Archive | March 8th, 2018

The Handlers of “Regime Change” against Vladimir Putin? Russia’s Upcoming Presidential Elections

NOVANEWS

After Wayne Madsen’s comprehensive catalog of imperialist interventions , executed without the slightest hint of subtlety, to undermine and “change” displeasing regimes in every corner of the world, going back decades, the topic seemed all but exhausted.  But that turned out not to be correct. A very important piece of that mosaic needs to be added. As this is being written, the provocatively and misnamed and foreign sponsored Free Russia Forum is gearing up to leave its mark on Russia’s forthcoming presidential election.

As alert readers are probably guessing by now, contrary to its deceptive billing the Free Russia Forum is anything but an “independent” discussion group. It is, rather, a political project, a creature one could say, of the State Department. It was created in 2014 and meets twice a year in the Lithuanian capital, just across from the Russian border, to serve as a tool for interference in Russia’s internal affairs.

But good guys do not interfere in the internal affairs of other sovereign countries, just as gentlemen do not read each other’s mail, right? Yeah, right.

The Vilnius gatherings (which have been going on for several years) are a biennial convention of the most militant specimens of Russia’s “non-system” opposition, under the chairmanship of the former chess champion Garry Kasparov. Officially, participants include “representatives of think tanks, academia, writers, politicians, civil society activists, philosophers and artists, for thoughts-provoking and off-the-record discussions on Russia”. That, however, is just the façade.

It turns out that the political common denominator of the Forum’s sponsors and managers is that the offensive struggle for the demise of Putin’s regime should be conducted by all available means and not necessarily considering the opinion of Russia’s citizens. Over the years the participants’ elitist consensus has been that engaging in the political education of the dull populace is pointless. According to these political mandarins with a deeply patronizing attachment to the welfare of the Russian people, the masses are too “demoralized” to be capable of absorbing the “right information” which they need to make correct decisions. According to their glum assessment (which may not be incorrect) in Russia even the battle for internet supremacy has been lost, notwithstanding the initial optimistic expectations on that front.

It should be noted that, anticipating possible criticisms, Forum chairman Garry Kasparov has claimed that “regime change” in Russia should not excite any fear of the country’s disintegration. However, addressing participants at the last Forum held in December 2017, Kasparov also noted nonchalantly that the population “must pay a price” for its support for Putin. Nobody knows when, he said, but the regime will fall, although – as he pointed out revealingly – for that to occur foreign pressure will be required. There is no other methodology, he frankly admitted, because as things stand the pro-Western opposition is incapable of winning elections at the presidential or any other level. No sooner did Kasparov appeal for a boycott of Russia’s March 18 2018 elections than the financial and economic sanctions against the Russian Federation were intensified, as if by some magic feat of coordination. At the December 2017 Forum meeting in Vilnius Kasparov suggested that even the North Korean ballistic missiles were launched specifically at the behest of Vladimir Putin. His sponsors must have been well pleased.

A few words are in order about the handlers. It is indicative that the rhetoric of the December 2017 Forum took a decidedly more radical turn after Kasparov’s closed-door meeting with officials at Lithuania’s foreign ministry. According to “informed sources,” such a turn was coordinated by Kasparov with his NATO “colleagues.”

Free Russia Forum’s chief handler is Howard Solomon, US deputy ambassador in Lithuania. A Russian-speaking expert he served as chief of the political section at the US embassy in Moscow. Part of his duties was to maintain contact with leaders of the Russian opposition. After the unsuccessful anti-Putin “orange revolution” attempt on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in 2012, the Russian government undertook measures to limit contacts between domestic opposition figures and foreign officials, and with Western diplomats in particular. Under the circumstances it was seen fit to transfer Solomon to Lithuania, where he set up shop to continue his anti-Putin activities. Observant readers will note a pattern here. In the late 1990s the Soros and Western intelligence supported Otpor movement in Serbia was receiving logistical support from neighboring Hungary, under the watchful eye and management of US ambassador William Montgomery. It is also noteworthy that soon after Solomon’s transfer to new “diplomatic” duties in Vilnius, the first Free Russia Forum meeting took place in Lithuania’s capital, in March of 2016.

In addition to the manager-in-chief Howard Solomon, the Forum is also endowed with an “art director” in the person of Jason Smart (just how well he lives up to his surname, we will see if he manages to knock out Putin). The relatively youthful Smart is presented in social networks as a “political consultant currently working in the countries of the former Soviet Union.” In fact, his narrow focus of expertise is what could frankly be called “character assassination.” Smart is at present stationed in Kiev, where he oversees the local “NGO” called For a Free Ukraine. It is generally assumed that he exerts a key influence on the Forum’s agenda. That deduction is supported by the fact that his ideas are given detailed consideration in the Forum’s panel discussions and that later they regularly pop up in various resolutions voted by the Russian opposition.

Unfortunately for them, quite a few opposition intellectuals who were initially co-opted by the Forum to serve as its window dressing took its formal commitments at face value, assuming naïvely that its mission was to conduct unstructured debates about the problems Russia is facing, including genuine issues from the fields of domestic policy, socio-economic development, and foreign affairs. They were soon disabused of their misconception. After four consecutive annual Forum meetings no serious analysis or political action program with specific recommendations has emerged. Perhaps because no such thing was ever contemplated by the promoters of Free Russia Forum’s real agenda.

Instead, event participants, some of whom could boast solid reputations, seem to have been recruited for the sole purpose of camouflaging the organization’s subversive purpose and were drawn into discussing issues laid down by Mr. Smart. According to that “character assassination specialist,” personally targeted sanctions are a particularly effective instrument of pressure against Putin. Just intensify them and fine-tune them a bit more, so goes the Smart rationale, and the sanctioned targets will do NATO’s job for it and get rid of Putin. Just another reason why “anti-regime dissidents” are encouraged to coordinate closely with their Western handlers to make the sanctions more severe and effective.

For the most part, Vilnius Forum participants share Smart’s view that collecting compromising information about Putin’s circle and specifically targeting vulnerable and influential individuals on the so-called “Putin list” is a smart strategy and key component of the final solution of their regime change problem.

In principle, that list is open-ended and consists of twelve categories of high officials of the Russian Federation. In theory, the list can continue to be expanded and could ultimately include hundreds of officials and their families.

Incidentally, some non-Russians have also ended up on that ominous list of Putin fans, including Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and, curiously, also Ukrainian journalist Anatoli Shariy, EU parliamentarian from Latvia Tatiana Zhdanok, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, renowned film-maker Oliver Stone, German journalist Alexander Rahr, US Russia expert Dmitri Simes, and even the patriarch of American foreign policy, Henry Kissinger himself.

The Forum’s sponsors have performed a clever shift of emphasis. The ostensible topic of “Free Russia” was swiftly reconfigured to refer to the overthrow of the Russian government, with a parallel and not so subtle program of Russia’s disintegration, Kasparov’s sly denials on this score notwithstanding. President Putin is slated by the Forum to be indicted and (as reflected in off-the-record conversations) preferably physically removed. Hence it is no wonder, in light of the organization’s genuine, subversive agenda, that Free Russia Forum participants have never expressed the least interest in formulating sustainable economic, social, cultural, or other policies that they envision for the benefit of the country whose future is supposedly the subject of their grave concern.

 Instead, at its December 2017 meeting Messrs Solomon’s and Smart’s brainchild, following the script handed down from above, adopted a resolution calling on the international community to boycott the 2018 World Cup soccer championship due to take place in Russia. Incidentally, a call was also issued for the boycott of Russia’s presidential elections slated to take place in March 2018.

Against this “policy” backdrop, formerly Russian and currently Ukrainian journalist Ayder Muzhdabaevexpressed surprise, and some bitterness, that Russia’s liberal media have largely ignored the Forum and its sessions. His assessment was that Russia’s liberal journalists and their audience are living in a “virtual reality.” While probably correct as far as it goes, with regard to the specific question Muzhdabaev raises that is a highly debatable conclusion. A more likely explanation is that foreign puppeteers have botched the job, turning their toy into an overly servile and rigidly structured component of their political arsenal. Its agenda has turned out to be intellectually dilettantish and  insufficiently attractive even to the most avidly pro-Western element of the Russian opposition. Solomon and Smart would therefore do well to go back to the drawing board and re-do their Russian homework, starting with a Russia 101 course to get a better handle on the mentality of their target population and the real, as opposed to the virtual, concerns and needs even of those Russians who do not necessarily agree in every respect with their current government.

Giving a platform to Kasparov’s comrade-in-arms Sergey Davidis, who insisted that under the new dispensation Russia’s enormously popular and influential television hosts Dmitri Kiselev and Vladimir Soloviov should be put on trial, or to discredited politician Ilya Ponomaryov, who advocates returning Crimea and the dismemberment of the Russian Federation, does little to enhance the image of this gathering and the motley crew of which it is composed.

President Putin has little to fear from a hare-brained scheme such as the Free Russian Forum. But its immediate handlers Solomon and Smart, as well as their superiors – if they are smart – ought to seriously consider what might lie in store should such an inadequate set of individuals as they have apparently assembled by some fortuitous circumstances actually manage to seize the helm of a nuclear-armed superpower such as Russia.

Setting aside the important issue of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and its permissibility under international legal standards, one of the major front-line organizations tasked with preparing the ground for regime change in Russia is clearly incapable of undertaking any effective or responsible action. Since it was set up four years ago, instead of following its putative mission of  “the formation of a smart alternative to Putin’s regime,” in the hands of its arrogant but incompetent handlers the Forum has degenerated into a pathetic sounding-board for foreign agendas, experimentally elaborated by NATO bureaucrats and associated color revolution operatives. That is where the State Department is wasting its funds and organizational resources.

Finally, the last and perhaps most important questions: how is the implementation of dilettantish yet in-your-face abrasive projects such as this likely to be reflected in relations between two superpowers, Russia and the United States? Does it facilitate mutual trust and the creation of a constructive atmosphere conducive to finding solutions for global problems?

These questions are not just rhetorical.

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The Case for Free Public Transport

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is a proud advocate of a world-class, fare-free public transport system for Scotland.

Transport has undergone enormous changes in recent decades, both in Scotland and across the world. Some have been cyclical: in Scotland’s capital, trams were built, dismantled, and then reintroduced. In other areas, we have seen consistent trends like the steady deregulation and privatization of services, which has left Edinburgh as the sole city in Scotland with a municipal bus operator.

Rail fares across the UK have soared in comparison to those of our European neighbours, and Scottish transport contracts go out to tender in a farcical franchise system whereby public sector companies in other countries can bid for control while those in Scotland are effectively barred.

Scotland, the country which gave the world the pedal bicycle and the pneumatic tyre, now has a public transport network which is broadly unfit for purpose.

Massive changes have to be made to ensure that our public transport network is not only of a standard befitting the people of Scotland, but one that is adapted to our environmental and economic needs – challenging climate change while connecting communities and creating jobs through enhanced mobility.

“We call unashamedly for the integration of services – whether bus, rail, ferry, underground or tram – under publicly-owned and democratically-run operators.”

The Scottish Socialist Party is brave enough to identify these changes. We call unashamedly for the integration of services – whether bus, rail, ferry, underground or tram – under publicly-owned and democratically-run operators.

But the bravest step we can take as a nation to totally transform the way we travel is to support the international movement for free public transport and become pioneers of true freedom of movement for working class people.

There is a strong economic, social, and environmental case for adopting this policy throughout the country. There is also precedent from successful fare-free public transport schemes in parts of France, Germany, Belgium, and Estonia as well as far-flung cities in China and the United States. [Ed.: see wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_public_transport, and FreeTransitToronto.org.] We have evidence of the policy’s affordability and benefit.

I would put to sceptics that the prospect of free healthcare was once unthinkable. With the creation of NHS Scotland in 1948, hundreds of thousands of people gained access to essential medical care for the first time; the positive impact on Scottish society has been immense. The threat of privatization and marketization is a terrifying prospect for many.

Source: The Bullet

In the same spirit that the NHS was created over half a century ago, we can come together to build a public transport system that works for everyone. We can tackle poverty and social exclusion by extending access across urban and rural Scotland; this will be a financial relief for workers, parents and carers on low incomes, and make it even easier for families to switch from road trips to more eco-friendly bus rides and train journeys.

Building free transport links between rural communities even brings forward the possibility of economic regeneration in the Highlands, the Scottish Borders, and rural Fife, where greater interconnectivity and public investment could instigate growth and begin to reverse the exodus of young people from small towns and villages.

