Archive | June 29th, 2018

Europe Races to Save Iran Deal, But Does The U.S. Hold All the Cards?

NOVANEWS
DALE SPRUSANSKY

(L-r) EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the ministers of the three European signatories to the JCPOA–2014 French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson–2014 prior to a May 15 meeting of the EU/E3 and Iran at EU headquarters in Brussels. (YVES HERMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July 2018, pp. 20-21

Special Report

By Dale Sprusansky

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S May 8 decision to violate the multilateral Iran nuclear deal by announcing plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran has left Washington’s European allies scrambling to salvage the agreement. In the weeks following Trump’s announcement, European leaders have attempted to convince Tehran that it will continue to see the economic benefits promised in the deal—but it’s not clear that Europe will be able to deliver on this promise.

As part of its plan to place, in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime,” the Trump administration announced its intent to exploit U.S. dominance over the global financial market by deploying secondary sanctions designed to punish international corporations that do business with Iran. Herein lies the problem for Europe: its major corporations are heavily reliant on access to the U.S. dollar and the large American market, and are thus unlikely to challenge U.S. sanctions, even if the European Union enacts legislation to shield companies from secondary sanctions.

“The reality is that the reputational and the commercial risk of infringing on U.S. policy interests in Iran, for most companies, are not going to be worth the price of admission,” David Mortlock, former State Department deputy coordinator for sanctions policy, told an audience at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on May 14. The U.S. has given companies notice that sanctions will be fully reimposed within six months. “I think that the reality is that what we’ll see from companies over the next six months is a pretty rapid winding down and respect for what those sanctions are,” Mortlock said.

Major European companies already have announced plans to withdraw from Iran. French energy giant Total, which signed a billion-dollar deal to develop a gas field in Iran, announced that it intends to abandon the project. “Total has always been clear that it cannot afford to be exposed to any secondary sanction, which might include the loss of financing in dollars by U.S. banks for its worldwide operations,” the company said in a statement. Total said it will seek a waiver from Washington to continue the project, but it’s not clear if the Trump administration will be willing to grant significant exemptions.

The announcement by Total and other corporations came as the EU said it is considering a so-called blocking regulation that would prohibit EU companies from complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran. While such a regulation would send a strong message to Washington, independent experts and EU officials alike concede that such a measure would have a limited impact, given the exposure of large European companies to the U.S. market and U.S. banks. “Indeed, the EU blocking regulation could be of limited effectiveness, given the international nature of the banking system and especially the exposure of large systemic banks to the U.S. financial system and U.S. dollar transactions,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told the European Parliament in May.

Writing on the Atlantic Council’s blog on May 21, Brian
O’Toole, a former Treasury Department official who worked on economic sanctions, speculated that Europe could use the threat of the blocking regulation as a negotiating tool to get the U.S. to grant some exceptions to the sanctions. “Ultimately, [Europe] may well prefer to use the threat of such a regulation as leverage for getting a reasonable accommodation on oil or individualized accommodations,” he wrote.

The blocking regulation could also incentivize smaller European companies without U.S. exposure to remain in the Iranian market. “What this measure could do is…encourage investment by smaller companies and smaller banks to keep some economic activity going with Iran,” Axel Hellman, a policy fellow at the European Leadership Network, said at the Atlantic Council event. “I think the hope among policy makers in Europe is that this will be enough to tell Iran ‘look you’re better off staying with the deal with us than you were under the sanctions regime.’”

It’s unlikely, however, that this reduced level of commerce will satisfy Tehran, which prior to Trump’s announcement expressed repeated displeasure with the economic dividends it was receiving from the nuclear deal. Iranian officials have made it clear that the onus is now on Europe to counteract any ill effects of U.S. sanctions. In a May 23 speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Europe must “explicitly stand up to the U.S. sanctions” and compensate Tehran for any loss in oil sales caused by the U.S. Failure to do so, he warned, would force the Islamic Republic to declare the deal dead and its terms non-binding.

President Trump has thus left Europe in an extremely precarious situation: comply with U.S. sanctions and risk the immediate and long-term consequences of tearing up a landmark arms control agreement, or sheepishly try and convince Iran to settle for the few economic rewards Europe can deliver due to U.S. pressure.

It’s no wonder that Trump’s decision has left European leadership fuming.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, took to Twitter on May 16 to rebuke the U.S. president. “Looking at latest decisions of Trump, someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies?” he wrote. “But frankly, EU should be grateful. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions. We realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.”

At the Atlantic Council event, a clearly agitated David O’Sullivan, EU’s ambassador to the U.S., expressed his “extreme disappointment and regret at where we now are.” Trump, he added, has “put us in a very difficult situation.”

