Archive | July 15th, 2018

Undocumented Myanmar Migrants in Thailand: Border Capitalism, Disrupted

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Through to the back of the cremation grounds where the fields of sugarcane begin, Ko Soe and I coast our bicycles to a stop. It is mid-December, and the sugarcane stocks are tall now, taller than us. Somewhere amid these fields Myanmar migrant workers from the nearby Apex garment factory are hiding. We know this because Ko Soe had only minutes ago been talking with one of them by phone, but then the connection had died; presumably this worker’s phone had run out of power. So now we dismount and look around for an entrance into the fields. The sugarcane is far too dense to walk through, even if we were to leave our bicycles behind. Uncertain how to proceed, we soon spot a man standing, looking at us from the edge of the fields where some car tracks come to an end. Ko Soe calls out and, as we approach, explains to the man that he, too, had worked at Apex, having quit only a few months prior. “We’ve come to see the workers’ situation,” he adds.

The man, whom we now see to be in his early twenties, leads us down a narrow path walled by stocks of sugarcane. When the trail reaches a small stream, we lift our bicycles and carry them along the watercourse until, as directed by our guide, we lay them aside and jump across the brook to an isolated patch of banana trees. It is here that we begin seeing the migrants, bunched together with their baskets of food and clothing, standing, idling, chatting with each other, and reclining on woven mats laid out on the ground. Some of the men are smoking. Others chew quids of betel. A few young children are milling about, and I even spot a couple of babies being held. To my left a young women lies on her back reading a Burmese romance novel. An older woman, speaking by phone to a migrant friend elsewhere, laughs as she explains her predicament. Someone else brings out a tin of biscuits and passes it around to share. The migrants waiting here smile and greet us, thanking us for coming.

Hiding in the Fields

There are, perhaps, about fifty migrants here – mostly women – crowding out small patches of open ground among the banana trees. Although Apex had, I was told, employed upwards of three hundred workers only a few years earlier, the workforce seriously declined when large groups quit in a series of disputes over unpaid wages; others left following the recent closure of the factory’s weaving department. Hence, the migrants hiding here are all that are left, among whom are a handful I know from my previous visits to the factory.

In response to our enquiries about their situation, the migrants tell us that they fled into the sugarcane field this morning while it was still dark, taking with them supplies of rice, boiled eggs, pickled tea, and packaged snacks they had prepared the night before. Initially, they say, the Apex factory owner, who is based in Bangkok, had given instructions that the workers were not to stop production despite news of impending raids. At the last minute, however, the personnel manager got cold feet and told the workers they should temporarily hide out in the nearby sugarcane fields because neither he nor the owner could guarantee their security. The migrants we are speaking with ask us, in turn, what we know of the raids elsewhere, and they name a factory nearby where they have heard the police who came up yesterday from Bangkok have already arrested the workers.

Today is December 15, 2012, one day after the deadline for undocumented migrants in Thailand to register for temporary passports and work permits, thereby escaping their status of illegality. Like the vast majority of the more than 200,000 Myanmar migrants in Mae Sot, in northwest Thailand’s Tak Province, those hiding here amid the sugarcane lack documentation for legal residence and work in Thailand. And like most everyone else in Mae Sot’s migrant community, they knew the registration deadline was approaching; billboards had been put up, and loudspeaker-toting pickup trucks had toured the town, announcing in both Burmese and Thai that those not registered by December 14 would face up to five years in prison, with fines up to 50,000 baht (just over $1,600 U.S.). Government officials in Bangkok had further announced that over one million undocumented migrants would be deported. At other factories in Mae Sot, workers had fled across the nearby border to Buddhist monasteries in the Myanmar town of Myawaddy to wait until the Bangkok police departed. Everyone seemed to know it would only last a few days; this was not the first registration deadline to pass, nor was it the first time raids had been conducted in Mae Sot.

Although most Mae Sot migrants knew in advance of the registration deadline, only a small minority had actually applied for passports and work permits. For the majority, the cost of obtaining these documents through any of the area’s many private passport companies was prohibitive – more than they could save in a year. While it was possible for employers to advance the money to cover the cost, this was not a common practice in Mae Sot. Most factories, such as Apex, simply avoided immigration hassles and potential raids by paying off the local police with monthly fees deducted from the wages of the undocumented migrants they employed. This was, presumably, why the Bangkok (and not Mae Sot) police had been entrusted with the task of enforcing the current registration deadline. In the end, however, very few raids actually occurred in Mae Sot when the registration deadline passed. Out of some four to five hundred factories in the area, I heard mention of only two where such raids apparently took place. And shortly thereafter, the Thai Ministry of Labour announced a three-month extension to the registration period.

Had the threats of raids, arrests, and deportations all been for show? Or had the Thai government heeded humanitarian appeals for an extension to the registration period, such as that voiced by the head of the International Labour Organization? Perhaps policymakers in Bangkok had recognized that mass deportations would have severely undermined Thai industry. In any case, the migrants I met in the sugarcane field went back to work a few days later. They did not, to my knowledge, ever register for passports or work permits while employed at the Apex garment factory, despite the extension granted.

The Social Production of Border Capitalism

The central contention of this book is that the Mae Sot industrial zone, as a spatialized regulatory arrangement, has shaped and made possibly certain forms of class struggle – the effects of which have disrupted and transformed the site’s border capitalism. This argument contrasts with analyses that would see the regulatory arrangement of such zones as being fixed in advance by state policies – developmentalist, neoliberal, or otherwise. I therefore analyze Mae Sot as a dynamic social space – a politically charged space – whose movement is born of the site’s internal contradictions. This is, moreover, a movement that persistently threatens to disrupt the site’s existing social relations, whose conditions of possibility were, in part, born of antecedent class struggles.

The on-the-ground regulation of migrant labour in Mae Sot can thus not be read off of official state policies. Rather, the everyday regulation of migrants in Mae Sot remains contested at the local level, persistently reshaped, and often ambiguously understood by the migrants to whom it applies. As a designated Special Border Economic Zone, Mae Sot’s spatially bounded regulatory arrangement, proximity to the Myanmar border, and distance from central Thailand have enabled a particularly acute situation of despotism organized around the optimization of low-wage, flexible labour for the purposes of capital accumulation and border industrialization. Yet the ways in which migrants have responded to the forms of regulation they confront have forced regulatory actors – such as employers and local government officials – to adjust their regulatory practices accordingly. It is in this way that border capitalism, as both situated relations of production and a spatialized regulatory arrangement, is socially produced.

The argument I advance here is clearly inspired by the work of Henri Lefebvre. But I draw more specifically from the operaista (workerist, often glossed as autonomist Marxist) tradition that grew out of Italian factory workers’ struggles in the 1960s. Writing in an early issue of the workerist journal Classe Operaia, Mario Tronti laid out a critical approach to understanding capitalist development – whether it be technological change, capital relocation, regulatory reform, or the reorganization of the labour process. The particularities of capitalist development, argued Tronti, were best understood not as neutral technical innovations but as reactions to the threats to capital accumulation and managerial prerogative being posed by concrete working-class struggles. As Tronti maintained,

“We too have worked with a concept that puts capitalist development first, and workers second. This is a mistake. And now we have to turn the problem on its head, reverse the polarity, and start again from the beginning: and the beginning is the class struggle of the working class. At the level of socially developed capital, capitalist development becomes subordinated to working-class struggles; it follows behind them, and they set the pace to which the political mechanisms of capital’s own reproduction must be tuned.”

