Archive | February 3rd, 2018

Hitler’s Failed Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union. The “Battle of Moscow” and Stalingrad: Turning Point of World War II

NOVANEWS

The victory of the Red Army in front of Moscow was a major break…

 

This article was first published by GR in December 2011

February 4, 2017 is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad (February 4, 1943), considered by historians as a decisive turning point of World War II, during which German forces were defeated after five months of combat.

Historian Dr. Jacques Pauwels analyses the evolution of World War II,  focusing on the “Battle of Moscow” in December 1941 which preceded the defeat of German troops in Stalingrad in February 1943. According to Dr. Pauwels, the turning point was not Stalingrad but “the Battle of Moscow” and the Soviet counter-offensive launched in December 1941:

When the Red Army launched its devastating counteroffensive on December 5, Hitler himself realized that he would lose the war. But of course he was not prepared to let the German public know that. The nasty tidings from the front near Moscow were presented to the public as a temporary setback, blamed on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter and/or on the incompetence or cowardice of certain commanders.

It was only a good year later, after the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943, that the German public, and the entire world, would realize that Germany was doomed; this is why even today many historians believe that the tide turned in Stalingrad .

Even so, it proved impossible to keep the catastrophic implications of the debacle in front of Moscow a total secret. For example, on December 19, 1941, the German Consul in Basel reported to his superiors in Berlin that the (openly pro-Nazi) head of a mission of the Swiss Red Cross, sent to the front in the Soviet Union to assist only the wounded on the German side, which of course contravened Red Cross rules, had returned to Switzerland with the news, most surprising to the Consul, that “he no longer believed that Germany could win the war.”[30]

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, V-Day, May 9, 2015

The defeat of German troops at Stalingrad was on February 4, 1943


The Battle of Moscow, December 1941: Turning Point of World War II

The Victory of the Red Army in front of Moscow was a Major Break…

by Jacques Pauwels

Global Research

6 December 2011

World War II started, at least as far as the “European Theatre” was concerned, with the German army steamrolling over Poland in September, 1939. About six months later, even more spectacular victories followed, this time over the Benelux Countries and France. By the summer of 1940, Germany looked invincible and predestined to rule the European continent indefinitely. (Great Britain admittedly refused to throw in the towel, but could not hope to win the war on its own, and had to fear that Hitler would soon turn his attention to Gibraltar, Egypt, and/or other jewels in the crown of the British Empire.) Five years later, Germany experienced the pain and humiliation of total defeat. On April 20, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in Berlin as the Red Army bulldozed its way into the city, reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and on May 8/9 German surrendered unconditionally.

Clearly, then, sometime between late 1940 and 1944 the tide had turned rather dramatically. But when, and where? In Normandy in 1944, according to some; at Stalingrad, during the winter of 1942-43, according to others. In reality, the tide turned in December 1941 in the Soviet Union, more specifically, in the barren plain just west of Moscow. As a German historian, an expert on the war against the Soviet Union, has put it: “That victory of the Red Army [in front of Moscow] was unquestionably the major break [Zäsur] of the entire world war.”[1]

That the Soviet Union was the scene of the battle that changed the course of World War II, should come as no surprise. War against the Soviet Union was the war Hitler had wanted from the beginning, as he had made very clear on the pages of Mein Kampf, written in the mid-1920s. (But an Ostkrieg, a war in the east, i.e. against the Soviets, was also the object of desire of the German generals, of Germany’s leading industrialists, and of other “pillars” of Germany’s establishment.) In fact, as a German historian has just recently demonstrated,[2] it was a war against the Soviet Union, and not against Poland, France, or Britain, that Hitler had wanted to unleash in 1939. On August 11 of that year, Hitler explained to Carl J. Burckhardt, an official of the League of Nations, that “everything he undertook was directed against Russia,” and that “if the West [i.e. the French and the British] is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, he would be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians, turn and defeat the West, and then turn back with all his strength to strike a blow against the Soviet Union.”[3] This is in fact what happened. The West did turn out to be “too stupid and blind”, as Hitler saw it, to give him “a free hand” in the east, so he did make a deal with Moscow – the infamous “Hitler-Stalin Pact” – and then unleashed war against Poland, France and Britain. But his objective remained the same: to attack and destroy the Soviet Union as soon as possible.

Hitler and the German generals were convinced they had learned an important lesson from World War I. Devoid of the raw materials needed to win a modern war, such as oil and rubber, Germany could not win a long, drawn-out war. In order to win the next war, Germany would have to win it fast, very fast. This is how the Blitzkrieg-concept was born, that is, the idea of warfare (Krieg) fast as “lightning” (Blitz). Blitzkrieg meant motorized war, so in preparation for such a war Germany during the thirties cranked out massive numbers of tanks and planes as well as trucks to transport troops. In addition, gargantuan amounts of oil and rubber were imported and stockpiled. Much of this oil was purchased from US corporations, some of which also kindly made available the “recipe” for producing synthetic fuel from coal.[4] In 1939 and 1940, this equipment permitted the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe to overwhelm the Polish, Dutch, Belgian, and French defenses with thousands of planes and tanks in a matter of weeks; Blitzkriege, “lightning-fast wars,” were invariably followed by Blitzsiege, “lightning-fast victories.”

German soldiers tend to a wounded comrade near Moscow, November–December 1941 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

These victories were spectacular enough, but they did not provide Germany with much loot in the form of vitally important oil and rubber. Instead, “lightning warfare” actually depleted the stockpiles built up before the war. Fortunately for Hitler, in 1940 and 1941 Germany was able to continue importing oil from the still neutral United States – not directly, but via other neutral (and friendly) countries such as Franco’s Spain. Moreover, under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact the Soviet Union herself also supplied Germany rather generously with oil! However, it was most troubling for Hitler that, in return, Germany had to supply the Soviet Union with high-quality industrial products and state-of-the-art military technology, which was used by the Soviets to modernize their army and improve their weaponry.[5]

It is understandable that Hitler already resurrected his earlier plan for war against the Soviet Union soon after the defeat of France, namely, in the summer of 1940. A formal order to prepare plans for such an attack, to be code-named Operation Barbarossa (Unternehmen Barbarossa) was given a few months later, on December 18, 1940.[6] Already in 1939 Hitler had been most eager to attack the Soviet Union, and he had turned against the West only, as a German historian has put it, “in order to enjoy security in the rear (Rückenfreiheit) when he would finally be ready to settle accounts with the Soviet Union.” The same historian concludes that by 1940 nothing had changed as far as Hitler was concerned: “The true enemy was the one in the east.”[7] Hitler simply did not want to wait much longer before realizing the great ambition of his life, that is, before destroying the country he had defined as his archenemy in Mein Kampf. Moreover, he knew that the Soviets were frantically preparing their defenses for a German attack which, as they knew only too well, would come sooner or later. Since the Soviet Union was getting stronger by the day, time was obviously not on Hitler’s side. How much longer could he wait before the “window of opportunity” would close?

Furthermore, waging a Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union promised to provide Germany with the virtually limitless resources of that huge country, including Ukrainian wheat to provide Germany’s population with plenty of food, also at wartime; minerals such as coal, from which synthetic rubber and oil could be produced; and – last but certainly not least! – the rich oil fields of Baku and Grozny, where the gas-guzzling Panzers and Stukas would be able to fill their tanks to the brim at any time. Steeled with these assets, it would then be a simple matter for Hitler to settle accounts with Britain, starting, for example, with the capture of Gibraltar. Germany would finally be a genuine world power, invulnerable within a European “fortress” stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, possessed of limitless resources, and therefore capable to win even long, drawn-out wars against any antagonist – including the US! – in one of the future “wars of the continents” conjured up in Hitler’s feverish imagination.

Red Army ski troops in Moscow. Still from documentary Moscow Strikes Back, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler and his generals were confident that the Blitzkrieg they prepared to unleash against the Soviet Union would be as successful as their earlier “lightning wars” against Poland and France had been. They considered the Soviet Union as a “giant with feet of clay”, whose army, presumably decapitated by Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s, was “not more than a joke,” as Hitler himself put it on one occasion.[8] In order to fight, and of course win, the decisive battles, they allowed for a campaign of four to six weeks, possibly to be followed by some mopping-up operations, during which the remnants of the Soviet host would “be chased across the country like a bunch of beaten Cossacks.”[9] In any event, Hitler felt supremely confident, and on the eve of the attack, he “fancied himself to be on the verge of the greatest triumph of his life.”[10]

(In Washington and London, the military experts likewise believed that the Soviet Union would not be able to put up significant resistance to the Nazi juggernaut, whose military exploits of 1939-40 had earned it a reputation of invincibility. The British secret services were convinced that the Soviet Union would be “liquidated within eight to ten weeks,” and Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, averred that the Wehrmacht would slice through the Red Army “like a warm knife through butter,” that the Red Army would be rounded up “like cattle.” According to expert opinion in Washington, Hitler would “crush Russia [sic] like an egg.”)[11]

The German attack started on June 22, 1941, in the early hours of the morning. Three million German soldiers and almost 700,000 allies of Nazi Germany crossed the border, and their equipment consisted of 600,000 motor vehicles, 3,648 tanks, more than 2.700 planes, and just over 7,000 pieces of artillery.[12] At first, everything went according to the plan. Huge holes were punched in the Soviet defences, impressive territorial gains were made rapidly, and hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner in a number of spectacular “encirclement battles” (Kesselschlachten). After one such battle, fought in the vicinity of Smolensk towards the end of July, the road to Moscow seemed to lay open.

Armed with heavy shovels, a hastily assembled work force of Moscow women and elderly men gouge a huge tank trap out of the earth to halt German Panzers advancing on the Russian capital. In the feverish effort to save the city, more than 100,000 citizens labored from mid-October until late November digging ditches and building other obstructions. When completed, the ditches extended more than 100 miles. Source: Scanned from “Russia Besieged” (ISBN 705405273), page 165 Image originally from the United States Information Agency

However, all too soon it became evident that the Blitzkrieg in the east would not be the cakewalk that had been expected. Facing the most powerful military machine on earth, the Red Army predictably took a major beating but, as Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels confided to his diary as early as July 2, also put up a tough resistance and hit back pretty hard on more than one occasion. General Franz Halder, in many ways the “godfather” of Operation Barbarossa’s plan of attack, acknowledged that Soviet resistance was much tougher than anything the Germans had faced in Western Europe. Wehrmacht reports cited “hard,” “tough,” even “wild” resistance, causing heavy losses in men and equipment on the German side.[13] More often than expected, Soviet forces managed to launch counter-attacks that slowed down the German advance. Some Soviet units went into hiding in the vast Pripet Marshes and elsewhere, organized deadly partisan warfare, and threatened the long and vulnerable German lines of communication.[14] It also turned out that the Red Army was much better equipped than expected. German generals were “amazed,” writes a German historian, by the quality of Soviet weapons such as the Katyusha rocket launcher (a.k.a. “Stalin Organ”) and the T-34 tank. Hitler was furious that his secret services had not been aware of the existence of some of this weaponry.[15]

The greatest cause of concern, as far as the Germans were concerned, was the fact that the bulk of the Red Army managed to withdraw in relatively good order and eluded destruction in a major Kesselschlacht, the kind of repeat of Cannae or Sedan that Hitler and his generals had dreamed of. The Soviets appeared to have carefully observed and analyzed the German Blitzkrieg successes of 1939 and 1940 and to have learned useful lessons. They must have noticed that in May 1940 the French had massed their forces right at the border as well as in Belgium, thus making it possible for the German war machine to encircle them in a major Kesselschlacht. (British troops were also caught in this encirclement, but managed to escape via Dunkirk.) The Soviets did leave some troops at the border, of course, and these troops predictably suffered the Soviet Union’s major losses during the opening stages of Barbarossa. But – contrary to what is claimed by historians such as Richard Overy[16] – the bulk of the Red Army was held back in the rear, avoiding entrapment. It was this “defence in depth” that frustrated the German ambition to destroy the Red Army in its entirety. As Marshal Zhukov was to write in his memoirs, “the Soviet Union would have been smashed if we had organized all our forces at the border.”[17]

By the middle of July, as Hitler’s war in the east started to lose its Blitz-qualities, some German leaders started to voice great concern. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Wehrmacht’s secret service, the Abwehr, for example, confided on July 17 to a colleague on the front, General von Bock, that he saw “nothing but black.” On the home front, many German civilians also started to feel that the war in the east was not going well. In Dresden, Victor Klemperer wrote in his diary on July 13: “We suffer immense losses, we have underestimated the Russians…”[18] Around the same time Hitler himself abandoned his belief in a quick and easy victory and scaled down his expectations; he now expressed the hope that his troops might reach the Volga by October and capture the oil fields of the Caucasus a month or so later.[19] By the end of August, at a time when Barbarossa should have been winding down, a memorandum of the Wehrmacht’s High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW) acknowledged that it might no longer be possible to win the war in 1941.[20]

A 7 November 1941 parade by Soviet troops on Red Square depicted in this 1949 painting by Konstantin Yuon vividly demonstrates the symbolic significance of the event (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A major problem was the fact that, when Barbarossa started on June 22, the available supplies of fuel, tires, spare parts etc., were only good enough for about two months. This had been deemed sufficient, because it was expected that within two months the Soviet Union would be on its knees and its unlimited resources – industrial products as well as raw materials – would therefore be available to the Germans.[21] However, by late August the German spearheads were nowhere near those distant regions of the Soviet Union where oil, that most precious of all martial commodities, was to be had. If the tanks managed to keep on rolling, though increasingly slowly, into the seemingly endless Russian and Ukrainian expanses, it was to a large extent by means of fuel and rubber imported, via Spain and occupied France, from the US. The American share of Germany’s imports of vitally important oil for engine lubrication (Motorenöl), for example, increased rapidly during the summer of 1941, namely, from 44 per cent in July to no less than 94 per cent in September.[22]

The flames of optimism flared up again in September, when German troops captured Kiev, bagging 650,000 prisoners, and, further north, made progress in the direction of Moscow. Hitler believed, or at least pretended to believe, that the end was now near for the Soviets. In a public speech in the Berlin Sportpalast on October 3, he declared that the eastern war was virtually over. And the Wehrmacht was ordered to deliver the coup de grace by launching Operation Typhoon (Unternehmen Taifun), an offensive aimed at taking Moscow. However, the odds for success looked increasingly slim, as the Soviets were busily bringing in reserve units from the Far East. (They had been informed by their master spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, that the Japanese, whose army was stationed in northern China, were no longer considering to attack the Soviets’ vulnerable borders in the Vladivostok area.) To make things worse, the Germans no longer enjoyed superiority in the air, particularly over Moscow. Also, insufficient supplies of ammunition and food could be brought up from the rear to the front, since the long supply lines were severely hampered by partisan activity.[23] Finally, it was getting chilly in the Soviet Union, though no colder than usual at that time of the year. But the German high command, confident that their eastern Blitzkrieg would be over by the end of the summer, had failed to supply the troops with the equipment necessary to fight in the rain, mud, snow, and freezing temperatures of a Russian fall and winter.