Free transport is neither easy nor cheap, nor can it alone transform Scotland. However, as part of a comprehensive socialist strategy, it can radically change the conditions of Scottish workers and help realise the full potential of totally under-utilized modes of transport.

The SSP has a good track record of winning others to our ideas. We championed free prescriptions in Holyrood and led the broad-based campaign to tackle poverty through the provision free school meals. We are committed supporters of universalism and pioneered many policies which were later taken up by the mainstream parties.

Ambition and Vision

Free transport is yet another distinctive SSP policy with ambition, vision and a firm footing in the needs and aspirations of Scotland. It is a policy whose implementation is not only possible, but increasingly necessary – addressing the pressing ecological crisis facing the world as well as the acute issues of poverty and exclusion at home.

These are among the reasons why free transport proposals are becoming more and more popular across Europe. Many in Scotland point to more affordable and efficient public transport systems in countries like Germany to highlight the shortcomings of our own – but to seek merely to emulate them is to limit our ambition, as proven by the spirited HVV umsonst! campaigners now pushing to scrap fares in Germany’s second-largest city.

In Sweden, anarchist initiative Planka.nu takes a particularly brazen approach to free transport campaigning by encouraging members of the public to leap ticket barriers, while operating a shared pool of funds to pay off any subsequent fines for its members.

Even in Scotland, understanding and appetite for the policy is slowly building. Scottish Green activists came close to persuading the rest of their party to back the progressive policy when it was revisited at their 2014 party conference.

It is often easier in politics to identify problems than solutions. For the SSP, free transport is a valuable idea that carries great potential as an innovative solution to an intersection of problems. For this reason, it is a policy that socialists will develop and promote further in the run-up to next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

*

Connor Beaton is the branch organizer of Dundee Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He serves on the SSP’s Executive Committee.


Nine Points Arguing the Case for Free Public Transport

  • Free fares would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.
  • Free fares would be the biggest anti-poverty, pro-social inclusion policy enacted in Scotland, or anywhere else in the UK. It is mainly people on low incomes who rely on public transport
  • Free fares would cut the number of road accidents, reducing human suffering and relieving pressure on the NHS and the emergency services. The Scottish Executive estimates that road accidents cost £1.4-billion a year to the Scottish economy. (On an average day in Scotland there is one fatal road accident; another 8-10 involving serious injury; and 250-300 minor accidents. The vast majority involve cars.)
  • Free fares would be help to reduce the levels of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, which have risen steeply in line with the expansion of road traffic
  • Free fares would potentially increase the spending power of over a million workers by between £40 and £100 a month, boosting the overall economy.
  • Free fares would increase business efficiency and productivity: the CBI estimates that traffic congestion costs business across Britain between £15 and £20-billion a year.
  • Free fares would be a major tourist attraction, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Scottish economy every year from increased visitor numbers. An increase in tourism of just 20 per cent would bring an extra £1-billion into the Scottish economy.
  • Free fares would attract worldwide support, especially from the global environmental movement, and would bring pressure to bear on governments throughout Europe and the wider world to adopt a similar policy.
  • Free fares would reduce Scotland’s reliance on depleting oil reserves; 67 per cent of all oil produced globally is used for transport.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

In the early 1980s, the Greater London Council under Ken Livingston slashed fares and began to move towards free public transport. The policy was backed by 71 per cent of Londoners, but was destroyed by the Thatcher government and the Law Lords, backed by the car, haulage and oil industries.

Source: The Bullet

Within a year, ticket prices in London had doubled, car journeys had rocketed and there was an extra 6000 accidents on the city’s roads. A similar policy in South Yorkshire under David Blunkett was similarly torpedoed.

That was before global warming and the dangers of greenhouse gases became widely accepted by scientists. Twenty years on, our towns and cities are heading towards permanent gridlock and scientists are pressing the panic buttons. And the idea of free public transport is starting to make a comeback.

In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system. Within a year, bus passenger journeys rose by 870 per cent and have now increased by over 1000 per cent. In dismal contrast, the Scottish Executive has set a target for an annual increase of one per cent in bus journeys and two per cent in rail journeys.

The Danish government has commissioned a research group to examine the feasibility of a free public transport system (Copenhagen Post November 22, 2006).

The Melbourne Age newspaper, edited by Andrew Jaspan (a former editor of the Sunday HeraldThe Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday) has called for state-wide free bus travel in Victoria (“A radical idea,” The Age, May 5, 2006).

Matthew Parrish, a Tory MP under Margaret Thatcher, who played a key role in destroying South Yorkshire’s cheap fares policy, now admits he was wrong and has called for London-wide free bus travel:

“I was wrong. I have changed my mind… Never mind the ideology, it just makes sense.” (“It’s big, it’s red, and it’s free – and it will save London,” THE TIMES, May 8, 2003).

Visit Scotland (formerly the Scottish Tourist Board) recently published a report which set out the policy implications of global warming by 2015:

“In order to reduce dependency upon the car, we will see a number of measures to move people onto public transport. These will include free public transport for all in Scotland, whether this is buses or trains”. (VISIT SCOTLAND REPORT: TOMORROW’S WORLD, May 2006).

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From Global Poverty to Exclusion and Despair: Reversing the Tide of War and Globalization

First published by Global Research on October 6, 2017

“The Sociology of Justice”, which is the timely theme of The Philippine Sociological Society’s 2017 National conference at UP Cebu (October 7, 2018) must be understood in relation to an unfolding New World Order which destroys sovereign countries through acts of war and “regime change”. 

In turn, large sectors of the World population are impoverished through the concurrent imposition of deadly macro-economic reforms. This New World Order feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women.  

***

We are at the juncture of the most serious crisis in modern history.

In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the largest display of military might since the Second World War, the US has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

War is presented as a peace-making undertaking. The justification for these US-led wars is the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) with a view to instilling (Trump style) Western “democracy” Worldwide.

Global warfare sustains the neoliberal agenda. War and globalization are intricately related.

What we are dealing with is an imperial project broadly serving global economic and financial interests including Wall Street, the Military Industrial Complex, Big Oil, the Biotech conglomerates, Big Pharma, The Global Narcotics Economy, the Media Conglomerates and the Information and Communication Technology Giants.

Also, September 11, 2001 followed by the invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, also marks the official launch of the so-called “global war on terrorism” which has served as a justification for US-NATO led wars and interventions in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and South East Asia.

The Global War on Terrorism is Fake

Amply documented, Al Qaeda and its various affiliates including ISIS-Daesh are creations of US intelligence.

Pre-emptive Nuclear Doctrine

Meanwhile, a major shift in US nuclear doctrine has occurred with the adoption of the doctrine of preemptive warfare, namely war as an instrument of  “self defense”. The ideology of preemptive warfare also applies to the use of nuclear weapons on a pre-emptive basis. In 2002, the US administration put forth the concept of preemptive nuclear war, namely the use of nuclear weapons against enemies of America as a means of self defense.

The Trump administration is openly threatening the World with nuclear war. How to confront the diabolical and absurd proposition put forth by the US administration that the use of nuclear weapons against Iran or North Korea will  “make the World a safer place”?

Where is the Antiwar Movement?  

Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the antiwar movement is dead.  Piece-meal activism often funded by Wall Street prevails, focussing narrowly on environmental concerns, climate change, racism, civil rights. Invariably war and the extensive war crimes committed by US-NATO as part of an alleged counterterrorism agenda are not the object of organized public dissent. The motto is a non sequitur: “we are against war, but we support the war on terrorism.”

War propaganda prevails, thereby providing a human face to US-NATO atrocities and human rights violations. In turn, the governments of the countries which are the object of US aggression, are casually accused of killing their own people.

Media disinformation turns realties upside down. North Korea is not a threat to global security. Belgium with 20 B61 tactical nukes deployed under national command has a larger arsenal than the DPRK (allegedly 4 nuclear bombs).

These B61 nuclear bombs in five undeclared European nuclear weapons states (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey) are targeted at both Russia and the Middle East.

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The mainstream media has failed to warn public opinion that a US led nuclear attack against North Korea or Iran could evolve towards World War III, which in the words of Albert Einstein would be “terminal”, leading to the destruction of humanity.

“Today there is an imminent risk of war with the use of that kind of weapon and I don’t harbor the least doubt that an attack by the United States and Israel against the Islamic Republic of Iran would inevitably evolve towards a global nuclear conflict.

In a nuclear war the “collateral damage” would be the life of all humanity. Let us have the courage to proclaim that all nuclear or conventional weapons, everything that is used to make war, must disappear!”  (Fidel Castro Ruz, Conversations with Michel Chossudovsky, October 12-15, 2010)

I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.(Albert Einstein)

The anti-war movement is dead, nuclear war is not front page news.

The justification of America’s long war is to “make the world safer”.

War is presented as a humanitarian endeavor. Global Security requires going after al Qaeda as part of an alleged counter-terrorism campaign.

The world is led to believe that  the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are threatening the World. The truth is that Al Qaeda and its  numerous affiliates  as well as the Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh) are without exception creations of US intelligence. They are intelligence assets.

When a US sponsored nuclear war becomes an “instrument of peace”, condoned and accepted by the World’s institutions and the highest authority including the United Nations, there is no turning back: human society has indelibly been precipitated headlong onto the path of self-destruction. 

From Colonialism to Post-Colonialism

Post-colonial history is a continuation of colonial history which established America’s contemporary imperial agenda, largely as a result of the displacement and defeat by the US of the former colonial powers (e.g. Spain, France, Japan, Netherlands). This US hegemonic project largely consists in transforming sovereign countries into open territories, controlled by dominant economic and financial interests. Military, intelligence as well economic instruments are used to carry out this hegemonic project.

Militarization marked by more than 700 US military bases and facilities worldwide under the unified combatant command structure indelibly supports a global economic agenda.

Moreover, this military deployment is supported by US macro-economic policy which imposes austerity on all categories of civil expenditure with a view to releasing the funds required to finance America’s military arsenal and war economy.

Military intervention and regime change initiatives including CIA sponsored military coups and “color revolutions” are broadly supportive of the neoliberal policy agenda which has been imposed on indebted developing countries Worldwide.

The Globalization of Poverty 

The “globalization of poverty” in the post-colonial era is the direct result of the imposition of deadly macroeconomic reforms under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction. The Bretton Woods institutions are instruments of Wall Street and the corporate establishment.

The time path of these reforms –which has led to a process of global economic restructuring– is of crucial significance. The early 1980s marks the onslaught of the so-called structural adjustment program (SAP)under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank. “Policy conditionalities” largely directed against indebted Third World countries are used as a means of intervention, whereby the Washington based International Financial Institutions (IFI) impose a set menu of deadly economic policy reforms including austerity, privatization, the phasing out of social programs, trade reforms, compression of real wages, etc.

It is worth noting that a parallel process of neoliberal economic reform –which largely consisted in privatizing as well gradually dismantling the welfare state– was instigated in the 1980s in the US and Britain under what was described as the Reagan-Thatcher era.

Post-Cold War Era Reforms

A second phase of economic restructuring commences at the end of the Cold War with drastic economic reform packages imposed on Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, the Balkans as well as on the constituent republics of the former Soviet Union (e.g. Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan).

Concurrently in Western Europe the Maastricht Treaty –which came into force in 1993– was imposed on the member states of the European Union. What was referred to as the The Maastricht criteria (or  convergence criteria) which eventually led to the formation of the eurozone largely consisted in imposed the neoliberal policy agenda on the EU member states. These Maastricht criteria also served to derogate the sovereignty of individual member states.

Maastricht is a structural adjustment program (SAP) in disguise. Essentially Maastricht and the subsequent instatement of the eurozone contributed to paralyzing national monetary policy, foreclosing the use of internal public debt operations as an instrument of national economic development. The requirements of budgetary austerity imposed under the “Maastricht criteria” limited EU member states ability to finance their social programs leading to the gradual demise of the post World War II welfare state. The public debt is taken over by the European Central Bank (ECB) as well as private creditors.  The longer term impacts are mounting external debts as well as debt conditionalities and the repayment of debt from the proceeds of an extensive privatization program.

It should be mentioned that this phase of restructuring also coincides with the inauguration of the World Trade Organization (1995) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which has been conducive to a dramatic  transformation of the North American economic landscape, leading to the demise of regional and local level economies throughout North America.

In turn, the 1990s coincides with an extension and expansion of NATO, including massive “defense” expenditures which are not the object of neoliberal austerity measures. In fact quite the opposite. Neoliberalism feeds the Military Industrial Complex.