Building on Tronti’s innovations about the primacy of workers’ struggles in catalyzing capitalist development, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have extended the argument to account for multiple cycles of restructuring: “Workers’ struggles force capital to restructure; capitalist restructuring destroys the old conditions for worker organization and poses new ones; new worker revolts force capital to restructure again; and so forth.” It is along such workerist lines that I analyze in this book the transformations that have occurred in Mae Sot’s regulatory and industrial landscape.

Taking stock, however, of workerism’s achievements and shortcomings, Steve Wright has pointed out that workerist analysis (at least in its earliest years) was limited by an often narrow focus on collective struggles at the point of production, thereby neglecting “the world beyond the factory wall.” How, we therefore need to ask, are the struggles of subordinate classes outside the workplace related to the reproduction and transformation of capitalist relations at the point of production? And further, how do such struggles affect the broader regulation of proletarian populations? To address these questions I bring into the analysis of capitalist restructuring, along with factory strikes and workforce socialization, struggles over migrants’ mobility outside the workplace, and migrants’ everyday evasion of – and engagement with – the police. The book’s overarching narrative presents these various struggles as constitutive moments in the transformation of Mae Sot’s regulatory geography, at the scale of the workplace and at the scale of the industrial zone.

It needs to be stressed at this point that labour struggles on the border have never been wholly spontaneous outbursts – automatically generated, as it were, by Mae Sot’s regulatory arrangement. Rather, they have emerged out of gradual processes of migrant subjectification and class formation – what I refer to in chapter 5 as everyday recomposition – that are grounded in the relations and experiences of migrants along the border. Particular workplace struggles in Mae Sot have also typically entailed extensive deliberation and planning “behind the scenes” among the workers involved, as in the case I examine in chapter 6. For these reasons, within the circuit of regulation → struggle → new regulation, there are countless agentive moments in which individuals have intervened and influenced the process of Mae Sot’s regulatory transformation.

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Washington’s Message to North Korea

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Washington’s Message to North Korea: Denuclearize, Accept Neoliberalism and the “Vietnam Miracle”. Meanwhile Kim Remains on the “CIA Assassination List”

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Pyongyang on a two day visit “ to press leader Kim Jong-un for details on his plans for denuclearisation.”

It was a polite and courteous welcome, Korean style.

But with Pompeo in charge of negotiations, what are the prospects?

Back in October 2017, Pompeo  hinted in no uncertain terms when he was head of the CIA:

“If Kim Jong-un suddenly dies, don’t ask me about it … “

“With respect, if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it,”

“We are going to become a much more vicious agency…” 

And that’s the guy who’s in charge of “negotiating peace” with North Korea.

Fruitful negotiations? According to the New York Times, there was “distrust on both sides. ...The harsh North Korean reaction may have been a time-tested negotiating tactic” (emphasis added) intimating that the DPRK still constitutes a threat to America’s national security. But what about the national security of North Korea which lost more than a quarter of its population as result of US led bombings (1950-53)?

Pyongyang negotiates with a U.S Secretary of State (former CIA Chief) who casually announced (of course “with respect”) that Kim Jong-un was on the CIA’s assassination list.

Not surprisingly, hours following Pompeo’s departure,  Pyongyang accused the Trump administration of pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization.” A mild understatement.

The DPRK statement was most likely directed against Mike Pompeo’s demands formulated behind closed doors during the Pyongyang encounter. According to the DPRK foreign ministry spokesman:

“the U.S. betrayed the spirit of last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by making such unilateral demands regarding “CVID,” or the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”

“We expected that the U.S. side would come with productive measures conducive to building trust in line with the spirit of the North-U.S. summit and (we) considered providing something that would correspond to them,”

“It would be the shortest path toward realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to … boldly break away from the failure-ridden methods of the past, push for whole new approaches and seek to resolve problems one by one based on trust and in a phased and synchronous principle,”

North Korea Should Opt for the “Vietnam Miracle”

Pompeo casually called upon North Korea to adopt the “Vietnam miracle” of improved ties with the US.

Lest we forget, Hanoi’s acceptance (conditional upon the lifting of the US embargo in 1993) was conducive to the transformation of Vietnam into a new cheap labour frontier of the global economy, indebted and impoverished, not to mention “regime change” and a military cooperation agreement with the US against China.

This is what happened to Vietnam in an agreement signed with the US in 1993: (author’s field research conducted in Vietnam in 1991, and 1994):

Vietnam never received war reparations payments from the U.S. for the massive loss of life and destruction, yet an agreement reached in Paris in 1993 required Hanoi to recognize the debts of the defunct Saigon regime of General Thieu. This agreement is in many regards tantamount to obliging Vietnam to compensate Washington for the costs of war.

Moreover, the adoption of sweeping macro-economic reforms under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions was also a condition for the lifting of the U.S. embargo. These free market reforms now constitute the Communist Party’s official doctrine. With the normalization of diplomatic relations with Washington in 1994, reference to America’s brutal role in the war is increasingly considered untimely and improper.

No agent orange or steel pellet bombs, no napalm, no toxic chemicals: a new phase of economic and social destruction has unfolded. The achievements of past struggles and the aspirations of an entire nation are undone and erased almost with a stroke of the pen.

Debt conditionality and structural adjustment under the trusteeship of international creditors constitute in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, an equally effective and formally nonviolent instrument of recolonization and impoverishment affecting the livelihood of millions of people.

(For further details see Michel Chossudovsky,  Who Won the Vietnam War, Peace Magazine, 1995, chapter in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order,Global Research, 1997, 2003)

Pompeo’s  “Vietnam miracle” message to Pyongyang under the threat of military aggression is to adopt neoliberalism and the IMF’s deadly “economic medicine”, forget about US war crimes, phase out your social programs, privatize and open up to foreign investors.

And America will help you! Meanwhile, Kim remains on the “CIA assassination list”.

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Michel Chossudovsky, GRTV Interview from Seoul, South Korea, June 14, 2018

 

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America’s reality remake: Creationists and Zionists

Disinformation: America's reality remake

By Lawrence Davidson

Customising reality

Among the more egregious movements now active on the American scene are those that seek to undermine the expression of reality within the public sphere. A good example of this is the long-running effort of some Protestant fundamentalists who seek to challenge the notion of evolution in public school textbooks and classrooms. This particular effort not only pits the unprovable religious beliefs of a relatively small number of ideologues against one of the best-demonstrated scientific theories of the modern age, but also seeks to shut down the public’s “right to know” the difference between opinion and fact.

It has taken an enormous amount of time and energy to stand up against this anti-science/alternative-reality movement, and there is no end in sight to the battle. What is worse is that the actions of these fundamentalist ideologues have set a precedent that others are now taking up – and, of course, these others are also ideologues.