Taking Moscow loomed as an extremely important objective in the minds of Hitler and his generals. It was believed, though wrongly, that the fall of Moscow would “decapitate” the Soviet Union and thus bring about its collapse. It also seemed important to avoid a repeat of the scenario of the summer of 1914, when the seemingly unstoppable German advance had been halted in extremis on the eastern outskirts of Paris, during the Battle of the Marne. This disaster -from the German perspective – had robbed Germany of nearly certain victory in the opening stages of the “Great War” and had forced it into a long, drawn-out struggle that, lacking sufficient resources and blockaded by the British Navy, it was doomed to lose. This time, in a new Great War, fought against a new archenemy, the Soviet Union, there was to be no “Miracle of the Marne,” that is, no defeat just outside the capital, and Germany would therefore not again have to fight, resourceless and blockaded, a long, drawn out conflict it would be doomed to lose. Unlike Paris, Moscow would fall, history would not repeat itself, and Germany would end up being victorious.[24] Or so they hoped in Hitler’s headquarters.

The Wehrmacht continued to advance, albeit very slowly, and by mid-November some units found themselves at only 30 kilometers from the capital. But the troops were now totally exhausted, and running out of supplies. Their commanders knew that it was simply impossible to take Moscow, tantalizingly close as the city may have been, and that even doing so would not bring them victory. On December 3, a number of units abandoned the offensive on their own initiative. Within days, however, the entire German army in front of Moscow was simply forced on the defensive. Indeed, on December 5, at 3 in the morning, in cold and snowy conditions, the Red Army suddenly launched a major, well-prepared counter-attack. The Wehrmacht’s lines were pierced in many places, and the Germans were thrown back between 100 and 280 km with heavy losses of men and equipment. It was only with great difficulty that a catastrophic encirclement (Einkesselung) could be avoided. On December 8, Hitler ordered his army to abandon the offensive and to move into defensive positions. He blamed this setback on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter, refused to pull back further to the rear, as some of his generals suggested, and proposed to attack again in the spring.[25]

Thus ended Hitler’s Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union, the war that, had it been victorious, would have realized the great ambition of his life, the destruction of the Soviet Union. More importantly, at least from our present perspective, such a victory would also have provided Nazi Germany with sufficient oil and other resources to make it a virtually invulnerable world power. As such, Nazi Germany would very likely have been capable of finishing off stubborn Great Britain, even if the US would have rushed to help its Anglo-Saxon cousin, which, incidentally, was not yet in the cards in early December of 1941. A Blitzsieg, that is, a rapid victory against the Soviet Union, then, was supposed to have made a German defeat impossible, and would in all likelihood have done so. (It is probably fair to say that if Nazi Germany would have defeated the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany would today still be the hegemon of Europe, and possibly of the Middle East and North Africa as well.) However, defeat in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941 meant that Hitler’s Blitzkrieg did not produce the hoped-for Blitzsieg. In the new “Battle of the Marne” just to the west of Moscow, Nazi Germany suffered the defeat that made victory impossible, not only victory against the Soviet Union itself, but also victory against Great Britain, victory in the war in general.

Bearing in mind the lessons of World War I, Hitler and his generals had known from the start that, in order to win the new “Great War” they had unleashed, Germany had to win fast, lightning-fast. But on December 5, 1941, it became evident to everyone present in Hitler’s headquarters that a Blitzsieg against the Soviet Union would not be forthcoming, so that Germany was doomed to lose the war, if not sooner, then later. According to General Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the OKW, Hitler then realized that he could no longer win the war.[26] And so it can be argued that the tide of World War II turned on December 5, 1941. However, as real tides do not turn suddenly, but gradually and imperceptibly, the tide of the war also turned not on one single day, but over a period of days, weeks, even months, namely in the period of approximately three months that elapsed between the late summer of 1941 and early December of that same year.

The tide of the war in the east turned gradually, but it did not do so imperceptibly. Already in August 1941, as the German successes failed to bring about a Soviet capitulation and the Wehrmacht’s advance slowed down considerably, astute observers started to doubt that a German victory, not only in the Soviet Union but in the war in general, still belonged to the realm of possibilities. The well-informed Vatican, for example, initially very enthusiastic about Hitler’s “crusade” against the Soviet homeland of “godless” Bolshevism and confident that the Soviets would collapse immediately, started to express grave concerns about the situation in the east in late summer 1941; by mid-October, it was to come to the conclusion that Germany would lose the war.[27] Likewise in mid-October, the Swiss secret services reported that “the Germans can no longer win the war”; that conclusion was based on information gathered in Sweden from statements by visiting German officers.[28] By late November, a defeatism of sorts had started to infect the higher ranks of the Wehrmacht and of the Nazi Party. Even as they were urging their troops forward towards Moscow, some generals opined that it would be preferable to make peace overtures and wind down the war without achieving the great victory that had seemed so certain at the start of Operation Barbarossa. And shortly before the end of November, Armament Minister Fritz Todt asked Hitler to find a diplomatic way out of the war, since purely militarily as well as industrially it was as good as lost.[29]

When the Red Army launched its devastating counteroffensive on December 5, Hitler himself realized that he would lose the war. But of course he was not prepared to let the German public know that. The nasty tidings from the front near Moscow were presented to the public as a temporary setback, blamed on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter and/or on the incompetence or cowardice of certain commanders. (It was only a good year later, after the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943, that the German public, and the entire world, would realize that Germany was doomed; this is why even today many historians believe that the tide turned in Stalingrad .) Even so, it proved impossible to keep the catastrophic implications of the debacle in front of Moscow a total secret. For example, on December 19, 1941, the German Consul in Basel reported to his superiors in Berlin that the (openly pro-Nazi) head of a mission of the Swiss Red Cross, sent to the front in the Soviet Union to assist only the wounded on the German side, which of course contravened Red Cross rules, had returned to Switzerland with the news, most surprising to the Consul, that “he no longer believed that Germany could win the war.”[30]

December 7. 1941. In his headquarters deep in the forests of East Prussia, Hitler had not yet fully digested the ominous news of the Soviet counter-offensive in front of Moscow, when he learned that, on the other side of the world, the Japanese had attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour. This caused the US to declare war on Japan, but not on Germany, which had nothing to do with the attack and had not even been aware of the Japanese plans. Hitler had no obligation whatsoever to rush to the aid of his Japanese friends, as is claimed by many American historians, but on December 11, 1941 – four days after Pearl Harbor – he declared war on the US. This seemingly irrational decision must be understood in light of the German predicament in the Soviet Union. Hitler almost certainly speculated that this entirely gratuitous gesture of solidarity would induce his Eastern ally to reciprocate with a declaration of war on the enemy of Germany, the Soviet Union, and this would have forced the Soviets into the extremely perilous predicament of a two-front war. Hitler appears to have believed that he could exorcize the spectre of defeat in the Soviet Union, and in the war in general, by summoning a sort of Japanese deus ex machina to the Soviet Union’s vulnerable Siberian frontier. According to the German historian Hans W. Gatzke, the Führer was convinced that “if Germany failed to join Japan [in the war against the United States], it would…end all hope for Japanese help against the Soviet Union.” But Japan did not take Hitler’s bait. Tokyo, too, despised the Soviet state, but the land of the rising sun, now at war against the US, could afford the luxury of a two-front war as little as the Soviets, and preferred to put all of its money on a “southern” strategy, hoping to win the big prize of Southeast Asia – including oil-rich Indonesia! -, rather than embark on a venture in the inhospitable reaches of Siberia. Only at the very end of the war, after the surrender of Nazi Germany, would it come to hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan. [31]

And so, because of Hitler’s own fault, the camp of Germany’s enemies now included not only Great Britain and the Soviet Union, but also the mighty USA, whose troops could be expected to appear on Germany’s shores, or at least on the shores of German-occupied Europe, in the foreseeable future. The Americans would indeed land troops in France, but only in 1944, and this unquestionably important event is still often presented as the turning point of World War II. However, one should ask if the Americans would ever have landed in Normandy or, for that matter, ever have declared war on Nazi Germany, if Hitler had not declared war on them on December 11, 1941; and one should ask if Hitler would ever have made the desperate, even suicidal, decision to declare war on the US if he had not found himself in a hopeless situation in the Soviet Union. The involvement of the US in the war against Germany, then, which for many reasons was not “in the cards” before December 1941, was also a consequence of the German setback in front of Moscow. Obviously, this constitutes yet another fact that may be cited in support of the claim that “the tide turned” in the Soviet Union in the fall and early winter of 1941.

Nazi Germany was doomed, but the war was still to be long one. Hitler ignored the advice of his generals, who strongly recommend trying to find a diplomatic way out of the war, and decided to battle on in the slim hope of somehow pulling victory out of a hat. The Russian counter-offensive would run out of steam, the Wehrmacht would survive the winter of 1941-1942, and in the spring of 1942 Hitler would scrape together all available forces for an offensive – code-named “Operation Blue” (Unternehmen Blau) – in the direction of the oil fields of the Caucasus – via Stalingrad. Hitler himself acknowledged that, “if he did not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny, then he would have to end this war.”[32] However, the element of surprise had been lost, and the Soviets proved to dispose of huge masses of men, oil, and other resources, as well as excellent equipment, much of it produced in factories that had been established behind the Urals between 1939 and 1941. The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, could not compensate for the huge losses it had suffered in 1941. Between June 22, 1941, and January 31, 1942, the Germans had lost 6,000 airplanes and more than 3,200 tanks and similar vehicles; and no less than 918,000 men had been killed, wounded, or gone missing in action, amounting to 28,7 percent of the average strength of the army, namely, 3,2 million men.[33] (In the Soviet Union, Germany would lose no less than 10 million of its total 13.5 million men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during the entire war; and the Red Army would end up claiming credit for 90 per cent of all Germans killed in the Second World War.)[34] The forces available for a push towards the oil fields of the Caucasus were therefore extremely limited. Under those circumstances, it is quite remarkable that in 1942 the Germans managed to make it as far as they did. But when their offensive inevitably petered out, namely in September of that year, their weakly held lines were stretched along many hundreds of kilometers, presenting a perfect target for a Soviet attack. When that attack came, it caused an entire German army to be bottled up, and ultimately to be destroyed, in Stalingrad. It was after this great victory of the Red Army that the ineluctability of German defeat in World War II would be obvious for all to see. However, the seemingly minor and relatively unheralded German defeat in front of Moscow in late 1941 had been the precondition for the admittedly more spectacular and more “visible” German defeat at Stalingrad.

Medal “For the Defence of Moscow”: 1,028,600 were awarded from 1 May 1944.

There are even more reasons to proclaim December 1941 as the turning point of the war. The Soviet counter-offensive destroyed the reputation of invincibility in which the Wehrmacht had basked ever since its success against Poland in 1939, thus boosting the morale of Germany’s enemies everywhere. The Battle of Moscow also ensured that the bulk of Germany’s armed forces would be tied to an eastern front of approximately 4,000 km for an indefinite period of time, which all but eliminated the possibility of German operations against Gibraltar, for example, and thus provided tremendous relief to the British. Conversely, the failure of the Blitzkrieg demoralized the Fins and other German allies. And so forth…

It was in front of Moscow, in December 1941, that the tide turned, because it was there that the Blitzkrieg failed and that Nazi Germany was consequently forced to fight, without sufficient resources, the kind of long, drawn-out war that Hitler and his generals knew they could not possibly win.

Jacques R. Pauwels, author of The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002.

Notes

[1] Gerd R. Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern des ‚Unternehmens Barbarossa‘“, in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 120.

[2] Rolf-Dieter Müller, Der Feind steht im Osten: Hitlers geheime Pläne für einen Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion im Jahr 1939, Berlin, 2011.

[3] Cited in Müller, op. cit., p. 152.

[4] Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002, pp. 33, 37.

[5] Lieven Soete, Het Sovjet-Duitse niet-aanvalspact van 23 augustus 1939: Politieke Zeden in het Interbellum, Berchem [Antwerp], Belgium, 1989, pp. 289-290, including footnote 1 on p. 289.

[6] See e.g. Gerd R. Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß zum ‘Lebensraum’-Krieg im Osten: Programmatisches Ziel oder militärstrategisches Kalkül?,” in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 39.

[7] Müller, op. cit., p. 169.

[8] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 95.

[9] Müller, op. cit., pp. 209, 225.

[10] Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß…”, p. 15.

[11] Pauwels, op. cit., p. 62; Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern…,“ pp. 95-96; Domenico Losurdo, Stalin: Storia e critica di una leggenda nera, Rome, 2008, p. 29.

[12] Müller, op. cit., p. 243.

[13] Richard Overy, Russia’s War, London, 1997, p. 87.

[14] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 97-98.

[15] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 97; Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31.

[16] Overy, op. cit., pp. 64-65.

[17] Grover Furr, Khrushchev Lied : The Evidence That Every ‘Revelation’ of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) ‘Crimes’ in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous ‘Secret Speech’ to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, is Provably False, Kettering/Ohio, 2010, p. 343: Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31; Soete, op. cit., p. 297.

[18] Losurdo, op. cit., pp. 31-32.

[19] Bernd Wegner, “Hitlers zweiter Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion: Strategische Grundlagen und historische Bedeutung“, in Wolfgang Michalka (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg: Analysen – Grundzüge – Forschungsbilanz, München and Zurich, 1989, p. 653.

[20] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 100.

[21] Müller, op. cit., p. 233.

[22] Tobias Jersak, “Öl für den Führer,“ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 11, 1999. Jersak used a “top secret” document produced by the Wehrmacht Reichsstelle für Mineralöl, now in the military section of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives), file RW 19/2694.

[23] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 99-102, 106-107.

[24] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 106.

[25] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” pp. 107-111; Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin`s Wars from World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, New Haven/CT and London, 2006, p. 111.

[26] Andreas Hillgruber (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg 1939–1945: Kriegsziele und Strategie der Grossen Mächte, fifth edition, Stuttgart, 1989, p. 81.

[27] Annie Lacroix-Riz, Le Vatican, l’Europe et le Reich de la Première Guerre mondiale à la guerre froide, Paris, 1996, p. 417.

[28] Daniel Bourgeois, Business helvétique et troisième Reich : Milieux d’affaires, politique étrangère, antisémitisme, Lausanne, 1998, pp. 123, 127.

[29] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 107-108.

[30] Bourgeois, op. cit., pp. 123, 127.

[31] Pauwels, op. cit., pp. 68-69; quotation from Hans W. Gatzke, Germany and the United States: A “Special Relationship?,” Cambridge/MA, and London, 1980, p. 137.

[32] Wegner, op. cit., pp. 654-656.

[33] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 116.

[34] Clive Ponting, Armageddon: The Second World War, London, 1995, p. 130; Stephen E. Ambrose Americans at War, New York, 1998, p. 72.

