of … more of the same.

Thus we arrive at the question: How can they display such a yawning disconnect from reality? And we shamble into the tawdry reality: The Democratic Party elite and their cynical operatives possess the sum total of nada desire to be connected with anyone other than their economic elite benefactors — withal, the only constituency to whom they possess any degree of fealty.

Thus Democratic partisans cling to the salvation fantasy that an act of deus ex machina will soon be at hand. But how many times now has Trump’s trajectory toward impeachment been assured by some new revelation … yet nothing substantive comes of the vaporous evidence?

Present-day Democrats bring to mind the image of a sad, aged prom queen, passed over by time, possessed by magical-thinking-borne fantasies involving the appearance of an imaginary gentleman suitor whose arrival will restore her faded glory.

The crackbrained fantasies shield Democratic partisans from being buffeted by the reckoning: They are affiliated with the go-to Party of Wall Street and of neoliberal and militarist imperium.

It comes down to this: Almost everyone, at this point, sees through Trump’s popinjay ways. Barack Obama, aka former President Citigroup von Drone, was a far more effective con man. How so? Liberals had the Wall Street bagman and multicultural imperialist Obama’s back. At present, after his two terms, he is luxuriating in the cash-redolent embrace of his High Dollar benefactors, as all the while, bedecked in their broken tiara and torn prom dress regalia, Democratic Party loyalist pine away for another sweet lie-proffering, political Lothario to replace the likes of Obama’s charming vapidity.

“I don’t want realism. I want magic” — Blanche DuBois, from Tennessee William stage play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

What a cringe-inducing sight it is. One almost could be moved to pity in regard to Democrats’ Blanche DuBois theatrics. But, of course, gentle, vulnerable Blanche never acted as an apologist for drone murder nor blamed Russian meddling for her troubled plight.

Unlike impoverished Blanche, blown and buffeted by circumstance into the seedy precincts of (un-gentrified) New Orleans’ French Quarter, it is difficult to work up any degree of sympathy for contemporary Democrats, enclosed as they are in their insular, bristling, psychical citadels, from where they unloose volleys of supercilious scorn upon those who remain unmoved by their partisan casuistry and are rankled by the condescension they direct at those who are not graced with their privileged status.

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Who Must be Held Responsible for Ruined Syria?

NOVANEWS

Who Must be Held Responsible for Ruined Syria? US-NATO Supported The Terrorists. U.S. Coalition Air Strikes Caused Most of the Destruction

The six-year violent fratricidal war in Syria caused significant damage to the government.  Syrians, who are unlikely to ever fully recover from the horror they’ve experienced, have to bear the brunt of devastating consequences. In this regard, there is only one question: who must be held responsible for this chaos and suffering of civilians?

Certainly, to admit mistakes is more difficult than to make them. This is proved by the recent statements of the Friends of Syria.

In an interview with Reuters, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the United States, Britain and other countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wouldn’t support the reconstruction of the country until there was a political transition “away from Assad”.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield confirmed that Syrians would be able to rely on assistance from the Friends of Syria only after the change of government. The American diplomat also mentioned that the restoration of Syria directly depended on political processes that should be determined exclusively at the Geneva talks.

It is quite difficult to accept the position of the Western countries since the U.S.-led Coalition’s air strikes caused most of the destructions in the country. According to Airwars monitoring organization, since the beginning of the ‘counter-terrorism’ operation in Syria, the Coalition Air Forces have inflicted more than 14,000 indiscriminate air strikes, which led not only to the destruction of infrastructure but also to the death of at least 5,500 civilians.

It also should be mentioned about Raqqa. In fact, the city turned into ruins due to the join operation of the Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).  Certainly, nobody is surprised that representatives of the U.S. current administration refused to comment on the issues of further restoration of the city.

In fact, only Syria’s allies Russia and Iran provide real assistance in the restoration of cities and the provision of humanitarian aid.

Over the last two days, Russia delivered several tons of products and essentials to civilians in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta.

Columns of humanitarian aid are also coming from Tehran. Iran helps Syrians in Deir Ezzor with food, medicines, and clothing. Moreover, the Iranian government plans to organize the delivery of more than 200 tons of humanitarian aid to Aleppo.

At the same time, during the meetings held within the framework of the 59th Damascus International Fair, the Syrian government signed a number of mutually beneficial agreements on joint construction with India, Iran, and Lebanon.

In fact, it turns out that only a few countries are interested in normalizing the situation in Syria. The West led by the United States is hard to give up the habit of spending money not for help, but for destruction. This is the main reason why Washington is not ready to take responsibility for the deed, despite the fact that the U.S. is guilty.