What is at stake is the “Thirdworldization” of the so-called developed countries leading to mass unemployment in several EU countries including Spain, Portugal and Greece, whose economies are now subjected to same IMF style reforms as those applied in Third World countries. What this signifies is that the Globalization of Poverty has extended its grip, leading to the impoverishment not only of the former Soviet block countries and the Balkans but also of the so-called high income countries of Western Europe.

More generally, the 1990s coinciding with NATO’s “humanitarian” war against Yugoslavia is the launchpad of NATO’s military buildup as well as  the globalization of NATO beyond it’s North Atlantic boundaries in the post Cold War era.

The Asian crisis of 1997-98 also marks an important threshold in the evolution of the neoliberal economic framework, pointing to the ability through speculative manipulations of foreign exchange and commodity market to literally destabilize the national economy of targeted countries. In this regard, institutional speculators have now the ability of artificially pushing up the price of food staples, or pushing up or down the price of crude oil.

The Global Cheap Labor Economy

The neoliberal agenda characterized by the imposition of strong “economic medicine” (austerity measures, freeze on wages, privatisation, repeal of social programs) has in the course of the last 30 years supported the extensive delocation of manufacturing to cheap labor (low wage) havens in developing countries. It has also served to impoverish both the developing and developed countries.

“Poverty is good for business.” It promotes the supply of cheap labor commodities worldwide in industry as well as in sections of the services economy.

This global process of economic restructuring (which has reached new heights) relies on compressing wages and the cost of labor worldwide while at the same time reducing the purchasing power of hundreds of millions of people. This compression of consumer demand ultimately triggers recession and rising unemployment.

The low wage economy is supported by exceedingly high levels of unemployment, which in developing countries are also the result of the destruction of the regional and local production not to mention the destabilization of the rural economy. This “reserve army on unemployed” (Marx) contributes to keeping wages down to their bare minimum.

China is the most important haven of cheap labor industrial assembly with 275 million migrant workers (according to official Chinese sources). Ironically, the West’s former colonies, as well as countries which are the victims of US military aggression and war crimes (e.g. Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia) have been transformed into cheap labor havens. The conditions prevailing in the aftermath of the Vietnam war were in large part instrumental in the imposition of the neoliberal agenda starting in the early 1990s.

Cheap labor is also exported from impoverished countries (India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, etc)  and used in the construction industry as well as in the services economy.

High levels of unemployment serve to maintain wages at an exceedingly low levels

Aggregate Demand

This global economic restructuring has been conducive to a dramatic increase in poverty and unemployment. While poverty is an input on the supply side favoring low levels of wages, the global cheap labor economy inevitably leads to a collapse in purchasing power, which in turn serves to increase the levels of unemployment.

Cheap labor and the compression of purchasing is the mainstay of neoliberalism. The transition from demand oriented Keynesian policies in the 1970s to the neoliberal macro-ecoomic agenda in the 1980s. The neoliberal economic policy agenda applied Worldwide sustains the global cheap labor economy. With the demise of demand oriented policies, neoliberalism emerges as the dominant economic paradigm.

Structural Adjustment in the Developed Economies

This generalized collapse in living standards which is the product of a macroeconomic agenda, is no longer limited to the so-called developing countries. Mass unemployment prevails in the United States, several EU countries including Spain, Portugal, Greece are experiencing exceedingly high levels of unemployment. Concurrently, the revenues of the middle class are being compressed, social programs are privatised, social safety nets including unemployment insurance benefits and social welfare programs are being curtailed.

Underconsumption

The generalized collapse of purchasing power is conducive to a recession in the consumer goods industry. Commodity production is not geared towards the basic necessities of life (food, housing, social services, etc) for the majority of the World’s population. There is a dichotomy between “those who work” in the cheap labor economy and “those who consume”.

The fundamental injustice of this global economic system is that “those who work” cannot afford to purchase what they produce. In other words, neoliberalism does not promote mass consumption. Quite the opposite: the development of extreme social inequalities both within and between countries ultimately leads to recession in the production of necessary goods and services (including food, social housing, public health, education).

The lack of purchasing power of “those who produce” (not to mention those who are unemployed) leads to a collapse in aggregate demand. In turn, there is surge in the demand for “high end luxury consumption” (broadly defined)  by the upper income strata of society.

Weapons and Luxury Goods. The Two Dynamic Sectors of the Global Economy

Essentially, while global poverty contributes to underconsumption by the large majority of the World’s population, the driving force of economic growth are the upper income markets (deluxe brand names, travel and leisure, luxury cars, electronics, private schools and clinics, etc).

The global cheap labor economy triggers poverty and underconsumption of necessary goods and services.

The two dynamic sectors of the global economy are

1. Production for the upper income strata of society.

2. The production and consumption of weapons, namely the military industrial complex.

Neoliberal policy  is conducive to the development of a global cheap labor economy which triggers decline in the production of necessary consumer goods (Marx’s Department IIa).

In turn, the lack of demand for necessary goods and services triggers a vacuum in the development of social infrastructure and investments (schools, hospitals, public transportation, public health, etc) in support of the standard of living of the large majority of world population.

The global cheap labor economy alongside the restructuring of the global financial apparatus creates an unprecedented concentration of income and wealth which is accompanied by the dynamic development of the luxury goods economy (broadly defined) (Marx’s Department IIb) .

Department III in the contemporary global economy is the production of weapons, which are sold Worldwide largely to governments. This sector of production in the US is dominated by a handful of large corporations including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, British Aerospace, Boeing, et al.

While neoliberal policies require the imposition of drastic austerity measures, the latter apply solely to the civilian sectors of government spending. State funding of advanced weapons systems is not the object of budgetary constraints.

In fact, the austerity measures imposed on health, education, public infrastructure, etc, are intended to facilitate the financing of the war economy, including the military industrial complex, the regional command structure consisting of 700 US military facilities Worldwide, the intelligence and security apparatus, not to mention the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons which is the object of a one trillion dollar allocation by the US Treasury to the US Defense Department. This money is ultimately trickles down to the so-called defense contractors, which constitute a powerful political lobby.

The reproduction of this global economic system is dependent upon the growth and development of two major sectors (departments): the Military Industrial Complex and the Production of High Income and Luxury Consumption.

High income luxury consumption for the upper social strata is combined with the dynamic development of the weapons industry and the war economy. This duality is what generates exclusion and despair.

It can only be broken and dispelled through the criminalization of war, the closure of the weapons industry and the repeal of the gamut of neoliberal policy instruments which generate poverty and social inequality.

How to Reverse The Tide of War and Globalization

The people’s movement had been hijacked. The antiwar movement is defunct. The civil society organisations which have all the appearances of being “progressive” are creatures of the system. Funded by corporate charities linked to Wall Street, they form part of a politically correct “Opposition” which acts as “a spokesperson for civil society”.

But who do they represent? Many of the “partner NGOs” and lobby groups which frequently mingle with bureaucrats and politicians, have few contacts with grass-roots social movements and people’s organisations. In the meantime, they serve to deflect the articulation of “real” social movements against the New World Order.” While the neoliberal paradigm is the focus of their attention, the broader issues of war and regime change are rarely addressed.

The programs of many NGOs and people’s movements rely heavily on funding from both public as well as private foundations including the Ford, Rockefeller, McCarthy foundations, among others.

The anti-globalization movement is opposed to Wall Street and the Texas oil giants controlled by Rockefeller, et al. Yet the foundations and charities of Rockefeller et al will generously fund progressive anti-capitalist networks as well as environmentalists (opposed to Big Oil) with a view to ultimately overseeing and shaping their various activities.

The mechanisms of “manufacturing dissent” require a manipulative environment, a process of arm-twisting and subtle cooptation of individuals within progressive organizations, including anti-war coalitions, environmentalists and the anti-globalization movement.

The objective of the corporate elites has been to fragment the people’s movement into a vast “do it yourself” mosaic. War and globalization are no longer in the forefront of civil society activism. Activism tends to be piecemeal. There is no integrated anti-globalization anti-war movement. The economic crisis is not seen as having a relationship to the US led war.

Dissent has been compartmentalized. Separate “issue oriented” protest movements (e.g. environment, anti-globalization, peace, women’s rights, climate change) are encouraged and generously funded as opposed to a cohesive mass movement. This mosaic was already prevalent in the counter G7 summits as well as the World Social Forum.

The Development of a Broad Grassroots Network

What is required is ultimately to break the “controlled opposition” through the development of a broad based grassroots network which seeks to disable patterns of authority and decision making pertaining both to war and the neoliberal policy agenda. It is understood that US military deployments  (including nuclear weapons) are ultimately used in support of powerful economic interests.

This network would be established at all levels in society, towns and villages, work places, parishes both nationally and internationally  Trade unions, farmers organizations, professional associations, business associations, student unions, veterans associations, church groups would be called upon to integrate the antiwar organizational structure. Of crucial importance, this movement should extend into the Armed Forces as a means to breaking the legitimacy of war among service men and women.

The first task would be to disable war propaganda through an effective campaign against media disinformation. The corporate media would be directly challenged, leading to boycotts of major news outlets, which are responsible for channelling disinformation into the news chain.  This endeavor would require a parallel process at the grass roots level, of sensitizing and educating fellow citizens on the nature of  the war and the global economic crisis, as well as effectively “spreading the word” through advanced networking, through alternative media outlets on the internet, etc.

The creation of such a movement, which forcefully challenges the legitimacy of the structures of political authority, is no easy task. It would require a degree of solidarity, unity and commitment unparalleled in World history. It would require breaking down political and ideological barriers within society and acting with a single voice. It would also require eventually unseating the war criminals, and indicting them for war crimes.

Text of Michel Chossudovsky’s keynote address to the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) National Conference, University of the Philippines, Cebu, October 7, 2017. 


In this new and expanded edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this new enlarged edition – which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction — the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.

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Gun Profiteers: Who’s Getting Rich Off the US Gun Crisis?

Featured image: Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs – a big investor in gun retailer Bass Pro

The shooting rampage earlier this month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School put renewed focus on the firearms manufacturing industry – which, along with ammunitions production, accounts for an estimated $17 billion in revenue.

Thousands of students – with those from Parkland, Florida leading the way – have staged walk-outs across the nation to protest the firearms industry, the NRA, and industry’s bought-off politicians. It’s starting to feel like it could be some sort of turning point.

Even corporations are feeling the heat over their ties to the firearms industry. A slew of corporate have already ended partnerships with the NRA due to public pressure – United Airlines, Delta Airlines, MetLife, and First National Bank of Omaha among them. Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major firearms retailer, has just announced that it is halting all sales of automatic weapons, and both Dick’s and Walmart are raising their minimum age to 21 for all gun buyers.

BlackStone, the powerful private equity firm headed by billionaire Trump ally Stephen Schwarzman, even put out an urgent request to the funds it invests with to “detail their ownership in companies that make or sell guns,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

As the Parkland students and others think through questions of strategy, tactics,and targets, it’s worth reflecting on who holds power in – and who profits from – the firearms industry. Who are the billionaires and multi-millionaires that are profiting most off of gun sales in the US? Who are the executives and investors? Who holds power over the decisions that are made within the industry?

Some of these individuals come from the firearms manufacturing and retail industry itself – for example, top executives in the companies that produce and sell the guns. Others come from Wall Street – the hedge fund billionaires and big money managers that invest in the gun companies. Still others come from the big banks that finance the gun companies.

While a lot of focus has been on the NRA, these other corporations and individuals hold a lot of power over the firearms industry. If banks, investors, and retailers felt strongly that the decisions of gun companies were hurting their owns brands, they could exert a lot of leverage – the threat of pulling their credit arrangements and investment stakes, or limiting or ending gun sales – to force change.

Understanding the powerful figures behind the gun industry helps provide a potential path for challenging it. We put together a list to help readers make sense of the different players who are profiting from firearms sales in the US.

To Read complete article click here

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Naziyahu the Political Zionist: A Disaster for Both ‘Israel’ and the Jewish Diaspora

NOVANEWS
Netanyahu the Political Zionist: A Disaster for Both Israel and the Jewish Diaspora
 

12 years as Prime Minister and Netanyahu’s only achievement has been to mire his high office in charges of corruption, bribery, fraud and conspiracy.

Furthermore, he has tragically managed to turn his electorate into the most extreme Right-wing constituency in the history of the state whilst Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion,silently screams out from his grave in the Negev desert.

