Archive | November 7th, 2017

Who is afraid of the Iranian bomb?

NOVANEWS
Iranian flag as a jigsaw puzzle

By Uri Avnery

I hate self-evident truths.

Ideals may be self-evident. Political statements are not. When I hear about a self-evident political truth, I immediately doubt it.

The most self-evident political truth at this moment concerns Iran. Iran is our [Israel’s] deadly enemy. Iran wants to destroy us. We must destroy its capabilities first.

Since this is self-evident, the anti-nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the five Security Council members (plus Germany) is terrible. Just terrible. We should have ordered the Americans long ago to bomb Iran to smithereens. In the unlikely event that they would have disobeyed us, we should have nuclear-bombed Iran ourselves, before their crazy fanatical leaders have the opportunity to annihilate us first.

All these are self-evident truths. To my mind, all of them are utter nonsense. There is nothing self-evident about them. Indeed, they have no logical basis at all. They lack any geopolitical, historical or factual foundation.

Napoleon once said that if one wants to understand the behaviour of a country, one has to look at the map.

Geography is more important than ideology, however fanatical. Ideologies change with time. Geography doesn’t. The most fanatically ideological country in the 20th century was the Soviet Union. It abhorred its predecessor, Czarist Russia. It would have abhorred its successor, Putin’s Russia. But lo and behold – the Czars, Stalin and Putin conduct more or less the same foreign policy. Karl Marx must be turning in his grave.

When the Biblical Israelite people was born, Persia was already a civilised country. King Cyrus of Persia sent the “Jews” to Jerusalem and founded what can be called the “Jewish people”. He is remembered in Jewish history as a great benefactor.

When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion saw in Iran a natural ally. It may now sound strange, but not so long ago Iran was indeed the most pro-Israeli country in the Middle East.

Ben-Gurion was an out-and-out realist. Since he had no intention whatsoever to make peace with the Arabs, a peace which would have prevented the original small state of Israel expanding without boundaries, he looked for allies beyond the Arab world.

Looking at the map (yes, he believed in the map) he saw that the Muslim Arabs were surrounded by a number of non-Arab or non-Muslim entities. There were the Maronite Christians in Lebanon (not Muslims), the Turks (Muslims, but not Arabs), the Kurds (Muslims but not Arabs), Iran (Muslim, but not Arab), Ethiopia (neither Muslim nor Arab) and more.

The “King of Kings” was a brutal dictator, hated by most of his people. But for many Israelis, Iran became a second home. Tehran became a Mecca for Israeli businessmen, some of whom became very rich.

Seeing this, Ben-Gurion devised a grand plan: a “partnership of the periphery”, an alliance of all these entities surrounding the Arab world and which felt threatened by the emerging pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser and other Sunni-Muslim-Arab states.

One of the greatest enthusiasts for this idea was the Shah of Iran, who became Israel’s most ardent friend.

The “King of Kings” was a brutal dictator, hated by most of his people. But for many Israelis, Iran became a second home. Tehran became a Mecca for Israeli businessmen, some of whom became very rich. Experts of the Israeli Security Service, called Shabak (Hebrew initials of General Security Service) trained the Shah’s detested secret police, called Savak

High-ranking Israeli army commanders travelled freely through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they trained the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Saddam Hussein’s regime. (The Shah, of course, did not dream of giving freedom to his own Kurdish minority.)

This paradise came to a sudden end when the Shah made a deal with Saddam Hussein, in order to save his throne. To no avail. Radical Shia clerics, who were very popular, overthrew the Shah and established the Shia Islamic republic. Israel was out.

By the way, another element of the “Periphery” broke away too. In 1954 Ben-Gurion and his army chief, Moshe Dayan, hatched a plan to attack Lebanon and establish a pro-Israeli Maronite dictator there. The then prime minister, Moshe Sharet, who knew something about the Arab world, nixed this adventure, which he considered stupid. Thirty years later Ariel Sharon, another ignoramus, implemented the same plan, with disastrous results.

In 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon. It duly installed a Maronite dictator, Basheer Jumayil, who signed a peace agreement with Israel and was soon assassinated. The Shia, who populate the south of Lebanon, welcomed the Israeli army enthusiastically, believing that it would help them against the Sunni Muslims and withdraw. I was an eye-witness: driving alone in my civilian car from Metullah in Israel to Sidon on the Lebanon coast, I passed several Shia villages and could hardly extricate myself (physically) from the embraces of the inhabitants.

However, when the Shia realised that the Israelis had no intention of leaving, they started a guerrilla war against them. Thus, Hezbollah was born and became one of Israel’s most effective enemies – and an ally of the Shia regime in Iran.

But is the Shia Iranian regime such a deadly enemy of Israel? I rather doubt it.

… when it served their practical purposes, the ayatollahs had no qualms at all about making deals with Israel, the “little Satan”.

Indeed, when the religious fanaticism of the new regime in Iran was at its height, a curious business occurred. It became known as “Iran-Contra” affair. Some conservatives in Washington DC wanted to arm rightist insurgents in leftist Nicaragua. American laws prevented them from doing so openly, so they turned to – who else? – Israel.

Israel sold arms to the Iranian ayatollahs (yes, indeed!) and gave the proceeds to our Washington friends, who transferred them illegally to the Nicaraguan rightist terrorists, called “Contras”.

The moral of the story: when it served their practical purposes, the ayatollahs had no qualms at all about making deals with Israel, the “little Satan”.

Iran needed the weapons Israel sent them because they were fighting a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was not the first one. For many centuries, Iraq served the Arab world as a bulwark against Iran. Iraq has a large Shia population, but the Iraqi Shia were Arabs and had no real sympathy for their fellow Shia in Iran. They still have little.

Israel helped Iran in that war because it feared Saddam Hussein. Therefore, Israel helped to convince the US to invade Iraq. The invasion was highly successful: Iraq was destroyed, and the historic bulwark against Iran disappeared. So it was Israel which helped to remove the main obstacle to Iran’s hegemony over the Middle East.

Sounds crazy? Is crazy. Ben-Gurion’s grand design has been stood on its head. At present, the “periphery” of Lebanon and Iran, supported by Turkey, is our mortal enemy, and the Sunni bloc of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt are our open or half-secret allies.

Here I hear the impatient reader shout: “Cut the bullshit, what about the nuclear danger? What about the mad ayatollahs obtaining atomic bombs and annihilating us?”

Well, I am not afraid. Even if Iran obtains nuclear bombs, I shall sleep well.

The current Iranian rulers may be fanatics (I doubt it) but they are not suicidal… On the contrary, they seem eminently practical people.

Why, for God’s (or Allah’s) sake? Because Israel is well provided with nuclear weapons and a second-strike capability.

Bombing Israel would mean the annihilation of Iran, the multi-millennial civilisation, the proud heritage of innumerable philosophers, artists, poets and scientists. (The very word “algorithm” is derived from the name of the Persian mathematician Al-Khawarizmi).