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U.S. and Turkey Agreed on the Assassination of Kurdish Politicians and Field Commanders

NOVANEWS
 

After Turkey had unleashed a military operation in the north of Syria it became clear that Erdogan is ready for decisive actions on this issue. On January 25, the Kurdish command initiated the redeployment of its troops from Deir Ezzor and Al Hasakah to the area of Manbij.

In response to these events, the American authorities began to seek for an output from a current situation. According to our sources in Afrin, Washington accepted the assassination of high-ranking and radical Kurdish field commanders and politicians with the help of the Turkish army in order to prevent further escalation of tension between NATO allies.

Commenting on the Anadolu reports on the redeployment of PYD/PKK fighters from several areas in northeastern Syria to Afrin, Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway noted that the United States does not control the Syrian democratic forces, and only just provide them with support and make recommendations.

At the same time, the spokesman specified that if any YPG fighter leaves the battle against ISIS in order to participate in the Afrin operations, Kurds will lose U.S. support. Galloway clarified that this decision will be applied to the situation around Afrin and At Tanf.

Inside Syria Media Center continues to monitor the developments around Afrin. Probably, we should be ready for new victims. It is likely that some Kurdish politicians and field commanders will be assassinated. If this really happens, the U. S. will once again show that the Kurds are just a bargaining chip for them.

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America’s Contradictory Foreign Policy, Towards a Shooting War with Turkey in Syria?

NOVANEWS
 

The consequences of the contradictory choices of the United States in Syria are beginning to become apparent. The obsessive efforts to advance geopolitical goals with war, chaos, betrayals and shaky alliances has brought us to the recent events in Northern Syria on the border with Turkey in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

The overall picture of alliances and alignments, especially in Northern Syria, is not the simplest and needs some elaboration. The Kurds (PKK/YPG) in Syria are basically allies of the United States, using the territory under their control to train additional jihadists to spread chaos in the country. In particular, there are more than ten US military bases in Syria, violating all manner of international norms. According to the media, the Kurds are excellent fighters by virtue of their ability to fight Daesh. But looking at the situation more honestly, the collusion with Daesh by the US and allied countries in the region is evident, particular Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s involvement. The provision to Daesh of healthcare, weapons, logistics, intelligence, financial, and diplomatic support has never been lacking over the years. It seems evident that the Kurds (under the name of the SDF) often found easy accommodation with the Daesh terrorists, granting voluntary relocations to combatants in areas adjacent to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). American and Israeli politicians and Generals have openly stated that it is not convenient to fight Daesh if this ends up benefitting Assad.

The Kurdish area in Syria is divided between the areas east and west of the Euphrates. The canton of Afrin is under Russian protection, both on the ground (Russian military police were present in Afrin until a few days ago) as well as in the air. The Kurdish area to the east of the Euphrates, which connects to Iraq, openly seeks independence, is under American control, and obviously threatens Syria’s territorial integrity. This is the result of an American strategic Plan B devised by Brookings in 2009 that continues to give hope to the neocons in Washington. But as we shall see, it is a forlorn hope.

The Kurdish entity located in the Afrin enclave fought with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Aleppo in the liberation of the city. It also resisted the Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) attack on Syria when Erdogan decided to create a buffer zone between the Afrin canton and the Kurds to the east of the Euphrates when advancing towards Azaz. Following the liberation of Aleppo, the relations between Damascus and the Kurds of Afrin saw some initial progress, thanks to Russian diplomacy. The temporary compromise between Damascus and the Kurds saw Moscow deploy a symbolic number of Russian military police to Afrin, with the much more important air defense being guaranteed by the operational range of the Russian S-400 air-defence systems deployed in Syria.

Meanwhile, the progress of the diplomatic and negotiating agreement between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran is bearing fruit, diminishing the importance of the Geneva peace talks on Syria as well as the areas controlled by the Americans, Europeans, Saudis and Qataris.

The events over the last few days are the combined results of the nefarious actions of the United States, the incompetence of the Kurds, and the superb diplomatic and strategic actions of Damascus and Moscow.

The starting point for Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey concerns the territorial unity of Syria. The opposing countries are clearly the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Kurds of Rojava claim their independence, and therefore easily see themselves as allies of the United States, openly supported by Israel (in the case of the independence referendum) and even by the Saudis. Afrin’s Kurds are in a different position, which is why Moscow found itself faced with a perfect situation, the result of months of diplomatic work, allowing it to pull off a strategic trifecta. Moscow first called the Kurdish bluff, who refused to allow the Syrian Arab Army entry into Afrin and accept the canton’s return to the borders that preceded the chaos that started in 2011 (when the Kurds had in fact their important autonomy even if under the banner of Damascus). Moscow had probably guaranteed Erdogan that if the Kurds in Afrin refused entry of Damascus’s troops into the town, then Ankara’s military operation would be justified. Perhaps Putin could have persuaded Erdogan to postpone Operation Olive Branch, but he did not, and the reason has to do with the strategic considerations at play.

The objective of Damascus, Moscow and Tehran is to remove the United States from Syria. Of course they currently fight America’s proxies in the region, but the seedlings of chaos that have been sown in the country will have to be uprooted in the long term. Erdogan’s military action in the Afrin Region puts the interests of Washington and Ankara on a direct collision course. Erdogan is aware of what Putin is doing, but he is more interested in what Trump is doing with the Kurds along his border than with the territorial unity of Syria and Iraq.

Washington has its back against the wall, forced to defend a Kurdish ally against a key member of NATO, in the forlorn hope of retaining some significance in the Syrian picture. The weakness of the American position will lead to them abandoning their Kurdish ally to its fate at the hands of Moscow and Damascus, who will have all the necessary leverage with the Kurds to get what they want for the good of Syria. There are already rumors of Syrian army troops entering the town of Afrin at the invitation of the Kurds. The Kurds are denying it, but we will see how long they can resist Erdogan, who finds the road before him clear to force Washington to break with its Kurdish ally if a shooting war among NATO allies is to be avoided.

We can only imagine the thoughts and impressions in the chancelleries in much of the world as they observe Moscow’s diplomatic adroitness, able to secure the territorial integrity of Syria at the expense of two NATO members opposed to Assad.

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Supremacy of the Spectacle and Political Theater. Fomenting Engineered Perspectives

NOVANEWS

Western politicians have lost all legitimacy as representatives of their electorates. Regardless of the political party that they claim to represent, pre-scripted agendas prevail in matters of importance. Core issues of war and peace are submerged beneath lies and disappeared.

Spectacles and political theater mask widespread poverty[1] and the looting of public coffers. The agenda of permanent warfare and predatory economic models is unspoken but continuous.

Perception managers engineer public support for the toxic (shadow government) agendas.  Unelected deep state actors seek to obliterate truth from the public sphere.  Presumably, an informed public would negate the toxic agendas, but those who profit from war and misery are aware of this.

North Korea[2] is not a threat to us.  The U.S led war on Syria was never about combatting terrorism.

See this clip.

Russia is not a threat to us either. In every instance of post 9/11 warfare, target nations have been falsely presented as being threats, and the resultant warfare has been catastrophic, a genuine holocaust.

Debbie Lusignan, host of Sane Progressive demonstrates in the following episode that beneath the political theater, both US parties share the same toxic shadow government agenda.  The Russia Gate threat, for example, is baseless. There is no evidence to prove Russia’s interference in U.S elections (see 10:14- 14:16 of the video). But this hasn’t stopped both U.S parties from presenting Russia as an enemy.  Both parties and their agencies, including the media, seek war with Russia, and demonization campaigns serve to prepare populations for what should be unthinkable. Not only should permanent wars of aggression be an affront to informed citizens, but the siphoning of the public treasury to support such wars,to the detriment of the health and welfare of domestic populations, should also be an affront to our sanity.

As with Canada, people are conditioned to believe that different political parties offer largely different agendas, but the rhetoric masks the real agenda.Would political theater and Trump’s escapades attract so much attention if people were aware of their countries’ own economic and moral impoverishment?

Matters of significance are increasingly being displaced by matters of relative insignificance.  The engineered “spectacle” obliterates reality and replaces it with illusions.

How would a broad-based population react if they realized that our governments support al Qaeda and ISIS? Or that we support an illegal neo-Nazi infested regime in Kiev[1]?How would domestic populations react if they realized that their perceptions are engineered, that the threats of terrorism, of Russia, or Syriaand beyond are all engineered fabrications, bereft of evidence?

The answers to these questions remain elusive, precisely because an increasingly globalized shadow government governs us and it is their deceptive messaging that remains ascendant.

Notes

[1] Simeon Ari, In the U.S. 49.7 Million Are Now Poor, and 80% of the Total Population Is Near Poverty. Political Blindspot. 6 November, 2013. (http://politicalblindspot.com/us-poor/) Accessed 31 January, 2018.

[2] Christopher Black,“The Genocide Conspiracy Against North Korea: An Open Letter to the International Criminal Court.” New Eastern Outlook. 26 January, 2018. (https://journal-neo.org/2018/01/26/the-genocide-conspiracy-against-north-korea-an-open-letter-to-the-international-criminal-court/) Accessed.31 January, 2018.

[3] RT. “Hundreds of far-right vigilantes sworn in to ‘enforce Ukrainian order’ on Kiev’s streets (VIDEO).” 31 January, 2018. (https://www.rt.com/news/417444-azov-patrol-national-brigades/) Accessed 31 January, 2018.

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Saber-Rattling, Nuclear Threat – Or an Even More Devastating War?

NOVANEWS

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has come and gone, and nothing has really changed. The wonderful people of the world struck again – blowing hot air to the four corners of the world. When in reality the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, wars and conflicts are on the rise – and humanity, at least in the western world, is ever more exposed to propaganda lies and mind manipulations, of which then WEF is just one tiny, miserable example.

For instance, was anybody still listening to the bombastic nonsense coming out of Trump’s and Macron’s throat? – It is a soft version of “Fire and Fury” — to confirm to the World of the Noble who is in charge, and to assure the elite that nothing, but nothing will change in the balance of power. That’s the neoliberal Davos Club of always. And they, this elite of beautiful people, would certainly not want a ‘hard core’ nuclear war to destroy their properties and luxury yachts, castles and comfort zone.

So, rest assured, sable-rattling about nuclear Armageddon is just a smoke screen, a deviation maneuver to hide a much worse atrocity. An atrocity, or rather a set of atrocities by which the WEF crowd will most likely never be touched. Trump, for the moment, is the best salesman and mouthpiece the Deep State could muster for their ploy. He is pompous, pretentiously egocentric, and an absurd bully. His America First and Make America Great again, repeated over and over – sounds so silly, but said often enough, it takes hold and becomes the truth in people’s minds.

In Davos Trump’s speech was so simple, it was even catchy: America will always be first; and each one of you, addressing the statesmen in the crowd, he said, should do the same for your country. Then we can work together. This sounds like a complete anti-globalist declaration. The world is now to believe that globalization – which most of the universe has woken up to understand is a disaster – is over, a thing of the past. Another smoke-screen to let the corporate machine push harder to globalize the last corner of Mother Earth – suck the last juice out of the poor, the dispensable “shithole” people.

From 2008 to 2016 Obama was the ideal liar with credibility – so much so that he got the Peace Nobel Prize even before he really started his Presidency. Hectoliters of tears of hope were shed during his inauguration on the Washington Mall. His smooth and charming smile convinced everybody, his eloquent and articulate speeches swayed the world into believing that change was coming, that after the horrible Bush years, the United States wanted only the good for the people of the world. With this false image, Obama managed to leave the Presidency with seven active wars (he inherited two) to his credit – and a record of drone killings – all approved by the Commander-in-chief, Obama, himself – unimaginable. Tens of thousands of innocent people were assassinated or maimed – all extrajudicial killings. That was the Peace Man at the time.

The Donald is, indeed, of a different breed, color and style. Precisely the style needed by his masters for the next at 4 years. Maybe 8; we don’t know yet. His controversial preposterous character, crying wolf along with nuclear saber-rattling over and over again, is to diverge the attention of the public at large – within the US, as well as around the globe, so that a much more sinister war can be developed, advanced and rapidly expanded.

The dark elite that pulls the strings, the would-be and wannabe hegemon, has, I honestly believe, no intention in destroying themselves, ‘their’ planet, along with their properties, their fiscal paradises, castles, yachts and casinos, yes casinos, like the western all dominating central banks. They are the casinos of the rich. They live too well to wanting to see their feudal lives destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse.

They, the new feudals, may think it is be alright to use precision nuclear weapons “light” – destined to take out specific targets, but they also know – those who direct the Red Nuclear Button (Trump’s ‘Bigger Button’) – that they don’t know what the reaction from the targeted enemies or their allies might be. Perhaps a total annihilation. Not unlikely. – The deep dark elitists may survive. But what is life in bunkers and contaminated air, water and soil, perhaps for decades or centuries? – “Fire and Fury” life and in real time are no good. Just screaming and yelling to scare people into submission. That’s always good.

These somber masters of the universe, they are smarter than nuclear war. They have another, a quieter war in mind, a gradual but steady destruction of the useless, expendable humanity, leaving infrastructure and their safe havens in place, increasing their living space of opulence.

It is a war that is already in full swing; not a cold war – a hot war, a medium-to long-term execution of mankind. This strategy will work like an octopus with many tentacles operating simultaneously around the globe. If one tentacle fails, the others will do its job, until the damaged one has recovered. It’s a combat, where hardly anybody targeted can escape.

Think of biological warfare, as one of the tentacles. There exist already more than 100 secret Pentagon – CIA controlled biological weapons labs around the world. Often, their store front is a “scientific research” lab, looking for cures of human and animal diseases or biological means to eradicate agricultural pests. They are coverups. In reality, these labs develop new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, even new generations of vaccines – to be tested on local populations, of course, without their knowledge or consent. Among such research centers is the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia, known to be a biological weapons lab. See this.

In addition to developing new bio weapons, the lab is investigating the links between DNA groups and bio weapons, targeting Russia and possibly other geographic and ethnic regions, i.e. the Middle East. Kamens, the author of the above article, quotes Russian Senator Klintsevich as saying,

“It is no secret that different ethnic groups react to biological weapons in different ways and that is why the West is meticulously collecting material all across Russia.” 

No doubt this or comparable labs around the globe will do similar research on the East Asian populations, with emphasis on China. Latin America, Washington’s backyard will not be spared.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – 2014 to 2016 – covering Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, was very likely a “man-made” bio-trial. Ebola today can be contained. It registered officially close to 30,000 cases and killed according to official statistics more than 11,000 people. Unofficial figures put the death toll way above 20,000. It also reduced the economic output of these countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered the most from the outbreak. It’s a perfect test for what to do to subjugate this kind of developing country. This is applicable, basically for most of resources rich Africa.