Battleground Virginia

Thus we find that historians and human rights representatives in the US state of Virginia have joined forces in order to “ protect the… accuracy of schoolbooks” against (and here no one should be surprised) “Israeli advocacy organisations”. In this case the culprit is the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS). It is an offshoot of the “Jewish Community Relations Council”, which for its part serves as a Zionist lobbying organisation on issues concerning, among other things, how Israel is portrayed within US school systems. As such it “works with publishers, education officials and educators to strategically address historical inaccuracies about Jews, Judaism and Israel in K-12 social studies textbooks and classrooms”. What is suspect here is not the institute’s desire to take on holocaust deniers or anti-Jewish stereotypes. Rather, it is the ICS’s melding of Jews and Judaism with the Zionist state of Israel. This identification is, in truth, a hotly contested one. For instance, an argument can be made that Israel has done Judaism and the Jews enormous harm. This position that Jews and Israel are one also leads the institute to take on the likeness of the holocaust denier, as it goes about trying to force the denial of the Nakba and the occupation of Palestinian land on US educators.

To this end the ICS has targeted the Virginia Department of Education as well as a number of national textbook publishers with the goal of rewriting parts of the state’s school texts so as to “deliberately whitewash [Israel’s] military occupation and ongoing policies of land theft, apartheid and expulsion of Palestinians”. For instance, the ICS urges that references to the purposeful expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 be changed so that population “displacements” are attributed to the random violence of ongoing war. Subsequently, “occupied territories” should be referred to as “captured areas” and the term “settlers” is to be replaced by “communities”. This is the customised reality of the Zionist ideologue.

In the meantime, historical facts such as the Zionist “Plan Dalet” and the ethnic cleansing it promoted in 1948 are essentially deleted from history. Modern realities are also ignored. For instance, the Israeli writer and translator Ilana Hammerman and David Harel, Vice President of the Israel Council of Science and Humanities, published a letter in the Guardian on 29 June 2018 stating that “a destructive, violent and explosive reality is becoming the norm” in Israel and the occupied territories. This reality is the actual one.

The effort of the ICS to reconfigure reality has not been an idle exercise. The “ICS claims that it has already made more than 11,000 edits to US textbooks used in all 50 states”. Thus the approach in Virginia sparked a response on the part of the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights allied with a dozen Virginia educators. They are urging both the state’s Department of Education and the textbook publishers to “freeze the suggested [ICS] changes”. The use of the term “freeze” suggests that the ICS edits were in line to be implemented, probably on the assumption that the institute was pressing historically accurate descriptions of reality rather than ideologically-driven revisionism. This also suggests the power of the ICS to pass itself off as an “organisation [educators] can trust” and the fact that most educators, administrators and textbook publishers have been raised to know only the Zionist version of the history of Palestine.

High stakes

The stakes are high in this struggle. According to Paul Noursi of the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, “students are learning information that they might not have much of an opportunity to critically analyse later on… Information that obscures or deliberately misinforms students on the issue of Palestine could really have detrimental effects far beyond Virginia.” The historian Michael Fischbach characterises the ICS efforts this way: these “Israel advocates understand that they have lost the public relations battle and what they’re now trying to do instead of fight[ing] this discourse on the facts is simply, literally, to rewrite it – to frame a new narrative for a new generation of young people”. Fischbach is correct, except this is not a “new narrative”. It is the standard Zionist narrative that has been with us for over a hundred years. Ideologies and their promoters tend to be relentless.

Paul Noursi, quoted above, may also underestimate the nature of this struggle. He tells us that “This is a fairly straightforward issue. Let’s call things what they are: illegal settlements are illegal settlements, they should be called out as such. Military occupation is military occupation, it needs to be called out as such, it needs to be taught as such in the textbooks.” He is correct of course, but as is the case with the fight to protect the validity of evolution against the Creationists, the fight to sustain the real history of Palestine and its people will have to be not only energetic but ceaseless. And something should be done about those “11,000 edits”. The ones referencing Palestine have no doubt already skewed historical perceptions.

Conclusion

There are organisations which, calling themselves tribes or states or various ideological groupings, have moved through history stealing and murdering. Within their own neighbourhoods each has created an internal explanation of their behaviour which converts evil into good and aggressive violence into necessity. However, to maintain this illusion they must use their power and influence to go beyond their own territories and customise the relevant history as seen by the international community.

George Orwell in his great dystopian novel 1984, observed that “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” That, indeed, is the ICS’s unspoken motto. Yet it cannot really achieve its goal as long as there are many living victims of Zionism, along with their supporters, willing to tell their stories. Nonetheless, the ICS can make things distorted and fuzzy, constantly threatening to remake reality through propaganda—seeking to control past, present and future.

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Nazi regime: Razing Khan al-Ahmar

By razing Khan al-Ahmar, Israel will bulldoze illusions of peace process

Impending erasure of Khan al-Ahmar

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Israel finally built an access road to the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar last week, after half a century of delays. But the only vehicles allowed along it are the bulldozers scheduled to sweep away its 200 inhabitants’ homes.

If one community has come to symbolise the demise of the two-state solution, it is Khan al-Ahmar.

It was for that reason that a posse of European diplomats left their air-conditioned offices late last week to trudge through the hot, dusty hills outside Jerusalem and witness for themselves the preparations for the village’s destruction. That included the Israeli police viciously beating residents and supporters as they tried to block the advance of heavy machinery.

Bemoaning the illusion of a “peace process”

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have submitted a formal protest. Their denunciations echoed those of more than 70 Democratic lawmakers in Washington in May – a rare example of US politicians showing solidarity with Palestinians.

It would be gratifying to believe that Western governments care about the inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar – or the thousands of other Palestinians who are being incrementally cleansed by Israel from nearby lands but whose plight has drawn far less attention.

After all, the razing of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its population are war crimes.

But in truth Western politicians are more concerned about propping up the illusion of a peace process that expired many years ago than the long-running abuse of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Western capitals understand what is at stake. Israel wants Khan al-Ahmar gone so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place, on land it has designated as “E1”.

Cutting the West Bank in two and from East Jerusalem

That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state, making a mockery of any peace agreement.

The erasure of Khan al-Ahmar has not arrived out of nowhere. Israel has trampled on international law for decades, conducting a form of creeping annexation that has provoked little more than uncomfortable shifting in chairs from Western politicians.

Khan al-Ahmar’s Bedouin inhabitants, from the Jahalin tribe, have been ethnically cleansed twice before by Israel, but these war crimes went unnoticed.

The first time was in the 1950s, a few years after Israel’s creation, when 80 per cent of Palestinians had been driven from their homes to clear the path for the creation of a Jewish state.

Although they should have enjoyed the protection of Israeli citizenship, the Jahalin were forced out of the Negev and into the West Bank, then controlled by Jordan, to make way for new Jewish immigrants.

A generation later in 1967, when they had barely re-established themselves, the Jahalin were again under attack from Israeli soldiers occupying the West Bank. The grazing lands the Jahalin had relocated to with their goats and sheep were seized to build a settlement for Jews only, Kfar Adumim, in violation of the laws of war.

Forced to live in tin shacks and tents

Ever since, the Jahalin have dwelt in a twilight zone of Israeli-defined “illegality”. Like other Palestinians in the 60 per cent of the West Bank declared under Israeli control by the Oslo peace process, they have been denied building permits, forcing three generations to live in tin shacks and tents.

Israel has also refused to connect the village to the water, electricity and sewage grids, in an attempt to make life so unbearable the Jahalin would opt to leave.

When an Italian charity helped in 2009 to establish Khan al-Ahmar’s first school – made from mud and tyres – Israel stepped up its legal battle to demolish the village.