The current Iranian rulers may be fanatics (I doubt it) but they are not suicidal. There is not a single indication in that direction. On the contrary, they seem eminently practical people.

So why do they clamour against Israel? Because their aim is to become the dominant force in the Muslim world, and cursing Israel is the obvious way. As long as Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians, the Arab and Muslim masses everywhere hate Israel. Iran’s current leaders are very good at cursing the Little Satan.

Experts report that Islam has recently been losing strength as the main force in Iran, while Iranian nationalism has been gaining. The cult of Cyrus, who preceded Muhammad by more than 1,200 years, is gaining ground.

Since the nuclear bomb was invented, no nuclear-armed country has ever been attacked. Attacking a nuclear-armed country simply means suicide. Even the mighty USA (the “Big Satan”) does not dare to attack little North Korea, whose endeavour to obtain a nuclear strike force is far from irrational.

So, I shall sleep soundly even if Iran goes nuclear. Though perhaps with one eye half open.

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The Pentagon’s Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) Will Teach the Art of War to Foreign Armies

In spite of its irresistible urge to address the challenges it created by a handful of armed interventions in various states of the world, we’re witnessing Washington’s ever decreasing commitment to direct warfare, as it prefers to lead regional forces from behind. The experience accumulated in this sort of leadership in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa is now going to be applied on a global scale by the US.

Under these circumstances, we’re noticing an ever growing demand for “military instructors” that are sent to all sorts of states as an instrumental part of the new US military doctrine. In fact, a new industry is being created as entire drill brigades started to get formed by 2016 as the US 10th Mountain Division prepared Iraqi Army units for an assault on Mosul.

For this reason, last summer the Pentagon would announce its plan to create six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) which will be employed as “military advisers and instructors” across the world to support the power of pro-US regimes across the world. This process is being carefully supervised by the 39th Chief of Staff for the US Army, General Mark Milley.

The first brigade of such instructors that is known as 1SFAB or the “Legion” started its formation in the spring of 2017 on the basis of Fort Benning (Georgia) under the supervision of Col. Scott Jackson. Of its 529 troopers, 360 are officers. Servicemen of the brigade receive a bonus of five thousand dollars a year in addition to their respective salaries. The subdivision is formed on a voluntary basis. As early as November 30, the 1SFAB “Legion” brigade should be operational and prepared to carry out its missions abroad, while the funds have already been allocated on the creation of the second similar brigade.

All six such SFAB, according to the Pentagon, are expected to be fully operational by 2022. It is planned that each regional command of the USA (for example, AFRICOM, EUCOM, etc.) will receive a SFAB brigade under its command. Should the situation in any of US satellite states become aggravated, the Pentagon expects that local forces trained by SFABs will be dispatched to “resolve the situation” on their own. Should there be any more assistance needed from Washington, a full-fledged brigade of four thousand servicemen will be formed on the basis of one of such SFABs, consisting of 500 servicemen in the shortest possible time.

The Pentagon’s SFAB brigade program provides training for US military personnel in foreign languages, it’s expected that more that 200 servicemen will undergo intensive foreign languages courses for four months, while they will be allowed to get acquainted with foreign weapons samples. Also, SFAB soldiers will be informed of the importance of understanding local customs, culture, traditions, political nuances. The officers will also be instructed to establish personal contacts with local political and military figures.

The training of new military advisers will take place with the involvement of the same US special forces that are already operating in various regions. This will be an additional burden for them. Therefore, the decision of the Pentagon on the new brigades SFAB caused a lot of controversy in the military environment, especially among representatives of the special forces, as many did not understand what functions will be assigned to this new type of units. Indeed, until recently, it was the US special forces that would spend a lot of their time instructing and training local security agencies, learning the situation on the ground, while establishing informal contacts with local populations. It would be understatement to say that those units were simply engaged in routine military operations. Many fear that the new SFAB will either duplicate certain functions of special forces, or will simply replace them.

For this reason, in the military environment of the United States in recent months, additional explanatory work has been conducted on the true aims of the SFAB program. In particular, the high-ranking of the US military department was forced to emphasize that the SFAB is designed not to create individual combat-ready units, but also indirectly work on the emergence of the entire military structure of a state, which would ultimately advance US interests. As a result, the US military units will work more closely with those forces within a country.

The US special forces are not designed to create foreign armies. At best, as we’re witnessing in Iraq and Afghanistan, it can effectively train elite units in other countries.

In any case, according to the estimates of the US military establishment, the creation of SFAB will become an important element of the US war machine, but also a tool to advance American values abroad. And by 2022, the six SFAB brigades will be ready to be assigned to a wide variety of tasks, thus strengthening the US military expansion around the world.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Joyful Tax Havens, Offshore Banking and the “Paradise Papers”

NOVANEWS

This was another case of the big and the powerful undercutting the tax systems of the world. But could anyone be genuinely surprised at the revelations to come out of the Paradise Papers on the workings of the tax haven industry?

Of the 13.4 million files revealed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and some 90 global media partners, 6.8 million stem from the offshore law firm Appleby. A further half million derive from the Asiaciti Trust based in Singapore, with six million obtained from corporate registries spanning 19 tax havens.[1]

This is a field where denial is followed by qualification, and then, ultimately, a dismissive shrug. Nothing exemplifies this more than the dispute over what a “tax haven” constitutes. The Bermuda minister for finance, Bob Richards, for instance, rejects the suggestion that his country is a joyful tax haven for the stinking rich and robustly powerful.

Language and perception is everything here. A tax haven, according to the Bermuda side of things, suggests terrorism and money laundering. A no-tax or low-tax threshold is an entirely decent incentive. “We didn’t pass a law to say,” disclaimed Richards, “that the Googles of this world don’t get taxed.”[2]

Besides, claimed the evidently irritated finance minister, the UK was itself a tax haven. “You have more billionaires resident in London than any place on earth. They are not here for the weather, they are here for the tax climate. We have a double standard going on here.”[3]

Richards does have a point. In the world of tax havens, countries with a supposedly more keen disposition to netting tax are found wanting. The Netherlands, for instance, is a the place of choice for General Electric, Heinz, Caterpillar, Time Warner, Foot Locker and Nike. In the sharp observation of Jesse Frederik, “The land of tulips and windmills, the home of the International Criminal Court, and the number one tax have for American multinationals.”[4]

Combing through the papers has already revealed the activities of a few big fish, though again, there are few surprises. US President Donald Trump, for instance, is the least surprising of all. Despite railing against the unelected global elites who do boardroom deals, his circle is filled with that very same ilk. The corporate boardroom, in fact, stalks the land and haunts the cabinet.

Take US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. His private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co., LLC was a company that became, in time, one of Appleby’s biggest clients. Despite divesting most of his empire, he retained a stake in the shipping company Navigator Holdings, with W.L. Ross being its largest shareholder.[5] Navigating Holdings, in turn, does extensive business with the Russian gas processing and petrochemicals company SIBUR. A resounding tut-tut has duly followed.