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How America Spreads Global Chaos

NOVANEWS

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a “rules-based” global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is “might makes right” — and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer, writes Nicolas J.S. Davies.

As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it, and then pushing on regardless, all came down to “credibility”: the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America’s international credibility as a military power.

Once the CIA went to work in Vietnam to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords and the planned reunification of North and South through a free and fair election in 1956, the die was cast. The CIA’s support for the repressive Diem regime and its successors ensured an ever-escalating war, as the South rose in rebellion, supported by the North. No U.S. president could extricate the U.S. from Vietnam without exposing the limits of what U.S. military force could achieve, betraying widely held national myths and the powerful interests that sustained and profited from them.

The critical “lesson of Vietnam” was summed up by Richard Barnet in his 1972 book Roots of War.

“At the very moment that the number one nation has perfected the science of killing,” Barnet wrote, “It has become an impractical means of political domination.”

Losing the war in Vietnam was a heavy blow to the CIA and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, and it added insult to injury for every American who had lost comrades or loved ones in Vietnam, but it ushered in more than a decade of relative peace for America and the world. If the purpose of the U.S. military is to protect the U.S. from the danger of war, as our leaders so often claim, the “Vietnam syndrome,” or the reluctance to be drawn into new wars, kept the peace and undoubtedly saved countless lives.

Even the senior officer corps of the U.S. military saw it that way, since many of them had survived the horrors of Vietnam as junior officers. The CIA could still wreak havoc in Latin America and elsewhere, but the full destructive force of the U.S. military was not unleashed again until the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the First Gulf War in 1991.

Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA’s politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country’s credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. His predictable response has been to escalate ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and West Africa, and to threaten new ones against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

Trump is facing these questions, not just in one country, Vietnam, but in dozens of countries across the world, and the interests perpetuating and fueling this cycle of crisis and war have only become more entrenched over time, as President Eisenhower warned that they would, despite the end of the Cold War and, until now, the lack of any actual military threat to the United States.

Ironically but predictably, the U.S.’s aggressive and illegal war policy has finally provoked a real military threat to the U.S., albeit one that has emerged only in response to U.S. war plans. As I explained in a recent article, North Korea’s discovery in 2016 of a U.S. plan to assassinate its president, Kim Jong Un, and launch a Second Korean War has triggered a crash program to develop long-range ballistic missiles that could give North Korea a viable nuclear deterrent and prevent a U.S. attack. But the North Koreans will not feel safe from attack until their leaders and ours are sure that their missiles can deliver a nuclear strike against the U.S. mainland.

The CIA’s Pretexts for War

U.S. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty was the chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1955 to 1964, managing the global military support system for the CIA in Vietnam and around the world. Fletcher Prouty’s book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, was suppressed when it was first published in 1973. Thousands of copies disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and a mysterious Army Colonel bought the entire shipment of 3,500 copies the publisher sent to Australia. But Prouty’s book was republished in 2011, and it is a timely account of the role of the CIA in U.S. policy.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Prouty surprisingly described the role of the CIA as a response by powerful people and interests to the abolition of the U.S. Department of War and the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Once the role of the U.S. military was redefined as one of defense, in line with the United Nations Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force in 1945 and similar moves by other military powers, it would require some kind of crisis or threat to justify using military force in the future, both legally and politically. The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war.

The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years.

Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out.

Many retired intelligence officers, such as Ray McGovern and the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), saw the merging of clandestine operations with intelligence analysis in one agency as corrupting the objective analysis they tried to provide to policymakers. They formed VIPS in 2003 in response to the fabrication of politicized intelligence that provided false pretexts for the U.S. to invade and destroy Iraq.

CIA in Syria and Africa

But Fletcher Prouty was even more disturbed by the way that the CIA uses clandestine operations to trigger coups, wars and chaos. The civil and proxy war in Syria is a perfect example of what Prouty meant. In late 2011, after destroying Libya and aiding in the torture-murder of Muammar Gaddafi, the CIA and its allies began flying fighters and weapons from Libya to Turkey and infiltrating them into Syria. Then, working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Croatia and other allies, this operation poured thousands of tons of weapons across Syria’s borders to ignite and fuel a full-scale civil war.

Once these covert operations were under way, they ran wild until they had unleashed a savage Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, now rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), spawned the even more savage “Islamic State,” triggered the heaviest and probably the deadliest U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam and drawn Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Hezbollah, Kurdish militias and almost every state or armed group in the Middle East into the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]

Meanwhile, as Al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their operations across Africa, the U.N. has published a report titled Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment, based on 500 interviews with African militants. This study has found that the kind of special operations and training missions the CIA and AFRICOM are conducting and supporting in Africa are in fact the critical “tipping point” that drives Africans to join militant groups like Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab and Boko Haram.The report found that government action, such as the killing or detention of friends or family, was the “tipping point” that drove 71 percent of African militants interviewed to join armed groups, and that this was a more important factor than religious ideology.

