Archive | December 14th, 2017

John Paul Jones: American hero or Scottish scoundrel?

John Paul Jones, with his ship flying the flag of the rebellious colonists of North America

“The greatest miscreant under the canopy of heaven; the more dangerous indeed because he is a villain of abilities”

Stuart Littlewood writes:

Every American, I imagine, knows about John Paul Jones, one of the founders of their navy.

I live in Old Kirkcudbright-shire (pronounced kir-coo-bree), south-west Scotland. The other day while taking snaps of Southerness lighthouse I got to thinking about John Paul who, as a lad, knew it well. He was born and grew up just a mile away at Kirkbean where his father was head gardener at the Arbigland estate.

John Paul (he added “Jones” later to confuse the law) spent much of his young life at the nearby small port of Carsethorn listening to sailors’ yarns and playing on their boats. Southerness lighthouse would have been newly built – and a very unusual structure – at that time. It was commissioned in 1748 by Dumfries Town Council as a navigation marker at the mouth of the River Nith to safeguard the booming trade with Virginia and ranks as the third oldest purpose-built beacon in Scotland. It’s now an iconic landmark on the Solway coast with its square-plan design, originally 30 ft high.

Southerness Lighthouse

Southerness Lighthouse

In 1837 one of Robert Stevenson’s “Bell Rock” team inspected the lighthouse and suggested improvements. At that point the light had two reflectors and was visible up to 9 miles away, but with only a narrow angle towards the Irish Sea. In 1842, the Nith Navigation Commission agreed to heighten the tower and install new reflectors with a wider arc and this work was completed in 1844. The lighthouse was finally decommissioned in 1936.

John Paul went to sea at the age of 13 when he boarded a vessel for Whitehaven, a few miles to the south on the Cumbria coast, signed on as an apprentice and sailed as cabin boy on the Friendship to the West Indies and Frederickburgh, where he stayed with his brother who had settled there. Whilst at Fredericksburg he learned navigation. Back at Whitehaven Friendship’sowner was in financial trouble and released John Paul from his apprenticeship, whereupon the boy joined the slaver King George of Whitehaven as third mate.

Lady Luck sailed with the “villain”

The turning point came when, in 1766, he switched to a bigantine Two Friendsas first mate. This vessel was only 50 ft long yet carried 77 negroes from Africa. The stench was so appalling that he quit the slave business, calling it an abominable trade, and was given free passage home on a new ship, the Johnof Kirkcudbright. As luck would have it, the captain and mate both died of fever on the trip and John Paul, as the only qualified officer, brought the ship safely to port. In appreciation the owners appointed him master for John’s next voyage to America. So there he was, a captain at twenty-one.

But he had a nasty temper and it got the better of him on one of John’s voyages when he allegedly flogged the ship’s carpenter, Mungo Maxwell, excessively and accusations were brought against him in Tobago. The complaint was dismissed, but unfortunately Maxwell died on the way home on another ship. And doubly unfortunately Maxwell was from a prominent Kirkcudbright family who weren’t going to let the matter drop. John Paul was arrested in Kirkcudbright on a charge of murder and imprisoned in the town’s tollbooth. However, the evidence from Tobago was flimsy and he was eventually acquitted, but the whiff of this unsavoury affair remained.

Kirkcudbright Tollbooth

Kirkcudbright Tollbooth

After that he made himself scarce in Scotland and spent time in the West Indies captaining the Betsy and making money. But in 1773 he fled to Virginia after running the ringleader of a mutiny through with his sword. That is when he changed his name to John Paul Jones.

When the Revolution began for real in 1775, he found himself in Philadelphia and was commissioned as first lieutenant on the Alfred, a ship of the new Continental Navy. Serving on this vessel he was the first to hoist the Grand Union flag on a Continental warship. Jones soon demonstrated that he was a capable officer in action. In 1776 he was in command of the Providence in the North Atlantic and sent home eight prizes, sinking and burning eight more. Then, in charge of the Alfred, he returned to port towing several more prizes.

In 1777 he was sent by Congress to France as captain of the Ranger with orders to attack enemy commerce in British waters. On this mission two spectacular failures nevertheless left the British panic stricken. The first was Jones’s botched night raid on Whitehaven in April 1778 where up to 400 ships were expected to be moored. The idea was to burn the ships and the warehouses after spiking the guns at the harbour’s two forts. But the escapade was doomed as soon as it took three hours for the raiding party to row ashore against the tide. Then they found that they’d either forgotten to bring matches or the heavy rain had made them useless. By the time they got their act together it was nearly daylight. They managed to set fire to the main target, a coal ship, from which, it was hoped, the blaze would spread.

There are reports that some of Jones’s raiders called in at the quayside pub for firelighters and took the opportunity to sample the refreshments. In the meantime an Irishman, David Freeman, who was unhappy with Jones’s leadership, slipped away to warn townspeople of what was happening. The town’s fire engines promptly rushed to the scene and put out the flames before they could do any lasting damage.

The raiding party made it back to the ship safely and without bloodshed, and that same morning landed at St Mary’s Isle in Kirkcudbright Bay on the Scottish side of the Solway. The plan was to capture the Earl of Selkirk who lived there and exchange him for captured American sailors. The raiding party this time was disguised as a British press gang, which caused huge consternation among the locals. The Earl was absent and the raiders were received by the Countess. Jones’s crew, after returning from Whitehaven empty-handed, insisted on looting the house and Jones agreed that they should take only the family silver. The butler was discovered trying to hide it so Jones’s senior officer asked for an inventory to make sure they got the lot. The teapot they carried away was still warm from breakfast. A friend of the Countess asked the men “a thousand questions” about America and afterwards reported that they behaved with great civility.

When Jones, who was waiting back at the boat, heard that the Countess had acted with dignity he purchased the silver himself and returned it after the war with a letter of apology. Lord Selkirk, replying, wrote:

Since that time I have mentioned it to many people of fashion; and on all occasions, Sir, both now and formerly, I have done you the justice to tell that you made an offer of returning the plate very soon after your return to Brest; and although you yourself were not at my house, but remained at the shore with your boat, that yet you had your officers and men in such extraordinary good discipline, that you having given them the strictest orders to behave well, to do no injury or any kind, to make no search, but only to bring off what plate was given to them; that in reality they did exactly as ordered, and that not one man offered to stir from his post on the outside of the house, nor entered the doors, nor said an uncivil word; that the two officers stood not a quarter of an hour in the parlour and butler’s pantry while the butler got the plate together; behaved politely, and asked for nothing but the plate, and instantly marched their men off in regular order; and that both officers and men behaved in all respects so well that it would have done credit to the best disciplined troops whatever. Some of the English newspapers at that time having put in confused accounts of your expedition to Whitehaven and Scotland, I ordered a proper one of what happened in Scotland to be put in the London newspapers by a gentleman who was then at my house, by which the good conduct and civil behaviour of your officers and men were done justice to, and attributed to your orders and the good discipline you maintained over your people.

I am, Sir, your most humble servant, Selkirk.