Binyamin Netanyahu has deliberately jettisoned any chance of peace by his continued expropriation of Palestinian property in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the vain hope of creating a Greater Israel of stolen land, to conform to the extremist ideology of his late father, Benzion Netanyahu.

By so doing, he has achieved two unintended consequences of immense importance: the first being the now increasing perception of Israel by the international community as a high-tech, nuclear-weaponised, pariah state, in the image of North Korea. The second, being the huge increase in antisemitism throughout Europe and on campuses throughout Britain and America.

Arguably, no politician in modern times, has come close to Netanyahu in turning a formerly admired technical powerhouse into a reviled neo-apartheid state of Political Zionists who have subjugated an indigenous Arab nation, numbering in excess of five million, whose families have been the documented, primary majority people of the region for over a thousand years.

Netanyahu’s attempt to change history has failed as has his term of political fame and family fortune. The only question now is: how much permanent damage has he inflicted upon not only the Israeli state but, and perhaps more importantly, upon the Jewish worldwide diaspora?

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It’s Okay to Constructively Criticize Russia, Even President Putin Does It!

The Alt-Media’s “politically correct” “glorification” of all things Russia-related is a “well-intended” but knee-jerk response to the rampant Russophobia of the Mainstream Media, but it nevertheless results in the generation of an overly “perfect” and therefore inaccurate version of the country that’s at odds with reality and was just debunked by none other than President Putin himself.

Misreading Russia

President Putin’s keynote speech to the nation last week naturally captured the attention of the global media, with the Mainstream Media (MSM) intensifying their relentless fear mongering campaign by over exaggerating decontextualized statements about Russia’s hypersonic weapons program while the Alt-Media was swooning over the President’s announcement and framed it as another “5D chess move” that forever put a stop to America’s aggression abroad as per their hero’s “master plan”. Both reactions are hyperbolic in their own way and predicated on appealing to each of their respective audiences. The MSM has an interest in pushing the “Russia threat” narrative because it reinforces the “Russiagate” paranoia and “justifies” Trump’s gargantuan military budget that he earlier unveiled as part of his Pentagon-centric “America First” foreign policy. As for the Alt-Media Community, many of its casual members, “formal” figures, and outlets (which does not refer to its publicly financed ones) have all but “deified” President Putin already, with the latter two doing so in order to appeal to the “wishful thinking” fantasies of the desperate masses in order to remain relevant by reinforcing their “flock’s” groupthink.

Neither MSM nor Alt-Media, however, tended to pay much attention to the bulk of the President’s speech focusing on domestic issues, as they each seem to have independently arrived at the same conclusion that such topics aren’t “sexy” enough for their audience and isn’t what the general public outside of Russia is interested in. In a sense, Russia might have proverbially dodged a bullet because there’s a lot in its leader’s speech that could be exploited by the MSM in the same way as the hypersonic weapons announcement was. At the same time, however, the argument can also be made that Alt-Media inadvertently deprived its audience of hearing about key facts, quotes, and strategies that they wouldn’t otherwise be aware of had they not read the transcript of President Putin’s extensive speech but which could have given them a more accurate view of the country that many of them have hitherto placed on par with “paradise”.  It’s in the interests of reporting on and analyzing objective facts, whatever the consequences may be on one’s own perception of Russia, that the present analysis was written.

Why Alt-Media Gets Russia Wrong

Russia, like any country in the world, isn’t “perfect”, but just like the object of anyone’s desire, its devotees have a tendency of seeing it that way regardless, especially if they’re not from there themselves but are attracted to it for geopolitical reasons or simply as a statement of principled opposition against the policies of their home country. Whatever the reason may be, and it’s irrelevant in this context to conduct a psychoanalysis of this trend, the end result is that many people across the world who truly appreciate Russia’s efforts to forge a Multipolar World Order that’s fairer and more just than the unipolar one that it seeks to replace often overlook some of the country’s unpleasant realities. This is more often than not due to both a combination of cognitive dissonance in refusing to accept that their “deified” “role model” doesn’t rule over “paradise” and a deliberate move to avoid unintentionally playing into the runaway Russophobia that’s come to dominate the general discussion. For however “noble” this may or may not be, it nevertheless has fed into a growing online cottage industry that wrongly portrays Russia as having no problems at all.

This artificial narrative has gone viral to the point where an increasing number of people in the Alt-Media Community adhere it as though it’s a “secular religion”, complete with its own “churches” (certain websites and forums), “priests” (narrative writers and promoters), “congregation” (their fellow “believers”), and “heathens” (those who “sacrilegiously” question the “sanctity” of Russia’s “infallibility”). There’s nothing innately “wrong” with this so long as the “cult members” keep their beliefs to themselves and don’t “proselytize”, but the issue arises once they attempt to aggressively enforce their views onto others and/or disseminate them as indisputable “truths” that axiomatically form the basis of International Relations. The warped perception of Russia that’s beginning to take shape in the Alt-Media Community as a result of this “secular religion’s” growing popularity (provoked to a large degree as a response to the MSM’s Russophobia) must urgently be corrected before it gets out of control and creates an Alternative Reality fully detached from real life. If those who want to truly understand and help Russia don’t have an accurate idea of what it even is, then their plans and efforts will inevitably be for naught.

Take It From The Man Himself

Personal testimonies from Russians and foreigners living within the country about some of state’s shortcomings are no longer effective in conveying the truth of the situation, as they’re merely dismissed as “Soros propaganda”, “fake news”, or “someone with an axe to grind”, nor are factual news reports from Russia’s publicly financed media outlets like TASS sufficient in this task either. The only way to destroy the dogmatic and ultimately dangerous thinking about Russia’s “infallibility” that’s taken hold of the Alt-Media Community is to use President Putin’s own words to debunk this fake narrative once and for all, since it follows that “believers” will be forced to accept whatever their “deity” says no matter how much they’d otherwise resist doing so if the message came from anyone else. Accordingly, given the wealth of material presented in President Putin’s recent landmark speech to the nation and the global attention that this event produced, it’s fitting to quote from the man himself in drawing attention to some of the country’s problems that are utterly ignored by the Alt-Media Community.

It should be prefaced that the following will intentionally focus on the constructive criticisms that President Putin made about his country in order to raise awareness about the true state of affairs in Russia, but that the country’s leader impressively listed off a staggering amount of facts and strategies in proving that much progress that has already been made since the turn of the century. So as not to “preach to the choir”, and understanding that the MSM audience will probably never read this analysis, the decision was made to engage in “shock therapy” by quoting the parts of President Putin’s speech that will probably come off as “surprising” and “unbelievable” to the Alt-Media masses who have “deified” the man and proclaimed his country “perfect”. Again, the intention in doing so is to set the record straight about Russia so that those who follow its affairs can have the most accurate picture in their minds about the reality in which it operates. Accepting its shortcomings is key to understanding its limitations in the present day and accordingly forecasting its most likely actions in the future.

Having gotten the “caveats” out of the way, here are the most “politically incorrect” and “sacrilegious” messages that President Putin conveyed in his latest speech that powerfully shatter the Alt-Media delusions about Russia’s ”infallibility”:

No More Procrastinating

Quote:

“We have no right to allow a situation when the stability that has been achieved would lead to complacency, all the more so as many problems remain unresolved…It is high time we take a number of tough decisions that are long overdue. We need to get rid of anything that stands in the way of our development and prevents people from fully unleashing their potential.”

Interpretation:

Russia has been holding off on doing what’s needed for far too long, and it can’t afford another moment to needlessly waste. The days of procrastinating because of perceived complacency (apathy, which is sometimes linked to the Russian cultural trait of “avos’”) are over, and the country must recognize this before it’s too late.

Source: Kremlin.ru

Russia Is “Falling Behind”

Quote:

“It is not a question of someone conquering or devastating our land. No, that is not the danger. The main threat and our main enemy is the fact that we are falling behind. If we are unable to reverse this trend, we will fall even further behind. This is like a serious chronic disease that steadily saps the energy from the body and destroys it from within step by step. Quite often, this destructive process goes unnoticed by the body.”

Interpretation

External enemies are no longer Russia’s main threat because they’ll be kept at bay by the nation’s military and its recently unveiled hypersonic weaponry that restored the global strategic balance. Instead, the chief threat to the country is its lack of development. Russia hasn’t risen to the occasion in capitalizing off of new trends and therefore it’s falling behind. If it doesn’t correct its course, it’ll be destroyed before it even knows what happened to it.

The Employment Structure Is Broken

Quote:

“We need to upgrade the employment structure that has become inefficient and archaic, provide good jobs that motivate people, improve their well-being and help them uncover their talents. We need to create decent well-paid jobs.

Interpretation:

Russia has amazingly lifted millions of people out of poverty and slashed unemployment, but the jobs that its citizens have aren’t inspiring them enough to fulfill their potential, both personally and economically. The whole structure is broken and must be reformed.

Pensioners Are Just As Poor As They’re Made Out To Be

Quote:

“We will also strive to reduce the gap between the size of pensions and pre-retirement wages.”

Interpretation:

Pensioners live in poverty and struggle to maintain respectable living standards.

Life Expectancy In Russia Is Still Less Than In The G7

Quote:

“Life expectancy levels have increased by over seven years and now total 73 years. But, of course, this is not enough either. Today, we must set an entirely new goal. By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently join the club of countries posting a life expectancy of 80-plus years, which includes Japan, France and Germany.”

Interpretation:

Russians shouldn’t be satisfied that they now live longer than they did during the chaotic 1990s when life expectancy was “just over 65 years, with men’s life expectancy falling below 60 years”, but should aspire to match and even surpass the length of life that their G7 peers enjoy if they’re serious about giving the new generation a better future.

Housing Is Too Expensive And Corrupt

Quote:

“Urban renovation should be supported by the introduction of state-of-the-art construction technology and materials, modern architectural solutions, digital technology for social services, transport and utilities sectors. Among other things, this would make the housing and utilities sector more transparent and efficient, so that people receive quality services at a reasonable cost.”

Interpretation:

It’s not just enough to build new and better homes for Russians, but this process must be more “transparent” (a euphemism for “free from corruption”), and people mustn’t be charged a proverbial “arm and a leg” for buying a home or paying for utilities. Moreover, everything must be efficient, which evidently isn’t the case right now otherwise the President wouldn’t stress this point.

Local Bureaucrats Ignore The People’s Will And Must Be Held To Account By Their Constituents

Quote:

“Of course, a lot will depend on municipal and local authorities and whether they will be receptive to new ideas. The ability to respond to the diverse needs of various generations, including families with children, retirees and people with disabilities, will also be instrumental. People must have a decisive say in the future of their cities and villages. We have discussed this many times, including at meetings with heads of municipalities. Today, I am not saying it just to check the box. I ask you to bring it to the attention of decision-makers at all levels.

Interpretation:

President Putin knows that he’s only one man and his words can only do so much in a country that inherited millions of lackadaisical bureaucrats from the communist era, many of whom are still working within state structures and may have even entrenched their outdated and counterproductive mentalities into their “workplace culture”. Russia will not develop and catch up to the West (and increasingly, Asia as well) at the pace that’s urgently needed unless the population holds these figures to account by doing more than just voting. They need to resort to “bottom-up” pressure when needed.

Not Enough Russians Have Their Own Home

Quote:

“I understand how important it is for everyone, for every family, to have their own house, their own home. I know this is the problem of problems in Russia. It lingers from decade to decade. How many times governments promised and tried, sincerely tried to resolve it. But we can and must do it now…I see three key factors for increasing the affordability of housing. The first is the growth of people’s incomes. I have spoken about this in the past, and we must ensure this. Next, a decrease in mortgage interest rates and, of course, an increased supply in the housing market.”

Interpretation :

Russians, just like anyone else in the world, dream of having their own homes and moving away from their families once they reach a certain age or get married. This is unfortunately very difficult to do, especially in Moscow and other big cities due to the excessive costs involved, inadequate compensation from their jobs, dysfunctional financial system, and endemic corruption that makes everything worse.

The Financial System Must Be Fixed

Quote:

“In December, the average interest rate on ruble loans for the first time decreased to below 10 percent. We know, of course, that loan terms are individual and may differ from one borrower to another. But we must continue to lower the average interest rate to 7–8 percent. We held long discussions on the figure I should say here. I am sure that the target figure should be 7 percent. In the next six years, mortgage loans must become accessible to the majority of Russian families, working people and young professionals.”