Honoring A Commitment

O’Sullivan hit back at the oft-repeated notion that European dismay with the U.S. decision is based solely on the continent’s economic concerns. While Europe does value having access to the Iranian market, he said the EU’s primary concern is maintaining the legitimacy of the nuclear deal. “We Europeans believe that we are bound to continue to deliver on our commitment if we want Iran to stay in the deal,” he said. “We want the economic dividends of compliance to be felt by the people of Iran.”

He also noted the vital role the EU’s decision to support the nuclear sanctions played in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. “It was European sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the end,” he said. “We took some of the toughest economic hits.”

It’s also important to note that any war conjured up by the U.S., Israel and the Arab Gulf states in the wake of Washington’s violation would have a far more devastating impact on Europe than on the U.S. Already struggling to absorb refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, any such war would likely result in the arrival of another wave of desperate individuals that could further disrupt the continent’s tenuous social order and drain the resources of its humanitarian agencies. It’s also safe to assume that under President Trump the U.S. would be unwilling to accept many refugees from Iran.

Trump’s utter disregard for the opinions of allies who helped bring the deal to fruition was on display in late April, when French President Emmanuel Macron and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel used their visits to Washington to make a last-minute attempt to change the president’s mind. Instead of entering talks with an open mind, Trump used their visits to tease the revelation of his decision in the fashion of a reality television producer.

Despite his long-standing strong opposition to the Iran deal, Trump repeatedly failed to provide European leaders with a “Plan B” to the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). O’Sullivan said Europe is still waiting to hear Trump’s plan. “We do not see a credible, peaceful alternative to the JCPOA,” he said. “Frankly, the United States has not yet suggested a credible alternative…and we wait to hear what this administration thinks such a credible alternative could look like.”

Secretary of State Pompeo attempted to outline the administration’s new Iran policy on May 21 but, to the surprise of few, his speech was more of a demand for complete Iranian capitulation than the beginnings of a credible diplomatic process. Pompeo made 12 demands of Iran in his remarks, among them: the cessation of ballistic missile development, the withdrawal of troops from Syria, and the end of threats to countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Few if any credible observers of Iran believe the country would give in to such demands, especially after the U.S. demonstrated its unwillingness to abide by the 2015 deal.

The new secretary of state also conveniently and unsurprisingly failed to mention that, just a month earlier, he had testified before Congress that Iran was in compliance with the nuclear deal. This view is shared by independent international inspectors and every U.S. government agency.

Europe and the world now face a dilemma. Few would dispute that the U.S. has become a rogue state as it pertains to the JCPOA. At the same time, few would suggest that there is a clear path to sidestepping the global financial reach of the U.S. In the short term, it appears Europe will have to endure U.S. belligerence and work on the margins to mitigate the damage to the compliant state, Iran. Longer term, it is becoming increasingly apparent to observers from Brussels to Washington that, for the sake of global security, the U.S. can no longer be permitted to act as a bully whose power and resources shield it from serious reproach. Europe must begin imagining a world in which it is not beholden to the whims of the United States.


 

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The Scofield Bible—The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical Christians

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Christianity and the Middle East
By Maidhc Ó Cathail

“For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgement.”

cathail

—The New Scofield Study Bible

Since it was first published in 1909, the Scofield Reference Bible has made uncompromising Zionists out of tens of millions of Americans. When John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), said that “50 million evangelical bible-believing Christians unite with five million American Jews standing together on behalf of Israel,” it was the Scofield Bible that he was talking about.

Although the Scofield Reference Bible contains the text of the King James Authorized Version, it is not the traditional Protestant bible but Cyrus I. Scofield’s annotated commentary that is problematic. More than any other factor, it is Scofield’s notes that have induced generations of American evangelicals to believe that God demands their uncritical support for the modern State of Israel.

Blessing Israel, Cursing Its Critics

Central to Christian Zionist belief is Scofield’s commentary (italicized below) on Genesis 12:3: “‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ In fulfillment closely related to the next clause, ‘And curse him that curseth thee.’ Wonderfully fulfilled in the history of the dispersion. It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew—well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle.”

Drawing on Scofield’s rather tendentious interpretation, Hagee claims, “The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God.”

But as Stephen Sizer points out in his definitive critique, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More): “The promise, when referring to Abraham’s descendants, speaks of God blessing them, not of entire nations ‘blessing’ the Hebrew nation, still less the contemporary and secular State of Israel.”

Notwithstanding this more orthodox reading, The New Scofield Study Bible, published by Oxford University Press in 1984, intensified Scofield’s interpretation by adding, “For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgement.”

“Sustained by a dubious exegesis of selective biblical texts,” Sizer concludes, “Christian Zionism’s particular reading of history and contemporary events…sets Israel and the Jewish people apart from other peoples in the Middle East…it justifies the endemic racism intrinsic to Zionism, exacerbates tensions between Jews and Palestinians and undermines attempts to find a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, all because ‘the Bible tells them so.’”