Do these revelations actually matter? The very fact that the Paradise Papers duly followed in the tracks of the enormous documentation in the Panama Papers is evidence that the enterprising accountant is always ahead of the plodding taxman.

Nonetheless, Will Fitzgibbon and Emilia Díaz-Struck would suggest in November 2016 for the ICIJ that the Panama Papers investigation had “produced an almost daily drumbeat of regulatory moves, follow-up stories and calls by politicians and activists for more action to combat offshore financial secrecy.”[6]

The problem with such companies is that they, in a sense, have every right, or, to be more precise, liberty, to exist in an environment teaming with advisors on how best to trick the tax departments. Companies are not in the habit of feeding social consciences or the public good, and have an incentive to obtain the biggest dividends for their shareholders.

The problem is so endemic that even the ICIJ supplies a disclaimer noting how offshore companies and trusts have “legitimate uses”. “We do not intend to suggest or imply that people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.” Precisely.

What is easy to ignore is the degree of collusion states afford companies. Some are in the habit of encouraging companies to operate on their territory, the incentive here being a zero tax rate. Capital duly migrates; outsourcing takes place. Tax that would otherwise find its way into coffers is simply not collected. Infrastructure and services duly suffers.

Matt Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy based in Washington sees an inexorable trend, one that threatens to reduce democratic practice to a shell. The tax bases of the globe are shrinking, as is trust in state institutions.

“When its documented as well as it has that companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft – these incredibly profitable companies – are just able to use the tax system like a piñata, that just reinforces the belief that no-one cares about the plight of middle-income families.”[7]

Till a good reason exists to abolish such entities as Mossack Fonseca or Appleby, the world of the tax haven will continue to thrive, however vigorous a prune it might receive from periodic bursts of moral outrage.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge and lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes:

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-06/what-are-the-paradise-papers-and-what-is-the-firm-appleby/9075640
[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/bermuda-tax-haven-finance-minister_n_3378773.html
[3] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/06/uk-tax-haven-bermuda-financial-secrecy-offshore-companies
[4] https://thecorrespondent.com/6942/bermuda-guess-again-turns-out-holland-is-the-tax-haven-of-choice-for-us-companies/417639737658-b85252de
[5] https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/us-president-donald-trumps-influencers/
[6] https://panamapapers.icij.org/20161201-global-impact.html
[7] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-07/paradise-papers-why-tax-avoidance-matters/9123850

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As Trump Visits Asia, Civil Society in the U.S., South Korea, and Japan Oppose War in Korea

Ahead of Trump’s arrival in South Korea as part of his 13-day tour through Asia, hundreds of civil society organizations from Japan, South Korea and the United States issued a joint statement denouncing his policy of sanctions and war threats against North Korea and demanding a halt to military exercises that impede dialogue. The joint statement also calls on South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration to assertively pursue inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation and Japan’s Abe government to cease moves to change Article 9, the peace clause of its constitution.

“Washington is forcing a trilateral military alliance and provocative war drills on Tokyo and Seoul that threatens North Korea and the region,” said Christine Ahn, international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ. “The people of Japan, South Korea and United States oppose war. Our demands are an urgent pivot towards peace.”

“In Japan, Prime Minister Abe utilizes the U.S.-North Korea crisis to promote public hysteria and fear and encourage right-wing groups that call for Japan’s militarization, including the acquisition of nuclear weapons for itself,”

explains Yoshioka Tatsuya, Co-Founder and Director of Peace Boat, Japan’s largest peace organization.

“But we really have to understand that the joint military exercises by the U.S., Japan, and South Korea increase the risk of war in this region. Japan has the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have to work to abolish nuclear weapons, but it’s unreasonable to demand that North Korea be the only one to give up theirs. All of us, including the U.S. and Japan, must say no to them.”

“The South Korean public is highly critical of Trump for making threats of war and dismissing the gravity of its consequences as something ‘over there,’” says Choi Eun-a of the Korean Alliance for Progressive Movements, which is among the 222 South Korean civil society organizations from the Candlelight Revolution that have called for nationwide protest timed with Trump’s visit to South Korea. “The war-threatening, weapons salesman Trump is not welcome here, especially as he demands that South Korea pay more to host U.S. troops and set aside land for useless weapons like the THAAD missile defense system.”

“Peace-loving people in the United States, Japan, and South Korea reject the war-mongering policies of our governments and express our friendship and solidarity with the people of North Korea,” said Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation in California, and the National Co-Convener of United for Peace and Justice.

“The U.S. government must end its policy of sanctions and military threats against North Korea, cease the deployment of more weapons of mass destruction to the Korean peninsula and the region, and halt large-scale military exercises that impede dialogue with North Korea.”

“It’s time for peace-makers, for diplomats, and particularly for the people of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. to demand a peaceful resolution from our governments,” noted Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action, the United States’ largest grassroots peace and disarmament organization. “While not excusing its behavior, North Korea has legitimate security concerns that need to be addressed in order to move toward an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Joint Statement:

U.S., South Korean, and Japanese Civil Society Organizations Call for a Bold Shift in Policy for Peace in Korea and Northeast Asia

As U.S. President Trump travels to Asia, we civil society groups from the United States, South Korea, and Japan call for a diplomatic solution to the dangerous conflict between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). As those who would be directly impacted by the outbreak of such a conflict, we call on our leaders to take bold steps to ensure lasting peace.

Recent events have set the stage for a possible catastrophe on the Korean Peninsula and even throughout the greater Northeast Asian region. Any further escalation of tensions could rapidly degenerate into violence. In its 27 October 2017 report, the U.S. Congressional Research Service estimates that over 300,000 people would die in the opening days of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula, even without nuclear weapons, and would ultimately claim 25 million lives.

Even as President Trump calls his predecessor’s policy of “strategic patience” on North Korea a failure, he continues the same policy, i.e., intensifying U.N. and unilateral sanctions and military threats. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to escalate the pace and scale of its nuclear and missile tests. The Abe government, seizing on the crisis in Korea, has quickened the pace of remilitarization and revision of Article 9 of its constitution. South Korean President Moon Jae-in meanwhile, despite an unambiguous mandate from the South Korean people, who ousted his hawkish predecessor in hopes of a radical transition to harmonious North-South relations, instead continues to do the bidding of the United States as he assumes a hostile posture vis-à-vis North Korea. We therefore demand that:

  1. The Trump administration boldly shift to a policy of peace by:
  • Ending its policy of sanctions and military threats against North Korea;
  • Ceasing the deployment of more weapons of mass destruction on the Korean peninsula and in the region, and withdrawing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system from South Korea as it only exacerbates tensions in the region; and
  • Halting large-scale military exercises that impede dialogue with North Korea

 

  1. The administration of President Moon Jae-in of South Koreahonor the spirit of past North-South joint declarations for peace and reconciliation by:
  • Assertively pursuing inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation;
  • Halting future large-scale U.S.-South Korea combined military exercises to minimize the risk of confrontation ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang, South Korea; and
  • No longer cooperating with investments in costly weapon systems with the United States and Japan, including spending on missile defense, which only exacerbates tensions in the region and diverts precious resources away from human needs.