Interpretation:

Interest rates are prohibitively high for the majority of Russians, thus making it difficult for them to take out loans, which in turn negatively impacts on their spending habits in boosting the economy through consumer purchases and real estate, for example. The financial system must therefore be fixed in order to make loans more accessible to the populace and stimulate steady economic growth within the country, as this could help remedy some of the problems that Russia is presently experiencing in housing and other spheres.

The Property Tax Is Unfair And Unaffordable

Quote:

“I also propose revising the personal property tax. It must be fair and affordable. Some people, including those in this hall, tried to convince me that this tax should be based on the market value of property. They told me that using obsolete valuation by the Technical Inventory Bureau is an anachronism. But it turned out in reality that cadastral value, which should be comparable to market value, often exceeded it by far. This was not the agreement. And the people did not expect this from us. We must revise the mechanism for calculating the tax and also the calculation of the cadastral value of property. One way or another, it must not exceed the real market value. All decisions regarding this must be taken without delay in the first six months of this year.”

Interpretation:

Be it through corruption, inept bureaucratic inertia, inefficiency, misunderstandings of complex bureaucratic law, or whatever else, the property tax that citizens are required to pay is evidently excessive and doesn’t correlate with the market value of the property. This has caused a lot of frustration among the people and resentment towards the authorities, undermining the public’s trust in the state. If Russia is to develop and expand its housing market by making it more accessible to the average person, then it also has to correspondingly improve upon this issue as well.

The Condition With Local Roads Is “Completely Unacceptable”

Quote:

“We have overhauled federal roads. Now we must modernise regional and local routes. I am not going to talk about the figures now, but I know them. It is a fact that federal roads have mostly been renovated. The situation is somewhat worse with regional roads, and it is completely unacceptable with local roads.”

Interpretation:

Connectivity is one of the buzzwords of the 21st century, and while Russia’s overhaul of federal roads will enable it to more efficiently link Western Europe with East Asia, the situation with regional and local routes remains lacking. The latter, in fact, leave a lot to be desired, which President Putin believes is “completely unacceptable” and must be addressed as soon as possible.

Domestic Air Connectivity Must Be Improved

Quote:

“We will renovate and expand the network of regional airports across Russia. In six years, half of the regions will be connected between each other by direct flights. The situation where you had to make a connection in Moscow when flying to a neighbouring region will become a thing of the past. We are already working on this.

Interpretation:

As surprising as it may sound, President Putin is correct – sometimes Russians have to first fly far away to Moscow en route to a neighboring region, which might sound absurd but reflects the reality of the contemporary situation. The government is making progress on improving this, but it still remains a time-consuming annoyance.

Public Wages Risk Stagnating

Quote

“We must not lose the positions we have already attained. I am referring to the level of wages. Wages in the public sector must continue growing, as well as the quality of work and skills of the people working in healthcare, education and other areas that define people’s wellbeing.”

Interpretation:

President Putin is worried that public wages might stagnate, thus inhibiting the country’s growth by depriving its public employees of the incentive that most people need to improve the quality of their work and skills. Although unstated, the solution is for the state to commit more money to this sphere.

Some Administrative Hospital Changes Have Been Disastrous

Quote:

“In recent years, we have optimised the hospital network in the country. This was done in order to build an effective healthcare system. However, in some case, I have to say this today, too many administrative changes were introduced: hospitals in small towns and villages have been closed. No one proposed an alternative, and people were left with practically no medical aid. The only advice they were given was, “Go to the city to get treatment there.” I must say that this is unacceptable. They forgot about the main thing: the people, their interests and needs, equal opportunities and justice.”

Interpretation:

Almost as unbelievable as having to sometimes fly halfway across the country to Moscow in order to reach a neighboring Russian region is the fact that some small towns and villages don’t have any hospitals. The locals are instead forced to travel elsewhere in order to receive healthcare services, and the local officials contemptuously don’t care about their plight. Like President Putin said, “this is unacceptable”, and it goes along with his call for people to hold bureaucrats to account beyond election season.

Environmental Challenges Still Persist

Quote:

“We have tightened environmental requirements for companies, which should reduce industrial pollution. Starting in 2019, 300 industrial enterprises with a negative impact on the environment must convert to the best available environmentally friendly technology, and all enterprises in the high environmental risk group must do this starting in 2021. We had a go at this problem many times, and every time our companies complained about the difficulties involved. There is no going back now. I want everyone to know that we will not delay this programme any longer.”

Interpretation:

Pollution is a problem in Russia, and the government seems to have previously caved in to corporate pressure in delaying the enforcement of various requirements. That’s not going to happen anymore, and President Putin made it clear that he’s serious about enforcing new standards and ensuring that they’re complied with on time. This might even be an oblique message to the “oligarchy” that wields enormous influence in this sphere.

Not Everyone Has Reliable Access To Drinking Water

Quote:

“We must seriously improve the quality of drinking water. In some small towns, water is only available for several hours a day. We must use defence industry technologies to settle these problems.”

Interpretation:

This might strike some people as shocking, but the fact is that a (presumably small) portion of Russians don’t have reliable access to drinking water, a problem stereotypically associated with countries of the “Global South”.

Citizenship Must Be Easier To Attain:

Quote:

“I also propose creating the most convenient and attractive conditions for talented young people from other countries to enroll at our universities. They already come to study here. But we also need to create conditions for the best foreign graduates of our universities to work in Russia. This fully applies to foreign scientists and qualified specialists. I think we need to seriously improve the procedure for granting Russian citizenship. The focus should be on the foreign nationals Russia needs: on young, healthy and well-educated people. For them, we need to create a simplified system for obtaining Russian citizenship.”

Interpretation:

Russia has one of the strictest migration policies in the world, which has unfortunately prevented it from capitalizing on the enormous foreign talent that arrives in the country every year to learn. Once these students graduate, they mostly leave Russia and never have any opportunity to return unless it’s on a tourist visa, which is a pity for those who sincerely love the country and want to settle down there. One of the reasons why the West was so successful in the past is that it was able to flexibly incorporate foreign experts into its framework by offering them citizenship, something that Russia has finally realized that it needs to do as well.

Labor Productivity Is Still Lagging

Quote:

“First of all, it is important to increase labour productivity on a new technological, managerial and personnel basis. We are still lagging noticeably behind in terms of this indicator. It is necessary to ensure that labour productivity in medium-sized and large enterprises of basic industries, such as manufacturing, construction, transport, agriculture and trade, grows at a rate of at least 5 percent per year, which will allow us to reach the level of the leading world economies by the end of the next decade.”

Interpretation:

Russia’s transition away from its erstwhile energy exporting-dependency and towards a more sustainable real-sector economy has already made phenomenal progress but its full development will still take some time. It’s absolutely imperative that the country improve its labor productivity in order to become competitive with the world’s leading economies and then ultimately remain so, otherwise it will continue to lag behind them and undermine President Putin’s comprehensive vision of Trump-like socio-economic reform in Russia.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Economy Is Still Too State-Controlled

Quote:

”The state must gradually reduce its share in the economy. In this connection, it has to be noted that the state has taken over a number of financial assets in an effort to revive the banking sector. These initiatives are headed in the right direction and have my support. That said, these assets should be put on the market and sold without delay.”

Interpretation:

Russia must open up its economy to private investment and allow businessmen to exert more influence over the country’s overall dynamics. The state has previously provided support to the financial sector, but it’s now time for the government to give up its control over these said assets and sell them on the open market as soon as possible. To be succinct, Russia’s economy has to liberalize sooner than later.

Corrupt Officials And Cops Are Intimidating Businesses

Quote:

“We need to get rid of everything that enables corrupt officials and law enforcement officers to pressure businesses. The Criminal Code should not serve as a tool for settling corporate disputes. These should be referred to administrative and arbitration courts.

Interpretation:

Under no circumstances should corrupt officials and cops abuse the law, especially when this holds back economic development. It sets a terrible precedent and is completely contrary to everything that President Putin stands for. Russia cannot improve its international position unless this changes.

Legal Double Standards Must Be Done Away With

Quote:

“At the same time, criminal law should be strictly enforced in the case of offences infringing upon the interests of citizens or society or violating economic freedoms. I am referring to offences against property and assets held by citizens, illegal takeovers, competition law violations, tax evasion and embezzlement of public funds.”

Interpretation:

Corruption is eating away at Russia’s efficiency and also costing it untold sums of money that could otherwise be invested into the economy for everyone’s benefit. Nobody should ever be above the law, but unfortunately some people have been for quite a while now and it’s such a widespread problem that President Putin used his national podium to address it.

The Government Could Do “A Lot” More To Help Businesses

Quote:

“Now I would like to address all representatives of Russian business, those who run their own small business, a family enterprise or a farm, an innovative company or a large industrial enterprise. I know, I know we still have a lot to do.”

Interpretation:

One of President Putin’s main themes in his speech was to emphasize that the government has finally heard the complaints of the citizenry and will be responding to their problems. The structural shortcomings that have held Russia back since independence won’t be allowed to persist.

Some Government Officials Are Unfocused And Inefficient

Quote:

“Government officials of all levels should be interested in improving their efficiency and be strictly focused on obtaining concrete results…This line of thinking should be used to rebuild the public service system, where appropriate, and to introduce project work methods.”

Interpretation :

President Putin boldly said what no other official would previously dare to say in public, and it’s that part of the public service system must be “rebuilt” because it’s broken beyond repair. To that end, like the Russian leader suggested, officials absolutely have to become more focused and efficient.

Concluding Thoughts

All of the abovementioned messages, quotes, and interpretations provide raw insight into the real situation in Russia today, which is that of a rising Great Power that has nevertheless been held back by many serious domestic difficulties – some of them systemic – but which finally recognizes what needs to urgently change in order for it to catch up with its competitors and succeed. None of the points that were made should ever be abused to denigrate Russia, nor should anyone exaggerate them in order to fit a decontextualized narrative about its level of socio-economic, institutional, and infrastructural development, but these “inconvenient facts” also shouldn’t be omitted from any objective analysis about the country and its capabilities because their absence prevents people from devising the appropriate solutions to fixing them.

Russia has come a long way since 1991, but it still has a ways to go too, as President Putin emphasized, and it’s precisely because of his “political incorrectness” in calling out his country’s problems that he’s the best suited for tackling them. His striking example in fearlessly addressing Russia’s problems should serve as the perfect example to all of its international friends that it’s absolutely okay to constructively criticize the country so long as one’s intentions are to identify what’s wrong in order to fix it. Overemphasizing various shortcomings in order to advance a hostile narrative is unacceptable and manipulative, but if Alt-Media sincerely aspires to accurately reflect the true state of affairs in Russia today, then it must inevitably broach this topic in a measured and respectful way.

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Russian Military Cutting Edge Technologies: Putin Is Not “Rattling Nuclear Sabers” – It’s Real

The annual speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1 to the Russian Federal Assembly, televised to the nation, contained a section on Russian military cutting edge technologies that NATO-friendly media chose to either downplay as a propaganda ploy or an election campaign stunt. Given the hints of Russian military technology developments unveiled in the Syrian war theater since September 2015, Washington ignores what is clearly a strategic game-breaking development and makes all the hundreds of billions of dollars of so-called US missile defense technology being deployed from South Korea, Japan, Poland and beyond into little more than a Pentagon defense boondoggle.

The military security section of Putin’s two hour speech to the Russian Federal Assembly on March 1 began some two-thirds into his remarks, after extensive discussions of plans to lift the economy, transform health care, improve education.

The keystone of Putin’s security remarks, ignored in mainstream western media coverage, was the Russian response has been to the “unilateral US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the practical deployment of their missile defense systems both in the US and beyond their national borders.”

The strategic significance of that decision by the Bush-Cheney Administration was not lost on Russian military defense planners. It opened the door for the Pentagon and for NATO to encircle Russia with a ring of ballistic missile defense systems aimed at Russian nuclear missile launch sites. Putin clarified that that 1972 ABM Treaty had made nuclear war unthinkable, the foundation of Mutual and Assured Destruction or MAD:

“the ABM Treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons, which would have endangered humankind, because the limited number of ballistic missile defense systems made the potential aggressor vulnerable to a response strike.”

When Washington unilaterally pulled out of the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US Government began an aggressive series of moves including bringing NATO to the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, fomenting a coup and civil war in Ukraine and other provocations that have led to construction of anti-ballistic missile bases in Romania and Poland—both NATO members, as well as in the Russian Far East in Japan and South Korea. Additionally, as Putin noted,

“The US global missile defense system also includes five cruisers and 30 destroyers, which, as far as we know, have been deployed to regions in close proximity to Russia’s borders.”