The Incredible Scofield

In his 2008 book, The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State, Jonathan R. Adelman describes the crucial support Israel receives from Christian fundamentalists as “totally fortuitous.” That assertion is belied, however, by the incredible career of the man who wrote “the Bible of Fundamentalism.”

Two years after Scofield’s reported conversion to Christianity in 1879, the Atchison Patriot was less than impressed. Describing the former Atchison resident as the “late lawyer, politician and shyster generally,” the article went on to recount a few of Scofield’s “many malicious acts.” These included a series of forgeries in St. Louis, for which he was sentenced to six months in jail.

Being a “born again” preacher did not preclude Scofield from becoming a member of an exclusive New York men’s club in 1901, either. In his devastating biography, The Incredible Scofield and His Book, Joseph M. Canfield suggests, “The admission of Scofield to the Lotus Club, which could not have been sought by Scofield, strengthens the suspicion that has cropped up before, that someone was directing the career of C.I. Scofield.”

That someone, Canfield suspects, was associated with one of the club’s committee members, the Wall Street lawyer Samuel Untermeyer. As Canfield intimates, Scofield’s theology was “most helpful in getting Fundamentalist Christians to back the international interest in one of Untermeyer’s pet projects—the Zionist Movement.”

Others have been even more explicit about the nature of Scofield’s service to the Zionist agenda. In “Unjust War Theory: Christian Zionism and the Road to Jerusalem,” Prof. David W. Lutz writes, “Untermeyer used Scofield, a Kansas City lawyer with no formal training in theology, to inject Zionist ideas into American Protestantism. Untermeyer and other wealthy and influential Zionists whom he introduced to Scofield promoted and funded the latter’s career, including travel in Europe.”

On one of these European trips, Oxford University Press publisher Henry Frowde “expressed immediate interest” in Scofield’s project. According to a biography of Frowde, although the OUP publisher was “[n]ot demonstrative in his religious views, all his Christian life he was associated with brethren known as ‘Exclusive.’” The “Exclusive Brethren” refers to the group of Christian evangelicals that, in an 1848 split in the Plymouth Brethren, followed John Nelson Darby, the Anglo-Irish missionary generally considered to have been the most influential figure in the development of Christian Zionism, and a major influence on Scofield.

Scofield’s Legacy

Had the Scofield Bible never been published, American presidents influenced by Christian Zionism such as Truman, Johnson, Reagan and George W. Bush might have been less sympathetic to Israeli demands, and consequently more attentive to U.S. interests. Moreover, the American people could have been spared the pseudo-Christian rants of John Hagee, Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, not to mention the lucrative End Times Rapture “prophecy” peddled by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

But it is the people of the Middle East who have been most affected by an expansionist Israel emboldened by the unswerving allegiance of Christian Zionists led to believe that Scofield’s words are God’s will. Not least among the many victims of the Scofield Bible are 5 million Palestinian refugees whose right to return is fervently opposed by America’s Zionized Christians. Thanks to their indoctrination by Scofield’s unholy book, they believe that Palestine belongs not to the Palestinians—many of whom are fellow Christians—but exclusively to “God’s chosen people.”


 

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Remembering Syria: Iran Struggles With Potentially Explosive Environmental Crisis

NOVANEWS
JAMES DORSEY

An Iranian woman and her daughter walk past an abandoned boat at the Hamoon wetland in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan, Feb. 2, 2015. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

By James M. Dorsey

Iranian leaders are struggling, months after anti-government protests swept the Islamic Republic in late December and January, to ensure that environmental issues that helped spark a popular uprising in Syria in 2011 leading to a brutal civil war don’t threaten the clergy’s grip on power.

Like Syria, Iran has been confronting a drought that has affected much of the country for more than a decade, with precipitation dropping to its lowest level in half a century. Environmental concerns have figured prominently in protests in recent years, often in regions populated by ethnic minorities like Azeris, and Iranian Arabs.

Unrest among ethnic minorities, who account for almost half of Iran’s population, takes on added significance with Iran fearing Saudi Arabia’s activist crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and the Trump administration’s antipathy toward the Islamic Republic bolstered by the appointment of a hard-liner, John Bolton, as the president’s national security adviser.

Mr. Bolton has called for regime change in Iran, aligning himself with a controversial exile opposition group, while Prince Mohammed is believed to have tacitly endorsed thinking about stirring unrest among Iran’s ethnic minorities even if he has yet to decide whether to adopt subversion as a policy.

Iran has repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia in the past year of supplying weapons and explosives to restive groups like the Baloch and the Kurds.

Yet, concern about environmental degradation and its potential political fallout goes beyond fear that it could facilitate interference by external powers. Demonstrators in the province of Isfahan clashed with security forces after they took to the streets in March to protest water shortages. The protest occurred some three months after Iran was wracked by weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

The protest was the latest in a series of expressions of discontent. Anger at plans in 2013 to divert water from Isfahan province sparked clashes with police. The Isfahan Chamber of Commerce reported a year later that the drying out of the Zayandeh-Rud river basin had deprived some 2 million farmers, or 40 percent of the local population in the Zayandeh-Rud basin, of their income.