Now, the Jahalin are about to be driven from their lands again, as though they are nothing more than wayward cattle. This time they are to be forcibly re-settled next to a waste dump by the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, hemmed in on all sides by Israeli walls and settlements.

In the new location they will be forced to abandon their pastoral way of life. As resident Ibrahim Abu Dawoud observed: “For us, leaving the desert is death.”

Crimes aided and abetted by Trump

In another indication of the Palestinians’ dire predicament, the Trump administration is expected to propose in its long-awaited peace plan that the slum-like Abu Dis, rather than East Jerusalem, serve as the capital of a future pseudo-Palestinian state – if Israel ever chooses to recognise one.

Khan al-Ahmar’s destruction would be the first demolition of a complete Palestinian community since the 1990s, when Israel ostensibly committed to the Oslo process.

Now emboldened by Washington’s unstinting support, Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is racing ahead to realise its vision of a Greater Israel. It wants to annex the lands on which villages like Khan al-Ahmar stand and remove their Palestinian populations.

There is a minor hurdle. On 5 July the Israeli Supreme Court tried to calm the storm clouds gathering in Europe by issuing a temporary injunction on the demolition works.

The reprieve is likely to be short-lived. A few weeks ago the same court – in a panel dominated by judges identified with the settler movement – backed Khan al-Ahmar’s destruction.

“Liquidating” the project of Palestinian statehood

The Supreme Court has also been moving towards accepting the Israeli government’s argument that decades of land grabs by settlers should be retroactively sanctioned – even though they violate Israeli and international law – if carried out in “good faith”.

Whatever the judges believe, there is nothing “good faith” about the behaviour of either the settlers or Israel’s government towards communities like Khan al-Ahmar.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ veteran peace negotiator, recently warned that Israel and the US were close to “liquidating” the project of Palestinian statehood.

Sounding more desperate than usual, the Europe Union reaffirmed this month its commitment to a two-state solution, while urging that the “obstacles” to its realisation be more clearly identifed.

The elephant in the room is Israel itself – and its enduring bad faith. As Khan al-Ahmar demonstrates all too clearly, there will be no end to the slow-motion erasure of Palestinian communities until Western governments find the nerve to impose biting sanctions on Israel.

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Erdogan wins elections for Presidency of Turkey

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Erdogan wins elections for Presidency of Turkey while his AK Party loses parliamentary majority: The struggle continues

 

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Anti-government protest in Turkey. Photo: soL

Following the double elections held on June 24 in Turkey for the presidency and the parliament, the current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the presidential election in the first round with 52.5 percent of the votes. In the parliamentary elections, while Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its absolute majority in the parliamentary elections with 42.5 percent of the vote and 295 seats in a 600 member parliament, they will still be able to retain power through a coalition with its junior partner — the fascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) which secured 49 seats with 11 percent of the vote.

On the opposition front, the main social democratic opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce received only 30.6 percent of the vote. Having entered the parliamentary elections as the “National Alliance” with the newly formed ultra-right Good Party (İYİ) and the far-right Islamist Felicity Party (SP), CHP got only 22.6 percent of the vote and 146 seats. CHP’s junior partner Good Party led by Meral Akşener, an open fascist, an ex-MHP deputy and former interior minister with links to unresolved political murders, cleared the 10 percent parliamentary threshold to secure 43 seats.

The main Kurdish opposition, the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), was also able to clear the parliamentary threshold with over 11 percent of the vote for 67 seats. HDP’s imprisoned presidential candidate and former party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş got 8.4 percent of the vote. In a statement following the elections, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said: “The results of the election revealed once again that the peoples of Turkey strongly believe that it is not a democracy without HDP”. The other HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli indicated that despite all the attacks HDP was subjected to during their electoral campaign, they continued with their campaign work due to their belief in democracy. Democratic rights in Turkey, however, have been under intense siege and in many cases eviscerated entirely, especially since the 2016 coup attempt that was cynically manipulated by the government to crack down on its opponents.

One of the first to congratulate Erdoğan was the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD). TÜSİAD represents the traditional, secular block within the capitalist class of Turkey.

“Congratulations for the election results in our country, now it is time for reforms under social reconciliation. We have left behind a very important election process for Turkey. Congratulations to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has been re-elected as the president, and to the new parliament.”

In the same statement, TÜSİAD listed “a rational economy and financial discipline” as one of the critical items that should be on the new government’s agenda. It is not difficult to decipher TÜSİAD’s expectations expressed in double-speak: More austerity measures and a further intensified assault on the working class of Turkey.

Erdoğan consolidates his dictatorship

The elections are the follow up to a constitutional referendum held earlier in April 2017 to turn Turkey into an executive presidency. With the fascist MHP’s support, AKP was able to get a two-thirds majority in the parliament to call for the referendum. The AKP won the referendum by a very close 51-49 percent margin amid reports of fraud, including the counting of unverified ballots.

The new constitution establishes a “presidential” regime, giving the president the ability to rule by decree. This essentially means perpetual rule under state of emergency. The reforms also eliminated the office of prime minister and more or less rendered the national parliament powerless. It is a historic setback that imperils what remains of the gains of the 1923 bourgeois democratic revolution, which swept away the Ottoman Empire and established a constitutional order with some degree of respect for civil liberties along with a secular system of public education.

The elections for both parliament and the presidency following the referendum was scheduled for November 2019. In what appears to be an effort to secure another five-year term before a potential economic crisis — a development that may very well be around the corner as inflation continues to spiral out of control — the ruling AKP called in April for snap elections, again with far-right MHP’s support.

It is important to note that the overall right wing vote in the legislative election adds up to 65 percent, almost two-thirds of the popular vote. This is clearly a defeat for the parliamentary left opposition parties, CHP and HDP, which ran campaigns focused on opposition to the personality of the president: “If you don’t vote for us, Erdoğan will stay in power.”

The pressing need was to challenge the AKP on the basis of the severe economic and social problems facing the working class, including the unprecedented levels of poverty, the super-exploitation of workers by the capitalist class under a state of emergency that at times went so far to ban strikes and public demonstrations, and the Sunni-extremist AKP policies that destroyed the secular nature of the Republic of Turkey that at least on paper had guaranteed equality for women, paving the way for skyrocketing rates of sexist violence. Neither CHP nor HDP challenged the ongoing collaboration between AKP, NATO and U.S. imperialism and their overall role in the bloodbath in the region as part of efforts to overthrow the government of Syria.

The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) was unjustly banned from participating in the elections and instead organized the platform “This Social Order Must Change” to run independent candidates. The TKP released a statement that pointed to the futility of a myopic, singular focus of anti-Erdoğan opposition in a vacuum that does not challenge the overall system:

“Anti-Erdoğan sentiments, which have been a driving force for a long time and pushed the limits of the established order as they reached a peak during the Gezi Resistance [mass anti-government protests in 2013], do not have any value on their own anymore. Quite the contrary, anti-Erdoğan sentiments have played a similar role in rendering our society powerless. What is fundamental is to take a solid stance against the established order, to put up a fight against exploitation, imperialism and reactionism”

Erdoğan and his AKP regime got a new lease on life to continue their assault on the working class of Turkey. The June 24 elections clearly demonstrate that the path to liberation for the working class can not be achieved simply through the ballot box, but through organized and determined action in the streets, in workplaces and everywhere people are suffering under the reactionary Erdoğan government and the capitalist system it represents.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Erdogan wins elections for Presidency of Turkey

Interview: General Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey on the June 24 elections

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Interview: General Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey on the June 24 elections

Turkish Communist Party General Secretary Kemal Okuyan

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This article Reposted from soL News

soL news interviewed Kemal Okuyan, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), on the results of June 24 election results. Okuyan reminded that the political power had organised electoral manipulations quite before the elections and that the TKP pointed this out strongly in those days. He highlights that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “success” should be evaluated starting right from this point. Okuyan also noted that the coalition of the opposition was designed as a “project of the capitalists”, and that the “pro-establishment left” quit adhering to leftist values since anti-establishment left moved away from these values.

Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) had unlawfully prevented TKP from entering June 24 elections and TKP undid this inhibition by running independent communist candidates in parliamentary elections through This Social Order Must Change Platform. The platform was established following the call of TKP. The platform ran a total of 17 independent candidates in different provinces of Turkey.

Erdoğan portrayed quite an incapacitated and disqualified image before June 24 elections. However, Erdoğan won the elections in the first round. What do you think had happened?

We have to talk about the electoral system first of all. Electoral manipulations are being set before the elections, not on the day of the elections, as we always say. We warned about electoral inks, unsealed envelopes and ballots, ballot box relocations and such before when we said: “no to elections under these circumstances”. The [parliamentary main opposition party, CHP] Republican People’s Party and others just let people put up with all that, saying “they cannot do anything”. And yet, the problem is not only related to the electoral system. The strategy of defeating the [ruling party] AKP  by resembling the AKP itself also failed.

We will come back to this point again but I would like to resolve the issue of electoral frauds. What could have they done, really?

Apart from the things they did on the day of the election, the real issue rests on voter lists. The electoral turnout is quite high. I personally do not believe that the ratio of turnout is real. We know that people voted instead of the dead and the ones in abroad. Also multiple votes… We witnessed countless times that civil servants voted more than once with their officer IDs. More importantly, the system in Turkey makes it impossible to track down “virtual citizens”. They are in control of the ID system. The ballot boxes are a complete mess and no one can inspect; people living in the same apartment are registered in different ballot boxes. When you gather all that together, it makes something huge.

Doesn’t the opposition parties know about that?

Let’s call them pro-establishment opposition. They are responsible from the continuation of this damned system as much as the parties in power, and they act accordingly! They acted accordingly during the Gezi Park resistance, after the local elections in 2014, and the referendum [in 2017], and during the period when they devised Yenikapı spirit [AKP’s meeting at Yenikapı in İstanbul after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.] They never want the people to question the legitimacy of the system. It is absurd to have elections under such an electoral system and yet they made people accept it by saying “we are in charge of everything.” Erdoğan should thank such an opposition.

Then, what about the TKP? Why did it enter the elections, even by means of independent candidates?

Apart from the regulations in the electoral system that favour the political power, obstacles that hinder the toiling masses to get involved with politics are present all along. There is the 10 percent electoral threshold, treasury grants, obstacles before getting organised and making propaganda… TKP is not a party for elections and yet responsible for spreading its voice in the elections, getting organised and point at a real alternative. We could not, and did not, have abstained from such duties when a large section of the society had high hopes from the elections. You cannot call for a boycott whenever you are right. We are always right against the dictatorship of the capital.

Elections have been the only option of the people of Turkey until yesterday. We shared our warnings regarding that and it was not a waste of time for us. We are used to discourses like “let’s talk about after the elections”. The elections are over now and the number of people who find us right is increasing. People always look for a solution, a way to survive. Elections and pro-establishment politics were “solutions”, and yet they blew up. Organised struggle and the demand for social order change are the only solutions at the moment and they never miss the target. In that sense, the TKP whispered in the people’s ear “you know it best, but this is not the solution” during the whole electoral period.

What about the reactions of the people you contacted?

A certain section of the society who have enmity towards the political power is not interested with the demand of social order change, and even more, do not have such a demand. They cling on the system, and some of them even have interests in the maintenance of the system. These people do not even want to hear us. They gave up defending secularism except for their sensitivity for “way of life”. They remember the “sovereignty of Turkey” when Erdoğan gets closer to the West, and the “Western civilisation” when Erdoğan rows with the West. These people used to close their ears when they saw us; now some of them will hide in their nests, while some others easily adapt to the conditions, and a small number of them will leave the country. In other words, we and these people reciprocally avoided each other. Our common ground “anti-Erdoğan stance” is not enough to breach the gap between us, it cannot…

Do we need to consider these people as belonging to the middle class?

Some of them are the privileged segments of the working class with higher wages. Some other have small enterprises, or entrepreneurs, as usually called…There is a segment who are executives…Some are rentiers… They are also influenced by economic developments and yet they manage in some way.

You noted that you were not able to contact them during the electoral period…

We preferred not to. However, there are intersections between the classes in Turkey and in social life. When we try to contact them, it becomes obvious that we are not talking the same language. There are of course exceptions. The sections within this social segment who strive for social change and willing to act on it with their intellect, consciousness and life practice, but they are of the minority.

We are essentially interested in the ones who are harmed by this social order, and are conscious of that, and who have nothing to hold on to against economic hardship. These people do outnumber. Some of them cling to the political power when poverty strains them, search for stability with fear of security and there are some who are deaf to any kind of voice. However, we realised that some people among them listened to us, approved of what we said and even supported us. There is also a certain toiling mass who had long disapproved the political power and increasingly turns it towards social system criticism. That segment was the one we especially strengthened our contact.

Getting the working class organised is our main priority. This electoral period showed us that there is a considerable increase in the anger, rage and search of the toiling masses.

Then why didn’t it transform into votes for the independent candidates?

We didn’t make all these just to get votes. We were aware of the pressure on the people. We did all we could to save them from the trap and yet it was also obvious that quite a few of the ones we convinced were to vote for us. We were not blind to the feeling that “First Erdoğan has to go, and then we can discuss”. Some people who were close to our party even said they were going to become a member of our party on the 25th of June. They thought “I would have to vote for the independent candidates if I become a member of the party.” We also get in contact with a considerable number of new people with whom we settled to meet on the 25th of June, and now we discuss with them. We cannot get crossed with them only because they did not vote for us. After all, they are in fact cross with themselves!

I would like to go back to my first question. Why did Erdoğan win? You talked about the electoral system but also noted: “this is not the main reason”.

Winning and losing are relative concepts. I will answer with this caution. The bourgeois opposition did establish the widest possible coalition against Erdoğan. However, it was not clear why these actors were against Erdoğan. One man rule, authoritarianism? These are abstract concepts. This widest coalition put secularism aside, propagated pro-NATO politics, and reassured TÜSİAD (Turkish Industry and Business Association). Then, what was their problem with Erdoğan? When differences get blurred, the voters naturally prefer a single person, the one man. For one thing, there is a floating segment apart from the fixed party supporters. There is the youth who vote for the first time in each election, who don’t even have any party affiliation. Why would a coalition say nothing new apart from positioning against Erdoğan attract the people?

Did Erdoğan say anything new?