 

  1. The government of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abeimmediately cease all further moves toward military buildup and instead contribute to regional peace by:
  • Abolishing the controversial “Conspiracy Law” and “State Secrecy Law,” as well as the 2015 “Peace and Security Legislation” or war bills which permit the use of the so-called right to collective self-defense;
  • Pursuing the normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea based upon the principles of the Pyongyang Declaration and the Stockholm Agreement; and
  • Ceasing moves to change Article 9, the peace clause in its constitution.

 

These are among the hundreds of civil society organizations who have signed on:

Japan[1]

  • Citizens Association against Constitutional Revision (許すな!憲法改悪・市民連絡会)
  • Femin Women’s Democratic Club (ふぇみん婦人民主クラブ)
  • Japan-Korea People’s Solidarity Network (日韓民衆連帯全国ネットワーク)
  • Kyoto/Kinki Association against the U.S. X-band Radar Base (米軍Xバンドレーダー基地反対・京都/近畿連絡)
  • Network of Religious Persons Making Peace
  • Nonviolent Peaceforce Japan (非暴力平和隊・日本)
  • Peace Boat (ピースボート)
  • Veterans for Peace Japan (ベテランズ・フォー・ピース・ジャパン)

 

South Korea

  • Federation of Korean Trade Unions (한국노동조합총연맹)
  • Korean Alliance of Progressive Movements (한국진보연대)
  • Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (전국민주노동조합총연맹)
  • Korean Peasants League (전국농민회총연맹)
  • Korean Street Vendors Confederation (전국노점상연합)
  • Korean Women’s Alliance (전국여성연대)
  • Korean Women Peasants Alliance (전국여성농민회총연합)
  • Korean Youth Solidarity (한국청년연대)
  • National Alliance of Squatters and Evictees (전국철거민연합)

 

United States

  • Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
  • International Forum on Globalization
  • Peace Action
  • Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific
  • United for Peace and Justice
  • Veterans for Peace National
  • Western States Legal Foundation
  • Women Cross DMZ

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US-ROK Alliance Commit to Continuing Military Exercises

NOVANEWS
US-ROK Alliance Commit to Continuing Military Exercises; U.S. Lawmakers Push to Prevent First Strike on North Korea

US and South Korean Defense Chiefs Agree to Increase Scale of Military Exercises and US Strategic Assets in Korea

The U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs agreed last week to bolster their joint military capabilities against North Korea. At the 49th annual US-ROK Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held on October 28 at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo released a joint statement committing both countries to increase the scale of future joint military exercises. The statement also included plans to expand the presence of U.S. strategic assets in and near the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The defense chiefs praised past joint naval exercises, including the most recent exercise in October, which featured U.S. nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. The two countries plan to enhance naval exercises near the Northern Limit Line — the contested maritime demarcation boundary separating North and South Korea.

Donald Trump’s summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on November 7-8 will likely include discussions on further intensifying pressure to isolate North Korea and increasing South Korea’s share of the alliance’s defense cost.

South Korean peace groups plan to protest Trump before and during his stop in Seoul on November 7. The protests are organized by a broad-based coalition, which includes the Korean Alliance For Progressive Movements (KAPM), Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Korean Peasants League (KPL), Korean Women Peasants Association (KWPA), and Korean Youth Solidarity. Koreans in the U.S. and Japan will also organize solidarity actions starting Friday November 3.

The following is a schedule of solidarity actions in the United States:

New York | When: Friday, November 3rd @ 6 p.m. | Where: Koreatown, Broadway & 32nd St., Manhattan

Washington DC | When: Saturday, November 4th @ 2 p.m. | Where: Pennsylvania Ave NW in front of the White House

Los Angeles | When: Saturday, November 4th @ 4 p.m. | Where: Wilshire + Western Ave

 

U.S. Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Prevent First Strike on North Korea

U.S. House representatives John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) seek to prevent the Trump administration from taking rash military action against North Korea. The two lawmakers introduced H.R.4140, the No Unconstitutional Strike against North Korea Act, on October 26. The bill had the support of 60 co-sponsors at the time of its introduction.

A similar bill was introduced in the senate by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) with the support of five other senators. These bills aim to ensure that Trump will not pull the preemptive trigger on North Korea without approval from congress.

Technically, the Constitution and the War Powers Act prevent the administration from ordering a military action without the approval of Congress. Trump, however, bypassed Congress when he ordered missile strikes in Syria in April of this year, just four months after his inauguration. The Conyers-Massie bill is meant to remind the Trump administration that a unilateral preemptive strike against North Korea would be unconstitutional and undemocratic. H.R.4140 also calls on the Trump administration to seek talks with North Korea with the goal of freezing its nuclear weapons program.

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Twenty-Six Dead in Texas Church Massacre: A Society Ravaged by Pathological Violence

A small town in Texas was the scene of a horrific mass shooting Sunday morning. A lone gunman, wearing black tactical gear and a ballistics vest, and toting what authorities described as an “assault-type rifle,” opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, population about 700, southeast of San Antonio, killing 26 people.

At least a dozen of the dead were children, one as young as 18 months. Eight members of one family were killed. The grandmother of the shooter’s wife was also killed. Fifteen of the 20 wounded remain in area hospitals, several in critical condition.

The shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was pursued by a local resident, who saw the attack and drew a weapon and fired on the gunman. Kelley dropped his weapon and attempted to escape by driving away. Two people followed him by car and he was eventually found dead in his vehicle, crashed by the roadside in a neighboring county. Authorities believe he died of a self-inflicted wound, with several weapons at his side.

When Americans turned on their televisions or checked their phones or laptops midday Sunday, many shook their heads in disgust at the news of yet another gruesome mass shooting in America. More innocent lives gunned down in what authorities would have us believe are “senseless killings,” with no real explanation provided aside from describing the gunman as someone gripped by “pure evil.”

But do such banal explanations hold up under conditions where these mass shootings continue to occur with regularity and increasing brutality? The Sutherland Springs shooting took place just five weeks after the Las Vegas shooting at a country music festival, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, which left 59 dead and 546 injured.