“Over 90 percent of [Iran’s] population and economic production are located in areas of high or very high water stress. This is two to three times the global average in percentage terms, and, in absolute numbers, it represents more people and more production at risk than any other country in the Middle East and North Africa,” Al-Monitor quoted Claudia Sadoff, director general of the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute, as saying.

A panel of retired U.S. military officers noted in December that “since the 1979 revolution, the per capita quantity of Iran’s renewable water supplies has dropped by more than half, to a level commonly associated with the benchmark for water stress. Even more troubling, in large swaths of the country, demand for fresh water exceeds supply a third of the year. Fourteen years of drought have contributed to the problem, as has poor resource management, including inefficient irrigation techniques, decentralized water management, subsidies for water-intensive crops like wheat, and dam building. As a result, parts of the country are experiencing unrest related to water stress.”

By identifying water as one of the country’s foremost problems, the government recognized that mismanagement leading to acute water shortages risks becoming a symbol of its inability to efficiently deliver public goods and services.

The government has sought to tackle the issue by promoting reduced water consumption and water conservation, halting construction of dams, combatting evaporation by building underground water distribution networks, introducing water meters in agriculture, encouraging farmers to opt for less water-intensive crops, multiplying the number of treatment plants, and looking at desalination as a way of increasing supply.

With agriculture the main culprit in Iran’s inefficient use of water, Iranian officials fear that the crisis will accelerate migration from the countryside to urban centers incapable of catering to the migrants and, in turn, increase popular discontent.

A U.S. study suggested in 2015 that decades of unsustainable agricultural policies in Syria; drought in the northeastern agricultural heartland of the country; economic reforms that eliminated food and fuel subsidies; significant population growth; and failure to adopt policies that mitigate climate change exacerbated grievances about unemployment, corruption and inequality that exploded in 2011 in anti-government protests in Syria.

The Syrian government’s determination to crush the protest rather than engage with the protesters sparked the country’s devastating war, currently the world’s deadliest conflict.

“We’re not arguing that the drought, or even human-induced climate change, caused the uprising. What we are saying is that the long-term trend, of less rainfall and warmer temperatures in the region, was a contributing factor, because it made the drought so much more severe,” said Colin Kelley, one the study’s authors.

“The uprising has…to do with the government’s failure to respond to the drought, and with broader feelings of discontent in rural areas, and the growing gap between rich and poor, and urban and rural areas during the 2000s, than with the drought itself,” added Middle East water expert Francesca de Chatel.

A Different Emphasis

Adopting a different emphasis, Ms. De Chatel argued that demonstrations in Syria, despite the drought, would not have erupted without the wave of protests that by then had already swept the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and subsequently toppled the leaders of Libya and Yemen.

She asserted further that the protest movement-turned-war in Syria would not “have persisted without input and support from organized groups in Syria who had been planning for this moment for years and certainly since before 2006 or the start of the drought.”

For Iranian leaders, the threat is real irrespective of the difference in emphasis between Mr. Kelley and Ms. De Chatel. Former Iranian Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari warned in 2015 that, left unresolved, the water crisis would force 50 million Iranians to migrate in the next 25 years.

In other words, the environmental crisis that drives migration and unemployment and fuels discontent risks political upheaval. Similarly, multiple groups and external powers have for years contemplated regime change in Tehran.

The issues that were at the core of the initial protests in Syria in 2011—unemployment, corruption and inequality—were at the heart of Iranian anti-government demonstrations in December and January.

Despite a renewed focus on the water crisis, the government’s Achilles Heel could prove to be the fact that its response has included shooting the messenger who bears the bad news, as environmentalists increasingly find themselves in the firing line.

Authorities arrested in January Kavous Seyed-Emami, a dual Iranian-Canadian national who directed the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, and six other environmentalists. It asserted two weeks later that Mr. Seyed-Emami had committed suicide in jail after confessing to being a spy for the United States and Israel.

Three more environmentalists were arrested a month later, while Mr. Seyed-Emami’s wife was prevented from leaving Iran.

State TV subsequently reported that Mr. Seyed-Emami and his colleagues had told Iran’s enemies that the country could no longer maintain domestic agriculture production because of water shortages and needed to import food.

Said Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran-based economist and political analyst: “Public opinion has become sensitized to environmental issues. So the government may see the organizations and institutions who work on environmental issues as problematic.”

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USS LIBERTY ARCHIVE

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Why No Outrage Over US Killing of Children?

National outrage over President Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents as a way to deter illegal immigration into the United States has forced the president to abandon the policy. The outrage came from all sides of the political spectrum, especially from the left, and from the mainstream media.