Another tentacle of the monster octopus is genetically modified organisms (GMO). Monsanto is known since the late sixties early seventies to be working with Henry Kissinger, the Mastermind of the Bilderberg Society, whose major objective it is to drastically reduce world population. Almost any bio-disease strain can be implanted into GMO seeds. Nobody will notice and know. In the 1990s Monsanto tested a GMO wheat in India that rendered women infertile. The test was carried out on poor women, the untouchables. The exercise blew open, created a short-lived scandal, but was soon muffled by the media. Imagine, GMOs targeting specific populations with genetic diseases? – The poor are the most vulnerable and defenseless – not only with infertility, but with any kind of deadly diseases or brain or neurological long-term insufficiencies. Some of these health failures develop only over time, so that nobody can trace them back to GMOs.

Climate warfare is another nefarious tentacle of the would be-wannabe emperor, or his handlers. Climate manipulation technology is already at least 50 years old. Environmental modification techniques – ENMOD – is the Pentagon’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It is a sophisticated electromagnetic weapon operated from the outer atmosphere.

The technology was developed in the 1990s by the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), based in Alaska, enabling selectively changing weather patterns, causing excessive precipitations, floods, droughts, hurricanes and other excessive weather phenomena, thereby destroying infrastructure, agricultural production, entire economies of a country or a region, without the deployment of bombs, troops and tanks. In 1977 the UN General Assembly banned ‘military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.’ In 2014 the HAARP center was officially closed. However, this secretive technology is alive and well – and ready to be applied anywhere Washington wants to coerce a ‘regime change’, including destroying or weakening a population to facilitate access to the country’s natural resources.

An early version of climate modification was used in the late sixties and early seventies in Vietnam. Cloud-seeding, Operation Popeye, allowed prolonging the monsoon season, thereby blocking or rendering the Vietcong’s supply routes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail more difficult. This was accompanied by the Napalm defoliant which was supposed to expose, maim and kill Vietcong insurgents and allied populations.

While no climate change theorists talk about this secretive technology, it is possible, though not proven, that climate modifications are already ongoing in Africa, for example in strategically situated Somalia and Ethiopia, causing extended droughts and famine, and in Afghanistan with extremely cold and wet winters, thereby weakening and possibly exterminating entire swaths of populations. Possibly, though also not proven, as an undesired result, by an ever equalizing Mother Nature, the West is also experiencing excessive weather patterns – the record cold in the eastern US, the drought-provoked forest fires followed by heavy rain and mudslides in California, as well as stronger and more frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Gulf area.

Talking about man-made climate modification – Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%. According to The Guardian, every year an area of about 180,000 km2 of rainforest is lost, the equivalent of the size of England and Wales. At this rate, in 40 years 10 million km2 – the size of Europe, will have been razed. At current rates, linearly expanded, all of the rainforest may have gone in 100 years. The good news is that linearism does not apply to long-term projections; this horrendous trend of destruction can, thus, still be stopped by awakened people.

The Amazon rainforest encompassed in 1970 still 4.1 million km2 and in 2015 about 3.3 million km2, a reduction of 800,000 km2 in 45 years. The main reason is cattle farming, beef and leather trade, but also bio fuel and logging – to a large extent illegal logging. The impact of rainforest razing in the Amazon is already noticeable in the form of increased drought in Argentina’s Patagonia, damaging agriculture and Argentina’s beef industry. Deforestation as climate weapon? – Capitalism, when left free destroys everything, not just the environment, but mankind’s entire social fabric.

Privatization of water is another weapon of the monster. It is quietly and often clandestinely advancing, driven and coerced by the multilateral development banks, the IMF and often governments themselves. Privatization of water is already going on grand-scale, and I’m not referring in the first place to the abhorrent water bottling by Nestlé and Coca Cola and thousands of others, destroying the environment and often robbing the water, or making it inaccessible, of poor population. Case in point is Nestlé. Nestlé India with its bottled water brand “Pure Life” was eventually forced to quit India, because of multiple social conflicts with local populations, where Nestlé’s massive groundwater pumping lowered the water level so drastically that the local poor had no longer access to their traditional groundwater, but had to buy Nestlé’s expensive bottled “Pure Life” water.

Nestlé ran into similar problems in Africa and even in the US. In Flint, Michigan, where unpolluted drinking water is scarce, Nestlé paid an annual fee of a mere US$ 200 for pumping one of the few remaining sources for private rather than public water use. In drought-stricken California in 2015 and 2016, Nestlé in 2017, over-extracted water from the San Bernardino National Forest Park with some 40 million gallons and with an expired license of some US$ 500 per year, while water to farmers was rationed due to the drought. Regulators eventually forced Nestlé to stop pumping. See the multiply rewarded documentary film“Bottled Life”.

Nestlé’s ex-CEO, Peter Brabeck, said “Water has to be our chief priority”, to which Maude Barlow, former Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations replied, “Nestlé is a predator, a water hunter”. Coca Cola, Pepsi and other water bottlers follow the same unethical ways of basically stealing groundwater from the common people, forcing them to buy their expensive bottled water.

But the real predators of water and those that are massively privatizing the last uncontaminated sources of water in, for example, Amazon’s huge aquifers and the Guarani fossil aquifer, arguably the world’s largest freshwater reserve, are the giant water corporations like the French Veolia, and Suez: followed by US ITT Corporation; United Utilities and Severn Trent, Thames Water, UK; American Water Works, US; – and an ever growing number of corporations that see the future in privatizing first the source, then the city water supply of mega-cities, where already today the poor and favela inhabitants are deprived of fresh water, because they can no longer afford privately supplied drinking water – which increases intestinal diseases and child mortality all over the globe. And worse is to come, as privatization of water is becoming a worldwide powerful weapon.

Numerous huge water giants install themselves through proxy companies or farmers on top of the Guarani aquifer which is almost entirely fossil water (non-renewable), and receive lifelong water licenses. The Guarani aquifer is said to have the capacity to supply the world population for the next 200 years with some 100 liters per capita per day.  The inhabitants of Frankfurt use some 120 l/c/d. Imagine, this huge non-renewable aquifer in the hands of private corporations which could turn on and off the spigot at will – or according to ‘maximizing profit’ principles. A powerful weapon. If remaining unchecked, it is clear who is losing and who is winning.

Today, RT reports that Greek President Tsipras has just launched a sales pitch to the Greek people, that it would be a good idea to privatize Greek water supply. Can you imagine? After all that this criminal despot leader has already done to Greece – now privatizing water.

Studies carried out by the very World Bank, the institution that pushes for water privatization like no one else, except for the IMF, found that in parallel with water privatization in South Africa – intestinal diseases and child mortality increased in townships. After Nelson Mandela was elected President of a free South Africa in 1994, the western international financial vultures, like WB, IMF, FED via Wall Street, descended on Pretoria to persuade him and his government to privatize most everything. “It was good for paying back the accumulated debt of South Africa.” Yes, of course. People had no choice. Poor people in townships could no longer afford drinking water supplied to their modest homes or yards – but had to resort to traditional sources, like polluted ponds and streams. – How will the Greek cope with privatized water?

France, home to the two largest water corporations, Viola and Suez, started in 2010 remunicipalization of water with the city of Paris, followed by all major cities in France. Authorities realized that the cost of water was way too high for the quality of service provided. Similar motives prompted Berlin to go the same way.

Water is life. And life does not just cave in. It will fight for survival. But the enemy, the privatization corporations, like mining companies that irreparably destroy nature and populations social fabric, are backed by entire armies – the US, UK, German and NATO armed forces – to defend the rights of corporations… and the loser is…. Or would be, if the population would not wake up in time to defend their right to water, their Human Right to Water.

Digitization of money and the economy is another tentacle of the evil octopus. Its advancing very fast with cryptocurrencies leading the way. Digitization of money is a means for the government or any oppressing force to control populations by holding on or confiscating their vital resources to sustain live, their income. Blockchain moneys like Bitcoins, ‘specialists’ say, are more secure than any banking system the world has known so far. That myth seems to have been broken. CNBC reported on 29 January that the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked and about US$ 535 million equivalent of Bitcoins were stolen. This is the largest Bitcoin heist in Bitcoin’s relative short history of barely 9 years. So much for security.

As of January 2018, there are close to 1,400 different cryptocurrencies on the market and rising. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and speculative and therefore preferred currencies for crooks and speculators. One of the major hubs for cryptocurrencies and their ‘marketization’ is – you guessed it – Switzerland, the banking center of everything and ‘smart’ banking. Blockchain currencies are so complex and complicated for the common citizen to understand that even an IT expert has a hard time weaving his way through the maze of cryptocurrency technologies. – Which is good. Because propaganda will assure that enough people who have no clue of what they are doing are duped into making a quick buck. They have seen how. The price of Bitcoins is listed on a daily basis along with the regular stock market fluctuations. Bitcoins have increased in value from zero in 2009 to more than US$ 20,000 at their peak in December 2017. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value has slipped to about US$ 10,000 (30 January 2018), but could be way different tomorrow.

But digitization is not just about cryptocurrency. It is also a small octopus, advancing on several fronts, of which blockchain currencies are just one tentacle. There is at least one other more potentially harmful menace to the common citizen, like gradually eliminating cash and replacing it by digital currencies.

This is already happening, almost clandestinely – throughout Europe, starting with Scandinavian countries where certain department stores do no longer accept cash. Imagine – what it means when you can’t go anymore to your corner ATM to get cash to buy your groceries? You will be enslaved to the gnomes of banking, of digital banking, that is. It is another powerful weapon to subjugate people to do what they are told, lest sanctions in the form of blocked or outright confiscated accounts might be used as the “new sanctions”. These modes of punishment can induce famine, expropriation of properties and savings, poverty, eventually disease and reduction in life expectancy as a result of ever growing destitution – see Greece, which has been made poor by sticking to a fake and fiat currency, the euro, that is like digital money, stealing the countries assets through debt.

If we eventually were to live in a digital economy, it means that every value is electronic, the tangibility of hard work and physical output, the production of labor, is worth only what smart ‘digits’ will allow it to be. If the neoliberal system wants to save on labor costs – the value of labor output can be reduced to almost zero. So, every social value, social statistic, becomes a potential farce, is manipulatable which today is already the case with the figures of unemployment, inflation and ‘growth’ – economic growth. For example, in our linear western world destruction is growth. It requires production of weapons (growth) and eventually reconstruction – growth again. And everything in between, like the industry around war injuries and war deaths, is growth. All with a profit motive – and an overarching motive of subjugating populations to the hegemon of Washington.

This leads to yet another tentacle – Propaganda – all-embracing propaganda, controlled by six Zion-Anglo media giants that control some 90% of the news the west receives 24/7. The news sells you all evil about Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China – and whoever else does not want to submit to the empires rules. Propaganda in the west is nothing less than propaganda of deceit. It sells you the idea that war is good for peace – hence a never-ending war against terror. Propaganda invents terror and terrorists by making you believe that all those who disagree with a despotic system are terrorists and have to be fought. Propaganda sells you falls flags as reality.

Propaganda western style is one of the worst, most deadly weapons to hegemonize the world, as it makes the common citizen root for war, root against North Korea, a country whose only objective it is to defend itself, not to threaten the world, as western propaganda has you believe. Propaganda is also omission of facts – important facts, namely that the western powers, the US and its European puppets, the EU and NATO are the most dangerous rogue nations and organizations populating Mother Earth these days, and have been for at least the last 200 years. But despite the endless killing by these monsters, constituting the head of the evil octopus with its multiple tentacles, people do not realize who is their enemy – thanks to western deceit-propaganda.

Take the Olympics. After banning Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Games following the infamous McLaren Report on doping which has often been criticized of being manufactured, the same McLaren Report is behind prohibiting Russia from participating in South Korea’s winter games in Pyeongchang this month. This is sheer politics, Russia-denigrating propaganda. And now banning even the majority of the some 600 “clean Russian athletes” from participating under the most ludicrous arguments, is not only unjustly hurting individual athletes, who have never had anything to do with doping, it’s a repeat Russia bashing.

The President of the World Anti-Doping agency (WADA) said in a recent interview with RT, there was in fact not enough evidence to prove a state sponsored doping system in Russia. Nevertheless, he obviously went along – had to go along – with the Russia banning decision. We never know what would be at stake for these officials, if they were to follow their common-sense judgement and internal moral standards. The IOC (International Olympics Committee) is totally corrupt and bought by Washington. This is, by the way true for all International courts and UN organizations. They have all become a travesty.

Nothing prevents Russia from calling and organizing her own Olympic games, the Russian Olympics. It would be interesting to see how many western countries would dare to participate. I bet, many would wake up, because they would love to bond with Russia, if for nothing else but business, but are afraid to do so with Washington bully’s sword swinging above their necks. Sports is always a good reason for mending disagreements, which are actually only imposed ‘disagreements’. – How long will fear prevail over reason? – The light At the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Albeit, it is a shame and surprising that the world just looks on. People cannot be that dumb not to recognize that this is all a propaganda to portray Russia around the world as evil. This sort of propaganda, adding to the military threat that Russia is said to present to the world, when the real danger comes from the US and its NATO allies, is deadly propaganda, provoking war. President Putin plays it “Tao” – he is relatively quiet, non-aggressive – the non-aggressor will always win in the long run. 

The final blow, however, the ultimate tentacle, is conventional warfare, sowing conflicts and proxy wars – what we know too well – what has dominated the last two decades. When none of the other tentacles do their illegal job radically enough, then comes the traditional killing machine, enhanced Regime Change through Color Revolutions, through false flag assassinations, NATO or mercenary invasions, planted “civil wars” – i.e. Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan – and now even Iraq. Take the case of Fallujah, where massive weapons of depleted uranium were purposefully used by the US army, leaving the city and surroundings scarred for decades, for generations to come.

It is mass murder perpetrated by Washington and its dark invisible string-pulling handlers. These killings have genocide proportions. Yet, genocide is almost never mentioned when the most atrocious killings are carried out by the United States. I wonder why?

If we do not wake up, we will not escape. I few do, we may. It’s five to high-noon. It would be hell, not nuclear hell, but ‘octopus hell’, as we will be surrounded by different killing techniques or tentacles of the monster – and don’t know where to go and cry for help. Certainly not to our western leaders, not to those, which we believe we elected to do the best for Us, the People. No, these leaders are all corrupted, bought, they all have their little space reserved in paradise, for doing what they are doing helping the minuscule elite to dominate all – literally to reach Full Spector Dominance. – That’s what the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) openly declares as the hegemon’s ultimate goal. – At the end of the day, they – our lovely puppet leaders – may get a cold shower, when they have done their job as they were told – and find out that they too are dispensable like trash; like Us, The Common People. No scruples by the self-styled dark handlers of the western race. You only live once.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Ending pollution requires a change of attitudes

NOVANEWS
Pollution and our responsibility

By Graham Peebles

Pollution has become an everyday affair. It is a murderous way of life which, according to a report published in The Lancet, is responsible for the deaths of at least nine million people every year. The air we breathe is poisoned, the streams, rivers, lakes and oceans are filthy — some more, some less — the land littered with waste, the soil toxic. Neglect, complacency and exploitation characterise the attitude of governments, corporations and far too many individuals towards the life of the planet, and its rich interwoven ecological systems.