Eight of the 20 deadliest mass shootings in the US have taken place over the past five years (all figures include the perpetrators):

  •  November 5, 2017: Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting—27 dead
  •  October 1, 2017: The Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada—59 dead
  •  June 12, 2016: Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida—49 dead
  •  December 2, 2015: San Bernardino, California shooting—14 dead
  •  October 1, 2015: Umpqua Community College shooting, Oregon—10 dead
  •  September 16, 2013: Washington Navy Yard shooting, Washington DC—13 dead
  •  December 14, 2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Newtown, Connecticut—28 dead
  •  July 20, 2012: Century 16 movie theater shooting, Aurora, Colorado—12 dead

Following Sunday’s shootings, the authorities were quick to chime in with their religious platitudes, as well as cynically seizing on the tragedy as an opportunity to advance their pro-gun-lobby or gun-control agendas.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Japanese President Abe Shinzo in Japan, President Trump stated: “I think that mental health is a problem here. Based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged individual with a lot of problems over a very long period of time … but this isn’t about guns.”

Former president Barack Obama tweeted:

“We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred, and we’ll stand with the survivors as they recover. May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”

But such statements are cold comfort to the Sutherland Springs families who are grieving and offer little by way of explanation to the public at large as to why such atrocities continue to happen. Of course, the perpetrators of these mass shootings are invariably deranged individuals. How could it be otherwise? What “sane” person would gun down innocent people at a church, a university, an elementary school, or a music festival? But there are always deeper societal issues at work in the lives and actions of these individuals that drive them to lash out with violence.

In his 26 years, Devin Patrick Kelley had already participated in his share of violence before Sunday’s incident. A spokeswoman for the Air Force confirmed that Kelley, who joined the military after graduating from high school in 2009, was court-martialed in 2012 on two charges of assaulting his first wife and her child. The child reportedly suffered a fractured skull.

He was confined for a year, given a bad conduct discharge, and reduced in rank to an airman basic. Although this discharge should have barred him from purchasing weapons, the Air Force never informed the FBI of the charges against him.

Kelley’s first wife divorced him in 2012 and he remarried in Texas in 2014. Authorities say there was a “domestic situation” between him and his in-laws that led to the assault. His mother-in-law was a parishioner at the Sutherland Springs church, and she had reportedly received threatening text messages from him, although she was not present at the church on Sunday.

NBC also reported that two of Kelley’s ex-girlfriends said he stalked them after breakups. A search of criminal records in Comal County, Texas, where he lived, found a record of only minor violations, including driving with an expired registration, speeding, and driving without insurance.

While Kelley lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado for a short time in 2014, he was arrested on an animal cruelty charge, according to police records, involving beating a dog with both fists and punching it in the head and chest, a witness said. He paid a fine in that case.

But the question remains, what kind of society molds such an individual, willing to settle a seemingly petty score by carrying out mass murder? One must first look to the US military. For Kelley and other young men and women, the US has been in a perpetual state of war—in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere—for their entire lives. The current occupant of the White House is threatening the obliteration of an entire nation and people in North Korea.

Kelley—faced with the prospect of unemployment, a low-paying job in the service industry or the precarious “gig” economy—chose to enlist in the military upon graduation from high school. He likely absorbed the military’s jingoism and “America First” mentality, but the Air Force eventually spit him out with a bad conduct discharge after he abused his family.

Thousands of young people have also been drawn into the abuse of opioids, spurred on by the lack of job opportunities and the predatory drug companies. Opioid overdoses claimed the lives of about 64,000 Americans last year, a jump of 21 percent over the previous year, according to new figures release by the Centers for Disease Control.

And while the Trump administration claims that not one cent in additional funding can be provided for the opioid “public health emergency,” the White House and the Republicans are pushing through a massive tax cut for corporations that will lower the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent to 20 percent.

Increasing numbers of older workers are unable to retire, and are working into their 70s to maintain their health insurance and enough money to pay their rent or mortgages. For the first time since 1993, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, life expectancy actually declined between 2014 and 2015.

It is no wonder that a new report from the American Psychological Association, “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation,” reveals that nearly two thirds of Americans (63 percent) are “really, really, really stressed” about the future of the United States. This stress about the future of America supersedes even the usual suspects: money (62 percent) and work (61 percent).

Other common sources of stress reported by those surveyed include social divisiveness (59 percent), health care (43 percent), the economy (35 percent), potential wars/conflicts with other countries (30 percent), unemployment and low wages (22 percent), and climate change and environmental issues (21 percent).

Despite these very real concerns among ordinary Americans, the two big-business parties have no interest in addressing issues of social inequality and the struggles of workers and young people on a daily basis to survive and provide for their families.

The mainstream media and cable news networks took some time away from talk of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 elections to provide some sensationalist and uninformative coverage of the Sutherland Springs church massacre. But this coverage was peppered with new “revelations” about Russia and Vladimir Putin’s intervention into every aspect of American political life. It would not be shocking to hear one of the media’s talking heads suggest that Putin may have somehow been responsible for Sunday’s shooting tragedy.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Trump Reveals his Ignorance of Geography: “I Never Knew we had so Many Countries” ‘VIDEO’

NOVANEWS

Trump Tells Japanese Dignitaries He Never Knew There Were ‘So Many Countries’ Until He Was Elected

President Donald Trump candidly reveals his ignorance of geography and international politics.”I never knew we had so many countries”.

We recall the  circumstances of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the dangers of nuclear war, fifty-five years ago in October 1962. 

What distinguishes October 1962 to the 2017 realities of the Donald Trump presidency is that the leaders on both sides, namely John F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev were accutely aware of the dangers of nuclear annihilation.

In contrast, Donald Trump is totally ignorant and misinformed regarding the dangers of nuclear war: “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”

Michel Chossudovsky, November 7, 2017

***

Trump Tells Japanese Dignitaries He Never Knew There Were ‘So Many Countries’ Until He Was Elected

by Tom Boggioni

Raw Story

While giving a speech to Japanese dignitaries on the first leg his Asian tour, President Donald Trump admitted that he was unaware of how many countries there are in the world until he became president.

Addressing how he first became acquainted with Japanese Prime Minister Abe — who Trump referred to by his first name, Shinzo — Trump made the off-hand comment, appearing to go off-script from his prepared remarks.

“So my relationship with Shinzo got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am,” Trump remarked. “But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced. And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries.”

 

You can watch the president’s remarks in the video below. The countries comment comes at the 14 minute mark:

Transcript of President Trump’s Statement in Response to Japan’s Prime Minister Abe

Source: White House

emphasis added

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe, this has been a really wonderful two days. We have to spend more time together because I have enjoyed every minute of it, even though he’s a very, very tough negotiator. And, Melania, a real friend of yours now is Mrs. Abe. And I know you enjoyed it with me. You enjoyed it in Florida and you enjoyed it here, and maybe even more so. But I want to thank you for the royal welcome.

And it was really a — very much a working holiday, even on the golf course. So we can call it a couple of days off, but it wasn’t. It was full work. Even as we played golf, all we did was talk about different things. (Laughter.) We better not go into it. But I have to tell you, we did, and we made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts.

I do want to congratulate Mr. Aoki. He was one of the great putters — probably still is. They say you never lose your putting. When you’re a great putter, you never lose your putting.