The conclusions of Journey to Extremism in Africa confirm the findings of other similar studies. The Center for Civilians in Conflict interviewed 250 civilians who joined armed groups in Bosnia, Somalia, Gaza and Libya for its 2015 study, The People’s Perspectives: Civilian Involvement in Armed Conflict. The study found that the most common motivation for civilians to join armed groups was simply to protect themselves or their families.

The role of U.S. “counterterrorism” operations in fueling armed resistance and terrorism, and the absence of any plan to reduce the asymmetric violence unleashed by the “global war on terror,” would be no surprise to Fletcher Prouty. As he explained, such clandestine operations always take on a life of their own that is unrelated, and often counter-productive, to any rational U.S. policy objective.

“The more intimate one becomes with this activity,” Prouty wrote, “The more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place.”

The U.S. justifies the deployment of 6,000 U.S. special forces and military trainers to 53 of the 54 countries in Africa as a response to terrorism. But the U.N.’s Journey to Extremism in Africa study makes it clear that the U.S. militarization of Africa is in fact the “tipping point” that is driving Africans across the continent to join armed resistance groups in the first place.

This is a textbook CIA operation on the same model as Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 60s. The CIA uses U.S. special forces and training missions to launch covert and proxy military operations that drive local populations into armed resistance groups, and then uses the presence of those armed resistance groups to justify ever-escalating U.S. military involvement. This is Vietnam redux on a continental scale.

Taking on China

What seems to really be driving the CIA’s militarization of U.S. policy in Africa is China’s growing influence on the continent. As Steve Bannon put it in an interview with the Economist in August, “Let’s go screw up One Belt One Road.”

Then-Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

China is already too big and powerful for the U.S. to apply what is known as the Ledeen doctrine named for neoconservative theorist and intelligence operative Michael Ledeen who suggested that every 10 years or so, the United States “pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.”

China is too powerful and armed with nuclear weapons. So, in this case, the CIA’s job would be to spread violence and chaos to disrupt Chinese trade and investment, and to make African governments increasingly dependent on U.S. military aid to fight the militant groups spawned and endlessly regenerated by U.S.-led “counterterrorism” operations.

Neither Ledeen nor Bannon pretend that such policies are designed to build more prosperous or viable societies in the Middle East or Africa, let alone to benefit their people. They both know very well what Richard Barnet already understood 45 years ago, that America’s unprecedented investment in weapons, war and CIA covert operations are only good for one thing: to kill people and destroy infrastructure, reducing cities to rubble, societies to chaos and the desperate survivors to poverty and displacement.

As long as the CIA and the U.S. military keep plunging the scapegoats for our failed policies into economic crisis, violence and chaos, the United States and the United Kingdom can remain the safe havens of the world’s wealth, islands of privilege and excess amidst the storms they unleash on others.

But if that is the only “significant national objective” driving these policies, it is surely about time for the 99 percent of Americans who reap no benefit from these murderous schemes to stop the CIA and its allies before they completely wreck the already damaged and fragile world in which we all must live, Americans and foreigners alike.

Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. He has written a new book titled The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, in which he brings Fletcher Prouty’s analysis right up to the present day, describing the CIA’s role in our current wars and the many ways it infiltrates, manipulates and controls U.S. policy.

The Three Scapegoats

In Trump’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he named North Korea, Iran and Venezuela as his prime targets for destabilization, economic warfare and, ultimately, the overthrow of their governments, whether by coup d’etat or the mass destruction of their civilian population and infrastructure. But Trump’s choice of scapegoats for America’s failures was obviously not based on a rational reassessment of foreign policy priorities by the new administration. It was only a tired rehashing of the CIA’s unfinished business with two-thirds of Bush’s “axis of evil” and Bush White House official Elliott Abrams’ failed 2002 coup in Caracas, now laced with explicit and illegal threats of aggression.

How Trump and the CIA plan to sacrifice their three scapegoats for America’s failures remains to be seen. This is not 2001, when the world stood silent at the U.S. bombardment and invasion of Afghanistan after September 11th. It is more like 2003, when the U.S. destruction of Iraq split the Atlantic alliance and alienated most of the world. It is certainly not 2011, after Obama’s global charm offensive had rebuilt U.S. alliances and provided cover for French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister CameronSecretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Arab royals to destroy Libya, once ranked by the U.N. as the most developed country in Africa, now mired in intractable chaos.