So, a nice compliment to the American mariners and to Jones himself. War in those days could be conducted against non-combatants with good manners, face to face, not with extreme rudeness from 30,000 feet or by a couldn’t-care-less armchair drone jockey well out of harm’s way himself.

The raids on Whitehaven and St Mary’s Isle, reading about them now, verge on high comedy. But they had the desired effect as exaggerated reports struck fear into the populace and reduced the authorities around the British coast to jitters. Opinion of Jones hit rock bottom in Kirkcudbright after his attempt to kidnap the Earl. A letter from Kircudbright arrived at Whitehaven saying “there is great reason to believe that this John Paul Jones is the same person with a John Paul who commanded a brig in the West India trade, belonging to Kirkcudbright, in the years 1769 and 1770, a native of this Stewartry, and the greatest miscreant under the canopy of heaven; the more dangerous indeed because he is a villain of abilities. He has committed two or three murders, for one of which he narrowly escaped the gallows in the West Indies”.

Jones claimed to have spiked 30 cannon at the two batteries at Whitehaven. A month later a third battery was added. By September the number of batteries had risen to 6 with the number of guns up to 98. Similar increases in men and resources were deployed elsewhere around the coast to defend the realm against the piratical John Paul Jones. When he arrived at Brest in May 1778 he was hailed as a hero by the French, who gave him an old East Indiaman which he refitted and rearmed and renamed Bonhomme Richard. The following year he set sail as commodore of a seven-ship squadron to cause havoc in the North Sea.

He entered Leith harbour on 16 September with the idea of capturing it and extracting a huge ransom, but gale force winds blew him and his force out of the Firth of Forth. Sailing down the east coast Jones’s squadron intercepted a large Baltic merchant fleet escorted by the Serpis and the 20-gun Countess of Scarborough off Flamborough Head. Serapis was a brand-new 44-gun British warship and superior in every way to Bonhomme Richard. An extraordinary sea battle followed in which Serapis and Bonhomme Richard were locked together blasting each other with broadsides at point blank range until both vessels were practically blown to smithereens. Bonhomme Richard was sunk and Serapisand the Countess captured. What seemed a certain defeat at one stage turned into a stunning victory for John Paul Jones and a huge boost to his fame.

During the carnage Captain Pearson of the Serapis, noticing the absence of the American flag, which had been shot away, shouted across to Jones: “Have you struck?” (meaning his colours). Jones is reported to have replied: “I have not yet thought of it, but I am determined to make you strike.” The conversation was hard to hear above the din and another version had him saying: “I have not even begun to fight.” Both quotes have passed into heroic naval history. Jones won by ensuring his enemy’s deck was cleared by positioning sharpshooters and grenade throwers in the rigging, thus enabling him eventually to board Serapis and take her, which was just as well because Bonhomme Richard,fatally holed, was sinking beneath him. Valiant efforts were made to save her but she went down next day. Captain Pearson surrendered but had achieved his purpose of ensuring the convoy escaped Jones’s clutches and reached safety. He was exonerated from losing his ship and knighted for his efforts.

After making hurried repairs to Serapis at Texel in neutral (but immensely sympathetic) Holland, Jones managed to give waiting British warships the slip and sail his prizes back to France. This was the high-point of a colourful career. He had become the toast of Europe, the French adored him and Louis XVI honoured him with the title Chevalier, which the Continental Congress afterwards used when awarding John Paul Jones a gold medal commemorating his “valor and brilliant services”.

Forgiveness and reconciliation

By 1787 the War of Independence was over. This left Jones virtually unemployed so he joined the Russian navy. He saw action against the Turks as a rear admiral but fell out with his superiors and especially the former British naval officers in Russian service who refused to speak to him on account of his reputation in England as a renegade and pirate. He found himself with few friends so left Russia in 1788 feeling somewhat bitter. After visiting Poland he returned to Paris in 1790 and lived there in retirement until his death two years later, a discarded hero. He was only 45

The people of Whitehaven these days claim a special relationship with America. In 1999 they officially pardoned Jones for frightening the life out of them on 23 April 1778 and signed a peace treaty with the US Navy. An honour guard of US marines attended the ceremony at which the Navy was given the freedom of the harbour, allowing one US Navy ship to enter it each year.

There are no hard feelings on the other side of the Solway in Kirkcudbright either. In 1947, to mark the bi-centenary of John Paul’s birth within the Old Stewartry, the ancient royal burgh received a visit by Cadets of the US Navy under the command of Commander Robert Macpherson. They presented the Provost with a gold medallion as a memento of the occasion. The die was originally made to commemorate the famous victory of Jones’s ship Bonhomme Richard and only three medallions had been struck from it and distributed – one to President Truman, one to Admiral Holloway, and one to the burgh of Kirkcudbright. In return the visitors were treated to a display of the silver plate which John Paul Jones and the crew of Ranger plundered from the Earl of Selkirk and gallantly returned intact.

Jones may have been considered a “villainous miscreant” at the time, but thanks to his exploits the people of Galloway nowadays feel they have a special bond with America’s navy, if not its politicians.

And what about the Palestinians’ War of Independence?

Looking at Southerness lighthouse through the viewfinder I wondered what John Paul Jones, who laid his life on the line for American independence, would have thought of Trump today, who has perversely gifted Jerusalem to the Israelis thus denying the Palestinians – Muslim and Chrstian – their independence for the foreseeable future, and the Congressmen who, in 1995, passed into law the “tool” for Trump to do it.

It was an unworthy move. The United Nations does not recognize Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital. There have been six UN Security Council resolutions passed on the subject including 478 which says that the Basic Jerusalem Law enacted by Israel declaring unified Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital is a violation of international law. The UN regards East Jerusalem (including the Old City) as occupied Palestinian territory and subject to the provisions and safeguards of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and so does the International Court of Justice.

So what right have the US Congress and Trump to override international law? Shouldn’t they uphold it and behave evenhandedly, showing proper respect for those oppressed peoples, like the Palestinians, who still struggle today for freedom and self-determination just as Americans did in the 1770s and 1780s?

As Nelson Mandela put it: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” A pity Trump and his unpleasant crew occupying the White House don’t get it.

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A Counterbalance of EU’s Macronisation Has Emerged, or a Celtic Tiger II

Adelina Marini

The prestigious European Charlemagne Prize for 2018 was awarded to French President Emmanuel Macron last week. This is the oldest prize awarded for merit for European unification. It is a recognition of Mr Macron’s vision “of a new Europe and of the re-establishment of the European project, of a new European sovereignty and a close, restructured cooperation between peoples and nations“, said the press release of the Board of Directors of the Society for the Conferring of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen. The award recognises Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to Europe, and his decisive stance against all forms of nationalism and isolationism. Among the prize winners are Pope Francis, Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and other prominent European politicians from the present and the past of the EU.