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, which is yet another cry for urgent collective action, found that pollution is responsible for a range of diseases which “kill one in every six people around the world”. This figure, while shocking, is probably a good deal higher because “the impact of many pollutants is poorly understood.” The landmark study establishes that we have reached the point when “deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined”.

Our selfish materialistic way of life is having a devastating impact on all forms of life. Unless there is a major shift in attitudes, the number of people dying of pollution will increase, contamination of the oceans will increase, deforestation and desertification will continue, and the steady destruction of all that is beautiful and naturally given will intensify. Until one day it will be too late.

Plastic oceans, poisoned air

Even climate change deniers cannot blame the natural environment for the plastic islands that litter the oceans, or the poisoned water and contaminated air. Pollution results from human activity, it “endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies”. A sense of intense, life-threatening urgency needs to be engendered, particularly among the governments and populations of those countries that are, and have historically been, the major polluters — the industrialised nations of the World.

Although China has now overtaken the USA in producing the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, argues that the US (which has 5 per cent of the world’s population but produces 30 per cent of the world’s waste), “with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the plane… In cumulative terms, we [the US] certainly own this problem more than anybody else does.”

Russia and India follow the USA as emitters of the most greenhouse gases; then comes Japan, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which the World Economic Forum relates, has “on a per-country average, the most toxic air in the world”. Australia, Canada and Brazil should also be included among the principle polluters. As Brazil’s economy has grown, so have the quantities of poisonous gas emissions, their effect made worse by deforestation of vast areas of the Amazon rainforests.

Indonesia, too, warrants our attention. This small country (3 per cent of the global population) in the middle of the South Seas is a major polluter: it has the third largest expanse of tropical forest after the Amazon and Congo, and iscutting down trees at the highest rate on the planet; it produces approximately 5 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, is the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China and has some of the dirtiest water in southeast Asia  – only a third of the population having access to clean drinking water.

China also has a problem with polluted water; IBT report that “Government analysis found that more than 80 per cent of the water from its wells was not safe to drink… while about 60 per cent of its groundwater overall was of poor or extremely poor quality”. Water pollution has reached serious levels in America as well: according to the Water Quality Project, 32 per cent of bays, 40 per cent of the country’s rivers and 46 per cent of its lakes are “too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life”. The Mississippi River, which is among the most polluted rivers in the world, “carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tonnes of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico every year. The resulting pollution is the cause of a coastal dead zone the size of Massachusetts every summer.”

Polluted rivers result in contaminated oceans; chemical fertilisers, detergents, oil, sewage, pesticides and plastic waste flow into the sea from inland waterways. Some pollutants sit on the surface of the ocean, many collect on the seabed where they are ingested by small marine organisms and introduced into the global food chain. The shocking condition of the seas was highlighted recently in the BBC production Blue Planet II. In a sequence that moved many to tears, an Albatross, having been at sea for weeks looking for food, was filmed feeding its chicks with bits of plastic collected from the surface of the ocean.

Recent research has identified 10 rivers as the source of 90 per cent of the plastics in the oceans. Deutsche Welle reports that all of them run through densely populated areas where waste collection or recycling infrastructure is inadequate. Three of these filthy tributaries are in China, four more run through China, two — the Nile and the Niger (regularly the scene of oil spills) — are in Africa. The list is completed by the Holy Ganges in India, which serves as rubbish dump (almost 80 per cent of urban waste is thrown into the river), utility room, bathroom, burial chamber and sacred temple.

Plastic waste is produced everywhere, but five Asian countries produce 60 per cent of the global total, currently 300 million tonnes (only 10 per cent is recycled): China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. If nothing changes it’s predicted that by 2025 plastic consumption in Asia alone could increase by 80 per cent to over 200 million tonnes, and global consumption could reach 400 million tonnes. Greenpeace estimates that roughly 10 per cent of all plastic ends up in the oceans where it is thought to kill over a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals.

The statistics around pollution are numerous, shocking and all too depressing. Here’s a taste:

  • 5,000 people die every day through drinking unclean water.
  • About 80 per cent of landfill items could be recycled.
  • 65 per cent of deaths in Asia and 25 per cent of deaths in India are due to air pollution.
  • Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (caused by burning fossil fuels indoors) is responsible for the death of more than 1 million people annually.
  • Over 3 million children under five die annually from environmental factors.
  • Worldwide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day.
  • At least two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks suffer from plastic ingestion
  • For every 1 million tonnes of oil shipped, approximately 1 tonne is wasted through spillage.
  • A million plastic bottles are sold worldwide every minute; forecast to increase by 20 per cent by 2021.
  • Around 1,000 children die in India annually due to diseases caused by polluted water.
  • There are more than 500 million cars in the world; there could be 1 billion by 2030.
  • Shoppers worldwide use approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags annually. This translates to about a million bags every minute, and the number is rising.

Criminal neglect

Pollution and the environmental catastrophe more broadly is the result of insatiable consumerism, selfishness and individual and collective irresponsibility. It flows from a materialistic approach to living, rooted in desire and an unjust economic system that demands unbridled consumerism for its survival. Ideologically rooted corporate governments imprisoned in nationalism and obsessed with short-term economic growth feed the system and the most important issue of the time is relegated to an afterthought, rarely spoken about by politicians who seem to believe that limitless development and mass consumerism is of greater importance than the health of the planet.

Designing policies that will clean up the air, the seas and rivers, and will preserve forests and farmland, should be the priority for all governments around the world, particularly in the industrialised nations, which have been responsible for producing the majority of the filth and for cultivating the consumer culture that is perpetuating the crisis. But while governments need to take a leading role to stop pollution, individuals, all of us, need to change the way we think and how we live. It is imperative we consume less and that decisions regarding purchases should be made firstly with environmental considerations in mind. Sufficiency and simplicity of living need to replace abundance, complacency and indulgence.

This demands a major shift in attitudes, not in 25 years, not in a year, but now. As Pope Francis rightly states in his groundbreaking papal letter, “Care for Our Common Home”, “Our efforts at [environmental] education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. Otherwise, the paradigm of consumerism will continue to advance, with the help of the media and the highly effective workings of the market.”

The “market”, aided by the media, is not concerned by such liberal considerations as the welfare of the planet and the health of human beings; it is a blind monster with a compulsion for profit, and if the ecological networks within which we live are to be purified and healing is to take place it needs to be rejected totally. A new way of thinking is required that moves away from divisive selfish ways to inclusive, socially and environmentally responsible behaviour based on a recognition that the environment we live in is not separate from us and that we all have a duty to care for it. This requires a fundamental change of attitudes.

“If we want to bring about deep change, we need to realise that certain mindsets really do influence our behaviour.” And, while there are many exceptions to this, the prevailing, carefully cultivated mindset is a materialistic, self-centred one in which responsibility is passed to someone else, usually a government. It is a mindset that has been conditioned virtually from birth by the motivating mechanism of reward and punishment. This crude tool encourages deceit, undermines humanity’s essential goodness and relies on the stimulation of materialistic, hedonistic desire – the very thing that is fuelling the environmental crisis – for its success. It is a method that may well work with corporations and to a limited degree with individuals, but a more potent and cleaner way to change the behaviour of the population at large is the way of awareness: awareness that we are brothers and sisters of one humanity, that cooperation, not competition, is an inherent aspect of our nature and that that we are all responsible for the world in which we live. It’s up to us, each and every one of us, to consciously live in an environmentally responsible manner – no matter the cost or inconvenience, and to begin to repair the terrible damage we have done and continue to do to the natural world.

Posted in Health, Politics, World0 Comments

The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital

NOVANEWS

Creating a Domestic ‘Shithole’

Introduction

The link between capitalism and drugs reaches back to the middle of the 19th century, when the British Empire forced their surplus opium crop from their South Asian colonies into the Chinese market creating massive demand from millions of addicts. The Chinese government, which had banned the use and sale of opium, was alarmed at the growing social chaos created by mass addiction and went to war with the Western powers to halt the flood of drugs. Their defeat at the hands of the British and their Chinese drug lord allies opened China to massive exploitation and pillage for the next century. Chinese opium addicts were a tremendous obstacle to organizing national resistance. In essence, the British East India Company and its imperial protectors transformed China into the history’s largest ‘shithole’ – until an earth-shattering revolution broke the chains of addiction and degradation.

In the 21st century, a similar process of deterioration has been occurring internally in the United States. The ‘prescription opioid epidemic’ is ravaging American families, neighborhoods, communities, cities and states – shredding the entire fabric of US society, especially in rural, mining and former manufacturing ‘rust belt’ regions. Hundreds of thousands of mostly working class victims have died and millions of addicts, unable to resist the destruction of their futures, have replaced a once powerful labor force.

Official government studies estimate almost 700,000 deaths since 1999, based on the scattered and incomplete coroner reports and death certificates that characterize the state of vital statistics in the US. There is no uniformity in data collection and no interest in developing a uniform national system on which to formulate social policies. Most likely additional hundreds of thousands of drug deaths have gone un-recorded or attributed to ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, suicides and accidents – despite clear evidence of over-prescription of narcotics and sedatives in the victims.

The US opioid epidemic accounts in large part for the ‘declining numbers of workforce participants among prime age workers’ according to Senate testimony by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, an Obama appointee. An estimated 15% of US construction workers suffer from substance abuse. The escalating costs of ‘Suboxone’ and other forms of narcotic addiction treatment threaten to bankrupt the health plans of several building unions. Shortages of qualified American skilled building trade workers further allow employers to push for more immigrant labor to fill the gap.

For over 2 decades the escalating numbers of opioid overdose deaths were ignored by both political parties, as well as by writers and academics of the left and right. Doctors and hospital administrators were either actively complicit or in denial. But more important the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) continued to approve manufacture, marketing and prescribing of highly addictive narcotics and sedatives to tens of millions of American patients earning the pharmaceutical industry scores of billions in profits despite the devastation. Between 1999-2014 pharmaceutical manufacturers were earning $10 billion dollars each year in profits from the sale and distribution of opiates.

In the following section, we will discuss the larger picture, including the powerful socio-economic and political forces that have profited from the addiction and killing of millions of Americans – past and present. This deliberate policy, with strong neo-Malthusian overtones, has decimated a sector of the US working class, rendered ‘surplus’ or redundant by political-economic decisions of the American ruling elite. In its wake, the prescription addiction crisis has turned large swathes of the former manufacturing and mining sectors of the US into what the current President Donald Trump would characterize as domestic ‘shitholes’ and populated by what his rival, Hillary Clinton, callously derided as ‘deplorables’. In terms of rapid loss of life and social stability, this population devastation mirrors the patterns seen in countries subjected to US/EU neo-liberal economic dictates or to US/EU imperial invasions.

The Addiction Power Elite

Today there is a public frenzy among government officials clamoring for hearings and legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis – with the usual solutions of more imprisonment, expensive private addiction treatment centers, volunteer ‘support groups’, self-help courses and educational ‘Just Say No’ campaigns. No policy maker has dared suggest educating the victims about the socio-economic trends and elite decisions that devastated their lives and communities and sent them onto the death spiral of addiction.

DavidAaronKesslerApr2009.jpg

Former FDA Administrator David Kessler

Recently a few leftist journalists have attacked the pharmaceutical industry, while others have cited the lack of oversight from the US-Federal Drug Administration, asking for a few tepid reforms. The former FDA Administrator David Kessler, who served under the Clinton Regime from 1990 to 1997, belatedly condemned his agency’s negligence over the mass destruction caused by unregulated prescription of powerful narcotics, which he admitted after 10 years of silence was ‘one of the biggest mistakes in the history of modern medicine’, (editorial NYT May 6, 2016).

While hundreds of thousands of Americans have been killed by opioids and hundreds more are dying every day (at least 65,000 in 2016), the US Left and the Democratic Party focus on narrow gender identity issues and cartoonish hearings over ‘Russiagate’ – Moscow ’s alleged plot to seize control of the US Presidential election. While touting her experience in health care reform, Candidate Hillary Clinton deliberately ignored the opioid addiction crisis during her campaign except to characterize its largely white lower class victims as ‘deplorables’ – ignorant racists and buffoons – whom she implied deserved their misery and shortened lives.

The ‘drug epidemic’ in the US is all about the current structure of power and social relations in an increasingly oligarchic state amidst growing class inequalities and immiseration. At its roots, American capitalism in the 21st Century has degraded, impoverished and exploited US workers and employees with increasing intensity over the past two decades. Workers have lost almost all collective influence in the workplace and in politics. Working conditions and safety have deteriorated – while capitalists hire and fire at will. Salaries, pensions, health care and death benefits have been slashed or disappeared.

The deterioration of working conditions is accompanied by a marked decline in social conditions: family, neighborhood and community life has been torn asunder. Anxiety and insecurity are rampant among workers and employees. In real terms, life expectancy in the affected areas has dropped. Youth and worker suicides are skyrocketing. Maternal and child mortality are up. American youth are 70% more likely to die before adulthood than their counterparts in other rich countries. In 2016, death rates for millennials (ages 25-34) rose to 129/100,000, with 35/100,000 deaths due to narcotic overdose. The carnage surpasses the height of the US AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s. Rural and small town child protective services are well beyond the breaking point with the neglected and orphaned children of addicts. Neonatal intensive care units are overwhelmed by the number of infants born into life threatening acute opiate withdrawal crises due to their mothers’ addiction. Despite this grim picture, taxes for the rich are being slashed and public services decimated.

Meanwhile, the income gap between the working class and the oligarchs has widened and a sharp class-defined health care and educational apartheid has emerged. Children of the upper 20% have exclusive, privileged access to elite universities based on family and ethnic ties. Elite families, who have no need for ‘health insurance’ have access to the most thorough and advanced medical services in the world. No physician would dream of irresponsibly prescribing narcotics to a family member of an oligarch.

These inequalities are deeply entrenched: Working people in the areas affected by the opioid epidemic receive only cursory and inadequate, if not incompetent, care from physician assistants and over-burdened nurses. They are subjected to long waits in deteriorating emergency rooms and rarely see a physician. Virtually none have regular family physicians. If they are injured or suffer from pain, they are prescribed long courses and large amounts of narcotic pain killers – opioids, instead of the safer, but more expensive physical therapy and non-addictive medications. This has occurred with the approval of the FDA. Even rural high school students with sports injuries would receive narcotics, despite the well-known increased susceptibility to addiction among youth. Politically powerful ‘pain lobbies’, funded by the giant pharmaceutical corporation, have pushed this trend for over two decades creating huge profits for the billionaire pharmaceutical executives.

The opioid killing fields of America have their origins and logic in the convergence of several inter-related features of US capitalism. This was due to the relentless pursuit of profits for the corporations and elite, while turning the deindustrialized and agricultural parts of the country into domestic ‘Third Worlds’.