By saying new, I mean an alternative. If you rival with Erdoğan in İslamism and right-wing politics, and if you say “There are politicians within the AKP who are well-trained there and useful for the country”, where would you end up? It became obvious that creating an opposing camp within the society through Erdoğan has come to its limits, it is of no use, or it is of use for Erdoğan himself. You should also add discussions regarding [the pro-Kurdish] HDP party to this. HDP’s all electoral propaganda rested on the argument “If you don’t vote for me, AKP wins.” HDP did not have to undertake any electoral work since [parliamentary main opposition party] CHP had done it instead of HDP. HDP is being continuously either drawn towards the system or pushed away from it. The people who orchestrate this believe that their social engineering will reverberate exactly within the society. The unexpected conservation of [the fascist] MHP party’s votes definitely rests on concerns regarding discussions on HDP.

In terms of Erdoğan…In some senses, Erdoğan says something new every day, and repeats the same things in other sense. Turkish society has an interesting adaptation capacity in the face of economic, cultural and social complications. This contradicts the definition of conservatism in some senses. The political definition of this is opportunism. Erdoğan is capable of manipulating this. He will secure a certain support until such political behaviour does not answer the security need of the people.

Are other politicians not capable of doing this?

It is odd to expect principled and consistent behaviour in bourgeois politics. Erdoğan’s sharp turns exceed this. The rivalry of the bourgeois opposition rests partly on right-wing propaganda and partly on imitating Erdoğan’s opportunism. It seems that they will keep this track at full speed following the June 24 elections.

Isn’t it logical to address to the right-wing voters to increase votes?

The success criteria of the bourgeois politics and ours are quite different. Votes obtained in an election do neither legitimate you nor are they the only criteria of success. This is how we perceive it. Everything rests on the elections in bourgeois politics. There is also the rooted perception that “the left cannot get votes more than a certain amount.”

Isn’t that perception true?

This perception rests on a distorted perception of the “left” and “right”. But let’s accept that the pro-establishment left assumes the role of blocking the real left and keeping the masses within the limits of the social order. The left has some values. These are laicism, anti-imperialism and being on the side of the toiling masses in Turkey. The pro-establishment left gave up adhering to these.

Why?

Because a considerable segment of the anti-establishment left moved away from these values. Therefore the social order does not necessitate a firm leftist stance of the pro-establishment left. Then what are we discussing! There was a “progressive left” who championed that the AKP “accomplished a democratic revolution.” And now, they are easy with adopting Sheik Said teachings [Sheik Said Nursi was a reactionary Kurdish theologian who was of service to the anti-communist initiatives of Turkey’s right-wing governments] and flirting with the TÜSİAD. Then CHP can slide to the right even more, until the psychological barrier in front of the strong organisation of the communists within the society. It is soon…

But a second Ekmeleddin case did not happen. There was a strong objection to Abdullah Gül’s candidacy…

Abdullah Gül is among the foundational core of the AKP; there is no need to tell who he is. Discussions on his nomination as a candidate and it’s renouncement only through Akşener’s [the leader of the ultra-far Good “İyi” Party] opposition to it is a total scandal. They said Muharrem İnce [CHP candidate, Erdoğan’s main rival in presidential election] is a good speaker, honest and sympathetic… These don’t explain the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that Muharrem İnce has been called a right-wing politician even by the administrators of CHP. Let’s leave the names aside; CHP tried to seem sympathetic to the right-wing voters, while the Good Party and the Felicity Party [an Islamist party that took part in the alliance with CHP and the Good Party in the elections] to the voters of CHP. Such an alliance!

TKP insistently highlighted that this coalition was a project of the capitalists. Erdoğan won the elections. Does TKP still argue that?

TKP shared its initial electoral evaluation on 25th June. We said there too that the opposition coalition was a capitalist project. We also know more or less who and which circles played a special role in the formation of this project. However, Erdoğan himself is also a capitalist project. The ‘opposition coalition’ was unsuccessful in the June 24 elections and yet the project proved successful in certain senses. The ones who provided opportunities to this opposition coalition didn’t specifically aim to push to the political power. I the total formation of the political sphere in a country, the design of the opposition is as much important as the formation of the political power. A design of certain circles does not aim for total success; in addition to this, each and every design does not need to reach its target. Social dynamics and politics have a most problematic relation with calculations. The ‘opposition coalition’ was unsuccessful in the June 24 elections and yet it proved successful in certain senses.

But June 24 elections witnessed the highest mathematical calculations.

The result is obvious! What happened to the argument that the political power would lose parliamentary majority when HDP breached the electoral threshold? Mathematics is not to be blamed.

Do you think that Erdoğan got more powerful with June 24?

Let’s see that Erdoğan is not that powerful in terms of the political calculations, if mathematics matters that much. He is powerful neither in terms of social dynamics nor in any other sense. This may mean a more easily manipulated Erdoğan for the capitalist class and the imperialist centres. Arguments that Erdoğan got very powerful and that Turkey is in a total collapse are complete nonsense. The tasks before Erdoğan were challenging and they become even more so every day. The cunning people who propagated these feelings before June 24 are going to prepare the people for the upcoming local elections by saying “this is the last chance”, and they have already started to talk about that.

The final exit before the bridge?

I don’t know, maybe they will feel ashamed to say so and call it “final U-turn”.

What will TKP do? It couldn’t get energy from yet another electoral period…

TKP is a party that knows how to resist the tide. It knows how to contract without turning inward when the tide accelerates. An alternative to this is stepping aside. We didn’t step aside  June 24, resisted the tide and contacted countless people drifting away in the opposite direction. Everyone makes mathematical calculations during the elections, but we calculate our move after the elections. Yes, we were unsuccessful in terms of vote rates and yet TKP will quickly claim space in the post-electoral period when the speed of tide decreases and even dies out. We have no concerns regarding this. We had new members just before the elections, and it increases now.

The people who follow what TKP says knew that TKP may become isolated on the election day and considered this not that important. The crowd of people TKP gathered on May Day is more than the number of people who voted for it in the elections. This is, of course, something problematic and yet I will say without hesitation that the important thing is the ability of acting together with the people. The number of the people TKP is able to mobilise and act together will quickly increase from now on. This will reflect on the electoral results in a certain period, you may be sure of that. In terms of the energy you mentioned…I said it before, this electoral period has opened very valuable channels for TKP, and we had an important experience. This is the energy. Positive reactions towards the statement of TKP on elections create a great energy. Now we will mobilise this energy in line with our political and organisational targets.

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Russia-US Summit Should Lead to Action on Earth-defining Issues. Disarming Their Respective Doomsday Machines

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Unlike the US, Russia faces severe threats along its frontiers.

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In an ideal world, the Russia-United States summit in Helsinki would have focused primarily on taking concrete steps towards disarming their respective Doomsday Machines. That is, Russia and America’s thousands of nuclear weapons which today remain pointed at each other, on hair-trigger alert.

Should Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump agree to implement guarantees in eliminating their vast nuclear stockpiles, it would likely lead to the end of this unprecedented threat to the globe. For instance, Israel would surely be compelled to follow its master’s lead in abolishing their own arsenal, thereby resulting in a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East (Pakistan and India lie in South Asia). The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the most important disarmament agreement, is contingent upon dismantling nuclear weapons in the Middle East – one of the most volatile regions on earth.

As the growing bulk of evidence demonstrates, it is miraculous the human race has survived over 70 years into the nuclear age. There is no justifiable reason in continuing to allow the presence of nuclear weapons on earth. Yet the fact they still cast their shadow over the planet, like a great Grim Reaper, encapsulates the madness of the species.