But while Emmanuel Macron was winning sympathies and made the front pages of European and international newspapers, the next possible candidate for the prize was growing under his shadow – Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Both are extremely young – Emanuel Macron is 39 years old and Leo Varadkar is 38. The 1.90 metres tall Leo Varadkar is the son of an Indian doctor and an Irish nurse. Just like Emmanuel Macron, Leo Varadkar shook the world with his personal life, but in another aspect and with a much stronger charge. Emmanuel Macron became known for being 26 years younger than his wife. But such things are normal for the French public who is accustomed to all the strangeness of their leaders. Leo Varadkar caused a far greater tsunami in Ireland – a small, highly conservative Catholic country. Besides being a prime minister with immigrant background, Leo Varadkar announced in 2015 that he was gay. With him, the representatives of the gay community in the European Council have become two (the other being Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel).

Leo Varadkar took up the post of prime minister not a month after Emmanuel Macron, but somehow, completely undeservedly remained in his shadow. The reason is that, although a prominent representative of the new generation of global leaders, Leo Varadkar comes from a small Ireland, while France rightfully bears the title of Europe’s engine, regardless of the fact that in recent years and even decades, it hasn’t been able to rise to the level of this position, and has been lagging behind the other European engine – Germany – economically and politically. Another reason is that Leo Varadkar comes from a “mainstream” party – the right-liberal Fine Gael (EPP) – that is part of the establishment, whereas Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as an anti-establishment player who won the election with a brand new political movement, “En Marche!”, created nearly a year before the election victory.

But while Emmanuel Macron still has to prove himself, Leo Varadkar is already accumulating important points that could bring him the Charlemagne prize. The former physician made a serious statement that he would turn Ireland for a second time into a Celtic tiger, but this time in a much wider sense – not just as an economic champion, but as a European leader who is capable of replacing Britain after her departure as a way to keep the balance between the agenda of Germany and France and a more liberally oriented and open Europe. Balance, which seemed under significant risk after the election of Emmanuel Macron and his debut at the June EU summit in Brussels when he declared soft protectionism.

This summit, marked by the restoration of the Franco-German engine, was a debut for Leo Varadkar too. Even then he left an impression as a person who should be carefully observed. And if the Irish national briefings stopped being of interest to the Brussels media guild after Ireland’s exit from its rescue program, that could very soon change. In June, Leo Varadkar won his first battle, and against Emmanuel Macron at that. At the insistence of Ireland and with the support of the other liberal states (mainly in the northern part of the EU), changes were made to the text of the conclusions on trade. He then said that everything should be done to avoid protection of European interests from becoming a Trojan horse of protectionism.

It’s fair to say that the pro-enterprise, pro-trade, globalist, small trading countries had the text changed and change in their favour“, Leo Varadkar said at the end of the June European Council. He then started to orient more towards tighter relations with the countries of Scandinavia, the Benelux and the Baltic countries because, as he explained, these are countries with similar views on attracting foreign direct investment and investment from outside. Because of his views, Leo Varadkar was invited to attend a working breakfast of the Scandinavian and Baltic states during the autumn EU summit.

After the end of the summer European Council, he announced that due to Britain leaving, Ireland should start building new coalitions in Europe. He sees many similarities not only with the northern states, but also with Malta and Cyprus, and is already working on getting closer with these countries. But if nothing else, it is precisely Brexit that can bring Leo Varadkar’s recognition as a European of the year. Last week was key in the Brexit negotiations, as the end of the first phase of the two-stage negotiation was finally agreed and the biggest winner of the first phase is definitely Ireland. Under the leadership of Leo Varadkar, Ireland set an ultimatum on its big close neighbour that until it had written assurances that there would be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Britain would not be able to move into phase two of the negotiations that concern future relations of the United Kingdom with the EU.

The ultimatum of Ireland, with a population of 4.7 million, would have in itself meant nothing for the 70-million United Kingdom, was it not for the 450-million European Union backing Ireland. As European Council President Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP) said in Dublin 10 days ago, the Irish request is an EU request. Thanks to this strong European pressure led by Ireland, the deadline set by Donald Tusk for Theresa May to make significant progress on the first phase by December 4 was met last week. And a deal was made at the last possible moment.  Leo Varadkar’s role is indisputable. He will certainly remain a leading figure in the second phase as well, as trade negotiations are key to Ireland and the EU as a whole.

However, Leo Varadkar’s ambition does not stop there. The Irish prime minister, who is also the minister for defence, has made another major move by pushing his military-neutral state into the Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence, known as PESCO, which is the foundation of the common European defence. In June, Mr Varadkar said that Ireland remains neutral, but in October he announced he would leave the door open for potential membership. Right in the peak of the Brexit week (4-8 December) Dublin made the announcement just before the meeting of EU foreign ministers on December 11, when PESCO was formally established by 25 countries.

In October, Leo Varadkar said he was enthusiastic about PESCO and wanted Ireland to be a part of it, but couldn’t do anything that could compromise the Irish military neutrality. He said however, that Ireland cannot be neutral in terms of human trafficking, terrorism, drug trafficking and cybercrime, and will participate in such projects as well as peacekeeping and support for new democracies and states to build. This suggests that, with Leo Varadkar at the helm, Ireland has great ambitions to replace Britain in the field of foreign policy as well.

His opinion of Emmanuel Macron is that the French president is a truly convinced European, for whom the presidential elections were his first victory. In October, he was completely frank in front of journalists, saying that not all of Macron’s ideas were in his taste but he respected them. However, he underlined that he preferred the community approach. “[…] the best way to achieve progress is to use the community method, to have it led by the institutions, by president Juncker and president Tusk, not by any member state. So, it’s not that Macron’s ideas are not welcome. It’s just that they aren’t any more welcome or any more important than those put forward by any other prime minister or president“.

If you are still not convinced that Leo Varadkar is the alternative leader of Europe at the end of the Merkel era and the beginning of the Macron era, watch his weekly video wrap-ups on Twitter. The tall Dubliner has a specific facial expression – he seems to be constantly smiling and undoubtedly has the potential to tilt Europe’s balance for the benefit of small and open states. He has already done it in a deeply conservative environment. So it can also be done in the EU as well.

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It’s Not Simply Jerusalem, It’s All of Palestine


What’s going on in Jerusalem is what has always been going on in Palestine since 1948 –the forced dispossession of Palestinian Arabs of their identity, land and heritage.

Because of Donald Trump’s declaration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and the resultant global outrage regarding this decision, many people have become interested in understanding what is going on in Palestine and what the global ramifications might be.

They are finally becoming aware, after 69 years of Nakba, 69 anniversaries of Human Rights Day and 69 years of falsification of history, that the Palestinian people, like all other peoples in the world, do in fact have the right to self-determination and return.

Israel is surrounded by the Palestinians (among them 5 million UNRWA Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan) it drove out of Palestine to establish the Apartheid settler colonial Jewish state there. These people are mostly, but not exclusively, Muslim in religion. They are the indigenous people of Palestine, Arab in culture, the true owners of the land.

But at the center of Zionist mythology is illegally-annexed Arab East Jerusalem.

As Hamid Dabashi writes in Al-Jazeera:

If you want to understand the psychopathology at the root of the Zionist psychosis, you must go to the heart of their delusion, like an analyst placing a mentally sick person on a couch – and today there is no better place to see that psychotic colonial fixation at work than in an article, titled, Of Course Jerusalem Is Israel’s Capital, published (where else?) in the New York Times just hours before Donald Trump’s announcement that in his august moronic opinion, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel….” Jerusalem has never been and will never be the capital of a racist apartheid European colonial garrison state that calls itself “Israel”. Never.