But I remember a specific tournament, believe it or not, because it was one of the best I ever saw. It was the greatest putting display that I ever saw. It was you and Jack Nicklaus. Was that the U.S. Open? The U.S. Open. And you would get up and sink a 30-footer. He’d get up and sink a 25-footer. And this went on for the whole back nine. And then, ultimately, Jack won by one stroke. I thought it was one of the greatest putting displays anybody has ever seen and there ever was. And I even know your putting stroke — very flat.

And I spoke yesterday with the great Matsuyama, who is doing great, right? He’s going to be a big star, and he’s going to be great. I don’t even know if he’s with us tonight. I don’t think he’s with us tonight. But he does want to get together in New York, and we’re going to get together. And even though I want to have a great interpreter, but he’s rapidly learning the language.

But I will tell you that it’s an honor to be with you because everyone in the world of golf talks about that one great afternoon. Just putt after putt, and it was really great. So congratulations. Great gentleman, great gentleman. (Applause.)

So my relationship with Shinzo got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am. But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced. And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries. (Laughter.)

So I was now President-elect. But I didn’t know you were supposed to not see world leaders until after you were in office, which was January 20th. So you were just not supposed to because it was considered bad form. It was not a nice thing to do, and I understand that from the standpoint of the President whose place you were taking.

So you can only take so many calls from world leaders — because, you know, everybody was calling. But Japan, you take. And some others — we took Germany, we took Russia, we took China, we took — we took your Prime Minister.

So it’s November, and he said to me, “Congratulations on your victory, it was a great victory, I would like to see you. I would like to see you as soon as possible.” And I said, “Anytime you want, just come on in, don’t worry about it.” But I was referring to after January 20th. (Laughter.) So I said, don’t worry about it. Anytime you want, I look forward to seeing you. Just give us a call, no problem, anytime you want. And all of the sudden, I get a call from, actually, Japan press. And they said that our Prime Minister is going to New York to meet with the President-elect.

So the press is going crazy because the Prime Minister of Japan is coming to see me. I think it’s absolutely fine, but I didn’t really mean now. I meant some time in February, March, or April. Meaning, you have a very aggressive — very, very aggressive, strong, tough Prime Minister. That’s a good thing, by the way — not a bad thing. (Laughter.)

So then the New York media started calling me, and I was getting all sorts of signals from Hope and Sarah, in a different position, and everybody. And they’re going crazy. They’re saying, “You cannot see him. It’s so inappropriate. It looks bad.” I say, “What’s wrong?” They said, “It’s a bad thing to see him. You have to wait until after, in all fairness, Barack Obama leaves office.” And I said, “What do I do?” And they said, “Let’s call.”

So I called him, and he wasn’t there. He was on the airplane flying to New York. (Laughter.) And I said, “You know what? There’s no way he’s going to land and I’m not seeing him.”

So I saw him, and it worked out just fine. Do you agree with that? (Laughter.) And he actually brought me the most beautiful golf club I’ve ever seen. It was a driver that’s totally gold. Right? It’s gold. (Laughter.) And I looked at it — I said, “If I ever use this driver — me — to use that driver at a golf club, I will be laughed off every course I ever go onto.” But it is the most beautiful weapon I’ve ever seen, so I thank you for that.

But we had a great meeting. It lasted forever. It was a very long meeting in Trump Tower. And for some reason, from that moment on, we had a really — and developed a really great relationship. And here we are today and better than ever, and we’re going to work together. And it’s going to get more and more special, and we’re going to work out problems of Japan and problems of the United States. And it’s going to be something very, very special for both countries.

I just want to finish by saying that Melania and I today visited the palace. This is a beautiful, beautiful place. And we met two very beautiful people, the Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress, and spent a long time talking to them today. And there was a lot of love in that room for all of you people — I can tell you — from everyone from Japan. They love the people of Japan, they love this country dearly, and they have great, great respect for your Prime Minister. And they truly think that your Prime Minister did very, very well when he decided to marry — or she decided to marry him, Mrs. Abe. But they have great, great respect — I can tell you that.

And I just want to conclude by saying that our two great countries will have incredible friendship and incredible success for many centuries to come — not years, not decades, but for many centuries to come.

And again, it’s an honor to have you as my good friend, and I just want to thank you and Mrs. Abe. This is a very, very special two days. We will not forget, and we will be back soon. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

Posted in USA0 Comments

NATO Intensifies Its Preparations for War with Russia

Against the backdrop of US aggression against North Korea, NATO is intensifying its preparations for war with Russia, the world’s second largest nuclear power. A report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (Issue 43/2017) based on a secret NATO document indicates how far plans for war have progressed. The news magazine concludes: “In plain language: NATO is preparing for a possible war with Russia.”

In the document entitled “Progress report on the Alliance’s Enhanced Deterrence and Defence Disposition,” leading military figures call for a major boost to military capabilities in order to conduct a so-called “Major Joint Operation Plus.” The abstruse terminology in fact stands for a war involving the main military organisations of all NATO countries, i.e. hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Der Spiegel notes: “The period of the peace dividend is past, the command structures of the Cold War are returning.”

The secret report states that NATO must be able to “quickly strengthen one or more threatened allies, underpin peace and wartime deterrence, and support allies in the event of an attack.” The mobilisation of the necessary troops requires “robust military logistics and capabilities”. The lines of communication would have to extend from North America to the eastern and southern borders of the NATO Alliance.

The report notes that in particular, when relocating large-scale military units to Eastern Europe, NATO is insufficiently prepared, due to the reduction and increased demands of flexibility of the armed forces for foreign missions. In the field of logistics, “the risks involved in rapid reinforcement is considerable”. The alliance lacks low loaders for tanks and rail cars to move heavy equipment to the front. The infrastructure is not designed for the heavy battle tank of the German Army the 2Leopard 2.”

The core of the NATO paper is the demand for two new battlegroups comprising 2,000 troops.

The first of these units is based on the example of the Cold War Supreme Allied Command, which was to ensure the transfer of troops and supplies across the Atlantic for war in Europe. “According to high-ranking NATO military officers the sea route could prove to be an Achilles heel for replenishment in cases of emergency,” Spiegel writes. “In the secret meetings of the central command, analysts warned that Russia is able to manoeuvre its submarines in the Atlantic Ocean largely unobserved.” Based on the current command structure, NATO convoys in the Atlantic are defenceless.

The establishment of such a command unit would involve a massive militarisation of the North Atlantic. This is illustrated by a look at its historical precedent.

Up to its dissolution in 2003, the “Striking Fleet Atlantic” constituted the core of the Supreme Allied Command Atlantic. This included up to four aircraft carrier battle groups, two anti-submarine commandos, an amphibious unit for landing operations and 22,000 sailors. The purpose of this major federation was to maintain the supremacy of the seas between North America and Europe.