The unfortunate human tendency to continue the unending advancement of technology led scientists to develop the atomic bomb in 1945, despite the obvious risks to our own species and the earth. Recently, in early 2018, president Trump told reporters,

“We’re going to have the strongest military we’ve ever had before” including “a brand new nuclear force. We will always be number one in that category [nuclear weapons], certainly as long as I’m president. We’re going to be far, far in excess of anybody else”.

Trump’s intentions regarding nuclear weapons were clear from early on. Six weeks after his election victory, Trump set the tone when writing that,

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability, until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”.

Flying in the face of various treaties, the plan is for a $1.2 trillion “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. The purpose being that America can remain as Trump stated early this year, “so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you’ve never seen before”.

Placed in context, even such hawkish figures as former US Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger andGeorge Shultz, have outlined that nuclear weapons should be wiped from the earth. This cannot be achieved unless America, the world’s strongest military power by far, takes the lead in outlining steps to begin immediate nuclear disarmament, with Russia – inevitably followed by China and others – tied down to such an agreement.

Unlike the US, Russia has genuine security concerns combined with other ancient historical fears. Thousands of troops from the US-led NATO, an increasingly antagonistic military alliance now comprising 29 states, have poured forward near (or onto) Russia’s borders in eastern Europe and the Baltics. This is in stark violation of agreements issued following German reunification in 1990, that NATO would move “not one inch eastward”, i.e. into eastern Germany. It led Putin to justifiably claim in 2014 that the West “have cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts”.

NATO’s pretext for existence, to defend Europe against “the hordes from the East”, fell to pieces following the USSR’s demise in 1991. Rather than NATO being disbanded, the opposite occurred, revealing its true intentions. The organization was immediately expanded eastward, and has since become a global US-run intervention force, committing war crimes and other depredations.

In Europe, the route that thousands of NATO troops have taken follows a similar path to the Napoleonic buildup to Russia’s frontiers in 1812. This was replicated almost 130 years later by the huge Nazi invasion.

The unprecedented human sacrifices in defeating the two “great conquerors” in modern history (Napoleon and Hitler) must be permanently embedded upon the Russian psyche. The Hitlerite and Napoleonic forces were, on both occasions, the largest collection of armies in world history – with about 680,000 French-led units attacking Russia in June 1812. This was followed in June 1941 by Operation Barbarossa, as 3.2 million German soldiers poured eastward along a vast frontier, bolstered by around 600,000 troops from Hitler’s Axis allies and client states. As a result, one can at least understand the Russian dependence upon nuclear weapons, as a deterrent against yet another potential invasion from the West, along with other threats.

For the US, the excuses are somewhat thinner. The 11 September attacks of 2001 were the first assaults on America’s mainland since the War of 1812, fought between the US and then bitter enemy, the United Kingdom. Even at that, the War of 1812 was a skirmish by comparison to Napoleon’s attack on Russia that same year. For the past two centuries the US has enjoyed unmatched security, while Russia (and Europe) have fought two horrendous world wars along their territories.

As Russia continues to be provoked, on the far side of the Atlantic there are of course no Kremlin-led formations amassing south of the border in Mexico, or northwards along the Canadian frontier. Even were there, any Russian-affiliated forces would soon be “terminated with extreme prejudice” to borrow the old CIA phrase. There is little reference to these massive disparities in mainstream dialogue, which supports the premise that the US can do as it pleases. Adopting this ideological mindset, it seems perfectly normal for American red lines to be situated along Russia’s boundaries, and thousands of kilometers away near the Chinese mainland in eastern Asia.

These strategies, epitomized by NATO, continue to increase the risk of a terminal nuclear war erupting, which the world has already been blessed to escape. Quite revealingly, NATO’s planet-threatening policies have long enjoyed significant backing from corporate-owned media, who instead cast Russia as the great villain. Such are the concerns of the “Free Press” (the business press) for the welfare of its readers, along with that of the wider world. Indeed, there is barely a note of warning to be heard regarding the unparalleled menace of nuclear weapons, which is pretty remarkable in itself.

Climate change, the other defining world issue, has received slightly more mainstream coverage, which does not say an awful lot. Unrestricted climate change, mainly as a result of astonishing government inaction (led by the US), is already posing a dire prospect for humans and the earth. Climate change is currently being felt most severely by those contributing the least to the problem: Such as in the poorest countries like Haiti, Mozambique and Honduras. These uncomfortable facts are carefully avoided in establishment circles.

People fleeing poverty-stricken nations should be welcomed (with open arms) by the rich states responsible for producing the greatest carbon emissions, such as the US. Sadly, this is anything but the case, embodied by Trump himself saying in January, “Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?”

In the meantime, should current trends persist, “dangerous climate change” severely affecting the entire globe is expected to be unleashed in two decades or less, according to Ireland’s long-time leading climate scientist, John Sweeney. Uncontrollable, and unknown, implications are forecast beyond this approximate time-span. Sweeney believes that,

“We have to climate-change proof society for the years ahead. It won’t cost the earth to do it; it will cost the earth not to do it”.

Yet the nuclear threat surely remains both greater and more imminent, as has been the case for a long time. A nuclear war between the US and Russia would bring about a far swifter end for humans (and many other species) – as proven by environmental scientists who discovered the global extinction phenomenon, “nuclear winter”, in the early 1980s.

Rather than focusing on these critical issues, the corporate-run media have performed a leading role in shifting focus towards anti-Russian sentiments – Russophobia – by seeking to link Moscow to Trump’s election victory, among other factors. By little coincidence, this has continued abreast to the Russia-US summit in Finland. The ongoing attempts in tying Putin to Trump’s election victory are underhanded at best.

It enters the realms of grotesquery when examining how consecutive US administrations, post-1945, have overthrown governments across the world; in repeated cases, instituting military dictatorships. The continued ramping up of ill-feeling against Russia, by Western media and military-industrial complex, also further raises the possibility of nuclear war breaking out – another sign of the insanity of our times. Tensions with Russia should be reduced by exploring diplomatic paths and negotiation, preferably beginning with the Russia-US summit.

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Trump Is Zionist’s Useful Idiot

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Trump Is Israel’s “Useful Idiot”

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Featured image: Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuven Rivlin and Donald Trump at the Ben Gurion airport. Image credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair/ flickr

The claim made by many neoconservatives that Israel and the United States are partners in the Middle East because their strategic interests are identical is belied by the fact that the Israelis are more than willing to ignore Washington when its suits them to do so. The claim of identical interests has always been false, promoted by the Zionist media and an intensively lobbied Congress to make the lopsided relationship with an essentially racist and apartheid regime more palatable to the American public, but, in wake of the slaughter in Gaza and pending legislation in the Knesset empowering Israeli communities to ban non-Jewish residents, it completely lacks any credibility.

It would probably surprise most American friends of Israel to learn that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Moscow three times so far this year, particularly as Russia has been getting vilified in the U.S. mainstream media on an almost daily basis. There is a reason for the Russophobia beyond what Moscow might or might not have done in the 2016 election. Russia has become a particular target of hostility for the burgeoning number of neoconservative foundations, also closely linked to Israel, whose funding from defense contractors depends on having a powerful enemy. The ability of Israel and its supporters to play both sides regardless of what the accepted perception of what American interests might be should therefore be an issue of some concern.