The unilateral declaration by the US president has caused so much protest because it recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over illegally annexed East Jerusalem with its ensuing residency revocation and forcible illegal transfer of many Palestinians from the city.

The declaration also goes against international law (14 of 15 Security Council members denounced it) as well as breaks with decisions on such “recognition” by every American president since Harry Truman formally recognized Israel on May 14, 1948. (See also Jerusalem as corpus separatum and its legal implications.)

But why is this happening now?

Harry Truman was swayed in his decision to recognize Israel by his political adviser, Clark Clifford, who wanted to secure the Jewish vote and funds essential for winning the US’s upcoming presidential election.

Donald Trump was also influenced in his decision by influential American Jews like Sheldon Adelson, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US envoy to Israel David Friedman and by right-wing Christian evangelicals.

Today in US domestic politics, despite the disillusionment with Israel of the younger generation of American Jews, support for Zionism is loud and powerful among the traditional base of Zionism, as well as among Evangelical Christians and neo-fascists. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) continues to have a death grip on both parties.

Shamefully, on this issue, as Stephen Zunes writes, “there is no real opposition party” in the US.

The Palestinian Authority is impotent, shackled by Oslo and the fraudulent promise of atwo-state solution”. It has zero leverage other than to dissolve itself and leave Israel and the US to foot the bill for the occupation.

Arab countries such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are American allies and heavily dependent on the US. These countries are not expected to act against their political self-interest. There is no “Arab supremacy” doctrine to parallel or counter the Jewish supremacy doctrine of Zionism.

When Palestinians say that Jerusalem or Palestine is Arab, they are referring to Palestinian Arabs of any religion, and not to a generic supremacist notion of Arabness in the political sense, the way Israel refers to Jews and Jewishness.

Arab countries are not likely to come to the rescue of Jerusalem, but Muslims (who are largely non-Arab) are – not least because of Jewish encroachment on al-Aqsa Mosque in Haram al-Sharif compound (see also Jerusalem’s Temple Mount: The Hoax of the Millennium! by Mike M. Joseph, 2011). And that’s where, unfortunately, the Islamophobic West’s anxieties are focused – not, as they ought to be, on warmongering Israel (See After Israel: Towards Cultural Transformation by Marcelo Svirsky 2014).

Through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement and other strategies for resistance, the Palestinian Authority must find a way to get rid of the racist “two state solution” concept, renounce the Oslo Accords, and come up with a democratic alternative, one that does not deny the humanity of Palestinian Arabs nor value the well-being of colonizing Jews (euphemistically called “settlers” or “immigrants”) over that of the indigenous people of historic Palestine – of any religion.

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The need for cooperation and unity

Competition vs cooperation

By Graham Peebles

The natural instinct of human beings is towards cooperation and sharing. However, distorted by competition, personal ambition and nationalism, self-interest and greed have become pre-eminent motivating forces, distorting action and corrupting the policies of governments.

Competition is a pervasive element within all aspects of contemporary society, it is thought by many to be a positive and natural part of the human condition, and one that drives innovation and change. Loyal believers in competition assert that in the world of business it serves the consumer by driving down prices and creating virtually unlimited material choice, and will, some claim, be the driving force for environmental salvation. To be blessed with a competitive spirit, it is argued, strengthens an individual’s ability to succeed and overcome rivals; it stimulates “development” and advances in all areas — after all, if the urge to compete and achieve were negated, then what would motivate action?

Competition and its consequences

While there is a degree of truth in some of these claims, the negative impacts are a great deal more serious and far reaching.

Achieving the “prize”, succeeding, s the fire within the competitive furnace, whether the aim is status, a higher salary, increased market-share or greater financial profit.

Competition, and the broader economic doctrine of which it is an essential part, promotes conflict and maintains division; it feeds intolerance and sets individuals and groups (regions and nations, for example) against each other. Selfishness and greed are encouraged, abundance and dominance – of others, of a market or a region, of a way of thinking – is the goal. Apple  wants to monopolise the mobile phone market, for example, and would happily drive all its competitors out of business – annihilate the opposition. This is true of all companies, of course — naturally, because they are in business for one reason, to make money, and the larger the market share the greater the profit. Yes, certain organisations may have an “ethical framework” within which they operate, but faced with a choice between profits and ethics, profit typically triumphs.

Achieving the “prize”, succeeding, is the fire within the competitive furnace, whether the aim is status, a higher salary, increased market-share or greater financial profit. Within the current polluted paradigm, governments design policies which they believe will enable their nation, (some nations are more prone to this than others), to “compete in the world-wide marketplace”, to capitalise on the opportunities that the digital age offers, and so on. Education, which has been totally contaminated by competition, is seen principally as a supplier for industry, with programmes designed to produce young people with the skills they need to compete internationally – to create the workers of the future. Schoolchildren are made to compete with a certain academic standard and, perhaps indirectly, more broadly with their classmates; streaming is widespread and takes place even in nursery classes in some countries, with two-year-olds being separated from one another based on “ability”.

Happiness, contentment and collective harmony are either totally ignored or considered to be side effects of a strong economy and a materially wealthy society.

Countries are spoken of as if they were mere corporations, with government ministers operating more like boards of directors than an elected group representing the people. Prime ministers and presidents behave like travelling salesmen/women, jetting around the world promoting the nation’s wares. Virtually all policy decisions are made based on a desire to strengthen the economy in the face of increased global competition, with the health of a nation limited to the strength or otherwise of its economy. Happiness, contentment and collective harmony are either totally ignored or considered to be side effects of a strong economy and a materially wealthy society. Yet countries with buoyant economies – America, Britain and Japan, for example – are littered with social problems, mental health issues and of course inequality.

The need for cooperation

The world is besieged by a range of problems, many, if not all of which are firmly rooted in outdated socio-economic structures. The interconnected environmental catastrophe and the threat of nuclear conflict constitute the most critical issues facing humanity. Both threaten the survival of the human race and the planet, and, if we are to face these global issues, both demand a totally new approach. Then there is the worldwide epidemic in mental health illness, what we might call “the crisis of consciousness”, which to a significant degree flows from the values and behaviour promoted by the socio-economic system.

To meet these unprecedented crises, it is imperative that competition be laid aside in favour of cooperation. Governments, industry, specialist bodies and civil society all need to work cooperatively and, crucially, cooperation needs to be allowed to take place within the consciousness of the individual. This will naturally happen when the sociological elements that lead to internal conflict are removed, allowing harmony and contentment to gently flower.

… cooperation needs to replace competition in all areas, tolerance substituted for prejudice and hate, sufficiency and sharing encouraged in place of excess and greed.

The old ideologically-based systems with their divisive materialistic values are incapable of meeting the needs of the time and, as growing numbers of people realise, must be cast aside in favour of altogether more humane, just and synthesising methods. At the core of any alternative approach must be the aim to create an environment in which unity is sensed and realised. This is the single most important step for humanity; all flows from this unifying seed, all divisions fall away in light of this experience.