A second command unit known as “Rear Area Operation Command” is planned to organise the distribution of war supplies across Europe. According to Der Spiege l, its main task would be “to plan and secure logistics between Central Europe and the eastern member states….In reality the unit represents “the renaissance of the mobilisation concept of the Cold War”.

In plain language: the remit of the new battlegroup is to organise the deployment of large-scale contingents of troops at the Russian border and prepare an attack on Russia. Preparations are already in full swing and Berlin—the location of the command in Germany—is playing a key role. According to Der Spiegel talks between high-ranking US military officers and German officers had already taken place at the beginning of October, shortly after the federal election.

The first telephone conversation between German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and her American counterpart James “Mad Dog” Mattis also centred on setting up the new command unit. This means that Germany, which has been engaged in a massive military build up for the past three years now and is seeking to increase its military presence in NATO, will become even more centrally involved in NATO’s preparations for war with Russia.

Der Spiegel comments “Domestically, the project would probably be unproblematic even in a possible Jamaica coalition with the Greens, because Germany would not provide combat troops, but only staff soldiers” This is confirmed by the aggressive rhetoric used by the Greens against Russia and the conduct of the exploratory talks for a Jamaica coalition, which has made clear there are only tactical differences between the various parties.

A decision on the establishment of new command structures is expected at the meeting of NATO defence ministers on 8 and 9 November in Brussels—despite increasing tensions within the NATO alliance.

The NATO secret report and the report in Der Spiegel both justify the preparations for a war, which would threaten millions of lives, as a response to the “Russian annexation” of Crimea. This turns reality on its head. There is nothing progressive about the Putin regime, and its own military policy increases the danger of war. But the real aggressors in Eastern Europe are the US and western powers. The United States has been systematically encircling and attempting to subjugate Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union 25 years ago, and in February 2014, both Washington and the German government supported a right-wing coup against the pro-Russian Yanukovych government in Ukraine.

The depiction of Russia as an aggressive superpower waiting for the chance to take over all of Eastern Europe, has been used by the imperialist powers to justify the deployment of NATO troops at the Russian border. In 2014/15, NATO increased its “Rapid Reaction Force” to 40,000 soldiers. Its so-called “spearhead” comprises four “multinational battlegroups” with 1,000 soldiers stationed in each of the three Baltic States and Poland, led by Great Britain, Canada, Germany and the US.

The secret report now calls for a further increase in size of these battlegroups. There is “insufficient assurance that the NATO Response Force will be able to react quickly and sustainably when necessary.” Der Spiegel makes clear that what is contemplated is not merely a reaction to Russian aggression but rather active preparations for war with Moscow. The magazine concludes “hardly anyone expects that Russia could actually attack a NATO country.”

Posted in Europe, NATO, Russia0 Comments

Canada Follows Orders on Anti-Russian Sanctions: The Kremlin Reacts

Canada’s decision to extend its anti-Russia sanctions under the false pretext of hypocritically championing human rights is absolutely pointless and reprehensible,” read a November 3 statement from the Russian embassy in Ottawa.

Pointless and reprehensible. Reprehensible this action is but there is a point, the point being to create as much anti-Russian feeling among Canadians as possible and to support the American governments tightening economic blockade of Russia in retaliation for insisting on its own sovereignty, the right to run its own affairs and for insisting on protecting its own international interests as in Syria and along its borders.

On Friday November 3, Canada invoked the so-called Magnitsky Law to slap sanctions on 52 people, 30 linked to Russia, and aside from a couple from South Sudanese, the rest linked Venezuela, including President Maduro.

The new Canadian law, the official name of which is the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, won final approval in the Canadian Parliament two weeks ago. It allows the Canadian government to freeze Canadian assets of corrupt foreign officials and prevent them from entering Canada and mirrors a similar put into effect in the USA.

Russian President Putin responded to the law strongly accusing Canada of playing “unconstructive political games,” which it certainly is. In fact the Russian embassy in Ottawa stated correctly that Canada is “isolating itself from one of the key global powers.” The statement added, according to Tass that dozens of Canadians have now been banned from entering Russia.

Maria Zakharova, speaking for the Russian Foreign Ministry said,

We have repeatedly warned the Canadian authorities against attempts to exert pressure by imposing sanctions on Russia. We told them that such actions would not remain unanswered. To our great regret, Ottawa again introduced restrictions on our citizens under the pretext of the recently adopted Magnitsky Act.

We have to act in kind. Proceeding from the principle of reciprocity, the Russian Federation prohibits entry to many Canadian citizens. The list is long and contains dozens of names the Russophobic Canadian citizens that have been systematically destroying bilateral relations.

This raises the question: Is this what Ottawa wanted to achieve? Do its politicians really think that it is possible to put pressure on Russia? Or are they simply pampering their political ambitions?

If our Canadian partners like to play sanctions games, we will have to respond, although we certainly prefer to develop constructive cooperation on the issues important for the peoples of both countries. We hope the political circles of Canada will have a stroke of insight and they will give up the destructive policy that further exacerbates bilateral relations.”

Good questions but the answer can only be found in Washington that calls the shots, not in Ottawa, where the Canadian governments sits waiting to take American orders.

This is clear from the Canadian foreign minister’s statement. Chrystia Freeland stated,

Today’s announcement sends a clear message that Canada will take action against individuals who have profited from acts of significant corruption or who have been involved in gross violations of human rights,”

Instead of naming President Trump, Bill or Hilary Clinton, Tony Blair or a thousand others she could have named as paragons of corruption and whose violations of human rights around the world are legendary, she targeted President Maduro of Venezuela who has risked his life fighting the corruption and criminality of the finance and business oligarchs that want to retain their powers to fleece the Venezuelan people. President Putin’s government, which is targeted, has done more to eliminate corruption in Russia country that anyone since the fall of the USSR.

We can look at the other names too but the point is made. Why they threw in a couple of names from South Sudan is anyone’s guess as it is difficult to learn the details. Perhaps to make it look like they were spreading things around a bit. But no one is fooled. The aim of this action is not to go after the corrupt but to make propaganda.

And who is it that is presuming to make these people targets of an anti-corruption campaign, a campaign for human rights? Why, the very Canadian foreign minister who meets with and supports Nazis in the government of the Poroshenko regime in Ukraine; a foreign minister who has lied about her grandfathers Nazi past. No, this is not about human rights but a display of the Canadian government’s smug hypocrisy veiling its own crimes.

Just a few weeks ago the Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau devoted his entire UN speech to the General Assembly apologising for the gross human rights violations carried out by successive Canadian governments against the original peoples of Canada who, despite the apology continue to live lives of terrible desperation, desperation so terrible that native youth have resorted to incidents of mass suicide.

I wrote once and will repeat that Canada has once again revealed itself as a country without any existential existence. It is a regional backwater of the United States of America, the remaining vestiges of sovereignty and independence submerged in the swamp of American imperialism and culture.