This is no minor deployment in Russian eyes.

Trump Nuclear Posture Review

The decision by the Russian leadership now to unveil a daunting array of its cutting-edge military technologies including nuclear-powered hypersonic cruise missiles and underwater drones was no election ploy. It was a clear and direct reply to the January 2018 State of the Union address to Congress of the US President and publication days later of their 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and Putin says so.

The Trump 2018 NPR document is a radical shift from previous administrations. It abandons the earlier declarations of “no first use” of nuclear weapons, and boosts nuclear modernization efforts including the intention to bring on “new” nuclear weapons, restoration of submarine-launched cruise missile capability and low-explosive-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads, and to sideline arms control. In one section the new US Nuclear Posture Review declares that,

“The United States would only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners. Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks…” (emphasis added-w.e.).

No definition of what Washington calls a “significant non-nuclear strategic attack” is made. In brief, as one US nuclear analyst noted, the new US nuclear doctrine is based on competition and confrontation.

After describing repeated Russian efforts with Washington to reinstate the ABM Treaty after the Bush Administration unilaterally abandoned it in 2002, Putin noted,

“At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be. All our proposals, absolutely all of them, were rejected. And then we said that we would have to improve our modern strike systems to protect our security. In reply, the US said that it is not creating a global BMD system against Russia…”

That of course was a calculated strategic lie. Russia concluded, after repeated efforts at negotiation, that Washington, following the destruction of Russia’s military and economy in the 1990s Yeltsin era post-Soviet economic collapse, was determined to “pursue ultimate unilateral military advantage in order to dictate the terms in every sphere in the future.”

Nuclear Primacy

Nuclear First Strike or Nuclear Primacy as it is technically called, is the ultimate unilateral military advantage Pentagon strategists have dreamt of since the 1950’s when the USSR tested its first H-bomb and ICBMs. The primacy is the ability to launch a nuclear first strike against Russia with little fear Russia will be able to counter convincingly because US missile defense arrays have been able to knock out the vast majority of Russian nuclear weapons.

The US missile defense is not at all defensive. It is offensive in the extreme. If the United States were able to shield itself effectively from a potential Russian retaliation for a US nuclear First Strike, then the US would be able to dictate its terms to the entire world, not just to Russia. That would be Nuclear Primacy. As the late Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman, former director of the Reagan US Missile Defense Program expressed it to me some years ago in a private exchange,

“Missile defense is the missing link to a First Strike.”

In his latest speech Putin describes the strategic reality Russian military security planners face:

“The US is permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas. If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential. Meaning that all of our missiles could simply be intercepted.”

When the stakes involve unleashing a nuclear holocaust, even if it begins with “low yield” nuclear weapons, against a backdrop of virtual new Cold War confrontations with Russia in recent years, it is no surprise that Russia’s military and security council have decided at just this precarious point in a growing East-West confrontation to unveil a sober response.

Blocking Nuclear Primacy: The Russian Response

Putin unveiled for the first time measures the Russian military R&D has pursued quietly since 2002 to counter the ever-more clear US Nuclear Primacy agenda. He noted that Russia has “developed, and works continuously to perfect highly effective but modestly priced systems to overcome missile defense. They are installed on all of our intercontinental ballistic missile complexes.” However, the real new element Putin revealed is a staggering list of new advanced next generation missiles able to evade US or NATO anti-missile defenses.

First he showed a film of the new Sarmat missile. Weighing over 200 tons with a short boost phase, it is very difficult for US missile defense systems to intercept. Sarmat can be equipped with powerful nuclear warheads, including hypersonic, and the most modern means of evading missile defense. It has virtually unlimited range and capable of attack over both North and South poles.

Sarmat was only the first mentioned response to the growing NATO threat. Putin then described the Russian defense industry development of “a small-scale heavy-duty nuclear energy unit that can be installed in a missile like our latest X-101 air-launched missile or the American Tomahawk missile – a similar type but with a range dozens of times longer, dozens, basically an unlimited range. It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries. It is invincible against all existing and prospective missile defense and counter-air defense systems.”

Then in terms of new Russian cutting-edge pilotless weapon systems, he revealed the successful development of Russian “unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest. It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.”

Putin added that the new submersibles “can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.”

So much for the US doctrine of force projection supremacy via its ten aircraft carrier strike groups, which now become so many sitting ducks.

Putin went on to note that the nuclear power unit for the unmanned submersible has been tested over a period of many years, and that it is “a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster.”

Kinzahl and Avangard

Additionally Putin unveiled the Russian hypersonic Kinzhal or Dagger system. This is as Putin describes it, “a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system… the only one of its kind in the world. Its tests have been successfully completed, and, moreover, on December 1 of last year, these systems began their trial service at the airfields of the Southern Military District.”

In other words it is not hypothetical, rather it is operational. The definition of hypersonic is an aircraft flying 5 or more times the speed of sound. The Kinzhal goes Mach 10 or ten times. As Putin describes it,

“The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also maneuver at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2,000 kilometers.”

Finally, the Russian President revealed development of Avangard, a hypersonic missile that flies at speeds in excess of Mach 20:

“In moving to its target, the missile’s gliding cruise bloc engages in intensive maneuvering – both lateral (by several thousand km) and vertical. This is what makes it absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system. The use of new composite materials has made it possible to enable the gliding cruise bloc to make a long-distance guided flight practically in conditions of plasma formation. It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire. The temperature on its surface reaches 1,600–2,000 degrees Celsius but the cruise bloc is reliably guided.”

Putin’s remarks conclude with the statement, fully ignored in the West, that,

“We have repeatedly told our American and European partners who are NATO members: we will make the necessary efforts to neutralize the threats posed by the deployment of the US global missile defense system.”

He makes clear what Russia has warned Washington and NATO of since 2004:

“Despite all the problems with the economy, finances and the defense industry, Russia has remained a major nuclear power. No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now.”

One of the most succinct assessments of the Putin military revelations comes from The Saker, one of the most clear and sober commentators on Russian and Western military capabilities. In his blog the day of the Putin speech he remarked,

“It is indeed set, match and game over for the Empire: there is no more military option against Russia.”

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US Destabilization Plan for Iran and the Middle East, and the Need to Strengthen the Resistance

NOVANEWS

The use of force, in total disregard for the UN Charter, international law, and international agreements, is today, more than ever before, the main characteristic of Washington’s policy decisions. Consequently, the world is experiencing a decisive shift to militarization rather than, and in negation of, regional and international diplomacy, in US approach to policy. Now, the particular locus of this violation of the world peace and security is the Middle East and the anti-imperialist Iran, in particular.

In the previous section (1), I examined the US agenda of global domination (2) under the direct influence of the Neo-Conservative “Project for the New American Century” (3).  In this section, the question will be further investigated in the framework of another Neocon project, the “Greater Middle East Initiative” (4). The initiative which is claimed to promote ‘democracy and human rights’(5) in the region, was part of President Bush’s “forward strategy of freedom,” by which the US-led expansion of political rights and political participation in the Muslim world is imputed to combat the appeal of Islamist extremism.

Examining the claim, I seek to shed some light for a better understanding of the real intentions behind such US regional initiatives. Finally, I attempt to advance the future prospects of the regional resistance to the continuing US-Israeli attempts at destabilization in the Middle East.

The Greater Middle East Initiative

The 2003 US invasion of Iraq triggered a massive and growing tide of objections and disgust around the world, particularly in the Middle East. The US was seen as dishonest, unlawful and unduly heavy-handed, in the conduct of its “War on Terror”, especially as Iraq had clearly no part in the 9/11 terrorist event, and the claims of Iraq’s clandestine WMD were unmasked as sheer lies, post-invasion. Under these revealing circumstances, the only justification (illegal, of course) that the Bush administration could come up with for its illegal invasion of Iraq, was the down fall of a criminal dictator, and the US’ ex-ally, Saddam Hussein, and the claim to have granted the Iraqi people the prospects of democratic governance.  On this basis, the US chose to move on with another Neocon plan, more specific to the region, and under the fake cover of ‘democracy and human rights’.

The Greater Middle East Initiative formulated in 2004 and re-labeled by Condoleezza Rice in 2006 as the New Middle East, aimed for the US global domination under the banner of “democracy promotion”.  It covered a wide area of land, stretching to Morocco, in the north of Africa, all the way to the western borders of China, and the newly independent countries in Central Asia and Caucuses to the north, bordering the Russian Federation. It was not accidental that all the countries covered by the Greater Middle East plan were largely populated by Muslims, with varying degrees of potential opposition to US domination.

The title of “Greater Middle East” was chosen as a less provocative, more appealing name for a project whose aim was to strengthen and expand the US domination over the predominantly Muslim nations in the Middle East and beyond.  This agenda is clearly evident in the US grand strategy, as defined by Admiral Cebrowski in 2001, and published in 2004 by his assistant Thomas Barnett“all of the Greater Middle East must be destroyed except for Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.“(6)

The previous US Army officer and historian, Andrew Bacevich, in his book, “America’s War for the Greater Middle East” (2016), states that

“… this region is the theatre for a series of conflicts dating back to 1980, which heralded the start of the Iran-Iraq war.”

While the statement is true at face value, its absence of context is a glaring omission, rendering the meaning obscure, at best.  There’s no trace in that statement of the US’ leading role in instigating the Iraq’s war against Iran and its wide ranging and unconditional support to Saddam Hussein, even as he was using chemical weapons and other inhuman means and methods of warfare against Iran. Equally glaring is the absence of any reference to the US’ responsibility for the “series of conflicts” in the region to the present time.

“Since then”, Professor Bacevich continues, “the US has been involved in balancing conflicts amongst these culturally interconnected nations in order to further its interests in the region.”

It is clear that the purpose of the US’ involvement far from ‘resolving’ any conflicts amongst the nations or the promotion of democracy, has been “balancing” or exploiting the existing fault lines and conflicts and even fabricating new ones to further its own hegemonic interests in the region.

Unfortunately, this had been the abysmal level of responsibility of a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the highest body responsible for ensuring international peace and security, claiming legitimacy and competence for leading the world to ‘peace and prosperity’.

George W. Bush

In George W Bush’s vision, the Greater Middle East Initiative was “a strategy aimed at exporting the American democratic model to the Arab-Islamic world and redefining borders and nations in tune with America’s geopolitical ambitions.” (7) The initiative was devised mainly to bring the emerging tide of terrorism (8), which was increasingly getting out of US control, especially in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, back under its control. As usual, this happened at the expense of the security and prosperity of the Middle Eastern nations. Firstly, since the “American democratic model” was to be militarily enforced, it inevitably led to massive violence and destruction; and secondly, if the initiative ever ‘succeeded’, it would emerge over the ruins of the nations’ most valuable assets -their national sovereignty, identity, independence, and national and regional cohesion and unity.

As a consequence of this ‘democracy’ initiative, Lebanon was invaded by Israel in 2006, mainly with the objective of crushing the Islamic resistance, led by the Lebanese Hezbollah, against Zionist incursions and destabilizing efforts. With the embarrassing defeat of the Israeli military again, after its defeats in 1985 and 2000 by Hezbollah pushing the Israeli army out of Lebanon, Libya and then Syria became the targets of  US/Israeli ‘democracy’ agenda.

Soon after NATO’s attack on Libya, the wealthiest nation in Africa, and the brutal overthrow of Qadafi in 2011, Syria’s democratic government was subjected to US/Israeli agenda of regime change, destabilization and geographical disintegration.  Supported by their NATO and Middle Eastern allies, recruiting, funding, arming and training armies of extremist jihadist and mercenaries from across the globe, Syria was turned into a blood bath, under the banner of ‘democratic revolution’.  The fate of the Iraqi nation, caught in a vicious engineered sectarian war from which ISIS emerged, was no better than their Syrian neighbors.

In 2004, US aborted the Paris Agreement, related to Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, reached in negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The US act disrupted the prospects of constructive political and economic co-operations between Iran and the European Troika, which was taking root in a progressive manner. The US action, rather, lead to nearly a decade of increasing sanctions against Iran, US-supported terrorist attacks against Iranian scientists, and the specter of another out-break of war looming over Iran and the Middle East region. Now, with another US President completely under the spell of the Neocons, again a nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, hard won through pain-staking negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, in which the Obama Administration played a leading role, is subject to seriously destructive US threats, in a world bent on another world war.