Humanity is one, and the structures within which we live, and the values and behaviour they encourage need to allow for the recognition of this essential truth. To this end certain, “principles of goodness”, many of which have been held as ideals for generations and are now being widely spoken of, need to be actively inculcated. Chief among them is cooperation, together with sharing; cooperation needs to replace competition in all areas, tolerance substituted for prejudice and hate, sufficiency and sharing encouraged in place of excess and greed.

As Albert Einstein rightly said, we must “abandon competition and secure cooperation [as] the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars… The stakes are immense, the task colossal, the time is short.” As well as areas of governance, and global issues such as climate change, cooperation needs to become the guiding light within all economic matters. It is here that the fire of competition has been lit and from here, under the banner of commercialisation and market forces, that it has spread, and it is here that it must be extinguished.

The purpose and methods of business need to be redefined; competition and the profit motive need to be negated, cooperation, collective endeavour and social responsibility encouraged. The world does not need multiple companies making and selling the same things; it is absurd. Yes, some degree of choice is desirable, but high quality goods, made (increasingly by machines) in an environmentally sustainable manner to serve the needs of humanity should be the aim. With a shift in attitudes away from material greed and competition-led division, such a rational development becomes possible.

When competition is replaced by cooperation, the tendency towards comparison and conformity will also fade, allowing cooperation with oneself to take place. The desire to conform to an image of the self promoted by parents, friends and society at large, to compete with others – siblings, classmates, work colleagues, and so on – which is widespread, gives rise to notions of superiority and inferiority and both exert pressures of one kind and another, resulting in internal conflict, anxiety and other mental health illnesses. Within an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding this pressure, which is perhaps most heavily felt by young people under 30s, will quickly dissipate, allowing tolerance of differences and celebrations of diversity to take place.

Cooperation is a fundamental quality of the time; it sits within a trinity of the age alongside unity and sharing. The expression of each of these galvanising principles strengthens and expands the manifestation of the other two; cooperation naturally evokes acts of sharing, which builds unity. Likewise, when we unite, cooperation and sharing occur. The introduction of these essential principles of change into all areas of contemporary life will lay a foundation of social harmony and allow the socio-economic structures to be re-imagined to meet the needs of all.

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The Hague Tribunal Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic Again

Eleven years after his death, a second trial chamber at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has concluded that Slobodan Milosevicwas not responsible for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More than eleven years after his death, a second trial chamber at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has concluded that former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was not responsible for war crimes committed in Bosnia where the worst atrocities associated with the break-up of Yugoslavia took place.

Buried in a footnote deep in the fourth volume of the judgment against Bosnian-Serb General Ratko Mladic the judges unanimously conclude that “The evidence received by the trial chamber did not show that Slobodan Milosevic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic, Zeljko Raznatovic, or Vojislav Seselj participated in the realization of the common criminal objective” to establish an ethnically-homogenous Bosnian-Serb entity through the commission of crimes alleged in the indictment.[1]

This is an important admission because practically the entire Western press corps and virtually every political leader in every Western country has spent the last 25 years telling us that Slobodan Milosevic was a genocidal monster cut from the same cloth as Adolf Hitler. We were told that he was the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but there was never any evidence to support those accusations. We were lied to in order to justify economic sanctions and NATO military aggression against the people of Serbia – just like they lied to us to justify the Iraq war.

This is the second successive trial chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to conclude that Slobodan Milosevic was not guilty of the most serious crimes he was accused of.

Last year, the Radovan Karadzic trial chamber also concluded that “the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milosevic agreed with the common plan” to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb claimed territory.[2]

The Tribunal has done nothing to publicize these findings despite the fact that Slobodan Milosevic was accused of 66 counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the Tribunal.

Milosevic died in the Tribunal’s custody before the conclusion of his own trial. He was found dead in his cell after suffering a heart attack in the UN Detention Unit two weeks after the Tribunal denied his request for provisional release so that he could have heart surgery that would have saved his life.[3]

Dr. Leo Bokeria, the coronary specialist who would have overseen Milosevic’s treatment at the Bakulev Medical Center, said:

“If Milosevic was taken to any specialized Russian hospital, the more so to such a stationary medical institution as ours, he would have been subjected to coronographic examination, two stents would be made, and he would have lived for many long years to come. A person has died in our contemporary epoch, when all the methods to treat him were available and the proposals of our country and the reputation of our medicine were ignored. As a result, they did what they wanted to do.”[4]

Less than 72 hours before his death, Milosevic’s lawyer delivered a letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which Milosevic expressed fear that he was being poisoned.[5]

The Tribunal’s inquiry into Milosevic’s death confirmed that Rifampicin (an unprescribed drug that would have compromised the efficacy of his high blood pressure medication) was found in one of his blood tests, but that that he was not informed of the results until months later “because of the difficult legal position in which Dr. Falke (the Tribunal’s chief medical officer) found himself by virtue of the Dutch legal provisions concerning medical confidentiality.”[6]

There are no Dutch legal provisions that prohibit a doctor from telling a patient the result of their own blood test, and U.S. diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks show that the Tribunal had zero regard for medical confidentiality laws when they gave detailed information about Slobodan Milosevic’s health and medical records to personnel at the US embassy in The Hague without his consent.[7]

Milosevic’s trial had been going badly for the prosecution. It was glaringly obvious to any fair-minded observer that he was innocent of the crimes he was accused of. James Bissett, Canada’s former ambassador to Yugoslavia, said Milosevic’s trial “had taken on all the characteristics of a Stalinist show trial.” George Kenny, who manned the U.S. State Department’s Yugoslavia desk, also denounced the Milosevic trial proceedings as “inherently unfair, amounting to little more than a political show trial”.[8]

The trial was a public relations disaster for the Tribunal. Midway through the Prosecution’s case, the London Times published an article smearing Slobodan Milosevic’s wife and lamenting the fact that “One of the ironies of Slobodan’s trial is that it has bolstered his popularity. Hours of airtime, courtesy of the televised trial, have made many Serbs fall in love with him again.”[9]

While the trial enhanced Milosevic’s favorability, it destroyed the Tribunal’s credibility with the Serbian public. The Serbian public had been watching the trial on television, and when the Serbian Human Rights Ministry conducted a public opinion poll three years into the trial it found that “three quarters of Serbian citizens believe that The Hague Tribunal is a political rather than a legal institution.”[10]

Tim Judah, a well-known anti-Milosevic journalist and author, was dismayed as he watched the trial unfold. He wrote that “the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague is going horribly wrong, turning him in the eyes of the public from a villain charged with war crimes into a Serbian hero.”[11]

By late 2005, Milosevic’s detractors wanted the live broadcasts of the trial yanked off the air because it was not having the political effect that they had hoped it would. Political analyst Daniel Cveticanin wrote, “It seems that the coverage benefits more those it was supposed to expose than the Serbian public. [The] freedom-loving and democratic intentions of the live coverage have not produced [the] planned effects.”[12]

Milosevic’s supporters, on the other hand, were emphatic. They wanted the live broadcasts to continue because they knew he was innocent and they wanted the public to see that for themselves.[13]

Slobodan Milosevic’s exoneration, by the same Tribunal that killed him eleven years ago, is cold comfort for the people of Serbia. The Serbian people endured years of economic sanctions and a NATO bombing campaign against their country because of the unfounded allegations against their president.