Long gone are the glory days when a Canadian actually felt distinct in North America, when Canada tried to maintain an independent foreign policy and a national culture born out of the richness of the three founding peoples, the First Nations, the French and the English.

Canada remained a formal colony of British capital until 1867 when it was finally organised as a self governing state within the British empire after a series of internal struggles for more self rule by the growing mercantile and industrial elites but it only achieved any real independence as a country in the 1930’s as Britain’s power rapidly declined after its huge losses of the First World War. But the establishment of a country more independent of Britain did not result in an independent nation. Canada relied on foreign capital to build its infrastructure, its continental railway systems, its hydro-electric projects, its factories, its cities and where British capital could not supply the need it was quickly replaced by American capital.

The domination of the country by the Americans accelerated after the Second World War but it was countered by a rising nationalist feeling generated in part by Canada’s disproportionately large contribution to fighting the fascists in Europe.

A nation of eleven million people fielded military forces of almost a million and in 1945 Canada had the third largest navy in the world. After the war the working classes, many of whom viewed the Soviet Union as the most progressive nation in the world, despite the elites’ anti-Russian and anti-socialist propaganda, supported socialist ideals that resulted in the establishment of free national health care and low cost education, affordable housing and were enthusiastic about Canadian artists and writers.

They saw how a nation like Russia had rapidly developed its industrial and societal resources in a landmass that was very similar to Canada and realised that they could do the same. But it was not to be. Soon the American dominance began to be felt, with the forced dumping of Hollywood films in Canadian theatres, the take over of oil and gas exploration and pipeline construction, the stifling of any really independent steps to national development and of course the fateful decision under US pressure to join the NATO alliance.

The years of the late 50’s and 60’s saw Canadian leaders trying to act independently of the American power. In one famous episode, Prime Minister Lester Pearson declined U.S. requests to send Canadian combat troops into the Vietnam War. Pearson spoke at Temple University in Philadelphia on 2 April 1965 and called for a pause in the American bombing of North Vietnam, so that a diplomatic solution to the war could be found. President Johnson, who rose to power through the coup d’état against President Kennedy in 1963, saw this criticism of American foreign policy on American soil as an intolerable sin. Before Pearson had finished his speech, he was summoned to Camp David, Maryland, to meet with Johnson the next day. Johnson, a very large man, who was a notorious thug, reportedly picked up Pearson, a very small man, by the lapels and shouted, “Don’t you come into my living room and piss on my rug.”

The last gasp of Canadian attempts at real independence took place under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who, though not withdrawing from NATO, tried to create a foreign policy in Canadian interests and was one of the first western leaders to open the door to China, long before Nixon, and remained friends with Fidel Castro all his life. It was Trudeau that finally negotiated with the British for the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, finally severing the last legal ties to British rule. He called for the creation of a “Just Society” with real participatory democracy and concern for the collective good and for Canada to become more engaged with the rest of the world instead of just being fixated on the United States. But the fall of Trudeau and the rise of the right wing in Canada in the late 80’s led to the rise of the continentalists, that is those Canadians financiers and industrialists who saw their interests lying in New York instead of Toronto. The counter-revolution in the USSR accelerated this process as neo-liberalism and free trade became the dominant doctrine and, in a series of free trade and security agreements, starting in 1993, Canada quickly surrendered its hard won sovereignty almost overnight to the interests of American capital.

The lesson to be drawn from all this is that any nation that surrenders its sovereignty to a dominant power becomes the tool of that power. The interests of its own people count for nothing. International law and peace count for nothing. Human life counts for nothing.

Nations like Canada can choose their own path, their own destiny in peaceful cooperation with the nations and peoples of the world, with Russia and Venezuela. The problem is how the people of Canada, and, indeed, all nations, can escape this domination and survive it. Unfortunately, with the continentalists still in control in Washington and Ottawa, New York and Toronto, and with American control of the economic resources at an intolerable level, the situation looks bleak for the immediate future. Canadians are nothing more than servants in their own house, when, to use the phrase of the Quebec nationalists in their struggle for self determination, we should be “maître chez nous,” masters of our own house. Instead our government is a servant of Washington and will suffer any humiliation and disadvantage that these sanctions will undoubtedly bring upon us in order to lick the hand that pats its head.

Posted in Canada, Russia0 Comments

Invented “Enemies of America”: The Myth of a North Korean Threat

NOVANEWS

America’s only enemies are invented ones – justifying unjustifiable global militarism, belligerence, and out-of-control defense spending, intended for offense against sovereign independent countries threatening no one.

On Trump’s Asia-Pacific trip to five countries, North Korea is his prime focus, earlier during his Saudi Arabia visit, it was Iran.

Neither country threatens anyone. Throughout its post-WW II history, North Korea never attacked another country. Iran hasn’t done it for centuries.

Both countries are wrongfully vilified – for their sovereign independence, free from US imperial control, their militaries able to hit back hard if attacked.

The threat of US aggression against both nations remains unacceptably high, unthinkable nuclear war possible.

Trump’s Asia-Pacific trip is largely about selling war and weapons, peace and stability off his agenda, ranting about nonexistent threats his main tactic, along with pressuring allies to support US imperial policies.

It’s also about containing China, the region’s economic powerhouse, heading toward becoming the world’s leading economy, overtaking US dominance regardless of how Washington tries curbing its rise, treating Beijing as a rival, not an ally, Cold War strategy, the same hostility confronting Russia.

America seeks global dominance, not mutual cooperation. Trump wants increased congressional funding to challenge North Korea.

In a November 6 letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, he requested

“an additional $4.0 billion to support urgent missile defeat and defense enhancements to counter the threat from North Korea, $0.7 billion to repair damage to U.S. Navy ships, and $1.2 billion in support of my Administration’s South Asia strategy,”

adding:

“This request supports additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners.”

Claims of possible DPRK use of ballistic missiles or any other weapons against America, its regional forces or US allies are fabricated.

North Korea wants regional peace, not war. It wants respect for its sovereignty, normal relations with all countries, hostile sanctions lifted, and a peace treaty, formally ending the 1950s war – objectives Washington rejects, maintaining the myth of a DPRK threat.

En route to Tokyo on Air Force One, Trump told reporters America’s military budget is “going up” – despite no threats facing the nation or its allies.

He falsely blamed Iran for involvement in a Houthi missile fired from Yemen on Saudi Arabia, claiming the Islamic Republic supplies its fighters with these and other weapons.

An air, sea and land blockade prevents most everything from getting in, including essentials to life.

Trump’s accusation against Iran was a bald-faced lie, his extreme hostility toward the country worrisome, disturbing rhetoric perhaps prelude to something more sinister.

His Asia-Pacific trip is more about selling war than preventing it. Unthinkable US aggression against North Korea is ominously possible, including use of nuclear weapons, a nightmarish scenario if happens.

Posted in USA, North Korea0 Comments

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