In 2015, with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria burning, Yemen became the target of inhumane blockade and bombardment by Saudi Arabia’s coalition with the arming and active participation of the US and the UK in the war room, bombing Yemenis towns and infrastructure whilst blockading urgently needed humanitarian supplies of medication, food and other life-saving essentials, affecting 20 million people.

The US’s‘democratic’ Initiative is intended to transform the borders and nations of the Middle East, in line with the Greater Middle East project, to subordinate entities with narrow cultural identity and diminished self-esteem – that is, populations who would be alienated from themselves and from each other – at the service of the US Empire, itself subservient to Zionist expansionist dreams. It would not be difficult then, in the words of Gilbert Acchar,

to strengthen US’ grip on Middle Eastern oil wealth and markets and extend its network of military bases and facilities, all in the name of democratisation.”(9)

The Greater Israel Plan

Israeli Oded Yinon plan for the formation of “Greater Israel” (1982) has important similarities to the Neocon’s plan for the Middle East.  As described by Israel Shahak and Prof Michael Chssudovsky in “Greater Israel: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East, (January 2018) (10), it

“constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government, the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.”

 The two plans are basically overlapping. The Greater Israel project, however, is a more blunt version of the Neocon Greater Middle East plan.  For instance, it openly calls for the fragmentation of the regional states, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi-Arabia; moving Israel’s capital to Jerusalem (Qods); forcing Palestinians out of what is left of their homeland in the West Bank and Gaza; etc.

Fading of the US Empire

The current US position, especially with regard to the Middle East, is more ludicrous than ever before. In the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump, accused his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as the “co-founder” of ISIS, arguably the most notorious terrorist group in recent history, and Obama, the sitting president, as “the founder” (11). Now, however, with Trump himself in office, with his startlingly shameless hallmark of self-contradiction, he continues, to provide support to IS. The US is currently re-arming and re-organizing IS, following the terrorist group’s heavy military losses and the subsequent downfall of its self-proclaimed government in Iraq and Syria.

The IS terrorists’ loss of captured territory and their  crushing defeat in November 2017, at the hands of the powerful regional Axis of Resistance, comprising Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran, with Russian support, was indeed a Zio-Neocon defeat. However, with the continued strong support IS and other terrorist groups receive from the US and its allies, the people in the Middle East and beyond are faced with the horrors of violent waves of terrorist attacks, for the foreseeable future, for which the US is directly responsible. Of course, Iran and other members of the Axis of Resistance would not allow the re-grouping and re-emergence of IS, as a viable force.  But, despite the eradication of ISIS which was the US’s stated excuse for being in Syria,  the Trump administration has announced its intention to stay in Syria indefinitely (12) to stop the “re-emergence” of ISIS and to counter the “strategic threat from Iran” (13).  Therefore, as with previous US administrations, Trump administration continues to waste billions of the US tax-payers’ money, and countless lives including those of US Service men and ordinary citizens, in pursuit of its dream of global domination.

US’s brutal and lawless adventurism based on delusions of exceptionalism, greed, gross injustice, deceitfulness, coercion and violence – militarily or otherwise – and its illegitimate grip on resources in the Middle East, would not last. The people in the region are, more than ever before, awakened and angry with the destabilizing role of the US and her allies in the Middle East. This awareness is increasingly shared by the global population, including many European and US citizens, who consider the US global lawlessness as a mortal threat to international peace and security and view their prospects and that of future generations, with a sense of foreboding and dread.

The Need to Strengthen the Resistance

It is very unlikely that the Neocon-led US Administration would change course, with or without Trump. Hence, the reemergence of Daesh or Daesh-like US-sponsored violent terrorist groups (14), in the region, are very likely.  It is, therefore, vital for the regional and global peace and security, that the Axis of Resistance, with its proven capabilities, is preserved, supported, strengthened and expanded.

The Axis of Resistance is essential, not only to stamp down on regional terrorism, but also in view of the presently dominant militaristic approach and the unprecedented unpredictability of the US government, increasing the likelihood  of lengthy future military confrontations with Zio-Neocon forces, and/or their proxies. To compel Washington and its allies to understand the futility and the unacceptably high costs of their military approach to the Middle East, unity and cooperation within and among the current regional Axis of Resistance and its powerful allies – Russia and China – have to be further expanded and deepened.   The Axis of Resistance need to regionally and globally expand and strengthen.

The time has long passed when the US or its Zionist client/master could invade and occupy peaceful states in the Middle East, with impunity.  Since early 1980s, when the US and Israeli occupying forces were pushed out of Lebanon, – the first time the Israeli forces were pushed out of an Arab land – the precious invincibility myth of the Israeli military cracked and fell into pieces by the courage and determination of the newly founded Lebanese Hezbollah forces.  Inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and in view of the repeated defeats in recent decades borne by the US and Israel in their military aggressions in the Middle East, from the resistance in  Gaza, to  Syria, to Iraq, to Yemen,  to  Lebanon, the invincibility myth is now unraveled and buried under the feet of the regional Resistance.

Nevertheless, for the regional resistance to be enduring and most effective in its arduous and unequal struggle against the Zio-Neocon forces, it has to be truly united, in all its layers, encompassing not only the states and armies, but within and between the populations of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.  The enemy is extremely violent. Thus, the struggle is both hard and unequal.

The Importance of National and Regional Unity

Therefore, unity, both within the Resistance and the populations it emanates from is essential. However, this requires insightful leaderships, able to understand the pressing economic and social needs and problems of the populations. An enduring resistance is born out of the determination to defend and preserve that which is worth defending and preserving. It is rooted in the sense of belonging, trust, justice and hope for the future. An insightful leadership should be able to devise socially just and effective solutions to lighten – make bearable – the sufferings of the population whose unity, sacrifice, and resistance it seeks, and to aim to ameliorate their sufferings and legitimate social and economic grievances as its domestic priority.

This requires wide-ranging consultations to hear all voices and people’s prevailing grievances, protests and opposing views. Social justice and the rule of law, progressively implemented at all social levels, starting with and with particular focus on those at the lower ranks of society, and the reduction in economic and social inequality, should become a norm and a priority, as should be leadership and representatives accountability to the public. Equally important is the role of free and responsible media to bring transparency and dialogue to public debate.  All these measures and their strengthening help generate and maintain people’s confidence in their governments and their enduring and strong standing in support of the resistance to Zio-imperialist military threats and destabilization plots.

This would create a greater prospect for expanding the resistance regionally and globally and would attract the world’s public opinion, particularly in the West – where the Zio-imperialist war propaganda is powerful and ubiquitous – in support of the resistance.  This would help synergize global unity in resistance to Zio-Neocon’s wars and destabilization attempts, starting in the Middle East, and expanding to pave the way to the possibility of regional and global peace, security, social justice and prosperity for all.

*

Dr. Farhad Shahabi is a senior specialist in international relations and disarmament in Iran.

Notes

1) America Persistently Seeks to Destabilize Iran and Undermine Tehran’s Regional Influence in the Middle East, Global Research, January 10, 2018   https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-persistently-seeks-to-destabilize-iran-and-undermine-tehrans-regional-influence-in-the-middle-east/5625541/

2) ‘Neocon 101: What do Neoconservatives Believe?  Some basic questions answered’ Global Research, November 12, 2015, Christian Science Monitor 7 August 2007: “Neocons” believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world.”

https://www.globalresearch.ca/neocon-101-what-do-neoconservatives-believe/6483/

3) REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES  – Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, A Report ofThe Project for the New American Century September 2000 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

4) ‘The New U.S. Proposal for a Greater Middle East Initiative: An Evaluation’, Tamara CofmanWittes,  Brookings Institute, May 10, 2004,

https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-new-u-s-proposal-for-a-greater-middle-east-initiative-an-evaluation/

5) ‘What Ever Happened to Bush’s Greater Middle East Initiative’, Catherine Shakdam, Mint Press News, Nov. 5th, 2014

http://www.mintpressnews.com/ever-happened-bushs-greater-middle-east-initiative/198496/

6) After the ISIS Caliphate, Rojava’ Thierry Meyssan, Global Research, September19, 2017

https://www.globalresearch.ca/after-the-isis-caliphate-rojava/5610383/

7) ‘What Ever Happened to Bush’s Greater Middle East Initiative’, Catherine Shakdam, Mint Press News, Nov. 5th, 2014

http://www.mintpressnews.com/ever-happened-bushs-greater-middle-east-initiative/198496/

8) ‘Terrorists or “Freedom Fighters”? Recruited by the CIA’ Professor John Ryan,Global Research, Dec 20, 2015

https://www.globalresearch.ca/terrorists-or-freedom-fighters-recruited-by-the…/5429766/

9) ‘Greater Middle East: the US plan’, Gilbert Achcar, Le Monde diplomatique, Apr. 2004https://mondediplo.com/2004/04/04world

10) “Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East,The Infamous  “Oded Yinon Plan”, Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky, Dec. 8th, 2017,

https://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815

11) Donald Trump calls Barak Obama ‘founder of ISIS’ and Hilary Clinton its co-founder, The Independent, August 11, 2016

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-barack-obama-isis-latest-speech-terrorism-claims-election-2016-a7184536.html

12) Donald Trump calls Barak Obama ‘founder of ISIS’ and Hilary Clinton its co-founder, The Independent, August 11, 2016

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/18/578800229/tillerson-says-u-s-to-stay-in-syria-indefinitely

13) US troops will stay in Syria to counter strategic threat from Iran, Washington Post, January 17, 2018

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/us-troops-will-stay-in-syria-to-counter-strategic-threat-from-iran/2018/01/17/eeed9d16-fb8f-11e7-9b5d-bbf0da31214d_story.html?utm_term=.995412d8279e

14) “Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project? Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 12 September 2014

Posted in Middle East, USA, IranComments Off on US Destabilization Plan for Iran and the Middle East, and the Need to Strengthen the Resistance

US Planning to Disintegrate Syria, Not Fighting ISIS

NOVANEWS

United States troops are continuing their presence in Syria even after its promise to end the mission after their alleged anti-ISIS mission, and this is a pointer to the ultimate intention of the US, which is to disintegrate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat ISIS and the terrorists,” Lavrov said.

Regarding pledges to keep a limited military contingent in the war-town state, Lavrov says the US is not being open about their true objectives.

“Now [the Americans] are saying that they will keep their presence till they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change,” the minister said during a conference in Sochi.

The foreign minister claimed there are “plans of virtual division of Syria.”

“We know of [them] and we will ask our American colleagues, how they are seeing [Syria’s division].”

The US has nearly 2,000 troops currently stationed in Syria. In December, the Pentagon announced the troops will remain on the ground for as long as needed “to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later reiterated the plan.

Although the Syrian government regards the deployment of US troops on its sovereign territory as illegal, Washington claims the troops are reportedly fighting ISIS terrorists.

Moscow, which operates in the country on the Syrian government’s request, insists that the US has no grounds to have a military presence in the country without the permission of the Syrian government.

Washington has also been arming and funding various groups under the banners of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“The US, flirting with various segments of Syrian society that oppose the government with arms in their hands, may lead to very dangerous consequences,” Lavrov warned.


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Posted in USA, Russia, SyriaComments Off on US Planning to Disintegrate Syria, Not Fighting ISIS

The ‘Human Rights’ War on Syria

The perfidious role of ‘human rights’ organizations in the war on Syria has been exposed again with the Amnesty International report on Syria for 2017/18, followed by an equally tendentious article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ newspaper by Claire Mallinson, Amnesty’s national director for Australia.

In the name of human rights these organizations have actually worsened the crisis in Syria. They have never dealt honestly with its primary cause, the determination of the US and its allies seven years ago to destroy the government in Damascus, as part of a bigger plan to destroy the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic axis across the Middle East. Democracy, human rights and the best interests of the Syrian people were never on the agenda of these governments. They were cold-blooded and remorseless in what they wanted and the means by which they sought to get it.

By calling violent armed groups ‘rebels’ and ‘the opposition’, these ‘human rights’ organizations conceal their true nature. By calling the Syrian government a ‘regime’, instead of the legitimate government of Syria, representing Syria at the UN and representing the interests of the Syrian people, they seek to demean it. By accusing it of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on its own civilian population, on the basis of what they are being told by their tainted sources, they seek to demonize it. By accusing it of carrying out chemical weapons attacks, without having any proof, they perpetuate the lies and fabrications of the armed groups and the governments that support them.