In 2017, a U.S. attack on any one of Trump’s scapegoats would isolate the United States from many of its allies and undermine its standing in the world in far-reaching ways that might be more permanent and harder to repair than the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

In Venezuela, the CIA and the right-wing opposition are following the same strategy that President Nixon ordered the CIA to inflict on Chile, to “make the economy scream” in preparation for the 1973 coup. But the solid victory of Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party in recent nationwide gubernatorial elections, despite a long and deep economic crisis, reveals little public support for the CIA’s puppets in Venezuela.

The CIA has successfully discredited the Venezuelan government through economic warfare, increasingly violent right-wing street protests and a global propaganda campaign. But the CIA has stupidly hitched its wagon to an extreme right-wing, upper-class opposition that has no credibility with most of the Venezuelan public, who still turn out for the Socialists at the polls. A CIA coup or U.S. military intervention would meet fierce public resistance and damage U.S. relations all over Latin America.

Boxing In North Korea

A U.S. aerial bombardment or “preemptive strike” on North Korea could quickly escalate into a war between the U.S. and China, which has reiterated its commitment to North Korea’s defense if North Korea is attacked. We do not know exactly what was in the U.S. war plan discovered by North Korea, so neither can we know how North Korea and China could respond if the U.S. pressed ahead with it.

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

Most analysts have long concluded that any U.S. attack on North Korea would be met with a North Korean artillery and missile barrage that would inflict unacceptable civilian casualties on Seoul, a metropolitan area of 26 million people, three times the population of New York City. Seoul is only 35 miles from the frontier with North Korea, placing it within range of a huge array of North Korean weapons. What was already a no-win calculus is now compounded by the possibility that North Korea could respond with nuclear weapons, turning any prospect of a U.S. attack into an even worse nightmare.

U.S. mismanagement of its relations with North Korea should be an object lesson for its relations with Iran, graphically demonstrating the advantages of diplomacy, talks and agreements over threats of war. Under the Agreed Framework signed in 1994, North Korea stopped work on two much larger nuclear reactors than the small experimental one operating at Yongbyong since 1986, which only produces 6 kg of plutonium per year, enough for one nuclear bomb.

The lesson of Bush’s Iraq invasion in 2003 after Saddam Hussein had complied with demands that he destroy Iraq’s stockpiles of chemical weapons and shut down a nascent nuclear program was not lost on North Korea. Not only did the invasion lay waste to large sections of Iraq with hundreds of thousands of dead but Hussein himself was hunted down and condemned to death by hanging.

Still, after North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006, even its small experimental reactor was shut down as a result of the “Six Party Talks” in 2007, all the fuel rods were removed and placed under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the cooling tower of the reactor was demolished in 2008.

But then, as relations deteriorated, North Korea conducted a second nuclear weapon test and again began reprocessing spent fuel rods to recover plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

North Korea has now conducted six nuclear weapons tests. The explosions in the first five tests increased gradually up to 15-25 kilotons, about the yield of the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but estimates for the yield of the 2017 test rangefrom 110 to 250 kilotons, comparable to a small hydrogen bomb.

The even greater danger in a new war in Korea is that the U.S. could unleash part of its arsenal of 4,000 more powerful weapons (100 to 1,200 kilotons), which could kill millions of people and devastate and poison the region, or even the world, for years to come.

The U.S. willingness to scrap the Agreed Framework in 2003, the breakdown of the Six Party Talks in 2009 and the U.S. refusal to acknowledge that its own military actions and threats create legitimate defense concerns for North Korea have driven the North Koreans into a corner from which they see a credible nuclear deterrent as their only chance to avoid mass destruction.

China has proposed a reasonable framework for diplomacy to address the concerns of both sides, but the U.S. insists on maintaining its propaganda narratives that all the fault lies with North Korea and that it has some kind of “military solution” to the crisis.

This may be the most dangerous idea we have heard from U.S. policymakers since the end of the Cold War, but it is the logical culmination of a systematic normalization of deviant and illegal U.S. war-making that has already cost millions of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. As historian Gabriel Kolko wrote in Century of War in 1994, “options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles.”

Demonizing Iran

The idea that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program is seriously contested by the IAEA, which has examined every allegation presented by the CIA and other Western “intelligence” agencies as well as Israel. Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei revealed many details of this wild goose chase in his 2011 memoir, Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times.