Although the Tribunal eventually admitted that it didn’t have evidence against Slobodan Milosevic, its disreputable behavior should make you think twice before accepting any of its other findings.


[1] ICTY, Mladic Judgment, Vol. IV, 22 November 2017, Pg. 2090, Footnote 15357
[2] ICTY, Karadzic Judgment, 24 March 2016, Para. 3460
[3] ICTY Case No. IT-02-54 Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, Decision on Assigned Counsel Request for Provisional Release, February 23, 2006
[4] “Milosevic Could Be Saved if He Was Treated in Russia – Bokeria,” Itar-Tass (Russia), March 15, 2006
[5] Text of Slobodan Milosevic’s Letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
[6] Judge Kevin Parker (Vice-President of the ICTY), Report to the President of the ICTY: Death of Slobodan Milosevic, May 2006; ¶ 31, 76
[7] U.S. State Dept. Cable #03THEHAGUE2835_a, “ICTY: An Inside Look Into Milosevic’s Health and Support Network”
[8] “Milosevic trial delayed as witnesses refuse to testify,” The Irish Times, September 18, 2004
[9] “Listening to Lady Macbeth,” Sunday Times (London), January 5, 2003
[10] “Public Opinion Firmly Against Hague,” B92 News (Belgrade), August 2, 2004
[11] Tim Judah, “Serbia Backs Milosevic in Trial by TV – Alarm as Former President Gains the Upper Hand in War Crimes Tribunal,” The Observer (London), March 3, 2002
[12] “Debate Opens in Serbia Over Live Coverage of Milosevic War Crimes Trial,” Associated Press Worldstream, September 22, 2005
[13] “Serbian NGO Opposes Decision to Drop Live Broadcast of Milosevic Trial,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, October 8, 2003; Source: FoNet news agency, Belgrade, in Serbian 1300 gmt 8 Oct 03; See Also: “Serbia: Milosevic Sympathisers Protest Inadequate Coverage of Trial,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, June 10, 2002; Source: RTS TV, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat 1730 gmt 10 Jun 02

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Zambia Must Clarify Whether it Will Host an Israel-Africa Summit


Gathering amid unprecedented Palestine solidarity demonstrations would go against historical continental support for nationally oppressed peoples

Several news articles were published in early December indicating that Zambian President Edgar Lungu has agreed to host a summit meeting between African Union (AU) member-states and the State of Israel. (See Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2017)

These reports first surfaced during the inauguration ceremony for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. President Lungu attended the second induction into office by Kenyatta who is the leader of East Africa’s largest economy.

Lungu met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the Kenyatta inauguration events. The Zambian leader was photographed shaking hands with Netanyahu during the meeting.

Image: Zambian President Edgar Lungu meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu

A similar summit was scheduled earlier in 2017 in the West African state of Togo. However, mass demonstrations by Togolese opposition parties and coalitions demanding the resignation of the government of President Faure Gnassingbe for undemocratic practices, forced Lome to postpone the announced summit.

Zambia’s largest newspaper the Lusaka Times reported on December 5 that:

“President Edgar Lungu, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week at the re-inauguration ceremonies for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told ZNBC that ‘For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.’ President Lungu said Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked Zambia to host an Africa-Israel summit that was originally scheduled for Togo in September.”

Despite this claim of mystification by President Lungu, it is quite obvious that there were definite reasons why Zambia was targeted to host the meeting. The Southern African state is one of the few countries within the AU which has a military attache stationed in Israel where it opened an embassy in 2015. Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.

Lungu paid a state visit to Israel in February 2017. The president was accompanied by a large delegation of ministers from his administration.

After his return to Zambia, Lungu was quoted in the Lusaka Times as saying:

“Israel is a pacesetter in survival instinct because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip.”

Unfortunately, no statement was recorded in the same publication which cites the plight of the Palestinian people who share a similar history with Africans as it relates to colonialism and imperialism. Israel under successive leaders since 1948 has collaborated with the same white supremacist forces which conquered, exploited and oppressed African people and their descendants throughout the world.

The Lusaka Times then quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was in Kenya for the inauguration of Kenyatta as emphasizing in regard to Zambia that Tel Aviv’s aim was to:

“deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”

Africa and Israel: A Comparative History

Although Jewish people have been subjected to national discrimination in Europe and the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, today since the recognition of the State of Israel by the United Nations in May 1948 most people do not consider them to be an oppressed people.  However, it is important to make a distinction between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as an ideology and political movement.

Image: Nelson Mandela with PFLP leaders

In fact when the founders of the World Zionist movement began in the later years of the 19th century, its leaders specifically sought to align themselves with the rising tide of colonialism throughout Asia and Africa. During the early phase of the Zionist movement Palestine was not the only location examined for the establishment of a Jewish state. (See Weizmann and Smuts: A Study in Zionist-South African Cooperation. (Institute for Palestine Studies Monograph No. 43, 1975)

Other areas considered by the Zionists included territories in Africa such as modern-day Madagascar, Uganda and Libya. By 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour issued his famous declaration which mandated the creation of a state for the Jewish and Arab peoples in the-then colony of Palestine. Most historical literature on this territory prior to 1948 referred to the area as Palestine. (

Nevertheless, when the State of Israel was recognized by the UN it was done so as exclusively a Jewish state where millions of Palestinians had been forcibly removed and disenfranchised. In 1948, the UN was dominated by the European colonial powers and the U.S. The Soviet Union, whose military had made the greatest contribution to breaking the expansionist program of the Third Reich under Adolph Hitler, also voted in the UN to recognize the Jewish state in Palestine.

The overwhelming number of colonies in Africa did not gain their independence from European imperialism until after World War II with the upsurge of national liberation movements in Sudan, the Gold Coast (Ghana), Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Angola, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southwest Africa (Namibia), etc. After the century-long existence of the Atlantic Slave Trade which uprooted millions of Africans from the continent to Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, the advent of classic colonialism was imposed on the continent.

During 1884-85, the Berlin West Africa Conference was held in Germany. This gathering carved up Africa among the imperialist powers. It would take over a century to bring about the independence of the continent with the Republic of South Africa overthrowing the racist apartheid system in 1994. At present only the Western Sahara, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), remains under the colonial control of the North African monarchy of Morocco.

Africa and Palestine Solidarity Has Grown Since the Post-Colonial Period

After the 1956 Suez Canal war when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in order to retake control of this strategic asset, the political sympathy of most African states has shifted solidly in the direction of the Palestinian and other Arab people.

Later, as a result of the Egypt-Jordan-Syria wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973, a majority of independent African governments and national liberation movements broke relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is viewed by progressive forces throughout Africa has the de facto representatives of the people. After the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993 which gave rise to the Palestinian Authority, there has been a period thawing in relations related to Tel Aviv and some African states.