Behind the mask of ‘human rights’ these organizations are promoting the war agenda of western and regional governments. Some are worse than others. Human Rights Watch might as well be a formal annex of the US State Department, but they all play the same duplicitous game.

East Aleppo is the template for what we are seeing now in the outrage over East Ghouta, the district on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of thousands of people are being held hostage by takfiri armed groups. Aleppo was infiltrated by these groups in 2012 and the eastern sector of the city gradually taken over, as the army was already too hard-pressed on other fronts to stop this happening. Until then Aleppo, a commercial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic city, had managed to stay out of the war but now it was sucked right in. There was nil support in Aleppo for the takfiris but they had the guns and they were ready to kill to get their way. Advancing on government held positions, they devastated the old centre of the city with their attacks. Digging tunnels, they blew up some of its most famous buildings. Art architecture, history, meant nothing to them. They destroyed the square minaret of the Umayyad mosque and their attacks led to the destruction of the ancient library in the mosque and the massive destruction of the Aleppo souk, one of the oldest and most colourful markets in the world.

White Helmets (Source: The Unz Review)

In the districts they controlled they ruled by terror, massacre and murder and the institution of the most repressive sharia laws. Under the secular Syrian government, women and men have the same rights before the law, under the takfiris women have no rights that are not granted to them by men. They sought the extirpation of all those they did not regard as true Muslims (Shia and Alawi amongst others): one of their earliest acts was the kidnapping of two orthodox Christian prelates, never seen alive again. It was these armed groups and the foreign governments behind them that were responsible for the dire situation in #East Aleppo, yet it was the Syrian government, the ‘regime’ as they chose to call it, that was blamed by the media and ‘human rights’ organizations. The White Helmets, embedded with these groups, and funded by the same governments which had armed and financed them, were used as the main propaganda prop. Their staged rescues filled the pages of the corporate media. They were effectively canonised by George Clooney, the documentary on their bogus bravery and sham rescues winning an Oscar award, unfortunately not for bad acting, which should have been the prize.

As the Syrian military, with Russian air support, began to squeeze these groups in East Aleppo, the propaganda was turned up accordingly. The ‘siege’ of East Aleppo was no more a siege than the ‘siege’ of East Ghouta. The people trapped in East Aleppo were being held hostage, as are the people in East Ghouta, by some of the most violent groups on the face of the earth. These trapped civilians were their trump card. Those who tried to leave, they killed, just as the takfiris are killing civilians trying to get out of East Ghouta. Having negotiated the peaceful removal of the takfiris from East Aleppo, along with their families and camp followers, the fall-back position of the media and the ‘human rights’ organizations was to accuse the Syrian government of their forcible displacement. They made no mention of the captive Syrian soldiers whom the takfiris paused to massacre before they left. They made no mention of the civilians killed by the takfiris as they were trying to escape and no mention of the dancing in the streets, literally, by the people of Aleppo, and the honking of car horns in jubilation, as these killers were sent on their way. This just didn’t fit in with the narrative the media and these organizations had been spinning.

The takfiris fight among themselves over territory, power and money but their ideology is the same, based on the destruction of the secular state and society and the imposition of a harsh pseudo-Islamic regime in which women would be reduced to the status of cattle and all Shia and Alawi extirpated. It is they who target civilians deliberately. In Adra, at the Northern end of Ghouta, they slaughtered dozens of men, women and children in 2013, beheading some and pushing others into a bread oven. In 2015, in Douma, they put men and women into cages as hostages, to deter possible advances by the Syrian army. They are shelling the centre of Damascus every day, killing civilians, including many children, including some recently mortared in their classroom.

In its report on Syria for 2017/18 Amnesty International (AI) continues its misleading narrative on the fate of East Aleppo and east Ghouta. Those who support it financially should perhaps be considering where they could put their money and their good intentions to better use. AI refers to districts in east Ghouta controlled or ‘contested’ by unspecified ‘armed opposition groups’ and repeats the canard that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack on Khan Shaikhun in April last year. (Bear in mind the recent statement of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that the US had no evidence of the Syrian government using sarin, the agent allegedly fired into Khan Shaikhun.) AI has no proof of this, so why would it state this as fact, except to do more propaganda damage to the Syrian government?

AI refers to 400,000 people ‘besieged’ in East Ghouta by the Syrian military, when the true state of affairs is that their districts have been infiltrated and that they are being held hostage by extremely violent armed groups. They are besieged from within by these groups, penned in and unable to leave except at the risk of being killed by their captors. The Syrian army is not imposing a siege, it is trying to break it. The Syrian government is accused of depriving these people of access to medical care and basic necessities, when it is one or another of these armed groups, over the years, that has caused the breakdown of efforts to set up humanitarian corridors. Even now the Syrian government is waiting with medical care, buses and accommodation but those civilians who try to leave are being shot at and killed, as they were in East Aleppo.

AI’s references to ‘forced displacement’ from East Aleppo, and the way the ‘armed groups’ there were ‘compelled’ to surrender and negotiate a deal that ended the ‘unlawful siege’ are a grotesque distortion of reality. What was unlawful about the situation in East Aleppo was the presence of the armed groups, what was unlawful was the money and weapons being provided to them by outside governments, in breach of international law, what was unlawful was their killing of civilians and the restriction of their free movement (out of East Aleppo), what was lawful was the finally successful attempt of the government of Syria to break the hold of these groups.

Following the release of the AI report on Syria, Claire Mallinson, the national director of AI for Australia, charged into print under the heading of Australians Need to Act on Syrian Monstrosities (the Melbourne Age, March 1, 2018). Her reading audience would already have been won over as the Australian media has not reported the war in Syria at all but simply pumped out the same propaganda appearing in the US or British press. Others watching Syria closely over the years know what these ‘monstrosities’ are, and they are not the same as Ms Mallinson’s.

These monstrosities begin with the conspiracy, of the US, Britain, France and their regional Middle Eastern allies, to destroy the Syrian government, and thus strike a deadly blow at the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic alliance, whatever the cost to the Syrian people and whatever their aspirations. They move on to the use by these governments of takfiri proxies to do their dirty work in Syria, following the refusal of Russia and China to allow the UN Security Council to be used as the fig leaf for an air war. These governments armed and financed these groups. They did not care who they were, where they came from and what they believed as long as they were prepared to pick up a gun and bring Syria to its knees. These are the master criminals in Syria.

The monstrosities include a media picking up where it had left off in Iraq. It had peddled the lies there, it had peddled them in Libya, it peddled them again in Syria and it is still peddling them. They include the illegal presence of the US in Syria, its killing of Syrian civilians and its attacks on the legitimate armed forces of the Syrian government and people, attacks in which Australian aircraft have shamefully taken part and which have taken scores of lives of Syrian soldiers.

All of this has led to the grand monstrosity, the large-scale destruction of Syria, involving the loss of life of perhaps 400,000 people and the flight of millions of others beyond Syria’s borders. But now the same governments and the same media that brought you this war, and the same ‘human rights’ organizations that have supported it with their one-sided moralising and unbalanced reports, are expressing their outrage at the suffering in East Ghouta, as if this had nothing to do with them.

The monstrosities in the eyes of the Syrian people, if not in the eyes of Ms Mallinson, are on a par with, if not worse than, the genocidal decade of sanctions which preceded the attack on Iraq in 2003 and the crimes which followed this attack, committed by the same governments that are responsible for the onslaught on Syria. The suffering in East Ghouta is terrible and outrage is justified, but it is the causes that need to be identified and they do not include the efforts of the Syrian government and army to defend the country against attack fomented from without.

Ms Mallinson’s monstrosities are of a different order. They include the chemical weapons ‘reportedly’ being used ‘again’ by the Syrian government against its own people. This smear has been played out time and time again by ‘activists’ knowing that the media and ‘human rights’ organizations will snap it up. There is no proof of any chemical weapon attack ever being carried out by the Syrian military, as against abundant evidence of such attacks planned and carried out by the takfiris over the years, including the attack around Damascus in August, 2013.

Ms Mallinson refers to a UN report that Syria is developing chemical weapons ‘with the help of North Korea’, neatly tying in the two demonized targets of the US government. This is another canard, originating in Washington and designed again to smear the Syrian government and to set it up for whatever might come next.

What she does not say is that this ‘report’ remains unpublished, that the authors are unknown, that what we know of it comes from an account in the New York Times, which sold the lies on Iraq and has promoted the war on Syria from the beginning. The detail it gives of the material allegedly coming from North Korea indicates that it could have no possible connection with chemical weapons, which Syria does not have anyway, having given them all up under international supervision. Given the completely tendentious nature of this account, why would Ms Mallinson want to raise it except to further blacken the name of the Syrian government?

She refers to the ‘warring sides’ in East Ghouta as if both are legitimate when only one is, the government of Syria. The other is a collective of extremely violent armed groups sponsored by outside governments, in breach of international law. The presence of US and ‘coalition’ forces in Syria is a standing violation of international law and their killing of Syrian soldiers and civilians a gross aggravated violation of that law. The only legitimate armed forces in Syria are the Syrian army, which has lost tens of thousands of young men defending the country, and those forces the government has invited in, from Russian air power to Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces.

Ms Mallinson’s monstrosities include the hundreds of thousands of ‘ordinary men, women and children’ she says are at risk of annihilation by the Syrian army’s ‘siege’ of East Ghouta. In fact, the central source of the risk to the people of East Ghouta is not the Syrian government but the armed groups holding them hostage. The ‘siege’ is not of the people but of these groups. The Syrian military is trying to break their grip, as any army would in any comparable situation.   Ms Mallinson accuses ‘the Russian-backed Syrian regime’ of breaking the ceasefire, ignoring the evidence that the takfiris are breaking it and killing civilians attempting to escape their grip. Only in the past few days they shot at a family trying to leave, killing the parents and shooting at the children even after they reached a Syrian army checkpoint. They are pouring shells into the centre of Damascus every day. There are no references in her account to the ‘American-backed’ or ‘Saudi-backed’ armed groups that have created this hell on earth, as she refers to it.

Finally, she appeals to the Australian government, as it assumes its seat on the UN Human Rights Council, to ‘show leadership’ in bringing these ‘abominations’ to an end. The problem here is that the Australian government is part of the problem. It fully supports US policy in Syria and has taken part in armed action in Syria, in violation of international law. In September, 2016, its aircraft joined a US-led air attack near Deir al Zor which killed perhaps 100 Syrian soldiers and allowed the Islamic State to regain lost positions. Australia did not apologise for its participation in this outrage, only repeating the US line that the attack was a mistake, which clearly it was not.  When the Australian delegate did take his seat on the UN Human Rights Council, he merely echoed US policy, by attacking the Syrian ‘regime’ and its Russian backer.

If Australia does have a role in Syria, a moral role, a legal role, an independent role, it should not be as a sounding chamber for the US. It should distance itself from the illegal actions of the US and the violence of the takfiris against the Syrian people, their government and their army. It should be supporting the attempts of the government in Damascus to restore its authority over the whole of Syria and not supporting the attempts of the US and behind it, Israel, to break it up. It should support the Syrian people, not the actions of governments which have devastated their country.

It should define policy on the basis of the causes of the situation in Syria, not how they are being misrepresented in the media, by ‘activists’ embedded with the takfiri groups, by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, by the White Helmets and by deluded or wilfully dishonest ‘human rights’ organizations playing politics, not serving truth, justice and the interests of humanity. This would be a credible role for Australia, an independent role, but it is not one the government is going to adopt.

Everyone should be concerned at the loss of life in East Ghouta. Ms Mallinson does not have a mortgage on morality and empathy with human suffering. How does anyone think Syrians feel about this, Syrians shelled in the heart of Damascus every day, Syrians who have lost fathers, brothers and sons in this conflict, Syrians whose relatives are trapped in East Ghouta or have been killed by the armed gangs holding the whole region with a knife to its throat? Does anyone outside seriously think Syrians want to live under their rule? Syrians know what they want, without equivocation, the purging of these gangs from their midst, whatever it takes. They fully support their army and their government. It is their interests Australians, or anyone else of good faith, should be supporting, not the highly politicized interests of Amnesty International.

Outrage is going to solve nothing: it only serves as the pretext for taking the war to a new level of destruction. The roots of this violence are clear: the decision of outside powers to destroy the Syrian government, their support for violent armed groups committed to an ideology destructive of every value these governments are supposed to represent and their refusal to allow the war to end. For the violence to end these are the roots that need to be acknowledged and torn out.

Posted in Human Rights, SyriaComments Off on The ‘Human Rights’ War on Syria


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