The United States military is deeply engaged in Syria, in part due to Israeli pressure, seeking to depose the existing government of President Bashar al-Assad and replace it with a Syria composed primarily of fragmented local jurisdictions representing tribal and religious groups rather than a unified state. Israel believes that a shattered Syria would not pose any threat to its continued possession of the occupied Golan Heights and might even offer an opportunity to expand that occupation.

In response to Israeli interests, the U.S. has sought regime change in Syria and has toyed with the creation of mini states within the country controlled by the Kurds and the so-called moderate rebels. It would mean the end of Syria as a nation, which has been an Israeli objective since 1967. Israel has contributing to the turmoil by attacking targets inside Syria. The targets are generally described as either “Iranian” or “Hezbollah,” but they have also included Syrian Army installations. One such attack took place last week after a drone allegedly entered Israeli territory.

Israel has also collaborated with rebel groups inside Syria, to include al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS, which puts Washington in an awkward position as it claims to be in Syria primarily to defeat ISIS and other terrorists. In one bizarre episode, ISIS actually apologized to Israel for inadvertently attacking Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. There have also been reports of Israeli hospitals treating wounded terrorists.

The Israeli willingness to play all sides in the Syrian conflict recognizes that Russia rather than the United States has assumed the pivotal role in determining what the ultimate political outcome of the fighting is likely to be. Apart from weakening and fragmenting Syria itself, Israel’s clearly stated objective has been to reduce or, even better, eliminate Iranian presence in the country, which Netanyahu describes hyperbolically as “…very important for the national security of the state of Israel.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s visits to Russia can be seen as efforts to get Moscow’s backing to pushback against Iran, admittedly a Sisyphean task as both Russia and Iran are in Syria by invitation of the legitimate government and both have been critical to the success of Damascus’s successful counter-offensive. There are, however, differences in perception, as Moscow’s role has been limited and largely high-tech while Iran has supplied as many as 80,000 of the foot soldiers in the conflict. Russia would prefer that Syria not become an Iranian satrapy after the fighting is over.

With both Iran and Israel courting Russian favor, President Vladimir Putin hosted last week back-to-back visits by Netanyahu and Iranian senior foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati. Netanyahu was open about his desire to explain to Putin why a significant Iranian presence in Syria post-war would be undesirable and even dangerous. He pushed for restoration of a United Nations monitored demilitarized zone along the Golan Heights and also for complete withdrawal of Iranian forces from the country. In return, the Russians suggested that they would support an Iranian military presence “tens of kilometers” away from the Israeli border, but Putin also made clear that Syria would be reunited under its government in Damascus and that the Iranians should have a role in the country’s reconstruction and defense. Netanyahu did not get what he wanted but the conversation with a basically friendly Russia will continue. Expect more visits.

The Iranians, for their part, were dealing with the broader issue of impending United States sanctions on the Iranian oil industry. They obtained a commitment from Putin to continue investment in Iranian oil development and also to continue cooperation to stabilize Syria and drive out the last of the so-called rebels. As Russia is an energy exporter, the issue of buying Iranian oil was irrelevant, but Velayati was reportedly on his way to China to press for a commitment from Beijing to continue purchases of oil in spite of the threat of sanctions from Washington after November 4th.

Whatever one believes about the Syrian conflict and Washington’s role in it, the adherence to Israeli points of view in framing policy has made the United States largely irrelevant and has handed control of the situation to enemy du jour Russia. The Israelis have found the new administration in Washington to be what Lenin once described as a “useful idiot,” prepared to support whatever Netanyahu proposes while at the same time so clueless that the Israeli government can freely and openly simultaneously cut deals with Moscow that undermine the U.S. continued presence in the country.

Donald Trump’s recent comment that the United States might move to get out of Syria completely by the end of the year suggests that he might actually be figuring things out and is no longer willing to be the Israeli patsy in developments in that country. It just might also be that the White House has finally realized that continued engagement in Syria is a lose-lose no matter how it turns out.

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NATO Used Depleted Uranium Munitions in 2011 Libya Airstrikes 

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A military operation against the government of Muammar Gaddafi, conducted by NATO in 2011, led to a civil war and split the country into three parts with different governments and various militant groups.

A report, made by a group of Libyan nuclear experts, says that NATO forces missiles with depleted uranium.

“We conducted a study at one of the headquarters of the Libyan army, which was bombed by NATO. There were places with increased levels of radiation. After precise measurements we found that this radioactivity was a result of using an assembler with depleted uranium,” Nuri al-Druki, an advisor to the Libyan committee for the environment and nuclear energy told Sputnik.

He also stated that the Libyan scientists would appeal to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a more extensive investigation.

In February 2011, mass demonstrations began in Libya demanding the resignation of Muammar Gaddafi, who had ruled the country for more than 40 years. The conflict later developed into an armed conflict between government forces and rebels.

After a UNSC resolution, a coalition, led by the US, France, UK and other countries, conducted airstrikes against Libyan government forces. Due to those operations, rebels deposed and killed Gaddafi, starting an ongoing civil war between regions, tribes and militant groups. An absence of the government allowed multiple terror organizations, such as Daesh*, to operate in the war-torn country.

*

Note

*Daesh (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State) — a terror group banned in Russia.

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Mass Protests Greet Trump as He Lands in Helsinki for Summit

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Demonstrators brandished banners that read “Make peace, not war”, “Refugees are welcome” and “Make human rights great again!”

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About 2,500 protesters demonstrated in support of human rights, democracy and the environment in Helsinki on Sunday, a day before U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putinhold a summit in the Finnish capital.

Demonstrators brandished banners that read “Make peace, not war”, “Refugees are welcome” and “Make human rights great again!”

Trump arrived in Helsinki later Sunday from Scotland. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against his visit to London on Friday and several thousand more protested on Saturday in Scotland, where he spent much of the weekend playing golf.

Putin was due to arrive in Helsinki just ahead of the talks on Monday.

Helsinki — a venue which evokes memories of Cold War show-downs between the Soviet Union and the United States — has introduced security measures for the summit, including temporary border checks.

At another square in Helsinki on Sunday, a small group of people, including members of the nationalist Finns Party, staged a pro-Trump rally. In total, some 16 demonstrations are expected to be held in Helsinki on Sunday and Monday.

Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori said he was not worried about the protests, saying Finland has a long history of peaceful demonstrations.

“I would be much more worried if we weren’t preparing ourselves for some demonstrations,” he said.

EU state Finland is seen as a neutral venue as it is not a member of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance. It shares a long border with Russia, which ruled it for more than a century until the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, when Finland won its independence.

Trump has said he and Putin will discuss among other issues reducing nuclear weapons. Trump has also said he has low expectations for the meeting, which could be overshadowed by accusations that Russians meddled in the U.S. 2016 election.

Trump Turned heads Sunday evening after he said in interview ahead of the summit that the European Union a “foe” with regard to trade.

In a pre-summit interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program aired Sunday, Trump lumped in the EU with China and Russia as U.S. economic adversaries.

“I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” he said.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, replied on Twitter using one of Trump’s favorite stock phrases.

“America and the EU are best friends,” Tusk wrote. “Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

Posted in USA, Europe, RussiaComments Off on Mass Protests Greet Trump as He Lands in Helsinki for Summit


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