First, the capitalist class cut the production costs by limiting access to quality health care for labor to increase their profits. In the US this has led to millions of workers depending on cheap and available prescription narcotics. Employer-provided insurance companies routinely deny more costly non-narcotic treatment for injured workers and insist on prescribing cheap opioids to get the workers back on the job. Cheap opioids were tolerated by union health plans in the beginning to save money, while union bosses looked the other way as thousands of workers became addicts.

Secondly, capitalists freely fire workers who are injured at work and seek treatment, forcing workers to avoid sick leave and to rely even more on opioids, like Oxy-Contin, which ‘Big Pharma’ falsely marketed as non-addictive.

Thirdly, capitalists profit immensely from the premature deaths by overdose and related preventable causes among older workers because this lowers pension costs and health insurance payments. Wall Street has brazenly celebrated the billions of dollars of pension and health care liabilities saved by the shortened life expectancy among US workers. The drop in life expectancy and rise in premature death in the US resembles the pattern seen in Russia during the first decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rampant pillage by the US-backed mafia oligarchs under Boris Yeltsin.

Fourthly, capitalists are free to hire young replacement workers (eighteen to thirty years old) as temporary labor at lower wages and without any benefits. They are subject to the insecurities of contingent employment, as part of the ‘gig economy’ (outsourcing to ‘self-employed’ workers and employees). These overstressed workers, with no future, turn to opioids to overcome physical pain and emotional stress – until they drop out as slaves to addiction. This is the main reason for the declining numbers of young workers available in the US – despite relatively high employment levels.

Fifthly, and to add a morbid insult to injury, the opioid death epidemic has been a bonanza for the tissue and organ transplant industry, where ‘materials’ harvested from young overdose victims, including bones, skin, cornea, tendons, heart valves, teeth and blood vessels are worth tens of thousands of dollars per corpse. Organs harvested from brain-dead overdose victims are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And harvest companies and tissue brokers hover around hospital emergency rooms like carrion birds waiting for news of new victims – often contacting next of kin before the authorities. This bizarre profiting from the completely preventable domestic deaths of US capitalism recalls Jonathan Swift’s satiric ‘Modest Proposal’ for British entrepreneurs to harvest the skin of the Irish Potato Famine victims to make commercial items, like ladies’ purses!

In sum, the structure and relations of contemporary US capitalism is the general cause and beneficiary of the opioid epidemic. The inevitable result is a rapid destruction of communities marginalized by capitalist decisions. This has benefited capital by culling the surplus, and potentially restive, population in a manner reminiscent of the British Empire during the famines in India in the previous two centuries. Social Darwinism and Neo-Malthusian rationales proliferate among the oligarchs, politicians, medical professionals and even seep into the language used by the public (‘survival of the fittest’) providing the ideological justification for the carnage.

Specific Operative Power Elites Driving the Epidemic

Multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations manufacture and market narcotics and highly addictive sedatives. Their agents manipulate the medical community and lobby among the politicians for a ‘pain-free’ America.

Image result for Sacklers

The producer of the leading commercial ‘gateway’ into addiction, Oxy-Contin, is Purdue Pharmaceuticals. The company was founded and run entirely by the Sackler family under the leadership of the recently deceased Raymond Sackler and his brothers.  They started by manufacturing laxatives and ear wax, then introducing the highly addictive tranquilizer, Valium, to finally producing and pushing the most profitable prescription drug in history, Oxy-Contin in the 1990’s, during President Bill Clinton’s ‘health care reform’ administration.

The Sacklers set up an aggressive large-scale sales force to convince physicians that their product was not addictive. They paid physician-researchers to publish fraudulent data on the safety of Oxy-Contin. These experts-for- hire in the burgeoning pain industry received huge fees to peddle Sackler’s products. They peddled the notion of American patients enjoying a completely ‘pain free’ existence – touting the value of the highly subjective ‘pain scale’ as the fifth vital sign in the assessment of all patients. The ‘pain scale’ never caught on in other wealthy countries, where objective assessment remained the primary basis for diagnosis and therapy. Interestingly, the ‘pain scale’ has been less frequently used with African American and Hispanic patients, due largely to an inherent racism in US medicine that views minorities as potential addicts and unreliable with prescribed narcotics. As a result, African American and Hispanic patients were largely spared the prescription narcotic addiction epidemic – where over 95% of overdose deaths were white, mostly working class. It was also evident that African American patients presenting to emergency rooms in severe pain receive far less care than their white compatriots – even when their pain is a symptom of a serious life-threatening medical or surgical emergency.

The Sackler family’s net worth rose to over $14 billion dollars, according the Forbes billionaires listing, while Purdue Pharmaceuticals reaped over $35 billion dollars in profit from Oxy-Contin.

Meanwhile scores of thousands of prescription addicts died each year and millions sunk into addiction, ill health and degradation, dragging their communities with them.

Following Sackler’s example, other pharma billionaires joined in. Opioid pain medication was so cheap to produce and had created its own ever-expanding demand as teenagers raided grandmother’s medicine cabinet in search of narcotics and poor workers lined up at ‘pill mills’. Oxy-Contin and its siblings produced the highest profit margin in pharmaceutical history – far exceeding the so-called block-buster drugs.

Image result for Oxy-Contin

The totally preventable and predictable devastation eventually led to Purdue Pharmaceuticals being fined $634.5 million dollars in 2007 for fraudulently covering up the addiction and overdose potential of Oxy-Contin. The political influence of the Sackler family protected their members from any accusation of misconduct or criminal conspiracy. Their influence in elite political and judicial circles was unparalleled.

Oxy-Contin and other addictive drugs are still being mass produced, massively prescribed and are contributing to the death of over 65,000 workers each year. In response to the recent crack-down on prescriptions of narcotics, millions of addicts have transitioned to cheap street heroin and the dangerously potent illegal fentanyl to feed their craving. Physicians provided the gateway to a life of street addiction, violence and eventually death – while authorities throughout the United States deliberately looked away.

The second operative power elite are the medical professionals who prescribed the drugs in an irresponsible and callous manner to millions of American over the past 2-3 decades. They too have been largely spared by the political and judicial system and even remain the ‘pillars’ of local communities ravaged by drug addiction.

For two thousand years, a guiding moral and professional principle in medicine had been to ‘first do no harm’ in the course of treating a patient. There has been a huge difference in the way working class and elite patients are treated in the US . Thousands of physicians and other medical professionals ignored the obvious addiction and deaths among their lower and middle class patients and succumbed to bribes and greed to promote opioids. Millions of patients and their family members have been betrayed by this grotesque failure to address the addiction crisis. The economic changes in medicine pressured many doctors in corporate medicine to rush patients in and out of their offices with only cursory examinations and prescriptions for multiple narcotics and sedatives. Physicians allowed the for-profit goals of their corporate employers to dictate how they served their patients – thereby betraying the sacred trust. Many physicians relied on poorly supervised and over-worked physician assistants and nurse practitioners to diagnose and treat patients – already addicted to narcotics. It is easier and cheaper to write a prescription than to thoroughly examine and properly treat a low income patient. All accepted the corporate and capitalist ideology that the addicts were the regrettable victims of their own inherent moral or genetic degeneracy.

The chain of causation went from systemic capitalist profiteering to billionaire pharmaceutical corporations to hospital enterprises to doctors and their poorly supervised staff.

The principal political accomplice of death by addiction is the federal government and elected representatives who accepted scores of millions of dollars in ‘donations’ from the pharmaceutical lobby.

The President and Congress, Democrats and Republicans ignored the epidemic because they were bought off by their campaign donor-owners at ‘Big Pharma’, the term used to describe the powerful pharmaceutical industry and its lobby. Over the past twenty years, the political elite received many millions of dollars in campaign funds from Big Pharma lobbies – including politicians from states ravaged by prescription narcotics.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) allowed the overuse and distribution of narcotics and then ignored the terrible consequences for over 20 years. One cannot imagine US veterinarians and their regulators noting the drug deaths of 3,000 family pets without quickly identifying and correcting the situation, while the FDA, DEA and US elite ‘ignored’ the deaths of hundreds of thousands of poor and working class Americans.

Finally, after two decades, local politicians and state attorneys general saw a new potential source of revenue with lawsuits against the offending drug companies and major distributors. Some senators have sponsored hearings but no decisive action has been taken over the carnage among the poor civilian population. In 2010, the Pentagon and Senate Armed Services committee held hearings on the huge increase in prescription drug abuse overdose deaths among US military personnel and have taken some effective measures to address the issue. At that time, US senators in the hearings warned jokingly about the perils of upsetting ‘Big Pharma’. Clearly, unlike the generals who need healthy soldiers, US capitalist and politicians have had no interest in protecting working class citizens – given the overall profits their addiction and deaths bring to the elite.

Conclusion: What is to be Done?

The prescription narcotic and subsequent illegal narcotic addiction epidemic has become a million-person killing field – sowing havoc in the poor and marginalized, de-industrialized working class communities of the US. However the victims and their executioners, all have a name and location within the capitalist system. The logic and the consequences are clear.

Most victims are working class, poor and lower middle class, and overwhelmingly white: the low paid, young and old, the insecure and under employed, and especially those without adequate or competent health care.

Over 5 million are afflicted by prescription drug abuse or at least started on the road to addiction via prescription narcotics. This is a truly American Holocaust leaving multi-million family survivors. Scores of thousands of children are living with elderly relatives or swept up into foster homes and the over-burdened child welfare system.

The executioners and their accomplices have become rich, elite college-educated patrons of the most sophisticated arts and sciences. They receive the best health care services in the world; rely on docile but highly educated servants, nannies and cooks – many of whom are immigrant. Most of all, they enjoy immunity from public censor and prosecution. They are the politically well connected, perfectly dressed, manicured, be-knighted dealers of death and despair.

The addiction crisis is a part of the class war waged by the upper class against the middle and lower classes of this country. The real, if not stated, consequence of their trade has been to cull the population rendered superfluous by elite economic and political decisions and to destroy the capacity of millions of their victims, family members, neighbors and friends to understand, organize, unify and fight back against the onslaught for their own class interests. Here is where we find a basis to approach a solution.

There are historical precedents for the successful elimination of drug lords, both elite and criminal and for bringing addicts back to productive social life.

We begin with the case of China : After a century of British-imposed opium addiction, the Chinese revolution of 1949 took charge in arresting, prosecuting and executing the war-lord opium “entrepreneurs”. Millions of addicts were rehabilitated and returned to their communities, joining the workforce to build a new society.

Likewise, the 1959 Cuban revolution smashed the drug dens and brothels run by brutal Cuban gangster oligarchs and death squad-leaders, together with American mafia bosses, like Meyer Lansky. These thugs and parasites were forced to flee to Miami, Palermo and Tel Aviv.

The first step in an effective class-conscious drug war in the US would require the organization of mass movements, dedicated anti-drug lawyers, physicians, medical personnel and community organizers, as well as brave well-integrated educators and community leaders. A truly involved national Center for Disease Control, not a mouthpiece for the corporate elite, would be re-organized to collect quality national data on the scope and nature of the problem and provide further bases for reversing the trends of decreased life expectancy, increase child and maternal mortality and epidemic preventable-premature deaths among workers.

The second step would involve taking control of the prescription of narcotics limited to the narrow indications recognized in other industrialized countries (intractable cancer pain or short term post-operative pain management) and developing a national data base to track the prescription practice of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others. Those unwilling to reform their practice would face arrest and severe prosecution. Heath care would be patient centered, not profit oriented and the dictum ‘Primum non nocere’ would replace callous Social-Darwinism and greed in medical practice.

The manufacturers and distributors, as well as the lobbyists and merchants of deadly opioids, would be forced to pay for the devastation and face prosecution.

The process of restoring viability to drug-ravaged domestic ‘shit-holes’ created by the US capitalist elite finally would require attacking and transforming the economic roots of the addiction crisis. It would require replacing a system that sows pain and suffering among the workers with one where the workers and their communities finally take control of their lives. Professionals and intellectuals, rather than viewing the victims from the point of view of the elite decision-makers, will have to fully integrate their interests with those of the masses.

Successful local struggles can build the political power base that transforms ‘studies’ and ‘critiques’ to direct action and electoral changes.

Outlawing this revolting source of profit and scourge of thousands of communities can weaken the power of the billionaire drug dealers and their political allies.

Millions of lives are at stake, they have their survival to win. Understanding the root of this class centered affliction and mobilizing to reverse this trend can have major consequences benefiting the widely dispersed imperial and capital induced shit-holes of the world!

Posted in USA0 Comments

Sorry, Naftali Bennett: ‘Normal’ Democracies Don’t Ban Nonviolent Resistance

NOVANEWS

By Issa Amro

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https://forward.com/opinion/393096/sorry-naftali-bennett-normal-democracies-dont-ban-nonviolent-resistance/

Last week, Israeli Member of Knesset Naftali Bennett wrote an op edin the New York Times defending Israel’s new blacklist. The blacklist bans members of 20 European and US organizations from entering Israel, based on their support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

This ban is just, argued the leader of Israel’s nationalist Jewish Home party. Israel has been “forced to battle a new enemy,” Bennett wrote. “This one lacks tanks and missiles, but it, too, poses a serious threat to the Jewish state. And we aren’t hesitating to fight back.”

Image result for Naftali Bennett CARTOON

Naz|i Naftali Bennett ‘Shoah Photo’

Throughout the piece, Bennett’s tone is above all reasonable. “Any other country in a similar situation would do the same,” he insists. Furthermore, “The logic behind this new policy is sound: We won’t welcome enemy soldiers into our territory,” never mind that he just admitted that there are no tanks or missiles at work in the BDS movement. “Israel’s decision to expose those out to hurt us sends a clear message,” writes Bennett. “Those who seek our destruction are not welcome in our home.”

It all sounds so moderate, so reasonable. Which other country would invite in soldiers who seek to destroy it? Who could possibly fault Israel for wanting to protect itself? What crazy country would allow people in who dispute its right to exist?

This tone of moderate reason is one Bennett specializes in. Who indeed could fault Israel for trying to protect itself from attacking soldiers? “Like any normal democracy, Israel has as its No. 1 priority defending its citizens,” writes Bennett.

The problem is, Israel isn’t a normal democracy. I am one of millions of people Israel excludes from its democratic proceedings, just as Bennett expertly excluded me from his piece.

Far from normal, Israel is a democracy that is occupying millions of Palestinians. And it is this fact – the denial of civil liberties to millions of people – that BDS uses nonviolent means to oppose. And it’s this fact that Naftali Bennett is so good at hiding.

I want to explain to you what it’s like to be a Palestinian whose life is ruled by a government I don’t get to vote for that includes someone like Naftali Bennett. Because Bennett after all doesn’t only write op eds in the New York Times. He is a Member of the Knesset, the governing body that exerts its rule through occupation over us Palestinians.

I want to explain to you what I see when I read Bennett’s words, what I hear when he speaks.

Far from reasonable and moderate himself, Bennett is one the most dangerous and extremist politicians in Israel. His party, Habayit Hayehudi, represents the settler movement – illegalaccording to international law. He uses his considerable political clout to further settlement expansion into what was supposed to be the land used to create a Palestinian state.