Image: Abayomi Azikiwe Speaks at Palestine-African American Solidarity Forum in 2009

However, African solidarity with Palestine remains strong. The Republic of South Africa under the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to be a bulwark of sentiment in favor of the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. This mood has existed in the Republic of Zimbabwe as well during the 37-year presidency of Robert Mugabe, the former leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF).

When on December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump issued his executive order to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been held throughout the world. The three leading alliance partners in South Africa, the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have all issued statements decrying the policy decisions of Trump.

The U.S. government is the staunchest supporter of the State of Israel providing billions of dollars in assistance and military hardware on an annual basis. Egypt, due to military and political considerations ranks as the second largest recipient of direct aid from Washington. However, Africa as a whole can in no way compare to the economic, military and diplomatic support which is received by Israel irrespective of the fact that people of African descent in the U.S. are numbered in excess of 40 million inhabitants.

Consequently, the holding of an Israel-Africa Summit in Zambia would represent a tremendous setback in the progressive legacy of independent states on the continent. At this critical stage in international relations AU member countries should be intensifying their cooperation with other fraternal governments and peoples on the continent and indeed throughout the world.

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Nazi regime Invites Saudis Zio-Wahhabi to Broker Peace While Terror-Bombing Gaza


Israel Invites Saudis to Broker Peace While Terror-Bombing Gaza

Truth is stranger than fiction. Israel and Saudi Arabia deplore peace and stability – perhaps a tie that binds them, along with uniting against Iran, the main reason for their alliance.

According to Saudi state-run media, Israel invited militant crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to broker peace talks with Palestinians – dead-on-arrival each time initiated, further out-of-reach following Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, igniting a firestorm in Occupied Palestine.

Last month, Abbas met with MBS in Riyadh. He received an offer designed to be rejected – statehood without sovereignty, comprised of isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland, surrounded by expanding settlements encroaching on their land, stealing it, barriers they’re forbidden to approach, ghettoizing them.

Salman and Netanayhu (right)

Jerusalem would become Israel’s exclusive capital, East Jerusalem increasingly off-limits to them. Diaspora Palestinians would have no right of return.

Israel would be free to exploit Palestinian resources, they way things are today. MBS’ proposal reflects Palestinian impotence under longtime Israeli collaborator Abbas.

Yet the idea of Riyadh involvement in peace talks adds an implausible element to the fraudulent process, Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz, saying:

“This is an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to take the initiative upon itself and come to the Palestinians and offer its sponsorship,” adding:

“In such a situation of Saudi leadership, I’m ready to have negotiations. I’m calling on King Salman to invite Netanyahu for a visit and for the Saudi crown prince to come here for a visit in Israel.”

The Saudis can “lead processes and make decisions for the region, as well as for the Palestinians.” They’re “weak and unable to make decisions.”

Washington and Riyadh lack credibility in negotiating peace. Both countries reject equity in justice for Palestinians, their own populations, and elsewhere.

They’re warrior nations, rogue terror states. Regional peace and stability defeat their agendas.

Days earlier, Netanyahu turned truth on its head, defying reality, saying “(t)he sooner Palestinians (recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital), the sooner we will move towards peace” – his notion pushing for unconditional Palestinian surrender and subjugation under endless occupation.

Separately, in response to rockets fired from Gaza, injuring no one, one alone causing minor damage, Israeli warplanes have been terror-bombing Gaza for days, including overnight, targeting Hamas positions even though its military wing had nothing to do with what’s happening.

Israel waged three wars of aggression on Gaza since December 2008. The risk of a fourth looms.

According to an IDF spokesman, “(a)nything less than total calm (in Gaza) is simply unacceptable…We will not allow (rocket) fire to continue.”

Sderot major Alon Davidi said he expects Netanyahu, defense minister Lieberman, “and the IDF commander to strike (Gaza) without mercy.”

In the wake of Palestinian rage in response to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, Mike Pence postponed his visit to Israel, scheduled for early next week.

Abbas’ diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khaldi said “(t)here will be no meeting with (him) in Palestine. The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem declaration.”

Palestinian UN envoy Yiyad Mansour said he’s working on a draft resolution to “reaffirm the positions of the Security Council (on Jerusalem) and asks the Americans to rescind” Trump’s declaration.

US veto power assures nothing adversely affecting Israeli interests becomes a Security Council adopted resolution.

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Iran to Join Eurasian Economic Union – Diplomatic Sources


Iran is finalising its agreements to join the EAEU. Iran could be a full member as early as February of 2018.

Iranian media has cited a statement from Behrouz Hassanolfat, the director of Europe and Americas Department of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, indicating that Iran will formally join the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in early 2018.

The EAEU was formed in 2014 to create a common market, free of trade barriers among the major economies of Eurasia. The Russian initiated trading bloc also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The body is considered a vital component of what is known as the BRICS + format which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa working in tandem with trans-continental partners.

In addition to facilitating free trade, the bloc also initiates collaborative investment projects with an emphasis on streamlining transport infrastructure and energy production and distribution.

Currently, the EAEU has a free trade agreement with Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Moldova with negotiations in the process to create agreements with Thailand, Indonesia and Serbia. There is also a possibility that in the future, Philippines could join as part of Russia’s project to enhance cooperation with the ASEAN bloc countries.

Iran has long been in talks to join the group. As a substantial Eurasian power and partner of Russia, Iran’s membership would help facilitate a streamlining of trade between Iran and Russia who are already vital energy and security partners.

Additionally, Iran’s apparently forthcoming membership of the EAEU is a big blow to the US led sanctions racket against Iran. As part of a larger Eurasian wide free trading bloc, Iran will be automatically exposed to new trading opportunities with countries whose economies are far better suited to trade with Iran than western economies have ever been.

Furthermore, as the EAEU looks to the future, the possibility to incorporate a monetary union could help ween the entire region off Dollar dependence. With agreements between Iran and Turkey, Iran and Russia and Russia and Turkey to trade in domestic currency baskets already being finalised, the wider Eurasian space could foreseeable be largely Dollar free within a decade.

While Turkey is not yet in the EAEU, after Iran’s ascension, Turkey is the next logical step. Turkey’s expanding relations with both Iran and Russia make this an ever more immediate possibility, not least because Turkey has formally given up on the long discredited attempt to join the European Union.

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Middle East In Turmoil


Middle East In Turmoil: Trump, Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman, Destroyers of the Neoliberal World Order

The neoliberal world order has been in crisis for some years now, with no signs of recovery. Trump’s victory is an expression of a breach of trust between the American people and the national elites.

The perfect storm. This is what the situation in the Middle East looks like. More and more events in the region seem to be leading towards an epochal change in the delicate balance of power.

The balance of power in the Middle East was quickly altered following the victory over terrorism in Syria by Damascus and her allies. Moscow’s new role guarantees Iran virtually unlimited space to manoeuvre in the region. The new Iranian military bases in Syria match the agreement between Russia and Egypt for the creation of common areas of cooperation against terrorism.