Trump’s policy is obviously cruel and brutal, given that it uses children as pawns to achieve a political end. No matter how much psychological damage is inflicted on children owing to the fear that comes with forced separation, the idea is that such emotional damage is worth it given the aim of preventing or discouraging illegal immigration to the United States.

What’s strange, however, is that while there has been mass outrage over Trump’s separation policy, there is virtually no outrage over the U.S. government’s policy of killing children as a way to achieve the political goal of regime change in foreign countries.

Consider, for example, the brutal system of U.S. sanctions on Iraq, which the Clinton administration enforced during the 1990s. Year after year, it contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi children, especially since the sanctions prevented Iraq from repairing the water-and-sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had intentionally bombed during the Persian Gulf War.

What was the attitude of liberals and Democrats back then? They couldn’t care less. In fact, the position of the Clinton administration was summed up by the official U.S. government spokesperson to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, who was serving as U.S. Ambassador to the UN. When Sixty Minutes asked Albright whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were worth it, she responded that while the issue was a difficult one, yes, the deaths of those children were worth it.

What was “it”? Regime change, a political goal by the U.S. government wished to oust the Saddam Hussein regime from power and replace it with another pro-U.S. regime. (The Saddam Hussein regime and the U.S. government had been partners and allies during the 1980s when the U.S. government was helping Iraq wage war against Iran.) By killing children and others, the hope was that Saddam would abdicate, or that he would fall into line and comply with U.S. orders, or that there would be a violent revolution entailing massive death and destruction, or that there would be a military coup that would bring a pro-U.S. military dictator into power.

What was the response of the liberal-Democratic segment of society and of the U.S. mainstream media to the mass killing of those Iraqi children? Silence or, even worse, support! There was certainly nothing like the outrage being expressed against Trump’s separation policy, which causes one to wonder whether the reaction against Trump might be motivated by politics rather than by moral values. In other words, if it were Obama or Clinton doing what Trump is doing, would the response be different among progressives and the mainstream media?

Even when three high UN officials, Hans von Sponeck, Jutta Purghart, and Denis Haliday, resigned their posts out of a crisis of conscience over the deaths of Iraqi children that the Clinton administration was inflicting with its system of sanctions, that didn’t provoke any sympathetic reaction among liberals, progressives, or the U.S. mainstream press. When U.S. officials mocked and ridiculed the three of them, the American left and the U.S. mainstream press remained nonplussed.

A real-life hero in the Iraq sanctions saga was an American man named Bert Sacks. He decided to violate the sanctions by taking medicines into Iraq. U.S. officials went after him with a vengeance that bordered on the pathological and that gave new meaning to the term “banality of evil.” With the exception of newspapers in Seattle, where Sacks was from, most leftists and most mainstream newspapers failed to come to Sacks’ defense. To Sacks’s everlasting credit, he fought the Treasury Department’s $10,000 fine (plus another $6,000 in penalties) for around a decade, refusing to pay it and finally winning.

For that matter, consider the current brutal U.S. sanctions against North Korea, one of the most impoverished Third World countries in the world, one in which hundreds of thousands of people have died of starvation as a result of North Korea’s socialist economic system.

The U.S. sanctions are intended to make the starvation even worse. The U.S. government’s hope is that the sanctions will kill even more people and thereby accelerate the chances of regime change or a change in behavior among North Korea’s communist regime.

Ordinarily, the most vulnerable people in an impoverished society are the very young and the very old. Thus, they run the risk of bearing the brunt of sanctions, either from malnutrition or illness.

What is the reaction of the American left, the right, and the mainstream media when U.S. sanctions kill more North Koreans, including children and seniors? They love it! That exult that the sanctions are starting to “bite” and call for even more stringent sanctions to increase the killing even more. In the minds, the bigger the “bite,” the better the chances of causing North Korea to fall into line or of bringing regime change to the country.

Same for Cuba, where U.S. officials have brought untold economic suffering to the Cuban people, on top of the economic suffering that already experience of Cuba’s socialist economic system. Again, the aim is either regime change or regime conformance with U.S. directives. While there is a smattering of support for lifting the decades-old, Cold War-era embargo  among the left, there is certainly no moral outrage within the left and the mainstream media, as there is with Trump’s separation policy.

It’s refreshing to see moral outrage over Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. If only there was similar outage over the U.S. government’s policy of killing children and others with sanctions.

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HOW CORPORATE RHETORIC IS CONVINCING US TO CUT OUR OWN THROATS ‘Video’

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HOW CORPORATE RHETORIC IS CONVINCING US TO CUT OUR OWN THROATS ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Image result for CORPORATE RHETORIC CARTOON

FOUR TRICKS POLLUTERS AND THE NEWS MEDIA USE TO TRICK US
MUCH WATCHING

Four tricks polluters and the news media use to trick us into accepting the unacceptable.