In other words, Bennett actively works to undermine the two state solution and to perform land grabs.

Imagine for a moment what it’s like being Palestinian and watching the settlements get approved for expansion again and again and again, seeing the new settlements sprout up under the auspices of a country that denies you civil rights.

Imagine what it’s like to open the New York Times and find an op ed by a man who once tolda Palestinian politician, “When you were still climbing trees, we had a Jewish state here.”

But his policies are much worse than his casual racism. He openly calls for annexation of the West Bank. In a 2015 interviewwith the Washington Post, Bennett said he didn’t believe Israel should give up any concessions at all to Palestinians. In 2016, he said he expected to achieve Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, meaning full annexation, within a few years. In January 2017, he called on Israel to seize the “unique opportunity” presented by Donald Trump’s inauguration, promising legislation to first annex the Jerusalem area settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, and then all of area C.

“By the end of the month, we will submit the bill for applying [Israeli] law to Judea and Samaria,” he said. Judea and Samaria is the name Israeli settlers use to refer to the West Bank, adding a linguistic tool to their campaign to confiscate Palestinian land.

Imagine living as I do, along with millions of Palestinians, and hearing a man like this speak of measures that would further undermine my non-existent civil rights, ratifying this inequality forever.

But by far the most deplorable thing Bennett said was in 2016. Speaking to supporters, he called for Israelis to “give our lives” to annex the West Bank. “On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision,” Bennett said, according to Haaretz.

“We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can’t keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target.”

His comments went largely unnoticed. But a chill went up my spine when I heard his remarks.

His comments reminded me instantly of a time a settler did just what Bennett suggested, giving up his life to annex the West Bank. Twenty-four years ago, in my city of Hebron, Brooklyn-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein gave his life to the goal of West Bank annexation. On February 25, 1994, he walked into the Ibrahimi mosque and opened fire, killing 29 Palestinians in worship and injuring 125 more. Eventually, he was stopped and killed.

Following Goldstein’s mass murder, our main street in Hebron was taken from us. The Israelis erected military checkpoints; there are now 23 of them in our city. Movement barriers were also put in place, and the front doors of over 1,000 Palestinian apartments and stores were welded shut, over 1,800 Palestinian shops closed by force. Meanwhile, 31 new settlement units have been approved.

In other words, Goldstein perfectly embodied what Bennett calls for: sacrificing one’s life to annex the West Bank.

When I heard Bennett call for sacrifice, this is what I thought of. For how could he mean sacrificing lives without taking some Palestinian lives along too?

And even if Bennett wasn’t calling explicitly for violence, he was creating a climate in which violence – the giving up of lives, the taking of lives – is the only solution.

This is the exact opposite of the BDS movement’s aims. BDS is first and foremost a nonviolent movement. And it is this nonviolent means of ending Israel’s occupation that Israel has now banned from its borders.

Bennett claims the purpose of the ban is to target those who support BDS. But its real goal is to isolate the work of people like me. Regularly in Hebron and across the West Bank, I along with others engage in nonviolent direct actions to change the situation on the ground. Activists come from Israel, Europe and the US to join us. Together, we protect families being displaced by settlers. We campaign to save villages slated for demolition. We establish infrastructure, like kindergartens and cinemas. We give hope to our community.

For these actions we are attacked, beaten and arrested. We sit in jail cells under administrative detention with no official charges filed, and we face military court where the conviction rate is over 99%. I am currently facing 18 charges in Israeli military court for such advocacy. And these are punishments for nonviolent actions. What kind of “normal democracy” as Bennett put it jails people for nonviolent advocacy for civil rights?

As a Palestinian, I have no freedom and no rights to criticize or peacefully protest the government or military that rules me. Under military law, which all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and most in East Jerusalem are subject to, here are some things I cannot do:

It is illegal for me to gather with ten or more people for a political purpose in opposition to the occupation.

It is illegal for me to fly a Palestinian flag.

It is illegal for me to advocate for my rights.

Just as Israel cracks down with an iron fist any time I try to peacefully advocate for my freedom, the groups around the world now on the blacklist are being punished not only for using the nonviolent tactics of BDS, but also for their success in advocating for their governments to support Palestinian rights.

While not all of the six US groups on the blacklist currently run specific BDS campaigns, five of the six have successfully advocated for Palestinian rights in US congress. Last June, these groups procured the largest numberof signatures ever on letters calling on the Israeli government to reconsider the charges against me. Now, they are backing legislationin the US House of Representatives to end Israeli military detention of Palestinian children.

Thankfully, Israel’s BDS ban seems to have little implementation on the ground. Last week, the cofounders of one of the banned organizations came to visit me. They did so despite and in defiance of the blacklist. They joined us for a joint protest in front of Abu Rajab house in Hebron, which, despite verified Palestinian ownership and a decision by Israel’s high court, continues to be occupied by illegal settlers.

Their visit, in defiance of the new ban, brought me hope that it will only be a matter of time until the whole world sees it is Naftali Bennett who is the extremist, and freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians that is moderate and reasonable.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns0 Comments

Debunking US Zionist David Harris’s “special Israel” arguments

NOVANEWS
David Harris of AJC

By Lawrence Davidson

David Harris and an appalling situation

One of my “favourite” American Zionists is David Harris, Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Congress (AJC). I like David Harris because (1) for some unfathomable reason, he, or his office staff, have been kind enough to keep me on his mailing list and (2) he consistently puts forth the ideas which reflect the Zionist establishment’s worldview. Pay attention to Mr Harris and you will always know how America’s Zionist leadership sees things, at least publicly.

It is true that the old saws that Harris puts forth have gotten a bit shopworn, but since Zionist organisations such as the AJC see fit to repeat them over and again, it is necessary to reveal their holes and threadbare seams – that is, to challenge, yet again, their errors and illogic.

Recently, Mr Harris has been decrying the alleged fact that Israel is treated with double standards – “It’s appalling to see how Israel is treated by a totally different standard than other countries in the international system”, he says. And what is his evidence for this “appalling” situation?

Claims and responses

Here are just two of his repeated claims (there are a lot more), followed by my debunking of same:

Claim 1: The Zionist state is the only UN member subject to “a relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals denying Israel’s very political legitimacy”.

Response: Actually, as time has passed the claim that there exists this “relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals” challenging Israel’s “political legitimacy” has become much less true. Just about the entire world of nation-states, including the Arab and other Muslim ones, recognise Israel. It is true that Iran, Syria and but very few others do “deny Israel’s political legitimacy”, but this hardly constitutes a “relentless chorus”.

And, in most cases, those “institutions and individuals” that do “relentlessly” criticise Israel do so based on behavioural standards that are of paramount importance to the preservation of international law – and are indeed applied universally rather than only to Israel.

Harris goes on to make this curious claim: “No one would dare question the right to exist of many other countries whose basis for legitimacy is infinitely more questionable than Israel’s, including those that were created by brute force and occupation.” (Is he here referring to the US?) Perhaps he has conveniently forgotten that the original basis for, as well as ongoing, criticism of Israel was based on just such historical facts – that Israel’s creation was a function of “brute force and occupation”. Harris tries to obfuscate this truth with references to 2,000-year-old Hebrew tribes, egged on by their biblical god to conquest and slaughter. But there has to be a commonsense statute of limitations that makes this sort of excuse irrelevant, at least to the rational mind, even if one believes it to be factual.

Unfortunately, it is exactly the persistence of “brute force” that has worn down most “states, institutions and individuals” to the point that they now accept the Zionist state’s permanence. This means the author’s claim that it is “open hunting season only on Israel” is a wild exaggeration – a tendency to focus on very few examples and extrapolate them into something that, as of the present, they are not. Why would he do this? He gives us his own explanation. “Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s the only Jewish-majority country in the world?”

There is something unreal about this explanation. The notion that the world is full of people wanting to do harm to Israel only because of its association with the Jews is base paranoia. For instance, a lot of anti-Semites do not oppose Israel. White racists identify with Israel as a model of a racially “pure” state. The Netanyahu government understands this and is embracing the “Alt-Right” racists of the US. Then there are the millions of fundamentalist Christians who ultimately pray for the annihilation of the Jewish people. They give millions of dollars every year to facilitate Israel’s defiance of international law. So, who is left? Who out there really does oppose the Zionist state, and does so for sane reasons?

Here is the truth that Mr Harris seems unwilling to accept: those who, after all these decades, continue to oppose Israel are not anti-Semites but rather are anti-Zionists. And they do so for the very legitimate reason that Zionism has proven itself in practice to be a racist ideology. These opponents include the Palestinians and their supporters, the latter, in turn, being dominated in the West by a large and growing number of non-fundamentalist Christians, humanitarians and Jews. In other words, the issue here is not the political legitimacy of Israel, but rather the political legitimacy of its guiding ideology. And, by extension, the political legitimacy of a state (any state) operating in a racist and oppressive way against others. Israel certainly fits the bill thanks to its obsessive drive to be “Jewish” through a process of segregation and ethnic cleansing.

Claim 2: “Israel is the only UN member state that’s been targeted for annihilation by another UN member state.”

Response: Here Harris is referring to Iran.Typical of the propagandist, Harris fails to contextualise his claim, for to do so would call it into doubt. The charge that Iran has “targeted Israel for annihilation” is based on a  2005 New York Times article that claimed that the president of Iran, at the time Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared in a speech that Israel needs to be “wiped off the map”. Soon after this was published, it was realised that Ahmadinejad was being misquoted. And, to no one’s surprise, the misquote came from “the Middle East Media Research Institute,” an enterprise “founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer”. Of course, the Israeli leadership knew of the misquote, and in 2012 Dan Meridor, then Israeli minister of intelligence, belatedly conceded this fact, agreeing that that “Iran wants to wipe Israel out” is a “common trope that is put about… but as we know Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, not did he say that Iran’s policy is to exterminate Israel”. You would think that David Harris, who almost certainly knows the truth, would have long ago stopped spreading false rumours. But then, this big lie serves his propagandistic purposes so well.

So what did the Iranian president really say? It took till 2006 for the correction, rather quietly, to be made. Ahmadinejad had expressed the opinion that the Zionist state was an “unnatural creature” and therefore it was unlikely to survive. It is true that this is not very flattering but it was not at all a threat to wipe Israel off the map.

Later the Iranian president would explain his view further with an analogy to the recently removed Soviet regime in Russia. The analogy with Russia takes us back to the centrality of Zionism in this story. Just as the Soviet regime had ruled Russia for the benefit of the Communist Party, but now had “vanished from pages of time”, so, Ahmadinejad said, the Zionists’ discriminatory mode of rule for the benefit of one group must also “vanish”. And, just as there is still a Russia which is now, allegedly, of a more democratic character, so there can continue to be an Israel that is a more democratic state operating for the sake of all its people.

Why Israel is special, really

One of the interesting things about David Harris’s lament is that he never denies that Israel is practising oppressive policies and cruel tactics. He is just asserting that Israel should not be singled out for these criminal actions when others also act in this fashion. His problem then is not that Israel isn’t guilty of violating international law or acting in ways that are recognised as inhumane. It is that we all take too much notice of that behaviour. Hence his assertion that it is “egregious double standards and blatant hypocrisy” when folks protest Israel’s criminal misbehaviour.

However, might there be reasons that do warrant singling out Israel for greater notice – reasons that cannot generate the charge of “double standards”? Indeed there are:

– Here is the most immediate reason: The fact that Zionist influence spreads far beyond Israel’s area of dominion and now influences (one might say corrupts) many of the policy makers and bureaucrats of Western governments, and particularly those of the United States. This often turns their governments into accomplices in Israel’s abusive policies. This process makes it imperative that Israel’s criminality be singled out as a high-priority case for protest and boycott. Under these circumstances, prioritising Israel is not hypocrisy, as Harris claims, but rather a national act of moral self-defence.

– Zionist Israel appears to be aiming at the destruction of many of the international laws which, ironically, were put in place after World War II in order to discourage the racist and genocidal policies directed against the Jews themselves. Why would Israel do this? It is because only by taking the world back to an era where racist colonialist practices are accepted can Israel, a consistent practitioner of such policies, be truly accepted into the world community.

– Israel is the only country whose behaviour can be identified as a contributor to the recent increase in real anti-Semitism. It is therefore in the obvious interest of world Jewry to single out Israel for protest and force the Zionist state to mend its ways.

Conclusion

There can be no doubt that David Harris considers himself a defender of the “only Jewish-majority country in the world”. However, he also seems quite accepting of the fact that Israel has become one of a number of thuggish nation-states. In the face of that reality all he can muster in its defence is a demand that Israel “merits equal treatment” with the rest of the barbarians, “no more and no less”.

Finally, David Harris doesn’t understand how dangerous to his cause is a consistent application of his demand. The demand for equal treatment means that citizens can insist that their leaders cease treating Israel as special in all ways. For instance, in the name of equal treatment, US citizens can insist their leaders stop giving Israel grossly inordinate amounts of financial and military “aid”. This assistance has amounted to almost $150 billion since 1949. Now that really is treating Israel, in Harris’s words, “by a totally different standard than other countries in the international system”. The result of that sort of inequity truly does constitute an “appalling” situation.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Will EU Miss the Window of Opportunity to Deepen the EMU?

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

In 2017, for the first time in five years, a rare opportunity opened to upgrade the euro area. With the election of Emmanuel Macron, UK’s leaving and the good economic and fiscal conditions the reformist atmosphere of 2012 has returned. Back then a decision was takento build a banking union. Five years later the spirits were even higher – for the first time there were conditions for much greater deepening of integration in the currency club without market pressure or the need to quickly find a solution to a severe crisis. The European Commission pointed out the need to continue the construction last spring but the presidential elections in France catalysed the process and a truly rare environment was created inspiring to dream about the future. Elections in Germany in September, however, threw cold water on the big expectations.

The future of the euro area was supposed to be discussed at the autumn EU summit in Brussels but Mrs Merkel asked for more time as the coalition negotiations hit the rocks. The Commission pushed for a new momentum to be created before the winter EU summit in December which, at first, gave a weak outcome but, in fact, the subsequent developments show that success is much greater. One reason are the good news from Berlin where any time now a stable and strongly pro-European coalition is to be formed. However, it is still early for a celebration because in Italy there will be parliamentary elections on March 4, where too many eurosceptic forces stand chances to make it to government. This could again postpone the reform for a more distant and brighter future.

What needs to be completed in the euro area?

The most immediate problems are building the third pillar of the banking union – the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS); turning the permanent bailout fund of the euro area – the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – into a full-fledged European Monetary Fund, part of the EU legislation; creating a common backstop to the Single Resolution Fund (SRF). These things are necessary to equip the banking union and the euro area with all the necessary tools in case of a new crisis.

The Commission wants more, including creation of a European finance and economy minister, integrating the fiscal compact into the EU legislation, creating new budgetary instruments for a stable euro area, new instruments in support of the preparation of euro area accession for those who want to.