When the CIA and its partners reluctantly acknowledged the IAEA’s conclusions in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), ElBaradei issued a press release confirming that, “the agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

Since 2007, the IAEA has resolved all its outstanding concerns with Iran. It has verified that dual-use technologies that Iran imported before 2003 were in fact used for other purposes, and it has exposed the mysterious “laptop documents” that appeared to show Iranian plans for a nuclear weapon as forgeries. Gareth Porter thoroughly explored all these questions and allegations and the history of mistrust that fueled them in his 2014 book, Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, which I highly recommend.

But, in the parallel Bizarro world of U.S. politics, hopelessly poisoned by the CIA’s endless disinformation campaigns, Hillary Clinton could repeatedly take false credit for disarming Iran during her presidential campaign, and neither Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump nor any corporate media interviewer dared to challenge her claims.

“When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb,” Clinton fantasized in a prominent foreign policy speech on June 2, 2016, claiming that her brutal sanctions policy “brought Iran to the table.”

In fact, as Trita Parsi documented in his 2012 book, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran, the Iranians were ready, not just to “come to the table,” but to sign a comprehensive agreement based on a U.S. proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in 2010. But, in a classic case of “tail wags dog,” the U.S. then rejected its own proposal because it would have undercut support for tighter sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In other words, Clinton’s sanctions policy did not “bring Iran to the table”, but prevented the U.S. from coming to the table itself.

As a senior State Department official told Trita Parsi, the real problem with U.S. diplomacy with Iran when Clinton was at the State Department was that the U.S. would not take “Yes” for an answer. Trump’s ham-fisted decertification of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA is right out of Clinton’s playbook, and it demonstrates that the CIA is still determined to use Iran as a scapegoat for America’s failures in the Middle East.

The spurious claim that Iran is the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism is another CIA canard reinforced by endless repetition. It is true that Iran supports and supplies weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which are both listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. But they are mainly defensive resistance groups that defend Lebanon and Gaza respectively against invasions and attacks by Israel.

Shifting attention away from Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and other groups that actually commit terrorist crimes around the world might just seem like a case of the CIA “taking its eyes off the ball,” if it wasn’t so transparently timed to frame Iran with new accusations now that the manufactured crisis of the nuclear scare has run its course.

What the Future Holds

Barack Obama’s most consequential international achievement may have been the triumph of symbolism over substance behind which he expanded and escalated the so-called “war on terror,” with a vast expansion of covert operations and proxy wars that eventually triggered the heaviest U.S. aerial bombardments since Vietnam in Iraq and Syria.

Obama’s charm offensive invigorated old and new military alliances with the U.K., France and the Arab monarchies, and he quietly ran up the most expensive military budget of any president since World War Two.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

But Obama’s expansion of the “war on terror” under cover of his deceptive global public relations campaign created many more problems than it solved, and Trump and his advisers are woefully ill-equipped to solve any of them. Trump’s expressed desire to place America first and to resist foreign entanglements is hopelessly at odds with his aggressive, bullying approach to every foreign policy problem.

If the U.S. could threaten and fight its way to a resolution of any of its international problems, it would have done so already. That is exactly what it has been trying to do since the 1990s, behind both the swagger and bluster of Bush and Trump and the deceptive charm of Clinton and Obama: a “good cop – bad cop” routine that should no longer fool anyone anywhere.

But as Lyndon Johnson found as he waded deeper and deeper into the Big Muddy in Vietnam, lying to the public about unwinnable wars does not make them any more winnable. It just gets more people killed and makes it harder and harder to ever tell the public the truth.

In unwinnable wars based on lies, the “credibility” problem only gets more complicated, as new lies require new scapegoats and convoluted narratives to explain away graveyards filled by old lies. Obama’s cynical global charm offensive bought the “war on terror” another eight years, but that only allowed the CIA to drag the U.S. into more trouble and spread its chaos to more places around the world.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin is winning hearts and minds in capitals around the world by calling for a recommitment to the rule of international law, which prohibits the threat or use of military force except in self-defense. Every new U.S. threat or act of aggression will only make Putin’s case more persuasive, not least to important U.S. allies like South Korea, Germany and other members of the European Union, whose complicity in U.S. aggression has until now helped to give it a false veneer of political legitimacy.

Throughout history, serial aggression has nearly always provoked increasingly united opposition, as peace-loving countries and people have reluctantly summoned the courage to stand up to an aggressor. France under Napoleon and Hitler’s Germany also regarded themselves as exceptional, and in their own ways they were. But in the end, their belief in their exceptionalism led them on to defeat and destruction.

Americans had better hope that we are not so exceptional, and that the world will find a diplomatic rather than a military “solution” to its American problem. Our chances of survival would improve a great deal if American officials and politicians would finally start to act like something other than putty in the hands of the CIA.

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