Much watching.

Take away:

“Watch for these arguments and point them out to others. Once these tricks no longer work environmental protection progress will resume.”

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USA: Suffer the Little Children

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The U.S.-backed killing of Yemeni children continues.

  

In the Gospels, the disciples of Jesus complain about folks who bring their kids with them to receive his blessings. But Jesus is not somebody who shuns the company of children. In response to his followers’ disapproval, he says, perhaps with the snap of indignation in his voice,

“Suffer the little children and don’t stop them from coming to me. For the kingdom of Heaven was made for such as these.” (Or words to that effect.)

Thank God people here and around the world are righteously outraged by the Trump Administration’s most recent descent into fascistic horror—separating children from their parents at the US-Mexican border and dispatching them to detention centers with no assurance they will ever be reunited with their families. A perfect example of cruel and unusual punishment for the sin of seeking asylum from the very violence and chaos the US had no small role in instigating in Central American countries.

I don’t know which is worse: ripping apart immigrant families and imprisoning even little children or enabling the Saudi-led coalition to attack and possibly destroy Yemen’s sole remaining lifeline—the port of Hodeidah—despite the imminent threat of starvation hanging over the heads of Yemen’s civilian population. The children as in most conflict zones bear the brunt of suffering in this three-year-old war between Yemen’s Houthi rebels (officially known as Ansar Allah) on the one hand, and the coalition and Yemeni government on the other. As anyone following this story is aware, we are providing intelligence and targeting logistics, and mid-air refueling of Saudi and United Arab Emirates fighter jets. For good measure, the Trump Administration in April authorized the sale of 1.3 billon dollars worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia in order to “improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats and provide greater security for its border regions and critical infrastructure,” according to Pentagon officials. The weapons include “100 155 mm M109 Howitzers, 180 .50-caliber M2 heavy machine guns, eight Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems. …” Between 2011 and 2015, Saudi Arabia purchased 9.5% of US arms exports.

What a bonanza of killing machines for Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, who met with Trump during the former’s so-called “goodwill tour” of the US earlier this year. Never one to miss an opportunity to display his concern for American workers, Trump duly noted that “A lot of people are at work” thanks to Saudi Arabia’s purchase of “the finest military equipment anywhere in the world.” The “people” of course are the defense contractors who, as always, stand to reap enormous profits from the business of killing.

In Yemen the “business of killing” has been amped up by the influx of US weapons and US support of the Saudi onslaught. Though all sides in the conflict have committed war crimes and human rights violations, the US and its European allies, including Spain, Italy, France, and UK, are complicit in the continuation and intensification of the war. The bombing of civilian and military targets, and the Saudi-led coalition’s severe restrictions on the delivery of food, fuel, and medical supplies have resulted in inconceivable suffering for the Yemeni people. The UN calls it the worlds’ worst humanitarian crisis. And driving it are the geopolitical calculations of the world’s foremost superpower for whom safeguarding its relationship with Saudi Arabia trumps any humanitarian concerns. After all, Saudi Arabia may be the biggest and wealthiest funder of terrorist groups in the Middle East. But it’s also a major player in the politics of oil.

“Protecting Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf producers has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy for decades,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

So the killing continues. And the children of Yemen, like the children of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are paying the price of imperialist realpolitick, for which ethical, moral, or simple humanitarian considerations are more often considered obstacles to the application of force and military muscle to resolve international disputes. As a witness to the effects of sanctions on Iraq’s economy, I have seen the withered bodies of little children suffering from extreme malnutrition and water-borne diseases. Most of them had scant chance of surviving in hospitals that once possessed first-rate medical equipment and sufficient resources to deal with pediatric illness, including various forms of cancer. The fate of these children was the consequence of decisions made in Washington in its drive to force regime change in Iraq by depressing the country’s economy and causing a profound humanitarian crisis.

It appears that nothing has changed, at least in the manner in which the US wields power and enforces its own brand of political expedience absent any concern for commonly accepted standards of right and wrong. From the standpoint of Donald Trump and his toadies, it makes perfect sense to lock up little children after taking them away from their parents and to ignore or at least discount the generational trauma and suffering this policy is causing. In the same vein, providing logistical and diplomatic support for Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthi fighters of Yemen (whom the Saudis consider proxies of its arch foe—Iran). And of course, to stem Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, the people of Yemen are expendable in the eyes of the US, Britain, and other arms suppliers in Europe, and countries in the Gulf and Africa allied with Saudi Arabia.

When I look at photographs taken in Yemen’s hospitals of children suffering from malnutrition and what would normally be easily treatable diseases, my heart recoils. The sight of these emaciated children takes me back to pediatric wards in Iraq during the period of economic sanctions. This is what inhumanity looks like. This is what it means to deliberately prevent children from receiving all the blessings of life to which they are entitled simply by having been born. These children, whether the offspring of parents in Yemen or of parents from Central American countries, deserve to be embraced, to be loved, to be treated with all the compassion and kindness the human heart is capable of giving.