Tusk vs Juncker

The issue of reform of the euro area brought European Council President Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP) against Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP), just like on the issue of migration. The two have a different vision about how developments should unravel. On December 6, the Commission presented its long-awaited comprehensive package to upgrade the euro area, which contains familiar ideas. The aim was to combine all discussions so far – from the presidents’ reports (first of the four presidents and then of the five) through the various national non-papers and white papers of the institutions.

The first proposal in the Commission package is the establishment of a European Monetary Fund as part of the EU legal framework. Why is the latter so important? The idea of the Commission is the fund to be created on the basis of the ESM. The problem is, however, that the ESM is not part of the EU legislation. It has been created through an intergovernmental treaty in 2012 in the peak of the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area, because, at the time, there was no appetite for a Treaty change and such change was necessary to create the mechanism. In addition, such changes bore the risk of making the crisis even deeper. That is why it was decided to move on with an intergovernmental agreement which required just minor Treaty change, such that would not trigger referendums in the countries where a vote is mandatory.

Through the years, the ESM has proved to be a very successful tool to keep financial stability in the eurozone. Initially, its role was to ensure funding for countries whose access to financial markets is cut or the price to buy new debt is too high. The ESM is selling bonds on the markets and is then giving the money to those who need them, predominantly Greece, in the form of loans with very low interest rates. In other words, the ESM served as a proxy between defaulting countries and the markets. The ESM was also using money from the euro area members. That is why it was natural the mechanism to develop into one of the major participants in the bailout programmes.

The Commission believes that the ESM is the most natural basis for the future European Monetary Fund whose function will be to design rescue programmes and to monitor their implementation. In order for the process to be transparent and to ensure accountability the Commission insists the EMF to be part of EU legislation in the form of a regulation. Another role of the EMF will be to ensure a backstop for the SRF, which is a major part of the banking union.

Do you remember the fiscal compact?

The second proposal in the Commission package of December 6th is the incorporation of the fiscal compact into the EU acquis. This was a major reform of fiscal rules in the beginning of the crisis. This was the first big case when the newly inflamed euroscepticism in Britain blocked a large reform in the EU. In 2011, David Cameron’s government vetoed the reform which demanded tighter fiscal policy and increased economic coordination so that the spill-over of problems from ailing countries to healthy ones is stopped in a growingly more integrated union.

The British veto led to an intergovernmental treaty. At the time, a commitment was made the fiscal compact to be incorporated in EU legislation in five years. The deadline expired last year. The fiscal compact required of the 25 participating countries to vow to maintain responsible fiscal discipline at a very high legal level – the Constitution or another supreme law whose amendment would require great efforts. In February last year, the Commission published an implementation report which showed that all participating countries had implemented the provisions, although the power of implementation varies.

Nevertheless, the incorporation into EU legislation emerged as a controversial issue. In October last year, in the European Parliament, there was a debate on the issue which showed that the discussion of fiscal rules is back to square one. According to the eurosceptic groups, the fiscal compact will open the door to loss of sovereignty. Leader of this opinion in the debate was the author of a draft resolution against the incorporation of the fiscal compact in the EU treaty Marco Valli, a MEP from the eurosceptic Five Star movement of Italian comedian Beppe Grillo. “If the governments confirm the fiscal compact it means that in the next 25 years the gross public debt will have to come down from 130% to 60% and that would mean really medieval approaches to pensions and labour rights. This is a pervert system of blackmail“, he said.

His opinion is not to be ignored given the quite real possibility the Five Stars to take part in Italy’s future government this spring. Dariusz Rosati (EPP, Poland) also criticised the fiscal compact but for not being respected. “First, specific measures undertaken to comply with the fiscal compact vary from country to country, with different degrees of commitment and effectiveness. As a result, the budgetary situation in some member states has not improved despite a generally better macroeconomic environment and stronger growth“, he said. Luděk Niedermayer (EPP, the Czech Republic) disagreed.

According to him, the new rules are already delivering. Since 2014, the debt-to-GDP ratio has dropped as well as budget deficits. “The European Union is growing, unemployment has dropped down and employment is at an all-time high. People can say that it was too much of austerity; I would rather say it was a responsibility. Spending money that people do not have is not a good policy; sometimes it is a mistake, and sometimes it is even a crime. We can build on current results and not waste them“, the Czech MEP added.

Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, Portugal) raised another very important question. She recalled that with the fiscal compact member states committed the European Parliament chief to be invited every time a euro area summit is called. “Most of all, we need to make sure that, all through the process, Parliament will play a central role: when we discuss the reforms of the economic and monetary union, when we discuss the fiscal stance and when we discuss the recommendations for the euro area“, she said recalling another commitment – to recognise the role of national parliaments.

R. Daniel Kelemen, professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and Terence Teo, a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Rutgers University, are of the opinion that, in fact, the fiscal compact is built on a wrong basis. It is influenced by the American balanced budget rules and the empowering of European and national courts to impose budgetary restrictions. The two researchers studied the American experience and found out that there is almost no case where balanced budgetary rules were enforced in court.

What makes fiscal rules efficient is for them to be clear. The fiscal compact requires maintaining structurally balanced budgets allowing for some deviations in extraordinary circumstances. However, it is not at all clear what makes a circumstance extraordinary. Therefore, the rules are not clear, the researches believe. The Commission proposes the fiscal compact to be incorporated in the European legislation via a directive because this is the only legal possibility in the Treaty. The Commission also believes that the integration of the compact will lead to simplification of the legal framework. There is no possibility for the whole text to be incorporated, just the essence of Article 3.

New budgetary instruments

The Commission package contains also a sub-package of measures aimed at expanding the euro area and therefore its additional stabilisation. What is proposed is an instrument to support structural reforms which will assist countries that need structural reforms. Another instrument in the sub-package is a facility aimed at assisting economic convergence of countries wishing to join the eurozone. The third instrument in the package is the afore mentioned financial backstop for the banking union and the stabilisation function, which is something like an inception of a future euro area budget which is aimed at keeping investments level in case of large asymmetric shocks of the kind some countries went through during the debt crisis.

A European minister of finance and economy

This is one of the ideas in the presidents’ reports – both the first and the second. With its proposal the Commission is simply dressing the idea into specific functions. The minister should hold a similar position as the high representative, which means being both a vice president of the Commission and a Eurogroup president. His or her tasks will be to coordinate and monitor fiscal policies in the member states and to assess whether they are in line with the fiscal rules; to assess the euro area fiscal stance and to balance between the fiscal interests of the capitals and the euro area at large. It is envisaged the minister to supervise the work of the European Monetary Fund.

In its document, the Commission also proposes a roadmap, according to which it is possible by the middle of the year the necessary legal acts to be adopted to complete the banking union; to reach an agreement on a common financial backstop for the SRF; to adopt the financial instruments for reforms. By the end of 2018, the Commission believes, it is possible to adopt the proposal on EDIS, which will be reviewed in more detail below. By mid-2019, it is foreseen adopting the proposal to establish EMF; incorporating the fiscal compact; creating a single representation of the euro area in the IMF; reaching a common vision about the role of a finance minister; completing the talks on a euro area budget; completing the capital markets union.

A cold shower for the Commission

The Commission’s renewed ambition was quelled by the European Council president who, before the December European Council, published his own view on how the upgrade of the euro area in the future should develop, based on what can in reality be achieved. According to him, the biggest risks at the moment are geopolitical tensions, growing protectionism, possible slowing down of the Chinese economy, the increased risk of volatility in the financial markets because of the abrupt corrections of

exchange rates. He also writes that although there is an agreement in principle about the main objective there is disagreement on the timeframe.

That is why he directed the discussion at the summit only toward proposals on which work is well advanced and agreement is possible. Therefore, on the summit agenda he put only three issues: creating a common financial backstop for the SRF; development of the ESM and its potential transformation into a EMF; completing the banking union. The creation of a euro area budget and a minister of finance, according to him, are issues on which there is no convergence of positions and therefore they will not be discussed.

The talks on December 15th were not as heated as on the issue of migration but from the statements of leaders afterward it became clear that the differences regarding ambition are strong. In December, the good functioning of the Franco-German motor was much clearer. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the most important thing for building a genuine economic and monetary union is increasing competitiveness, investments in R&D, digitalisation. Emmanuel Macron believes that first of all a political and strategic discussion has to take place to establish what to be done in the euro area in the next 5 to 10 years, and in June to adopt a roadmap. Both agreed to coordinate their positions by March when the next euro area summit will take place. It will be again open for non-euro area countries.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar was also quite active on the issue, saying that the moment is very good for deepening and enhancing the euro area. Of key importance is the building of a capital markets union because “We want people to be able to get their insurance in another country, to get their loans and mortgages from other countries. That would be good for consumers all round, and will put more pressure on the industry to provide better prices to people across Europe“, he said.

The banking union

An important part of the upgrade of the euro area was the creation of a banking union. The first two pillars of it – the single banking supervision of systemically important banks and the single restructuring mechanism – were created relatively fast. What remains to be done is the third pillar – the European Deposit Insurance Scheme. Two years ago the Commission proposed the scheme but so far there is no progress. The reason lies in the deep ideological division. A part of the member states, led by Germany, insist, before moving on to this very significant integration step, to resolve the problem of risks in the banking sector, the so called risk-reduction. Another part of the member states (mainly the southern axis) insist risk-reduction to go hand in hand with risk-sharing, which is exactly what this scheme is all about.

For a parallel work on these two fundamentals of the scheme urge also the Commission and the European Central Bank. In order to unblock the work on this very tough dossier, the Commission presented in October last year a paper proposing a gradual approach. In case of a default of a bank it will be the national deposit guarantee schemes which will come to rescue first. The common scheme will not intervene before the national ones have depleted their liquidity. In the first year (2019) the scheme will cover up to 30% of the liquidity shortage in the national schemes, in the second year (2020) 60% and in the third year (2021) 90%. The rest will be covered by the national schemes with the resources that had not been transferred to the European scheme during the phase of money collection.

The big breakthrough

After the clash of priorities between the Commission and the European Council one can be left with the impression that the ambition has been significantly cut. It is not quite accurate, though. Indeed, there is no appetite now to discuss new institutional ideas like a minister of finance but, nevertheless, there has been a very serious breakthrough regarding the banking union. The issue of euro area future was on the agenda of the first Eurogroup this year and also of the first meeting of the EU finance and economy ministers (ECOFIN) under the presidency of Bulgaria. At this meeting, the German Finance Minister Peter Altmeier announced a significant turn in the German position.

He proclaimed the completion of the banking union as the most important dossier at the moment and signalled that Germany is now ready to accept a combination of risk-reduction with risk-sharing. “We have spent a lot of time discussing what should come first but what we have to do now is – and I totally agree with Pier Carlo [the Italian finance minister] – we have to establish where we are, what has been achieved so far and I agree with you that more has been achieved than sometimes is known in the public debate“, he said and invited the Commission to prepare a report on what has been achieved so far in terms of risk-reduction.

About what has been achieved in this area spoke ECB deputy governor Vitor Constancio. He reported that the tier 1 capital of banks is now 14% from 8% in the past. Secondly, significant reduction has been achieved of private sector indebtedness in the past years. One of the biggest legacies of the crisis is the level of non-performing loans (NPLs). They have dropped from 8% of total credit to 5.5%. Vitor Constancio added that it is very difficult to quantify risk-reduction but recommended new goals to be defined. Later, before journalists, Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia, EPP), responsible for the euro, said that the share of NPLs in EU has been reduced by one third, which amounts to 300 billion euros. In mid-2017, their share was 4.6%. Significant is the progress in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Slovenia.

There has been a change of position in France too, whose Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire focused on the need to reduce risk. Moreover, he warned that more attention was still needed on sovereign debt. Peter Altmeier spoke in much detail and his statement was definitely a symbol of the end of Wolfgang Schaeuble’s era in ECOFIN and the Eurogroup. He said that risk-reduction cannot happen in 2-3 weeks. The compromise proposed by Germany will surely unlock work on the banking union and will allow it to be completed within the deadline set by the institutions.

You’re wrong about the risk

One of the very interesting statements during the debate in ECOFIN was that of Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos. He spoke from the position of a minister of a country which came a long way in its rescue from the crisis that served as a catalyst for euro area reform. With his typical, slightly theoretical approach, presented via his exquisite English accent, Euclid Tsakalotos explained that the concept of “risk-reduction first and only then risk-sharing” is wrong. “Risk-sharing is not what you do if a crisis happens. Risk-sharing also helps to prevent that crisis from happening. That is why I support those who think that we should go together“. Tsakalotos continued that the problem with economies in a crisis

is that it is very difficult to separate what is happening in the real economy from sovereign risk and financial risk.

Those things are integrated. And that’s why those who argue for fiscal capacity have an understanding, in my view, much better of how monetary unions work. You just cannot isolate a particular country in a financial crisis and not affect the economic conditions of the real economy“, he said. The Greek finance minister also contested the thesis of moral hazard in a common budget. This is practically an insurance and it would be crazy to prefer not to give 5 million for insurance and lose later 15 million, Mr Tsakalotos said.

Regarding ESM, the German finance minister does not see a contradiction between the mechanism and the community legislation, but he left the debate open, hinting he is ready for a compromise on this issue too. Finland, however, was firmly against the integration of the ESM in European legislation because it believes this would make the entire structure much more complex and less flexible. Finland prefers the ESM to remain an intergovernmental institution.

The finance ministers meeting on January 23 marked also one of the front lines in the battle on the next multiannual financial framework. During the discussion, Poland said it agrees with all proposals but established a link with keeping the EU cohesion policy as the main investment instrument in the Union. Poland was concerned that the EU summits move within the intergovernmental sphere. Mihaly Varga, the Hungarian minister of national economy, said Hungary will approve the proposals under the condition that there is an equal treatment in the negotiations and decision-making. He also underscored how important keeping the cohesion policy is.

This might suggest that these growingly eurosceptic and opportunistic states will use the work on euro area upgrade as a leverage to extract benefits, like keeping the size of the cohesion policy. This portends to very unpleasant talks and even more unpleasant outcome. The two countries welcome in principle the new Commission proposals for financing reforms that prepare for euro area membership but they have not yet stated their intentions on joining in the near future.

The next 6 months, until one of the deadlines on Donald Tusk’s roadmap, ministers will work for risk-reduction in the banking sector, the development of a capital markets union, fighting aggressive tax planning. The Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said that ministers have tasked the working groups to begin work. Regarding the fiscal compact he said more work was needed. The EMF, for now, remains within the Eurogroup domain. EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici (France, S&D) urged against any of the proposals to be thrown away, and called instead to discuss all of them. “We cannot accept that this point [of fiscal stabilisation] is not discussed. It would be a mistake to avoid discussing that and put the Commission proposal aside. The logical way to proceed is substance first and legal form later“, he said.

For now, the road ahead of an upgrade of the eurozone remains open. The question is whether it will still remain open after the parliamentary elections in Italy on March 4th.

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