In this complicated context, Donald Trump emerges as a destroyer of US interests in the region.Observing the cooperation between the Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces (SDF) and the Americans in Syria, we can see the genesis of all the problems between Ankara and Washington. Turkey used to employ political Islam (Muslim Brotherhood) as a way of destabilizing the Middle East and North Africa, once one of the central strategies of Obama and the State Department as well. Turkey now gravitates towards the multipolar milieu of Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. The role conferred by these three nations allows Erdogan to manoeuvre skilfully between allied nations as well as fomenters of Islamic extremism like Qatar.

Turkey is just an example of the delicate balance upon which the region rests. Moscow has become the sole mediator for all parties, and does not appear to have bad relations with any of them. The Saudis are going to buy the S-400 system from the Russians; Netanyahu is forced to try to influence Moscow in order to retain some kind of leverage over Iran, but to little avail. Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) has gone further, thanks to Trump and the green light of his son-in-law, arresting dozens of Saudi authorities and financiers (very close to Clinton and Obama), undertaking a genocide against Yemenis, arming Wahhabist Islamist terrorists in every corner of the region, and cutting off all relations with Qatar in a quasi-war that is turning out to be manifestly ineffective.

In this uncontrolled chaos, and among the factions loyal to the United States, Netanyahu is seeing Israeli missiles, launched from uncontested Lebanese airspace, being shot down in Syria. MBS cannot even force his pupil Hariri to resign; and even Saleh in Yemen was killed after betraying and abandoning the Houthis. Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are finding themselves coming under fire from Houthi forces, facing the consequences of their senseless military choices closer to home. In Israel, the Netanyahu government is drowning under a sea of corruption scandals, demonstrators on the streets demanding his resignation. Are coloured revolutions returning to bite the master’s hand? In order for Saudi Arabia to avoid a similar scenario, made worse by a dearth in welfare as a result of the drop in oil prices as well as the coffers being emptied by wars, MBS has decided to arrest and rob all of his opponents. Trump does not seem to care about the consequences of these actions, taking care to coordinate events at the highest levels with Xi Jinping in Asia and Putin in the Middle East.

Trump has made a wise choice by renouncing the impossible goal of achieving global hegemony, aiming instead to sort out domestic problems. He is committed to the cause of his electors, and to this end seeks to extract as much money as possible from his allies in order to restart the US economy, aiming for re-election in 2020.

In this sense, the lack of interest from the Trump administration in certain areas of the globe is emblematic. While the chemistry between Trump and Modi appears to be good, the tensions between India and China, heightened by border disputes, seems to have nevertheless dissolved. Following on from the failure of the neocons to divide Russia and China, even the border tensions between India and China seem to be now dissipating. In addition, in Ukraine, even the decision to send lethal weapons to Kiev has been downplayed, and the country now faces a counter-coup led by Saakashvili (yes, him again). Ukraine is a country in a mess, experiencing first-hand the consequences of an evil Atlanticist posture with its vicious anti-Russia policies.

The rest of the world, with mounting bewilderment, watches on while all manner of decisions are made with no rhyme or reason, such as the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The only ones to lose in this scenario are naturally the closest allies of the United States: Israel and all the Arab countries united behind the Saudi (money) state that are now obliged to stand up for the Palestinian cause. Whether out of incompetence or a strategic inability to take a position, it matters little why these decisions are being made. Donald Trump, MBS and Netanyahu are exactly what the region and the world needed. Why? Because these three figures, thanks to their actions, have reunited the axis of resistance in the Middle East, fortified the Russian presence in the region, and opened the door to Asian money for reconstruction, focused on integrating the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. These three stooges have open the door to total defeat thanks to their reckless decisions.

New technologies, like the blockchain, as well as the revaluation of the importance of gold, accompany an inexorable competition to diversify from the US dollar. American military power is in crisis, but the US dollar remains the main reserve currency of the world. In addition to solidifying alliances with opponents by turning them into friends, Moscow and Beijing are aiming to create a new economic environment based on real value ​​(currencies supported by gold) to undermine the financial speculative bubble brought on by the dollar, central banks, and all those financial systems that have created a totally fictitious economy completely disconnected from reality.

Trump is focused on the United States and appears uninterested in global affairs, which is a boon for global stability in the long term. In the meantime, Russia, Turkey and Iran are trying, with new economic and military solutions, to govern a region that is the epicentre of global chaos. Cooperation in disputed areas could reach a new level with Egyptian and Chinese soldiers working as peacekeepers. This seems to be another Russian masterpiece to accelerate the pacification of the region and widen the spectrum of nations involved militarily in the new multipolar world order.

The crisis of the neoliberal-neocon system is evident, although its media, ever useful for propaganda, tries to portray a false and artificial reality. The sense of despair intensifies when mainstream media tries to sell to the world audience the fairy tale of evil Russians trying to influence American elections. Nevertheless, other defamatory claims made, with no evidence offered, involve the Russian national Olympic team and allegations of doping. Their small victories, such as censorship against RT, show the true evil face of the old neoliberal world order.

MBS, Netanyahu and Trump represent all that is wrong in the West and the Middle East. The more they try to survive, the more they harm the interests of the neoliberal elites, only serving to reveal their true genocidal face (as in Yemen or Palestine) or even publicly admitting that their every political move is intended to favour the United States (Trump’s doctrine of “America First” lays it out quite openly and clearly).

The neoliberal order is based on a deception knowingly perpetrated by the mainstream media. They cloud the news to give a specific, partisan view of events. For those firmly opposed to such a warlike and dehumanizing drift, advantage must be taken of the opportunity presented by the unlikely trio of MBS, Trump and Netanyahu. By sweeping away the neoliberal hypocrisy, it is easier to show the brutality of the West’s ruling elite. This unlikely trio even achieved the more than unexpected effect of uniting almost all forces opposed to this warmongering world order, consolidating alliances and friendships in various geographical areas.

From North Africa to the Middle East, passing through South America and Asia, Washington is no longer the unique voice dictating all the decisions. Unlike in the past, Washington no longer chooses for others but instead prefers not to participate in order to avoid making plain its military and economic weakness. Even the withdrawal from the world stage is a strategy, especially if it is promoted as being done of one’s own volition, rather than being forced by circumstances.

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Peace Action Applauds Proposal for North Korea Talks without Preconditions


In response to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposing direct talks with North Korea without preconditions, Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, released the following statement:

“At long last, the administration has dropped the unattainable precondition that North Korea agree to denuclearize prior to negotiations. This more realistic posture could be just what we need to deescalate tensions and jumpstart the diplomatic process. North Korea would be wise to accept this olive branch and agree to come to the negotiating table without delay.

“The successful Iran nuclear agreement was only possible because the U.S. and Iran were willing to come to the negotiating table without preconditions. The Iran agreement also couldn’t have worked without a mutual effort to set aside past differences and work step by step to find common ground. The same could be said for any future nuclear agreement with North Korea.

“While this is a critical step towards deescalation and a diplomatic process to address the crisis, both the U.S. and North Korea need to show restraint. Threats, insults, and aggressive military posturing must be left by the wayside as we continue to pursue good faith negotiations. The administration should accept South Korea’s request for a delay in joint military exercises, which could widen an opening for talks.”

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts.

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