In Yemen, the statistics tell a heartbreaking story. A recent report from Oxfam International Yemen’s focuses on the humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict:

  • More than 14,600 civilian deaths and injuries
  • Over three million people internally displaced from the bombing and fighting
  • Twenty-two million people (75% of the population) in need of emergency aid, “the greatest number in any country in the world.”
  • Seventeen million people (60% of the population) facing food insecurity and malnutrition
  • Eight million people on the brink of famine
  • The “worst ever cholera outbreak” with more than 1 million cases and over 2,200 deaths from this epidemic

The fighting has “massively” disrupted Yemen’s food supply, of which 90% was imported even before the war began. Because of attacks on essential civilian infrastructure, the country is barely able to provide basic services like health care and a reliable supply of potable water, thanks in part to US support.

Since the implementation of Trump’s “zero tolerance” regarding immigrants and asylum seekers crossing our southern border with Mexico, a growing number of Americans have been moved to publicly protest this policy and to call for its repeal in the name of fairness, justice, and fundamental human decency. In a recent Tweet, Ralph Nader, a quintessential guiding light in matters concerning civic virtue, responds to former First Ladies’ criticism of “zero tolerance”:

Would be nice if Laura Bush and Michelle Obama had expressed similar heartfelt concern for the tens of thousands of children killed or seriously maimed by the wars of their husbands in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Wouldn’t it also be nice if Laura and Michelle opened their hearts to the children of Yemen and called for an end to all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a negotiated settlement to the conflict, and a trial by the International Criminal Court for the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen. Personally, I don’t expect the spouses of lawbreakers like George Bush and Barack Obama to raise much of a stink about the crimes their husbands committed while in office. But I do hope that well-meaning American citizens, deeply disturbed by the unnecessary suffering inflicted on parents and children from Central America, begin to connect the dots. To my mind, the humanitarian crisis on our border with Mexico and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen may not be one in the same. But both are expressions of an identical absence of compassion and a willingness to deny the humanity of those deemed “different” for one reason or another.

Thinking about the history of this country, I imagine a long “trail of tears” beginning with our Puritan forebears and their wars against native people, extending through centuries of slavery, the American Indian wars of the 1800s, the forced displacement of Eastern Woodland Indians from their traditional homelands in the Southeast to the so-called “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi, the Philippine-American war (1899-1902), the world wars of the 20th century right up to our present attacks against predominantly Muslim nations and the denial of human rights to the people seeking refuge in our country.

Suffer the little children. Let them live. Give them food, clothing, shelter. Give them love. Not bombs and bullets. Not the cruelty of sanctions. Not the grim prospect of war without end.

Posted in USAComments Off on USA: Suffer the Little Children

Amid Trump’s War on Immigrants and Social Programs

NOVANEWS

Amid Trump’s War on Immigrants and Social Programs, Democrats Back Massive Pentagon Budget for War and Repression

Senate Democrats joined Republicans this week to approve a massive expansion of the US military as demanded by President Donald Trump. Congressional action on the near-record Pentagon budget is taking place behind a veil of silence, with no public discussion and virtually no media coverage.

Even as the Trump administration steamrolls ahead with plans to gut social spending, winning a House vote Thursday to slash $23 billion from food stamp spending and advancing a scheme to consolidate the departments of Labor and Education in the name of “cutting costs”, both houses of Congress have approved a bill that expands military spending at the fastest rate since the highpoint of the war in Iraq.

The so-called “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019”, which passed the Senate 85-10 Monday after having been approved by the House of Representatives in May, allocates $716 billion for the Defense Department, an increase of $82 billion.

This increase alone is larger than the total budget of the Department of Education, approximately $70 billion. It is also larger than the annual military budget of Russia ($61 billion). The increase in Pentagon spending between 2017 and 2019, $165 billion, is larger than the entire defense budget of China.

When funding for the US intelligence agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, federal aid to local police and various “black” operations are factored in, the budget for the United States “total army” amounts to over a trillion dollars, a figure larger than the gross domestic product of Indonesia, a country with a population of 261 million.

Just over one third of the Pentagon’s annual budget, or $265 billion, could end world hunger, according to figures from the Stockholm Peace Institute. Another third, or $239 billion, would provide primary and early secondary education for the entire world population.

Instead, these vast sums are squandered on building and deploying the tools of mass murder.

The budget includes provisions for Trump’s unprecedented and undemocratic military parade, which will involve the deployment of US troops on American streets. The spending bill authorizes “any kind of motorized vehicle, aviation platform, munition, operational military unit or operational military platform” to roll down the streets of Washington at the president’s discretion.

It likewise authorizes the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp by extending “prohibitions on transfers of detainees into the United States”.

Despite these provisions, which the Democrats claim to oppose, only seven out of 47 Democratic senators voted “nay”, ensuring passage by a lopsided margin.

The Democrats raised only one substantial criticism. They demanded more aggressive trade war measures against Chinese technology company ZTE and inserted a provision keeping in place penalties against the firm that Trump had sought to eliminate.

The budget provides President Trump and the military with funding for every single program on their bloated wish list:

The Navy: The budget includes provisions for the construction of ten new ships in 2019, including two new Virginia class nuclear attack submarines costing $2.7 billion apiece, three new Arleigh Burke destroyers, costing $1.8 billion apiece, and an additional Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier at a cost of over $12 billion.

The Air Force: The budget includes $2.3 billion for the development of the B-21 raider, “the next generation long-range strike bomber”, as well as billions more for the expansion of the US fleet of B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers.

Nuclear forces: By far the most radical aspect of the budget is its massive expansion of the US nuclear arsenal. It lifts a “15-year prohibition on developing and producing low-yield nuclear warheads” and provides for “developing and producing a low-yield warhead to be carried on a submarine-launched ballistic missile”, as well as a nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile. The budget prohibits the Pentagon from “reducing the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles” and expands the production of “pits” for building new nuclear weapons.

There is virtually no public debate or oversight of the vast social resources devoted to the military. There is even less public control over or even knowledge of the deployment of US forces all over the world. One study released this week by the Intercept reported that the US military has carried out over 550 drone strikes in Libya alone, twice as many as previously believed.

According to Pentagon data analyzed by Truthdig, the American military has dropped one bomb every 12 minutes during Trump’s first year in office, a rate four times greater than under Obama and five times greater than under George W. Bush.

Away from the cameras, the United States is participating in the bloody Saudi-led onslaught against Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, an operation directly targeting the food and medical supply for Yemen’s starving and cholera-stricken population. The United Nations is warning that the operation could lead to a quarter million additional deaths.

Imperialist crimes of this magnitude cannot coexist with democratic forms of rule at home. To this end, the military is playing a leading role in Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, involving the mass round-up, imprisonment and torture of refugees, including children, thousands of whom have been separated from their families. On Friday, the Navy produced a plan to hold up to 120,000 people on military bases, setting a precedent for mass detention of the civilian population by the military.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has been perpetually at war for 27 years. This period of unending warfare has been accompanied by the most sustained increase in social inequality in modern US history and an unrelenting and escalating attack on democratic rights, from the stolen election of 2000 to the Bush administration’s CIA torture program and the Bush-Obama regime of domestic spying, to the current drive by the government and major technology companies to censor the Internet.

With the recent National Defense Strategy’s declaration of a new era of “great power conflict”, the neo-colonial wars of the past quarter-century are metastasizing into the run-up to a new world war, posing the threat of nuclear annihilation. This is what the Pentagon budget is preparing for.

Posted in USAComments Off on Amid Trump’s War on Immigrants and Social Programs

The “New World Order”, A Recipe for War or Peace! ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

Image result for New World Order CARTOON

The conference on The New World Order, A Recipe for War or Peace was held on March 9, 2015 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), Malaysia.

This event was organized by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation which is headed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad.

Presentions by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Thomas Barnett, Michel Chossudovsky, Chandra Muzaffar, Yoichi Sumachi.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on The “New World Order”, A Recipe for War or Peace! ‘Video’

US Freezes Aid Funds to Ab-A$$

NOVANEWS

The United States has frozen aid funds to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday morning, according to Zionist Walla news.

The Hebrew language news outlet reporter that the aid has been suspended under the “Taylor Force Law,” which was passed in March of this year, and will prevent Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ from paying monthly stipends to families of killed, wounded and imprisoned Palestinians.

A Palestinian official confirmed the report, saying the Trump administration had told the PA in mid-January 2018 that it was reexamining its West Bank and Gaza aid budget.

Zionist television also said that the move comes two months after the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Law, which aims to force the Palestinian Authority to stop its policy of paying the stipends of Palestinian prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed after or during attacks they carried out.

In the Palestinian society, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is responsible for providing financial assistance to families of those slain, injured, or imprisoned by Nazi regime.

Zionist news outlet Haaretz reported that, in January the US President Trump said that the U.S. may withhold future aid payments to the agency over what he called the Palestinians’ unwillingness to talk peace with Nazi regime.

The U.S. pledged $370 million to the agency in 2016, a third of the agency’s budget, according to UNRWA’s website.

“The decision was made following a lengthy internal debate within the Trump administration. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley pushed for a complete freeze of funding to UNRWA, unless the Palestinians commit to U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other State Department officials warned that such a move would create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Jordan and the West Bank,” Haaretz added.

 

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, GazaComments Off on US Freezes Aid Funds to Ab-A$$


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